Someone We Know by Shari Lapena | @TransworldBooks | #20BooksOfSummer

Author : Shari Lapena
Title : Someone We Know
Pages : 309
Publisher : Bantam Press / Transworld
Publication date : July 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Maybe you don’t know your neighbours as well as you thought you did

“This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much. My son broke into your home recently while you were out.” 

In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses – and into the owners’ computers as well – learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets? 

In this neighborhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide . . .

You never really know what people are capable of.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Someone We Know is one of those books you pick up to read just a chapter or two and before you know it, your entire afternoon is gone. It’s something Shari Lapena does incredibly well, creating this level of suspense that makes you flip the pages faster as you go and thus completely lose track of time.

A quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York will not be quiet for much longer. It’s all happening here. Not only has a teenage boy been breaking into houses to snoop and mess around with computers, one of the neighbours is found murdered. And once again this all proves we never know what goes on behind closed doors. Who killed this woman? What did the teenage boy find? Is he in danger too?

True to form, this neighbourhood and its residents hide a multitude of secrets that are slowly revealed as we follow various characters trying to get on with their lives and keep those secrets hidden, while detectives investigating the murder are doing all they can to uncover every little piece of dirty laundry. You may be thinking to yourself you’ve heard this premise a lot lately and you’d be right. A murder in a nice community, it’s not exactly new. But if you think you’ll know what to expect from this one, odds are you’ll be wrong.

Someone We Know reads like a good old-fashioned murder mystery. There are some twists, of course, but they are not there to dazzle you, which is hugely refreshing. I did figure out quite early on “whodunnit” but that didn’t ruin my reading experience at all. I had to keep reading to see if I was right and there were still a few surprises in store for me.

Another thoroughly enjoyable read from Shari Lapena, although I must admit to having a niggle or two relating to one specific character that has left me with unanswered questions. I’m not one of those readers who always wants everything wrapped up nicely in a bow at the end of a book but here it bothered me somewhat. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you read the book. Which you most definitely should. It’s only the second book I’ve read by this author but I have no doubt there will be more.

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

Book 14 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor | @melaniecantor @TransworldBooks | #blogtour #bookreview #RandomThingsTours

Delighted to join the blog tour for Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my beautiful review copy!

Author : Melanie Cantor
Title : Death and Other Happy Endings
Pages : 300
Publisher : Bantam Press
Publication date : June 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Jennifer Cole has just been told that she has a terminal blood disease. She has three months to live — ninety days to say goodbye to friends and family and put her affairs in order. Trying to focus on the positives (at least she’ll never lose her teeth) Jennifer realises she has one overriding regret: the words she’s left unsaid. 

Rather than pursuing a frantic bucket list, she chooses to stay put, and write letters to three significant people in her life: her overbearing, selfish sister, her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend finally telling them the things she’s always wanted to say but never dared.

At first, Jennifer feels cleansed by her catharsis. Liberated, even. But once you start telling the truth, it’s hard to stop. And, as she soon discovers, the truth isn’t always as straightforward as it seems, and death has a way of surprising you. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Something somewhat different on my blog today. Far removed from all the crime fiction and psychological thrillers I tend to read, it was the book description for Death and Other Happy Endings that immediately appealed to me. Who doesn’t just want to let go and really tell people what you think of them?

Jennifer Cole is told she has an incurable disease and only has three months left to live. What would you do? Pull out a bucket list and cram as much as you can into those ninety days you have left? Or take a good, long look at the life you’ve led so far; the good and the bad? Jennifer decides this is the perfect time to write letters to her ex-husband, her ex-boyfriend and her sister. Three people who have been immensely significant in her life, but who have also let her down and maybe Jennifer has let them get away with just that little bit too much. Finally, she feels the time has come to tell them how she really feels about them. After all, she’s dying and won’t have to face the consequences, right? But there are a few surprises in store.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this story would be absolutely depressing but I promise you, it’s really not. A lot of that down is to the character of Jennifer, who is absolutely delightful. From the very first page, I already knew I was going to love her to bits. As heartbreaking as the news about her diagnosis is, there was something about her personality that immediately drew me to her. Even while sitting in the doctor’s office, receiving bad news, she somehow managed to make me laugh.

It’s remarkably easy to imagine the feeling of liberation Jennifer has when she finally posts the three letters. It almost made me feel slightly jealous, thinking I too would love to tell some people a few home truths. Although preferably without a death sentence hanging over my head. Why is it that we often don’t or wait until it’s too late?

Death and Other Happy Endings is a moving, yet witty and heartwarming story about relationships, friendships, life and regrets. I absolutely adored this book. I found it immensely enjoyable and entertaining, yet also quite thought-provoking. This is a truly delightful debut from Melanie Cantor and I would have absolutely no problem shoving my crime fiction and thrillers aside to read more by her.

Death and Other Happy Endings is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Melanie Cantor was a celebrity agent and publicist for over thirty years. Her clients included Ulrika Jonsson, Melinda Messenger and Melanie Sykes. 

In 2004, she hosted a makeover show on Channel 4 called Making Space and in 2017 having just turned 60 she was scouted on Kings Cross station, subsequently appearing as a ‘real model’ in the most recent Dove campaign. 

She turned her hand to writing in 2008. Death and other Happy Endings is her first published novel.

The Rumour by Lesley Kara | @LesleyKara @TransworldBooks | #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #TheRumour

I’m absolutely delighted to join the blog tour for The Rumour by Lesley Kara today! My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my brilliant review copy! Make sure to also check out my dear friend Karen’s review over at My Reading Corner!

Author : Lesley Kara
Title : The Rumour
Pages : 320
Publisher : Bantam Press / Transworld Books
Publication date : December 27, 2018 (hardcover)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

| MY THOUGHTS |

A disturbing backstory and the controversial topic of convicted child killers living a normal life set the scene for this chilling psychological thriller. Who are these people, hiding behind new identities? They walk amongst us at the shops, frequent the same restaurants or even babysit our children. Is there any thought more frightening than that?

Rumour has it convicted child killer Sally McGowan has been living in the small town of Flinstead-on-Sea. Sally was just ten years old when she stabbed a little boy to death. That was almost fifty years ago and there have been no sightings of her. Nobody knows what Sally looks like as an adult. Could she really be living in this quiet area? Just a little gossip at the school gates quickly takes a rather more sinister turn when Joanna passes the rumour on at her book club. 

And just like that, I found myself in the middle of a tangled web that messed with my head like crazy. It felt like getting lost in a maze and needing bread crumbs to find my way back out again. The list of suspects I put together was almost as long as my arm and I couldn’t figure out at all who to trust. If anyone. It seemed like just about everyone had something to hide and poor Joanna soon wishes she had just kept her mouth shut.

The “this kept me guessing until the end” is sometimes rather overused and I’m guilty of that myself but with this novel, it’s incredibly apt. It’s incredibly refreshing not to see things coming a mile away. Lesley Kara managed to outwit me at every turn, making me suspect everyone and The Rumour left me almost breathless as the pace and tension built up.

Full of intriguing and complex characters, brilliantly written and intensely gripping, The Rumour is one of those books that is just perfect for one glorious reading session. A highly addictive page-turner with an impending sense of doom that ultimately leads to an incredibly chilling conclusion.

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that The Rumour managed to sneak in on my list of favourite books of the year as a last minute addition and this remarkably exciting debut by Lesley Kara has me eagerly awaiting what she comes up with next

The Rumour is available in ebook format now! The hardcover will be published on December 27th, with the paperback to follow in July.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She completed an English degree and PGCE at Greenwich University, having previously worked as a nurse and a secretary, and then became a lecturer and manager in Further Education.

Lesley has relocated to a small town on the North Essex coast, where she is currently working on her second novel.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

My Top 20 Favourite Reads of 2018

What an absolutely amazing year for books it has been! 

Just like last year, I thought splitting things up between series and stand-alones would help narrow down the list but nope. A Top 10 was never going to happen here. Despite the fact that my reading mojo was up and down like a bloody yo-yo all year, I still managed to read 250 books. Sure, that’s 50 less than last year but do I care? Clue : no, I don’t 😉

Anyway, I present to you My Top 20 Favourite (stand-alone) Reads of 2018. With apologies to the authors/books I had to drop from the list.

In no particular order, except for the Top 5, here we go!

Phoebe Locke – The Tall Man [my review]
Louise Voss – The Old You [my review]
Linwood Barclay – A Noise Downstairs [my review]
Mark Edwards – The Retreat [my review]

Ane Riel – Resin [no review]
Joanna Cannon – Three Things About Elsie [no review]
Gillian McAllister – No Further Questions [my review]
Shari Lapena – An Unwanted Guest [my review]

Lesley Kara – The Rumour [review to follow]
Karin Slaughter – Pieces of Her [my review]
SJI Holliday – The Lingering [my review]
Elly Griffiths – The Stranger Diaries [review to follow]

Gill Paul – The Lost Daughter [my review]
Louise Beech – The Lion Tamer Who Lost [my review]
Rachel Rhys – Fatal Inheritance [my review]

Top 5

5. C.J. Tudor – The Chalk Man [my review]
4. Ruth Ware – The Death of Mrs Westaway [my review]
3. Liz Nugent – Skin Deep [my review]
2. Elizabeth Haynes – The Murder of Harriet Monckton [my review]

My favourite book of the year is …

I don’t think this comes as a huge surprise. When I read this back in February, I said it would take something insanely special to knock this off the top spot. Skin Deep and Harriet Monckton came awfully close but in the end, “Agatha Christie on crack” won out. [my review]

A massive thank you to all the authors, publishers and Netgalley for making 2018 so spectacular! And to you, my fellow bloggers and readers, huge thanks for the support, for visiting and for commenting! ❤️

This Week in Books (November 28)

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

People always notice my daughter, Isobel. How could they not? Extraordinarily beautiful… until she speaks. 

An unsettling, little-girl voice, exactly like a child’s, but from the mouth of a full-grown woman. 

Izzie might look grown-up, but inside she’s trapped. Caught in the day it happened… the day that broke her from within. Our family fell apart that day, and we never could pick up the pieces.

The book I’m currently reading

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back.

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

What I’m (possibly) reading next

It’s true what they say . . . revenge is sweet. 

1975 
A baby, minutes old, is forcibly taken from its devastated mother. 

2010 
The body of an elderly woman is found in a Dublin public park in the depths of winter.

Detective Inspector Tom Reynolds is on the case. He’s convinced the murder is linked to historical events that took place in the notorious Magdalene Laundries. Reynolds and his team follow the trail to an isolated convent in the Irish countryside. But once inside, it becomes disturbingly clear that the killer is amongst them . . . and is determined to exact further vengeance for the sins of the past.

The Rumour marks the end of my blog tour commitments for the year. Woohoo! Time to delve into my own TBR and Jo Spain’s Tom Reynolds series is the first one I’ve decided to catch up on. 

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

This Week in Books (October 17)

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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

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Ireland, 1901: For as long as six-year-old Cissy Ryan can remember, she has been a workhouse girl. Living amongst the other orphan boys and girls, dreaming of a family that might come and choose her for their own.

But the day her real mammy finally comes to claim her is not how Cissy imagined. An unfamiliar woman takes her to a tumbledown cottage in the rural Irish countryside to meet her gruff granddaddy. Settling into the isolated and poverty-stricken village is tough. But Cissy’s blossoming friendship with Colm Doyle and his horse Blue show Cissy the kindness and laughter is possible, even in the hardest of times.

As Cissy grows up, she finds that the world around her is ever changing. When she goes to work at prestigious Bretton Hall, she begins to realise that not everyone has an honest heart…

The book I’m currently reading

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Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient spiritual commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

What I’m (probably) reading next

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It is 1868, and a 22-year-old Bram Stoker has locked himself inside an abbey’s tower to face off against a vile and ungodly beast. He is armed with mirrors and crucifixes and holy water and a gun – and is kept company by a bottle of plum brandy. His fervent prayer is that he will survive this one night – a night that will prove to be the longest of his life.

Desperate to leave a record of what he has witnessed, the young man scribbles out the events that brought him to this point – and tells an extraordinary tale of childhood illness, a mysterious nanny, and stories once thought to be fables now proven true.

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I may be a tad excited about my week. What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx