The Silent Kookaburra – Liza Perrat @LizaPerrat

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5*

aboutthebook

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives, the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom. Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret. Then one blistering summer day, tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web.

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Wow. Like seriously, wow! The back cover of the book says this story will get under your skin and that is not a lie. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Set in Australia in the early 1970’s, this novel tackles a number of dark and disturbing topics, seen through the eyes of our narrator, eleven-year-old Tanya.

Tanya struggles at school. She’s not the prettiest, nor the skinniest but what she wants more than anything, is a happy family. Sadly her mother has suffered multiple miscarriages and this has left its mark. When finally baby Shelley joins the household, Tanya thinks things might be looking up and her wish of a happy family will come true. But then tragedy strikes and the family will never be the same again.

There’s also uncle Blackie who befriends Tanya. But why won’t anyone in the family talk about him? And why should Tanya keep their friendship a secret?

This book may be upsetting to some readers as it deals with mental issues and paedophilia, amongst others. It’s heartbreakingly sad and incredibly tense but so amazingly well written and I just couldn’t put it down. It’s powerful, authentic, realistic and believable. Having Tanya as a narrator works extremely well, especially when seeing things unfold no child her age should have to deal with.

Liza Perrat describes everything quite vividly. I’ve never been to Australia but had no problem imagining the hot summer temperatures, the sounds of the various animals and even the smells. Mentions of popstars of old and the fun Australian slang only added to the experience. As do many of the things that come out Nana Purvis’ mouth, fitting for that day and age.

The Silent Kookaburra is one gripping and compelling novel and I can’t recommend it enough.

Many, many thanks to Liza Perrat for sending me a copy of this novel. It was my utmost pleasure to read and review.

The Silent Kookaburra is out now.

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Sometimes I Lie – Alice Feeney

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5*

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.

1. I’m in a coma

2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore

3. Sometimes I lie

My thoughts :

Isn’t that the most fantastic description ever? It tells you a lot and yet nothing at the same time. However, it’s so intriguing that I bet you’re curious! I know I was.

Now, yes, I’m fully aware that I quite confidently announced a hiatus from psychological thrillers. I totally blame Lorraine and Joanne for my falling off the wagon. I have a feeling they won’t be sorry but neither am I because this is one fabulous psychological thriller that will mess with your head like you wouldn’t believe!

I blatantly refuse to tell you any more about the plot than what’s mentioned in the description. That right there should intrigue you and draw you in. The less you know when you start reading, the better. Suffice to say there are plenty of twists and turns that will leave you feeling like a cartoon figure who’s just been hit over the head with a hammer. Multiple times.

Alice Feeney has come up with a most intricate plot that will have you hooked from the very first page. Engrossing, compelling, a fabulous page turner and yes, another contender for book of the year! Absolutely loved it!

Sometimes I Lie was published on March 23rd and you should drop everything and run off to buy it NOW!

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The Gingerbread House – Kate Beaufoy

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4*

Nestled among cherry trees in a picturesque country garden, the Gingerbread House resembles an illustration from an old-world storybook. But beware! For in the fairytale, that’s where the witch lives …

Not really. The Gingerbread House is nothing like the one in the fairytale and the witch is a grandmother suffering from dementia.

When Tess is made redundant from her job as an advertising copywriter, she goes to the Gingerbread House as it seems like the perfect place to work on a novel. But caring for her mother-in-law Eleanor is harder than she imagined.

The story is narrated by Eleanor’s granddaughter, fourteen year old Katia. Katia doesn’t talk but she’s an excellent listener and observer. She loves books and stories and it is she who named the house. As Tess starts to struggle with the isolation and the harsh reality of being a full-time carer, Katia is forced to watch helplessly.

This really hit a nerve with me. My grandmother suffers from dementia too. While it hurts that she doesn’t always remember me, the most emotional moment for me was when I realised that she knew fully well what was happening. “There’s something wrong in my head”, she told me. Like Eleanor, she has good moments and bad moments and it’s the bad ones that are positively draining.

There’s no sugarcoating, it’s highly realistic and believable and you will come away with nothing but the utmost admiration for those that are full-time carers.

The Gingerbread House is a deeply moving story. Heartbreaking and occasionally also quite funny. Katia is a fabulous narrator and her father often relies on dark humour to lift his wife’s spirits. There’s also a twist I didn’t see coming it all. At the end of the book, I was left with a massive lump in my throat.

Many thanks to Black & White Publishing and Netgalley for my copy which I chose to review.

The Gingerbread House is out now.

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Her Last Breath – Robert Bryndza @bookouture @RobertBryndza

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4*

He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim. When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case. While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved.

My thoughts :

Hard to believe we’re already up to the fourth book in this series and Erika Foster is back with a bang!

Stuck in a boring office job and drowning in administrative paperwork, she’s determined to get back to where she belongs : the murder investigative team. So when the body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, she immediately grabs the opportunity to attend the scene.

This is another page turner and quite a quick read. Or maybe that was me, swiping the pages like a mad woman as the action built up. Erika’s going through some changes, showing more emotions and vulnerability. A side to her we’ve not seen too much of. (Maybe she’s pregnant? 😉 ) It’s always a good thing to see more character development along the way. Don’t fret, she hasn’t changed that much. She’s still fiery, outspoken and impulsive.

The reader knows pretty early on who the killer is but that didn’t bother me at all. I thought it was quite fascinating to see how their mind works and how they try to keep up the pretence of living a normal life while Erika and her team are desperately trying to figure out who they’re chasing before they strike again.

Sometimes you start to build up expectations and worry you may be feeling left disappointed. It happens quite a bit in series. Not just in books, but tv show seasons too. (I’m looking at you “Lost”.) But not in this case, as Robert Bryndza is amazingly consistent.

Last Breath is an excellent addition to this series and quite possibly the best one so far. Bring on the next one!

Many thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for my advanced copy which I chose to review.

Last Breath will be published on April 12th.

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The Skeletons of Scarborough House – Kitty French @bookouture @KFrenchBooks

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5*

Life’s tough for Melody Bittersweet. She’s single, addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers, and she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder? Waking up lonely on her twenty seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things have got to change. Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits.

My thoughts :

After having read a few disappointing (to me) psychological thrillers in a row, I made a conscious decision to leave the genre behind for a bit and try something completely different and I somehow ended up with this book.

The Skeletons of Scarborough House is the first instalment of The Chapelwick Mysteries. Having seen many great reviews for the second book, once again Dee-logic dictated I start with the first one.

I had no idea what to expect since I can’t remember ever having read something labeled “a cosy mystery” before. I was wary of all the laugh-out-loud comments I’d seen because I can name a number of things that were called “hilarious” that didn’t even make my lips twitch. So imagine my surprise, when barely two pages in, I snorted quite unlady-like.

Melody sees dead people, as do her mother and grandmother. She starts a ghostbusting agency with her best friend. Soon they’re joined by Art and the team is complete. Their very first case involves Scarborough House. Set to be sold, it’s putting off potential buyers as it’s haunted. It’s up to Melanie to figure out why.

This book is filled to the brim with the most quirky characters I’ve ever met. The Bittersweet ladies are my kind of crazy and absolutely endearing. I doubt you’d get bored if you invited them to dinner. Even the dog is a little goofball.

Don’t go thinking this is just some bit of fluff, to be dismissed off hand. Yes, it’s funny. Laugh-out-loud funny sometimes. But it’s also sad. The tale of the ghosts at Scarborough House was heartbreaking. Quite a feat to combine a healthy dose of humour with the darker aspect of a murder.

Once I picked this up, I couldn’t put it down. It’s quite a quick read and I’m so glad I could finish it in one sitting, snuggled under a blanket with a warm cup of tea while the rain kept coming down outside. Great plot, fabulous characters, brilliant and extremely funny! The next instalment of the series (Murder at Maplemead Castle) is already on my to-read list.

Also, as a side note, how adorable is that cover?!

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Wicked Game – Matt Johnson @Matt_Johnson_UK @OrendaBooks

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5*

2001. Age is catching up with Robert Finlay, a police officer on the Royal Protection team based in London. He’s looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family. But fate has other plans.

My thoughts :

Having seen some amazing book blogger ratings about the second book in this series (Deadly Game), I decided to give this one a go first, as Dee-logic dictates to always start at the beginning of a series. Which in this case isn’t so bad. In other cases when there are already five or more books, it’s a bit more problematic. But I digress.

Robert Finlay, a former SAS Member, is giving up his job on the Royal Protection team. He’s happily married, has a beautiful daughter and wants to lead a less stressful life. But his past is about to catch up with him when his former SAS colleagues start dying all over the place. Someone is playing a wicked game. (Get it?) Who can Robert trust?

Admittedly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I didn’t even really know what the book was about as I try to read as little of a description as I possibly can since a lot of them contain way too many spoilers for my liking. But I have faith in my book blogger friends and I soon realised my trust in them was not misplaced. I quickly became completely engrossed as I tried to fit the pieces of the puzzle together and ended up suspecting pretty much everyone in this cat-and-mouse game.

This is one cleverly constructed plot, with some nail biting moments. At the end of the book, I felt utterly exhausted, like I’d gone through the entire thing myself. That’s all down to Matt Johnson’s amazing writing. Quite obviously, he knows what he’s talking about and it adds that extra level of authenticity to the reading experience.

This would make an excellent movie or tv series. (Preferably with Richard Armitage in it. Just saying’.)  I could see scenes play out right before my eyes. Such a thrilling ride.

Wicked Game is tense and dramatic. Highly intelligent and adrenaline fuelled, with some fabulous plot twists. I doubt I’ll be waiting long to read the next one in the series.

Amazon US – Amazon UK – Goodreads

#GuestReview: Splintered by Kelly Miller (@MillerMystery) @BookaholicDee

My very first guest review! So exciting!

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splintered.jpg“Life turns from barely tolerable to complete hell when Maddy Eastin’s impulsive plan to win back the attention of her absentee father backfires. Word of her scheme spreads through her high school, but when mockery escalates to cyberbullying, Maddy and her failed stunt become headline news. But the worst is yet to come…

A disturbed man is fighting the overwhelming urge to surrender to his true nature—a moral code molded by a sadistic father who taught him that a girl needs proper training to become the perfect subservient woman. As he watches Maddy on the evening news, his already fractured psyche completely splinters. She’s the girl he’s been waiting for.

When Maddy disappears, she’s labeled a runaway even though her mother believes it was foul play. Will the detectives investigating Maddy’s disappearance find her before it’s too late? Or has she already fallen prey to the vicious stranger hunting her?”

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The Missing Ones – Patricia Gibney @trisha460 @bookouture

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5*

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror. The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. “I wonder which one of us will be next?”

How’s that for a prologue?

The Missing Ones is the first instalment in a brand new series featuring DI Lottie Parker and Patricia Gibney immediately hits a home run with her debut!

Set in a fictitious town in Ireland, this story has everything. From murder, to child abuse, to corruption and a whole lot of crazy. Gibney offers a multi-layered plot with various threads that come together in a most satisfying ending. Sometimes pacy and action packed, other times sad and heartbreaking, this was one engrossing read.

DI Lottie Parker is a single mom with three teenaged children. Her husband passed away a few years ago and Lottie struggles to combine her demanding job with the needs of her children, while still trying to come to terms with the loss of her husband. There’s also a great backstory that ties in nicely with the case Lottie is currently working on.

The book is quite long so don’t start this one if you don’t have a whole afternoon to spare because you’ll want to read it one sitting. Still, at no point does it drag on or become boring. The plot is exquisitely constructed with a host of utterly realistic characters and delicious chemistry between Lottie and her colleague Boyd. Admittedly, I’m not usually a fan of romance in my crime fiction but I’m rooting for these two like you wouldn’t believe.

While the case is absolutely engrossing, it’s also Lottie’s private life that really grabbed my attention. I’m sure it’s something many career women can relate to.

This is one fabulous way to start a new series and I can’t wait to follow Lottie on her next case.

Lie To Me – Jess Ryder

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3* (and a half)

We’re going to tell our story and then it will all stop and Mummy will be safe. You want Mummy to be safe, don’t you?

Three minutes. That’s all it takes for Meredith’s entire world to fall apart when she watches the videotape of her four)-year-old self with Becca, the mother she’s never known. Meredith can’t believe what her eyes have seen. Yet what if her memory has locked away the painful reality of her childhood? Can there be any truth in the strange and dangerous story her mother forced her to tell on camera? The search for answers leads Meredith to Darkwater Pool, the scene of the murder of a young woman over thirty years ago.

Meredith hasn’t seen her mother for decades. For all she knows, her mother could very well be dead. When she finds a videotape hidden away at the bottom of a box, it raises a lot of questions. Three minutes is all it takes for Meredith’s life to be turned upside down. Why is her mother acting so weird? Why is she asking her daughter to say these strange things on camera. What is her father hiding? And who are Cara and Christopher?

Meredith is desperate to find the answers and her search leads her to Darkwater Pool, the scene of a murder some thirty years ago. The chapters switch between Meredith in the present and Cara in the past. This book is quite an interesting character study on how lies can affect people decades down the road.

While I enjoyed this story most of the time, it seemed to drag on a bit sometimes. I felt quite a few things were highly predictable and there’s a part I thought was completely unnecessary as it didn’t really help move the plot along. I worried that was the direction the story was heading in but luckily it was left behind and soon forgotten. As a whole, I didn’t find it as gripping as the cover promises but the character development is fascinating. There is a twist, yes, but when you read a lot of books in this genre, it wasn’t all that hard to figure out.

However, I do see the potential in Jess Ryder’s writing and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Thank you to Bookouture and Netgalley for my advanced copy which I chose to review.

Lie To Me will be published as an ebook on April 19th.

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman – Mindy Mejia – @MejiaWrites @QuercusBooks

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5*

Seventeen year old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more questions than answers. It turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on.

Sometimes you pick up a book, start reading the first page and you instantly realise it’s going to be brilliant. That’s what happened for me with this one. It drew me in from the start and wouldn’t let go. Fortunately I had no interruptions and was able to read the whole thing in one go.

I loved the small town community setting. Mindy Mejia describes everything so vividly, I could imagine myself being there, running through the fields, looking up at the skies at night and seeing the stars like you only can in the countryside. I’d move there in a heartbeat. Well, if there’s a reliable internet connection, that is. 😉

The chapters alternate between Hattie, Peter (her English teacher) and Sheriff Goodman. There is such a nice flow as we learn more about them. The whole cast of characters is incredible and unforgettable, each with their own flaws and struggles. Completely realistic and believable. I cared about these people and what happened to them.

This is one of those plots where you pick up clues and think you have the whole thing figured out until the rug is pulled out from under your feet and you’re proven completely wrong. I love that!

To me, this was perfection. When I become so engrossed that I don’t even hear the phone ring, that’s what it’s all about. I can’t fault anything about it and I’ll eat my hat (if I had one) if this doesn’t turn out to be one of the books of the year. I have no doubt it will be on my list. Highly recommend it if you enjoy psychological thrillers although this is so much more than that. Did I mention brilliant?