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Blog Tours book reviews

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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Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Snakes by Sadie Jones ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Vintage
Format: Paperback
Genre: Thrillers, Suspense, Literary Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Snakes. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Vintage for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Family secrets can be deadly…

Newly-weds Dan and Bea decide to escape London. Driving through France in their beaten-up car they anticipate a long lazy summer, worlds away from their ordinary lives.

But their idyll cannot last. Stopping off to see Bea’s brother at his crumbling hotel, the trio are joined unexpectedly by Bea’s ultra-wealthy parents. Dan has never understood Bea’s deep discomfort around them but living together in such close proximity he begins to sense something is very wrong.

Just as tensions reach breaking point, brutal tragedy strikes, exposing decades of secrets and silence that threaten to destroy them all.

‘A twisty delight of a novel, a cracking page-turner that has much to say about modern life and our attempts to find a way to navigate it, no matter where we come from’ Cathy Rentzenbrink

MY REVIEW:

“You’d swear you could see it, in the cracks in the pavements and the bricks in the walls; violence and grief.”

Bea and her husband Dan have decided to take a three month break from their lives in London to go travelling. Beginning in France, they stop at the hotel owned by Bea’s older brother, Alex. When they arrive they find the hotel is rundown and unfit for business, but Bea insists they stay. When Bea’s parents join them unexpectedly a few days later, the visit isn’t welcome. Bea has an animosity towards them that Dan doesn’t understand, insisting she doesn’t want them in their lives, but saying she can’t leave Alex alone to deal with them. Over the coming days, the couple’s dream of an idyllic break away from everything crumbles as old secrets and resentments resurface and tragedy strikes.

Narrated by newlyweds Bea and Dan, she has never told him the full story about her parents. He doesn’t know why she wants nothing  to do with them or that they aren’t just well off and are part of the elite 1%. Bea is a paragon of morality and virtue – she works with vulnerable people, volunteers with charities, wants to save the planet and is a big believer in justice. She sees things in black or white and refuses to compromise on her morals – something Dan admires but her father mocks her for. Being around her family again means Bea must face that she harbours a deep rage and wrath towards them for their transgressions, things she can’t forgive but also refuses to share with Dan, leaving him confused and driving a wedge between them as he sees two very different people to those his wife sees, not understanding her deep resentments and inability to forgive.  

The Snakes is a story about temptation, power, morality and forgiveness. It is a story about a toxic family and dark secrets that explores moral dilemmas and the consequences of the characters’ actions on those around them. It was dark, intriguing and unexpected, keeping me guessing right until the final page. While it didn’t have the heart-pounding tension you find in some thrillers, it was full of a subdued suspicion that was compulsive. The tragedy that strikes the family and search for truth and justice that unfolds is secondary to the story about the family itself. 

I hadn’t seen a lot of reviews for this book before reading but I had heard that it was a marmite book, with some people not taking to the format and others loving it. Well, I’m one of the strange ones who has mixed feelings about marmite, and that’s kind of how I felt about this book, which was a very different novel from the one I was expecting. The Snakes is a compelling, well-written and readable novel with a shocking and abrupt conclusion that lingers.

Sadie Jones Author Pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sadie Jones is a screenwriter and a #1 Sunday Times bestselling author. Her first novel, The Outcast won the Costa First Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. It was also a Richard and Judy Summer Reads number one bestseller and adapted for BBC Television. Sadie also wrote: Small Wars (2009), The Uninvited Guests (2012) and Fallout (2014). Her fifth novel, The Snakes, was listed as ‘March book of the month’ in The Bookseller.

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The Snakes BT Poster