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!

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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!

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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!

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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
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| 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.

55 by James Delargy | @JDelargyAuthor @simonschusterUK | #whoisfiftyfive #RandomThingsTours

Thrilled to bits to join the blog tour for “55” by James Delargy today! My thanks to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my fabulous review copy!

Author : James Delargy
Title : 55
Pages : 432
Publisher : Simon & Schuster
Publication date : April 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.

He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.

Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.

Gabriel is the serial killer.

Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

| MY THOUGHTS |

When I first spotted this book on Twitter, I just knew it was one I had to read. The fascinating and intriguing premise caught my eye instantly. Who is fifty-five indeed?! My expectations were high but as soon as I started reading the first page, I was already convinced James Delargy was going to live up to them. And then some.

Welcome to the sleepy town of Wilbrook, Western Australia. A town so remote, it’s almost falling off the map. A town surrounded by stunning landscapes and beautiful Mother Nature and yet, it feels oddly claustrophobic. Nothing much ever happens in Wilbrook. It’s the kind of town you leave behind in a trail of dust on your way to the bright lights of the big cities.

The small police department mostly deals with domestic disputes, noise complaints, maybe a drunken fight here and there. But all that changes when a blood-soaked Gabriel enters the station. He says he was kidnapped by a serial killer called Heath, who told him he was going to be his fifty-fifth victim. Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins quickly launches a manhunt for this Heath but to his surprise, Heath walks into the police station himself, telling the exact same story. Two suspects or two victims?

Yes, good luck trying to figure that one out. Every time I thought I had it figured out, something would happen to make me doubt myself and my opinion shifted. These characters are so immensely intriguing and one or two are also awfully unlikeable. Somehow whatever is going on draws parallels with events from the past, which at some point led me to having one of those exciting eureka moments. But for the most part, my theories kept changing throughout the story as the author kept me guessing until the end, unable to predict the outcome.

Speaking of outcomes, I normally make it a point not to mention endings but I can’t wrap this review up without it this time. It is just extremely shocking and it left me so immensely flabbergasted, I had to read it three times. Only to spend the next ten minutes gazing into the distance wondering what the hell I just read. Fa-bu-lous!

This isn’t an easy one to review. Obviously I don’t want to give anything away and all you really need to know is right there in the book description. I will say “55” is brilliantly plotted, extremely clever, delightfully atmospheric and an incredibly addictive page-turner. I found it so intensely gripping that I just couldn’t put it down and devoured it in one glorious reading session. I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing this book again in my end-of-year wrap up. Loved it!

“55” is an incredible debut and I can’t wait to see what James Delargy comes up with next. In the meantime, I’ll be recommending “55” until I’m blue in the face.

“55” is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives. He incorporates his diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. 

55 is his first novel, which has been sold in 19 countries so far and optioned for film by Zucker Productions in partnership with Prodigy Pictures.

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor | @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 | #TheTakingofAnnieThorne #blogtour #recommended

Absolutely thrilled to bits to host a stop on the blog tour for The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor today! Huge thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and for the fabulous review copy!

Author : C.J. Tudor
Title : The Taking of Annie Thorne (The Hiding Place)
Pages : 344
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : February 21, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing. It was the day she came back. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh my word, where to even start?! I’ve been a proud C.J. Tudor fan from the second I read The Chalk Man. Quite frankly, if I were a teenager and she was a rockstar, her poster would be on my bedroom wall. I can’t possibly begin to describe the excitement that coursed through me when I was finally able to pick up The Taking of Annie Thorne. Yes, I had high expectations but I was never in any doubt whatsoever that I would just love this book to pieces. And I did!

This is a tough one to review without giving anything away. Other than the exquisite book trailer, I knew absolutely nothing about this book and it’s the best way to experience it. Also, if you’re expecting some incredibly coherent review, this one won’t be it. If I could have gotten away with four paragraphs of exclamation marks, I totally would have done it. I find it extremely hard to explain why I love this book so much and I can only hope it comes across somewhat (possibly in a slightly embarrassing way, I do apologise) and it’ll convince you to give this one a go.

I don’t know what it is about small town settings but I just love them and they don’t come any more intriguing than Arnhill does. It feels particularly gloomy and depressing. Joe never thought he’d go back there. Who would even want to? Especially after what happened.

When my sister was eight years old, she disappeared.

And then she came back.

[Note to self : never move anywhere near a mine pit. Also, always keep the loo lid down.]

As someone who was a teenager herself in the 80’s, any and all references to that era just make me giddy and there are a lot of them in this story that put a huge smile on my face. Throw in Joe’s delightful sense of humour, sarcasm and inner voice and I was hooked. With a dark atmosphere, a high creepiness factor, fascinating characters and lots of questions that need answers, this was one suspenseful and thrilling ride. And then just when I thought I could sit back, relax and breathe again … the rug was pulled from under my feet with the most deliciously chilling epilogue that almost made my eyes pop out of my head.

By the way, if you’re a fan of audiobooks, and quite frankly even if you’re not, you should most definitely give this one a listen! I may be starting to sound like some sort of running advertisement for the amazing Richard Armitage but seriously, you guys, his narration brings this story to a whole different level of intensity. It’s a fantastic experience all on its own.

Anyway!

The Taking of Annie Thorne is a brilliantly plotted, exquisitely written, utterly compelling, addictive and “unputdownable” page-turner. Whatever “it” is, C.J. Tudor has it in abundance and then some. There’s something about the way she writes that has me captivated from the very first word. It almost feels like being under a spell and I’ll gladly let her guide me wherever it is she wants to take me. I’m a fan, what more can I say?

I think I’d better leave it here. This whole thing is starting to sound like a teenage girl writing a letter to her favourite boyband member. 😳

In case it wasn’t clear, I absolutely LOVED The Taking of Annie Thorne and you will without a doubt be seeing this book again in my top 5 at the end of the year, just like The Chalk Man was last year. I am so ridiculously excited to see what C.J. Tudor comes up with next that I have already pre-ordered her next book. So should you, right here 😉

To recap : !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! x infinity

The Taking of Annie Thorne is available to buy!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

Please check out these amazing bloggers on the tour who say it all much better than I do.

Dead Memories by Angela Marsons | @WriteAngie @bookouture | #DeadMemories #NetGalley #recommended

Author : Angela Marsons
Title : Dead Memories
Series : DI Kim Stone #10
Pages : 400
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : February 22, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

On the fourth floor of Chaucer House, two teenagers are found chained to a radiator. The boy is dead but the girl is alive. For Detective Kim Stone every detail of the scene mirrors her own terrifying experience with her brother Mikey, when they lived in the same tower block thirty years ago. 

When the bodies of a middle-aged couple are discovered in a burnt-out car, Kim can’t ignore the chilling similarity to the deaths of Erica and Keith – the only loving parents Kim had ever known. 

Faced with a killer who is recreating traumatic events from her past, Kim must face the brutal truth that someone wants to hurt her in the worst way possible. Desperate to stay on the case, she is forced to work with profiler Alison Lowe who has been called in to observe and monitor Kim’s behaviour. 

Kim has spent years catching dangerous criminals and protecting the innocent. But with a killer firmly fixed on destroying Kim, can she solve this complex case and save her own life or will she become the final victim?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Bloody hell, Angela! Seriously?!

I’ve said it before and it looks like I’ll be saying it until this series ceases to exist (which quite frankly I hope is absolutely never!) : this series just keeps going from strength to strength! Now, that is obviously fantastic if you’re Angela, her publisher or a reader. Not so good for me when I put on my reviewer cap because …. words, you guys! I ran out of ways to say how awesome the Kim Stone series is at least five or so books ago! How many times can I say “brilliant, fantastic, READ THIS NOW!” without boring you all to tears?!

If you’ve been following this series (and if you haven’t, you can’t possibly imagine how hard I am judging you right now!), you’ll know that Kim Stone has pissed off quite a lot of people along the way. Some we don’t even know about. She’s just that kind of person and we love her for it. At some point, someone was bound to be out for revenge and that time has come. Eek!

You’ll also know that Kim hasn’t had an easy childhood and what do you know? Someone has decided to use all that heartache against her by recreating some of the most devastating events Kim has had to deal with in her life. It all starts with the death of two young addicts. They are found chained to a radiator in the building Kim grew up in. The boy is dead, the girl is barely alive and that is how this scene is horribly reminiscent of Kim’s own experience alongside her brother, Mickey. But whomever is behind this horrendous reenactment isn’t finished yet. There’s more to come. My lips are sealed, however. Prepare yourself though, as old and new wounds will be poked at and it will hurt. *blows nose*

From the very beginning, I found myself with that sickening feeling in my stomach that things were only going to get worse. Kim holds a very special place in my heart after all this time, so to see her having to go through this was quite painful. Her pain was my pain. How do you keep the lid on, keep your emotions in check, when the worst of the worst that has happened to you is being rubbed in your face? I can’t even begin to describe the range of emotions I went through myself. I felt angry and sad, I gasped, I felt like punching someone, I even had a wee sob. I am SO not the sobbing kind of person! I even felt sympathy for characters who may or may not deserve it. But more than anything, this dreadful trip down Memory Lane has only made me love Kim Stone even more.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, there is another thread in this storyline when consultant Angela returns. She is supposed to keep an eye on Kim, make sure she’s dealing with things and needs to report back to Kim’s boss. But Angela also has other things on her mind when she isn’t convinced that a case she consulted on previously reached the right conclusion. Angela is one of those characters I wasn’t quite sure about but she really grew on me and her sheer determination was definitely something to be admired.

And then there’s Kim’s team. Stacey, Penn and Bryant … so much love. Each one gets their own moment to shine and they do it so fabulously. Yes, things have changed and yes, there is one desk that still doesn’t feel quite right but Penn, the one I almost wanted to dislike out of sheer principle, is such a delight and I’m really enjoying getting to know him better. While at first, it was easy to consider him the outsider, the one who shouldn’t be there because things were just fine as they were, thankyouverymuch, now I find it’s as if he’s been there all along. Stacey continues to kick butt in her own fierce way and Bryant is a rock, pure and simple.

Once again, Angela Marsons has left me feeling utterly discombobulated. My mind has been blown into so many pieces, I fear it may never be whole again. I love this series with a fiery passion. This is top-notch crime fiction, as it has been from the very beginning. Always utterly gripping and compelling, always immensely absorbing and addictive, always an absolute treat and I’m dying for more! As long as Angela Marsons keeps writing these, I’ll be at the front of the line and I WILL be using my elbows, people!

In case you think “sheesh, that’s way too much text, I’m so not reading that”, here’s a recap. BUY IT NOW!!!! You can thank me later. You’re welcome.

Huge thanks to the publisher for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley!

Dead Memories is available to buy!

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The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths @ellygriffiths @QuercusBooks #mustread #recommended #TheStrangerDiaries

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Author : Elly Griffiths
Title : The Stranger Diaries
Pages : 384
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : November 1, 2018

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

| MY THOUGHTS |

It’s official! Elly Griffiths can do no wrong in my eyes and has found herself a spot on my list of go-to authors. You may be familiar with Elly Griffith’s fantastic Ruth Galloway series (which I really need to get caught up on) or her equally brilliant Stephen & Mephisto series (which I also really need to get caught up on) but The Stranger Diaries is a stand-alone gothic mystery thriller type of thing and it’s bloody awesome!

I was in one of the worst reading slumps I can remember ever being in when I picked up The Stranger Diaries. However, from the minute I started reading, I didn’t look back. There is just something about Elly Griffith’s writing that completely draws me in and I was hooked from the first page, as if a spell had been cast upon me.

It all begins when Clare Cassidy’s colleague and friend, Ellie, is found murdered. Clare is a literary teacher who specialises in the works of gothic writer R.M. Holland. His story The Stranger features heavily throughout the book and often made my spine tingle. And because a line from that story is found on a note near Ellie’s body, Clare swiftly finds herself on the list of suspects.

The story is alternately told through Clare, her daughter Georgia and a detective by the name of Harbinder Kaur. Elly Griffiths manages to give all these characters incredibly distinctive voices, which I felt was particularly evident when switching from the slightly creepy The Stranger narrator to Georgia, the teenager. Harbinder is one of those characters I didn’t particularly like for the longest time. But somehow she grew on me along the way and I always love how an author manages to do that.

This gothic mystery is intensely gripping. I wouldn’t necessarily call it creepy in the OMG-I’m-so-freaked-out-I-may-wet-myself kind of way but it is rather chilling and there is a sort of threatening vibe throughout, where you feel in your bones something is coming but you’re not sure what that will be.

Obviously I don’t want to give anything away. Suffice to say The Stranger Diaries is brilliantly written and oozes atmosphere throughout. This story is utterly engrossing and absorbing and I devoured it in one glorious sitting. I absolutely loved this one and whatever is next from Elly Griffiths, myself and my grabby hands will be right there at the head of the queue.

The Stranger Diaries is available to buy in ebook and hardcover format!

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