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

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

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Megan has dark secrets of her own too.

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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

AUTHOR SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

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

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Gregg_Olsen

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The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this breathtaking novel. Thank you to Steven at Hodder & Stoughton for the invitation to take part and for my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters — the Bronte sisters — learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance. 

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors”. Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives in great peril.

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MY REVIEW:

From the words of Haworth Parsonage, December, 1851, I was transported back in time into the world of Victorian Yorkshire and the escapades of the three infamous Bronte sisters. Steeped in mystery and gothic ambience, this luminous novel was one of the highlights of my reading year. 

A gruesome discovery of a bedroom covered in blood, a missing woman feared murdered and a maid left traumatised are the chilling start to the story giving an immediate air or horror and mystery.  We then go back to Haworth where Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte are all living back at the parsonage for the first time in years. They live a quiet life and spend their time together writing stories and poems and reading. Which is exactly what they’re doing when their brother Branwell bursts in telling them about the disappearance and probable murder just a few miles away. The sisters are horrified, yet also intrigued, and after visiting the scene they decide to become “lady detectors”. The will use their intellect and imagination to discover the fate of Elizabeth Chester, second wife of Robert and mother of two young sons.

Their investigations take them far afield and place them in danger but the sisters feel it is their Christian duty to find answers, plus they’re also really enjoying themselves. The sisters’ very different personalities and strengths assist them in their investigation, calling on the assistance of their errant brother Branwell when needed. There are an array of suspects but they follow the clues they seem to find more questions rather than answers, making them wonder if they will ever learn the fate of Elizabeth Chester. But startling and salacious revelations begin to emerge, and the astonishing truth is finally unveiled…

This novel made my heart sing. As soon as I heard about it I knew was one I had to read. A mix of my favourite genres by one of my favourite authors? It sounded like a dream come true. And it was. It is an original look at three of our most famous writers and I delighted in every moment. The author’s love and extensive knowledge of the Brontes radiated from every page and I particularly loved how she included nods to their future stories and fame in their conversations. Her ability to bring Howarth and the moors to life with her vivid imagery made me feel like I was walking on those bleak windswept hills with the sisters. 

I enjoyed reading a Victorian era detective story with female leads. It was a time when women are still considered the property of men and to be lesser beings. They were not encouraged to think and a meek, silent woman who existed almost invisibly was the ideal. This is both a help and hindrance in their detecting as while they are able to go virtually unnoticed, they are also met with opposition, usually men, and found people unwilling to talk with meer women. The sisters are strong, lively, intelligent, enterprising and visionary which makes them ideal for a job that is new and visionary in itself. The sisters each narrated the story allowing us to get to know them as individuals rather than simply being just one of the Bronte sisters and also offered a glimpse into their family dynamic.

The Vanished Bride is a creative, mysterious, witty, compelling and glorious tale. The author writes with elegant prose that is bathed in history and atmosphere, kept me guessing from start to finish and delivered surprises at every turn. I have fallen in love with the Bronte sisters as detector and hope that this is the start of a long running series. 

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bella Ellis is the Brontë inspired pen name for the award winning, Sunday Times bestselling author Rowan Coleman. A Brontë devotee for most of her life, Rowan is the author of fourteen novels including The Memory Book, The Summer of Impossible Things and The Girl at the Window.

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Blog Tour Review: I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I’m delighted to share my review for this beautiful story today. Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and the photo, and NetGalley and Agora Books for my copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

Dear Edie, I wanted you to know so many things. I wanted to tell you in person, as you grew. But it wasn’t to be.

Jess never imagined she’d be navigating single motherhood, let alone whilst facing breast cancer. A life that should be just beginning is interrupted by worried looks, heavy conversations, and the possibility of leaving her daughter alone to grow up without her.

Propelled by a ticking clock, Jess knows what she has to do: tell her daughter everything. How to love, how to lose, how to forgive, and, most importantly, how to live when you never know how long you have. 

From best-selling author Laura Pearson comes her most devastating book yet. Honest, heart-wrenching, and emotionally raw, I Wanted You To Know is a love letter to life: to all its heartache and beauty, to the people we have and lose, to the memories and moments that define us.

I Wanted You to Know is Laura Pearson’s third novel.

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MY REVIEW:

This book broke me. It reached into my heart and soul and took my breath away, making me cry a river of tears along the way. As soon as I read the raw and powerful opening letter from the author to the reader, I was already needing tissues and knew I was in for an emotional ride. 

What would you want your child to know if you found out you weren’t going to be there as they grew up? That is the heartbreaking question addressed in this mesmerising and poignant novel. 

Twenty-one-year-old Jess is getting to grips with being a single mum to baby Edie when the rug is pulled from under her and she’s told she has breast cancer. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she’d be facing a fight for her life so young or so soon after becoming a mother. What will happen to Edie? What about all the things she wanted her to know? So, she decides to write to her daughter. Beginning each letter with the words “Dear Edie, I wanted you to know…” she imparts the wisdom she thinks her daughter will need about life and love, while also telling her who her mother was so she will have a chance to know her even after she’s gone. Jess is open and honest in these letters, never shying away from her own flaws and mistakes and sharing her fears about having cancer.

As well as these letters, we follow Jess from the day of her diagnosis, her attempt to come to terms with the awful news, her fight against the disease, and her relationships with those closest to her. I don’t want to say too much about what happens on that journey as part of the beauty of this book was discovering that. 

I loved the author’s decision to blend prose and letters as it made this book all the more moving by helping me connect with Jess’s character on a deeper level. Jess was real to me and I was completely invested in her story.  As a mother, I couldn’t help putting myself in her place and my children in Edie’s, and this was not only devastating, but gave me an admiration for the strength she possesses and dignity with which she carries herself. But I also liked that she had many layers and flaws, which only endeared her to me. I felt quite maternal towards Jess and while writing this I realise I’m probably about the age her mother is in the story, so that makes sense. I wanted to reach through the pages to comfort her and tell her how amazing she is and spent the whole book hoping for a happy ending for this young girl. 

This isn’t a book that shouts from the rooftops and makes your heart race. It is one that has a more soft and subtle allure and draws you in with the feeling that radiates from its pages. I anticipated an emotional novel but I was not expecting to be so moved that I had to read the last part of it with tears streaming down my cheeks or feel so ravaged when the story ended. 

What I want you to know is that I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have the tissues handy and be prepared for possibly finding a new must read author – just like I have. 

Finally, I want to address the author herself: Laura, I am in awe of your bravery and strength in writing this novel. You are an exceptional writer and inspirational woman. You not only conveyed Jess’s feelings so acutely that they lept off the page, but you did the same with every single character. The pain, grief, anger and regret was palpable and made me a wreck as I read it. I will never forget this story or the way it made me feel. Thank you for writing it and sharing it with the world. 

Publication date October 3rd. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Pearson has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester. She spent a decade living in London and working as a copywriter and editor for QVC, Expedia, Net a Porter, EE, and The Ministry of Justice. Now, she lives in Leicestershire, where she writes novels, blogs about her experience of breast cancer (www.breastcancerandbaby.com), runs The Motherload Book Club, and tries to work out how to raise her two children.

I Wanted You To Know (Final eBook)

Blog Tour Review: The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A. Denzil ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Thank you Bookoture for my invitation to take part in the blog tour and to Bookoture and NetGalley for my copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

SYNOPSIS:

A SHOCKING DISAPPEARANCE. A VILLAGE FULL OF SECRETS.

Ten years ago, a boy named Samuel Murrary went missing from the quiet village of Buckthorpe and was never seen again.

Rosie Sharpe cried over her missing friend for weeks after. But her little sister Heather knows that Rosie’s tears hide the truth. Because the night Samuel was last seen, Heather watched her older sister climbing back through the window of their childhood bedroom. Her jacket torn, eyes wild and her body trembling with fear.

Heather never told anyone what she saw, but secrets can’t stay buried forever…

A decade later, Rosie and Heather return home to the village they grew up in when their mother is ill. But when their house is ransacked and they receive a threatening note, it becomes clear that someone in the close-knit village doesn’t want them there.

When Heather finally confronts her sister about what really happened on the dark, rainy night Samuel disappeared, Rosie’s version of the truth is more shocking than she could have ever imagined. But can she trust her sister? And who broke into their house that night? As the lies of the past begin to unravel, they have the power to put the lives of both women in terrible danger…

This twist-filled, page-turning psychological thriller from the million-copy bestselling author of Silent Child will keep you hooked until the final jaw-dropping pages. Perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors and The Girl On The Train

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MY REVIEW:

I’ve enjoyed every one of this author’s books that I’ve read but this was the best yet! Addictive, fast-paced and heart-stopping, I devoured it in just a few hours. I was never really sure what would happen next and there were so many twists it made my head spin. I love a thriller where you don’t feel sure where it’s going and feel a bit bewildered when you’re reading it and this one did both of these things while keeping me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

Moving flawlessly between dual timelines and told by two narrators, on the surface this is a mystery about what really happened the night Samuel Murray went missing. Heather has held suspicions about her sister Rosie’s involvement since that night but has never confronted her, instead allowing it to become a wedge between them and their relationship to drift apart. While that is a huge part of this story, this is also a book with many layers that also looks at the complicated relationships between sisters, family and friends, the damage caused by addiction and the grief of losing someone you love. 

The sisters each narrate a timeline so we get to know both of them pretty well. I liked that the author kept it to one sister per timeline as it created a greater sense of mystery about events in the present day as until we reached the climax we never knew what Rosie was thinking or what her involvement was the night Samuel went missing. There are numerous other characters in the story, some of whom are quite unnerving, some who seem to have an axe to grind, and all of them are well developed and well written. Of the sisters I felt most invested in the life of Heather. The author vividly conveys the agony of her complex feelings for both Rosie and Samuel and her torment over what to do for the best. While Rosie was the chaotic, troublesome child and seems to have a hard shell around herself, Heather was the good girl who always did the right thing and feels everything intensely. Not only is Heather’s world turned upside down after their mother’s death, but a lot of what she believes to be true begins to shatter when Rosie returns and she is left not knowing where to turn or what to think. Her pain was palpable and I found myself feeling everything along with her each step of the way.

Enthralling, atmospheric, suspenseful, creepy and brilliant, this book held me hostage right up until its jaw-dropping conclusion. For anyone who enjoys mysteries and psychological thrillers, Ms. Denzil is an author I highly recommend and I would say that this book is a great place to start. 

Out now

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon: https://geni.us/B07TWSDVC9Social

Apple Books:  https://apple.co/2Xy2xTM

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2xxn9kM

Googleplay: http://bit.ly/2JeKVIH

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. In her alternative life–AKA Sarah Dalton–she writes speculative fiction for teenagers, including The Blemished, Mary Hades and White Hart.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather.

Saving April, Sarah’s debut suspense thriller, is a psychological look into the minds of the people around us who we rarely even consider – our neighbours. What do we really know about them, and what goes on when the doors are closed?

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahdenzil

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marmiteandbooks/

Website: https://www.sarahdenzil.com/ 

The Liar's Secret - Blog Tour

Blog Tour Review: The Familiars by Stacey Halls ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is the first day of the blog tour to celebrate the release of what’s been called “the most spellbinding debut novel of 2019” in paperback and I’m excited to share my thoughts. Thank you to Compulsive Readers Blog Tours for the invitation to take part and to Bonnier Zaffre for my gifted copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

In a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman is the greatest risk of all…

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and prove the physician wrong.  

As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the north-west, Fleetwood risks everything trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?

Soon the two women’s lives become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

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MY REVIEW:

The Familiars is one of those books that is a work of sheer beauty. I was in love before I’d even read a word and could tell that reading it was going to be an experience. And I was right. It was lyrical, atmospheric, addictive, extraordinary and simply breathtaking; the story every bit as beautiful as the book.  I devoured it within a day – living within its pages and drowned in its words. A remarkable and unforgettable debut novel that was a joy to read. 

“The king has muddled wise women with witchcraft.”

Based around the true events of the Pendle Witch Trials, the author has blended fact and fiction to create a masterpiece. Though beautiful, it is also a dark story of prejudice, injustice and misogyny. It reveals how women were penalised for what they knew and helping others through things like midwifery. The men in charge were threatened by this and called what they did witchcraft so they could round them up and charge them with a crime where they’d created the perfect outcome – death whether you were guilty or innocent. The book also explores why so many women charged with witchcraft would confess and the lengths the witch hunters would go to in order to “prove” someone guilty. 

The novel also showcases other realities of life for women of that era. So much was expected so young and at just thirteen Fleetwood was married to her second husband,  without any say in the matter. At seventeen she’s pregnant with her fourth child and worried for her position if she doesn’t provide her husband with an heir. It was a sobering reminder of how little autonomy women had at that time over their bodies and their lives, and that their position was always precarious and dependent on men. I found it fascinating when Fleetwood observed that while she is seen as lucky to me married to a man with money and have her own household, poor women actually have more freedom – they are free to choose a husband out of love and aren’t traded as a way to climb the social ladder. I imagine no one would ever have expected Fleetwood to envy Alice’s position in life and it’s a reminder that things are all about perspective. 

“At four feet and eleven inches, everyone I met was taller than me, though I did not intimidate easily.” 

I loved Fleetwood. She is formidable, fierce and a fighter. I loved that she didn’t let her size stop her and coming in at four feet and nine and a half inches myself, I felt an affinity and solidarity with her from the start. She is a woman ahead of her time in how she sees the witch trials and I admired that she didn’t feel she could sit idly by and not do something; though I do think she finds this strength to act because Alice is her friend and midwife rather than a stranger. My heart broke for her losing three babies before we meet her and for all she had been through at such a young age. It must have been terrifying for her to be pregnant and not really know anything about childbirth except that a lot of women don’t survive. When I learned that she was based on a real person I fell in love with her even more and plan to find out more. 

“I felt the baby move, and was aware at once that while all three of us were here and alive now – Alice, the baby and I – one day very soon we might not be, and there was no way of telling which of us would make it.” 

I really  liked the strange friendship that grew between Fleetwood and Alice. At the beginning of the book, Fleetwood is  lonely and wants nothing more than to have a friend she can confide in, so she found what she needed twofold when she met Alice – a midwife and a friend. Alice is a more mysterious character but we do know she is strong, loyal and kind. I always got the sense she genuinely wanted to help Fleetwood.  Their relationship was the heart of the story and I felt more invested in it than any other relationship in the book. The author had me on tenterhooks time and again as the women put themselves on the line and remained steadfast in their support of one another. 

The Familiars was my 100th read of the year and is definitely in my top ten for the year. I was enchanted by the author’s flawless storytelling and was instantly transfixed. The agony, apprehension, fear, rage and determination dripped from every page. It is a gem of a novel that I urge everyone to read. 

Paperback out September 24th

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel. You can find her on Instagram @staceyhallsauthor and Twitter @stacey_halls

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As part of the media campaign for the paperback release of The Familiars, Stacey has asked people to use the hashtag #FWordsHavePower and share their powerful F words.  Below is an excerpt from her email:

Some of the most powerful words in the English Language begin with ‘F’. My debut novel The Familiars has F-words in abundance! For a start there’s Fleetwood, the main character, who is female and fiery, and her friendship with Alice, who may or may not have a fox familiar. There are themes of feminine fury, fates intertwined, failure . . . you get the idea.

These are the F words she shared to describe the novel: 

She asked us to share our own F words on social media. My F word was almost Fibromyalgia because it colours so much of my life, but instead I chose the word that describes who I’ve been since before I was born: 

fighter

Comment below with your F word (keep it clean lol).

Blog Tour Review: ‘Degrees of Guilt’ by HS Chandler ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for this electrifying thriller. Thank you to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Reads Blog Tours for the invitation to take part, and Trapeze Books, NetGalley and HS Chandler for the eBook ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

A gripping, sexy and twisty novel for readers who devoured ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL, APPLETREE YARD and HE SAID/SHE SAID.

MY REVIEW:

Murder. Sex. Betrayal.  This compelling courtroom drama has these things and more. Reading it was like eating a bag of maltesers – once I started I couldn’t stop until it was finished. 

The book opens with Edward Bloxhom dead from a head wound. His wife, Maria, is calmly drying a mug and thinking about how she’ll get the blood out of the grouting. After a short time she calls the police and goes outside to wait for their arrival, thankful to be free of the man who controlled her life for almost twenty years. We then jump forward to the first day of Maria’s trial which we follow as the evidence is presented – shocking claims of abuse from the defense, and of a violent, cold-blooded murderess from the prosecution. 

I loved that this story was narrated by both the defendant and a member of the jury charged with deciding her fate. We don’t often get an insight into the jury room and their perspective so it was interesting to follow that side of things in detail. Initially it appears that Maria and Lottie, the juror, couldn’t be more different but we come to understand there are many similarities between them. Both women were interesting characters that I enjoyed reading and I felt like they would probably have been able to be great friends in another situation. Lottie wonders on the first day how Maria must be feeling about entrusting her future to twelve strangers and has a willingness to see Maria as a person with feelings, something the other jurors don’t seem to do. I was glad she had at least one person on the jury seeing her as a human being and not being quick to judge. 

Domestic abuse and controlling partners is a topic at the heart of this book. Maria is initially reluctant to explain to anyone why she bludgeoned her husband. After all, how can she explain to strangers what she struggles to believe herself?  But in court she finally reveals the appalling details of almost two decades of coercive control and abuse. There were many times I would feel sick to my stomach at the details, especially the parts relating to physical harm, but this was a vital part of the story so we could understand what life was like for Maria, what her mental state was. Without it she appears to be a crazy disgruntled wife who savagely bludgeoned her defensive husband. Once we’ve heard her story it seems obvious that she is a desperate woman who didn’t think there was any other way out. 

But Maria isn’t the only one who’s lived a life walking that fine tightrope trying to please an abusive man. There are others in this story too, including juror Lottie, who’s husband Zain controls their home. Everything must be done to his specifications and he even orders her to get herself excused from jury duty as doesn’t want the “disruption” to his picture-perfect existence. Lottie longs for more than being a housewife and mother but Zain won’t entertain her doing anything else so the chance to escape to the excitement of  jury duty is a welcome one, even if it causes arguments with Zain. The author perfectly portrays the reality of life with an abuser and how by the time you see what’s going on you’re often in so deep that you either don’t think about leaving or are too scared of what will happen if you do.

An important aspect that the author addresses briefly is the disparity between how domestic abuse victims killing their abusers and abusers killing their victims is viewed. Maria ponders that her story would not be sensational or have garnered such interest if it had been Edward who killed her. Obviously murder isn’t how anyone would encourage a victim to leave an abuser, but I think the fact that the death of a woman (and it is most commonly women) at the hands of an abusive partner is so heartbreakingly common now that it often barely warrents a second glance. But when it’s the other way around there’s an outcry and a lack of understanding of the sheer desperation someone feels to commit such an act.

I am a sucker for a good courtroom drama and a huge fan of this author’s DI Callanach series, under her real name of Helen Fields, so I couldn’t wait to read this standalone novel. One of the things I love about her writing style is the little details she gives us that really get us inside the mind and connect us to her characters. As with all her other books this one is expertly written, fast paced and full of twists and turns. I did guess “the twist” early on, but the author has such a talent that I’d talked myself out of it and was taken aback when it proved right later on. 

Any books by this author are a must read for me and this one did not disappoint. Degrees of Guilt is a fantastic courtroom drama and domestic thriller that I highly recommend. 

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

Helen Fields

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

HS Chandler is the pen name of Helen Fields. As HS Chandler she writes psychological thrillers and legal thrillers. With a background as a criminal and family law barrister, she now runs a media company and writes the Callanach crime series. 

Blog Tour Review: ‘Elevator Pitch’ by Linwood Barclay ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the shocking new thriller from Linwood Barclay. Thank you to HQ, NetGalley and Linwood Barclay for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and to HQBloggers for the invitation to be part of the blog tour.  

SYNOPSIS:

“You should read ELEVATOR PITCH by Linwood Barclay as soon as possible. It’s one hell of a suspense novel” STEPHEN KING 

It all begins on Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds non-stop to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds and then plummets.

Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world – and the nation’s capital of media, finance and entertainment – is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men and women working in offices across the city refuse to leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find out.

Pulsing with tension, Elevator Pitch is a riveting tale of psychological suspense that is all too plausible..and will chill readers to the bone.

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MY REVIEW:

Wow! What a spectacular, breathtaking, terrifying and thrilling ride! As I’m writing this, it’s been over a day since I finished reading this book and I’m yet to pick up my jaw from the floor. 

Chaos. Panic. Fear. Sabotage. Murder. The ingredients are all there for an electrifying thriller and Linwood Barclay has delivered his best yet. I’ve never had a problem with elevators, my health problems mean I need to use them and the last few years it’s been a fun game finding which ones bear my nephew’s name – Otis. But now I will never look at one the same and whenever I get in one I know  I will be apprehensive, thinking of this book and wishing I could take the stairs…

On Monday office tower in Manhattan is the scene of a terrible accident. Four people are killed when an elevator seems to malfunction and plummets to the ground. On Tuesday another elevator loses control leaving one person dead. Officials are concerned. Elevator deaths are rare and two in two days seems like more than a coincidence. On Wednesday two more are killed in another elevator incident and it’s now obvious that someone is deliberately sabotaging them. With no idea where they might strike next, New York is in chaos as officials search for the culprit and the reason for the attacks. Also looking for answers is reporter Barbara Matheson. What does the perpetrator want, what will it take to stop them, and how many will have died before someone does?

With a multifaceted plot and numerous characters, a lot of the first part of the book was a little slower paced as they were introduced and the scene was set. As the tension ramped up the pieces slowly began to fit together and the picture began to emerge. My mind was a whirl of questions as I tried to figure out who was terrorising the city and why. In the jarring prologue he sets the tone for what he will make you will feel. It was like I was there with the characters and I felt every bit of the crushing panic and terror as they realise they’re trapped, the desperate hope of rescue, the horror and dread as they accept there’s no way out and, finally, the hope to simply survive.

Masterfully plotted, gripping, taut and twisty, this had me on the edge of my seat. As we got closer to the finale I couldn’t read fast enough, the suspense almost painful as I waited for the perpetrator to be unveiled. I was sure I knew who it was only to be blindsided when the identity was revealed. 

It was the little things that I enjoyed most reading this book.I loved the depth he brought to his characters, especially those who play a larger role. They each had a complex honesty about them that made them feel real and I even cared about the fate of those I didn’t like. That’s how good he is! The author has a talent for being able to connect you with a minor character instantly that was used to perfection. We would be given little snapshots of their lives and watch as those everyday, mundane decisions you think nothing of, were leading them unawares to catastrophe. As the crisis spread we followed people affected in different ways, saw people fleeing landmarks fearing they’d be targeted next, and watched as some heard the word ‘terrorist’ and used it as an excuse for racism. These short stories were some of the most poignant moments of the book and brought home that the victims aren’t nobodies but people with full lives that will be mourned.  Another thing I loved was the imagery of New York. While it’s familiar from pictures, movies and TV, it’s somewhere I’ve never visited. Yet the author paints such a vivid picture of life in the city, I felt like I was there.

Elevator Pitch is, in two words, bloody brilliant! It could easily be the plot of a blockbuster film and showcases why Linwood Barclay is an internationally best-selling author. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys suspense, as long as you don’t mind a few grisly crime scenes thrown in. Just make sure you’ve got lots of time to spare and no plans to ride an elevator in the near future.

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Linwood Barclay is an international bestselling crime and thriller author with over twenty critically acclaimed novels to his name, including the phenomenal number one bestseller No Time For Goodbye. Every Linwood Barclay book is a masterclass in characterisation, plot and the killer twist, and with sales of over 7 million copies globally, his books have been sold in more than 39 countries around the world and he can count Stephen King, Shari Lapena and Peter James among his many fans. Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV, and Linwood wrote the screenplay for the film based on his bestselling novel Never Saw It Coming. He is currently working with eOne to turn the Promise Falls trilogy into a series.