#Review : Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough @SarahPinborough @HarperCollinsUK

Blurb: 

When you think you’re safe,
YOU’RE NOT.

When you think the past is over,
IT ISN’T.

When you think you know someone,
YOU DON’T.

When you think you’ve guessed this twist,
YOU HAVEN’T.

One moment will change three women’s lives forever.

 

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My Review:  This is the first Sarah Pinborough book I’ve read but it won’t be the last. This was one that was chosen by the book group that I’m in and, having heard the author speak at Bloody Scotland in 2018, I was keen to find out what her books were like so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that.

I could not put this book down. I admit I did find one or two parts a little hard to believe but on the whole it was a fabulous read. The author did a brilliant job of portraying the lives of those in and after, abusive and controlling relationships. I cannot fault that at all. There is so much fear after leaving a relationship like that that I understood why Lisa was being overprotective of her daughter but little did I realise that the reasons ran far deeper than that.

This is a story that shows that you really do not know what is going on in someone’s life, however much you think you might. It also shows the dangers of social media and how easy it is for secrets to come out in an instant from something completely innocuous and unexpected.  The characters were brilliantly written, from the teenage Ava to the adults and their relationships, both as friends and work relationships. I spent half of this book wondering if Lisa was safe and hoping she was and the rest of it wondering how the people around her would deal with the secrets that came out and what would happen next. There are flashbacks which help explain a few things and are carefully woven into the story so they enhance rather than hinder it.

I would definitely recommend this book but I would also warn you to make sure you have time when reading it as one you get drawn in you won’t be able to put it down!

 

 

 

 

 

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#BlogTour #Review : Paper Dolls by Emma Pullar. @EmmaStoryteller @Bloodhoundbook

Blurb:

When a bizarre set of murders take place in London, three flatmates become embroiled in the terrifying mystery.

Mike, Beatrice and Kerri all share a flat and a passion to move their careers forward. When Mike, a frustrated mime in Trafalgar Square, lays eyes on performance artist Princess, his world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, Kerri is struggling to hold onto her job as a journalist, when she stumbles across a body, which turns out to be the third victim of the Paper Doll Killer. Beatrice, who was once a bestselling author, looks to the series of murders for inspiration but finds a lot more than she bargained for.
As the three flatmates discover they each have links to the killer they start to turn on one another. Who might be next? Why does the killer paint the victim’s cheeks and lips with blood? What purpose do the paper dolls serve?
As the deranged Paper Doll Killer continues to stalk the streets of London there’s only one question that needs to be answered … is anyone safe?

My Review: The first time I read the blurb for this book it reminded me a little of the film Shallow Grave where three flatmates are affected by the death of a fourth. In reality there isn’t really much in common between the film and the book. However, that initial thought was enough to pique my interest and so I decided to read the book.

This is a dark, disturbing book which is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The descriptions are vivid and fit with the story but not everyone is going to enjoy them. However, if dark and disturbing appeals to you then this is definitely worth a read. It kept me on my toes the whole time, the story moves around through four characters (the three flatmates and the killer) but never gets confusing, it just drags you further into the intrigue and increasing desire to know what happens next and who the killer is. I liked that we got to see the killers perspective, it added an extra layer to the story that made it different from the other psychological thrillers I’ve read.

I don’t have to like a character to enjoy a book but I do have to enjoy the writing and the story which is good as I wasn’t hugely keen on Beatrice and I found Mike really irritating, however that didn’t affect my reading or enjoyment of the story at all as they way they behaved added to the story and the way all the characters interacted.

This was a book that I struggled to put down, I read it in the equivalent of a day because it kept pulling me in and making me want to find out more. I believe the author previous books were a different genre but I sine hope she writes more in this one because this was a cracker!

Highly recommended.

About the author:

Emma Pullar is an award-winning and bestselling writer of dark fiction and children’s books. Her picture book, Curly from Shirley, was a national bestseller and named best opening lines by NZ Post. Her second picture book, Kitty Stuck, was illustrated by her talented daughter who was just twelve-years-old at the time. Four of Emma’s short stories have been published. Her dystopian duology, Skeletal and Avian, are popular with fans of the genre and Emma’s crime debut is out March 2019. She also writes articles for Bang2write and dabbles in screenwriting. Find her on Twitter @EmmaStoryteller or Instagram @emmapullar_storyteller or http://www.emmapullar,com.

Find her on Twitter @EmmaStoryteller or Instagram @emmapullar_storyteller or http://www.emmapullar,com.

#Review : The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.

Today I’m reviewing The Silent Patient, a book which you’ve likely already heard of as it’s being shouted about everywhere. Many thanks to Poppy Stimpson and Orion Books for sending me a copy of this to review.

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Blurb:

ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

 

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My Review:  I’m going to be completely upfront at the beginning of this review. I loved the sound of this book when I heard about it, it sounded just my sort of book and like something I would love and, honestly, I didn’t love it. It was good, don’t misunderstand, but I feel I’ve missed what everyone else is seeing.

The book is well written, we find out Alicia’s side of events leading up to her husbands death through her diary which adds a lot to the one-sided story that Theo gets from people. There were aspects that I didn’t understand, such as why Theo gives up a good job just to get Alicia to speak but these are made clear later in the book and make perfect sense then. The ending is not at all what I expected and fitted with the story though I found it read almost like an afterthought. What did impress me about this book though, was the fact that it kept me reading despite everything I’ve mentioned above. There is something in it that kept me coming back to it time and again. It is immersive, I read some of it at work (I have a fab job for a book lover!) and when work demanded my attention it took a second for me to remember where I was. Now that I find impressive, especially considering I don’t work in the quietest of places!

I can recognise the good points in this story, the immersive quality of it, the research that has gone into ensuring the psychiatric parts are accurate, the character creation that has gone into both Alicia, Theo and a few of the other characters. This is clearly a book which many people loved and I’m in the minority of people who didn’t but not everyone is going to adore every book they read and that’s ok. Despite my comments above I am going to see what this author produces in future, who knows, I might love his next book.

 

#BlogTour #Extract : Hard Setdown by T.Q. Chant #TQChant #LoveBooksGroupTours

Today I’m sharing with you all an extract from this amazing sounding book. Huge thanks to LoveBooksGroupTours for having me on this tour. This book is a mixture of sci-fi and psychological thriller so if that’s your thing then read on and find out more.

 

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Blurb: 

Sam Cane – ex-con artist (sort of), ex-soldier (definitely), and woman on the run.

She’s looking to escape a life of petty crime on Earth that’s got her in too deep with the wrong people. Taking a job with one of the corporations contracted to open up and exploit new worlds in the growing Commonwealth, she’s assigned to a young colony right on the edge of human space. It looks like the perfect escape, until she arrives on IGC-187X and things start to go downhill. Fast.

Arriving at the colony site, she finds it mysteriously deserted, its communication systems sabotaged and her ride rapidly heading out of the system. Failing to repair the communications system in time, she realises she’s stuck on the apparently deserted planet unless she can get a deep space message out. Exploring the colony site further, she realises two things – that something terrible has happened to the colonists, and that she’s not alone. She contacts survivors from the colony, who tell her they were forced to relocate due to raider activity, but their story doesn’t quite add up. Betrayed by them, she connects with the only sane person left – Adissa, the daughter of the colonial administrator, who has been living underground since her father had gone mad and led the colonists to a mysterious settlement elsewhere on the planet.

Suddenly, getting a message out has taken on a new urgency. Playing a deadly game of cat and mouth with the colonists, Sam and Adissa work together to try to get an old buried launch array on-line. The full horror of the situation starts to impact on Sam as she realises just how far the colonists have fallen and that something far worse is lurking hidden under the deserts of the arid world.

Out on the fringe, she’ll find out that what you’re running from isn’t always the thing that will kill you.

 

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Extract:

“Rule number six, I think,” Sam said to herself, standing in front of the homemade shack and psyching herself to go in. “If you don’t know it and you need to, find out about it. Otherwise it could kill you.”

Lifting a couple of bits of kit from the pack, she pushed into the shack and forced herself to stand and look down on the corpse in the middle of the room.

She knew what that odd smell was now, the after-reek of death, the slight sickliness of rotten flesh. It was now just an unpleasant oily aftertaste on the air that suggested the body had been here a while.

She keyed a command into the pad to bring up data on forensic examination of a body, decay rates, other information that hadn’t been useful to her until this moment. She just regretted not having any forensic procedure software that could have done the whole examination for her – preferably while she sat outside having a beer. “No reason I’d ever think I’d need it though.”

 While the pad started throwing open work cells at convenient points in the air, she went about setting up the holopixer on its pole.

“Start recording. Security Specialist Cane Kokhani, ICG one-eight-seven, main colony site. It’s zero nine hundred local time, standard calendar date is third day fifth month one-fifty AY. Initial investigation of crime scene located approximately fifty metres from main colony site in a locally constructed building. May be some significance in the choice of venue. Victim is an unknown…female. Yes. Female.” She swallowed. She’d been taught basic police procedure in her month-long induction course, but nothing to prepare her for this. Established wisdom went that a good security chief with a population around a thousand to look after would probably know everyone well enough to spot a murderer without needing to go full Sherlock on it.

She fought to stay professional, stay clinical. She knew she had to face what was here or it would just lurk out here waiting for her. She had to start working out what had happened.

She waited until the pixer had finished its initial capture, a line of light sweeping across the space to capture everything. Pulling on gloves, she gingerly pulled away the tarp that covered some of the body ordered another pixer scan. She reached out to beckon a holographic cell to her, expanded it to read the data. “Hmm. Estimated time since death, based on humidity and average temperature, is three weeks.”

Looking back, her eyes widened. Without the ragged cloth covering, she could see the level of devastation inflicted on the colonist. “Hang on, too many legs involved here.”

She choked back a sob as that implication sank in. “Correction to my earlier statements. Two unidentified victims. One female, I’m guessing adult. One male, probably adolescent. Early teens. Bodies are severely decomposed.” Mercifully, she added to herself. “Both appear to have been stripped of clothing and partially dismembered.” Disturbed by her removing their last modesty, the bodies shifted slightly, air-cured skin and sinew settling slightly. The woman’s head rolled free. “Decapitated. Look like clean cuts.”

She got a close-up of some of the wounds, set a search running. “This wasn’t the work of animals. How could it be? The bodies were secured, definitely some sort of tool used. I’m seeing…crap… I’m seeing symbols cut – branded? – into what’s left of the skin. Are those…? Not sure, going to have to do a datastack search.”

She rocked back on her haunches, wiped her hand across her face without thinking, gagged as she tasted the slime that had come off on her gloves.

“Pausing the examination,” she gasped, staggering outside. She was technically on duty, but with no sign of a relief shift or a supervisor she didn’t mind cracking open one of her precious beers. At least it cleaned her mouth.

 

 

 

About the author:  Tim Chant grew up (mostly), went to school in East Anglia and university in Scotland. He took his History degree and did the only thing he could with it – joined the civil service. When not shackled to his desk he writes science fiction, alternative historical fiction, historical fiction and any other fiction that takes his fancy. When not doing that, he’s an inveterate roleplayer and wargamer (and getting back into historical fencing). He lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their two rabbits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Blog Tour #Review : The Liar’s Room by Simon Lelic @HannahLudbrook @PenguinUKBooks

I read and enjoyed the previous book by this author, The House, so when I was asked to be on this blog tour I was immediately interested. Many thanks to Hannah Ludbrook and Penguin UK for inviting me onto the tour. My review is below.

Blurb:  ONE ROOM. TWO LIARS. NO WAY OUT…

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a counsellor and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But everything changes when Adam Geraghty walks into her office. She’s never met this young man before – so why does she feel like she knows him?

Then Adam starts to tell her about a girl. A girl he wants to hurt.

And Susanna realises she was wrong. 

She doesn’t know him. 

BUT HE KNOWS HER.

AND THE GIRL HE PLANS TO HURT IS HER DAUGHTER…


My Review: I really enjoyed reading The House and the description of this book intrigued me and sounded quite gripping and tense so I was looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately it never grabbed me in the way I expected it too. I didn’t feel any great empathy or concern towards any of the three characters mentioned most in the book and didn’t warm to them either. 

The writing was good, there were tensions built into the story through the writing and periods when the story then jumped to a flashback just as you felt you were getting somewhere, like two part tv episodes when it says ‘to be continued…’ and you scream at the tv in frustration. It was a bit like that. It wasn’t clear what was going on until about half way through the book when enough information was revealed for the reader to gain more understanding of this odd and unusual situation. It was confusing to read to start with, and deliberately so, because if it was a real situation it wiuld be that confusing until you got more information. 

The story takes place over 4 hours, as well as the interconnected flashbacks which give much needed clarity. While the writing did give a good sense of the characters and I could see that it could be an unputdownable book I also felt it was too long, and perhaps I would have been more hooked had it been shorter. 

It’s definitely an interesting and unusual premise and one which is well constructed. I think people who don’t often read psychological thrillers or who want something quite different may enjoy it. I, however, felt The House was a more intense read.

***I should add, a warning, there is a very cruel scene involving an animal. As I know some people will not read books with this content I feel it needs to be highlighted here.***






#BlogTour #Review : Do No Harm by L V Hay. @OrendaBooks @LucyVHayAuthor #DoNoHarm

Today I am beyond thrilled to bring you my review of Do No Harm, partly because it is an amazing book and partly because I have the honour of being on the final day of the blog tour. Many thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for letting me be part of this tour and sending me a copy of the book for review. And now, onto the really important part, what did I think………

Blurb:  If I can’t have you … nobody can.

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong… Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives… 

Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, with a killer twist that you will never see coming. 

My Review:  I’m not sure where to start with this review. The book opens with Lily and Sebastian getting married and Maxwell, Lily’s ex, showing how unwilling he is to truly let go of Lily and her son. From there on things happen that are not normal but equally hard to explain and then it gets even worse. 
I started this book one night and had to forcibly put it down so that I could go to bed. I’m not one for staying up all night reading but this book brought me close to doing that! However the next day, despite having things to do, I decided to start reading again at breakfast and could not put it down. All my plans went out the window and I spent the whole morning reading. It was as if nothing else mattered but finishing this book. Every chapter, every section of the book brought more events and more questions. I did reach a point where everything became clear, but even that brought more questions than answers.  

The characters and their actions and reactions are described really well. The author wrote in such a way that I felt I knew the characters even though I had barely met them. Right from the beginning there is a thread that runs through the story and you don’t see it until the end, it’s there and with hindsight you can see it but while you’re reading you don’t notice it. That is why this book is so good. It is really good in itself, in what it appears to be but then you find out what it really is and it just blows your mind. I’d love to ask the author where she gets these ideas from because they are dark and twisted and fabulous!

There are a lot of psychological thrillers out there and so many books that talk about a twist you didn’t expect so you may have doubts about this book but don’t. This book stands above many of the others and the twist is genuinely unexpected. It is, in my opinion, a very overused phrase but for this book it is entirely appropriate. If you only buy one more psychological thriller this year, make it this one. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. 
About the author:

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. Her critically acclaimed debut thriller The Other Twin was published in 2017. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.  

#Review : Shoeless Child by J.A. Schneider @JoyceSchneider1 

I am thrilled today to bring you a review of Shoeless Child by J.A. Schneider. Today is also the publication day for this riveting read so once you’ve read this post pop on over to Amazon, buy it and see for yourself what I’ve been talking about.

Blurb: A little boy has seen a horrific murder but is too traumatized to speak. Detective Kerri Blasco struggles to connect with him…

Charlie Sparkes peeks out to see his mother and another young woman brutally shot. Hysterical, the brave child bolts into the cold November night for help. He screams and cries, only to fall into more trauma.

Homicide Detective Kerri Blasco is called to the murder scene. One woman lies dead next to the blood soaked rug where Rachel Sparkes was seriously wounded. With little memory of the attack, she has been taken to the hospital – but where is her child? He too, Kerri discovers, now lies in a hospital bed, mute and traumatized in a fetal position, refusing even food and water.

Charlie must have seen what happened. Kerri’s heart aches for this piteous little boy and she struggles to help him; struggles, too to find the monster who did this horrible crime. “It’s your kind of case,” Sergeant Alex Brand, Kerri’s boss and partner tells her, stepping up police urgency when another innocent is shot, and then another…

Kerri Blasco finds herself more emotionally obsessed with this case than with any other, despite clear and onrushing danger to herself...

My Rating: 5/5

Review: Having read and enjoyed the previous Kerri Blasco book I was delighted when I was asked if I would like to read this one too. Crime and psychological thrillers are my favourite type of novels so this one immediately ticked all the boxes but it was the blurb that sold it to me.

The story starts with 5 year old Charlie witnessing his mother being shot and injured and her friend killed. His mother tells him to run and being clever and brave he does just that, despite the killer chasing after him. He manages, with the help of someone passing outside, to get the police but then stops talking and won’t even look at anyone. His mother is alive but injured and her son traumatised. The police have their work cut out for them, trying to find out who would do this and why.

The very first pages of this story get you hooked. A little boy running from a scene of blood and death being chased by the killer is enough to grip you and keep you reading. Obviously the killer doesn’t catch him, the blurb says as much, but then the police start investigating and from what looks like a case with no leads or evidence come quite a few suspects, suspicious people and hidden stories that may all be connected back to the murder and attempted killing.

There are suspects, red herrings, dead ends and woven throughout this a little boy traumatised by what he saw. The story drew me in, every time I had the opportunity to read it I was picking it up. Even 5 minutes reading in the car and I was back with Kerri Blasco, in New York, following leads, getting frustrated at other cops and wondering what was going to happen next.

This is a very skillfully woven tale which shows you the darker side of the Big Apple away from all the bright lights. You get hooked and drawn in, feeling every frustration and tiny glimmer of hope that Kerri feels, wanting to make everything better for Charlie and find the killer at the same time.

There are a lot, let’s face it, crime fiction novels out there so it can make it tricky to find something different. This and the other books in the series, in my opinion, is one of the few detective series that are different, that don’t follow the same mould as many others out there. So, if you want a gripping psychological thriller that will keep you coming back for more you won’t be disappointed with this one. I can’t wait for the next in the series.