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Blog Tour: One Child Alive (Rockwell & Decker 3) by Ellery Kane

Published: June 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Noir Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series, Hardboiled, Romance Novel
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Welcome to me stop on the tour for this entertaining whodunit. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

One, two, three. She counts the bodies dragged from the burning beach house, smoke rising from their cotton pajamas, and remembers a fourth; red hair, freckles, clinging to his mother’s legs, begging to watch the fireworks a while longer. “Where’s the little boy?” she whispers…

In the ashes of the Fox family’s seafront vacation home, Olivia Rockwell can barely hold back her tears as she wonders who in the close-knit town of Fog Harbor could destroy such a warm, loving family. Then she spots a little green toy soldier in the sand and follows a set of small footprints along the beach to an abandoned lifeguard hut. Inside, she finds the youngest Fox child, Thomas. The only survivor…

Holding his trembling body close, Olivia promises to keep him safe. She knows the agony of losing family at such a young age. But the second Thomas catches sight of Detective Will Decker’s sliver police badge over her shoulder, the little boy’s scream pierces the night. Could the family have been targeted by someone sworn to protect them? Is anyone safe if the police themselves are the primary suspect?

Unsure who she can trust, Olivia keeps hold of the tiny horseshoe charm she finds at the scene and follows the trail deep into the web of lies surrounding this seemingly perfect family. But just as a tip-off from a local lighthouse-keeper puts the killer within reach, tragedy strikes: little Thomas is snatched from his bed.

Up against a calculating monster who seems to know her every weakness, Olivia must dig deeper than ever before to find this innocent child. But when one twisted killer becomes two, can she stay alive long enough to save him?

A totally gripping and utterly addictive page-turner that will have you biting your nails and reeling at the twists. Perfect for fans of Melinda Leigh, Lisa Regan and Kendra Elliot!

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MY REVIEW:

One, two, three. She counts the bodies dragged from the burning beach house, smoke rising from their cotton pajamas, and remembers a fourth; red hair, freckles, clinging to his mother’s legs, begging to watch the fireworks a while longer. “Where’s the little boy?” she whispers…

The third installment in the Rockwell and Decker Series sees the duo investigating the murder of the picture-perfect Fox family while on summer vacation. Four-year-old Thomas is the only one who survived after fleeing from “the bad man”. Olivia promises to keep the terrified boy safe, but how can she do that when it seems the killer could be one of the very people who swore to protect and serve? 

Gripping, tense, twisty and compelling, this was another readable thriller from Ellery Kane. She keeps you guessing, offering a variety of suspects that are hard to narrow down to just one. And just when you think you have it figured out, she throws a twist your way to make you question what you thought you knew, making it one of those great thrillers where you don’t know who the perpetrator is until she decides to make the big reveal. 

The characters are so familiar now that I feel like I slot easily back into their lives, but the author succinctly catches us up and makes it easy for anyone who has never read the series before to also enjoy the book. Olivia and Will are great protagonists who are easy to like and root for. They make a great team and I think that Olivia working as a psychologist rather than for the Police gives this series an edge, something that makes it stand out from the other crime series with dual protagonists. 

One Child Alive is an exciting, fast-paced thriller that any fans of this genre will enjoy. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Forensic psychologist by day, novelist by night, Ellery Kane has been writing–professionally and creatively–for as long as she can remember. Just like many of her main characters, Ellery loves to ask why, which is the reason she became a psychologist in the first place. Real life really is stranger than fiction, and Ellery’s writing is often inspired by her day job. Evaluating violent criminals and treating trauma victims, she has gained a unique perspective on the past and its indelible influence on the individual. And she’s heard her fair share of real life thrillers.

Ellery lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, a picturesque setting that provides the backdrop for many of her novels. If you don’t find Ellery interviewing murderers behind prison walls or pecking away at her latest novel, she is probably at the gym landing a solid jab-cross to a punching bag; riding bicycles with her special someone; or enjoying a movie the old-fashioned way–at the theater with popcorn and Milk Duds.

Ellery was previously selected as one of ten semifinalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition, and she recently signed a three book deal with Bookouture for her new Rockwell and Decker mystery thriller series. The first book is scheduled for release in 2020.

If you’d like to receive a notification when new books are released, please sign up for Ellery’s newsletter at ellerykane.com. Ellery also signs e-books on authorgraph.com.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the others bloggers taking part in the blog tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tour: Murder at the Fair (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery Book 6) by Verity Bright

Published: June 15th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this delightful cosy mystery. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Summer flowers, warm sunshine, a maypole dance and… is that another murder? A tricky case is afoot for Lady Swift!

Summer, 1921Lady Eleanor Swift, the best amateur sleuth in the country, is delighted to be in charge of the prize-giving at her village summer fair. But the traditional homemade raft race takes a tragic turn when the local undertaker, Solemn Jon, turns up dead amongst the ducks. Jon was the life of any party and loved by the entire village. Surely this was simply an awful accident?

But when a spiteful obituary is printed in the local paper, Eleanor realises there may be more to Jon’s death than first thought. Despite handsome Detective Seldon giving her strict instructions not to interfere, Eleanor owes it to Jon’s good name to root out the truth. So with her partner in crime, Gladstone the bulldog, Eleanor starts digging for clues…

When another local dies in a riding accident, the police refuse to believe he was murdered. But a second vindictive death notice convinces Eleanor of foul play. Solemn Jon’s assistant, a bullish banker and a majestic marquess make her suspect list, but it isn’t until she finds a dusty old photograph that she knows the true culprit behind both crimes. Then another obituary appears – her own! Can Eleanor nail the killer before she too turns up dead among the ducks?

An utterly compelling and charming cozy mystery! Pure delight for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Lee Strauss.

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MY REVIEW:

Summer. 1921. Lady Eleanor Swift is the guest of honour at the village’s annual May Day Fair. But a fun day out soon turns into tragedy when the local undertaker is found dead in the reeds. What at first appears to be an accident, soon takes a more sinister turn after a snide obituary is published in the local paper. Sure that his death was no accident, Solemn Jon’s widow asks Eleanor to find the culprit and bring them to justice.

When another ‘accidental’ death occurs and is followed by another venomous obituary, Eleanor is sure the same person is responsible. But the police refuse to listen, leaving Eleanor and her butler Clifford with another mystery that needs to be solved. 

Witty and compelling, Murder at the Fair is another delightful and entertaining escapade that transports us back to what feels like a simpler time. As soon as I began reading I felt like I was enveloped in the warm and cosy atmosphere of the author’s prose. While this is only my second foray into the series, I look forward to reading them and immersing myself in the warm glow that they emanate. 

Eleanor Swift is a wonderful character. The ametur sleuth is funny, feisty, intelligent and vibrant. I love how she goes against the grain of what is expected of both women and her class at the time, giving the story a modern edge while also feeling authentically historic. I absolutely adore her and Clifford together. They are such an entertaining duo who I would love to solve a mystery with. 

A quick and readable cosy mystery that you can enjoy as either a standalone or part of the series, I loved this fun, sharp and uplifting tale. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Apple Books
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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All In Her Head by Nikki Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this debut thriller. Thank you Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Orion and NetGalley for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Her life is a pack of lies. But what if she is the liar?

Alison is more alone than she’s ever been. She is convinced that her ex-husband Jack is following her. She is certain she recognises the strange woman who keeps approaching her at work.

She knows she has a good reason to be afraid. But she can’t remember why.

Then the mention of one name brings a whole lifetime of memories rushing back in.

Alison feels like she’s losing her mind . . . but it could just lead her to the truth.

MY REVIEW:

Nothing is as it seems in this compelling, haunting and emotionally charged debut. I raced through the pages, not wanting to put the book down until all my questions were answered. 

OMG! What a rollercoaster ride! This complex, multi-layered thriller dripped with suspense and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Told in dual timelines by two narrators, there’s an atmosphere of foreboding from the start. What did Jack do that ended their marriage and fills Alison with fear? What is it that Alison isn’t remembering? Who is Sarah and what does she want? 

The brilliance of this book is in its iceberg quality – so much is hidden beneath its smooth surface. A masterclass in thriller writing., it is spectacularly written, deftly plotted and full of so many twists and turns it made my head spin. My head was full of theories and questions, which shifted as truths were slowly revealed. And while I did guess some of the twists early on, I also fell for many of the red herrings expertly plotted along the way. Alison and Jack are both complex, captivating but flawed characters. I felt for Alison immediately, her fear and anxiety radiating from the pages. It also made her an unreliable narrator, making the story all the more intriguing and unguessable. 

A merging of psychological thriller, suspense and domestic fiction, All In Her Head is a breathtaking debut from an exciting new talent. There are a lot of great thrillers out at the moment, but this is one you shouldn’t miss.

Nikki Smith Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nikki studied English Literature at Birmingham University before pursuing a career in finance, working in a variety of different companies including an investment bank and a trampoline park. She always had a passion for writing and in 2017 she had a ‘now or never’ moment and applied for a Curtis Brown Creative 3 month writing course which she absolutely loved. Later that year she had a short story published in the Writer’s Forum Magazine, and submitted the opening chapters of her novel to a competition where she won the opportunity to be mentored by the author Amanda Reynolds. She lives near Guildford with her husband, two daughters and a very friendly Burmese cat called Saffi.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart by Margarita Montimore ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: March 5th, 2020
Publisher: Gollancz
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Magical Realism

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this enjoyable debut. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and to Gollancz and Netgalley for the eBook ARC in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

If you knew your future, would you change your past?

Brooklyn, 1982. Oona Lockhart is about to celebrate her 19th birthday and ring in the New Year. But at the stroke of midnight, she is torn from her friends and boyfriend, finding herself in her fifty-one-year-old body, thirty-two years into the future.

Greeted by a friendly stranger, Oona learns that on every birthday she will enter a different year of her adult life at random. Still a young woman on the inside, but ever changing on the outside, who will she be next year? Wealthy philanthropist? Nineties Club Kid? World traveller? Wife to a man she’s never met?

While Oona gets glimpses of the future and thinks she knows what’s to come, living a normal life is challenging. As she struggles between fighting her fate and accepting it, Oona must learn to navigate a life that’s out of order – but is it broken?

Margarita Montimore’s whip-smart debut is an uplifting joyride through an ever-changing world that shows us the endurance of love, the timelessness of family and what it means to truly live in the moment.

MY REVIEW:

It’s New Years Eve and when the clock strikes midnight it will be 1983 and Oona Lockhart will turn nineteen. Surrounded by friends and the love of her life, Dale, she’s having an amazing night and feeling excited about the year ahead. Only when the clock strikes twelve she finds herself awakening in a strange house, with a strange man next to her who claims they are ‘besties’ and in a body that is much older and bigger than the one she was just in. It’s 2015 and Oona is nineteen on the inside, but she’s fifty-one on the outside. She’s just had her first ‘jump’ and learns that from now on at midnight every new year she’ll jump to an undetermined and unpredictable year of her life. She will never live chronologically and her internal and external ages will always be different. She only retains the memories her internal self has lives so it is like waking up with amnesia each year. 

Frightened and full of disbelief, most of Oona’s first year is spent hoping she’ll wake up as her nineteen-year-old self again. Slowly she learns more about what to expect from her mother and Kenzie, her assistant, who are the only two people who know about her strange condition. As the years pass, Oona learns to navigate her unique situation and make the best of her rearranged life.

This was a charming, quick and entertaining read. The synopsis definitely piqued my interest. Afterall, who hasn’t thought it would be fun to jump back into a time we’re nostalgic for or know what will happen in the future? How would you feel if that actually happened? And can we really change our destiny or are some things just meant to be?

As we travel through Oona’s jumbled life we experience the highs and lows along with her on an emotional rollercoaster. Each year felt like it was almost a different person as she tries to get to grips with how best to live this crazy life. She grieves for the years and the people missing from her life in each jump, faces the temptation to know too much about her future and to change what she wishes were different and faces the heartbreaking realisation that any lasting relationships, be it romantic or friendships, will be virtually impossible. She doesn’t alway handle things well or do the right thing, like any of us in our chronological lives, but overall she does a great job of handling a situation for which there is no rule book. 

The author skillfully weaves together the myriad of threads of this complex and intricate plot, peppering the story with surprising twists and revelations along the way. Though the ending was perfect for the story, I was left wishing I could have read more of her jumbled years. The characters are richly drawn and I quickly took to Oona, finding her relatable despite the bizarre situation she finds herself in. At the core she was the same as anybody else and that truth is what made her someone you care about. 

Compelling, thought-provoking and quirky, The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart is a great debut. A perfect read for anyone looking for something a bit different.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

After receiving a BFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, Margarita Montimore worked for over a decade in publishing and social media before deciding to focus on the writing dream full-time. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and dog.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon
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The Leaving Party by Lesley Sanderson⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Publisher: Bookouture
Published: January 31st, 2020
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this new thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

Every year on the same day, on the anniversary, I receive a black rose. Thirteen years of dark petals, jagged thorns, dredging up memories I’ve tried to forget…

I’ve packed up my life. All my belongings are carefully sealed in labelled boxes, my suitcase ready for my big move. I’m just days away from a new life with my boyfriend Ben.

No one knows the real reason I’m desperate to leave.

My best friend Lena is throwing me a leaving party. A celebration, to say goodbye. Champagne to toast my farewell. Speeches, full of fond memories.

No one knows what I’m running from.

Then another black rose appears, dragging up thirteen years of buried memories. My passport goes missing. The very people I am trying to escape from turn up at our house.

Someone knows what I did.

This party was meant to be the first night of the rest of my life – but now I don’t know if I’ll see tomorrow.

Someone knows my secret. They’re in my home, they’re at my party, and they’re making me pay for it.

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MY REVIEW:

The Leaving Party is a story about how one night can change your life. About what can happen when long-held secrets and toxic obsession collide. And makes us question how well we really know those we consider closest to us. 

Ava is on the cusp of a new life. in two days she’s joining her boyfriend Ben in New York and she can finally leave behind the awful thing she did that’s been haunting her for thirteen years. She’s tried to move on but so far it’s followed wherever she goes with the appearance of a single black rose on the same day every year. she’s never told anyone, not even her best friend Lena who saved her life terrible, fateful night. But today one appears out of sequence, terrifying Ava and convincing her that her tormenter will be at the party and might just be planning their revenge. 

The backstory is slowly told in flashbacks of another party thirteen years ago. What happened that night cast a dark shadow over their lives and bound the pair together for the rest of their lives. Ava feels beholden to Lena for her actions that night and it’s clear that Lena plays on this, using it to keep Ava close and guilt her into accepting how she clings to her and wants her all to herself. The dynamic is unhealthy but Ava feels so indebted to Lena that she can’t see it clearly.  

I didn’t find Ava or Lena particularly likeable. Ava was a character I felt a bit indifferent about and I never particularly took to her or feel the connection you need with a character to really care about what happens to them. Though she talks about having done something awful and secretive, I never felt that tension or got the feeling she had done anything wrong, but sensed she felt a huge amount of guilt for causing an accident that ended in tragedy. Lena was different. I didn’t like or trust her from early on, and though she unnerved me I was able to feel her pain more keenly. As more of her character was revealed it was clear she had an unhealthy attachment to Ava and might benefit from some psychiatric help. She was a great character to read as though she’s clearly unhinged we’re never sure if she’s the good or bad guy. 

I loved the premise of this book. It was full of mystery and started with tension in the air as Ava receives the rose that morning. Though it never reached a level where I was on the edge of my seat,  tension was added to the story with the mystery of what had happened to Ben, the influx of sinister, unwanted party gifts and Ava trying to figure out who she could trust and which guest was behind it all. I had suspicions about the suspect early on that ultimately proved true, but the author kept me on my toes with a number of viable suspects that each seemed to have equal merit and made it had to be sure who was the perpetrator.

The Leaving Party was a quick, easy and engaging read. It is perfect for those who enjoy mysteries that don’t have the gruesome element you often find in this genre.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lesley spends her days writing in coffee shops in Kings Cross where she lives and also works as a librarian in a multicultural school. She has lived and worked in Paris and speaks four languages. She attended the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course in 2015/6, and in 2017 was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize. Lesley discovered Patricia Highsmith as a teenager and has since been hooked on psychological thrillers. She is particularly interested in the pschology of female relationships.

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The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Publisher: Orion
Published: January 9th, 2020 (Kindle)
April 30th, 2020 (Paperback)
Genre: Mystery, thriller.
Trigger Warnings: Mental health issues, postnatal depression 

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this brilliant thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part, and Orion and NetGalley for the eBook ARC of this novel.

SYNOPSIS:

Five Women.

They meet at their NCT Group. The only thing they have in common is that they’re all pregnant.

Five Secrets.

Three years later they’re all good friends. Aren’t they?

One Missing Husband.

Now the police have come knocking. Someone knows something.

And the trouble with secrets is that someone always tells.

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MY REVIEW:

Wow! What an exhilarating read this turned out to be! Sizzling with tension, this had me on the edge of my seat and up until the wee hours as I couldn’t put it down. The author threw some clever curveballs to throw us off track and I found myself unable to guess where it was going or who I should suspect. A heady mix that made this a delight to read.

When banker Ewan Upton is reported missing Iona and her partner are called in to investigate. His wife Bella is a mess. She has no idea where he could be and his missing passport indicates he planned to disappear. But there’s something niggling at Iona and she thinks there is more to the case. The night before Ewan vanished Bella had been out with a group of friends known as the Mother’s Club. The five women have been meeting regularly since having their babies three years ago but seem to not like each other or have much in common. Though they all have a framed copy of the same photo, taken the night of their first meeting, on display in their homes. Does Bella know what happened to her husband? And do the other mothers, who don’t seem to like each other, know the secret too? 

The story is told in dual timelines; in the present day the police are investigating the disappearance of Ewan Upton, and in flashbacks we get to know Bella and the other mothers. They are an eclectic mix of people. All very different and not who you’d put together without the commonality of having babies at the same time. Though Ewan’s disappearance is the mystery that needs to be solved, it was in the flashbacks that the best storytelling occurs and we see the raw, no-holds-barred life of each of the women as they struggle with new motherhood, the changes to their relationships, to their bodies, and the fact that their life is now completely different. Their struggles are different and unique but they are all very relatable and true to life. I found these parts of the story emotional at times as they discuss some often brushed-over or hidden parts of parenthood. They were also my favourite parts as get to know each woman on a deeper level, which helped when the tension soared in the present day as we could understand their actions. 

Bella is a mousy, downtrodden wife who’s let herself go since her son, Teddy was born. She suffers from postnatal depression which included hallucination when he was very young and lives in fear of it returning and maybe losing her precious boy. She is lacking in confidence, something that isn’t helped by her controlling, douchebag of a husband, Ewan. God I hated him! My spidey senses told me something was off about him from the start and he turned out to be an awful husband, father and human being who treated everyone like dirt and was only out for himself. I felt increasingly sad for Bella and angry at Ewan, hoping he didn’t return home so that she could have some chance of a happy life once she’d come to terms with his leaving.

This was the first time I’ve read a book by this author and I was blown away by the intricate, clever, riveting and twisty plot. She kept the reader in the dark about so much for most of the book and I loved that I was in the same position as Iona and her colleagues, trying to figure out if the Mothers Club were telling the truth and what had happened to Ewan. I was stumped. While I had some faint suspicions I was mostly clueless which made it all the more amazing when revelations and twists came and things began to fall into place. I was thrilled when Bella’s inner tigress awakened and things begin to turn in the story. The tension soared and it felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride I didn’t want to get off, unable to put the book down until I reached the end and discovered the truth at last. 

If you like well-written and surprising psychological thrillers then read this book.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Naughton’s debut novel, The Hanged Man Rises, was shortlisted for the Costa children’s award. It was followed by a second young adult thriller, The Blood List. Her thrillers for adults, Tattletale and The Other Couple (Orion) are Amazon bestsellers. Sarah lives in London with her husband and sons. 

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Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Publisher: Penguin UK
Published: January 9th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, Kindle.
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption

MY REVIEW:

Ms. Lupton, you’ve broken me. This has got to be one of, if not the most, emotionally fraught books I’ve ever read. It has seeped into my soul. 

From the first page we jump into the action as headteacher Matthew Marr is shot by a masked gunman stalking the halls of his school. The story then follows the stories of staff, students, parents and police, that play out simultaneously over the 108 minutes that the school is at their mercy. The writing is evocative, alluring, and almost lyrical; barely a word is wasted as you’re drawn into the living nightmare so vividly that I found myself actually holding my breath.  

As a mother, this story is one of my worst nightmares; I can not begin to imagine the terror of having one of my children held hostage by gunmen, and pray I never have to. The author pulled me in, immersing me in the story and making me feel the characters’ terror. I saw myself in the frightened mother and the police woman, saw those who’ve taught my children in the teachers, and, most gut-wrenching of all, I saw my children in the students.

While at first glance this is a book about a school shooting, it is actually so much more. It is a multilayered novel that is also a statement on our political landscape and the hate culture being fostered by racists and extremists on both sides. The author also explores what drives the to commit such atrocities. How are they driven to violence, destruction and revenge?  And how do they mask that hatred so the people around them never see it? She shows the harsh truths of these incidents, such as some people immediately pointing the finger of suspicion at the two refugee Muslim students and how, when the identities of the gunmen are revealed, they are seen as less than human and blame is put upon their parents for not doing their job right. She helps break down these stigmas and shows the beating heart behind those who some can be so quick to dehumanise. She also reminds us it is not only “bad” parents whose children commit evil acts and they are usually as shocked and distraught by what their child has done as everybody else.

But this isn’t a maudlin book, it is also incredibly uplifting at times as we are shown examples of astounding bravery, selflessness and sacrifice despite their fear. The very best of humanity versus the very worst. A reminder that there is more good in the world than bad, and what extraordinary things we can do when pushed to our limits and those we love are in danger. 

I was left with a major book hangover after finishing this powerful masterpiece and cannot recommend it highly enough. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. It is a breathtaking, intense, harrowing, moving and exceptional novel. I included Three Hours in #EmmasAnticipatedTreasure for January and it more than deserves not only it’s place there, but every bit of the hype it’s generating right now. Don’t miss what I think will be one of the best books of the year.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK for the eBook of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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I Dare You by Sam Carrington ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

AN INNOCENT GAME. A SHOCKING CRIME. A COMMUNITY FULL OF SECRETS.

Mapledon, 1989.

Two little girls were out playing a game of dares. Only one returned home.

The ten-year-old told police what she saw: village loner Billy ‘Creepy’ Crawley dragged her friend into his truck and disappeared.

No body was found, but her testimony sent Crawley to prison for murder. An open and shut case, the right man behind bars.

The village could sleep safe once again.

Now…

Anna thought she had left Mapledon and her nightmares behind but a distraught phone call brings her back to face her past.

30 years ago someone lied. 30 years ago the man convicted wasn’t the only guilty party.

Now he’s out of prison looking for revenge. The question is, who will he start with?

MY REVIEW:

What a roller-coaster ride! I was quickly gripped by this exhilarating thriller and found myself reading fervently, desperate for answers about what happened to ten-year-old Jonie Hayes, how the narrators were connected to it all, and what secrets the residents of Mapledon were hiding. 

The story is told in dual timelines and is narrated by two women – Anna and Lizzie. We soon learn that both women lived in Mapledon as children but left for very different reasons: Anna because of bad memories of her childhood friend’s murder and feeling stifled, and Lizzie because she was taken and put into care for unkown reasons. They both have unanswered questions about what happened thirty years ago and have been affected by the legacy of Billy ‘Creepy’ Crawley and the murder of Jonie. As they look deeper it is clear that nothing is as it seems and are forced to question everything they thought they knew as they unearth secrets they were never meant to find…

This was the second book I’ve read by this author and I was every bit as captivated as when I read The Missing Wife, cementing her place on my must-read authors list. The thing I liked about her writing in this book was how she told the flashbacks to 1989 in reverse chronological order up until the highly anticipated big reveal. This slowly revealed clues to the reader while increasing the tension and slowly revealed the roles everyone played in the tragic events. 

Anna and Lizzie were both unreliable protagonists by their own admission. They were children thirty years ago and it is their fuzzy recollection of events that leads them to finally search for the truth. Anna’s relationship with her mother Muriel is fraught and she’s hasn’t been back to Mapledon once since she left. It seems with every day more cracks appear in their relationship and Anna is increasingly sure her mother has lied and hidden the truth from her about what had happened that summer. I definitely had my feelings about Muriel’s character coloured by Anna and only ever saw her as a busybody that was lying to her daughter. I was sure she was entrenched in what happened and felt like screaming at her to just tell her daughter what she knew. Lizzie was a character I had a lot of empathy for but I was torn about how much of the truth I wanted her to discover, especially as it seemed she had the most she could lose by the revelations. All of the characters in this book are fractured and troubled and I often wondered if they would be torn apart even more by the truth rather than healed by it. 

I Dare You is a tense, twisty, jaw-dropping thriller about childhood friendships, small town politics, secrets and murder. I guessed some of the twists early on but so much was a mystery to me as we approached the end. The author cleverly wove the clues together until the full picture emerged and rendered me speechless. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves psychological thrillers and can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Thank you to Avon Books UK and NetGalley for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Out now.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Blossom Twins by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the fifth installment in this sensational crime series. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part, and to Bookouture, NetGalley and Carol Wyer for my copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

Their parents thought they were hiding..

One beautiful summer’s evening, thirteen-year-old-twins Ivy and Erin Westmore snuggle down in a tent in their back garden, giggling and sharing secrets.

When their mother goes to wake the girls the next morning, their tent is empty.

The alarm is raised and Detective Natalie Ward is put on the case. When the twins’ bodies are discovered on nearby marshland, covered with deep pink petals, an icy shiver travels down Natalie’s spine. Everything about the girls’ deaths reminds her of a horrifying case she worked on earlier in her career, which saw a killer of the worst kind placed behind bars.

The next day, that feeling is heightened when she receives a chilling note saying ‘I’m back’. Is this killer a copycat or did Natalie put the wrong person in prison all those years ago? In a small town, where no stranger goes unnoticed, what is Natalie missing?

Consumed by the case, determined to prevent more deaths, Natalie misses the fact that it is her attention the killer wants. And to get it, he has his sights set firmly on her precious daughter, Leigh..

Gripping, fast-paced and nail-bitingly tense, this book will keep you flying through the pages long into the night. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter.

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MY REVIEW:

OMG! Carol, you broke me. I felt utterly bereft after the emotional journey from reading this book and it took days to recover. The fifth installment in the Detective Natalie Ward series may have a sweet, floral title but behind it Carol’s most shocking, jaw-dropping and emotional book to date. I quickly devoured it, filled with an urgent need for answers, only to be left wishing I hadn’t found them. This is her best novel yet and shows just why this woman is one of my favourite, must-read crime writers.

When fourteen-year-old Isabella Sharpe disappears during a concert a search soon leads to the discovery of her body. Detective Natalie Ward and her team are called to investigate and the macabre scene immediately reminds her of the first murders she investigated – The Blossom Twins. Those devastating crimes shattered Natalie and the mistakes made haunt her to this day. She tells herself she’s overthinking – the killer was found and died in prison – but she can’t seem to shake her suspicions. 

Twins Ivy and Erin Westmore go missing while camping in their back garden and soon the girls’ bodies are found chillingly posed just like the Blossom Twins. Details that were never made public are identical. Is this the work of a copycat or did Natalie get the wrong man? She and her team race to find answers before more innocent lives are taken.

After four previous books it’s fair to say I’m attached to these characters and they feel like old friends. That made this a hard book to read as Natalie and her husband David are now separated but living in the same house and haven’t told the kids. He’s hoping for a reconciliation, she’s looking forward but is also battling immense guilt over how her children will take the news. This storyline is a big part of the book and Natalie’s emotional turmoil isn’t helped by her new case having disturbing similarities to an old case that haunts her to this day, a new boss that talks to her like she’s imcompitent, or the arrival of a former nemesis charged with helping the team find their killer. 

The addition of John Briggs to the team added an extra dose of tension and drama to the story. He and Natalie worked together on the Blossom Twins case and its clear there’s no love lost between them. He rubs the whole team up the wrong way with his brash, aggressive and insensitive manner and consistently undermines Natalie by going behind her back to their boss questioning her capability to solve the case. I hated him. He was a perfect nemesis for Natalie and though I love how well the team usually work together, it was interesting to see how she reacted to someone who isn’t a team player and was determined to get in her way.

As is usually the case with Carol’s books, my favourite parts were those where we get the killer’s point of view. He’s manipulative, callous, cocky, twisted and sent a chill down my spine. It was terrifying how in control he is and how detailed his plans are. The flashbacks revealed just how far he would go to get what he wanted and how sinister he was. I had some wild theories about who this person was and I went through many different suspects, telling myself I must be wrong with the two I had the most suspicion of. It was a puzzle I couldn’t solve, which is something I love when reading this genre.

So if you want a fast-paced, nail-biting, addictive, heartbreaking and thrilling book then look no further. More than ever I’m desperate to know what is next for Natalie and her team. Though I’m a bit scared of what Carol might do next.

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer is an award-winning author and stand up comedian who writes feel-good comedies and gripping crime fiction.

A move to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in LITTLE GIRL LOST, the #2 best-selling book on Amazon, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible and Top 150 USA Today best-seller.

A second series featuring DI Natalie Ward quickly followed and to date her crime novels have sold over 600,000 copies and been translated for various overseas markets, including Norwegian, Italian, Turkish, Hungarian Slovak, Czech and Polish.

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

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr Grumpy… who is very, very grumpy.

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

Carol also blogs at http://www.carolwyer.com

The Blossom Twins - Blog Tour Poster

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Pact by Amy Heydenrych ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this absorbing thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for my invitation to take part and to Zaffre and NetGalley for my copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:    

What if a prank leads to murder?

When Freya arrives at her dream job with the city’s hottest start-up, she can’t wait to begin a new and exciting life, including dating her colleague Jay.

However, Nicole, Jay’s ex and fellow employee, seems intent on making her life a misery. After a big deadline, where Nicole continually picks on her, Freya snaps and tells Jay about the bullying and together they concoct a revenge prank. The next morning Nicole is found dead in her apartment.

Is this just a prank gone wrong? Or does Freya know someone whos is capable of murder – and could she be next?

MY REVIEW:

“It was just a joke, a little slice of revenge…”

The story at the heart of this book is one that is all too familiar to most women. We all have stories about the male colleague who makes unwelcome suggestive remarks, gets a bit too handsy, holds onto a hug for that little bit too long or makes us feel uncomfortable in a way we can’t put our finger on. I bet there’s someone in your mind that describes right now. I know there is in mine. And what do we do? We usually brush it aside so we don’t cause a problem and tell ourselves it’s harmless fun. And if we do report it then we face the accusations that we led them on, did something to cause it and watch as things are twisted to paint them as the victim and us as the harasser. The #MeToo movement is beginning to change the tides and has inevitably sparked a wave of books and other media that address these issues. The Pact is the best I’ve read yet.

I didn’t expect this to be such a timely book but I am glad this author chose to write this particular story. As well as sexual harassment the book takes a look at other social issues such as bullying in the work place, the inequality between the sexes in certain professions, women being pitted against each other and how the media looks at female victims of crime. All the topics were handled in an honest and sensitive manner that felt realistic and sadly relatable.

The author filled this book an eclectic mix of strong, intelligent but flawed female characters. The narrators, Isla and Freya, are both ambitious and passionate about their chosen field. Both have things in their past that have left them a little fragile and fractured but also gave them strength that I don’t think they recognised in themselves at first. I liked both characters and thought their bad decisions only made them more human and relatable. Nicole was the mean girl. While she’s alive we only see her through Freya’s eyes and, as she is being bullied by her, that’s quite a biased lens. I could see how some people were manipulating things and wondered if there were things we didn’t know about that were contributing to her behaviour. Another thing that happened because we only see her from Freya’s point of view is that it was hard at times to be sympathetic or mournful of her death. The choice to make her both murder victim and villainess, and the author’s ability to evoke in me such constrasting feelings towards her, were a testament to her talent. The characters who manipulated, lied and harassed people were expertly written (I’m not naming them to avoid spoilers). They were classic examples of abusers and narcissist – masquerading behind a veil of charm, charisma, kindness and kinship. Their victims were like lambs to the slaughter at the hands of their expert scheme.

The story is written in multiple timelines and moves somewhat sporadically between them. It felt choppy and confusing at times as a result and I sometimes had to double check what timeline we were in to make sense of things. But as more of the story was told this got better and things flowed more smoothly. There were times I liked the use of multiple timelines as they were used to weave clues through the story and tease the reader before jumping to another point in the story, leaving us in suspense.

The Pact manages to hit all the requirements for a riveting, explosive and involving thriller while also being an acutely observed commentary on some of the most harrowing, difficult and important issues we face. While I did guess some things early on I was left with my jaw on the floor when the author delivered the coup de grace.

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amy is a writer and book blogger based in South Africa. She has been shortlisted twice for the acclaimed Miles Morland African Writing Scholarship. Her short stories and poems have been published in multiple anthologies including Brittle Paper, The Kalahari Review and the Short Sharp Stories anthologies. When she is not writing her own fiction, she ghost-writes books and columns for global tech and financial companies.

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