I Am Dust by Louise Beech | @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks | #IAmDust #recommended

Author : Louise Beech
Title : I Am Dust
Pages : 340
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 16, 2020 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Let me just tell you up front that this review, if I can even call it that, will not do this novel any justice at all as Louise Beech’s novels always leave me speechless. I Am Dust is one of those stories that left me in need of a breather, some time to reflect, to let it all sink in before even trying to compile thoughts and put words to what I was feeling. But as I start writing this review, I’m still very much speechless and the only word my brain seems to be able to come up with is WOW.

One of the many joys in picking up a book by Louise Beech is that you never know what to expect. This extremely talented author criss-crosses and combines genres like no other. The one thing you CAN always count on is truly glorious and beautiful writing. And quite possibly the need for tissues at some point or other.

I didn’t read the book description so all the information I had to go on was right there on the stunning jacket of my proof copy. (Which I just realised you can’t see on the cover I used on top of the page)

A haunted theatre, a murdered actress, three cursed teenagers, a secret that devastates them all …

Little else was needed for me to be absolutely sold on this book from the get-go. A psychological thriller then? And maybe, just maybe, no tissues required this time around? Ha! It becomes clear quite quickly that no, of course this isn’t going to be your typical run-of-the-mill psychological thriller. This is Louise Beech after all!

Twenty years ago, actress Morgan Miller was found dead in her dressing room at the Dean Wilson Theatre during the run of the musical Dust. Rumour has it she’s been haunting the theatre ever since, looking for her killer. Now, the theatre’s most successful play is making a comeback. But who would want to take on the iconic role of Esme Black? As a fan of the original Dust musical and now working as a theatre usher, Chloe Dee is right in the thick of things.

Ah, the bright lights of the stage. Yet, this story isn’t all glamour and glitter. Definitely not for a theatre usher and I truly enjoyed seeing things from Chloe’s perspective. Her uniform, the jobs she needs to do, the way she’s almost invisible to the audience. It all stands in stark contrast to the adoration the actors receive.

I Am Dust is a haunting tale of jealousy and ambition with a dose of teenage angst, unrequited love and a dash of witchcraft. I found myself utterly mesmerised by all of it, as if I was under a spell. Immensely gripping, hugely addictive and fabulously atmospheric, this novel just swept me off my feet from the very first page and I wasn’t at all able to put it down. Without giving anything away, there is a sense of foreboding throughout. That feeling you get when you just know things will probably not end well but I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out.

I see it as a personal challenge not to reach for the tissues when I read one of Louise’s books and I was convinced I was going to nail that particular challenge this time around. But no. Sucker-punched in the final pages, right there in the feels, as the kids would say? Check! I swear she does it on purpose. Reaching the end of this wonderful story, flipping that final page and realising there was no more, I felt quite bereft. I was sad to say goodbye to these characters, sad that their stories had reached their conclusions, sad that the magic spell had been broken and I found my two feet planted firmly back into reality again.

Louise Beech is an author who needs to be on everyone’s bookshelves. She’s an author who leaves everything on the page and as a reader you feel it from the top of your head to the tips of your toes but mostly, way deep down in your heart. I absolutely loved this book and you can rest assured you’ll be seeing it again on my list of “books of the year”.

Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for the stunning review copy!

I Am Dust will be published in ebook format on February 16th, with the UK paperback to follow in April.

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

Beast by Matt Wesolowski | @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks | #recommended

Author : Matt Wesolowski
Title : Beast
Series : Six Stories #4
Pages : 242
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 6, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

In the wake of the “Beast from the East” cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger Elizabeth Barton had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as “The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged “cult,” were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a “prank gone wrong.” However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses—people who knew both the victim and the three killers—to peer beneath the surface of the case.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Goodness gracious me. What do they put in Matt Wesolowski’s food?!

Another year, another episode in the absolutely brilliant Six Stories series. If you’re not reading this series, I’m judging you like you wouldn’t believe. And if this fourth book in the series doesn’t get under your skin and make you think about the truly warped-up world we live in these days, there is something really wrong with you.

Scott King, our not-so-much-elusive-anymore online podcaster, travels to the, quite frankly, utterly miserable town or Ergarth to delve in to the case of Elizabeth Barton’s death. Elizabeth was twenty-four years old and a successful and popular vlogger when she was found murdered inside, what locals refer to as, The Vampire Tower. Three young men were found guilty of her murder. The “who” seems to have been solved, but what about the “why”?

Murder, a vampire legend and a young dead woman at the centre of it all. It has all the ingredients of a gripping thriller right there, doesn’t it? But there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Beast is a story of hidden truths, of secrets, of labels and masks and more than anything, of the most horrific manipulation and Matt Wesolowski once again manages to prove that the monsters we all fear are sadly very much real. It brings to the fore the power some people are able to exert over others, the power of social media and the growing dangers of modern society’s almost unhealthy obsession with “likes” and “followers”, while all the while showing that most people will only see what they want to see.

Obviously I don’t want to give anything away but there is something to be said for an author who somehow makes a reader feel compassion for those who at first glance don’t seem to deserve it. Beast is immensely compelling and a true page-turner with each of the six stories and points-of-view giving the reader an opportunity to try and figure out for themselves what went on in the tower that night and why. I had a bit of an inkling but the truth ended up being far more devastating than I could ever have imagined and at the end of this thrilling ride, what I was left with the most, was this overwhelming feeling of sadness.

This is one of those series that just keeps getting better and better. With impeccable writing, believable characters and folklore combined with a modern scenario, there is so much to love about Beast. Dark, disturbing and thought-provoking, Beast is an impressive addition to the series; a must-read like its predecessors, and you’d better believe you’ll be seeing this book on my list of “books of the year” in December. Just outstanding! Way to kick off my year in style, Mr. Wesolowski. I can’t wait for more!

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my fabulous review copy!

Beast is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published in February.

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

Black Summer by M.W. Craven | @MWCravenUK @TheCrimeVault @bethwright26| #blogtour #BlackSummer

One of my books of the summer (and of the year, but that’s a story for another day) will be published in paperback next week with a shiny, and quite bloody, new cover. Black Summer is the follow-up to The Puppet Show and I insist you read this series … or else 😉. Anyway, I’m re-sharing my review as part of the paperback blog tour and I hope you’ll all be convinced that you really need to meet Tilly and Poe!

Author : M.W. Craven
Title : Black Summer
Series : Washington Poe #2
Pages : 388
Publisher : Constable / Little Brown UK
Publication date : December 12, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Black Summer is the second book in the Washington Poe series and I’ll say right now that it’s even better than its predecessor. I never reviewed The Puppet Show on my blog because the sheer awesomeness blew me away and I couldn’t find the words to describe all the feels, as the youngsters would say. Ever since I finished reading that one, I’ve been impatiently awaiting its follow-up and here it is. This time, I’m determined to get some half-decent sentences on paper and try to convince you that, yes, you DO absolutely need a new series in your life.

Celebrated chef Jared Keaton is serving a life sentence for the murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. But Elizabeth’s body was never found. So when a young woman walks into a remote police station declaring she is Elizabeth, it looks like Jared will be released. Washington Poe suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the investigation. Determined to find out the truth, he enlists the help of the only person he trusts, the absolutely fabulous Tilly Bradshaw. The question they need to answer is a real conundrum. How can someone be both alive and dead at the same time?

Fair warning. Black Summer kicks off with a rather gruesome event at a restaurant. It’s not a brutal murder scene, in case you wondered. It’s a dish that is served, which made me gag. I also made the horrible mistake of googling to see if it was a real thing. Stupid me. It’s things like that, that give me nightmares, people! Shudder.

Anywho! From that opening scene, we go back in time, when two weeks prior Elizabeth reappears. And just like that, we’re off on a ridiculously tense and gripping journey with a manipulative psychopath at the helm. I couldn’t at all figure out what was going on. While I had some theories, I just couldn’t make them stick, which was rather apt because that was also Poe’s problem. He’s quite convinced he knows the score, he just can’t seem to find the proof he so desperately needs.

A fascinating investigation to keep you hooked from start to finish but what really makes this series stand out is the truly delightful relationship between Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw. Tilly herself is a joy but it’s her interactions with Poe and others that really make her shine and allow for some comic relief in between all the gore, murder and mayhem.

I don’t know about being Team Poe or Team Tilly, the decision is too hard, but I am most definitely Team Craven! Black Summer is immensely compelling, a delicious page-turner and it’s undoubtedly left me wanting more. Make some room on your shelves for this one! You won’t regret it!

Black Summer is available to buy! And while you’re checking that one out, do have a look at book 3, The Curator, which you can (and should!) preorder.

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

The Home by Sarah Stovell | @sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks | #recommended

Author : Sarah Stovell
Title : The Home
Pages : 303
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : November 28, 2019 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When the body of pregnant, 15-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away. 

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking revelations and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh …. goodness gracious me. Devastating doesn’t even begin to cover it. Wow!

It’s been a while since Sarah Stovell’s last offering, Exquisite, and while I thoroughly enjoyed that one when I read it, I’m just going to go right ahead and say that The Home is on a completely different level and most definitely worth the wait!

On Christmas morning, the body of a fifteen year old girl is discovered in a churchyard. Hope was a resident at The Home, a place where three young girls lived. Three girls who have been severely affected by violent and disturbing pasts. But what happened to Hope?

I wasn’t at all able to figure out what happened to Hope and to be honest, I wasn’t even really trying. I became so utterly absorbed by these girls’ lives that solving that particular mystery almost became secondary. Despite knowing what happened to Hope, I oddly found myself wishing for a happy ending throughout, which is a credit to Sarah Stovell’s amazing writing.

This incredibly powerful story about the lives of Hope, Annie and Lara will get under your skin and will be impossible to forget. These three girls are so realistic and believable, they almost jump from the pages and you want to reach in and help them in any way you can. It was abundantly clear to me from the very first pages that this book would leave me completely and utterly broken and it did. It is so extremely dark, brutal and raw that I often couldn’t decide if I should keep reading or maybe take a break, have a breather and trawl YouTube for some funny clips.

It should almost go without saying that this is one incredibly uncomfortable book to read. It’s harrowing, it is insanely disturbing, it is shocking. It’s positively heartbreaking but also immensely gripping and compelling. It hurts, people. It’s really, really painful in that way where it feels someone has reached into the very core of you, pulled out your heart and stomped all over it. And yet there is also a sliver of hope and love throughout, amidst all this darkness.

The Home will draw you in from the start and not let go. It will haunt you and linger in your mind for eternity. It will leave you with a lump in your throat and it will make you admire Sarah Stovell for tackling such hard topics in the most exquisite (see what I did there?) way possible.

I have no more words left. Completely and utterly broken. 😭

Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy!

The Home will be available to buy in ebook format next week. The UK paperback will be published in January.

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

Black Summer by M.W. Craven | @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK | #bookreview #recommended #20BooksofSummer

Author : M.W. Craven
Title : Black Summer
Series : Washington Poe #2
Pages : 388
Publisher : Constable / Little Brown UK
Publication date : June 20, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Black Summer is the second book in the Washington Poe series and I’ll say right now that it’s even better than its predecessor. I never reviewed The Puppet Show on my blog because the sheer awesomeness blew me away and I couldn’t find the words to describe all the feels, as the youngsters would say. Ever since I finished reading that one, I’ve been impatiently awaiting its follow-up and here it is. This time, I’m determined to get some half-decent sentences on paper and try to convince you that, yes, you DO absolutely need a new series in your life.

Celebrated chef Jared Keaton is serving a life sentence for the murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. But Elizabeth’s body was never found. So when a young woman walks into a remote police station declaring she is Elizabeth, it looks like Jared will be released. Washington Poe suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the investigation. Determined to find out the truth, he enlists the help of the only person he trusts, the absolutely fabulous Tilly Bradshaw. The question they need to answer is a real conundrum. How can someone be both alive and dead at the same time?

Fair warning. Black Summer kicks off with a rather gruesome event at a restaurant. It’s not a brutal murder scene, in case you wondered. It’s a dish that is served, which made me gag. I also made the horrible mistake of googling to see if it was a real thing. Stupid me. It’s things like that, that give me nightmares, people! Shudder.

Anywho! From that opening scene, we go back in time, when two weeks prior Elizabeth reappears. And just like that, we’re off on a ridiculously tense and gripping journey with a manipulative psychopath at the helm. I couldn’t at all figure out what was going on. While I had some theories, I just couldn’t make them stick, which was rather apt because that was also Poe’s problem. He’s quite convinced he knows the score, he just can’t seem to find the proof he so desperately needs.

A fascinating investigation to keep you hooked from start to finish but what really make this series stand out is the truly delightful relationship between Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw. Tilly herself is a joy but it’s her interactions with Poe and others that really make her shine and allow for some comic relief in between all the gore, murder and mayhem.

I don’t know about being Team Poe or Team Tilly, the decision is too hard, but I am most definitely Team Craven! Black Summer is immensely compelling, a delicious page-turner and it’s undoubtedly left me wanting more. Make some room on your shelves for this one! You won’t regret it!

Black Summer is available to buy!

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

Book 5 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter | @KarinSlaughter @HarperCollins | #20BooksofSummer #recommended

Author : Karin Slaughter
Title : The Last Widow
Series : Will Trent #9
Pages : 448
Publisher : Harper Collins
Publication date : June 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

A mysterious kidnapping

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor. 

A devastating explosion

One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy

Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves.

| MY THOUGHTS |

After a three year hiatus, Will Trent is back and I couldn’t be more excited if I tried! The Last Widow is the ninth instalment in this series but it can be read perfectly as a stand-alone. Karin Slaughter manages really well to give new readers sufficient background on these characters, while giving older fans a bit of a refresher course.

If you’re new to my blog, or you just haven’t been paying attention, you may not know I am a huge Karin Slaughter fan. I’ll read whatever she writes, to be honest. I’ve been following the Will Trent series from the very beginning and it’s one of those series that just keeps getting better and better, while Karin Slaughter’s writing gets even more taught and sharp with each book. One of the things I really like about her, is that she doesn’t shy away from the tough and hard-hitting topics and The Last Widow definitely has one of those.

A series of events put Will and Sara’s lives in danger. First, a scientist from the Centers of Disease Control is kidnapped in broad daylight. Then, a month later, one of Atlanta’s busiest neighbourhoods is rocked by two explosions. As Will and Sara both work for law enforcement, they run towards the danger in order to offer any help they can. But that decision has devastating consequences when Sara is abducted.

Cue heart pounding, clammy hands and the need to take a break from time to time because the tension was so high, I almost forgot to breathe!

The Last Widow isn’t an easy story to read. It often made me feel extremely uncomfortable and it should have done, considering the topics that are dealt with here. White supremacy, pedophilia, child abuse, all the worst things man could possibly get up to; it’s all here, hidden away in a remote location in the Appalachian Mountains where the leader of a cult has zero good intentions. You know deep down things won’t end well, you can feel it in your bones but nothing can prepare for the devastation.

This is Karin Slaughter at her best. Yes, there was a bit at the beginning that slightly puzzled me. Certain events played out from both Sara and Will’s point of view and while I could totally understand why it was done that way, it was also somewhat repetitive. But that little niggle aside, The Last Widow is an absolute corker of a book. The wait for Will Trent to return was most definitely worth it. This story made me angry, it made me sad and throughout it all, you can feel Will’s desperation and helplessness, his fear but also his determination and resolve to do whatever it takes to save Sara. I’m not normally one for romantic shenanigans in my crime fiction but these two? Aaww. They have such a delightful, yet complicated relationship and I can’t help but root for them all the way.

Karin Slaughter firmly keeps her top spot on my list of favourite authors. She can truly do no wrong in my eyes and I absolutely can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Be it another book in the Will Trent series or a stand-alone, I’ll be right there at the front of the line, using my elbows.

The Last Widow is available to buy!

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

Book 4 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

The Whisper Man by Alex North | @writer_north @MichaelJBooks | #blogtour #bookreview #TheWhisperMan #recommended

Thrilled to bits to host a stop on the blog tour for The Whisper Man by Alex North today! My thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for the opportunity to join and for the fab review copy!

Author : Alex North
Title : The Whisper Man
Pages : 400
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : June 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

| MY THOUGHTS |

If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken. 
If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home. 
If your windows left unlatched, you’ll hear him tapping at the glass. 
If you’re lonely, sad, and blue the Whisper Man will come for you.

Oh. My. Word.

Say hello to what will possibly end up being my Book of the Year! Yes, I realise it’s only June, which is why I say “possibly”. But I tell you right now, it’s going to take something extraordinary to topple The Whisper Man off that number spot. As soon as I saw this book mentioned on social media, I knew I had to read it. There was just something about the cover and the book description that immediately said “this is the book for you, Eva”. Yes, it knew my name. 😉 My expectations were sky high but within the first few pages, I already knew those expectations would be met. However, I was not entirely prepared for those expectations to be exceeded and then some!

Tom Kennedy is looking for a fresh start for himself and his young son after the sudden death of his wife, Rebecca. New beginnings in a new house in a village called Featherbank. Little does Tom know that Featherbank hides a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer kidnapped and murdered five children. That serial killer, known as the whisper man, is behind bars. But Tom and Jake barely have time to settle in, when another child goes missing and Jake begins to act quite strangely.

Goodness me, I don’t even know where to start. Gripping and compelling? Absolutely! Creepy and chilling? Yes! Addictive and clever? Totally! It is all that and so much more because there is a level of depth to The Whisper Man that you don’t always find in crime fiction thrillers and that’s what makes it stand out already. This story isn’t just about missing children and a serial killer. There are multi-layered and complex characters that struggle with a variety of issues, who pulled me in right from the beginning and didn’t let go. Cleverly plotted and brilliantly written, I was hooked from the very first page, flipping the pages faster and faster, utterly absorbed by the suspense and mystery. And sometimes also somewhat disgusted by human behaviour.

The Whisper Man is the kind of book any crime thriller fan dreams of. It made my skin crawl, it’s sometimes heartbreaking, it’s dark and twisty and just mind-blowingly fabulous! I’m not all surprised to learn that movie rights have already been sold.

Buy this book! Read this book! It could quite possibly indeed be the crime thriller of the year. It undoubtedly deserves to be. I can’t recommend it enough and you will most definitely be seeing this book again in my list of books of the year. Well played, Alex North! I’d like some more now, please!

The Whisper Man is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Alex North was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department.

Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary | @sarah_hilary @headlinepg @annecater | #blogtour #bookreview #recommended #mustread #DIMarnieRome #RandomThingsTours

Beyond thrilled to kick off the blog tour for Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary alongside Anne Cater today! Huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my fabulous review copy!

Author : Sarah Hilary
Title : Never Be Broken
Series : DI Marnie Rome #6
Pages : 368
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : May 16, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost. 

Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.

DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Blessed are the hearts that bend; they shall never be broken.

I am broken though. Just … WOW!

Never Be Broken is sadly extremely realistic, believable and apt in this day and age. Children are dying on London’s streets and the whiteboard at DI Marnie Rome’s precinct is covered in photographs of young victims. Then, another teenager finds herself on the wrong side of a knife. Raphaela comes from a rich background and is white, and suddenly everyone sits up and takes notice. DS Noah Jake is determined to solve every single case on the whiteboard but he is struggling.

Never Be Broken shows the raw and harsh reality of living on the streets of London. Beyond the bright lights and the beautiful tourist spots, this is a city full of drugs, racism and violence. Police seem to be unable to make much of a difference, no matter how hard they want to. Yet throughout it all, the author’s love for the city manages to shine through.

This is at times quite a painful read. There’s no way the fate of the victims and the suffering of those they leave behind can leave you cold. But there’s also Noah, who’s having a hard time coming to terms with the death of his brother Sol. My heart was absolutely breaking for him. I just wanted to wrap him up in a tight hug. Despite his grief being hard to see, I thought Sarah Hilary handled that whole topic quite brilliantly.

There are some super tense chapters that almost brought tears to my eyes, that made my heart pound and my hands all clammy. This is a dark story, immensely gritty, compelling, captivating and gripping but also one of hope for better days and one of the toughest things to achieve : forgiveness. For those who’ve done you wrong but also for yourself.

Please tell me you are reading this series. It’s been absolutely outstanding from the very beginning and I don’t know how she does it, but Sarah Hilary manages to outdo herself time and time again, bringing each book in this series to whole other level. At the risk of repeating myself, because I’m pretty sure I say this every time, this is the best one in the series yet and Sarah Hilary is an author who deserves all the praise. She continues to impress me with her remarkable storylines, utterly brilliant character development and fantastic writing. There are so many lines I could quote but I won’t because I’d be here all day and obviously you just need to read this book (and the rest of the series) for yourself.

I’ve had a ridiculously hard time getting my thoughts in order. This is one of those books that managed to get completely under my skin, making me go through a whole range of emotions and writing this review seemed like an impossible task when all I really wanted to say was “WOW! Read this now!” and leave it at that. Do yourself a massive favour and pick this up, along with the rest of the series if you haven’t done so already. I promise you from the bottom of my heart, you will not regret it!

Never Be Broken will be published on Thursday, May 16th but you can, and should, preorder it now!

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Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Sarah Hilary’s debut novel, SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year and was a World Book Night selection. The Observer’s Book of the Month (“superbly disturbing”) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. NO OTHER DARKNESS, the second in the series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series continues with TASTES LIKE FEAR (2016) QUIETER THAN KILLING (2017) COME AND FIND ME (2018) and NEVER BE BROKEN (2019).

Follow Sarah on Twitter

No Way Out by Cara Hunter | @CaraHunterBooks @EllieeHud @PenguinUKBooks | #blogtour #bookreview #NoWayOut #recommended #must-read

Thrilled to bits to join the blog tour for No Way Out by Cara Hunter today! My thanks to Ellie at Viking for the invitation to join and for the fab review copy!

Author : Cara Hunter
Title : No Way Out
Series : DI Adam Fawley #3
Pages : 360
Publisher : Viking / Penguin
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.

Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.

Because this fire wasn’t an accident.

It was murder.

| MY THOUGHTS |

If you’re sitting there wondering if you need another crime fiction series in your life, the answer is “yes” and this right here is that series.

Set in Oxford, No Way Out is the third instalment in the DI Adam Fawley series and it is utterly chilling from the get-go as we follow a firefighter via the camera on his helmet during a fire at the home of the Esmond family. Two young children are pulled from the wreckage. Matty Esmond is fighting for his life but his toddler brother is found dead. There is no sign of their parents. Were the children left in the house alone? Their father was supposed to be attending a conference but why isn’t he answering his phone? When new evidence is discovered, DI Adam Fawley soon realises this fire was not an accident.

Some of the chapters are set before the fire that wrecked the Esmond family home and if those were supposed to have any clues, I completely missed them. Cara Hunter incorporates newspaper articles, emails and fire investigation reports throughout the story, giving the whole thing a truly realistic touch. Things are not as straight forward as you might first expect and there are plenty of twists, turns and dead ends leading DI Adam Fawley and his team to frustration.

Speaking of the team, due to events in the previous book one of the team members finds himself demoted to DC, while another is promoted to acting DS. Could there be trouble? Meanwhile Adam himself is struggling with personal issues that may or may not interfere with his ability to do his job. I thoroughly enjoy the balance Cara Hunter achieves between Adam’s job and his personal life. Especially during this investigation because, if you’ve read the previous books, then you know anything involving children is particularly hard for him.

Stories involving children are always so heartbreaking and I may have uttered an “oh my god” here and there, and even let out something resembling a sob, especially near the end. Talk about a punch to the gut. I never really expect to need a tissue while reading crime fiction but I did here. Heartbreaking for sure.

No Way Out is hugely gripping, immensely compelling and extremely addictive. I dare say this is the best one in the series yet and that’s saying something because the previous two books are insanely outstanding as well. Yet Cara Hunter managed to raise the bar another notch and I stayed up way past my bedtime, desperate to reach the conclusion only to find myself faced with a cliffhanger that has me itching to get to the next book. Luckily we don’t have to wait too long as All The Rage is published in December and you can already preorder it here.

I highly recommend you add this series to your shelves. It is one of the best crime fiction series out there and a definite must-read!

No Way Out is available to buy!

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

Make sure you also check out the previous two books in the series!

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

I’m lucky enough to live in the city I write about. Oxford will be familiar to crime fans across the whole world because of the fabulous Morse novels and TV, but my version of the town is a long way from the beautiful ivy-clad colleges. A much edgier place where the crimes are darker and closer to home.

I’ve always been a voracious reader and viewer of crime – I’ve learned so much from the outstanding writing that we now see on crime TV like Line of Duty or Broadchurch, and I’ve tried to recreate the experience of watching series like that for my readers. I love true crime TV as well – my husband used to tease me about it but now just nods sagely and says ‘research’ !

What else about me? I have pet cats who do their best to distract me whenever I get close to a keyboard (if you have cats, you’ll know), I love travelling, spending time with friends, and I have never knowingly turned down a glass of champagne….

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech | @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater | #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #recommended

Delighted beyond words to host a stop on the blog tour for Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books for the fabulous review copy!

Author : Louise Beech
Title : Call Me Star Girl
Pages : 276
Publisher : Orenda
Publication date : April 18, 2019 (paperback)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Thoughts? Ha! Bloody hell, I don’t know. I can’t even begin to think of any words. I hurt. Way deep inside, like an awful physical pain that makes me want to curl up into a tiny ball under the duvet and just weep.

Louise Beech is one of maybe two authors who always manages to make me cry in the ugliest way possible. So when I heard she had gone down the dark path and written a psychological thriller, I felt relieved and my first thought was how I wouldn’t need to stock up on tissues and explain to my other half why my eyes were so red. There’s only so many times you can use the “I was chopping onions” excuse, you know.

How wrong I was. How massively wrong to think for just one second that Louise Beech would somehow stick to the “rules” of this genre. Because we all know by now this is an author who doesn’t fit neatly into a labeled box and neither does Call Me Star Girl. I was expecting something dark and boy, did I get that! But despite all the warnings, I was not prepared for how devastating this story would turn out to be.

Such incredible characterisation, such complex and multi-layered personalities, so many secrets and throughout it all a stunning Noir vibe, feeling like I was watching an old black and white movie and then the utterly exquisite writing, which just pulls you in, sweeps you up and away, becoming so immersed you forget everything and everyone around you, all the while stirring something deep inside. Call Me Star Girl is intensely compelling, emotional, memorable and thought-provoking. What would you do for love?

This is the kind of novel that causes book hangovers. I don’t know where to go from here. My heart is broken and nobody is able to elicit those kinds of emotions from me but the amazingly talented and incomparable Louise Beech. Wherever she goes, whatever she writes, I will follow her without a moment’s hesitation.

Call Me Star Girl is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019.

Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.

Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.