#BlogTour #BookReview – Hold My Hand by M.J Ford (@Avonbooksuk)

hold my handHow long do you hunt for the missing?

A horrible vanishing act…

When a young Josie Masters sees a boy wearing a red football shirt, Dylan Jones, being taken by a clown at a carnival, she tries to alert the crowds. But it’s too late. Dylan has disappeared…

Thirty years later, Josie is working as a police officer in Bath. The remains of the body of a child have been found – complete with tatters of a torn red football shirt. Is it the boy she saw vanish in the clutches of the clown? Or is it someone else altogether?

And then another child disappears… 

Published 6th March 2018 by Avon (UK)  

Geez!!! This book was unsettling before I even sat down to read it. Arriving in a box that played fairground music when it was opened (thanks Avon!) had me shivering. I mean, there’s something just so deliciously sinister and terrifying about fairgrounds and clowns …right? Well, if like me you enjoy being chilled to the bone with your reading, Hold My Hand ticks all the boxes and had me on edge from the very first page.

Jo is only eight when she see’s a young boy in a red football shirt being lead away by a clown at the local fairground. The only witness to the kidnapping, she feels guilt over the years at not raising the alarm sooner. Now thirty years later, she’s serving as a detective in the police force when old remains of a child are discovered – the only clue to their identity a red football shirt. Then another child disappears in similar circumstances and Jo is determined to find the link between the two cases and solve the case which has plagued her conscience for three decades.

MJ Ford captured my attention straight away with an intensely suspenseful prologue  following the lead up to the kidnapping. Evoking the sights, smells and atmosphere of a day at the fairground as excitement turns into something dark, I was hooked very quickly.

The narrative then switches to thirty years later, where Jo is now a serving detective in the force where the remains are found. I really liked Jo, there’s vulnerability about her but also a foresight and intuitiveness which makes her investigating skills interesting- and I found myself frustrated on her behalf when her colleagues maybe didn’t listen or appreciate her as much as they should! I also liked the streak of empathy she had, meaning she didn’t always see things in black and white, which resulted in some thought provoking concepts. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this and I really liked the personal detail to Jo’s character.

I had some suspicions about the kidnapper, but was wrong. Looking back, I think the author purposefully and subtly points in their direction and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it. However I really couldn’t have predicted some of the plot twists, which are both shocking yet disturbingly plausible, adding to the chilling nature of this book.

Hold Me Hand is a great mix of thriller and police procedural which gripped me throughout.  I read it in huge 100 page chunks over a busy day, finding it hard to put down when I had to and eager for another dose when I had. Fast paced and shocking but with a distinctly authentic and human angle, it’s well worth an add to any crime/thriller fan’s bookshelves.

(I read a copy courtesy of the publisher)

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#BookReview – Only child by Rhiannon Navin (@MantleBooks)

only childWe went to school that Tuesday like normal.

Not all of us came home . . .

Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken nineteen lives.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the close knit community and its families are devastated. Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach’s father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice — while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing. 

Ultimately though, it is Zach who will show the adults in his life the way forward — as, sometimes, only a child can. 

Published 8th March 2018 by Mantle Books  

I knew this was going to be hard hitting well before I sat down to read it. It’s a book about the aftermath of a shooting in a school after all, but I’d also read some fantastic reviews from fellow bloggers. However, despite being forewarned, I still wasn’t prepared for the sheer horror and sadness I felt while reading it.

Only Child starts with six year old Zach huddled in a cupboard, along with his school teacher and classmates, listening to the “pop, pop,pop” of gun shots from the corridor. Immediately, the author puts the reader into the mind of a frightened six year old child with startling authenticity. While Zach knows something bad is happening outside, it’s small things like his teachers “coffee breath” which he notices. This struck me, I’m not sure why, but it was just so convincingly childlike and naive. Right there and then Zach stole my heart.

The majority of the book focuses on the aftermath of the shooting, as Zach’s family deal with first the relief that he survived, then the trauma that his older brother didn’t. I don’t think I’ve read such crushing and all consuming grief the way Rhiannon Navin writes it, when Zach’s mother is given the news. It was horrifically heart breaking, almost painful to read, but so exquisitely written, I can still picture the scene and feel how it made me feel days after I read it.

I felt an array of emotions as Zach lead us through the following months, as through his eye’s we see the impact of such a trauma on a family and a community. I felt angry at his parents at some points, particularly his mother, as they are so consumed by their own grief they seem to forget that Zach is also experiencing  grief of loosing his brother, but he’s also dealing with actually being at the shocking event himself. He doesn’t fully understand what happened, and has feelings he doesn’t know how to deal with. I wanted someone to stop and just hug this little boy. Of course, it’s easy to criticise from the outside. I can’t begin to imagine how I’d react if I were to experience something like this and I think the author portrayed an honest, raw and human side of a family struggling with grief and trauma.

When atrocities like this happen it is always shocking and horrific. However, once the news stops, we rarely see the far reaching effects such experiences have on individuals. In Only Child, Rhiannon Navin, takes us beyond the initial aftermath in heartbreaking honesty as Zach watches the effects on his family, his community and the parents of the gunman themselves. Only Child is powerful, brutal and heartbreakingly sad yet there are moments that feel positive and uplifting – where amongst the sadness there’s flashes of purity and forgiveness. It’s impossible to say I enjoyed this book, but it is one I appreciated reading, found incredibly powerful and important and will remember for a long time to come.

(I read an advance ebook courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley

#Blogtour #Bookreview – The Best Boomerville Hotel by Caroline James (@rararesources @choclituk)

img_1934Let the shenanigans begin at the Boomerville hotel …

Jo Docherty and Hattie Contaldo have a vision – a holiday retreat in the heart of the Lake District exclusively for guests of ‘a certain age’ wishing to stimulate both mind and body with new creative experiences. One hotel refurbishment later and the Best Boomerville Hotel is open for business!

Perhaps not surprisingly Boomerville attracts more than it’s fair share of eccentric clientele: there’s fun loving Sir Henry Mulberry and his brother Hugo; Lucinda Brown, an impoverished artist with more ego than talent; Andy Mack, a charming Porsche-driving James Bond lookalike, as well as Kate Simmons, a woman who made her fortune from an internet dating agency but still hasn’t found ‘the One’ herself.

With such an array of colourful individuals there’s bound to be laughs aplenty, but could there be tears and heartbreak too and will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville?

The Best Boomerville Hotel appealed to me having done a stint in my younger days living in as a waitress in a hotel in the Lake District. While this hotel doesn’t resemble any I’ve worked in or visited, it was fun seeing places I know and love featured. Seriously, there needs to be more books set in Cumbria!

The cover gives the style away really – this is a bit of good old British fun which Caroline James captures in full spirit. Packed with eccentric, larger than life characters and lashings of witty humour , there’s something cosy and uplifting about Carolines writing which made me smile.

I’m going to be honest, I’m a bit more down to earth and gritty usually in my tastes and when I first started this book found myself rolling my eyes a little at what I thought were stereo-typically  spoilt baby boomers and the “I say old chap” language, however the author creates such endearing characters it was hard not to be won around. After all, the guests at Boomerville want pretty much what we all want – companionship and a sense of purpose and belonging.

The Best Boomerville Hotel is a complete contrast to the fast paced thrillers and emotionally taught books I usually read. It was more of a leisurely, gentle amble than a rollercoaster,  but I enjoyed some touching moments along with the laugh out loud ones. If you want pure feelgood escapism in your reading, then this is a good bet for you – with an endearingly eccentric cast and a good dose of British Humour, you won’t go wrong.

boomerville blog tour

About The Author

caroline jamesCaroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, consultant and food writer, Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and writes articles and short stories and contributes to many publications.  

 Her debut novel, Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me is set in North West England, at the time of a famous gypsy horse fair.  The book went straight to number three on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun. 

 So, You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef? was runner up the Winchester Writers festival for best TV Drama and takes a light-hearted look at the world of celebrity chefs as they battle it out for fame and fortune. Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Mewas runner up at The Write Stuff, LBF, 2015 and is an Amazon best-seller and top recommended read by Thomson Holidays. Jungle Rock, a romcom novella set in Australia, revolves around a TV game show.  

 In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates. 

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

#BlogTour #BookReview – A Mother’s Sacrifice by Gemma Metcalfe (@HQDigitalUK @GemmaKMetcalfe)

a mothers sacrificeGod ensured she crossed my path. And that is why I chose her.

The day Louisa and James bring their newborn son home from the hospital marks a new beginning for all of them. To hold their child in their arms, makes all the stress and trauma of fertility treatment worth it. Little Cory is theirs and theirs alone. Or so they think…

After her mother’s suicide when she was a child, Louisa’s life took an even darker turn. But meeting James changed everything. She can trust him to protect her, and to never leave her. Even if deep down, she worries that she has never told him the full truth about her past, or the truth about their baby.

But someone knows all her secrets – and that person is watching and waiting, with a twisted game that will try to take everything Louisa holds dear. 

Published 9th March 2018 by HQ Digital UK  

After finishing Gemma Metcalfe’s second novel I am kicking myself severely. Why? Because after really liking the sound of her debut, Trust Me, last year, I bought it and never got around to reading it. What an idiot! If it’s anything like this emotionally taught, intensely gripping rollercoaster, then boy, am I in for another treat! Everything about this book was right up my street.

What should be the happiest time of Louisa’s life quickly turns into a living nightmare. Following the birth of her son, Louisa becomes convinced that someone is determined to steal him away. But with a traumatic past, Louisa seems to be on the brink of a breakdown and as her paranoia confuses the past and present, she’s loosing grip on reality.  Is she really in danger? Or is the real danger all in Louisa’s increasingly fragile mental state.

Louisa is written fantastically as an unreliable narrator. Using flashbacks to her traumatic childhood, Gemma Metcalfe gets the balance of creating both empathy and doubt just right, which had me rooting for Louisa while simultaneously feeling uneasy that maybe something wasn’t quite right.

There’s some difficult topics covered in this book including suicide, abuse, infertality and mental ill health and I thought they were written sensitively. The author’s understanding and compassion of how all of these distressing and traumatic experiences affect mental health stands out in this book. I also liked how she drew attention to the preconceptions and assumptions made of people who have suffered mental health difficulties in the past, meaning Louisa is left struggling to make herself believed.

A Mother’s Sacrifice is packed with twists and turns, they come one after the other and had me suspicious of every single character in the book. Right from the start I found myself hooked and flying through the pages. What I especially loved about this author’s writing was just how down to earth it is – the language, the character’s – as a northern lass myself, I just connected with it. It’s unfussy, gritty and bold but filled with compassion and heart. I raced through this book in a breathtakingly intense few hours and couldn’t put it down. Emotional, twisty,  and with a shocker of an ending I absolutely loved it!  Wholly recommended to it to fans of domestic psychological thrillers  – Gemma Metcalfe certainly holds her own against the top writers of this genre  and is an author to watch out for in the future!

(I read an advance ebook courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley)

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#BookReview – Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh (@LittleBrownUK @LittleBookCafe)

let me lieThe police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to question her parents’ deaths. But by digging up their past, she’ll put her future in danger. Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…

The stunning, twisty new psychological thriller from number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go and I See You. 

Published 8th March 2018 by Sphere (UK) 

I feel a bit sorry for Clare Mackintosh. As the queen of the knock-you-of-your-seat killer twist, she has a LOT of expectation on her shoulders from readers. I was both excited and nervous going into Let Me lie – one of my most anticipated books this year, I really hoped I’d love it as much as I did her previous two.

Let Me Lie tells the story of Anna, a new mum who’s still recovering from the traumatic deaths of her parents- both of whom appeared to commit suicide seven months apart. But when an anonymous card comes through the post, Anna becomes obsessed with the idea that there was more to her parents deaths – the trouble is she’s having a hard time convincing anyone else. And while she’s desperately trying to work out what happened, someone else seems intent on making sure she doesn’t.

I can only begin to imagine how traumatic it must be to loose a parent to suicide, but Anna’s double trauma really got to me. Her grief and incomprehension was tangible and I was emotionally invested in this book, and Anna as a character right from the start. When events start happening to cause Anna to question the verdict on her parent’s deaths, a tense atmosphere of doubt is created, causing me to suspect several characters may not be all they seem – including Anna herself.

While the writing is suspenseful and emotionally involving, I did find it a bit slow going for a while. Then, about half way through, the pace quickens and I found myself gripped and ended up reading the book in one sitting. I came up with several theories and suspicions while reading this book, and was pretty much convinced I had sussed this one out. Yet true to form, Clare Mackintosh still had some majorly shocking twists up her sleeve, saving them to the very end and leaving me reeling as I read the final page!

Let Me Lie isn’t my favourite book by this author, but it’s a worthy follow up to her previous books and a very good domestic thriller at that. I thought I was going to be disappointed, that the twists were obvious and that the shocking reveal I’d hoped for wasn’t going to come, but yet again the author didn’t disappoint. I also think Mackintosh’s ability to create vulnerability in her protagonists and draw empathy from the reader is second to none. I wasn’t disappointed and Clare Mackintosh remains among the top of my must read authors from my favourite genre.

(I read an advance ebook courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley)

 

 

#BlogTour #BookReview – The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave (@QuercusBooks @HollyACave)

memory chamberYOU ARE GOING TO DIE.
YOU CAN PRESERVE A HANDFUL OF SPECIAL MEMORIES FOREVER.
WHICH ONES WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity reliving your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.

Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.

But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…

The Memory Chamber is a thrilling and original story which vaults the reader into a world that is terrifyingly close to our own, where we can avoid everything we fear – even death itself. But can we ever escape the truth? 

Published 22nd February 2018 by Quercus (UK)  

Oh. My. God did I love this book or what?  The Memory Chamber is exactly my kind of dystopia/speculative fiction which I rarely come across or get a chance to pick up these days. Ones with glimpses into a not so distant future, where the sinister comes from what starts out as a way of making life (or in this case, death) better. The ones that make you think, and the ones that seem not so far fetched after all.

Isobel is a heaven architect – her job involves creating heavens for people when they die in a kind of augmented reality. The process is achieved through the extraction of memory neurons soon after death. It’s Isobel’s job to work with clients to plan their heaven before they die, picking and choosing their favourite memories to live and relive for all eternity.

I’m sure I caught something briefly on the news or some other program recently along similar lines – about the increasing possibility of preserving memories or personalities after death. Now, the science of the whole thing admittedly goes right over my head, but The Memory Chamber as a concept seemed to me highly plausible. I had no difficulty believing that we as humans would go down a path of selling ‘heavens’ after death if the technology was there to make them.  While it’s set in a future where technology has advanced, the book isn’t so far away or all that much more different from our own world to be alienating.  There are hints at treatments and medicines we don’t yet have access to, driverless cars and superior communication devices but in all honesty, the overall setting is familiar. I found it so credible, and so chilling!

There’s a thriller element to this book, which I found gripping. It stands out not only due to the original concept used to solve it, but the high emotional involvement this book triggered in me. As Isobel is put in an impossible position, I felt I was riding the tide of fear, loyalty, disbelief and betrayal along with her as everything she believes in crumbles around her and she faces both personal and professional ethical dilemmas.

Right from the very start, The Memory Chamber had me hooked. Holly Cave’s writing is beautiful, almost spellbinding as she builds Isobel’s world so convincingly. I struggled to put it down, and when I did, I was thinking about it and eager to get back as soon as possible. An evocatively imagined near future with a sinister and chilling twist, I recommend this book thoroughly!

(I read an advance proof courtesy of the publisher)

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#Bookreview – Bring Me Back by B.A Paris (@HQStories)

bring me backA young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again. 

Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?  

Published 8th March by HQ (UK)

I’ll admit – I wasn’t a massive fan of B.A Paris’s debut novel, Behind Closed Doors – I had a couple of issues about some aspects of the topic which made me a bit uncomfertable and struggled to believe some of the characters actions. However, I did appreciate how compelling the author’s writing was and really liked her style, so think it was a case of that particular book just not being the best fit for me personally. So, I was keen to read Bring Me Back – B.A Paris’s third novel.

I’m glad to say I liked this one a whole lot more! Again, I was struck by just how easily B.A Paris’s writing is. Right from the beginning the story flows, effortlessly gripping the reader and tugging them along chapter after chapter in a chilling frenzy to discover the truth.

The story starts with a flashback to twelve years ago, when in a remote service station, Finn’s girlfriend Layla disappears without trace. But is all as it seems? Is this a tragic but random situation or does Finn know more than he’s letting on? Fast forward twelve years and with still no trace of Layla, Finn is now engaged to her sister Ellen. Life seems to be moving on, but when mysterious Russian dolls begin appearing, could a ghost from the past be about to put the couples plans for a happy ever after in jeopardy?

I LOVED the way B.A Paris constructed this story, with alternating chapters of flashbacks to the past and increasing tension in the present. Every chapter seemed to reveal just enough to hold my interest and throw in a twist to keep me frantically turning the pages. I had no idea where this book was going, with all my theories being quickly debunked one after the other.

I was completely on board with the characters this time, and thought they were incredibly believable and convincing. Finn was conflicting in his personality with the right amount of charm and hints of a controlling menace giving him an unpredictability which was perfect to create suspense and intrigue. The contrast between the two sisters, Layla in the past and Ellen in the future is also stalk, and I particularly felt Ellen’s nervousness and vulnerability seeping from the pages.

There’s lots of twists and turns throughout this book, constantly keeping the reader on their toes. But I couldn’t have predicted the final twist in my wildest dreams, it came completely as a surprise and while it is an intriguing and genius concept, the one criticism I have about this book is that the ending felt a little bit rushed and tied up to quickly, meaning the absolute shocker of a twist lost a bit of impact and authenticity. I wanted to believe in it more than I did.

Overall though, Bring Me Back is a belter of a book and one fans of psychological thrillers are bound to enjoy. It’s easy, compelling, unpredictable, and has a hook to ensure you don’t put it down until you’ve devoured the whole thing. I’ll be adding B.A Paris to my list of reliable authors not to miss and luckily for me I have her second novel, The Breakdown, sitting on my shelf ready to get stuck into.

(I read an advance readers copy courtesy of the publisher)

#BlogTour #BookReview – Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts (@rararesources @JMortonPotts)

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 HidingA gripping psychological thriller with chilling twists, from a unique new voice. 

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens? 

 

Firstly HUGE apologies for my late posting of this review! I messed up on the dates for posting and then had some technical nightmares.

But where the hell do I start with this book?! I had no idea what to expect when I began reading this, the synopsis not giving an awful lot away and the author being new to me. I couldn’t have prepared myself though for the intense roller coaster of a ride it was going to take me on though – not a chance.

The book begins with ten year old Rebecca, the youngest of three siblings and being brought up by clearly reluctant grandparents following the death of her parents in a car crash years ago. It’s very clear early on that something strange is going on in the sinister old house in remote Scotland, and that the set up with the siblings and their Grandparents not altogether a happy one, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was other than a creeping sense of unease.

Then the following chapter switches to a few years into the future – this time to the USA where we join Keller Baye as he prepares to witness his father’s execution after years on death row. I’m not going to lie, I had absolutely no idea how the two situations where connected and became a little confused. It was such a sharp change of setting and narrative – but incredibly intriguing. I needed to know what the hell was going on!

And the author keeps the reader guessing right the way through the book, as it flips between Rebecca’s life in Scotland and Keller’s life in the USA. With snatches of a traumatic and unhappy childhood and some seriously disturbing scenes, as we learn slowly about Keller’s past and what connects him to the family in Scotland. It’s pretty gory at times – my stomach churning more than once, and a little bit violent. This is a gritty read, but while I found it a bit confusing to begin with, by around 25% of the way through I found myself absolutely gripped.

The pace of this book is fast! The author constantly throws twists and shocks at the reader, keeping me on my toes right until the very end. I also thought she wrote the character of Keller incredibly convincingly, meaning that he was terrifyingly sinister and unpredictable throughout.

I wasn’t all that sure I was going to enjoy this book when I started – finding the two stories confusing and a little complicated. But man, am I glad I stuck with it. Once it falls into place, this book is unputdownable. Even the ending left me wanting more. Highly intricate and tense, this is a book, and a villain, I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

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About the author 

Jenny MortonJenny is a novelist, screenplay writer and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realised she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.
Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family.
She tries not to take herself too seriously. 

Social Media Links –  

www.jennymortonpotts.com 

https://twitter.com/jmortonpotts 

www.facebook/jennymortonpotts  

#BookReview – Everything Is Lies by Helen Callaghan (@michaelJBooks)

everything is liesNo-one is who you think they are

Sophia’s parents lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed.

Everyone has secrets

Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find a house ringing with silence. Her mother is hanging from a tree. Her father is lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death.

Especially those closest to you 

The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. As her father is too ill to talk it is up to Sophia to clear her mother’s name. And to do this she needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .

What if your parents had been lying to you since the day you were born? 

Published 22nd February 2018 by Michael Joseph Books  

Dear Amy was one of the first books I read last year, and I absolutely loved it, and so I was incredibly eager to read Helen Callaghan’s latest novel – Everything Is Lies. When I began reading I was delighted to realise it was a duel time frame narrative, as in the present Sophia discovers her quiet and reclusive parents dead in what appears to be a murder/suicide while the secrets of her mother’s past are revealed in the notebooks she’d compiled in the months leading up to her death. I LOVE a duel narrative, it’s probably my favourite writing style to read as I find myself gripped between the switching stories of the past and present and desperate to know how they connect.

Everything of Lies starts exceptionally well – Sophia’s grisly and deeply shocking discovery grabbed my attention and with sympathetic storytelling, drew me in emotionally. Her distress, horror and trauma was palpable and connected me to her immediately. When Sophia begins to suspect that all is not as it seems and discovers her mother’s notebooks, I was hooked by the tale of a young, impressionable girl who finds herself involved in a cult led by a failed rock star. I settled down for the duration, as page after page flew by almost without me realising.

What made this book so compelling was just how convincing it is. The cult is sinister and weird yes, but subtly so and it was incredibly easy to imagine just how easily a lonely young person lacking in self esteem and confidence could find themselves wrapped up in it, not realising what was going on around them until they are so involved and reliant, there’s no way back. I also thought the character of Aaron, a narcissistic, deluded control freak, was well crafted as he relies on his past fame as a rock star to lure in vulnerable people. Again, he was convincing and it was easy to see why he would at first appear so alluring.

I often find that when reading duel timelines, it’s the sections from the past I find the most intriguing and enjoyable. Surprisingly though, it was the present that really caught me attention and drove this book, as Sophia seeks the truth about her parent’s horrific demise and at the same time, finds herself in danger. While I did enjoy reading her mother’s experiences of the cult, I felt that around the middle it lost pace a bit and wasn’t as tense as I would have liked it. On the other hand, the present galloped along and while I did see a major plot twist coming and predicted it correctly quite early on, I still found myself gripped as the truth is revealed.

Everything Is Lies is one of those books that are so easy to read, you find yourself halfway through before you’ve even looked up. Helen Callaghan certainly has an engaging and evocative writing style which manages to emotionally involve readers in her convincing characters and their stories. While I would probably have liked a little more tension and pace during some aspects of this book, on the whole it was a gripping and satisfying read. Recommended.

(I read an advance eBook proof courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley)

#BookReview – The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty (@CJ_Daugherty @Fictionpubteam) #EchoKilling

The echo killingFifteen years ago her mother’s killer got away. Has he finally struck again?

MURDER SHOCKS PEACEFUL NEIGHBOURHOOD

A woman in her thirties. Found naked and stabbed on the kitchen floor. Discovered by her twelve-year-old daughter after school.

As top Savannah crime reporter Harper McClain stares at the horrific scene before her, one thought screams through her mind. This murder is identical to another murder she has witnessed. Her mother’s murder…

For fifteen years, Harper has been torn apart by the knowledge that her mother’s killer is walking free. And now, it seems he’s struck again. There are no fingerprints. No footprints. No DNA. Yet still, Harper is determined to discover the truth once and for all.

But that search will come at a cost…and it could be one she isn’t yet ready to pay. 

Published January 2018 (Ebook) and March 2018 (Paperback)  

Hold The Front Page! There’s a new crime series in town, and this is one you will not want to miss!

When Crime reporter,  Harper McClain, takes a sneaky look at a murder scene, she’s suddenly hurtled back fifteen years to her own mother’s murder. Everything about it tells Harper that the similarities between the two murders, over a decade apart, are far from coincidental. But the police disagree, dismissing her suspicions outright. Taking it upon herself to prove them wrong, Harper begins her own investigation. But what connects the two murder victims and why has the killer struck again after fifteen years? In a desperate bid to get to the truth, Harper must cross professional boundaries, test friendships to the limit and reconsider everything and everyone she’s close to.  And with someone desperate to stop Harper revealing the truth, put her own safety in jeopardy too.

Wow! what an absolute gripper of a book this was! Right from the first page I was hooked by the snappy, clean writing and the twisty, fast paced plot. It’s an intriguing premise – a murder which appears to be identical to one committed years ago, giving two mysteries for the price of one as past and present collide and overlap, and we join Harper as she aims to solve the complex case. Add in the personal and emotional involvement of the crime reporter turned sleuth, and The Echo Killing becomes an even more intense and fascinating roller-coaster of a read.

 

The plotting and pace of this book is immaculate. At just over 440 pages, it’s not short and I wondered if Daugherty could maintain the momentum set in the early chapters. I needn’t have worried though, there’s no dips or fillers – the plot is constantly moving forward, with many twists and turns. As Harper digs deeper, more and more unanswered questions are thrown up and I was desperate to know the answers. I was compelled to keep on reading as “one more chapter” quickly turned into me devouring the entire book in a few hours.

But what really made this book for me was the character of Harper herself. Fresh, feisty, smart, impulsive, brave, flawed and determined, I absolutely loved her. Part of me was in awe, while the other part wanted to put my arms around her as both her ferocity and vulnerability shines from the page. Giving Harper a deeply emotional involvement in the case worked so well, allowing extra layers of her personality to show and develope and ensuring I was right on side with her throughout the book. There’s also a nice dose of romance too in the form of Detective Luke Walker, which is both passionate and captivatingly tender – the chemistry between them is sparking! yet it never becomes slushy or out of place in the story, adding to rather than detracting from the atmosphere of this suspenseful book.

So, as you can tell, I pretty much loved this book. There’s one aspect that remained unsolved, and I’d have loved to have had that wrapped up, but as The Echo Killing is book one in a series, I’m assuming it’s still to come. One thing’s for certain, I’ll be looking forward to more from Harper McClain in the future.  A brilliant start to a fresh new crime series which I’m happy to recommend!