#BlogTour #BookReview – Dead Man’s Daughter by Roz Watkins

She was racing towards the gorge. The place the locals knew as ‘Dead Girl’s Drop’….

DI Meg Dalton is thrown headlong into her latest case when she finds a 10-year-old girl running barefoot through the woods in a blood-soaked nightdress. In the house nearby, the girl’s father has been brutally stabbed to death.

At first Meg suspects a robbery gone tragically wrong, but something doesn’t add up. Why does the girl have no memory of what happened to her? And why has her behaviour changed so dramatically since her recent heart transplant?

The case takes a chilling turn when evidence points to the girl’s involvement in her own father’s murder. As unsettling family secrets emerge, Meg is forced to question her deepest beliefs to discover the shocking truth, before the killer strikes again…. 

Published April 4th 2019 by HQ Stories 

 ~ Review ~ 

Last year I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Roz Watkins debut book, The Devil’s Dice which I absolutely loved. The atmospheric setting, hints at myth and the seemingly unexplainable, coupled with a fantastic female lead, ticked all my boxes. So I was thrilled to take part again in Roz’s second blog tour for Dead Man’s Daughter.

Carrying on with intuitive, spontaneous and at times reckless DI Meg Dalton, Dead Man’s Daughter absolutely blew me away. This is intricate, complex, fascinating, thought provoking, original and utterly gripping reading and I could not tear myself away.

Once again, the atmospheric setting of the Peak District and local myth and history intermingle with a very modern case. This time, the fascinating subject of cellular memory in transplant organs is tackled. I remember watching a program years ago about transplant recipients who believe they have taken on personality traits from the donor of their new organ. It’s such an interesting subject, and Roz Watkins has woven it into her story with great plausibility and skill.

There are so many layers to this book, it’s impossible to go into them all without spoiling it for other readers. But the worth and value of a human life and ethics, both medical and personal, are at its core. While this book is fast paced and suspenseful, I found it incredibly thought provoking too. I couldn’t have predicted in a million years where this book was going to go and was fascinated throughout by this highly original story.

DI Meg Dalton remains a favourite character – I love her impulsiveness and spontaneity, which admittedly lands her in trouble occasionally.  Her personal circumstances are a great influence on her actions, meaning she’s not always perfect but incredibly relatable. While the first book in the series does cover a lot of her back story, Dead Man’s Daughter can absolutely be read as a stand alone.

Roz Watkins hasn’t just done it again with Dead Man’s Daughter – she’s done even better and cemented her place as a must read author for crime fans everywhere. However, I think this book will appeal to a wider audience, who may not read a lot of crime but enjoy a complex, thought provoking and fascinating story.

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

Dead Man's Daughter blog tour

#BlogTour #BookReview – Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . . 

Published March 7th 2019 by Faber & Faber (UK)

This is the first book by Peter Swanson I’ve read, and so had no idea what to expect. I did however really like the sound of it. I’m so glad I did though and it most certainly won’t be the last.

Before She Knew Him tells the story of Hen, an artist with a history of mental health problems manifesting in over imagination, suspicion and obsession. When she and husband Lloyd move into a quiet suburb it’s a new start and a chance to put a difficult episode behind them. But when their new next door neighbours, Mira and Matthew, invite them to dinner and Hen spots an item she believes links Matthew to a violent murder, it looks like Hen may be spiralling into ill health again. With her history, no-one is prepared to believe her. Is Hen loosing her grip on reality or is she really living next door to a serial killer?

I absolutely loved the style of writing in this book … it’s very distinct, with chapters alternating between Hen and Matthew. The tone struck an incredibly sinister atmosphere and had me turning pages furiously as it was so engaging and compulsive.

I loved the sense of conflict Peter Swanson creates in the character of Hen. There’s a vulnerability and honesty that has the reader completely on her side, yet all the while there’s an uncertainty whether she is right or is indeed gripped by a psychotic episode. Matthew is a masterclass in cold, clever and creepy. My skin actually crawled at some points.

This is a dark and disturbing story, exploring the impact of domestic violence, sexual abuse and childhood abuse on an individuals mental health and personality. It is shocking in it’s believability – I could almost feel sorry at times where I most certainly shouldn’t have. As thrilling as this book is, it also gives the reader lots to think about.

The book ends with a great twist I really didn’t see coming – and as a seasoned psychological thriller reader I’m not often this taken in by a twist. Though it left me feeling as if I should have spotted it – it’s clever and completely believable. I raced through this book, I loved the creepy, sinister atmosphere and the conflict and uncertainty  it provoked. An excellent read, and an author I’ll be making sure I read a lot more of in the future.

I read a free copy of this book courtesy of the Publisher  

before she knew him bt

#BookReview – The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

They said it was an accident. Her mother knows they’re lying. But the truth comes with a price…

A fast-paced and action packed psychological thriller that is full of twists and turns you won’t see coming. The Night Olivia Fell is the most gripping suspense mystery you’ll read this year.

IT’S EVERY PARENT’S WORST NIGHTMARE.

Abi Knight is startled awake in the middle of the night to a ringing phone and devastating news – her teenage daughter, Olivia, has been in a terrible accident.

Abi is told that Olivia slipped and fell from a bridge into the icy water below, and now she lies silent, dependent on life support.

But then Abi sees the angry bruises around Olivia’s wrists and learns that her sensible daughter is in fact three months pregnant . . .

WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT IF THEY TOLD YOU IT WAS AN ACCIDENT?

Published by HQ Stories (UK) February 2019 

~ Review ~

I started reading The Night Olivia Fell with high expectations. I’d read some fantastic reviews and the plot sounded right up my street. For anyone who follows my reviews, you may notice I’m a very emotional reader – I like a book that’s going to make me grin like a Cheshire cat or cry big fat ugly tears. This book seemed like it was made for me.

So maybe it was those high expectations that got in the way when I first started reading this book. It took me a while to get into, feeling a bit slow paced and not altogether gripping me. I think the main issue was that I just didn’t gel with main character, Abi, whose daughter Olivia is on life support waiting to give birth. She’s prickly, aggressive, and in the flashbacks to life before the accident, controlling and oppressive towards teen Olivia.

However, as I read on I started  to relate to her. Abi and I have a lot in common, and as a single parent I remember that feeling of wanting to prove your child can have every opportunity a child with two parents can have. As we learn more of her backstory, I could empathise and understand her, and her overwhelming fear of loosing those she loves.  And I really enjoyed watching her character develop, as she overcame her demons of both past and present.

The mystery of what happened to Olivia is tightly woven and while there’s clear suspects marked out, it really could have been any of them right up until the reveal. This is a complex mystery, wrapped up in secrets and lies, some designed to protect and others to destroy. At it’s heart is a young girl, Olivia, who tragically seems to be manipulated from all sides, yet remains a thoughtful, caring and optimistic young woman. Whereas I initially found Abi difficult, I loved hearing Olivia’s story in the flashback chapters leading up to that fateful night.

The final third of this book was excellent. I read it with held breath, tears streaming down my face so heavily I couldn’t see the page. All the emotion I missed at the begin is there in those final heartbreaking pages with some incredibly tender and moving writing searing my heart. I was glad I’d stuck with this book, it was well worth it in the end and I think this is a story that will stay with me for quite sometime, as well as serving as a reminder to appreciate my own teen daughter. This is a story that will  slowly creep under your skin and rip your heart out before putting it back together again.

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

Six In Six – A Look Back At Some Of My Top Books Of 2017 So Far…

6 I saw this over at Cleopatra Loves Books, and thought it was a great idea to look back at books read so far in 2017. Hosted by Jo’s Book Journey, the idea is sharing 6 books, in 6 categories from the first half of the year. So here’s my choices:

6 Books I Have Enjoyed The Most 

 

 

6 Psychological Thrillers I Have Read & Enjoyed 

 

 

6 New To Me Authors 

 

 

6 Covers I’ve Loved

 

 

6 Books Which Took Me To The Past 

 

 

Six Books I Own & Can’t Believe I Haven’t Managed To Read Yet 

 

Book Review: He Said / She Said by Erin Kelly

Who do you believe?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark… 

Published April 20th 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton  



There is so much I want to say about this book – the themes it raises and the twists it takes make it perfect for long discussion. However, I also don’t want to give anything away – because this book completely took a turn I wasn’t expecting, coming like a bolt from the blue and leaving me slack jawed in disbelief and  how-the-hell-did-I not-see-that-coming astonishment. I wouldn’t want to spoil that for anyone.

He Said / She Said begins with Laura and Kit, as in the blossoming stages of a new romance, they go to Cornwall to watch the Eclipse. Immediately Erin Kelly creates a feeling of intensity, enhanced by the atmospheric, heady environment and the phenomenon itself. I remember both Eclipses (1999 and 2015) which provide the back drop for this story, and while something that was only mildly interesting to me at the time, found it a fascinating and original driver for this book, being both beautiful and menacing, peaceful and dangerous in equal measures, with a different perspective depending on the place or angle you see it from.

This book tackles the extremely sensitive subject of sexual assault and both the attack itself and the following court case are traumatic, uncomfortable and shocking. It switches between what happened during the trial and its aftermath, and the present where Kit and Laura are in hiding, clearly traumatised and terrified. But what led them to this position? Erin Kelly cleverly leads the reader on a merry dance, subtlety planting seeds of doubt into your subconscious before landing that lightening bolt twist to throw it all back up in the air.

I’m not sure I’d say this was a pacey and fast read, it’s far more subtle and clever than that. It is gripping though, especially from around half way through when I found myself completely drawn into this eerie, twisted story of half-truths, obsession, power and fear and the resulting catastrophic consequences. If I had to be nit picky, then I’d say I was less interested in Kit’s present day chapters earlier on as they went into a bit more detail and science behind the Eclipse chaser aspect. Overall though, I’d say He Said / She Said is a sophisticated, thought provoking psychological thriller, which drips with atmospheric tension and bowls a twist to knock you over.

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

Book Review: Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen

No one ever disappears completely…

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn’t been at work for weeks.
It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you. 

Published 23rd March by Headline (UK) 


I’m going to be straight up here, I have mixed feelings about this book. For seventy five percent of it I thought it was probably going to be quite disappointing. However, a huge twist that had completely evaded my suspicion was revealed that had me thinking “ooooh…clever!” and look back at what I had read in a completely different light.

The gist of this story is that high achieving Hannah – a strong, workaholic professional, comes home to find her boyfriend appears to have left her. Only he’s literally wiped every trace of himself away. Every single belonging he owned has gone, but so has every photo, email and phone call record from Hannah’s phone. Hannah’s world crumbles and as her personal life falls apart, so does her professional life. And while at her most vulnerable, it seems that someone is playing mind games with her. Where has Matt gone, and who is it that just won’t leave her alone?

So the premise is excellent. I really wanted to know where Matt had gone. Had he gone of his own free will or was something more sinister at play? Do any of the people closest to Hannah know anything? I had some ideas spinning about my head. They were wrong. The writing is very, very readable and easy to speed through and this combined with my intrigue at Matt’s disappearance kept me reading at a speedy pace.

Where I found it problematic was that I just didn’t find the characters convincing. I felt that Hannah was portrayed initially as a very strong and capable character, yet she folded immediately and became almost pathetic at times. I lost some sympathy for her and struggled to connect or relate with her. I also disliked the other characters, in particular her best friend Katie and struggled to understand this relationship at all. On the other hand, having now read the book fully, it makes more sense. I think the atmosphere that was being created in the first part of the book just didn’t quite come across as well as it could have, meaning it lost some of it’s intensity and build up to the big twist.

The twist when it did come was not what I’d been expecting at all, and actually is a really, really good one. It also tackles a subject that is not talked about enough, has stigma and shame attached to it and has a message that is important to get out there. I can’t reveal it though – so you’re going to have to trust me on this one and read it yourself! Gone Without A Trace would make a great TV drama I think, I can vividly see how it could play out.

I feel really conflicted summing this book up. There was a lot I liked. It’s an easy, speedy read with an intriguing premise – ideal for holiday or lazy afternoon reading when you have a large chunk of time to spend reading. It has a twist that I have neither seen before or expected, and the final quarter of this book completely redeemed it for me and left me feeling glad that I’d spent the time reading it. I would absolutely read more by this author, as I really liked her engaging and pacey writing style. It’s just a shame that I personally found it difficult to believe in or relate to any of the characters, which in turn had an effect on my overall enjoyment of it.

(I read a copy supplied by the publisher)

Book Review: Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

‘NEW N A M E .
NEW F A M I L Y.
S H I N Y.
NEW.
ME . ‘

Annie’s mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother’s daughter… (from Goodreads.com)

Published 12th January 2017 by Michael Joseph, Penguin UK   

Woah, this was an intense read! I picked it up on Saturday night, immediately finding myself pulled in and consumed by this tragic, chilling and fascinating tale.

Good Me, Bad Me tells the story of fifteen year old Milly as she adjusts to a new life, new family and new identity. Daughter of a serial killer, it was she who turned her Mother into the police after years of abuse herself and now she must prepare to give evidence at her trial. It’s told completely in the first person from Milly, and Ali Land uses an unusual, but extremely effective style to get over her unique voice. Short, clipped, sometimes one word sentences give a flitting, intimate and authentic feel to the narrative, making me feel I was absolutely in Milly’s head as I read this book. So much so, that even an hour after I’d finished reading, I could still hear her voice running through my mind. It was completely consuming and brilliant.

Milly’s foster family add an extra layer of darkness to what is already a very dark and disturbing story. Mike’s job is to guide and prepare Milly for the upcoming trial, yet such a delicate and traumatic case seems misguided considering the dysfunctional and mental frailty of his own family. I didn’t understand him fully or his motives. It made me think perhaps the quest to help is more about the giver and what they get out of it: prestige, respect, admiration perhaps?  Mike’s own family are themselves deeply troubled, with his daughter Phoebe’s jealous, neglected and resentful personality creating an explosive environment for the traumatised and troubled Milly.

Ali Land writes Milly’s voice with astonishing authenticity as she struggles between hatred and love for her mother. Her confusion, fear and guilt create a roller coaster of heightened emotion which takes the reader swiftly alongside with chilling anticipation. As a reader, it provokes internal debate and doubt – Is Milly to be pitied or feared? Can she be accountable, or is she an innocent victim of her unfortunate circumstances? This isn’t a comfortable read, it prompts exploration of grey areas and left me mulling over things long after I’d finished. Milly’s voice was so distinctive, even now I can recall it vividly, making Good Me, Bad Me an unforgettable and compelling story. Intense, chilling and completely engrossing, this is definitely a book and author to watch out for.



Book Review: The Last Act Of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

Eighteen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .

Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity, about the line between innocence and culpability, about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control (from Goodreads.com


Published 9th March 2017 by Quercus (UK)   
The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia wasn’t a book or author I’d heard of when I first came across it, but with such an intriguing title and synopsis, I thought I’d give it a go. I am so glad I did, this book is one of those wich grip you from the very first page and keep you reading right the way through. 
The story centers on the shocking murder of a eighteen year old Hattie, in a small mid-western town in America. Local sheriff, Del, investigates the crime, but he’s also got an emotional attachment to the case. He’s a good friend of the family and has known Hattie since she was born. The book tells the story from his point of view as he investigates the murder, and also from Hattie’s teacher, Peter, all in the present. A third narrator from the past is from Hattie herself, in the months leading up to the murder, and the alternating chapters and perspectives each have a distinct style and voice, making for an intriguing and absorbing read. 
I really liked Del and thought he was the main strength behind this book. Yes, he’s the typical workaholic, coffee drinking, single and lonely, tough detective character, but there’s a real empathetic and understanding side to him. The emotional connection he feels to the family is clear, yet I loved how his character dealt with facing conflicting feelings of personal bereavement and loyalty to Hattie and her family and professionalism to the case. Del is a fair man. He isn’t perfect, he has his flaws, but he’s the type of person you’d want to have your back. It’s not just with the family who he has close ties to that we see this side of him, but in his interactions with other characters throughout the book. 
I also thought it was a clever idea to add in the voice of Hattie herself, and this meant we really got to know her. Hattie is complex, in that she presents herself as one thing to the community she lives in, while concealing her real dreams and feelings to the rest of the world. I felt conflicted about her character. On the one hand, it’s easy to dislike her…she comes across as calculating and cold, but I think that’s because it’s easy to forget that she is only Eighteen years old. Despite her apparent maturity, she’s actually pretty naive and easily influenced. I ended up feeling quite sorry for her, a girl who is dissatisfied with her life, feels out of place and dreams for more, she thinks she’s found it and this makes her quite vulnerable. The third narration comes from her English teacher, Peter Lund. He’s the character I struggled with most, finding him pretentious, weak and self pitying.  I think it’s credit to the author’s excellent writing that I felt this way, as that’s exactly the response I presume I was supposed to have. 
The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is a whodunnit murder investigation, and the prime suspects are flagged up pretty obviously. Yet despite knowing it was going to be one of these people, the author had my accusations switching from one to the other throughout. But this book is also an exploration of personal responsibility, a theme found in several of the small sub-plots and background stories. It had me questioning who was taking advantage of who at times, who was actually in control here and who was to blame. It also made me consider how being the person on the pedestal can actually make you the most vulnerable of all. The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman throws up every human flaw found in dysfunctional relationships: jealousy, weakness, selfishness, desire, need, revenge and control. I read this in two days, was gripped and absorbed throughout and even the ending left me with something to think about. 
(I read a proof copy from the Amazon Vine program)

Book Review: Eyes Like Mine by Sheena Kamal

It’s late. The phone rings.

The man on the other end says his daughter is missing.

Your daughter.

The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago. 

What do you do? 

Nora Watts isn’t sure that she wants to get involved. Troubled, messed up, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn’t want to revisit the past. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her? 

But going in search of her daughter brings Nora into contact with a past that she would rather forget, a past that she has worked hard to put behind her, but which is always there, waiting for her . . . 

In Eyes Like Mine, Sheena Kamal has created a kick-ass protagonist who will give Lisbeth Salander a run for her money. Intuitive, not always likeable, and deeply flawed, Nora Watts is a new heroine for our time. (From Goodreads.com)

Published by Bonnier Zaffre 9th February 2017 (UK)

As soon as I started reading Eyes Like Mine, I realised it was going to be very different to other other thrillers I’ve read lately. The tone, style, prose…it was sharp and edgy and very easy to become quickly gripped by.

Nora Watts is a tough, world weary protagonist. She’s seen the worst of human nature in her life, and this is reflected in her attitude. She’s aloof, suspicious and constantly looking over her shoulder. She keeps herself to herself, squatting in the basement of her employers office and keeping in the shadows of the violent and corrupt world she inhabits, the mangy stray dog who, for some reason latched onto her, the only company she has. But this lady can take care of herself, she’s had to. Nora is fiesty and strong, and Eyes Like Mine is a fast paced, action packed thriller throughout.

Nora isn’t a likable character. She’s an ex-alcoholic, almost vagrant and distrusts most people she knows. She goes out of her way to keep everyone at more than arms length. As her story is revealed throughout the book, I understood why. Nora knows violence and betrayal. She’s come to expect nothing less. She appears cold, even when the call about her missing daughter, adopted at birth, comes in. The author never lets Nora’s guard slip, even for a second, but there are glimpses of what lurks underneath Nora’s iron exterior, just enough to make the reader care what happens to her without slipping into sentimentality or smulch. For this, Nora is utterly believable.

There are some violent scenes in this book, with the setting being the dark and corrupt world of private investigation and billionaire business. It’s edge of your seat fast at times, with car chases, gun fights and an ever present sense that danger lurks right around the corner. I did loose my way a little bit regarding Nora’s investigation into the Canadian mining business, it got a little to technical for me and I started loosing track of who was who and how it was all connected-however, my confusion wasn’t that long lived and is probably down to me not having any idea about billion dollar mining business and  the Canadian setting (there seemed to be a political undertow? It’s just not something I know anything about). There’s also one thread early on in the book which I kept expecting to resurface, and when it didn’t I wondered what the point of it had been. On reflection though, I think it was to show there is a softer, human and empathetic side to Nora.

Eyes like Mine proved to be more action packed, gritty and perhaps political, then what I’d usually choose. I’m not usually drawn to books about corruption, however having read this, I’m glad I did. I raced through it in a couple of sittings and was gripped throughout.

(I read an advanced readers copy from the Amazon Vine Program)

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine and is a chance to spotlight upcoming books you can’t wait to read.
The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer
The Girl in the Red Coat

Kate Hamer’s stand-out debut thriller is the hugely moving story of an abduction that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Carmel has always been different. Carmel’s mother, Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter’s strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes eight year-old Carmel to a local children’s festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour. 
Published March 5th 2015 by Faber & Faber (UK)