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Single Mother by Samantha Hayes

Published: January 5th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller

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

SYNOPSIS:

I will do anything to protect my daughter. She’s all I’ve ever wanted and all I really have, but the moment I opened that letter and accepted the inheritance, I walked us right into a dangerous trap.

I know I should have got her to tell me who she’s been talking to on the phone late at night, and where she was the day I went to pick her up from school and couldn’t find her, but she’s not spoken a word since she found that little pile of bones buried in the garden.

And now she’s missing…

A jaw-dropping, addictive and totally twisty psychological thriller that will have you sleeping with the light on! Perfect for anyone who loved The Girl on the Train, Friend Request or The Wife Between Us.

MY REVIEW:

Single Mother is another first-rate thriller from Ms. Hayes. The intriguing prologue immediately draws you in and compels you to keep reading as you need to make sense of what you just read. Who was the woman? What – or who – was in the bag?

Single mum Mel will do anything to protect her daughter. Particularly from her abusive father Billy. She will sacrifice anything to make sure she’s safe. So when she loses her job, finds out Billy might have been released from prison and discovers she’s inherited a hotel from a mysterious benefactor all in the space of one day, she does the only thing she can do: move to the hotel where her ex can’t find them.

But once at Moreton Inn she finds it isn’t quite the sanctuary she’d hoped it would be. The hotel holds dark secrets and not everyone is pleased with her windfall. Once again Mel finds herself fighting to protect her daughter. But this time, the odds are life and death.

Samatha Hayes is one of those authors who I jump at the chance to take part in blog tours for as I know I am getting great quality writing, fascinating characters and a supercharged plot. She just keeps getting better and I think this could be her best book yet. Jaw-dropping, twisty and emotionally charged, it had me on the edge of my seat. And even though I guessed a lot of the twists, it didn’t dampen my enjoyment or mean this wasn’t still full of surprises.

Mel is a great character. As someone who was a single mother for many years and left an abusive ex, I saw a lot of myself in her and thought the author portrayed her as the perfect mix of feisty and determined yet vulnerable and afraid. She’s still dealing with the trauma from her abusive relationship and for me it was the small details that made it so realistic and resonate with me so much; things like finding joy in putting on body spray because her ex wouldn’t have allowed it. Even over a decade later, I will still find myself getting a kick from the fact I can do something my ex wouldn’t have allowed.

Another character I enjoyed was Miss Sarah. She was eerie, ghostlike and very gothic and I loved the mystery surrounding her. She has so much presence and impact every time she’s on the page despite the fact she never says a word. I got literal goosebumps on my arms a few times and didn’t want to turn out the light for fear of imagining her standing there in the dark!

If you enjoy psychological thrillers with a dash of spine-tingling fear, then this is the book for you. Just be prepared to get sucked in because once I started, I didn’t want to put this one down.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.

When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.

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Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

Published: December 31st, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery

Happy Paperback Publication Day to Dear Child! Thank you to Quercus for the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

You escaped. But your nightmare has just begun.


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:

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. 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.

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. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET 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.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Publisher: Headline
Published: January 21st, 2021
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this sensational debut thriller. Thank you to Headline for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

They don’t know what I did. And I intend to keep it that way.

How far would you go to win? Hyper-competitive people, mind games and a dangerous natural environment combine to make the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.

When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.

The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.

In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.

MY REVIEW:

“It’s that time of year again. The time the glacier gives up bodies.”

Wow! What a book! A deliciously dark, chilling, tense and twisty tour-de-force, this was hard to put down. 

Shiver is one of my most highly anticipated books of 2021, so I was thrilled to receive a proof and be asked to post my review today. It’s a book that’s been receiving a lot of praise and hype and, let me tell you, every bit of it is deserved. 

Milla, a former semi-pro snowboarder, returns to Le Rocher for a reunion with five of her  friends. The last time they were together was ten years ago when another member of their group, Saskia, disappeared. 

They start the weekend with an icebreaker game that quickly turns sinister and forces them to question who brought them together and why. Trapped together on a deserted glacier they don’t know who to trust or how far some will go to uncover the truth about what really happened on the mountain a decade ago…

“He doesn’t know what I did. None of them do. And I intend to keep it that way.”

An electrifying, high-octane thrill ride, this addictive and atmospheric read had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. 

Told in the present day and flashbacks to ten years ago, we see the story through the eyes of Milla, who I instantly felt a connection to as she hails from my hometown of Sheffield. Milla is haunted by events from the last time she was at Le Rocher, by a body yet to be given up by the glacier and a dark secret she desperately hopes to keep unveiled. I liked Milla and found her to be a compelling and relatable protagonist. In fact, all of the characters are compelling and richly drawn with backstories that keep you glued to the page. The claustrophobic dynamics of living and competing together on the mountain is ripe for conflict and the author mines this to perfection both in the flashbacks and in the present day. 

Though she’s an awful person, I loved Saskia’s character and thought she was fantastically written. As we only ever see her through Milla’s eyes it’s obviously a skewed opinion we have of her, but to be fair, I don’t think there’s much that could redeem her character. Despite the extremes she goes to, it all feels realistic and I could imagine someone who is both competitive and of questionable morals behaving that way to keep ahead. She gave the story a sense of foreboding and tension that made me keep reading as I needed to know what she’d do next and what had really happened to her.

“I soar above the ice, mind pure and empty, seeing nothing, hearing nothing. Only feeling. These precious moments of weightlessness at the top of the arc, suspended by gravity.”

Allie Reynolds is a former freestyle snowboarder and you can feel the authenticity of her expertise in the writing. The imagery, emotions and little details are all so transportive and on point that it is clear she has lived this. I felt like I was flying through the air with Milla and could almost feel the icy air of the French Alps. There were times that the book had a cinematic quality to it and I could definitely see this on the big screen one day. 

So if you’re looking for a book that’s dripping with suspense and an atmosphere thick with malevolence that has your heart pounding, this is a book for you. 

An outstanding debut by a talent that is one to watch, don’t miss this book. 

 Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

From the author’s website:

I was once a freestyle snowboarder in the UK top ten at halfpipe. I spent five winters in the mountains of France, Switzerland, Austria and Canada.

I taught English for fifteen years. I’ve also been a London primary school teacher, bookshop assistant, barmaid, nanny and French teacher/translator. My short fiction has appeared in women’s magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden and South Africa. I’ve been a full-time writer since 2018.

Born and raised in England, I moved to Gold Coast Australia in 2003. I have two young children and a cat who thinks he’s a dog.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Silent Ridge (Detective Megan Carpenter 3) by Gregg Olsen

Published: December 4th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Crime Series

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this razor-sharp thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

One bath wall is a mural of a brilliant-yellow sunflower. The theme carries over to the shower curtains, but the yellow vinyl is spattered with red blotches. Propped against the mirror is a South Kitsap High School photo of a teenaged girl.

Detective Megan Carpenter is no stranger to horrifying crime scenes, but when she arrives at the home of a woman whose body has been brutalized, Megan is shocked to discover that she knows the victim. Monique Delmont helped Megan when she was in danger years ago. And the killer has left a disturbing calling card… two laminated photographs of a sixteen-year-old high school girl – Megan.

Someone is taunting her in the worst way possible and Megan is convinced she knows who is responsible. She just has to find him.

With the help of her new partner, Deputy Ronnie Marsh, Megan begins to unravel the clues that will lead them to the killer including links to three female murder cases from nearly twenty years ago – one of which was Monique’s daughter.

But to protect those closest to her, Megan must continue to hide the dark truth of her past, even if that means lying to her team about her connection to Monique.

When two photographs of a teenage Megan are found at her boyfriend’s place in Snow Creek, she knows the killer is circling and ready to strike again.

Can she get to him before he finds her? And will she pay the ultimate price for trying to keep her terrifying past buried?

An addictive edge-of-your-seat crime thriller from the Number One, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon Chart bestselling author.

MY REVIEW:

“I’m a monster. But the good kind.”

Deliciously dark, unflinching and addictive, the third installment in the Megan Carpenter series is the best one yet. 

Arriving at a horrifying crime scene, Detective Megan Carpenter is shocked to discover that she knew the victim. Not only that, but the killer has left her a very personal message.

Megan is sure she knows who’s behind it. She just needs to find and stop him before her dark secrets are revealed.

“Monique’s body hangs from the shower head… Her skin is all in one piece, lying in the tub beneath her. One piece. Like a wetsuit with a wig and face mask.”

This book is exactly the kind of twisted thriller I can’t get enough of. It gets off to a shocking and unforgettable start, leaving the reader in no doubt what they’re in for. This isn’t a book for the faint hearted. 

By book three in a series you’re familiar with the characters and there’s a sense of comfort in revisiting them. But what I love about this series is that while you get that feeling, it is also fresh and exciting. You never quite know where the author is going to take things next.

“They don’t realise they’re just fanning the flames. I can always move. Take on a new persona, a new job, a new life. They’ll be dead.”

Megan is fast becoming one of my favourite crime series protagonists as she’s like no one else. Her history is better known to the reader by now and I enjoyed how the investigation in this book made her step back into her past and reveal more about parts she’s skipped over before now. As in the previous books there are extracts from her sessions with her psychiatrist Dr Albright and flashbacks to the times in her life she’d rather forget. But, unlike in previous books, this time she’s using them to catch the killer. We also see just how dark and vengeful she can be, which was another side to her that I absolutely loved. 

Fast-paced, and twisty, Silent Ridge will have you on the edge of your seat from the hard-hitting opening to the jaw-dropping climax. Though I would highly recommend the series, this could be read as a standalone too. Whichever you choose, if you’re a fan of this genre, you don’t want to miss this book! 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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

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The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller, Horror Fiction

Thank you to Michael Joseph for my #gifted copy of this outstanding novel. This is one of my most anticipated books of 2021 and was joint BOTM for October.

SYNOPSIS:

500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide

Welcome to Chapel Croft.

For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.

And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.

Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.

Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?

Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.

But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . .

MY REVIEW:

“If you see the burning girls, something bad will befall you.”

WHAT. A. BOOK! Creepy as hell and absolutely brilliant, this was an easy 5 stars from me.  

Chapel Croft, East Sussex, a small hamlet where everyone knows everyone; or at least they think they do. Rev Jack Brooks and her teenage daughter Flo have moved to the area in search of a fresh start. 

But soon Flo is plagued by visions of burning girls, and someone is sending them threatening messages. Jack realises they’ve come to a place not of solace, but one that is haunted by local legends and dark, sinister secrets. And there are some people who will do anything to keep it that way… 

To my shame, this is my first time reading a C. J. Tudor book despite the fact that I own them all. I am now wondering why I waited so long. I immediately fell in love with her writing style. The way she wove together chilling mystery, tension and humour that had me chuckling away to myself after just a few pages. I also loved the historical feel it had; The strange sights and events that are combined with local folklore make it feel like I was reading something based in fact. 

Spine-chillingly atmospheric, twisty, addictive, and thick with malevolence, The Burning Girls is a fiendishly delicious read. The definition of unputdownable, I devoured this in under a day and had a major book hangover when I was finished. 

An absolute must read. Just don’t turn out the lights… 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

C. J. Tudor lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.

Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in thirty-nine territories

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The Package by Sebastian Fitzek

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thriller

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this jaw-dropping thriller. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

All you’ve done is taken in a parcel for a neighbour. You have no idea what you’ve let into your home.

Emma’s the one that got away.

The only survivor of a killer known in the tabloids as ‘the hairdresser’ – because of the trophies he takes from his victims.

Or she thinks she was.

The police aren’t convinced. Nor is her husband. She never even saw her tormentor properly, but now she recognises him in every man.

Questioning her sanity, she gives up her job as a doctor in the local hospital and retreats from the world. It is better to stay at home. Quiet. Anonymous. Safe. He won’t find her here.

And all she did was take a parcel for a neighbour.

She has no idea what she’s let into her home.

MY REVIEW:

“And all she did was take a parcel for a neighbour.She has no idea what she’s let into her home.”

Omg! What a book! This one starts as it means to go on, jumping straight into the terrifying action with a prologue so chilling it sent shivers down my spine. The author had me in the palm of his hand from that moment on and I devoured the book in one sitting, both unwilling and unable to put it down.

The story moves between multiple timelines, all told from the point of view of the protagonist, Emma. Much of the story is her first person account of what happened starting on the day she takes in a package for her neighbour and shifts between this and her discussing the events with her friend and lawyer. It is clear early on that Emma is in trouble both legally and mentally, and is in custody for a crime, while also being treated for mental health problems.

“The message on the mirror had awoken the darkest memories from her childhood.”

This is an exquisitely crafted novel. The sinister, foreboding and malevolent atmosphere pervades from beginning to end and as we get deeper into the story we discover that this is a more intricate, layered and twisty novel than it first appears.

One of my favourite tropes is an unreliable narrator. And Emma is the ultimate in unreliability. Even she has no idea what is reality and what is her paranoid imagination a lot of the time. I loved that I spent the whole book trying to decide if what she’s telling us is truth, lies or a figment of her imagination. And, honestly, most of the time I felt as clueless as the narrator herself. She is a great protagonist: layered, flawed, fractured, likeable, unlikeable, and, most of all, compelling. You are pulled in by her and I was soon utterly immersed in her world.

“Those who weren’t afflicted were often suspicious of the mentally ill… But these people knew nothing of the demons that would embed themselves, particularly into sensitive souls, then at the moment of that person’s greatest happiness whisper into their ear and reel off their shortcomings

A big part of Emma, and the story, is mental health struggles and how others perceive those who face them. As someone with anxiety, depression and PTSD, I thought the author did an outstanding job of portraying both aspects without judgement. He made it clear that Emma’s mental illness is unquestioned while also showing us how it makes even Emma doubt what she experiences and sees. He makes her pain and torment leap from the page so the reader can’t help but be moved by what she’s going through while also allowing them to see how it might skew her perception of reality, leaving them to make their own conclusions about what the truth is. It is a powerfully observed look at how those who struggle with their mental health are perceived and treated by the mentally healthy that I hope will bring awareness and understanding while also entertaining the reader.

Addictive, chilling, tense and gruesome, The Package is a jaw-dropping thriller you don’t want to miss. Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sebastian Fitzek is a German writer and journalist. His first book, Therapy (dt. Die Therapie), was a bestseller in Germany in 2006, toppling The Da Vinci Code from the first position. Fitzek is currently one of the most successful writers of Germany.

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One By One by Ruth Ware

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

Happy Publication Day to this entertaining cosy mystery. Thank you to Graeme at Vintage for my gifted copy.

SYNOPSIS:

Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.

The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask – would someone resort to murder, to get what they want?

MY REVIEW:

“Of all the ways I was expecting this week to go, I never imagined this unfolding horror.”

After collecting all the author’s previous books only to have them languish on my shelves unread, I was excited to finally read a Ruth Ware book. Set in the exclusive French ski resort of Saint Antoine, the book opens with a BBC article reporting on the deaths of four Britons after an avalanche traps them in a ‘house of horrors’.

The story then goes back to five days earlier when the shareholders and staff of Snoop, the latest hot music app, arrive for a week-long retreat. But there are hidden agendas and it seems someone will do anything to protect their own interests. As the snow falls, all we can is do is watch as the nightmare unfolds and the guests are picked off one by one…

“She sent her in like a lamb to the slaughter. What she didn’t know was that she was no lamb.”

I’d heard some mixed reviews for this one so I went into it with a little trepidation. But I enjoyed this book, which I’d class as more of a cosy mystery than a thriller. Setting a story in a ski resort during an avalanche adds a great layer of tension and claustrophobia as there is no escape, making everything a possible case of life and death, even without the addition of someone murdering the guests.

I had a few ideas about who the culprit might be, but I think the author did a great job of including some convincing red herrings that avoided making their identity obvious. The characters are exactly who you’d expect to find working for a new techy company and I liked the author’s decision to make two of the characters who didn’t really fit in with that world the narrators. I liked Erin and enjoyed her chapters most of all, though Liz is someone who’s supposed to be a bit of an enigma and that you’re supposed to find hard to warm to.

I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an easy to read and enjoyable mystery.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, The Death of Mrs Westaway and The Turn of the Key have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times. Her books have been optioned for both film and TV, and she is published in more than 40 languages. Ruth lives near Brighton with her family. 

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The One Before by Miranda Smith

Published: November 4th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for The One Before which is a little late due to illness. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

I love him. I trust him… But what if I’m wrong?

Whisper Falls is a fresh start for Madison and her fiancé Cooper. The safe, quiet town on the shores of a beautiful lake is the perfect place to spend the rest of their lives.

But then Madison learns that Cooper’s high-school girlfriend Celia disappeared after a party. Three days later, her body was found in the lake.

And the town thinks it wasn’t an accident.

Madison loves Cooper, but she can’t help wondering. She has to know the truth.

But if she starts asking questions, what other secrets will be revealed? Will she meet the same fate as the woman who came before her?

A dark, gripping psychological thriller with a brilliant twist, The One Before is perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter, Gillian Flynn and Rachel Caine.

MY REVIEW:

“I know he killed my daughter, and one day I’m going to make him pay.”

Madison has moved to her fiancé Cooper’s small hometown of Whisper Lake only to find it haunted by the ghost of his high-school girlfriend Celia who was found dead in the lake over a decade ago and full of the suspicions of those who still believe he was to blame. 

Helena is sure that Cooper Douglas murdered her daughter and has spent years biding her time, just waiting for the moment she can take her revenge. Now he’s back in Whisper Lake with his new fiancée, the time has finally come to make him pay. She needs to tell her the truth about what happened to the one before… 

Wow! What a twist! I did not see that coming! 

Told in the present day with flashbacks to the mysterious day that Celia died and Helena’s final memories of her daughter, the author weaves what appears to be a simple tale. Then just past the halfway point, this predictable but entertaining story turned into so much more as the author delivered an astounding twist that left my jaw on the floor. From that moment on I was captivated and unable to put the book down, reading into the early hours as I couldn’t rest without answers.

Madison, Helena and Celia are great focal characters with distinct voices. I particularly liked that Madison was a protagonist who followed the clues and investigated without a blind acceptance of what she was told and how she went in persuit of the truth no matter her fear or the consequences to her own life, which was on track to being perfect. I also liked how the flashbacks to Celia’s final day added a lot of tension and mystery to the story as it slowly unfolded.  

A cleverly crafted, layered and twisty novel, the author lurs the reader into a false sense of security during the slow-burning first half and then keeping them on the edge of their seat for the second half, not letting go until the final pages.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Miranda Smith writes psychological and domestic suspense. She is drawn to stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Before completing her first novel, she worked as a newspaper staff writer and a secondary English teacher. She lives in East Tennessee with her husband and three young children.

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The Night Away by Jess Ryder

Published: November 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller

It’s a little late due to illness, but welcome to my stop on the tour for The Night Away. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

It was just one night away. I had no idea how devastating it would be…

My sister said I deserved a break. She offered to babysit so that my husband and I could have one night away, remember who we used to be before the sleepless nights.

But the next morning my phone rings. My sister is hysterical. Mabel’s cot is empty. My little girl is gone.

I race home with a horrible sick feeling flooding my stomach. The little sleepsuits still hang on the radiator but there is no gurgling or cooing on the baby monitor – just silence.

Now the police are questioning everyone. My sister, my husband, the girls from my baby group.

I want my little girl back more than anything and I will do whatever it takes. But I have a secret… Could the darkness in my past have put my baby at risk?

A truly gripping psychological thriller of manipulation and betrayal from bestselling author Jess Ryder. The Night Away will have you hooked until the final devastating revelation. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train or The Woman in the Window.

MY REVIEW:

“She has no idea that I’m in the park opposite, hiding in plain sight amongst the joggers and dog-walkers, the pram-pushers and duck-feeders. Watching.”

It was one night away just for her. A night to refresh and replenish herself from the stress and strain of new motherhood. But when her baby daughter Mabel is snatched from her cot while the babysitter sleeps, every parent’s nightmare becomes a reality for Amber.

This book jumps straight into the action as someone watches Amber, judging her parenting and calling her daughter ‘my little precious’. There is an immediate air of intrigue and foreboding that fills you with heart-stopping tension as you read helplessly as the mysterious person waits for their chance to strike. The author keeps up that knife-edge tension even after the abduction as we then try to figure out who took Mabel and why.

“Amber has never felt so lonely. She’s standing on an island, surrounded by a treacherous sea of secrets. Nobody can reach her.”

But this cleverly written book isn’t as easy to predict as it first seems. I was confident that I had this figured out early on, only for the author to throw me for a loop with a surprising reveal. But that was ok, I had it with my second guess. I knew the culprit this time. Wrong! With another shocking reveal she pulled the rug from under me. I was left totally clueless and scrambling to figure it out. I loved this as it put me in the same position as Amber, who has no idea who could be behind her daughter’s abduction. It is also clear that Amber is keeping some secrets that she’s terrified of being revealed. Could these secrets hold the key to her daughter’s abduction?

This was my first book by this author and I loved not only the intelligence and tension in her writing, but the emotion too. You feel the raw fear, heartache, anger and desperation radiating from the characters at each turn. I liked that every character was flawed and that they each had something that made you feel for them, even the abductor.

The Night Away is a compelling and twisty thriller that had me hooked from beginning to end. My only complaint is that the ending felt a little anticlimactic after the high tension of the rest of the book.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jess Ryder is the author of five psychological thrillers – ‘The Ex Wife’, ‘Lie to Me’, ‘The Good Sister’, ‘The Dream House’, The Girl You Gave Away’ and her latest, published November 2 2020 – ‘The Night Away’. All titles are published by Bookouture. She also writes as Jan Page. With many years’ experience as a scriptwriter, she loves watching television crime drama. Jess is a passionate reader and particularly enjoys thrillers.

Jess lives with her partner in London, UK and has four grown-up children.

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Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten

Published: October 16th, 2020
Publisher: One More Chapter
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Hardboiled, Police Procedural

Thank you to Sarah at BOTBS Publicity for the invitation to take part and One More Chapter for the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

A murdered woman…

When the body of a young woman is found in a local park, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she’s dealing with no ordinary killer.  The murder victim has been disfigured; her outfit changed to resemble someone else.  Someone Maggie knows all too well…her close friend Dr Kate Moloney.

A determined detective…

Maggie is determined to keep her friend safe, but with Kate already struggling with a threatening stalker, Maggie now fears Kate’s life is in real danger.  Who else would want to harm Kate and why else would the killer be turning his victims into exact replicas – his living dolls? 

Can Maggie find the depraved killer?  Or will Kate become his next living doll?

MY REVIEW:

“Practice makes perfect.”

Dead Perfect is the third installment in the DC Maggie Jamieson series; and it’s the best one yet. 

Maggie and her team face their most challenging case yet when they must track a killer who’s altering the appearance of his victims to resemble someone they know. They have few clues and no obvious suspects. But when a second body is found, it is clear they are in a race against the clock to identify and find their killer before he takes another victim. Can Maggie overcome her personal fears to find him before it’s too late?

“He’d been watching her for a while now. She was perfect. Or she would be.”

Holten has a talent for the sinister and macabre, delivering the kind of tense and twisted thriller that I love. Once again she uses one of my favourite tropes of writing from the killer’s perspective, which heightens all the creep factor. This is one sick guy. But it isn’t just the way he incapacitates and mutilates his victims that makes him so scary, or even his obsessive delusion; it’s how patient, organised and methodical he is. The idea that he could do the preparation he does without being caught is frightening, and feels very real. 

I’ve read the previous books in this series so I knew the characters. But if you haven’t you can still read this book as the author quickly catches you up on past events. All the characters are relatable, real and well written, and I like Maggie more with every installment. I liked how vulnerable she was in this book and how we see her battle a new challenge when her friend is at risk. She jumps straight into the action and never slows down for a minute. And while you end the book exhausted after an arduous journey, you are also left desperate for more as it perfectly sets the scene for book four. 

Dark, menacing and compelling, any thriller lover should read this book.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.

Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

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