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Blog Tours Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – May 2020

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Another month is done and I’m writing another wrap up. These seem to come around quicker each month. Does anyone else think the same?

May has been my best reading month in quite some time. I finished sixteen books and took part in fourteen blog tours. The quality of books has again been high with all books being four stars or above.

Here’s what I read in May:

  1. He Started It by Samantha Downing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Who We Were by B. M. Carroll ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Happy Couple by Samantha Hayes ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. The Secrets of Sunshine by Phaedra Patrick ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. One Mistake by Rona Halsall ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. Dear Child by Romy Hausmann ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. Her Last Mistake (Detective Gina Harte Book 6) by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. The Bride by Wendy Clarke ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The Glass House by Eve Chase ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. His & Hers by Alice Feeney ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  14. The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson⭐⭐⭐⭐
  15. Water’s Edge (Detective Megan Carpenter Book 2) by Gregg Olsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  16. The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 You can read the reviews for all the books by clicking on the title except for The Ice Cream Girls and The Majesties. My reviews for those books will be posted in the coming week.

This month there were two books that stood out as favourites for me. They are very different books and I found it impossible to choose one over the over. Therefore, I have two books of the month: What Lies Between Us and Tsarina. What Lies Between Us is an outstanding thriller that was so twisted I can’t stop thinking about it. John Marrs really outdid himself with this book and I’m hoping it is turned into a series or film soon. Tsarina is the epic story of Catherine, Tsarina of All the Russias. Catherine’s story is one so crazy that you couldn’t make it up. The novel is beautifully written and I was utterly immersed in Catherine’s world while reading. I already had a fascination with the fall of the Tsars but this novel brought about a greater interest in the Tsars reign and Catherine and Peter’s stories in particular. I highly recommend both books.

Are any of these in your tbr? What is your favourite book you’ve read this month?

Next month I have a slightly more relaxed schedule of blog tours which I’m looking forward to as maybe I’ll get to do more free reading soon. I’m very excited about my buddy read of The Phone Box at the Edge of the World with Beth as it’s our first buddy read and the book is one of my most anticipated books of the year.

Thank you to all the tagged publishers for my gifted copies of these books.

Hope you are all staying safe and well,
Emma x

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Glass House by Eve Chase

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Published: May 14th, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Suspense, Domestic Fiction

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this captivating mystery. Thank you to Gaby at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.

The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They’re grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house’s dark, dusty corners.

Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour – and the law – don’t seem to apply.

But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds.

And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.

Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .

From the author of Black Rabbit Hall, The Glass House is an emotional, thrilling book about family secrets and belonging – and how we find ourselves when we are most lost.

MY REVIEW:

“Only the trees know what happened in the woods that night.” 

August 1971. The Harrington family are spending their summer at Foxcote Manor in the Forest of Dean in the hope that the idyllic setting will help them recover after a family tragedy. But it doesn’t seem to be working and they feel more fractured than ever. 

But then a baby girl is found on a tree stump in the woods by their house. The family decide to keep her secret and take her in rather than alerting the authorities and it seems like their answer to their healing has arrived.

But then a few days later a body is found in the woods and their idyll is shattered. None of their lives will be the same again. 

The Glass House is an atmospheric, mysterious, compelling and riveting story about deep, dark family secrets that hold the key to the truth of a mystery that has lingered for almost fifty years. It is one of the most beautifully written mysteries that I’ve read and each word has been perfectly polished so that not one is wasted. The author has created a memorable cast of characters and a richly drawn sense of place that gave the novel a mysterious, eerie and haunting ambience. 

Told in dual timelines by multiple narrators, the complex and layered story is tightly plotted and I loved how the author slowly wove together the mysterious and tragic events of 1971 with those in the present day. I was utterly immersed in its pages and inhabited the world inside this book along with the characters. 

The Glass House is an enthralling, dark, and twisting mystery. It was one of my most anticipated books this year and did not disappoint. I highly recommend this exquisitely written book. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Amazon:

I’m an author who writes rich and suspenseful novels about families – dysfunctional, passionate – and the sort of explosive secrets that can rip them apart. I write stories I’d love to read. Mysteries. Page-turners. Worlds you can lose yourself in. Reading time is so precious: I try to make my books worth of that sweet spot.

My office is a garden studio/shed. There are roses outside. I live in Oxford with my three children, husband, and a ridiculously hairy golden retriever, Harry.

 Website  | InstagramTwitter | Facebook

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His & Hers by Alice Feeney

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Published: May 28th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural

Happy Publication Day to this spectacular thriller! Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

If there are two sides to every story, someone is always lying…

Jack: Three words to describe my wife: Beautiful. Ambitious. Unforgiving.
Anna: I only need one word to describe my husband: Liar.

When a woman is murdered in Blackdown village, newsreader Anna Andrews is reluctant to cover the case. Anna’s ex-husband, DCI Jack Harper, is suspicious of her involvement, until he becomes a suspect in his own murder investigation.

Someone is lying, and some secrets are worth killing to keep

MY REVIEW:

“People might recognise my face, they may even know my name, but they’ll never know the real me.”

It is impossible to know who to trust in this compelling thriller where long-held secrets lead to revenge and murder. 

When a woman is found murdered in Blackdown, newsreader Anna Andrews reluctantly heads back to the village she grew up in to cover the story. Her ex-husband, DCI Jack Harper, is eager to solve the murder quickly. They are both hiding secrets they would like to keep hidden. Secrets that might even be worth killing to keep… 

Wow! This is exactly the kind of dark, twisted thriller I love. Fast-paced and deftly plotted, the short, quick-fire chapters kept me on the edge of my seat and the author had me in the palm of her hand from the start. I didn’t foresee the jaw-dropping twists she had in store and was left reeling after turning the final page. 

“Sometimes I think I am the unreliable narrator of my own life.
Sometimes I think we all are.”

The characters are flawed, complex, nuanced and richly drawn. Jack and Anna are both struggling to recover and move on after the tragedy that ended their marriage. They are both keeping secrets and are clear suspects from the start. I really enjoy a book that is told by unreliable narrators as I love having to decipher all the small clues in what they say and do and how it increases the tension as you try to figure them out. Anna and Jack are both unreliable narrators, with Anna also being a character that is far from warm or likeable.  

As the death toll rises it is clear from the brutal murders that this is personal to the killer. Someone wanted the victims to suffer and is out for revenge. The chapters from the killers point of view offered a chilling insight into their twisted mind, motives and the sadistic pleasure they took in the murders. Could Anna or Jack really be hiding such darkness? Though I had my suspicions about the killer’s identity from early on they would vacillate many times over the course of the book and I could never settle on a clear suspect. For me, that is the sign of great writing and a fantastic novel and I loved the breathless anticipation of waiting for the final reveal. 

His & Hers is the second time I’ve read and loved a book by this author and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. She is definitely now one of my auto-buy authors. Taut, twisty, breathtaking and full of suspicion, the twists and turns kept coming, taking you on a rollercoaster ride right up until the shocking climax. This is an electrifying thriller you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Alice Feeney is a New York Times and international bestselling author.

Her debut thriller Sometimes I Lie is being made into a TV series by Ellen DeGeneres and Warner Bros. starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.

His & Hers is her third novel and will be published around the world in 2020.

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Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 14th, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent  debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Bloomsbury for the gifted copy.

SYNOPSIS:

Lover. Murderer. Mother. Meet TSARINA, the most powerful woman history ever forgot.

Spring 1699: Illegitimate, destitute and strikingly beautiful, Marta has survived the brutal Russian winter in her remote Baltic village. Sold by her family into household labour at the age of fifteen, Marta survives by committing a crime that will force her to go on the run.

A world away, Russia’s young ruler, Tsar Peter I, passionate and iron-willed, has a vision for transforming the traditionalist Tsardom of Russia into a modern, Western empire. Countless lives will be lost in the process.

Falling prey to the Great Northern War, Marta cheats death at every turn, finding work as a washerwoman at a battle camp. One night at a celebration, she encounters Peter the Great. Relying on her wits and her formidable courage, and fuelled by ambition, desire and the sheer will to live, Marta will become Catherine I of Russia. But her rise to the top is ridden with peril; how long will she survive the machinations of Peter’s court, and more importantly, Peter himself?

MY REVIEW:

“He is dead. My beloved husband, the mighty Tsar of all the Russias, has died – and just in time.”

Tsarina is a story of power, lust, sex, murder and betrayal. Of rags-to-riches. Of Catherine, the first Tsarina of all the Russias. 

It begins in February 1725, on the night that Peter the Great, Tsar of All the Russias, dies. Catherine, her children and his advisors try to conceal his death for as long as possible to delay their fate. It is a matter of life and death. The story then moves between that night and flashbacks to Catherine’s life, beginning when she was just thirteen-years-old, still known as Marta and living with her serf family. We then follow her journey from poor peasant girl to Tsarina; a story that would be deemed too far fetched if you tried to sell it to a publisher. But every word of this novel is based in fact, with just a few liberties taken as the details of Catherine’s early life is shrouded in mystery.

I have always had a love for history and ever since studying the fall of the Tsars for my History A Level I have been fascinated with their story. So when I saw this book advertised I knew from just the title that I HAD to read it and after reading the synopsis it became one of my most anticipated books of the year. Thankfully, this magnificent debut surpassed every one of my high expectations. It was an all-encompassing read. A book that I took my time with, taking time to soak in every word, but also one that I couldn’t put down or stop thinking about when I had to do so. 

Ellen Alpsten is a new talent to watch. Exquisitely written and wonderfully crafted, her meticulous research shines through on every page, bringing back to life those who lived and died three hundred years ago and making you feel like they are right there beside you with her powerful storytelling. I was hooked from the start and became totally lost in Catherine’s story, living every word of this book while reading it. Every moment of love and joy, every piercing pain of heartbreak and every gut-wrenching horror she witnessed and experienced, I felt along with her. 

“Together, we have lived and loved, and together, we ruled.”

After reading this novel it seems unimaginable that Catherine’s story has been forgotten. That such a strong, brave and remarkable woman had been consigned to a footnote in history. At that time life for most of Russia’s people was hard, harsh and bleak. Even those in the upper classes lived in fear of falling out the Tsar’s favour and losing not only their wealth but their lives. Peter had a new vision for Russia and was a ruthless leader who was willing to sacrifice anyone and everything to achieve it. Even as his wife Catherine walked a tightrope knowing she could be stripped of everything and either sent to a convent or killed should the fancy take him. The brutality of life at that time and the lack of rights that were held by even the highest-ranking women is starkly illuminated in Catherine’s story in sobering detail. 

Tsarina is a masterpiece of historical fiction. Atmospheric, intoxicating, unsettling, and compelling, this outstanding novel is one that will linger long after you close it’s pages. This gloriously decadent debut is one you don’t want to miss. 

Ellen Alpsten Author Pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ellen Alpsten was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands. Today, Ellen works as an author and as a journalist for international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint, and CN Traveller. She lives in London with her husband, three sons, and a moody fox red Labrador. Tsarina is her debut novel.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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The Bride by Wendy Clarke ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 20th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Happy Publication Day! I’m thrilled to be sharing my post on the day of release. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

The moment Joanna told me she was engaged, I had this awful feeling that something was wrong.

We used to speak on the phone every day. Growing up I spent more time at her house than I did at my own. I’d always imagined what it would be like to see her get married, and now I didn’t even know her fiancé’s name.

She asked me to come and meet Mark and I intended to tell her to slow down. You can’t know someone for a month and be sure that you want to spend the rest of your lives together.

When I got to Joanna’s front door, only Mark was there. He was charming and gorgeous and nothing but nice to me, and I started to understand.

And then he told me that Joanna was missing.

The Bride is a twisty, unputdownable psychological thriller that will have you reading until late at night. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and anything by Lisa Jewell.

MY REVIEW:

Alice and Joanna were best friends for years. They were inseparable: doing everything together and even dressing alike, until one day something happened that changed everything. They haven’t spoken for 10 years until Alice gets a message out of the blue from Joanna saying she’s getting married and she wants to see Alice. So Alice travels to London hoping that this trip will get their friendship back on track. But when she arrives she is greeted by Mark, Joanna’s fiance. Though he’s charming and kind Alice can’t help but feel there’s something a little off. And then he tells her Joanna is missing.

The Bride is a story filled with secrets, lies, betrayal and revenge. A mysterious, dark, sinister and suspicious read. It starts at a steady pace but the tension soon ramps up and I was on the edge of my seat as it reached its crescendo. 

When we meet Alice her life is falling apart so the text from Joanna is just what she needs. When she learns Joanna is missing she is steadfast in her determination to do everything she can to help find her. But there are two mysteries in this story and while Alice is helping Mark solve the mystery of Joanna’s disappearance, flashbacks telling the story of their friendship offer small clues to the mystery of what terrible thing happened to tear them apart. And while Mark seems genuinely concerned for his fiancee, I had a strange feeling about him from the start. Was this because he was behind it all or a case of the author cleverly throwing me off the scent of the truth? I couldn’t decide. Thrown into the mix were other suspicious and unreliable characters who made it even harder to predict what had happened and where the story would go next. 

Atmospheric, unpredictable, claustrophobic and filled with twists and turns, I flew through this entertaining thriller in under a day.  A great read for anyone who likes their thrillers gore-free.

Wendy Clarke

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Wendy Clarke started her career writing short fiction and serials for national women’s magazines. After having over three hundred short stories published, she progressed to writing novels. With a degree in psychology, and intrigued with how the human mind can affect behaviour, it was inevitable that she would eventually want to explore her darker side.

In her previous life, Wendy has published three collections of short stories and has been a short story judge for the Chiltern Writers Group, Nottingham Writers Group and The Society of Women Writers and journalists.

Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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The Bride - BT Popster

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Dear Child by Romy Hausmann ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 14th, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery

Welcome to my spot on the Social Media Blast for this sensational debut. Thank you to Quercus for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

You escaped. But your nightmare has just begun.

The No 1 International Bestseller – 250.000 copies sold in Germany – 5th bestselling paperback in Germany in 2019

A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.

One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn’t quite seem to fit.

MY REVIEW:

I first heard about this book when I received a sampler of it last summer. I devoured it quickly and was left wanting more. Lucky for me, I received an ARC of the full novel and was excited to finally have the answers to all of my questions. Once again, I devoured this story, only reluctantly putting it down when my eyelids became too heavy to keep reading. I was addicted and completely unprepared for the rollercoaster ride this story took me on. 

Dear Child begins at the point where most novels would end; when Lena and her daughter Hannah escape after years of imprisonment in a cabin in the woods. The police think that they’ve finally found Lena Beck, a woman missing for thirteen years, but when her father Matthias arrives he is adamant the woman lying in the hospital bed is not his daughter. But when he lays eyes on Hannah he sees a clone of his daughter as a child. With Lena injured by a car in the escape she is unable to answer any question and Hannah is reluctant to talk. As snippets of information are slowly revealed, the police begin to piece together the puzzle. But they soon find that things aren’t quite what they first appear to be.

OMG! What a book! Spectacularly written, masterfully plotted, surprising and sizzling with suspense, this complex and layered thriller had me hooked from start to finish.

The author filled the pages with dark, nuanced and compelling characters and unreliable narrators. Of the three narrators Hannah was the one I felt most drawn to. It was heartbreaking to read how normal she thought her world was, especially how she would berate her mother when she was beaten by her father for doing something to deserve it rather than thinking it was him in the wrong.  But while I felt a lot of empathy for her, I also felt there was something not quite right about her. She is a peculiar child and while at first I put that down to her secluded upbringing, after a while I started to wonder if she was all that she seemed. 

The abductor, known only as ‘Papa’, is another character who stood out to me. Papa is an enigma, his identity shrouded in mystery. Even Lena doesn’t ever say his name. He is a loathsome, sadistic, controlling and violent man who strikes fear into Lena and the children. Most of the abuse is inferred but enough detail is included to give the reader an understanding of the complete terror they felt and understand why Lena would acquiesce to his will.

Tense, chilling, twisty and unpredictable, Dear Child is a riveting and spectacular debut that you won’t want to put down. This is one you don’t want to miss!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Romy Hausmann was born in the former GDR in 1981. At the age of twenty-four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich. Since the birth of her son she has been working as a freelancer in TV. Dear Child is her thriller debut. Romy Hausmann lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Her Last Mistake (Detective Gina Harte Book 6) by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 11th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Noir Fiction, Police Procedural

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

SYNOPSIS:

Dressed in a sage green bridesmaid dress, and smiling for pictures, Holly is the happiest she’s ever been. Hours later, Holly is dead.

People love to hate Holly Long. Smart, beautiful and a woman who men find it hard to say no to, she’s the town’s most gossiped about resident.

Now Holly’s body lies in her hotel room, strangled at her best friend’s wedding party. And the gossip has stopped, because nobody wants to look like they did it.

When police search Holly’s immaculate apartment, amongst her stylish furnishings and expensive jewellery, they discover a different side to Holly. Orderly and precise, she wasn’t the chaotic party girl everyone thought her to be. In fact, Holly was a planner, and her next plan was to come out and tell her biggest secret – something she had been hiding for months, something that had the potential to ruin the lives of more than one wedding guest.

There are plenty of people who might have wanted to kill Holly, but only one who has finally made good on their promise.

An unputdownable crime thriller with an ending you will never see coming, this is the latest gripping novel from bestselling author Carla Kovach. If you like Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, you’ll love Her Last Mistake.

MY REVIEW:

“The beast has escaped and it was never going back in its cave now, he was more than just a player – he had an urge.” 

Secrets, lies, betrayal, and a killer seduced by darkness; a perfect storm that leads to brutal murder in this compelling thriller. 

When Holly Long is found brutally murdered at her best friend’s wedding reception Detective Gina Harte and her team are called in to find her killer. Her family and friends seem bewildered that anyone could hurt her, but Holly was harbouring a secret that threatened to ruin the lives of more than one of the wedding guests. The question is, which one silenced her before she could tell?

I’m a big fan of a book series, especially in crime fiction. One of the things I love about them is that when you pick it up you know what you’re getting. Whenever I pick up a book in this series I know I’m getting a gripping, well-written, readable thriller with some violent murders thrown in for good measure. Her Last Mistake certainly lived up to those expectations and it was great to be back with Gina and her team. 

In this installment Gina is struggling with the fact that Briggs knows the dark secret she’s kept for two decades and the fear that she will lose herself if she opens up even more and relinquishes the control she’s kept all this time. And for Gina, losing herself means losing the ability to do her job and punish those who hurt others. It was good to see her wrestle with her vulnerable side during this book as she wrestled with relying on and confiding in someone else after so many years of only having herself for those things. I’m really rooting for her and Briggs though and would love to see Gina get her happy ever after. 

Carla Kovach has a talent for writing twisty crime fiction full of relatable characters and villains that send a shiver down your spine. I can honestly say that the mysterious killer in this book made my skin crawl more than any other that she’s written. His penchant for sadistic sexual thrills and murder mixed with the ability to charm those around him made him someone incredibly dangerous and hard to find. The chapters from his point of view were so well written that at times I felt sick and was covered in goosebumps from how much he creeped me out. 

Her Last Mistake is a dark, twisty and disturbing thriller that is hard to predict.  I flew through it in just a day,  hooked by the tension-filled plot and the need to know the killer’s identity and was on tenterhooks right until the pivotal moment when all was finally revealed. I would recommend this book and the previous books in the series to anyone who enjoys a well-written thriller.

Carla Kovach

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carla Kovach was born in Birmingham, UK and now resides in Redditch, Worcestershire. Author of supernatural drama ‘Flame,’ psychological thriller ‘To Let,’ crime thriller ‘Whispers Beneath the Pines,’ and holiday comedy, ‘Meet Me at Marmaris Castle.’ Carla also writes stage and screenplays, some of which have been produced in the Worcestershire area. Her feature film ‘Penny for the Guy’ is being made and is set for release in 2019.

Her latest book, Her Last Mistake is the sixth book in the DI Gina Harte crime series.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 14th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense,  Lesbian Literature, Youth Novel

TRIGGER WARNING: Child Abuse

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Orenda for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Single-mother Fran returns to her sleepy hometown to care for her dying father when a devastating bush fire breaks out. A devastating, disaster-noir thriller from the author of The Cry.

Fran hates Ash Mountain, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.

She returns to her hometown to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer.

As old friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…

Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life – and a woman and a land in crisis – and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget…

MY REVIEW:

“There’s a firestorm coming straight for Ash Mountain.” 

For Fran Collins Ash Mountain is a place that holds unwanted memories and stirs a sense of anger and injustice inside her. She left as soon as she could but is now back to care for her dying father. Little has changed in the rural town where everybody knows your business and never lets you forget. But there are some dark, sinister secrets that are still waiting to be discovered….

The small, sleepy town of Ash Mountain and it’s residents are vividly brought to life in this captivating novel.  From the opening chapter with its descriptions of the sky red and black with fire and the unrelenting heat, the author immerses you in Fran’s world as clearly as if you were watching it on a movie screen. I could see the fire raging towards me, feel it  scorching my skin and the smoke choking my lungs. Later on, when the flames take hold and burn through the town, there are heartbreaking scenes as the residents are caught in its clutches and descriptions of charred bodies that serve as a stark reminder of the true cost of disasters such as these.

Though there are multiple narrators and the book tells the stories of many of Ash Mountain’s inhabitants, it is Fran’s story that is at the heart of the book. When we meet Fran she is in her early 40s and a single parent to sixteen-year-old Vonny. Her son Dante is now twenty-nine, the product of a scandalous one night stand when she was fifteen, and still lives in the small town. Fran is a likeable and relatable protagonist and as the story moves between multiple timelines spanning thirty years, we begin to understand why she has such venom for her hometown and many of its residents. But lurking in the shadows, there is a much darker story waiting to be unearthed. And as the tension rises, harrowing discoveries bring to light the town’s most sordid secrets.

Atmospheric, original and pulsing with tension, this was a quick and fast-paced read. It is the first time I’ve read one of Helen’s novels and I will definitely read more. Don’t miss the acknowledgments and photographer’s note at the back of the book to learn the story behind the book’s beautiful front cover.

Helen Fitzgerald Author Pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of Dead Lovely (2007) and ten other adult and young adult thrillers, including My Last Confession (2009), The Donor (2011), The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and Viral (Out Feb 2016). Helen has worked as a criminal justice social worker for over ten years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband and two children.

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What Lies Between Us by John Marrs ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 15th, 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.

MY REVIEW:

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on shoes.” Charles Spurgeon

It was clear from the prologue that this was going to be another gorgeously written book by John Marrs and an easy five stars. I was so engrossed in reading this crazy, unpredictable thriller that I didn’t notice the time, read through the night, and the birds were singing as I finished. 

Nina and her mother Maggie live together in the house she grew up in. But no one else knows that. Everybody else believes Maggie moved away after getting ill two years ago, which is when Nina attached a chain to her ankle and imprisoned her in her bedroom to punish her for what she did. But nothing is as it seems and Nina has no clue that there are sinister secrets lurking behind her mother’s actions. Maggie would rather die than allow her to find out the truth; which just might happen as their game of cat and mouse gets out of control…

This book is quite simply a masterpiece. I inhaled and inhabited it; the outside world disappearing away around me. Fast-paced, deftly plotted, intricate and layered, this is storytelling at its best. I’ve been a fan of John Marrs since reading his first book, The One, and, to be honest, I didn’t think he could top that for me. But he knocked me for six with this one. I read a lot of thrillers, many of them dark, warped and twisty. But in all my years of reading I think this has to be one of the most dark, warped and twisty of them all. I’m kind of scared of him after reading this. 

Nina and Maggie are memorable, richly drawn, complex and flawed characters. The both play victim and villain and it is never clear who is who in their crazy, twisted games. It is a testament to the author’s talent and nuanced writing that I found myself still having empathy and understanding even when they did the most despicable things. Neither of them is particularly likeable, but they are compelling and I vacillated between compassion and loathing towards them throughout the book. 

Reading this takes you on one hell of a ride. Each time I thought I had it figured out everything I thought I knew would be turned on its head and there were so many twists and turns that I got book whiplash. 

What Lies Between Us has shot to the top spot of my favourite thriller this year and is now my favourite book by this author.  I just hope this is picked up for adaptation like my previous favourite, The One, which I’m excited to see on Netflix soon. 

READ. THIS. BOOK. 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

John Marrs is the author of #1 Best Sellers The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, Welcome to Wherever You Are, Her Last Move, The Passengers and What Lies Between Us. The One has been translated into 30 different languages and is to be turned into an eight-part Netflix series in autumn 2020.
After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time writer.

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Who We Were by B. M. Carroll ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 7th, 2020
Publisher: Viper
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Who We Were. Thank you to Viper Books for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.
Photo by Mrs Cooke’s Books.

Viper asked us to share a little bit about what we were like at school at the start of our post so I’ll start with some school memories and then pics for you to have a good giggle at.

I wasn’t the popular girl, the pretty girl, class clown or the sporty girl. I was the awkward  and shy ginger girl who was rubbish at sports. I had quite a few friends and was happy to talk to anybody, but I certainly wasn’t cool or popular.

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Me aged 11. Mum convinced me to have a perm and being ginger I ended up looking like Annie. Believe it or not this is one of the flattering pics.
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My English teacher, Mrs Ball. She helped me through hard times and encouraged my writing.

When I was twelve we moved to the south coast and I went to an all girls school. You can imagine how bitchy it could get with hundreds of hormonal teenage girls all together. I did struggle with bullying for a time but I came out the other side, accepted their apologies, and some of those girls are still my friends today. I do have a lot of fond memories: school trips, sleepovers with friends, being part of the school production of Jesus Christ Superstar and the French exchange trip are just a few that spring to mind.

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France, April 1993
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Trip to France, April 1993
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Jesus Christ Superstar, November 1994
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Mole and badger in drama class

This book certainly brought back memories and I could recognise people I knew back then in some of the characters. Though I went to school in the 80s and 90s in the UK I felt that the author captures the secondary/high school experience perfectly.

Me on leavers day, May 19th 1995

SYNOPSIS:

If you looked the other way, should you be punished?

Twenty years after they went their separate ways, friends and enemies are coming together for their school reunion. Katy, who is desperate to show that she’s no longer the shy wallflower. Annabel, who ruled the school until a spectacular fall from grace. Zach, popular and cruel, but who says he’s a changed man.

And Robbie, always the victim, who never stood a chance. As the reunion nears, a terrible event that binds the group together will resurface. Because someone is still holding a grudge, and will stop at nothing to reveal their darkest secrets…

MY REVIEW:

High school drama at its best; this compelling thriller is Dawson’s Creek with a deadly twist. 

It’s twenty years since Annabel, Grace, Melissa, Katy, Luke, Zach and Robbie left Macquarie High and went their separate ways. Their favourite memories, worst moments, hopes and dreams were recorded in their high school yearbook, a lasting reminder of who they were at that moment in time. With their twenty year reunion approaching, Katy thinks it would be fun to create an updated yearbook, an idea that soon turns sinister when someone begins to send distressing, personal messages to some of the group. How does this person know their deepest secrets? As the day of the reunion draws closer, it becomes clear that someone is holding a grudge and looking for revenge. But who? And why?

I flew through this book in just a day. Impossible to predict or put down, I couldn’t figure out who was behind the messages and had to keep reading until I knew the answer. Under the surface of this readable thriller, is a book that deals with some sensitive and hard-hitting issues, such as bullying, drug use and mental illness. The flashbacks to their school years also address how cruel and callous teenagers can be and the long lasting effects that can have. The author writes about these issues with sensitivity and has created richly drawn, authentic characters that are full of depth. I was completely immersed and invested in their lives, particularly Robbie’s heartbreaking story and Annabel’s struggles with her teenage son. 

Running parallel to the drama of the character’s personal lives is something much darker and more ominous. At first it seems like it is just a cruel prank, but as the story goes on it is clear that they could be in real danger. Everyone is a suspect: wives and husbands, life-long friends, new lovers. How do you protect yourself from a threat when you don’t know who they are or what they want? The tension and fear radiated from the pages and I was on tenterhooks as we approached the dramatic climax.

Emotionally-charged, dramatic, twisty and surprising, this riveting thriller keeps you on your toes from start to finish. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ber Carroll (also known as B.M Carroll) was born in Blarney, a small but famous village in Ireland. The middle child of six, she often retreated from the chaos of family life by immersing herself in books. She has fond memories of the mobile library bus that used to pull up outside their house in Blarney and the dozen or so books she would borrow at a time, some quite inappropriate for her age.

Ber moved to Sydney in 1995 with her boyfriend (now husband) Rob. She got a job as a finance manager in the IT industry and began to climb the corporate ladder. The exciting and dynamic work environment captured her imagination and inspired her first novel. When Executive Affair was published, Ber flatly denied it was in any way auto-biographical. She now admits that the novel did have a lot of her in it, and suspects that half the people who purchased the book were her ex colleagues, to see if they were in it too. Ber gave up her finance career when she realised that she couldn’t hold down a demanding job, be mum to two small children and write books to contractual deadline. She now writes fulltime, but says that she misses getting dressed up for work and being around people who listen to what she has to say, unlike her kids!

Ber is the author of nine novels, including Just Business, High Potential, The Better Woman, Less Than Perfect, Worlds Apart and Once Lost. Her most recent novels The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy and Who We Were (coming May 2020) are published under B.M. Carroll.

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