Blog Tour Review: The Family by Louise Jensen ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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SYNOPSIS:

ONCE YOU’RE IN, THEY’LL NEVER LET YOU LEAVE.

Laura is grieving after the sudden death of her husband. Struggling to cope emotionally and financially, Laura is grateful when a local community, Oak Leaf Organics, offer her and her 17-year-old daughter Tilly a home.

But as Laura and Tilly settle into life with their new ‘family’, sinister things begin to happen. When one of the community dies in suspicious circumstances Laura wants to leave, but Tilly, enthralled by the charismatic leader Alex, refuses to go.

Desperately searching for a way to save her daughter, Laura uncovers a horrifying secret but Alex and his family aren’t the only ones with something to hide. Just as Laura has been digging into their past, they’ve been digging into hers.and she discovers the terrifying reason they invited her and Tilly in, and why they’ll never let them leave.

MY REVIEW:

Family. Secrets. Lies. Cults. Death. Revenge.

As soon as I read the chilling synopsis and saw the eerie cover I knew I HAD to read this book. Shadowy, sinister, claustrophobic, and dripping with suspense, this was an intoxicating and involving read. 

Louise Jensen is an author who’s been on my radar for a while, but somehow I’ve never quite got around to reading one of her books. I am so glad I finally did and that it was this book. The Family is a sharp, well plotted and twisty novel, and a cunning hall of mirrors experience that I couldn’t put down. Right up until the final page she had me guessing and on the edge of my seat.

I read a lot of thrillers and I always think that reading a story where the characters are trapped in a situation or place elevates the tension. Laura and Tilly are slowly lured into their new “family” and imprisoned in the community. It happens with such subtlety that it takes them a while to see the warning signs, and some they don’t see at all. 

The story is told from multiple points of view which is something I always enjoy. I love getting a glimpse into the minds of the characters and trying to ascertain if they are reliable in what they’re saying. I also find it fascinating to read the same event from different points of view and in this book I particularly enjoyed doing so from a mother and daughter perspective as there viewpoints were inevitably very unalike. As a mother of  teenagers these glaring contrasts were thought provoking and a great reminder of the fact that how we intend things is not always how it comes across or is received.

The believability of this story is a testament to the author’s talent. All the characters had depth and I thought she chose her narrators perfectly. Laura is vulnerable, helpless and desperate and her daughter is both her weakness and her strength. She’s only there for a short-term fix and never fully buys into what they’re selling her. Tilly is feeling isolated, confused and angry. Her pain is palpable and her fierce need for acceptance sees her drinking the kool-aid quickly while also falling under Alex’s spell. Alex is the perfect cult leader and villain. He’s magnetic, charming and affable but the readers also get to see his inner turmoil and flagitious nature. Together they are a perfect storm. 

So, if you’re looking for something creepy and dark to read on a cold autumn night, I would highly recommend this jaw-dropping and unnerving thriller. 

Thank you to HQ for my invitation to take part in the blog tour and gifted copy of this novel.

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Louise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift, The Surrogate and The Date. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s fifth thriller, The Family, will be published in Autumn 2019 by Harper Collins.

The Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award. The Date was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize 2018. The Surrogate has been nominated for the best Polish thriller of 2018. The Gift has been optioned for a TV film.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

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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: ‘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.

Blog Tour Review: A Shadow on the Lens by Sam Hurcom ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for this debut novel. Thank you to Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and to Orion Publishing Group and NetGalley for my ARC copies of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me. He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed on his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder.

Someone had been watching us.

1904 . Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worst still, the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs,  a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

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MY REVIEW:

“He never left, he still remains. The demon of this village.”

Murder mystery meets supernatural thriller and gothic fiction in this chilling tale. Thomas Bexley is writing his story a decade after the events take place, using his diary entries for reference and we see extracts at various points in the book. He begins with a note addressing the reader directly and I loved the promises of the chilling, dark and sinister things to come. This is the first time he’s really spoken about what happened during that strange case and he admits to feeling concerned about how he will be viewed once he reveals the truth of all that transpired. 

Forensic photography is still in its infancy and Bexley, known in the field for his eye for detail and his gift for putting the evidence together, is a specialised investigator who is sent to assist with serious crime cases across the country. When Betsan Tilny is brutally murdered in the isolated Welsh village of Dinas Powys, Bexley is called to help solve the crime. But on his arrival he’s dismayed to find that those in charge seem to resent his presence. They’ve made up their mind who committed the crime and see Thomas as an unnecessary complication stirring up trouble and not understanding how they do things. 

Soon after his arrival Bexley has a sense of being watched, which only increases over time. He also comes down with a fever that inhibits his ability to work and forces him to take to his bed. And is it this fever that is making him imagine seeing the ghost of Betsan Tilny? He’s a man of science and doesn’t believe in such nonsense and decides that it is a manifestation of his fever.  But he can’t shake the fear that what he’s seeing is all too real and the victim trying to tell him something. Impeding his investigation is the unwillingness of the villagers to assist in the investigation. They’re hiding something, maybe even harbouring a killer, and Bexley is determined to get to the bottom of it.

Bexley is a serious, focused man who has no time to make friends or laze about. He’s there to do an important job in a thorough manner and will not let anything get in his way, not even being so sick he can barely stand. He was a great protagonist and I liked that unlike most others he saw no correlation between Betsan’s rumoured promiscuity and her death, reminding people repeatedly that nothing gives anyone the right to rape or kill another and nothing someone does mean they deserve such things happening to them. I was glad she had Thomas in her corner, fighting to find the truth and bring her killer to justice when others were glad of an easy way out and eager to brush the whole thing under the carpet. 

Councilman Robert Cummings is a loathsome character. He is the polar opposite of Thomas and seems completely uninterested in solving the crime. He makes no secret of the fact that he doesn’t want Thomas there, his repulsion of the victim, or that he’s made up his mind about who killed Betsan no matter what the evidence shows. He goes out of his way to prevent a real investigation and Thomas wonders if Cummings is the reason everyone is reluctant to talk to him. Like Thomas I was suspicious of what he really knew and what he didn’t want him to unearth. 

As truths were slowly revealed and the secrets of the village begin to be brought to light, the book became increasingly hard to put down. I was gripped and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. A brilliant debut that is a superb mix of some of my favourite genres and one I would recommend. The atmospheric prose made me feel fully immersed in the story and there was an eeriness throughout. This is one of those books you need to read with the lights on. 

Publication Date: September 5th.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sam Hurcom was born in Dinas Powys, South Wales in 1991. He studied Philosophy at Cardiff University, attaining both an undergraduate and master’s degree. He has since had several short stories published and has written and illustrated a number of children’s books. Sam currently lives in the village he was raised in, close to the woodlands that have always inspired his writing.

A Shadow on the Lens is Sam’s debut novel.

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