Tag Archives: New Author To Me

The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd #BookReview @samlloydwrites @TransworldBooks #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on The Memory Wood, it’s the debut novel from Sam Lloyd, but first here’s the book description.

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Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .

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When I read a book it normally falls into two categories, books I’ve really enjoyed, and then there’s the rare gem, it’s a book that finds its way into my my heart, a book that lingers in my thoughts long after I’ve reached the last page, a book that evokes many emotions, The Memory Wood is one such book. The debut novel from Sam Lloyd is a book that I would describe as ‘creepily atmospheric, unforgettable, a horrifying account of child abduction. Beautifully told, the author has written a book that reads like the darkest fairytale, where monsters roam the woods, and evil lurks. This isn’t your ‘run of the mill’ child abduction story by any means there’s so much more to the plot than you can ever imagine. 

The story is mostly told from three perspectives, Elissa an abducted 13 year old, who finds herself shackled, abused, neglected and held captive in the ‘gingerbread house’ a deserted cottage in the woods. Elijah, a boy who finds Elissa in the cellar, he’s her only hope for survival, but is he trustworthy, or is there something far more sinister at play? Then there’s Mairead a detective, whose determined to bring Elissa home, but to what cost? The characters are so well drawn they leap from the pages. The relationship between Elissa and Elijah captivated me, on one hand you have Elissa brave, defiant, clever and  resourceful and then you have Elijah, who appears immature, and naive, their friendship is one built on mistrust and deception. 

The authors vivid descriptors bring the The Memory Wood and the gingerbread house to life, creating an atmosphere that’s both sinister and ominous. I swear I could smell the damp cloying earth, feel the dark and the cold, and sense the evil and dark aura that surrounds her abductor. At first I made assumptions about Elissa’s captor, but any such thoughts were soon turned on there head, as the author deftly reveals more details, each turn is more twisted, and shocking in its delivery.  I expected The Memory Wood to be a disturbing read, after all the plot is based on a child’s abduction,  what I wasn’t expecting was a read that was harrowing, and ultimately heartbreaking, I must admit I finished this book with a lump the size of a golf ball in my throat. Sam Lloyd has written a book that’s compelling, and one of the most original books I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended.

And yes in case you hadn’t already guessed I’m giving The Memory Wood my shiny Book hangover award, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (20 Feb. 2020)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Please note this book was bought by myself, and not given to me by the publishers.

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The Other People by C.J. Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks #MustReads

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The Other People by C.J. Tudor. I had no expectations for this book. I picked it up meaning to read a couple of chapters, but then I read another one, and then another one, and I was hooked! You can read on for my thoughts, but first the book description…

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She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice.

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It’s not often these days I read a book in “one sitting” but that’s what happened with The Other People by C.J. Tudor. I wasn’t sure what to expect, all I knew was what I read in the book description, ‘A man travels up and down the motorway, searching for a car that took his young daughter Izzy’, which meant I had no expectations for this book. I picked it up meaning to read a couple of chapters, but then I read another one, and then another one, and I was hooked! The Other People is a thriller that captured my imagination, it’s dark, very creepy, and completely gripping.

I’m not going to rehash the plot details, for me this book held so many surprises,  I would hate to spoil the read for others. Gabe is a character that I honestly felt for, he’s a man drowning in grief, after losing his daughter Izzy, his grief is palatable, as he clutches at the proverbial straw, he’s convinced he’s seen his little girl’s face in the rear window of a car. No one believes him,  but he’s determined to keep looking come hell or high water. I felt my heart pounding as Gabe’s own investigation took him into ‘danger territory’, the tension grew tenfold, my nails took a beating as I nervously bit on them in anticipation of what lay a head.

The Other People is told from multiple POV so it’s evident all the characters have a connection someway or another, all I will say ‘is the best of luck working out how they fit together’. The author moves flawlessly between the different POV, never sharing too much, so the reader is left second guessing where the plot is headed. This book has so many elements it’s Part mystery/suspense, with a hint of the supernatural, all these elements fit perfectly together creating a creepy, thought-provoking and very clever, and riveting read. 

Like other books from the author it has a supernatural element running through it, but it’s not the main focus,  but  hell the ‘ Clickety, clack’ sent shivers down my spine, and that’s all I’m saying! Some reviews I read have compared The Other People to the The Chain . I have to disagree, this book is so much better,  the story is frighteningly plausible, the tension never waivers, and the characters are far more likeable. I found I was fully immersed and totally intrigued until the very last page. A brilliant read that has more twist and turns than a roller coaster, my recommendation? Buy yourself a copy and buckle up for a hell of a ride.

  • Print Length: 357 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (23 Jan. 2020)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley #BookReview #TheGuestList @lucyfoleytweets @HarperCollinsUK

Today I’m thrilled to share my review for The Guest List by Lucy Foley, I have a feeling this book is going to be one of this year’s hits. Read on for my thoughts but first the book description…….

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A REMOTE ISLAND. AN INVITATION TO DIE FOR.

A gripping, twisty murder mystery thriller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.

Old friends.

Past grudges.

Happy families.

Hidden jealousies.

Thirteen guests.

One body.

The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.

One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .

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Welcome to the wedding of the year.…I love a wedding, the romance, the chance to wear a new outfit and enjoy celebrating the union of two people,  but I’m so glad I didn’t receive an invitation to this wedding! No sooner have the celebrations begun, the unthinkable happens, a murder of all things! I’m not sure about you but I’ve been to some weddings that might have got a touch out of hand, but I can’t say I’ve ever attended one where there’s been a murder, so much for the ‘happy ever after’ it’s more of a case of ‘death do us part’. The Guest Party is the latest offering from Lucy Foley, and what an extremely entertaining, atmospheric murder mystery this book turned out to be.

The Guest List follows the high profile wedding of television presenter Will Slater and online magazine publisher Julia Keegan, the setting is a storm-swept island off Irish coast. The island gives the book an ominous atmosphere, it’s a bleak setting and one that’s shrouded in ghostly folklore. The story moves from the present to the past and back again. It is told from the perspective of multiple characters, this could have made the plot a muddled one, but this style of storytelling works really well I thought it added tension and mystery to the read. Like any wedding there are guests that are unpleasant, in this case it’s the ushers who are a bunch of arrogant bullies, entitled private old-public schoolboys who have a dangerous pack mentality,  not the most endearing qualities I have to say, but it’s their fears, secrets, lies and amidst the drink and drug fuelled wedding festivities which add an ominous air of impending doom.

There’s a mounting sense of unease as secrets from the past mix in a cauldron of anger, resentment, guilt and jealousy. There are a number of suspects, which made this book even more enjoyable to read, I felt like Mrs Marple as I discounted one suspect after another, although I must  admit I wasn’t surprised when the killer was unveiled. Another aspect I really enjoyed about this novel is the fact the murder victim isn’t revealed until the last few chapters, the author leads you down many a dead end, before we reach that point. The Guest List is a slow burner, but like any good author Lucy Foley uses this time to give the reader the background and dynamics of the characters, which builds on the tension and suspense.  I really enjoyed this deliciously dark murder mystery, it’s one I will definitely be recommending to fans of this genre. 

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (20 Feb. 2020)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. 

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Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin #BookReview @Orionbooks

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin, a new author to me so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Read on for my review but first the book description……..

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She was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother…

When website columnist Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it’s a business matter. It’s not. Quentin’s podcast, Closure, focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s, committed by teen couple April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy. It seems that Quentin has reason to believe Robin’s own mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absurd. But is it? The more she researches the Cooper/LeRoy murders herself, the more disturbed she becomes by what she finds. Living just a few blocks from her, Robin’s beloved parents are the one absolute she’s always been able to rely upon, especially now amid rising doubts about her husband and frequent threats from internet trolls. Robin knows her mother better than anyone.

But then her parents are brutally attacked, and Robin realises she doesn’t know the truth at all…

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There’s nothing I like more than picking up a book I know nothing about, it means I have no expectations, sometimes it can all go terribly wrong and I end up reading a book that’s really not my ‘cup of tea’ but thankfully that wasn’t the case with Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin in fact it was quite the opposite I ended up loving this twisted absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense.

True crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, is investigating a series of murders in the 1970s committed by teens Gabriel LeRoy and April Cooper. The victims included members of his own family. For Robin Diamond, a columnist, the podcast produces some startling evidence. When Quentin contacts her about it, and starts asking questions about April Cooper and tying her to Robin’s own mother, Robin isn’t convinced by his story, but the more she delves into the murders, the more she can’t help wondering.

Never Look Back moves between the present and 1976, mostly narrated by Quentin and Robin, past events unfold through a chilling number of journal style letters written by April Cooper. Using a dual time line to convey a story can sometimes confuse a story, or even worse make a story feel stilted, but that’s not the case here, as the two flow perfectly, enhancing the story rather than hindering. April Cooper’s letters made for a chilling read, but they give the reader an insight into a complex character and her relationship with partner in crime and murder Gabriel LeRoy.  I wasn’t convinced April was being completely truthful, she takes no responsibility for her part in the crimes.

The author has created characters who are compelling, you can’t help but become invested in their stories. Most of them are seriously damaged, or at least flawed! I chiefly felt for Gabrielle whose grief and anger is visible throughout his investigation. The plot is very much character driven, and what a fascinating array of characters they turned out to be, love them or hate them they each have a role to play in this must read thriller.

Considering the subject matter I expected gory crime scenes, but these never materialised and I’m grateful for that (a first for me as I’m not averse to some gore!) as this book is very much about the mystery surrounding April. One thing I wasn’t expecting to find in this book were the powerful emotional scenes that explore the anger and guilt that fester for those that are left behind. This book reminded me of Bonnie & Clyde, I’m not sure if that’s what the author intended but it worked for me. Never Look Back has it all Lies and betrayal, painful secrets and events, Murder, and oodles of mystery. Highly recommended 

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (4 July 2019)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

My thanks to Orion Books for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Author interview with Edgar Swamp #AmberHollow #Horror #Mystery

Today it’s a pleasure to share an interview with Edgar Swamp, the authors book Amber Hollow definitely sounds like my kind of read. It’s described as
new mystery blends horror and fantasy in white-hot thriller centered on cursed Wisconsin village
SAN DIEGO, California. 

Edgar Swamp’s new novel turns the classic detective mystery on its head by mixing elements of horror and fantasy into an epic page-turner. The isolated village, fiery tragedy, and ancient curse of “AmberHollow” will keep even the most seasoned mystery reader guessing. Before I share the interview here’s the book description…

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Detective Jeremy LeFevre and his partner Detective Sadie Conrad find themselves baffled as they step into a homicide case with 595 victims — and no evidence. The scene of the crime, Amber Hollow, is known by neighboring towns to be a reclusivisitic, colloquial community with a history of unverified mysterious occurrences, when a fire rages through the small Wisconsin village, killing everyone but five people.

The partially intact bodies of the few victims
recovered suggest violent deaths prior to being incinerated, but the lack of forensic evidence has the detectives and pathologists stymied. Making matters worse, the five survivors contradict each other with wild stories and accusations. Only one detail connects their testimonies –– that the mayor, Anthony Guntram, is to blame.

With a dead suspect and nothing else to go on, the two detectives must learn the secrets of Amber Hollow before anyone else becomes victim to its curse.

Amazon Uk 🇬🇧

Amazon US 🇺🇸

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“Amber Hollow” is your fourth book but your first foray into mysteries. What drew you to the genre? 

I wanted to create a story enshrouded in mystique, one that would keep readers guessing as I gradually doled out misinformation, capping it off with a wildly unpredictable ending. “Amber Hollow” is centered around two detectives investigating a seemingly impossible case, so for what I wanted, the format appeared to be the best choice. It was intended to be a horror novel, but it reads like a mystery. Hopefully, the combination of genres resulted in a truly special piece of fiction.

How has your writing process evolved since your first book?

With each new novel, I endeavour to be more efficient with my character development and pacing, always keeping the story moving. I try to grow and learn with each book, seeing what worked for readers and (most importantly) what didn’t. Know who your target audience is, and give them what they want. Reading books by great writers helps, so it’s best to keep up with your reading, no matter how much you want to write. And re-writes are essential; that’s a constant for me. A novel is never finished until I’m at least 95 percent certain that it’s done (there is no 100 percent for me, unfortunately, I feel I could always do something better).

Besides cheese curds and football, Wisconsin is known for its serial killers. How did growing up there influence your decision to write a horror novel?

Wisconsin has a climate that is geared for indoor activities if you don’t especially favour the cold, so I have to thank the West DePere Library for introducing me to a plethora of writers who specialise in scaring readers silly. Curling up with a good book in front of a blazing fire was a favourite pastime of mine growing up, when I wasn’t outside shovelling mountains of snow! Also, my father worked in law enforcement, and he always had some really cool stories. For instance, he once had the chance to meet Ed Gein (Painesville, Wisconsin, serial killer circa 1953-54, who inspired the movies “Silence of the Lambs,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and half a dozen others). Ed was serving multiple life sentences at the Mendota State Psychiatric Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and a guard who knew my father made the offer. My dad took a hard pass on that one; because of his occupation, he saw enough blood and guts on a regular basis owing to hunting accidents and vehicular manslaughter cases, so the last thing he needed was to meet a cannibal who robbed graves and made flesh-suits that he wore while eating stew out of bowls made of human skulls! I also knew several people who were approached by Jeffery Dahmer (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, serial killer circa 1991 who drugged, raped, killed, dismembered, and ate almost 20 men). They all made the smart decision not to take him up on his invitation to go to his place for a drink. Inspiration indeed!

You’ve written detective Sadie Conrad as an African-American woman. Why did you choose this representation for the character?

In all of my novels I try and represent a healthy balance of racially diverse people because I want to appeal to a wider audience, even in this case in which it isn’t truly authentic. I made a conscious decision to make Sadie’s character African-American because when I grew up in Green Bay in the ’70s-’90s it wasn’t a very racially diverse area, so it really shows that she’s an exceptionally skilled detective to break through the barrier of being a woman and being African-American. In other words, she’d truly have to know her stuff to work for a mostly male police station (there were very few female police officers who worked for the Brown County Sheriff’s Department during that time) in a predominantly white community. I felt that specific environment would make her stronger as both a detective and a woman, to prove she could tackle the job just as well as any man, of any race. And when crunch time comes, she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. The novel embraces themes of female empowerment, and I thought, “Who would best represent a strong female than one who is cast in this situation?” 

Why do you think people seek out media that scares them?

In a controlled environment, having the crap scared out of you is fun! Psychologically, horror stories can take you through a fiendishly nightmarish landscape, so by proxy, your own problems seem insignificant in comparison. And fear is a very motivating feeling, so it’s best to embrace it by confronting your demons. By delving into this darkness, one inevitably becomes stronger in the process. 

How do modern-day political and social climates affect your writing?

All of my ideas are inspired by the modern-day social and political climates in which I am writing them; I simply can’t help it. I consider myself a humanitarian, and even though I put my characters through torturous situations in which the majority of them are killed, I’d like to think of these novels as social experiments, possibly character studies by which to live (or die) by. Who doesn’t enjoy reading/watching the bloated, sleazy politician falling into a bed of hypodermic syringes before being eaten alive by mutants? In fiction, we get to shape how we want to see the world, maybe try and make it a better place by giving the average person the satisfaction they most likely won’t get in real life. And by writing about these themes, at least they are being talked about. We shouldn’t cringe from the reality in which we are thrust; we should try to think of ways in which we can change the world for the better.

You dropped out of college to pursue your passion for music. How did that decision ultimately affect your life and your writing career?

One of the worst decisions I ever made was dropping out of college; my headspace at the time was that of a young man deluded by his musical obsession with absolutely no foresight of the future. If I could go back in time, I’d go back to 1990 and stay in school to at least earn a bachelor’s degree in English versus having nothing. I had some fun, saw a lot of this fine country, and made acquaintances with many charming ladies, but ultimately, I gave myself nothing to fall back on when the bottom dropped out and I couldn’t sleep in/on cars, floors, warehouses, abandoned lumber yards, or seedy motels anymore. Actually, though, the decision may have been a good thing for my creative writing. I’d been writing my whole life (first thing I ever wrote was a play in second grade where I cast myself as Santa and the girl I liked as Mrs. Clause) but I never took it very seriously, so failing at being a professional musician really inspired me to try and succeed as a professional writer, a goal I have yet to achieve. For this reason, music is always rooted in my writing; I can’t get it out of there. There are song lyrics in the beginning of “Amber Hollow,” and if you Google the bands you won’t find them, because they don’t exist. They are my songs. You know how hard it is to get an artist to allow you the rights to use their songs?!? It was easier to write my own!

What are you working on now?

Being a self-published writer brings about the task of trying to get your work in front of as many people as possible within the constraints of a shoestring budget and the limitations that come without being traditionally published (i.e. larger media snubs because you aren’t “legit”). With that said, I am presently working on getting “Amber Hollow” in as many hands as possible while I revisit my earlier works and decide which one I’ll choose to rewrite, re-edit, and re-publish. I self-published a novel in 2012 called “The Gyre Mission,” about an island of garbage on which I stranded a group of disposable rejects who had to battle mutant animals and humans in a quest for survival. To this day, readers of my books cite this as their favorite novel of mine, but they complain that it was too long and that most of the characters weren’t very likeable. So, to answer the question: I’m going to rewrite “The Gyre Mission,” shorten it up (it was a monstrosity at 280,000 words…think telephone book!), make some of the characters more likeable, and possibly allow someone to live in the end. A total-loss death count seems to bum people out…I don’t know why!

About the author

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EDGAR SWAMP​ is the author of the “Gyre Mission,” “Glitch in the Machine,” and “Blackout.” His short stories have appeared in Alienskin, Macabre Cadaver, and Urban Reinventors. When he isn’t holed up in his office playing online poker, he likes to dig up the recently deceased and make furniture out of their skin. He lives and works in San Diego, California. For more information, visit his website at www.edgarswamp.com​.
My thanks to the author for this interview.

#TheSilentPatient by Alex Michaelides (@AlexMichaelides @OrionBooks) #BookHangoverAward #Giveaway #Paperback #BlogTour

Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for The Silent Patient to mark its publication in paperback. I’m re-sharing my review from way back in early 2019, in my review I wrote ‘this book is going to be HUGE’ and I wasn’t wrong. The Silent Patient has been sold in 38 territories and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Productions has bought the film rights. The book made the New York Times bestseller, a couple of weeks after publication.

Alongside my review I’m also giving away my unread ARC   (I already own two copies, yes it really is that good!), you can find more about the giveaway at the bottom of this post. 

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Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word. It’s time to find out why.

 

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Now and then a book comes a long that causes a huge stir and unless you’ve been living on a desert island for the last few months, then you will know The Silent Patient, the debut novel from Alex Michaelides is the book everyone is talking about. I must admit I can see why, it’s a unique and a very disturbing character based psychological thriller, but how I loved it. The author sure knows how to weave a tangled web, and then keep the reader in his clutches with a well- plotted story. It’s one that pulls you in from the shocking opening chapter and keeps you captivated all the way to it’s explosive conclusion. I literally read this book in a day, the tension mounted as each chapter ended making this an impossible book to put down. Mark my words this book is going to be a HUGE hit.

Alicia is a Patient in The Grove a secure forensic unit for the murder of her husband, she has not spoken a word since his death and Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who believes he is the one to make her speak of what happened on that fateful night.  The author uses an intriguing concept As Alice refuses to talk after her husband’s murder, the reader is reliant on Theo’s interpretations of her thoughts and emotions, although the reader is privy to Alice’s journal which explores her life before Theo’s Murder. Even without a voice Alice is a strong protagonist, rather like Theo, you the reader are desperate to hear her voice and hear her side of the story. Theo is a man with his own secrets and troubled past, which make him an compelling character. The scenes between Theo and Alice crackle with tension, at times it felt like a battle of wits, as Alice battled to stay silent and Theo’s dogged determination to make her speak, these scenes give a sense of unease which grow as the story unfolds.

Anyone who reads psychological thrillers will expect there to be “twist” or two, after all isn’t that part of the reason we read these type of books? It’s the element of “surprise” that I always look forward to, it can turn an “enjoyable” read into a “OMFG I loved this book” type of read, so take a bow Alex Michaelides The Silent Patient definitely took me by surprise in fact I’m sure my jaw hit the floor at some point! I had an inkling where the plot was heading, but I guess I do not have the same twisted imagination as the author, he well and truly hood winked me, but so brilliantly executed. The Silent Patient is an assured debut from Alex Michaelides, he’s definitely an author to watch out for. Highly recommend if you enjoy a dark, shocking psychological thriller that will leave you speechless (excuse the pun!) 

  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (7 Feb. 2019)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

It will come as no surprise but I’m giving The Silent Patient my shiny Book hangover award, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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 About the author 

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Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus in 1977 to a Greek father and English mother. He studied English literature at Cambridge University and got his MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. He wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Brits are Coming (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. THE SILENT PATIENT is his first novel.

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To win my unread ARC of The Silent Patient either leave a comment on this post or retweet my pinned post @reviewcafe. Competition closes Monday 16th, sorry but this giveaway is open to UK residents only and you must be following my blog. Good luck 📚📚

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My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. 

Follow the blog tour……..

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My TBR pile for January & February 2020 (so far) #BookBlogger #PartOne

Today I thought I would share something a little bit different with you all. I was checking on my TBR pile and realised that despite it only being October I have some amazing ARC’s sat waiting to be read.

So I thought I would give you a glimpse of what sound like some amazing books being published in January and February 2020……….my dilemma now is which one to read first? 

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

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Every town has its secrets. Lesley Kara knows them all .

From the author of 2019’s biggest crime thriller debut, The Rumour, comes an addictive new novel . . .

It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around.

Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged.

But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected.

Some mistakes, you have to pay for . . .

Pub Date 9 Jan 2020

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

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Inspired by a terrifying true story, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota town where nothing is as quiet—or as safe—as it seems.

Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.

All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.

One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed—violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumors. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.

Pub Date 1 Jan 2020

The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell

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She thought they wanted her baby. But they won’t stop there.

Roz is young, penniless and pregnant. All she wants is to be the perfect mother to her child, but the more she thinks about her own chaotic upbringing, the more certain she is that the best life for her baby is as far away as possible from her hometown in Ireland.

Determined to do the right thing, Roz joins an elite adoption service and can’t believe her luck. Within days she is jetting to New York to meet a celebrity power couple desperate for a child of their own. Sheridan and Daniel are wealthy and glamorous—everything Roz isn’t. Her baby will never go hungry, and will have every opportunity for the perfect life. But soon after Roz moves into their plush basement suite, she starts to suspect that something darker lurks beneath the glossy surface of their home.

When Roz discovers she isn’t the first person to move in with the couple, and that the previous woman has never been seen since, alarm bells start ringing. As the clock ticks down to her due date, Roz realises her unborn baby may be the only thing keeping her alive, and that despite her best intentions, she has walked them both into the perfect nightmare…

Pub Date 14 Jan 2020

The Murder House by Michael Wood

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They were the perfect family. It was the perfect crime.

The new gripping DCI Matilda Darke crime thriller about the dark secrets that lie within a perfect family. For fans of Patricia Gibney and Angela Marsons.

It’s the most disturbing crime scene DCI Matilda Darke has ever seen…

The morning after a wedding reception at a beautiful suburban home in Sheffield, the bride’s entire family are stabbed to death – in a frenzied attack more violent than anything DCI Matilda Darke could have imagined.

Forensics point to a burglar on the run across the country. But cracks are starting to appear in Matilda’s team, someone is playing games with the evidence – and the killer might be closer to home than they thought…

The Knock by Jessie Keane

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For some, being on the wrong side of the law is the safest place to be . . .

Dora O’Brien had a good start in life, but things went bad when she began to mix with the wrong company. When her daughter Angel is born, Dora is already under the influence of drink and drugs.

Growing up in the shadow of her mother’s abusive relationship, Angel is nothing like her mother, but when matters turn murderous, Angel is forced to grow up fast and survival becomes the name of the game.

No one uncovers the underworld like Jessie Keane.

The Other People by C.J. Tudor

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She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

Pub Date 23 Jan 2020

The Dilemma by B A Paris

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The million-copy bestselling author returns with another breath-taking book …

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

One day that will change a family forever, The Dilemma is the breath-taking, heart-breaking new novel from the million-copy-selling, Sunday Times bestseller, BA Paris

Pub Date 9 Jan 2020

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donahue

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Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…

In an elite Catholic girls’ boarding-school the pupils live under the repressive, watchful gaze of the nuns. Seeking to break from the cloistered atmosphere two of the students – Louisa and Victoria – quickly become infatuated with their young, bohemian art teacher, and act out passionately as a result. That is, until he and Louisa suddenly disappear.

Years later, a journalist uncovers the troubled past of the school and determines to resolve the mystery of the missing pair. The search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.

The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and uneasy consequences.

Pub Date 20 Feb 2020

The House On The Lake by Nuala Ellwood

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No matter how far you run . . .
He’s never far behind

Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.

But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought.

What secret has Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years?

And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?

Pub Date 20 Feb 2020

The Perfect Kill by Helen Fields

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He had never heard himself scream before. It was terrifying.

Alone, trapped in the darkness and with no way out, Bart Campbell knows that his chances of being found alive are slim.

Drugged and kidnapped, the realisation soon dawns that he’s been locked inside a shipping container far from his Edinburgh home. But what Bart doesn’t yet know is that he’s now heading for France where his unspeakable fate is already sealed…

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are working on separate cases that soon collide as it becomes clear that the men and women being shipped to France are being traded for women trafficked into Scotland.

With so many lives at stake, they face an impossible task – but there’s no option of failure when Bart and so many others will soon be dead…

Pub Date 6 Feb 2020

Are You Watching? by Vincent Ralph

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Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was the first victim of the now notorious Magpie Man. 13 murders later and this serial killer is still at large with no clue as to his identity. He kills every 9 months. It’s almost time for his fourteenth victim.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to warm up the case that has turned cold.  The world is watching her every move. And so is the Magpie Man.

Pub Date 6 Feb 2020

 

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The brand new thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

It starts with a party.

On a remote island, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.Old friends. Past grudges.Happy families. Hidden jealousies. Thirteen guests.One body.

The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.

It’ll end in murder.

Pub Date 20 Feb 2020

Well what do you think? Have any of these books caught your eye? Is there a book you are desperate to read in 2020? Please feel free to leave me a comment.

The Child Of Auschwitz by Lily Graham #BookReview #BlogTour @lilygrahambooks @Bookouture #HistoricalFiction

Today I’m on the blog tour for The Child Of Auschwitz by Lily Graham, not my normal kind of read by any means, but I do like to mix up my genres once in a blue moon. Before I share my review here’s the book description…..

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She touched the photograph in its gilt frame that was always on her desk, of a young, thin woman with very short hair and a baby in her arms. She had one last story to tell. Theirs. And it began in hell on earth.’

It is 1942 and Eva Adami has boarded a train to Auschwitz. Barely able to breathe due to the press of bodies and exhausted from standing up for two days, she can think only of her longed-for reunion with her husband Michal, who was sent there six months earlier.

But when Eva arrives at Auschwitz, there is no sign of Michal and the stark reality of the camp comes crashing down upon her. As she lies heartbroken and shivering on a thin mattress, her head shaved by rough hands, she hears a whisper. Her bunkmate, Sofie, is reaching out her hand…As the days pass, the two women learn each other’s hopes and dreams – Eva’s is that she will find Michal alive in this terrible place, and Sofie’s is that she will be reunited with her son Tomas, over the border in an orphanage in Austria. Sofie sees the chance to engineer one last meeting between Eva and Michal and knows she must take it even if means befriending the enemy…

But when Eva realises she is pregnant she fears she has endangered both their lives. The women promise to protect each other’s children, should the worst occur. For they are determined to hold on to the last flower of hope in the shadows and degradation: their precious children, who they pray will live to tell their story when they no longer can.

A heart-breaking story of survival, where life or death relies on the smallest chance and happiness can be found in the darkest times. Fans of The Choice and The Tattooist of Auschwitz will fall in love with this beautiful novel.

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This is the first book I have read by Lily Graham,  I feel it’s improper to say I enjoyed a book based on an appalling time in history, but I found it to be a compelling read. It’s exquisitely written, a bittersweet tale, which recounts the story of Eva, one of thousands of women held captive in the death camp Auschwitz. The story shifts between two timelines, when Eva and Michael first met, and the troubling times that led up to the war and persecution of Jews,  and the second focuses on Eva’s time at Auschwitz, and her search for Michael, and the birth of their child. The Child Of Auschwitz is a remarkable tale of endurance, love and friendship, and the worse and best of humanity. 

The novel is set against the harrowing backdrop of Auschwitz, personally I think any author who uses a concentration camp as a location hasn’t chosen an easy path. When ever I pick up a fictional book about this location, I always worry an author won’t be able to get the balance right, I generally find Auschwitz has been used as a setting to shock and sell books, and lack empathy for the real victims of Auschwitz, or the story overshadows just how horrifying these concentrations camps were. I think Lily Graham manages to get the balance right; she doesn’t shy away from describing the severe conditions or the cruel treatment of Eva and her fellow prisoners, but neither is this her primary focus, it’s very much  a character driven novel about friendship, lost, survival and hope.  

It was heartwarming to see the developing friendship between Eva and Sophie blossom, a friendship so deep that they willing forego their own moral compass to help each other through sickness and starvation. When Eva gave birth my heart broke, It’s almost impossible to imagine that babies were born in Auschwitz let alone survived, their mothers experienced a life of starvation, forced labour, and infectious diseases, which hardly gave these innocent infants the best start in life. I found this read incredibly sad as fact blended with fiction, at other times my heart lifted at the strength, determination and camaraderie between the prisoners shone through. 

The Child Of Auschwitz is a reminder that even in the darkest of places its possible to find happiness,  it may be only have been for a few seconds, before it crumbled to dust, but it was moments like this that gave prisoners hope and the will to survive.  Whilst reading The Child Of Auschwitz I found it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction, Eva’s story could be any number of women who had the misfortune to end up in Auschwitz in fact the story was inspired by Vera Bein who gave birth during her time in Auschwitz. The Child Of Auschwitz is a moving story that’s emotive, horrifying, and heartbreaking, you can’t help but think of the millions of prisoners who suffered, and died in the concentration camps. Highly recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction

  • Print Length: 149 pages
  • Publisher: Bookouture (8 Nov. 2019)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Lily Graham grew up in South Africa, and is a former journalist. She lives now in the Suffolk coast with her husband and English bulldog, Fudge.

She is the author of six novels, published by Bookouture, including the bestselling, The Paris Secret and The Island Villa. 

Her latest novel The Child of Auschwitz published 8th November 2019 by digital publishers Bookouture.

My thanks to Kim Nash and Bookouture for my ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Follow the blog tour………

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The Lost Ones by Anita Frank #BookReview @Ajes74 @HQstories #HalloweenRead

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Happy Halloween to all my followers 👻🎃🧙‍♀️ Today I’m reviewing the perfect read for Halloween The Lost Ones by Anita Frank. I was looking for a book to read that was a little bit different from my normal crime thriller read, and thankfully I spotted The Lost Ones by Anita Frank, part historical fiction and part ghost story, this book sounded the perfect read  with Halloween approaching. It’s published today so you don’t even have to wait to get your hands on a copy. First the book description….

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Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917

Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

In the classic tradition of The Woman in Black, Anita Frank weaves a spell-binding debut of family tragedy, loss and redemption.

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The Lost Ones is the exquisite debut novel from Anita Frank, it’s a historical, gothic novel, that’s haunting and steeped in atmosphere. Set in the latter days of the First World War Stella Marcham returns from the battlefields of France a broken woman following the recent death of her fiancé. Whilst recovering Her brother-in-law asks her to travel to Greyswick Hall, (along with her maid Annie Burrows), to keep her pregnant sister Madeleine company. On arriving at the imposing Greyswick, Stella realises all is not as it should be. Madeleine is far from ‘blooming’, she appears apprehensive and terrified, she believes she can hear a child crying at night, but how can that be? When no child lives there. Stella experiences what can only described as supernatural incidents and she finds herself convinced the house is haunted. 

Greyswick is a house that bears many secrets, they are as much the fabric of the house as the bricks and mortar.  As we step into Greyswick alongside Stella, the house immediately feels claustrophobic, a growing sense of creepiness wraps itself around you, and the tale grows darker in tone. This isn’t a “jump out your skin” ghost story, it’s much more subtle, it’s more like a classical ghost story, never-less it’s creepy, intense with a very dark, horrifying tale at its core. 

The author has created well-drawn characters, especially  ‘plucky’ Stella and her ‘creepy’ maid Annie, despite their different upbringings and class, there’s a tie that binds the two. Stella with the aid of Annie investigate the strange events, are the ghostly occurrences caused by malevolent spirts looking for justice or retribution? Or is there something more sinister behind the occurrences? The second part of the book was the part I enjoyed the most, it’s here the story takes a menacing turn, shocking revelations come to light, and Anita Frank deftly weaves the threads of The Lost Ones together. The Lost Ones is an emotional, haunting mystery that I found tragic, yet compelling. I really enjoyed this book in case you haven’t already guessed, it’s definitely one I would  recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction and traditional ghost stories. 

  • Print Length: 462 pages
  • Publisher: HQ (31 Oct. 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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**Making a dent in my bookshelf** #MiniReviews #BookChallenge part 2

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Like every book blogger in the country I have numerous books sat on my book shelves I’ve been meaning to read for ages. So I decided to set myself a mini challenge and read as many books as I can from my own personal collection between now and the end of December (which December? I’m not sure yet😂🙈).

I have read six books in total from my own bookshelves (Mind you it helped that I had two weeks holiday this month)…whohoo go me, and the months not over yet only 1,56789 books to go😂📚📚📚📚📚

The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

 

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In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. 

Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building. 

When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.

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Every now and then I do like to mix things up a bit and read something that’s different to my normal crime reads.   Victoria Hislop is one of the author’s I turn to I do enjoy historical fiction especially when it’s blended with true events.  The Island centres on the clashes between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots which came to a head in 1974, resulting in a Greek coup and Turkey invading Cyprus, and Famagusta.

Although I knew little about the civil war I wasn’t aware of the Famagusta, which  is now a deserted town surrounded by barbed wire, within its walls  there must lie stories of devastation and heartbreak caused by a war where the citizens of the town were forced to flee, never to return. The author manages to capture the tone, atmosphere and the fear of a civil war perfectly, but then I would expect nothing less from an author’s whose research is impeccable.

I really enjoyed learning more about the history of Cyprus and the events that led up to the invasion. Victoria Hislop blends fact and fiction to create a compelling read, and her descriptions are so vivid it took look little imagination to conjure up images of Famagusta, before the days of cheap package tours, a town which was wealthy, visited by the most affluent, on the flip side it was horrifying to imagine the city devastated by war, a resort left barren. Although I enjoyed The Sunrise I can’t say I loved it, for me the book felt contrived in parts, and only partly fitting to the history of the people who lived there. I must admit I struggled to feel any connection to the characters, many of them appeared to superficial and  lacking in emotion. Although I read The Sunrise in a couple of sitting. I must admit  It’s not my favourite book by the author, but there again I think I compared it to The Island a very different story, but one I loved.

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (4 Jun. 2015)

I Found You by Lisa Jewell 

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Everyone has secrets. What if you can’t remember yours?

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’

‘I got here yesterday.’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘I have no idea.’

Lily has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night, she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one.

Alice finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement, she invites him into her home.

But who is he, and how can she trust a man who has lost his memory?

  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (14 July 2016)

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I have read a couple of books by Lisa Jewell now and I’m impressed by her ability to produce a compelling plot, that drags you in from the first page and before you know it you are halfway through the book, not even stopping for a coffee break (unheard of!) I Found You made for a riveting read, full of misdirection, suspense. At first I Found You looked as if it would be a simple and straightforward story. A new husband disappears on his way home from work,  a man turns up on a Yorkshire beach and has lost his memory, man gets his memory back and all sorted! But that’s not the case here the story twists, turns, and intertwines creating a throughly nail biting read.

The characters all spring to life especially Alice, I do find a character far more likeable if they have credible flaws, no ones perfect after all! Alice is adorable, always looking to rescue people, animals and friends, and despite her tops turvy life style she still manages to be the best parent she can.  The plotting is incredibly complex with the author drip feeding  little details slowly and tantalisingly the reader. At one point, I thought I knew where it was all heading, but epic fail! When the author finally revealed all I couldn’t help but gasp, Lisa Jewell well and truly left me stunned. I Found You is my perfect kind of psychological thriller, fast paced, fascinating characters and misdirection at every turn.  

The Chain by Adam McKinty

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You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim’s parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don’t kidnap a child, or if the next parents don’t kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain. 

  • Print Length: 369 page
  • Publisher: Orion (9 July 2019)

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The Chain by Adam McKinty is one of the most talked about books on social media this year, bloggers, authors, publishers are raving about it, and then there’s me! The plots definitely an original one, based on Chain letters, the author takes this one step further,  your child gets kidnapped, so in turn you have to kidnap a child, if you break the chain your child will be murdered. I throughly enjoyed the first part of The Chain it’s fast paced, riveting and as the reader you live and breathe events as they unfold through the characters eyes. The chapters are short, and precise adding tension to the overall plot. 

The second part of the book is more about the beginning of The Chain , and it’s creators I didn’t enjoy this part as much, the pace slowed, the tension ramped down a couple of notches, and the plot became far more predictable. Don’t get me wrong this book has much to offer the thriller lover and I can see why readers are raving about The Chain. Personally I think because I made the mistake of reading some of the reviews for The Chain before reading the book so I may have set my expectations too high for this book, which left me more than a little disappointed.

I must admit as a mother I felt for the victims, but not enough to care about the outcome, for me the victims were to quick to pick out a victim, without thinking about the consequences, this made them appear cold hearted and not particularly likeable.  The Chain was a great first half, with plenty of promise but the second half was a let down, at this point I found I felt no sympathy for any of the characters or the predicament they found themselves in, and my interested waned to the point where I wasn’t particularly interested in the outcome.