#BookReview – Friends like These by Sarah Alderson

We all know someone like Becca.

She has the job everyone wants, a designer wardrobe, a hot-shot lawyer boyfriend, holidays to exotic locations. And she flaunts her perfect life all over social media.

It drove her colleague Lizzie mad, but she couldn’t stop looking. They were never really friends – and yet Lizzie knew everything about her.

Or did she?

When chance, and a terrible mistake, pulls Lizzie back into Becca’s orbit years after they lost touch, she’ll realise that you can’t always believe what you see online… and that finding out the truth might be the worst thing you can do.

There’s no such thing as a perfect life. Only a perfect lie.

Published December 2018 by Mulholland Books (UK)

~ Review ~  

I absolutely love a creepy, crazy, twisted character and Friends Like These has two of them. This book was RIGHT up my street. I loved this book and was utterly gripped from beginning to end.

It starts with a 999 transcript, with no indication of who’s making the call. The book then backtracks five days and we discover the events that lead to that terrifying and frantic call. It’s kind of like you know how it will end, but the need to know just how and who really drives this book, making it such a compelling read.

We’ve all searched out someone on social media, just out of curiosity and to have a nosy into their lives – right? Lizzie can’t believe it when one drunken night she finally finds an ex-colleague, Becca, on Facebook. Keen to share her discovery with her friend, Flora, she sends her a message linking the page – along with a few bitchy comments. But the next morning, Lizzie realises she actually sent the message to Becca herself. And Becca isn’t happy about this at all.

Can. You. Imagine? I will NEVER send a Facebook message without triple checking again!

Lizzie’s mistake sets of a roller coaster of twists and turns, where nothing is ever as you expect. It’s impossible to know who you can trust, is Lizzie or Becca the crazy one? The gripping, twisty writing is peppered with subtle dark humour that also really appealed to me, along with a cautionary tale of the perils of social media.

I’m being purposefully vague because I don’t want to give anything away, which is making this a difficult review to write. I just want to tell you how great this book is – hopefully you’ll take my word for it. I read a lot of psychological thrillers and this one really stood out to me. It’s a little bit different, a gripping page turner and well worth a read! I loved it!

(I read an advance proof copy courtesy of The Amazon Vine Program and the Publisher)

#BookReview – If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected.

As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?

Published  21st February 2019 by Orion Books (UK) 

~ Review ~ 

Oh wow. I don’t even know where to start with this review. It’s taken me all morning just to get started and I’ve deleted and started again a zillion times. So forgive me but I’m going to gush. THIS BOOK IS BEAUTIFUL! From the cover (I mean, Look at it!) to the gorgeously tender, heartbreaking and touching story inside – BEAUTIFUL.

I was lucky enough to discover Hannah Beckerman five years ago when I was sent a signed copy of her debut novel The Dead Wife’s Handbook (Which I reviewed HERE) and so was eager to read her long awaited second novel. And I was not disappointed.

If Only I Could Tell You is a story of a fractured family, a decades old rift and secrets that have never been shared. Audrey’s daughters Jess and Lily haven’t spoken since childhood and now thirty years later, with a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Audrey is determined she will bring them together before she dies.

I love Hannah’s incredibly honest and raw writing, she captures the very essence of humans. In If Only I Could Tell You, fear of the truth and a desire to shield and protect leads to half truths and misunderstandings. How often do we make presumptions without fully understanding the truth? How easy is it to let weeks, months, years slip by, the longer that passes, the harder it is to reconnect. How many of us have looked back and thought “if only”?  I could relate to so many of the emotions and questions raised in this book, as I’m sure most people will.

The book is told in chapters from all three women – Audrey as she faces the end of her life, reflects on the past and yearns to reunite her daughters. Lily, who appears to have it all – success, poise and a need to be very much in control.  And Jess, who refuses to tell Audrey just why she can’t forgive her sister. The reader really feels as if they get know each woman and understands what drives them.

Interspersed are flashbacks to the past  and a slowly revealed secret that will both shock and break your heart. I was so unprepared for the truth, it took my breath away, had tears streaming down my face and my daughter asking if I was ok with great concern. This book tackles subjects of such sadness and grief, yet it is so beautifully and thoughtfully written, it truly is breathtaking at times. And despite the sadness, there comes an uplifting air and I ended it with a smile through the tears and a sigh of hope.

I read If Only I Could Tell You over an afternoon, where I had so many other things I should’ve been doing but could not bare to tear myself away. I was fully immersed in the three women’s lives and mesmorised as the tragic and touching story unfolded.  I genuinely can not recommend this book enough and already know it’s going to feature highly on my books of 2019 list.

(I read an advance proof copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program)  

 

 

 

#BookReview – The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

YOU’LL NEVER FORGET THE FLOWER GIRLS

The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose.

One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity.

Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing.

And The Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again…

Published January 2019 by Raven Books 

~ Review ~

I can’t remember how or when I heard about The Flower Girls, but it jumped straight into my pre-order basket. Months later when it eventually dropped through my letterbox, I abandoned all plans and snuggled down to read it.

“The Flower Girls” are sisters Laurel and Rosie – infamous for a brutal murder when only children themselves. While older sister Laurel has been in prison for many years, Rosie – only six years old at the time of the killing- has spent the last couple of decades living with a new identity and in fear that one day someone will work out who she actually is. And then, another child goes missing from the hotel she is staying at with her parents. A hotel where Rosie (now known as Hazel) is also on the guest list…

Wow, this was an unsettling and dark read. With the past and present eerily twisting and colliding, The Flower Girl’s had me engrossed. I flew through the pages, desperate to unravel the mystery of the missing girl in the present and just what had happened all those years ago to drive two seemingly innocent little girls to commit such an horrific act.

As expected, this is often an uncomfortable and disturbing book which challenges the reader to consider whether a person is shaped by their early experiences or are inherently bad. It prompts us to question whether someone who commits such an atrocious crime at such a young age can ever be rehabilitated and released back into the community. We see the impact on the victim’s family – grief, bitterness and an overwhelming need for justice and revenge. My mind whirred as I read this book, as I was forced to question, then question again.

Throughout the book, the author creates a chilling sense of unease with undercurrents of  suspicion and doubt. I never knew quite exactly what to believe or expect as I read The Flower Girls. With some shocking twists thrown in right at the end, this is a book with impact – it will shock and disturb, leaving you thinking about it long after you turn the last page. If I had one complaint, then it would be that I’d like to have known a little more about the sister’s early life and what made them the way they were … this bit felt a little glossed over and I would’ve liked to understand (if ever you could) them more. However, one complaint aside, I felt this was a smart, thought provoking and dark thriller which had me hooked from beginning to end. Recommended!

 

 

 

#BookReview – The Rumour by Lesley Kara

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back 

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed? 

Published December 2018 by Bantam Press (UK) 

~ Review ~

Lesley Kara’s debut novel, The Rumour, is immediately gripping. It’s one of those books which you start, and then when you next look up a huge chunk of both time and pages have flown by. This is down to both her incredibly catchy and easy writing style and her ability to create remarkably recognisable and relatable characters.

We’ve all been there … said a little more then we meant to, got caught up in a moment. But when Joanna finds herself involved in gossip about the rumours flying around her local community, she has no idea of the danger she will shortly be facing. I thought Joanna was portrayed perfectly and could relate to her feelings of isolation, wanting to fit in and unease with herself. I also thought the tense, simmering anger of the small town was perfectly captured,  as fingers started pointing and revenge is sought. I’ve lived in that small town kind of environment – I’ve seen how quickly rumours can spread, evolve and completely spiral out of control. Lesley Kara’s The Rumour is absolutely on point in that respect and completely believable.

I got completely caught up in this book, desperately wanting to know just who was the notorious child killer and wondered why they seemed so intent on singling out Joanna for her part in the gossip and speculation. Kara throws the reader off scent several times with red herrings, which kept me on my toes and glued to the pages. The first half of the book was excellent, I couldn’t put it down and it was heading towards five star read status. However, I guessed the big twist just before it came, which unfortunately for me dampened the impact a bit. And while I could’ve lived with this, I thought the ending became a little far fetched. Whereas I’d been completely convinced for the majority of the book, the ending just lacked quite as much credibility for me.

The Rumour is still a great read. The writing flows, keeps the reader engaged and the pages turn effortlessly. The themes of small town mentality, gossip, rumour and revenge are a fascinating and compelling combination. It’s a very solid debut and despite feeling some of the impact was lost at the end, I still enjoyed this book very much and will definitely look out for more from the author in the future.

*I read a free advance readers copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program and the publisher*

 

 

Book Review – The Dead Ex by Jane Corry (@Janecorryauthor @PenguinUKbooks #TheDeadEx #BookReview )

One man’s disappearance throws four women’s lives into chaos–and not all will survive. . .

Vicki works as an aromatherapist, healing her clients out of her home studio with her special blends of essential oils. She’s just finishing a session when the police arrive on her doorstep–her ex-husband David has gone missing. Vicki insists she last saw him years ago when they divorced, but the police clearly don’t believe her. And her memory’s hardly reliable–what if she didhave something to do with it?

Meanwhile, Scarlet and her mother Zelda are down on their luck, and at eight years old, Scarlet’s not old enough to know that the “game” her mother forces her to play is really just a twisted name for dealing drugs. Soon, Zelda is caught, and Scarlet is forced into years of foster care–an experience that will shape the rest of her life . . .

David’s new wife, Tanya, is the one who reported him missing, but what really happened on the night of David’s disappearance? And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself? The answer lies in the connection among these four women–and the one person they can’t escape. 

Published June 28th 2018 by Penguin UK  

~ Review ~

I absolutely loved Jane Corry’s previous novel, Blood Sisters (reviewed here) and was so looking forward to reading her 2018 release, The Dead Ex. But then life got in the way, reading unfortunately got pushed aside as I seemed to roll from one drama of my own to another and I didn’t get around to it. Well, aren’t I kicking myself now after finally picking it up this week? Once again, I was completely sucked in and held captive by Jane’s twisty, compulsive writing as I devoured this addictive book in a couple of days.

The Dead Ex begins with alternating chapters told from the perspective of Vicki, a reclusive, seemingly timid aromatherapist who definitely has something to hide in the present, and Scarlett, ten years previously, an eight year old child who’s caught up in her chaotic mother’s criminal activities. Both narrators where fascinating and gripping, but what really intrigued me was trying to work out just what connected the two of them together. There is absolutely no way I could have guessed, and loved the turn the book took!

There’s a LOT of theme’s running through this book – child neglect and family loyalty, Female relationships and bonds, a need for a sense of belonging, ambition, power, loss of identity…it goes on. Vicki is a fascinating character with so many layers that even by the end I’m not sure I’d seen them all. Jane Corry writes each aspect of her so convincingly, I completely believed in her. I also absolutely loved the references to aromatherapy oils and uses, which I find fascinating and felt really complimented the book.

I flew through this book, despite reading it over a couple of busy days, grabbing any moment I could to read a bit more. With fascinating and complex characters and a plot that left me second guessing at every turn, this is compulsive reading at it’s best. An absolute page turner that manages to surprise and shock over and over again.

(I read proof copy courtesy of the publishers and Netgally)