This Week in Books (July 31)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.

Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.

Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives…

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday – a group of families enjoying a week together in the sun. Four women who have been best friends for as long as they can remember making the most of a luxurious villa in the south of France.

But Kate has a secret: her husband is having an affair. And a week away might just be the perfect opportunity to get the proof she needs – to catch him in the act once and for all. Because she suspects the other woman is one of her two best friends.

One of them is working against her, willing to sacrifice years of friendship to destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined . . . 

Because someone in the villa may be prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden. 

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Everything changed the night Flora Powell disappeared. 

Heather and Jess were best friends – until the night Heather’s sister vanished.

Jess has never forgiven herself for the lie she told that night. Nor has Heather.

But now Heather is accused of an awful crime.

And Jess is forced to return to the sleepy seaside town where they grew up, to ask the question she’s avoided for so long:

What really happened the night Flora disappeared? 

By currently reading, I mean I haven’t even started it yet. Because erm … other priorities 😏

What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

Conviction by Denise Mina | #20BooksOfSummer

Author : Denise Mina
Title : Conviction
Pages : 372
Publisher : Harvill Secker
Publication date : May 16, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

It’s just a normal morning for Anna McDonald. Gym kits, packed lunches, getting everyone up and ready. Until she opens the front door to her best friend, Estelle. Anna turns to see her own husband at the top of the stairs, suitcase in hand. They’re leaving together and they’re taking Anna’s two daughters with them.

Left alone in the big, dark house, Anna can’t think, she can’t take it in. With her safe, predictable world shattered, she distracts herself with a story: a true-crime podcast. There’s a sunken yacht in the Mediterranean, multiple murders and a hint of power and corruption. Then Anna realises she knew one of the victims in another life. She is convinced she knows what happened. Her past, so carefully hidden until now, will no longer stay silent.

This is a murder she can’t ignore, and she throws herself into investigating the case. But little does she know, her past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Denise Mina is a name I’ve seen mentioned quite a lot but I had never read any of her books before. Her latest release, Conviction, seemed like a good place to start.

When Anna’s husband leaves her for her best friend and takes the kids with him, the only thing that’s able to distract Anna from the shambles of her life is a true crime podcast. This podcast tries to find the answers to the mysterious sinking of a yacht that left three people dead. When Anna realises she actually knew one of the victims, she is convinced she knows what happened and sets out to investigate.

I’ve never listened to a podcast in my life. But I sure do love reading about them. They’re a really interesting way of getting a story across, giving you the facts and the questions that need answering. The podcast chapters in this book were my favourites to read. But I struggled with the rest of the story. I didn’t particularly like Anna, which felt immensely wrong considering her past and the secrets she’s hiding.

Some of the events that happened seemed somewhat over the top to me, yet the search for the truth kept me hooked and I couldn’t at all figure out what or who had caused these deaths. But for some reason, I wasn’t entirely convinced. Sure, there’s a well-crafted plot and Denise Mina is obviously a very skilled author but something was lacking for me and I can’t quite put my finger on what that was.

Furthermore, this finished hardback was riddled with mistakes. Now quite clearly that is not the author’s fault but it did have a huge impact on my reading experience. I often found myself utterly annoyed by the errors which took away my focus of the story. All in all, my first introduction to Denise Mina didn’t go down so well but I do still plan to read another one of her books in future.

Conviction is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Wordery

Book 11 from my 20 Books of Summer

The July Girls by Phoebe Locke | @phoebe_locke @Wildfirebks @headlinepg @JenRHarlow | #RandomThingsTours

Thrilled to host a stop on the blog tour for The July Girls by Phoebe Locke today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

Author : Phoebe Locke
Title : The July Girls
Pages : 340
Publisher : Wildfire Books / Headline
Publication date : July 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.

Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.

Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives…

| MY THOUGHTS |

When I read The Tall Man a while ago, I immediately somehow felt Phoebe Locke would be my kind of writer. So when I heard The July Girls was coming, I signed up for this blog tour without even knowing what the book was about, confident that I would like whatever Phoebe Locke came up with this time around. And I was right. (I usually am, OH hates it 😉)

Every year, on the same day, a woman disappears without a trace from the streets of London. That day, July 7th, is Addie’s birthday. Coincidence or not? On her tenth birthday, her father arrives home with his clothes covered in blood. It’s July 7th, 2005. Addie thinks maybe her dad was hurt in the bombings that rocked London that day. Until her sister, Jessie, finds a purse belonging to a missing woman hidden in their dad’s bedroom. Is Addie’s dad a killer?

This story is told through the eyes of Addie, whom the reader follows throughout her teenage years as she struggles to deal with all the secrets she carries and the burden on her shoulders seems to grow with each year. I really enjoyed watching Addie develop throughout the story, how her voice changed as she grew up, how the things she just accepted as a ten year old suddenly didn’t seem to fit as she got older and matured.

You may think having a story told through a ten year old would come across as childish but you’d be awfully wrong. It was actually quite refreshing to see the world through innocent eyes, that little dash of naivety Addie still has, amidst the darkness in the world and then to sadly see that innocence shattered as she gets older.

The July Girls is immensely absorbing and extremely suspenseful. It’s one of those books that draws you in from the very beginning and just won’t let go. Now, I am awfully suspicious by nature so apart from Addie, I found it hard to trust anyone in this story as the characters were highly intriguing and constantly seemed to have something to hide. And yes, there is a mystery or a few murders to solve, one I couldn’t figure out at all. But that’s not the be all and end all of The July Girls. This is a story about relationships, family dynamics and secrets with a sense of impending doom hanging above it. That feeling you get when you know something is coming but you can’t figure out what that is.

I fear my review isn’t doing this book any justice. Sometimes words are just so hard to find. It isn’t just the storyline that had me hooked throughout but Phoebe Locke’s writing is really something else. Incredibly immersive and beautiful, it adds an extra layer to this story and all I can really say is : I’m a fan and I look forward immensely to whatever Phoebe Locke comes up with next!

The July Girls is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

PHOEBE LOCKE is the pseudonym of full-time writer Nicci Cloke. She previously worked at the Faber Academy, and hosted London literary salon Speakeasy. Nicci has had two literary novels published by Fourth Estate and Cape, and also writes YA for Hot Key Books. She lives and writes in Cambridgeshire. THE JULY GIRLS follows Phoebe Locke’s debut thriller THE TALL MAN.

The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor | #20BooksOfSummer

Author : Andrew Taylor
Title : The Ashes of London
Series : James Marwood #1
Pages : 482
Publisher : Harper Collins
Publication date : April 7, 2016

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Even the impregnable cathedral of St. Paul’s is engulfed in flames and reduced to ruins. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer.

In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back.

Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Recently, I’ve been on the look-out for more historical crime fiction as it’s a genre I’ve been enjoying quite a bit lately. The Ashes Of London caught my eye as it’s an era I’m not especially familiar with. I had heard of The Great Fire though, so that’s something as that is where this story starts.

The Great Fire of London in 1666 caused quite a few deaths. But St. Paul’s holds another body that didn’t perish in the fire. This victim was murdered before the fire got to them. As James Marwood watches the devastating fire roar, he helps a boy to safety. A boy who later turns out to be a young girl. This girl, Catherine, is trying to find her father. Could he be the murder victim?

For some reason, I couldn’t quite get to grips with this one. While I found it interesting to see the devastation the fire caused across the city, how it affected some but not others and the way it seemed to rain ashes for days on end, I mostly picked this book because I’m a crime fan. And the crime fan in me will always be way more intrigued by the murder investigation. This seemed to often take a bit of a backseat though in this story. There is a lot of walking through the streets, soaking up the atmosphere, a rather big cast of characters which sometimes confused me, conversations of which I felt they didn’t really bring much to the table and a rather slow pace where I was expecting more tension and “oomph”.

The story switches between James and Catherine. Unfortunately for me, neither of these two characters particularly held my interest and I often found my attention wandering. This story of conspiracies and revenge didn’t quite do it for me. I actually have the other books on my shelves and I will be giving them a go at some point. But for now, when I need a historical crime fiction fix, I will return to the Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom which, in my most humble opinion, is far more superior.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Book 10 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

Invisible Blood : 17 stories of murder and mystery edited by Maxim Jakubowski | @TitanBooks @Sarah_Mather_15

Author : Various, edited by Maxim Jakubowski
Title : Invisible Blood
Pages : 400
Publisher : Titan Books
Publication date : July 23, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Open the files on seventeen new crime stories to probe the brutal and complex hearts of criminals. Watch as a secretive group of intelligence community officers traces Jack Reacher’s steps through Heathrow airport in Lee Child’s “Smile”. In Mary Hoffman’s “Fallen Woman”, a journalist on the trail of a secretive drug lord gets caught up in the violent suicide of a young woman in Siena. And in Jeffrey Deaver’s “Connecting the Dots”, detectives follow the trail of clues in the brutal killing of a homeless man, wherever it may lead… Invisible Blood is a gripping collection of the compulsions of the criminal mind. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

I must admit that I’m not normally a fan of short stories because well, they’re short, and just when I feel I’m about to really sink my teeth into the story, they’re over and done with and we move on to the next one. But when Titan offered me Invisible Blood for review, I gladly accepted. I’m always looking for new crime authors and a short story collection like this one is the perfect way to discover some I’m not familiar with, or whose work I’ve never read.

So, 17 short crime stories in one go. I never know how to tackle these. Do I pick and choose? Do I start with an author I know? Or one who’s not known to me at all? Do I read from beginning to end? Never knew I could be this indecisive. As it is, I decided to just start from the beginning and a good choice that was too.

The first story is by Denise Mina, an author I’ve seen mentioned numerous times but I’ve never read any of her books. Lo and behold, her short story was one of my favourites and I’ll definitely be reading more by her in future. Lee Child pops up with a new Jack Reacher story and we also get one by one my favourite Orenda Books authors, Johana Gustawsson, that chilled me to the bone.

Short these stories may be. Some are a mere 20 pages long. But boy, do they pack a punch. My favourites were by Denise Mina, Lee Child, Johana Gustawsson and Jeffrey Deaver. The reader travels to Spain, where washing lines play an important part; to Italy on the trail of a drugs dealer; to America where a homeless man is found murdered and to the UK, where airport security is apparently flawed.

Murder, mystery and blood from seventeen fantastic crime writers all combined into one book makes Invisible Blood the perfect collection for any crime fiction fan. Or for someone like me, who’s on the look-out for new authors.

My thanks to Titan for the review copy!

Invisible Blood is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Contributing authors : Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, Stella Duffy, Lavie Tidhar, R. J. Ellory, Christopher Fowler, Lauren Henderson, Jason Starr, Stella Duffy, James Grady, Johana Gustawsson, Denise Mina, Bill Beverly, Ken Bruen, Cathi Unsworth, John Harvey, and A. K. Benedict.

Edited by Maxim Jakubowski

The Scribe by A.A. Chaudhuri | @Endeavour_Media

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Scribe by A.A. Chaudhuri! My thanks to Hannah at Endeavour for the invitation to join and for the fab review copy!

Author : A.A. Chaudhuri
Title : The Scribe
Series : Kramer & Carver #1
Pages : 311
Publisher : Endeavour Media
Publication date : July 1, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Making it as a lawyer has always been a cutthroat business.

But now that a sadistic serial killer is on the loose the consequences could prove deadly… A killer is targeting former students of The Bloomsbury Academy of Law. The victims – all female – are gruesomely butchered according to a pattern corresponding with the legal syllabus. Even more disconcerting are riddles sent by the killer to investigating officer, Chief Inspector Jake Carver, offering clues as to who is next and where they will die. 

Up-and-coming lawyer Madeline Kramer, a former classmate of a number of the slain, soon finds her life turned upside down by the savagery. And when she decides to help Carver track down the killer, she places herself in mortal danger. Can Maddy unscramble the complex riddles, and save her own life and those of others destined to die? 

| MY THOUGHTS |

A serial killer is roaming the streets and they’re on a mission. The victims this person is targeting are all female and former students of the Bloomsbury Academy of Law. Madeline Kramer finds herself smack-bang in the thick of things and decides to help detectives crack this case before more women die.

The Scribe is the first instalment in the Kramer & Carver series and does exactly what it needs to do to lay a good foundation for future books. It introduces us to the early beginnings of the working relationship between these two characters while on the hunt for quite the brutal killer.

That investigation is pretty enthralling. There’s something else that links these victims but is that why they’re being killed or is there something more sinister going on? I was completely unable to figure it out. Any ideas I came up with were more of the “that’s not going to be it” variety but the actual answer never quite came to me. Not helped by the red herrings that kept throwing me off the scent.

As far as characters go, there are quite a few fascinating and intriguing ones in this story. Chaudhuri also takes the time to introduce us to the victims before they meet their untimely deaths, which I quite liked. Some you’ll like, some you won’t but does that mean they deserve what’s coming to them? I mentioned “brutal killer”, right? Some of the murder scenes are quite graphic but somehow never gruesome.

My only little niggle was that Kramer seemed to do all the work. Sure, she’s smart and determined but she’s not a detective. It didn’t bother me that she was working with Carver, despite being a lawyer and seemingly forgetting all about her job, but sometimes I found that the solutions she came up with were things he should have figured out for himself, long before she did. Copper’s nose and all that.

All in all, The Scribe is a well-paced and well plotted serial killer thriller. Not one to overanalyse but one to be enjoyed by the pool. It’ll be interesting to see how things evolve in the next book.

The Scribe is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

A. A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer.

Once a highly ranked British junior tennis player, she went on to gain a degree in History at University College London, then trained as a solicitor and worked for several major London law firms before leaving law to pursue her passion for writing.

In addition to books featuring the feisty Maddy Kramer, she has written four stand-alone novels, including racy thriller, Illicit Retainers, and political thriller, The Darker Side of White, yet to be published.

She lives in Surrey with her family.

Found by Erin Kinsley | @KinsleyErin @headlinepg @JenRHarlow | #RandomThingsTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Found by Erin Kinsley! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

Author : Erin Kinsley
Title : Found
Pages : 368
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : July 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When 11 year old Evan vanishes without trace, his parents are plunged into their worst nightmare. 
Especially as the police, under massive pressure, have no answers.

But months later Evan is unexpectedly found, frightened and refusing to speak. His loving family realise life will never be the same again.

DI Naylor knows that unless those who took Evan are caught, other children are in danger. And with Evan silent, she must race against time to find those responsible…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Claire and Matt are faced with every parent’s worst nightmare when their son, Evan, fails to return from school. Evan was taken from a bus stop in broad daylight. With no witnesses, zero leads and a reconstruction that doesn’t provide any answers, detectives fail to move forward in their investigation.

Months go by, until Evan is unexpectedly found and returned home to his parents. But the damage has been done. Evan won’t talk, will not venture outside and hides himself away in his bedroom. Detectives are desperate to hunt down Evan’s kidnappers for fear they might strike again and kidnap another child but without Evan’s help, they don’t even know where to start.

I must say, this didn’t at all turn out the way I expected it to. This is one of those books that doesn’t quite fit into just any category. There’s the police procedural angle as the reader follows detectives on their frustrating journey to answers. But there is also more of a family drama side to this story as Evan’s family first go through the horrible period of his disappearance and then later need to deal with his return and the changes he’s undergone.

These were the chapters that are still very much at the forefront of my mind. The relationship between Evan and his granddad, especially, really got to me. It was just so warm and genuine, full of love and patience and I adored every minute they spent together. I never really considered that Found would move me as much as it did.

As harrowing as Found’s topic may be, I feel the author really managed to get events across without bombarding the reader with disturbing scene upon disturbing scene. A lot is left up to the reader’s imagination, be that a good or a bad thing. The story is chilling enough on its own, it didn’t need any added shock value and I appreciate that Erin Kinsley shied away from that and dealt with things in an incredibly sensitive way.

Found is a compelling and often devastating read, beautifully written and extremely sympathetically done. A truly impressive debut by Erin Kinsley.

Found is published in paperback format tomorrow!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Erin Kinsley is a full-time writer. She grew up in Yorkshire and currently lives in East Anglia. Now writing under a pseudonym, her previous books were published by Bloomsbury. Longlisted for the Desmond Elliot prize amongst other awards, her writing has received glowing reviews across the national press.

The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds | @amandareynoldsj @Wildfirebks | #RandomThingsTours

Delighted to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

Author : Amanda Reynolds
Title : The Hidden Wife
Pages : 382
Publisher : Wildfire
Publication date : July 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

She was young and beautiful, married to a famous author. They were celebrating their anniversary at their stunning country estate. So why did Julia Blake walk out of her perfect life, apparently leaving no trace?

Seren, a junior reporter for the local paper, can’t believe her luck when she lands an exclusive with Julia’s husband, Max. But as Seren spends more time at the couple’s remote mansion, probing ever deeper into the case, dark questions await.

What was Julia really like, behind closed doors? Was her marriage to this brooding, secretive man as perfect as it seemed? And did she really mean to disappear that night – or was she murdered? 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Junior reporter, Seren, can’t believe her luck when she’s asked to sit down for an exclusive interview with famous author Max Blake. Max’s wife, Julia, went missing nine months ago. Ever since then, Max has been living as somewhat of a recluse, hiding away in his country estate. This interview is quite the scoop for Seren and could mean a huge step up the career ladder. But the more time she spends with Max at his home, the more unsettled Seren becomes. What really happened to Julia? Did she walk away from her marriage? Or was she murdered?

Right from the start, there are so many things that tick the boxes for me. A remote mansion with various outbuildings that are hiding goodness knows what, a rich author who writes thrillers and surely knows a thing or two about hiding a body, his much MUCH younger wife who has vanished into thin air … I mean, as far as a premise goes for a mystery to be solved, it doesn’t get much better than this.

I couldn’t at all figure out what had happened to Julia. Husband Max isn’t exactly a likeable or maybe even reliable character, taking hormonal mood swings to a whole new level. All this combined naturally make him stand out as a suspect and he is the police’s main focus. And let’s not even begin to discuss his PA, Miriam, who gave me the creeps. This lovely home in this glorious setting hides a multitude of secrets, lies, deception and betrayal. The answer to the “where is Julia” question completely eluded me and Amanda Reynolds kept me guessing until the end.

Not only is Julia’s disappearance a completely mystery, Julia herself is a character we learn very little about which added that little something extra to the story. The only information we get comes from her husband, Miriam and a friend or two. But which one of those really knew her and what was she really like?

The Hidden Wife is a very atmospheric, sometimes quite claustrophobic read. Full of suspense and red herrings, this clever plot held my attention throughout. With a bunch of intriguing characters, there’s quite a bit to sink your teeth into here and that includes a rather interesting background story for Seren herself. A gripping story that once again shows you just never know what goes on behind closed doors. This is the second book I’ve read by Amanda Reynolds and I have no doubt I’ll be reading more by her in future.

The Hidden Wife will be published in paperback format on Thursday!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Amanda Reynolds lives in the Cotswolds with her family where she writes full-time.

Her debut novel, Close To Me, is a #1 e-book best- seller. The Hidden Wife is her third book.

The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman | @rowancoleman @EburyPublishing @ChloeRose1702 @elliecrisp | #RandomThingsTours #recommended

I am absolutely delighted to kick off the blog tour for The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

Author : Rowan Coleman
Title : The Girl at the Window
Pages : 464
Publisher : Ebury Publishing
Publication day : August 8, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh, be still my beating heart. What an absolutely glorious novel this is. Something about The Girl at the Window called out to me the minute I saw it mentioned on social media. Something that said I would love this story, without even really knowing what it was about. But I wasn’t prepared for just how much!

When Trudy’s husband fails to come back from a trip to Peru, she returns home with her son. But Trudy’s childhood home isn’t just any random place. Oh no! It’s Ponden Hall, a centuries old house in the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories, and one that was often visited by none other than Emily Brontë. It’s been sixteen years since Trudy last went home. Ponden Hall has fallen into disrepair and yet Trudy feels it is still the best place for her and her son to find a way to heal and maybe even somehow fix her relationship with her mother.

Just like Ponden Hall seems to have put some kind of spell on Trudy, The Girl at the Window put a spell on me. From the very fist page, I found myself utterly engrossed, almost enchanted and unable to put this novel down for even a second. It is just so immensely beautifully written, somewhat spooky, immensely moving and sometimes positively heartbreaking. I don’t often get emotional when reading a novel but I did with this one and often found it quite hard not to choke on the lump in my throat.

Part love story, part ghost story and part historical fiction, this haunting tale wormed its way into my heart and straight onto my list of “top books of the year”. These characters jumped off the pages. Highly realistic and believable, it was impossible not to go through every range of emotion with them. I’m purposefully not giving anything away about the historical part of this novel, as it’s something you need to discover for yourself but I will say, it is brilliantly done and the mysteries surrounding Ponden Hall had me truly hooked.

The Girl at the Window is magical, haunting, moving and just …. wow! I was incredibly sad to see this story coming to an end, to be honest. I felt a little bereft and would have been quite happy to spend lots more time at Ponden Hall with Trudy and her family, searching through all the nooks and crannies. For surely this great house hides many more secrets and ghosts.

I don’t think my review is doing this novel justice at all. It’s one of those special ones. One of those stories where I just can’t find the words to describe how much I loved it. A novel to treasure. Highly recommend it. I’m not sure what more I can say. Loved it! Did I mention that? ❤️

The Girl at The Window is available to buy in ebook format. The paperback will be published in August.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Rowan Coleman lives with her husband and their five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family.

Rowan’s last novel,The Summer of Impossible Things, was selected for Zoe Ball’s ITV Book Club.

Rowan has an everlasting love for the Brontes, and is a regular visitor of Ponden Hall.

What You Did by Claire McGowan | @inkstainsclaire @AmazonPub @EmmaFinnigan @damppebbles | #damppebblesblogtours

Delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for What You Did by Claire McGowan today! My thanks to Emma Welton at Damppebbles Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

Author : Claire McGowan
Title : What You Did
Pages : 308
Publisher : Thomas & Mercer
Publication date : August 1, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

It was supposed to be the perfect reunion: six university friends together again after twenty years. Host Ali finally has the life she always wanted, a career she can be proud of and a wonderful family with her college boyfriend, now husband. But that night her best friend makes an accusation so shocking that nothing will ever be the same again.

When Karen staggers in from the garden, bleeding and traumatised, she claims that she has been assaulted—by Ali’s husband, Mike. Ali must make a split-second decision: who should she believe? Her horrified husband, or her best friend? With Mike offering a very different version of events, Ali knows one of them is lying—but which? And why?

When the ensuing chaos forces her to re-examine the golden era the group shared at university, Ali realises there are darker memories too. Memories that have lain dormant for decades. Memories someone would kill to protect.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Hoo, boy! Talk about a book you can’t put down!

Six university friends meet up for a reunion after twenty years. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before in another book review but it bears repeating : reunions are bad! Nothing ever goes the way you think it will. We’re not just talking about people changing, having nothing in common anymore, petty jealousies and the like. Oh no, this reunion right here is a total disaster!

It all starts when Karen staggers in from the garden, traumatised and bleeding, saying she’s been raped. Bad enough. But Karen claims her attacker is none other than her best friend Ali’s husband, Mike. Who should Karen believe? Her best friend who’s always been there for her? Or her husband who’s given her more than she ever could have imagined?

I rather quickly came up with a theory but I was left to second-guess myself at every turn throughout the story. It didn’t help that I didn’t particularly liked Karen and was unsure whether I could trust her version of events. That seemed rather apt though, considering Ali’s standpoint. She works for a Women’s Refuge, has experience in the field of domestic abuse and dealing with rape victims and yet, it was fascinating to see her doubts, to see her almost go against everything she stands for because things are just so different when they involve people you know and love.

To get a feel for the dynamics in these friendships, we are also taken back to the nineties, when the six friends were at university. But there are darker memories, things that suddenly look rather different now and an accumulation of bad decisions that may just come back to haunt Ali and her friends.

Full of secrets, lies and deceit, my loyalties kept shifting. It’s just impossible to determine which one of these friends can be trusted. From the very first page, What You Did is extremely addictive and utterly compelling. Claire McGowan has delivered a truly clever plot and a fantastic page turner. This is definitely one to read in one glorious sitting, if you can! And just when you think it’s all over, there’s a delightful little sting in its tail. This is often such a tricky genre but I think Claire McGowan nailed it. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I can’t wait to read more by her!

What You Did will be published on August 1st.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Hive | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Born in Northern Ireland in 1981, Claire McGowan studied in Oxford, then lived overseas in France and China. She is the author of standalone thriller The Fall, and the Paula Maguire series, including The Lost, The Dead Ground, The Silent Dead, A Savage Hunger, Blood Tide, and The Killing House. The Paula Maguire series was optioned by the BBC in 2014. A ten-part radio drama written by Claire was broadcast on Radio 4 in early 2019, and as a screenwriter she was selected as the 2017/18 Nickelodeon International Writing Fellow.

Claire set up the Crime Thriller Writing MA at City University, London, and has also taught for the Arvon Foundation, Guardian Masterclasses and at many literary festivals.

As Eva Woods, she has published four women’s fiction novels, including the bestselling How To Be Happy.