#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  

#Blogtour – My Mother The Liar by Ann Troup – An Extract (@HQDigital @TroupAnn)

I’m joining the blog tour today for Ann Troup’s latest thriller, My Mother, The Liar. Released by HQ Digital on 12th February 2018 in ebook, I’ve got the incredibly gripping and dramatic first chapter to share with you!

my mother the liarEvery family has its secrets…

From the author of The Lost Child, and The Forgotten Room. Perfect for fans of The Secret Mother and Linda Green.

Two dead bodies. A lifetime of secrets.

When Rachel Porter’s estranged mother dies, she returns to her family home filled with dread about having to face her past, and the people who populated it.

Little does she know that there are dead bodies waiting to be discovered, and a lifetime of secrets are about to untangle.

Secrets kept by her mother, the liar.

 

 

Chapter 1 

Rachel’s mother had been fond of blanket statements that set others indelibly in their places. Proud of her insights into the characters of others she had set out her children’s traits like a script. As if they were pickles in jars, all three of her daughters had been permanently labelled and preserved by her assertions.
Frances was the clever one, Stella was useless, and Rachel was just downright difficult.
Did all parents like to define their offspring, leaving their children floundering and typecast? Rachel felt imperfectly moulded by her family, an inconvenient, bit part player in the sometimes drama that had been her life. It had made her bitter.
Now her mother was dead. Valerie was no more and Rachel wasn’t feeling much of anything except antipathy.
She would have known about Valerie’s death weeks before, but she’d quietly ignored the first letter from Frances, knowing that it couldn’t contain good news. The Porters didn’t trade in good news. The slanting, deeply etched handwriting on the envelope had said enough. Frances could ooze anger even when writing a simple address. She’d used green ink, which Rachel was inclined to think had been distilled from her sister’s bile.

It had taken a second letter containing the expected diatribe of accusations and sour grapes to make Rachel finally take notice. She had already missed the funeral. Frances had been brutal and unforgiving about that. Rightly so in Rachel’s mind – missing your own mother’s funeral was pretty shabby in anyone’s book. Even if your mother was Valerie Porter. She might not have gone back at all if she hadn’t been required to assist with the application for probate. Without that she’d have carried on burying her head in the sand and ignored them all for ever. It was Valerie Porter’s final revenge to force her to go back.

When she was sitting on the train, when it was too late to turn back and take refuge again, she allowed herself to think about the consequences of going back. Of what she’d have to face.

Who she’d have to face.

There were people more dreadful than Frances who populated the past.

While the train took her relentlessly towards ‘home’, she pulled out the second letter and reread Frances’s words.

‘I am patently aware that you still harbour resentment about the past however the house is a joint responsibility and whatever grudges you still bear, I feel you should put them aside for once and show a little loyalty,’ Frances’s letter baldly stated. ‘Stella is nowhere to be found and I’ve been left to deal with this alone. You have a legal obligation to carry out Mother’s last wishes at least. I will expect to see you at the soonest opportunity I shan’t say at your convenience because that would mean waiting for ever”

Rachel could imagine the gritted teeth and grim expression that had fuelled those words. It had been a sense of stale guilt and obligation that got her to Paddington Station plus curiosity and a strange, unpleasant yearning for something she couldn’t define which had made her get on the train. Since when had Frances ever needed anything from her?
With every mile that took her closer to home she felt an increasing sense of apprehension. Given the circumstance of her departure all those years ago it was bizarre that Frances would contact her at all, let alone request her help – they both knew that there was no love lost between Valerie and Rachel, they hadn’t spoken in years.

The only logical conclusion she could draw was that her physical presence was needed to allow the sale of the house because no connection between sisters, or mothers for that matter, would have driven Frances to write otherwise. Given that for most of Rachel’s life Frances hadn’t been able to bear being in the same room as her for more than a few minutes there couldn’t be any other reason.

Frances wanted the money. Nothing else on earth would have forced her to make contact, not even the truth. That was something none of them could bring themselves to face.
***
By the time Rachel arrived at the house Frances had already sold everything of any remote value that Valerie hadn’t, and had resorted to burning what was left on a large bonfire in the overgrown garden. Things that couldn’t be burned, like the ancient enamelled cooker that their grandmother had bought in 1959, and the six broken vacuum cleaners that had languished in the attic for years along with numerous
other aged and dishevelled domestic items were to be taken to the local tip by Sid, ‘The Man With A Van’ and his monosyllabic sidekick, Steve.

Sid and Steve were cheap, available and discreet. Frances valued discretion and economy above most things – including false sentiment. She showed none of that when greeting her sister, merely offered her a pair of rubber gloves and a black bag and told her to pick a room, any room, and get on with it. Rachel received a warmer welcome from Sid. The amiable Sid explained that he and Steve had been at the house for days, repeatedly loading the van and making trips to the local landfill site as Frances steadily forced the large old house to disgorge its contents and bare its mouldering soul.

Rachel arrived with barely enough time to salvage Stella’s meagre belongings from the purge, and only just managed to stop Steve feeding yet another box of books onto Frances’s pyre. They were Stella’s books, children’s classics that Stella had kept from her own childhood and had read to Rachel during hers. Frances argued that if Stella had wanted the books she would have taken them with her. Rachel shrugged and said that she was keeping them anyway. One of the rare pleasures of her childhood had been
listening to Stella read those stories, so even if Stella didn’t want them, she did. Besides, monstrous though Frances could be, what kind of person could burn books?

Frances had been so eager to clear the house that she hadn’t really left much that Rachel could do, except stand by and wonder at her sister’s vigorous enthusiasm for incinerating every last stick the house had ever contained. It felt as if she were only there to witness the destruction. It was Frances’s way of punishing her she supposed.
‘I’ve spent too many years being oppressed by all this junk!’ Frances yelled above the crackling bonfire, eyes blazing as bright as the fire as she watched the flames consume yet another chunk of their past. ‘It’s liberating, don’t you think?’

Sid, standing next to Rachel, shook his head and said ‘I dunno, seems a shame really – could have got a few quid for some of that stuff on eBay. Sacrilege ’ he added, bemused. He looked back at the house ‘ must really have been something in its day. They don’t build them like that any more.’

Rachel followed his gaze and looked back at the mock Tudor sprawl she’d once known as home. ‘Probably ’ she said, her voice dull. Not that she could ever remember it being anything other than dark, damp, cold and gloomy. By the time she’d been born The Limes was already suffering from serious neglect. Valerie had been too mean to heat the rooms they didn’t use and mildew had taken hold running riot over the walls. The negligence had been an open invitation for rot and decay to come on in and have
a ball. Even in winter it had sometimes been warmer outside than in – a childhood full of blue noses chilblains and chipping the ice from the taps had left its mark on Rachel. She still couldn’t bear the cold.

The house had eight bedrooms. In Rachel’s memory only four had ever been regularly used. Of the four bathrooms, they had all shared one, and out of the study, drawing room, morning room and reception room, they had only ever used the morning room as it was close to the kitchen and easier to heat. The attics and cellars had been no go zones for so long that she had almost forgotten they existed other than as repositories for the things Valerie had been too lazy to throw away.
As far as Rachel was concerned The Limes was a mausoleum that housed a bitter past. If it had ever had a heyday it was so far back in the mists of time she would have to squint to imagine it.

Much in the way that she needed to squint at Frances through the billowing smoke. She was prodding the fire with the end of a garden hoe, her eyes glinting and flickering with reflected flames making her look like a reject from the legions of hell. The fire had brought out a demonic glee that made Rachel instinctively shudder despite the heat that rolled across the neglected lawn.

‘Right, that’s going nicely ’ Frances called. ‘Stephen, you come with me and we’ll tackle the outbuildings and Sidney, you can go with Rachel and make sure there’s nothing of value left inside.’

A brief flicker of panic crossed Steve’s face as he looked at Sid. Sid had quietly confided to Rachel that both men had fallen foul of Frances’s imperious temper over the past few days and it was considered the short straw if one of them had to work alongside her. ‘Come on, chop chop!’ she shouted, clapping her hands as if Steve was a refractory Pekingese.

Rachel watched them go. ‘I suppose we’d better follow orders ’ she said to Sid, preparing herself to go back into the near naked house. Free of its clutter, the house was even more cavernous than she remembered, all its strident objections to old age and infirmity amplified by the lack of furnishings. With nothing to soak up the sound and attract
the eye it looked bare and ashamed of itself Rachel almost felt sorry for it. Nobody loved it, and she couldn’t remember anybody ever having been happy there. As a home its heart had been hollowed out by acrimony and now it was being finished off by arch indifference.

She and Sid ascended the stairs, the bare treads creaking in protest now that they had been stripped of carpet. They checked the bedrooms, finding them damp and empty, until they entered Valerie’s room. Their mother’s room had always been sacrosanct, an oasis of calm and solitude that Valerie had often retreated to – usually complaining of a headache and clutching a medicinal bottle of sherry. Rachel couldn’t recall ever having been allowed inside, and it surprised her that she’d never thought it strange before that moment.

Now only a few black sacks stood against the wall ready for Sid’s next run to the tip. This first and final ingress into her mother’s secret chamber – the room that had been the inner sanctum, the room that had been the container of Valerie’s personal misery – was a frank disappointment for Rachel. As a child, she had often spied by squinting through the keyhole like a woebegone urchin, imagining that beyond the locked door lay another realm. The wardrobe in the corner might have been the entrance to another dimension, where Valerie existed differently and found the peace she had so often demanded before shutting the door against the needs of her family. Although, in Rachel’s imagination the White Witch had always had much more of a resemblance to Valerie than had been entirely comfortable. Stella’s books had stirred some lonely and uncomfortable memories.

Though Valerie’s presence still echoed in the hollow room, Rachel could not for the life of her imagine what peace of mind her mother had ever found from lying on the bed staring drunkenly at the blowsy roses scrambling across the wallpaper beneath the dust and cobwebs. Those keyhole shaped memories had suggested something exotically different from the chilly, mildewed reality she now faced. The only piece of furniture not yet consigned to the tip, or dispatched to be consumed by the flames of Frances’s blaze, was the wardrobe.

Rachel walked over to it and touched its mirrored door, which opened with an ominous creak. She gave it a wry smile, unsurprised that it wasn’t filled with fur coats and melting snow after all.

‘She said I could have that ’ Sid said, apparently afraid that Rachel might condemn it to the fire. ‘I was saving it for when we finished. That way I can put it on the van and take it straight home ’

The faintest aroma of mothballs belched out as she shut the door. ‘I’ll lock it so it’ll be easier to move. You should hang on to the key- they’re always better when they still have their keys.’

The door was a little warped, and she had to shove it hard to make it fit properly, promptly dislodging the prized key in the process. ‘Bugger!’ she said. The key had bounced on the bare floorboards and hidden itself underneath the wardrobe. On hands and knees, Rachel peered into the murky spider graveyard that lay beneath ‘I can’t see it we’ll have to pull the bloody thing out ’

Sid obliged, and together they coaxed it into a reluctant slide across the wooden boards. As Rachel bent to retrieve the key, something prodded at the edges of her awareness. ‘I didn’t know that was there ’ she murmured, standing up and looking at a door that had been hidden from view.

‘Built in cupboard ’ Sid pronounced knowledgably. ‘What d’you need a wardrobe for if there’s a built in cupboard?’

Rachel shrugged. ‘More junk for you to get rid of I expect ’ she said, prising open the cupboard door and cringing as the hinges squealed in protest. The cupboard was surprisingly empty given the rubbish that had always cluttered the rest of the house. A faint flurry of fetid air wafted into their faces as they peered into its dark recesses. On the lone shelf, there stood a biscuit tin and on the floor stood a metal box. Rachel took down the biscuit tin and levered of the lid. Various bits of paper and old photographs nestled there – mostly showing Frances as a young child. The papers proved to be old school reports, all describing Frances’s attributes in glowing terms. Rachel couldn’t recall Valerie keeping a record of either her or Stella’s school records – though Frances probably would have burnt them if she had. As Rachel rifled through it occurred to her that she had never seen a photograph of herself as a child anywhere in the house. Probably because there weren’t any to see.

Under the photographs was a small red book – the type that had a tiny lock. She took it and the photographs and stuffed them into her back pocket. Maybe Frances would want them, maybe not. The rest she put back in the tin and threw the whole thing into one of the black sacks that flanked the room.

Sid grabbed the metal box ‘Bloody hell, this is heavy. Hey, perhaps we’ve found the family jewels!’ he quipped.

Rachel responded with a sardonic smile. The box was little bigger than a bread bin but looked like it weighed a ton. Sid placed it at Rachel’s feet, grunting with the effort.

‘Want to do the honours?’ he asked.

She shook her head, watching as Sid attempted to release the lid. Though the metal had been galvanised, some substance had affected it, causing rust to scab the edges and eat into the structure. Sid took out a Swiss army knife and used the screwdriver bit as a lever, giving a satisfied grunt as the orangemcrust gave way. He lifted the lid, revealing the contents.

‘It’s full of sand ’ he said, puzzled.

‘Sand?’

‘Hang on, there’s something poking out of it ’ he tugged, dislodging a torrent of dry, gritty matter as the object shifted.

It was some kind of parcel, wrapped in dirty cloth. Sid unwound the material, causing more sand and grit to fall and litter the floor as each layer of fabric came away and disintegrated in his hands.

‘What is it?’ Rachel asked, peering over his shoulder at what appeared to be some type of shrivelled, leathery doll.

Sid didn’t speak. His skin had turned a ghastly shade of grey and all Rachel could see as she peered at his stricken face was his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down like a fishing float as he fought for the words to describe the thing that was now lying on the floor.

***

Frances’s scream was so piercing it rattled the glass in the rotten window frames, buffeting Rachel’s eardrums and snapping Sid out of his shocked stupor as effectively as if it had taken tangible form and slapped him in the face.

Once the sound receded, everything became horribly quiet as if there had been a sudden solar eclipse and the birds had stopped singing in deference to the dark. Time became elastic as seconds extended themselves into blurry, suspended pockets of disbelieving minutes.

Sid’s mobile phone began to ring he tinny, incongruent tones of ‘My Way’ shattering the silence and stirring him into action. When he finally answered the thing after fumbling for it in every pocket, Rachel could hear Steve’s high pitched voice. With escalating panic, he told Sid about the scene outside. Rachel doubted that Steve had ever uttered so many words in one hit before. Which was probably why he sounded confused.

She could have sworn she heard him say that they’d found a dead body in the shed.

 

Doesn’t that just make you want to read more?  Then you can purchase the rest of the book here

About The Author  

ann troup

Ann Troup tells tales and can always make something out of nothing (which means she writes books and can create unique things from stuff other people might not glance twice at). She was once awarded 11 out of 10 for a piece of poetry at school – she now holds that teacher entirely responsible for her inclination to write.

Her writing space is known as ‘the empty nest’, having formerly been her daughters bedroom. She shares this space with ten tons of junk and an elderly Westie, named Rooney, who is her constant companion whether she likes it or not. He likes to contribute to the creative process by going to sleep on top of her paperwork and running away with crucial post-it notes, which have inadvertently become stuck to his fur. She is thinking of renaming him Gremlin.

She lives by the sea in Devon with her husband and said dog. Two children have been known to remember the place that they call home, but mainly when they are in need of a decent roast dinner, it’s Christmas or when only Mum will do. She also has extremely decent stepchildren.

In a former incarnation she was psychiatric nurse, an experience which frequently informs her writing. She has also owned a cafe and an art/craft gallery. Now she only makes bacon sandwiches as a sideline, but does continue to dabble with clay, paint, paper, textiles, glue…you name it. Occasionally she may decide to give away some of these creations (you have been warned!).

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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#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!

 

#BookReview – Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

anything you do sayJoanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong? 

Published 25th January 2018 by Penguin (UK)

 

I went into Anything You Do Say knowing very little about it. I knew that Gillian McAllister’s books had been highly praised by lots of my blogger pals, and so when I was browsing Amazon a few weeks ago on a bit of a kindle splurge, I clicked the buy now button without even reading the synopsis. If I had read it, then I’d have excitedly bought it thinking it sounded right up my street, but you know what? It was an absolute treat to know so little and be so completely blown away by a plot I wasn’t expecting and a thrilling story of what if’s, alternative paths and many twists and turns.

The book begins when, after an unpleasant experience in a nightclub, Joanna hears footsteps behind her. Convinced she is being followed she acts out impulsively to protect herself and is then left with a moral dilemma. Should she stay and help the injured man who she believed was about to attack her? Or should she run? I have to say, this tense introduction to Joanna’s dilemma is both chilling and completely believable. I could imagine the scenario acting out, feel her unease and fear as she hears the footsteps, and sense the building panic that explodes in a rash action which will turn her world upside down, whatever she decides to do.

But will Joanna make the right decision? Well, we get to find out the consequences of both with alternating chapters titled reveal and conceal. I LOVED this! I’ve read books that use the Sliding Doors concept before, but Gillian McAllister does it so very, very well. I was hooked to both stories – becoming riveted as Joanna’s life hurtles in one direction before having it all upended and becoming immersed in an alternative version, as she battles in each with the aftermath of her decision.

Yet, what struck me was that whichever version I was reading, I was absolutely convinced by the characters and their actions, and despite the tension and drama which unfolds, McAllister maintains an air of authenticity throughout. I believed this could happen. I believed in both outcomes to Joanna’s dilemma. And I was gripped from beginning to end. Anything You Do Say is clever, complex and thought provoking.  I flew through the pages, thinking just one more chapter before suddenly finding I’d read a huge chunk of book, desperately wanting to know the outcome to both scenarios. A fantastic read, which will have you questioning what you’d do in that situation and pondering how a split second can change your whole life.

 

 

#BlogTour ~BookReview – Need To Know by Karen Cleveland (@Transworldbooks) #NeedToKnowBook

Need to knowIn pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency—and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust? 

Published 25th January 2018 by Bantam Press (UK)  

I’m not going to lie, Spy Thrillers are not usually my thing. As a child, I had no interest in Bond whenever it was on the TV and since then have avoided stories of espionage like the plague. I don’t really know why – other than I thought I wouldn’t enjoy this kind of book. But something about Need To Know appealed to me – perhaps the promise of “psychological depth” on the cover or the fact that this book centred around a marriage built on lies. Anyway, with some glowing reviews from the blogging world, I thought I’d give it a go.

And yes! I’m so glad I did! Need To Know is such an incredibly gripping and catchy read right from the start. When Vivian, a CSI agent working on bringing down a Russian sleeper cell, discovers a picture of her husband of twenty years  on the computer of a Russian agent everything she knows and trusts is suddenly up in smoke. How exactly is the man she knows and trusts involved? How can she have been living with someone all these years and not know them at all? And what does she do when faced with the dilemma between loyalty to her country and protecting her own family?

I wanted to know the answers to all these questions and sped through this book at break neck speed to find out! I thought the conflict between loyalties that Vivian feels was very well written and believable – her turmoil coming across as she struggled with the betrayal of her husband and fear of the complex and dangerous situation her whole family now faced. Along with Viv, her husband Matt kept me on edge as unease and doubt about him conflicted with some pity and optimism that he was a good guy. Karen Cleveland kept the momentum up right to the very last sentence, so that the reader never knows who exactly can be trusted in this twisty, tense thriller.

The book also mixes psychological elements as claimed on the front cover, with heart stopping danger meaning that as a reader who generally avoids the more physically action packed crime and spy genres, I found this incredibly accessible and satisfying. It turned out to be a breathtakingly quick read for me, which I couldn’t put down and read over a few hours. Would I read more from this author? YES! Definitely! Has it changed my feelings that all spy books aren’t for me? Absolutely! I’m glad I took a chance with this one, and would urge anyone else with an aversion to spy thrillers to give this one a go too. You won’t be disappointed!

need to know blog tour

#BookReview – The Woman In The Window by A.J Finn (@Fictionpubteam)

the woman in the windowWhat did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself? 

Published 25th January 2018 by HarperCollins (UK)  

The Woman In The Window was put firmly my on my most anticipated reads list of 2018 list months ago, drawn in by both the synopsis and that atmospheric cover. And boy, when I picked it up last weekend I was not disappointed – right from the start I was gripped by this intensely addictive read, struggling to put it down and staying up way later than I should to finish it.

Agoraphobia sufferer Anna Fox hasn’t been out of her house for almost a year. Alone and reclusive, she fills her days with online activities, watching old thrillers and spying on her neighbours with only occasional and brief conversations with her husband and daughter who are no longer around.  But when new neighbours, the Russell’s, move into the house across from Anna, things begin to change. After Ethan and Jane Russell both call on Anna, she becomes convinced there’s something dark and dangerous going on within the family, lapping up hints of a controlling husband and domineering father. Then when she see’s something shocking through her window, she tries to help. But with no evidence of a crime, Anna has a fight on her hands to make herself believed, eventually even to convince her own fragile mind that she knows what she saw.

Immediately, Anna is a fascinating character – a former child psychologist now struggling with her own mental health, she is shrouded in mystery and doubt. What happened to make her this way? Why aren’t her husband and Daughter around anymore? How reliable is she? Or is everything just a figment of her disturbed imagination? I thought the author conveyed Anna’s fragility very, very well meaning I could feel her panic and sense the suffocating loneliness and despair she felt. I was torn between doubt at Anna’s reliability about what she saw – she drinks too much and double doses on the many pills she takes to control her crippling anxiety, and frustration and pity that no-one believed her and dismissed her as crazy.

The pacing of the book is perfect, with a tense and atmospheric prose drip feeding information about Anna’s past and creating an increasingly desperate need in me to know the truth. Even when I realised before one of the reveals what was going on, it didn’t matter, it still sent chills down my spine and had me turning pages at lightening speed.  And with plenty of other twists and turns, it managed to keep me guessing right until the end, continuing to surprise and shock me along the way.

The Woman In The Window is exactly the type of psychological thriller I love to read – twisty, intense, shocking, conflicting and utterly gripping, leaving me unable to look away.  A fantastic debut from A.J Finn – I’ll be sure to watch out for more from this author in the future – and a great start to this years thrillers. I’ve got a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more about this book.

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

 

#BlogTour #BookReview – CopyCat by Alex Lake – @HarpercollinsUk @FictionPubTeam

copycatYour stalker is everywhere.
Your stalker knows everything.
But the real problem is that your stalker is you.

Sarah Havenant discovers–when an old friend points it out–that there are two Facebook profiles in her name.

One, she recognizes: it is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Recent photos of her and her friends, her and her husband, her and her kids. Even of her new kitchen. A photo taken inside her house.

She is bemused, angry, and worried. Who was able to do this? Any why?

But this, it soon turns out, is just the beginning. It is only now–almost as though someone has been watching, waiting for her to find the profile–that her problems really start… 

Published 5th September 2017 by Harper Collins UK  

You know when you pick up a book and right from the very first page you’re hooked? Well Copycat is THAT book. Hugely addictive, tense and chilling right from the first page, this is a fast-paced, edge-of-your seat reading from beginning to end.

Copycat starts when successful Doctor and happily married mum of three, Sarah, discovers she has been victim of what first appears to be identity fraud on Facebook. When an old friend gets in touch asking which profile is best to be friends on, Sarah’s attention is drawn to the copycat account. But closer inspection reveals something much more sinister than she originally presumed, when photo’s of her life and home appear as it happens on the cloned timeline.

I’ve read a few books recently which feature Facebook, and seriously it provides the perfect vehicle for intense psychological drama. But Copycat manages to notch up the chills a level, due to the absolute credibility of someone setting up a fake account and using it to cause distress, unease and paranoia. When the focus of Sarah’s torment shifts from Facebook into real life, it’s clear someone really has it in for her and will stop at nothing to seek their revenge. But what has Sarah done that’s so bad? And who’s behind the campaign of terror and manipulation?

Wow, this is such a clever book, twisting truth and casting doubt everywhere. As Sarah becomes increasingly scared and her sanity is called into question, I really felt for her. I was surprised in some ways how easily her husband Ben began to doubt his wife and wanted to scream at him as he too plays right into the perpetrators hands and leaves Sarah increasingly isolated and vulnerable. I had an inkling about midway through who was behind the cruel and twisted psychological assault on Sarah, but I had no idea why. As the book raced towards the conclusion, the menace and threat intensifies and I literally burned through the final chapters unable to look away or put the book down for a second.

CopyCat is very, very clever. It’s truly psychologically thrilling, with a twisted, complex villain and a victim who’s mind unravels right before the readers eyes. And I loved the ending, with a final twist that leaves an unsettling feeling that this is a story that isn’t quite over. Sinister, clever and chilling and absolutely gripping, Copycat is a must for fans of psychological thrillers.

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#CoverReveal – Bad Sister by Sam Carrington – @AvonBooksUk @Sam_Carrington1

Bad Sister.jpg

Publishing in eBook: 9th October
Publishing in Paperback: 14th December

The gripping new thriller from the bestselling author of Saving Sophie.

Stephanie is scared for her life. Her psychologist, Connie Summers, wants to help her face her fears, but Connie will never really understand her. Stephanie’s past has been wiped away for her own protection. Stephanie isn’t even her real name. But then, Dr Summers isn’t Connie’s real name either.

And that’s not all the women have in common. As Stephanie opens up about her troubled relationship with her brother, Connie is forced to confront her own dark family secrets.

When a mutilated body is dumped in plain sight, it will have devastating consequences for both women.

Who is the victim?
Who is to blame?
Who is next?

Gripping, tense and impossible to put down, Bad Sister will have fans of Sue Fortin, B A Paris and Linda Green hooked till the final page. 

How great does this sound? And WOW … that cover is explosive! I’m looking forward to reading this one!