Review: ‘Here To Stay’ by Mark Edwards⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

IMG_20190616_215945.jpg

SYNOPSIS:

A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle down into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for. 

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are scars on his wife’s body she won’t talk about.

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in their new home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

From the two million copy bestselling author comes a tale about the chilling consequences of  welcoming strangers into your home.

REVIEW:

Another nail-biting, chilling tale of domestic noir from the man that Jennifer Hillier has rightly crowned “The King of domestic horror”.

Elliot Foster and Gemma Robinson meet one summer afternoon. She saves his life after a near-fatal bee sting and they fall hard and fast, marrying just two months later in Vegas. Elliot couldn’t be happier.

A few weeks after their wedding Gemma tells Elliot that her parents are moving back to the UK and asks if they can stay with them for a few weeks?  Wanting to make his new wife happy, and to meet his new in-laws, Elliot agrees. It will be the biggest mistake he ever makes.

This book is AMAZING! It started off slowly and while I was enjoying it, I didn’t foresee just how horrifying, mind-blowing and simply incredible it would become. Though this being Mark Edwards I am also not surprised. Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of this author. Ever since I first read The Retreat last summer , which I loved the nod to in this novel, I haven’t been able to get enough of his books. The Magpies trilogy is considered his greatest work, and it’s antagonist, Lucy Newton, is one of the greatest villains I’ve read. But this story and it’s villains give them both a run for their money.

Do you think you’ve got the in-laws from hell? Well Elliot’s are probably worse. I know I’d happily take my awful ex-mother-in-law over them any day! Jeff and Lizzy Robinson are two of the most despicable, repulsive, noxious, contemptible, foul and vile people I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading about. They turn Elliot’s world upside down and inside out. They seem determined to not only take his home but destroy his entire life. It got me so angry reading how they behaved. 

Elliot is the all-round nice guy. He’s worked hard and made a good life for himself, runs a non-profit working with underprivileged kids, thinks of others, is kind-hearted, and has finally met the woman of his dreams. Then the Robinsons threaten to take it all away. He gives them the benefit of the doubt over again, tell himself his suspicions are crazy and finds rational explanations for things. And every time they then do something even worse. I didn’t judge Elliot for some of his fantasies about what he’d like to do to them. I understood. How could you not loathe such toxic people.

The Robinson siblings are the mysterious characters, especially Chloe who is deathly ill and locks herself away when they first move in. They all seem frightened of their parents are secretive about their childhood and what exactly has happened to make them all so scared. Though Gemma and Elliot are married it was all so fast he barely knows her, or her past, and as the story unfolds he realises just how little he knew before making such a big commitment and inviting her family to stay with them.

I don’t want to give any details away as the shocks add to the escalating horror and brilliance of this book. I highly recommend this edge-of-your-seat thriller; just be warned that it’s a turbulent ride. And another thing…be careful who you invite to stay in your house. They just might never leave…

Thank you to Mark Edwards, Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: September 1st

 

 

Review: ‘Stone Cold Heart’ by Caz Frear ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

cof

SYNOPSIS:

A fractured marriage.

A silent family.

A secret that connects them all.

When DC Cat Kinsella is approached by Joseph Madden for help with his wife, Rachel, there’s not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel has been threatening him, but can’t – or won’t – give Cat details as to why. Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it.

That is until Naomi Lockhart, a young PA, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel and Joseph is arrested for the murder. Joseph says his wife is setting him up. His wife says he didn’t do it. The trail of evidence leads to even more questions…

Adulterer. Murderer. Victim.*

Who would you believe?

REVIEW:

Wow! Jaw-dropping and addictive, I absolutely loved this book and knew I was in for a great read as soon as I read the prologue. Ms Frear has a new fan in this reader after this tantilising thriller.

Twenty-two year old Naomi Lockhart is found dead by her housemate. She was last seen at a party at her boss’s house Saturday night and has been missing from work the last two days. DC Cat Kinsella and Murder Investigation Team 4 are called in to investigate and quickly learn that she died not long after the party. The evidence leads them to a suspect: Joseph Madden, the brother-in-law of Naomi’s boss. He’s not a stranger to Cat, he owns a local coffee house and even spoke to her a few months ago claiming his wife, Rachel, is threatening him and asking what he can do about it. At the time Cat viewed it as overblown marriage woes, but now he’s claiming Rachel is framing him for murder. Rachel is clearly terrified of her husband and does nothing but protest his innocence and Joseph’s claims seem like nothing but a desperate way to put the blame elsewhere.

Information trickles slowly and reluctantly from their witnesses, frustrating the police but making for an electrifying read. Is Joseph capable of murder? Is he their man? As things are revealed Cat is reluctantly dubious and it seems their witnesses are all keeping more secrets that are yet to be told. Who killed Naomi?

Cat Kinsella is a unique protagonist. She, and this book, stands out in the sea of police procedurals because of her flawed and complex character. She breaks the rules, keeps secrets and has told many lies, has a shady family, is dating someone she shouldn’t, and yet she is someone we love and can root for despite all her mistakes. I wanted her to win. I wanted her to conquer her shame of where she’s from and the toxic family she was raised in. I want her inappropriate relationship to work. She was wonderfully written and I enjoyed every minute I spent reading her.

One of the things I enjoyed about this novel was the array of unreliable and morally ambiguous characters, including almost every witness. I found myself both loving and hating so many of them and could never quite be sure what the truth was or what side they were on, other than their own, of course. Joseph Madden was a perfectly written narcissistic abuser. He made my blood run cold from his first appearance and I desperately wanted him to be guilty simply because he was such a vile person. With Rachel the author depicted the terror, shame and guilt of an abused partner in a realistic way. Your heart breaks for her over and again and you just want to make her see sense and get away from her destructive relationship.

I didn’t realise before starting that this was book two in a series. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of it though as the author not only gave enough information to catch you up on events as needed, but it all sounds so juicy that she sold the book to me while I was reading and I immediately bought it when I finished. I loved the author’s writing style, particularly the banter between Cat and her colleagues and the wit that had me laughing out loud on many occasions.

The final part of this fabulous, twisty thriller had me on tenterhooks wondering who did what and reeling from each bombshell. After the shocking concluding sentences, I am now impatiently waiting for book three and to find out what is next for Cat. I can’t recommend this book or this author highly enough.

Thank you to NetGalley, Bonnier Zaffre and Caz Frear for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: June 27th.

 

Publication Day Review: ‘The Whisper Man’ by Alex North ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

cover154856-medium

Happy Publication Day to Alex North and his chilling thriller.

SYNOPSIS:

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy, and his young son Jake, move to the sleepy village of Featherbank looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new house. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears whispering at his window…

MY REVIEW:

“If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…If you’re lonely, sad and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you”

A boy who hears whispers from people no one else can see echoes the spine-chilling moment in The Sixth Sense when Haley Joel Osment’s character utters the immortal words “I see dead people” in this eerie, menacing, unsettling and sinister novel. This is a book you do not want to read at night!

Six-year-old Neil Spencer disappears when walking home one summer evening. An extensive search yields no clues until Neil’s mother remembers him mentioning whispering outside his window one night. This revelation terrifies Featherbank detectives as the town is still haunted by Frank Carter, a local man who abducted and killed five young boys in 20 years ago. He is also known as the Whisper Man. His final victim’s body was never recovered and there were rumours of an accomplice. Could that be who abducted Neil?

Tom Kennedy and his son, Jake, are looking for a fresh start after the death of Tom’s wife the year before. Tom feels he is failing as a father and that he and Jake are drifting further apart. He’s hoping moving will change that. But it seems their problems have followed them, and the gulf between them only widens and the worrying incidents only increase after they move into the strange new house in Featherbank. With Jake hearing whispers and talking about things he shouldn’t know there’s undertones of something  malevolent lurking in the shadows of the Kennedy home.

I was hooked from the foreboding prologue right until the very last page of this book. The two main characters were well written: Tom is the grieving widower who is struggling to connect with his son in his own grief and also trying to evade the pain of his own childhood. He wishes his son was more “normal” and worries about him being too sensitive. Jake is a lonely child who is scrambling to make sense of the grief,emptiness and fear he feels after his mother’s death. He feels his dad doesn’t like him and takes solace in imaginary friends and his special things. For a lot of the book it isn’t clear how Tom and Jake are connected to the Whisper Man storyline and Neil’s disappearance, and I loved trying to find clues to figure out where the story would go next. I was usually wrong.

The Whisper Man is an exquisite, multi-layered, chilling and emotional novel. There were many twists and turns, some so jarring and unexpected I could only sit there in shock. Spectacularly written, this is a tense and haunting thriller that you don’t want to miss.

Out today.

Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin UK, Michael Joseph and Alex North for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: ‘We Were Killers Once’ by Becky Masterson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In 1959, The Walker family murders shook Florida. As many as 587 people were considered suspects – but 60 years on the investigation remains unsolved.

Former FBI agent Brigid Quinn has been obsessed with the Walker case since she was a child. She believes it holds striking similarities to another high profile investigation of the time: the Clutter family murders, made infamous by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. What if Perry Smith and Dick Hickock – executed for those murders – had killed again? And what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown?

Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he’d like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. But following the path of the letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he’ll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.

From the author of Edgar Award finalist and CWA Gold Dagger shortlisted Rage Against the Dying comes this unputdownable and fascinating alternative look at one of America’s most famous crimes.

I have been fascinated with the Clutter murders ever since I read In Cold Blood over twenty years ago. So when I saw that this novel offered an alternative look at that case and one that was linked to it I couldn’t wait to read it.

Brigid Quinn was just six-years-old when she first heard of the Walker family murders when her police officer father and his work buddies were discussing the case as she sat on his knee. Since that night she has been haunted by the unsolved case. Sixty years later she is a former FBI agent living with her husband, Carlo, in Arizona unaware that the case that’s been her obsession is about to affect their lives in unexpected ways.

Jeremiah Beaufort is being released after thirty three years in prison. But before he can enjoy his new found freedom he has business to take care of. Business that has threatened to catch up to him for most of his life. As he follows the trail of a confession by an old acquaintance, he is led to Arizona and a former priest named Carlo DiForenza. What he doesn’t realise is that it has also led him to the man’s wife, Brigid, who is passionate about finding the same answers that he’s trying to bury forever.

The author has created a perfect amalgamation of true crime and crime fiction with this gripping and believable novel. I love both genres and loved how she brought them together. I admit that part of my enjoyment of this book came from my fascination with the Clutter murders. Both main characters are connected to the infamous case in different ways and I loved the alternative version that was explored in this novel.

One potential drawback of this book is that both of the main characters aren’t likeable. Beaufort is unlikable in the right ways; we aren’t supposed to like the bad guy. He sees himself as intelligent and being called stupid or evil are his pet hates. Despite all he’s done he thinks he can’t be a bad person and justifies most of his actions. His many years in prison have made him an alien in the modern world and I thought that this aspect was written particularly well and allowed for some much needed humour at times. Brigid’s character could have been likeable but I found her obsession and jealousy of her husband’s late wife tiresome and felt like instead of humanising her, it undermined her  intelligence and made her appear whiny. It is good for a character to be flawed but I felt this flaw went a little too far. I did like that she maintained an understandable suspicion of people and would do anything to protect those she loved. She clearly has a great gut instinct and isn’t afraid to follow it.

We Were Killers Once is an intriguing, absorbing thriller. I didn’t know when I requested it that it is book four in a series and didn’t feel like I missed anything reading it as a standalone. A mix of fascinating fiction with tantalising fact re-imagined and woven through the pages, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves crime fiction and true crime.

Thank you to NetGalley, Orion and Becky Masterson for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: June 13th.

 

Review: ‘Favourite Daughter’ by Kaira Rouda ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Collage 2019-06-02 21_19_49

One of them lied. One of them died.

Jane’s life has become a haze of antidepressants since the tragic death of her daughter, Mary. The accident, which happened a year ago now, destroyed their perfect family life forever.

The trouble is, the more Jane thinks about that night, the more that she realises that something doesn’t seem right. Does her youngest daughter know more than she’s letting on? What secrets is her husband still hiding from her? And why does no one trust her on her own?

Even if it’s the last thing she does, she’ll find out the truth.

 

Told from the perspective of Jane, a twisted and delusional Orange County housewife, this book is like going inside the mind of the epitome of a narcissist and sociopath. A delicious delight to read, but a toxic nightmare to those around her, I loved every second inside Jane’s mind. The author has written what I think is one of the most addictive thrillers of the year.

It’s been a year since Mary, the perfect daughter in the Harris family, fell to her death in a tragic accident. In that time her mother Jane has been unable to deal with her life and just trying to survive each day surrounded by the fog of grief that engulfs her. Her husband, David, and disappointing younger daughter, Betsy, are barely around and she feels abandoned. The only people that listen are her psychologist and the Lyft driver who takes her to her errands and appointments. On the first anniversary of Mary’s death she receives an anonymous note that reads: MARY’S DEATH WAS NOT AN ACCIDENT. JUST ASK BETSY. Jane immediately believes her secretive daughter is hiding something, she’s just like her cheating father after all, and starts in motion of revenge for their betrayal and justice for the death of the favourite daughter.

Oh Jane. Controlling, manipulative, condescending, demanding and crazy Jane. She is one of the most unapologetically awful people I’ve ever read and, in a strange way, I adored her as much as I despised her. At the beginning she seems to be a sympathetic character: her daughter died, her husband is hardly home and is clearly cheating on her, and she’s isolated. But it doesn’t take long for her to show her true, ugly, colours. She has a justification for every action, lies without a second thought and takes joy in plotting revenge to ruin the lives of those she believes have betrayed her. Jane gets what she wants and will lie or take out anyone who gets in her way without a hint of remorse. She has a warped idea of what it means to be a good mother and if you google “how not to be a good mother” there is probably a list of everything Jane does. If there isn’t then there should be.

Favourite Daughter is a definite page-tuner and I couldn’t tear myself away once I began reading. I loved how the author had Jane talk directly to the reader, almost as if we’re friends. It was a great tool in showing the extent of her delusion and connecting us with her. Thought I saw a number of things coming it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the book as how things were revealed to Jane and her reaction to them was fun to read. It is a testament to this author’s talent that she was able to create someone who encompasses such narcissistic and sociopathic traits but still manages to evoke sympathy from the reader. Ms Rouda has found herself a new fan that is going to buy her first book as soon as I finish writing this.

Thank  you to NetGalley, HQ and Kaira Rouda for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Out Now.

My Sentimental Book Stack

cof

 

I was tagged by @diaryofabookmum & @silverliningsandpages on bookstagram to create a #sentimentalstack and enjoyed doing it so much that I decided to post it on here too.

𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓓𝓸𝓵𝓵 𝓕𝓪𝓬𝓽𝓸𝓻𝔂 & 𝓕𝓻𝓪𝓷𝓷𝓲𝓮 𝓛𝓪𝓷𝓰𝓽𝓸𝓷 – these were the books from the first author event I went to since starting my bookstagram account. It was such a special moment that I’ll never forget.

𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓵𝓸𝓻 𝓟𝓾𝓻𝓹𝓵𝓮 – The first book my other half bought me for my first birthday together. He bought me purple themed gifts and didn’t know I’d always wanted to read this book

𝓜𝔂 𝓢𝓲𝓼𝓽𝓮𝓻’𝓼 𝓚𝓮𝓮𝓹𝓮𝓻 – the first book I read by one of my favourite authors Jodi Picoult.

𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓦𝓲𝔃𝓪𝓻𝓭 𝓸𝓯 𝓞𝔃 – A favourite childhood book and the start of a lifelong obsession.

𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓲𝓵𝓭𝓪 & 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓑𝓕𝓖 – two of my favourite childhood books that evoke good memories.

𝓘𝓷 𝓒𝓸𝓵𝓭 𝓑𝓵𝓸𝓸𝓭 – I read this as part of my English A Level. It was the first true crime book I read, before this it was only magazine articles. It instantly struck a chord and cemented my interest in true crime.

𝓕𝓵𝓸𝔀𝓮𝓻𝓼 𝓲𝓷 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓐𝓽𝓽𝓲𝓬 – I first read this as a teen and have read it many times.

𝓐 𝓣𝓲𝓶𝓮 𝓣𝓸 𝓚𝓲𝓵𝓵 – my first John Grisham book. He’s been a favourite author of mine ever since.

What would be in your sentimental book stack? Comment below.

Review: ‘A Nearly Normal Family’ by M. T. Edvardsson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

cover155678-medium

Every murder cases starts with a suspect.

What if the suspect was your daughter?

Would you believe her, or the evidence against her?

THE FATHER Believes his daughter has been framed.

THE MOTHER Believes she is hiding something.

THE DAUGHTER Believes they have no idea what she’s truly capable of…

There are three sides to the story. And the truth will shatter this family to pieces.

 

Thank you to NetGalley, Pan Macmillan and M. T. Edvardsson for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

“We were a perfectly ordinary family, and then everything changed.”

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell is being held on suspicion of murder. Her father is sure she’s innocent. Her mother thinks there’s a chance she’s guilty.The evidence against her is mounting and yet her lips are sealed. Did she brutally stab Christopher Olsen in a fit of jealousy or is there another culprit out there? Why won’t she tell them where she was that night? Does she know what happened?

Told in three parts, each from the perspective of a different family member, each of our narrators are unreliable and leave us wondering which parts of their versions are true. The first part, which was narrated by the father, was probably the slowest and least enjoyable of them all for me. I think I just didn’t like him and quickly got the impression that despite being a pastor he was not practicing what he preached and was one of those who used their faith to excuse what they do wrong. I also found his spiraling unethical behaviour both idiotic and hypocritical. As a parent of teens I did understand some of his feelings and actions but something just never sat quite right with me and I had more empathy for his rebellious teenage daughter.

Part two was where this book became impossible to put down. Narrated by Stella, I was gripped by the raw honesty and saddened by how her parents let her down, didn’t seem to listen to her and see who she really is. Her father in particular seems only concerned with control and making Stella who he thinks she should be. There was one particular incident where I was enraged at how they handled things. They failed their daughter at the time in her life she needed them the most and I understood her rage towards them. Her conversations with her psychologist were fascinating and I liked the observations she made about how we can all find parts of ourselves in any psychological test we take. As Stella told the story of the night Chris was killed I was on tenterhooks for the reveal only to have it snatched away as the author then switched narrators for part three. A frustrating but fantastic move on his part in my opinion. I had so many questions by this point and had no idea what the truth was so I was left with no other option but to read furiously to the end for answers.

As we reached the final part where the mother, Ulrika narrates, it is time for the trial. Ulrika is a lawyer and we learn she has used her legal knowledge to concoct a plan with her daughter’s lawyer Michael. She talks a lot about her guilt at failing her daughter over the years. She had always struggled to be close to her daughter and focused on her career to alleviate the guilt she felt at being an inadequate parent. She’s clearly hoping that she has the chance to rectify these mistakes, if the mysterious plan works. She knows more about what happened that night than we’ve been led to believe and as we head towards the end of the book the bombshells are dropped in spectacular style and left me reeling. Ulrika’s apprehension in this part of the book was palpable and it was impossible not to get caught up in how she felt.

I have read a few books lately that tackle the question of what you would do if your child was accused of murder. This novel stands out among them as a captivating, ambiguous and twisting story about family, the secrets we keep and the lengths we’ll go to for those we love. I liked that each narrator was unreliable as it left you trying to figure out who is telling the truth as well as guessing how the story will end.

The author pulled off an amazing coupe de grâce with the way he ended this book. I loved how he pulled everything together and kept the reader on tenterhooks until the very end. A Nearly Normal Family is a brilliant piece of Scandinavian Noir that I recommend to anyone who loves thrillers.

Publications Day: July 11th.