#BlogBlitz #BookReview – Another Mother by Amanda James

Adopted at birth, for years Lu has secretly dreamt of finding her birth mother but childhood bullying has left her with a lack of confidence. When a tragic accident changes her life forever it sets her on a mission to get in contact with her birth mother and find out the reasons behind her adoption.

When she tracks down her mother in Cornwall there is an emotional reunion and the pair begin to form a relationship.

But is everything as wonderful as it appears or has Lu walked into a nightmare? 

Published 10th April 2018 by Bloodhound Books 

~ Review ~ 

When I started Another Mother, I was hoping I’d be gripped. I LOVED the premise, it just really appealed to me. And right from the very first page I was drawn in, immediately feeling at ease with Amanda Jennings writing, which flows beautifully.

Another Mother had a different kind of vibe to what I’d been expecting, but in a very good way. At times I almost forgot this was a thriller, which was nice because I wasn’t waiting expectantly for a twist and trying to second guess the plot.  I think it was down to the emotional investment that the author managed to convey with main character Lu. I connected with her immediately, not just because of the traumatic experience of loosing her adoptive mother and the uncertainty of meeting her birth mother, but because she was written so completely. A whole picture felt like it was created right from the start – her frustration in a dead end job, her lack of confidence and loneliness. I really cared about what happened to Lu.

I loved the setting of Cornwall too, and it fitted birth mother, Melyn’s story brilliantly. I loved how the there was a subtle undertone of atmosphere and sinister tension. It trickles into the narrative, and leaves the reader unnerved as they know something isn’t right but don’t know quite what or why.

Another Mother might be different and less in your face than other thrillers, but don’t be fooled – at its heart that’s what it is. Amanda James’s skill is in lulling the reader into a comfortable, steady pace and connecting her readers with her characters. I loved the fact that I was able to just read this book without waiting for the twists to jump out at me, appreciating even more when the book took a decidedly darker turn and secrets are revealed. This is effortless to read, perfect for the upcoming holiday season and is a book I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to fans of  psychological thrillers, domestic noir and women’s fiction as it really does have a broad appeal.

)I read an advance ebook courtesy of the publisher)

 

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#BookReview – Our House by Louise Candlish (@TeamBatc @Louise_Candlish)

On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue. 
Nothing strange about that. Except it is your house. And you didn’t sell it. 

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses. 

Published 5th April 2018 by Simon and Schuster (UK)

~ Review ~

Imagine coming home to find strangers moving into your home? All your furniture has gone and they insist they now own it. Imagine then finding out that maybe this isn’t some kind of misunderstanding and your husband may well be behind it. That’s what happens to Fiona, when after a couple of days away she arrives back at her beloved house to find the life she knew entirely turned upside down.

I mean, how’s that for a hook? Within a couple of pages Louise Candlish sets the scene of a domestic nightmare and piques the intrigue of the reader. There was little doubt I was going to devour this book. I had to know what the hell was going on! Through Fiona’s podcasts and Bram’s desperate and tortured word documents the full horror is revealed.

What’s so fascinating about this book is that it’s both far fetched and believable in equal measures. On one hand, how the hell can a house be sold from beneath you? Yet, as we are taken deeper into the story and the full extent of the situation is revealed, it becomes more and more plausible.

Fiona and Bram’s marriage is crumbling after Fiona discovers her husband has cheated again. In a grown up attempt to maintain the lifestyle and beloved home of their children, Fiona suggests the completely modern approach of ‘birds nest’ parenting, where the children will remain where they are and it’ll be the parents who move in and out for their allocated contact time. It’s one of those concepts that sound great in theory right? But you can see the disaster waiting to happen right from the start, almost like watching through your fingers.

The problems begins when Bram – impulsive, deceitful and weak, gets a speeding ticket. What begins as a slight misdemeanor turns into a snowball of lies, tragedy, panic, manipulation and blackmail. I thought Louise Candlish captured the runaway-train-out-of-control effect fantastically, as Bram’s life literally spirals and he finds himself deeper and deeper in a situation he can’t get out of. I wanted to scream at him STOP!! I also thought Fiona’s character contrasted brilliantly against him, coming across as calm and capable, completely reasonable yet unable to see what was happening around her.

Our House really is a story of one lie leading to another and events which spiral out of control. It’s a roller-coaster at times, fueled with adrenaline and increasingly frenzied panic,  an intensifying sense of foreboding and an ending to leave you gasping in horror.  This is the very best kind of domestic noir – where the reader feels like an outsider looking in, can see the cracks and sense the impending doom but just doesn’t know how it will all unravel. Reading it to find out was an absolute joy of speeding pages and held breaths. I was gripped throughout and just couldn’t tear myself away.

(I read an advance e-copy courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley)

#BookReview – Skin Deep by Liz Nugent (@PenguinRandomIE @LizzieNugent)

skin deepThe sinister new novel from the No 1 bestselling author of Unravelling Oliver and Richard and Judy Book Club pick Lying in Wait.

‘Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the Côte d’Azur for ten years, posing as a posh English woman fallen on hard times. But her luck is running out. Desperate to escape her grotty flat and grim reality, Cordelia spends a night at a glittering party. Surrounded by the young, beautiful and privileged she feels her age and her poverty. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. It hasn’t taken long for the corpse in her bedroom to commence decomposing …

Liz Nugent’s novel is the dark, twisted and shocking story of what takes Cordelia from an island childhood in Ireland to ruins in Nice. 

Published April 5th 2018 by Penguin Ireland

Reeling. That’s the only word to describe how I was feeling when I finished Liz Nugent’s novel, Skin Deep, last night before promptly taking to twitter to declare it my book of the year so far. And now I’m going to try and tell you coherently why. And I don’t know if I can because it was just SO. DAMN. GOOD!!! 

Skin Deep tells the story of Delia, the only daughter on a remote and wild Irish island – she is adored by her obsessive father. Delia is beautiful, but beneath the exterior there’s a mean, dark streak. When tragedy befalls the island, nine-year old Delia finds herself ostracised  and is brought up on the mainland by foster parents. But Delia wants more, and her manipulative, selfish ways will bring tragedy to all she comes across.  Delia reinvents herself time and time again while leaving a trail of destruction and misery behind her as she seeks the life she so strongly believes she deserves. But when her luck finally runs out, who is left for Delia to turn to?

This book starts with an absolutely gripping first line and holds you captive right until the end of the book. It starts with a bedraggled and middle aged socialite abandoning a dead body in her grubby flat on the Riviera in search of food and alcohol among the rich and powerful of the island. From then on we follow Delia’s story from childhood, as a deeply dark and twisted tale of obsession, manipulation and one woman’s deluded and narcissistic path to eventual  self destruction.

This is a dark, dark story – very different from any other psychological thriller’s out there at the moment. It’s character driven, rather than plot and is a study of the abhorrently selfish Delia and the destruction she leaves in her wake. It’s difficult to find any empathy with her at all, yet I was mesmerised by her and found her one of the most intriguing characters I’ve come across in a long time.

This book is seeping with cloying, sinister atmosphere, accentuated by the sporadic inclusion of Irish folklore tales. I absolutely adored these deliciously dark cautionary fables of old and how they related to Delia’s own story as she told it. You could say that Skin Deep itself is a cautionary tale, and it indeed has the feel of a modern twist on a fable where the perils of vanity, greed, obsession and selfishness are driven home.

And still there was a mystery at the very heart of this book, introduced at the very beginning. Spanning decades, Skin Deep takes the reader through the moments that lead to this point. I became so engrossed in Delia’s life from feral childhood to conniving socialite that I almost forgot about it, but in the final chapters Liz Nugent absolutely blew me away with a twist that left me reeling and an ending as dark and chilling as any myth.

Skin Deep was, in my opinion, overwhelmingly good. I was utterly mesmerised and disturbed by the deluded and twisted Delia and the sinister and atmospheric writing shrouded me from beginning to end. If you like your stories as dark as they come, with thick atmosphere and a hint of fable, then look no further – this book ticks ALL THE BOXES for me and sits firmly at the top of my books of 2018.

(I read an advance proof courtesy of the publishers)

#BlogBlitz – Manipulated Lives by H.A Leuschel (@Rararesources)

manipulated lives cover.jpgFive stories – Five Lives

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance? Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth. 

Published June 8th 2016

Manipulated Lives is a book of five short stories, all very different but centred around the theme of manipulation.  The characters in each story range from an elderly lady who is dying, a young woman swept up in a relationship with a single father and his young son, a teenager who is desperate to fit in and a woman who motherhood comes to later in life. What’ makes each of these stories stand out is that manipulation can come from anywhere, and was often not from the person you may expect. It also draws attention to the fact that anyone is open to manipulation, victims coming from all walks of life and at any age.

There’s something deeply dark and disturbing about Leuschel’s  writing that really unnerved me. Perhaps, having been the victim of manipulation myself, the incredibly raw and stark narrative hit a nerve. It made it a little uncomfortable to read, because I truely believed in these character’s. This is not a criticism, more testament at the author’s ability to really understand and convey the emotional as well as the physical abuse her characters go through. I think for me, it hit a nerve slightly and made me feel uneasy at times.

Of all the stories, I think the first book stands out. Tess and Tattoo’s tells the story of an elderly woman in a care home, who reveals some of her past to a carer she befriends. The book shows though that we should never assume or judge, as her carer eventually finds out that Tess’s past wasn’t the one she’d initially thought. I also thought The Runaway Girl captured the vulnerability of teenagers well while My Perfect Child tackles the taboo and less talked about topic of parents being abused by their offspring.

I’ve read very few short story collections in my life, feeling that they weren’t for me. After reading Manipulated Lives I remain unsure. On the one hand, I appreciated the snapshots – like peeking into other peoples homes and understanding what happens behind closed doors. I also was impressed which how well drawn each story and character was in such short pieces of writing. However, I also felt that I wanted to know more, have more closure, follow them through a journey.

Manipulated Lives isn’t an easy book to read being so disturbingly true to life. It’s extremely intimate, almost confessional and got under my skin at times but at the same time thought provoking, intriguing and compelling to read. If you are intrigued behind the psychology of manipulation, then I think this is a book you may not enjoy but will certainly appreciate.

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About The Author 

manipulated lives author.jpgHelene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

 

Facebook | Twitter  | Website

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#BlogTour #BookReview – The Fear by C.L Taylor (@AvonBooksUK @CallyTaylor)

the fear‘Grabs you by the metaphorical throat right from the start and doesn’t let up until the end.’ Heat

When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

The million copy Sunday Times bestseller returns with a taut, compelling psychological thriller that will have you glued to the edge of your seat. 

Published 22nd March 2018 by Avon (UK)  

C.L Taylor has become a hotly anticipated author among fans of psychological thrillers, and having read every single one of her four previous novels I can see how she improves with each one. The Fear is no exception, and once again I was hooked right from the start, drawn into the gritty plot and completely immersed in the character’s story.

There’s a slightly different feel to The Fear. Despite the title, I didn’t think this book was as twisty as I’d been expecting. It’s dark though. Disturbingly so as C.L Taylor tackles the theme of child grooming, abduction and psychological trauma. When Lou’s new boyfriend surprises her with a trip to France, her reaction as she approaches Dover is extreme. Then through a series of flashbacks and the discovery that history may just be about to repeat itself, we discover just what happened to a teenage Lou all those years ago as she faces her fear to save a young girl from becoming the latest victim of her abuser.

One thing’s for certain, this author can write excellent characters, crafting them to be so convincingly real that it makes the reader question how easily such a trauma could happen to them too, and puts them firmly in the shoes of her protagonists. It’s told from the viewpoint of three women, Lou – who ran away to France at fourteen after being groomed by Mike, his ex-wife Wendy, still angry and resentful at how her life turned out, and thirteen year old Chloe, the latest focus of Mike’s attentions. Having the three view points gave a really thorough and clear perspective and worked very well.

Being the mother of a thirteen year old daughter, I found it chilling and difficult to read at times, yet I also appreciated the reminder of just how easily a vulnerable young adult could be influenced. I found Chloe’s sections of the book heartbreaking, and was angry at the chips at her self esteem which made her so vulnerable. The book throws up many questions, about parental culpability, the long term effects of abuse and the far reaching ripple effect created. It’s not just Lou’s life that’s affected, while Mike’s ex-wife is initially difficult to like due to her feelings towards her ex’s victim, during the book we begin to understand and empathise with her. But it was Lou’s development over the course of the book which I really liked, as the reversal of power see’s her conquer her fear.

As I’ve come to expect from this author, The Fear was effortless to read, gripping and compelling from the start and I read it over the course of a day. While I didn’t feel it had the twists and shocking moments I expected when I started, I felt this was appropriate to the theme and instead found it a chilling and dark, yet completely believable and thought provoking book. The ending was maybe a little, teeny bit contrived and lacking in impact, but I’m willing to ignore that. The Fear definitely shows the authors growth as a writer, with compassion and understanding of everyday victims of abuse – be it domestic, emotional or sexual, and the psychological effects on mental health. But it also conveys strength and hope in facing up to and overcoming your fear. This is C.L Taylor’s best book yet.

(I read a readers copy courtesy of the publisher)

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#BlogTour #BookReview – Lying To You by Amanda Reynolds (@amandareynoldsj @wildfirebks)

lying to youFollowing on from her eBook bestseller Close To Me, Amanda Reynolds is back with Lying To You, another gripping psychological drama. Perfect for fans of The Husband’s Secret and I Let You Go.

You’d know if you were lying to yourself, wouldn’t you?

When Jess Tidy was Mark Winter’s student, she made an accusation that ultimately saw him sentenced to three years in prison. A jury found him guilty, but he always maintained his innocence. Now, Jess’s mother’s death has brought her back to the village where she grew up, and where Mark still lives with his wife. And the truth about that night ten years ago which nearly destroyed them both is finally going to come out.

A gripping drama with dark twists and turns, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and the BBC series Doctor Foster. 

Published 1st April 2018 (Ebook) and 26th July 2018 (PB) by Wildfire Books (UK)

 

Warning! Make sure you have a clear few hours when you begin this book. 

That’s how I started my review of Amanda Reynolds’ debut novel, Close To Me, last year. And after reading her second novel, Lying To You, I can firmly say ….

Amanda Reynolds has done it again!!! 

Seriously, Amanda’s writing is so thoroughly addictive and compelling, the pages just turn themselves, meaning huge chunks of book just disappear without you even realising. Just as before, once I started Lying To You I didn’t put it down until I’d devoured the whole book.

Lying To You tells the story of Jess, as she gets a phone call from her brother to say their alcoholic mother has died. yet Jess is reluctant to go back home, wary of dredging up a past she is desperate to put behind her. In alternating chapters we also hear Karen’s story, as she struggles to deal with Jess’s return and resentment at the girl she blames for ruining her family’s life a decade ago with one devastating accusation.

I absolutely adore how Amanda Reynolds writes such convincingly flawed characters, drawing feelings of both empathy and mistrust. She isn’t afraid to show the dark side of her characters and writes emotions such as resentment, frustration, manipulation and fragility convincingly. There’s a theme to her female characters of loss of identity, grief at a loss of self and strength in wanting to regain control that I think is very relatable.

The story covers a shocking and traumatic topic of a teacher/student relationship and explores boundaries, trust and abuse of power in a realistic and sympathetic way. I was wary, to be honest, that this might not be the case, and I’m glad the author wrote the novel the way she did, once again showing her understanding and compassion for the complexities of relationships and manipulation. She doesn’t rely on shocking twists but explores the dark side of marriage, family and trauma respectfully and convincingly.

Amanda Reynolds has firmly cemented herself on my list of must read authors, her second novel being just as, if not more, engrossing, compelling and thought provoking as her first. There’s something so accessible and readable about her writing, which just  flows, making it effortless to read and page turning in the extreme. I barely noticed the time passing as I read Lying To You. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of dark domestic drama, and personally I can’t wait to read more from Amanda Reynolds myself.

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

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#BlogTour – The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins – Guestpost and #Giveaway

I’m absolutely thrilled to be kicking of the blog tour today for Roz Watkins new crime debut, The Devil’s Dice! The first book in the DI Meg Dalton series, this is a gripping and atmospheric thriller you won’t want to miss! One of the most striking things I found about this book was the Peak District setting and I’m delighted to welcome Roz Watkins to Cosy Books today to tell us just why she chose it.

Detective Inspector Meg Dalton has recently returned to her Peak District roots, when a man’s body is found near The Devil’s Dice – a vast network of caves and well-known local suicide spot. The man’s initials and a figure of the Grim Reaper are carved into the cave wall behind his corpse, but bizarrely, the carvings have existed for over one hundred years.

The locals talk about a mysterious family curse that started in the times of the witch trials, and Meg finds it increasingly hard to know who to trust. Even her own mother may be implicated.

For Meg, the case is a chance to prove herself in a police force dominated by men, one of whom knows a lot more about her past than she’d like, and is convinced she’s not fit for the role. In a race against time, Meg finds her own life at risk as she fights to stop the murderer from killing again.

Published March 8th 2018 by HQStories

Roz Watkins is the author of the DI Meg Dalton crime series, which is set in the Peak District where Roz lives with her partner and a menagerie of demanding animals.

Her first book, The Devil’s Dice, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award, and has been optioned for TV.

Roz studied engineering at Cambridge University before training in patent law. She was a partner in a firm of patent attorneys in Derby, but this has absolutely nothing to do with there being a dead one in her first novel.

In her spare time, Roz likes to walk in the Peak District, scouting out murder locations.

Why I chose to set ‘The Devil’s Dice’ in the Peak District  

The original reason was my dog and his foul habits. I live on the edge of the Peak District, which my dog approves of because of the excellent walking. We were out one day when he disappeared. This is always a bad sign as it means he’s:

a) Found a group of picnickers and decided to invite himself along;

b) Found a stinking foetid pit in which to take a bath;

c) Found a decomposing rabbit, sheep, or on one horrible occasion cow, to devour.

So it was with some trepidation that I watched him emerge from the undergrowth looking very pleased with himself, with something dangling from his mouth, swinging pendulously with every bounding step. I caught my breath and took a step back, because (to my brain at least) it looked just like a human spine.  

As he got closer, I realised it was a hare, but it got me wondering what it might be like to come upon a human corpse when on a dog walk. And that’s what happens in ‘The Devil’s Dice’. A man dies in a cave and is found by a Labrador.  

Here’s Starsky, very proud of himself!  

I soon realised that The Peak District is a perfect location for crime novels. It has underground passageways, cliffs, quarries, and pools where evil mermaids are supposed to lurk. It also has some lovely towns, and I used Wirksworth as the inspiration for my fictional town, Eldercliffe. Wirksworth has an incredible area called The Puzzle Gardens where a jumble of tiny cottages and random gardens perch on a hillside so steep it feels like you can step out of one cottage onto the roof of another.  

There are also miles of tunnels running underground in the area of the Peak District where I live. Being trapped underground with water rising around me is one of my worst nightmares, so it seemed natural to inflict this on my poor, long-suffering character in my fist book. I invented a network of tunnels called The Labyrinth, but it was based on real cave systems like the ones at The Heights of Abraham and Castleton.  

I gave my main character a fear of heights so I could torture her some more by making the victim live in a house perched on the edge of a quarry. This was based on the quarry at Wirksworth, where the houses almost teeter on its edge.  

This Peak District is also rich with folk tales and legends. I tend to make up my own stories to fit with the themes of the books, and in the first book, suspected witches were historically taken into the Labyrinth to be hanged. But my ideas are often inspired by real local folk tales which are usually quite gruesome.  

Friends think it’s strange (and a little worrying) that the beauty of the Peak District gets me thinking about murder, but my excuse is that it all started with the dog.  

Win!!!

Thanks to the very generous people at HQ Stories I Have THREE hardback copies of The Devil’s Dice to giveaway. Simply pop over to follow my twitter account @Vicki_cosybooks and Re-tweet my pinned post. U.K. Only I’m afraid. Ends Midnight 22nd March 2018 .

#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)

 

 

#BookReview – The Bad Daughter by Joy Fielding

bad daughterWhat first appears to be a random home invasion reveals a family’s dark secrets in this domestic ticking-clock suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of See Jane Run.

A hostile relationship with her sister and a complicated past with her father’s second wife have kept Robin estranged from her family for many years. But when her father’s new family is attacked in their house, with her father and his wife in critical condition in the hospital, she returns home determined to put her experience as a therapist to use to help mend fences and care for her young stepsister, who survived the attack relatively unscathed. It looks like a random robbery gone awry, but as Robin spends more time with her family members, she learns they all had their secrets — and one of those secrets may have put them all in horrible danger.  

Published 27th February 2018 (Ebook) and in Paperback June 2018 by Bonnier Zaffre

This is the first book I’ve read by Joy Fielding, but I really liked the sound of it – I LOVE a twisted family full of dark secrets kind-of-story, so that sold it to me. And it started off so very well! Beginning with Robin, a Councillor but clearly struggling with her own anxieties and emotions, getting a phone call from her sister to tell them her father, his wife and step sister had all been shot, I was gripped within a few pages with the hints and questions the author throws up to snare the reader. Why did Robin react so badly to hearing from her sister? Why is she clearly so anxious at the thought of returning home? And why had a whole family, including a 12 year old girl, been shot? When it’s revealed that her father’s wife is Robins own childhood best friend and she hasn’t spoken to her family in years I was hooked, and settled down to a good old dark domestic drama.

I thought the concept was excellent – with a whole host of suspicious characters looming in the small town Robin is so reluctant to return to. I really liked the character of her sister, Melanie – sharp, witty, poisonous, this is definitely a woman with a grudge. I also thought the whole small town dynamic was captured very well, giving that sense of claustrophobia and everyone knowing each others business that adds a distinct atmosphere and works so well in thrillers.

I did feel the book lost some momentum around a third of the way through though, and my attention began to wan a little. There’s a hell of a lot of dialogue and an awful lot of back and forward bickering that felt a bit repetitive. A big focus was on the interactions between the two sisters, yet it didn’t seem to move the story on as quickly as I’d have liked and meant I wasn’t compelled to keep reading the way I want to from this kind of book.

I limped a little through the middle of this book, taking a couple of days to get through. But then just when I was about to loose interest completely, the booked picked up pace, and all of a sudden got exciting again! I’d been blindsided by the argumentative sisters and hadn’t seen a shocker of a twist coming, and as the final chapters flew by I was glad I’d stuck it out in the end.

I can’t decide if the misleading focus of the sisters relationship was clever or not. On the one hand, it completely threw me when all is revealed and took me by surprise. On the otherhand, it almost felt a bit too out of the blue to be real. I still think the concept was an excellent one, and I’d definitely pick up a book by this author again, having finished on a high. Overall, a book with a lot of potential that was worth reading to the end, but for me just missed the mark a little.

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