#BookReview – The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

YOU’LL NEVER FORGET THE FLOWER GIRLS

The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose.

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

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

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

Published January 2019 by Raven Books 

~ Review ~

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

#BookReview – 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)

#BlogTour #BookReview – Too Close To Breathe by Olivia Kiernan (@RiverRunBooks @QuercusBooks)

too close to breathePerfect for fans of Tana French, Jane Casey and Gillian Flynn

TOO SOON TO SEE

Polished. Professional. Perfect. Dead. Respected scientist Dr Eleanor Costello is found hanging in her immaculate home: the scene the very picture of a suicide.

TOO LATE TO HIDE

DCS Frankie Sheehan is handed the case, and almost immediately spots foul play. Sheehan, a trained profiler, is seeking a murderer with a talent for death.

TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE

As Frankie strives to paint a picture of the killer, and their victim, she starts to sense they are part of a larger, darker canvas, on which the lines between the two blur.

Olivia Kiernan’s debut is a bold, brilliant thriller that will keep you guessing and leave you breathless.  

Published April 5th 2018 by Riverrun Books  

And BREATHE! – that’s what I had to keep telling myself while devouring this debut detective series novel. Sharp, crisp, taut, terrifying. More like Too Gripping To Breathe than Too Close To Breathe!

First book in the Frankie Sheehan series, Too Close To Breathe catapults the reader straight into a grisly murder investigation from the very first page. During an autopsy of what appears to be a suicide, DCS Sheehan is quick to suspect that all isn’t as it seems. In death, Eleanor Costello appears to be a perfectly polished, organised professional, but as Sheehan begins investigating she soon uncovers a murky, dark side and opens a door into the sinister and disturbing world of extreme sadomasochism, death fantasists and the dark web.  When another body is discovered, it becomes clear there’s a very dangerous serial killer on the loose.

Super-speedy fast paced is the only way to describe this book. Seriously, the plot races on at a breathtaking pace and had me absolutely gripped, completely ignoring life around me and unable to stop reading until I’d turned the last page. I read this in one massive binge read of four hours.

All the components of a great Detective book are here – a feisty, flawed lead, a barrage of red herrings and an attention to detail that’s grisly enough to satisfy any murder/crime reader. I really liked DCS Frankie Sheehan – she has her flaws, yes, but not so much as to make her unusual or have distracting personal/emotional difficulties. She’s a bit headstrong, she rushes in where she probably shouldn’t and she doubts herself. But she’s witty, strong, dedicated and pretty much straight down the line. I’ve a feeling we’ll get to know more about her in future books, and I really look forward to that.

The plot is intricate, meaning it wasn’t until the final pages that I had an inkling just what was going on. Packed full of twists and turns, chapter after chapter suspicions were raised, diverted and then pointed in a different direction. I loved the forensic elements of this book too, with an intriguing clue tying the cases together, it isn’t something I’d heard of or come across before. It’s pretty grisly and violent at times and had me shuddering in shock, and with a theme around death fantasy then I have to warn about some pretty upsetting and disturbing scenes.

Olivia Kiernan’s debut is a fantastic start to a new detective series, with a gritty, fresh and taut feel to it and an intriguing lead detective. Her compelling writing style and cunning ability to divert the readers attention and keep them hooked had me holding my breath throughout. I’ll be looking out for more from Olivia Kiernan and DCS Frankie Sheehan in the future.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 22nd February 2018 by Quercus (UK)  

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

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

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

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

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

(I read an advance proof courtesy of the publisher)

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#BookReview – 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)

#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. 

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www.jennymortonpotts.com 

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