Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza | @RobertBryndza @TheCrimeVault | #NineElms

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza. My thanks to Kirsteen at Little Brown for the opportunity to join and for the review copy!

Author : Robert Bryndza
Title : Nine Elms
Series : Kate Marshall #1
Pages : 400
Publisher : Sphere
Publication date : January 9, 2020 (hardcover)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Sixteen years ago, Kate Marshall was a rising star in the London Metropolitan police force. Young, ambitious and driven, with a talent for getting into the minds of criminals, she solved several high-profile murder cases.

But when Kate was tasked with tracking down a vicious serial killer, even her instinct and ability to immerse herself in violent worlds couldn’t help her find him – until he found her.

Now, years after her narrow escape, Kate lives a quiet life on the English coast, though her years with the police are still with her. And when one day she receives a letter from someone in her past, she is pulled back into the twisted mind of a murderer she knows only too well – and into a case only she can solve.

| MY THOUGHTS |

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Robert Bryndza and his crime fiction series featuring Erika Foster. But now he’s back with a brand-new series and an equally brand-new exciting female protagonist.

Sixteen years ago, Kate Marshall was a detective working for the London Metropolitan Police. Kate ended up on the wrong side of a serial killer case. With her career and reputation in tatters, she relocated to the English coast, where she now works in academia. But the past is about to catch up with her.

Back in 1995, there was a spate of brutal murders. And now, it looks as if someone is trying to recreate that sequence of events. There is no doubt the “Nine Elms” serial killer is behind bars and investigators are dealing with a copycat. But who and why? And what is their end game?

As far as introducing the reader to a new series goes, this is right up there. There is so much going on in this first instalment and the intriguing premise of Kate’s past pulled me in from the get-go. Not only are we faced with a copycat killer but there is an unsolved missing persons case which may just tie in with the original Nine Elms serial killer. And throughout it all, the reader gets to know the character of Kate Marshall as she is forced to confront her past. Kate quite quickly proves herself to be a determined woman who, despite having left the force all those years ago, has never been able to shake off her “copper’s nose” and with her assistant Tristan by her side, we immediately get an exciting new investigative team. Albeit it with a different spin to it as obviously Kate doesn’t have a badge or access to various spiffy databases. All she has is experience, knowledge and her instincts.

Did I mention these murders are particularly brutal and gruesome? I’m not of the squeamish variety most of the time, especially not while reading, but good grief … let’s just say I often muttered the words “ugh, eww”. Yet, I felt those details were important to drive home how despicable the Nine Elms serial killer and his copycat are. Underneath it all is a fascinating insight into mother and son relationships, even if they’re leaning towards a whole new level of dysfunctional, and that always thrilling topic of nature versus nurture.

The Erika Foster series was hugely successful for Robert Bryndza and I have no doubt this new series featuring Kate Marshall will be equally so. The compelling Nine Elms is an amazing way to kick it off and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Kate and Tristan.

Nine Elms is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestselling Detective Erika Foster series. Robert’s books have sold over 3 million copies and have been translated into 28 languages. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

This Week in Books (January 8)

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 |

Sixteen years ago, Kate Marshall was a rising star in the London Metropolitan police force. Young, ambitious and driven, with a talent for getting into the minds of criminals, she solved several high-profile murder cases.

But when Kate was tasked with tracking down a vicious serial killer, even her instinct and ability to immerse herself in violent worlds couldn’t help her find him – until he found her.

Now, years after her narrow escape, Kate lives a quiet life on the English coast, though her years with the police are still with her. And when one day she receives a letter from someone in her past, she is pulled back into the twisted mind of a murderer she knows only too well – and into a case only she can solve.

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.

DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?

And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back.

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

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…

What are you reading this week? Let me know and let’s talk books! Happy reading! xx

After The End by Clare Mackintosh | @claremackint0sh @LittleBrownUK @millieseward | #bookreview #AfterTheEnd

Author : Clare Mackintosh
Title : After The End
Pages : 384
Publisher : Sphere / Little Brown UK
Publication date : June 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. 

What if they could have both?

| MY THOUGHTS |

This is such a hard review to write but I imagine not nearly as hard as it must have been to write this novel.

Max and Pip face one of the toughest decisions any parent could possibly face. Their three year old son, Dylan, is brain damaged due to complications from a tumour. Max and Pip are one of the strongest couples you’re bound to meet but now, they find themselves on opposite sides as each tries to decide for themselves what’s best for Dylan.

After The End is a novel I had to read in bits and pieces, for fear of choking on the huge lump in my throat. The author deals with a highly emotional topic and it all feels incredibly realistic, moving and extremely heartbreaking. The story is split into two parts, the before and after. The reader is offered an insight into Dylan’s circumstances and the many long days Pip spends at his bedside. The tiny slivers of hope and the plummeting realisations when things go downhill felt like a rollercoaster. There are also the wonderful friendships parents form with each other on the ward, the support they give each other and yet it must be so incredibly hard to watch another child make a recovery and ultimately leave for home when your own child lies unmoving in their bed.

The “after” in the story is split in two. The reader follows both Pip and Max but in alternative storylines. Each has to deal with the decision they made regarding Dylan’s future. Was it the right one? How can you ever know? Will their marriage survive when so many do not?

I must admit that my feelings for this novel were also split in two. I thought the first part of the story was exceedingly compelling and I was right there with the characters on the ward, trying to figure out what I would do in that situation. But the second half of the story started to lose me somewhat. It seemed a bit repetitive at times and while I was still rooting for the characters to come through it all, I didn’t find this second half as gripping as the first half.

Nevertheless, After The End is a beautifully written story about a marriage put under strain in the most difficult of circumstances and facing an impossible choice. A remarkable departure for Clare Mackintosh, who you may know from some excellent psychological thrillers. This was quite obviously a story that she needed to tell and she did it in the most wonderful way possible. Not an easy story to read, yet one that will remain with me forever.

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy!

After The Lie is available to buy!

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

This Week in Books (May 29)

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 |

‘Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They’re here. They’re-‘ 

These are the last words Sara Prior will ever hear from her husband. 

As DS Nathan Cody struggles to make sense of the enigmatic message and solve the brutal murder, it soon becomes clear that Sara is no ordinary bereaved wife. Taking the investigation into her own hands, Sara is drawn into a world of violence that will lead her in a direction she would never have suspected. 

For Cody, meanwhile, things are about to get personal in the darkest and most twisted ways imaginable…

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. 

What if they could have both?

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

One dark January night a car drives at high speed towards PI Varg Veum, and comes very close to killing him. Veum is certain this is no accident, following so soon after the deaths of two jailed men who were convicted for their participation in a case of child pornography and sexual assault … crimes that Veum himself once stood wrongly accused of committing.

While the guilty men were apparently killed accidentally, Varg suspects that there is something more sinister at play … and that he’s on the death list of someone still at large.

Fearing for his life, Veum begins to investigate the old case, interviewing the victims of abuse and delving deeper into the brutal crimes, with shocking results. The wolves are no longer in the dark … they are at his door. And they want vengeance.

Anything catching your eye? What are you reading this week? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx

Kill For Me by Tom Wood @TheTomWood @millieseaward #Sphere #blogtour #excerpt #KillForMe

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Kill For Me by Tom Wood! My thanks to Millie Seaward for the invitation to join and for providing the excerpt I’ll be sharing with you today. First, here is what Kill For Me is all about.

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Author : Tom Wood
Title : Kill For Me
Series : Victor the Assassin #8
Pages : 480
Publisher : Sphere
Publication date : July 26, 2018

aboutthebook

Victor is the killer who always delivers…for the right price. And Heloise Espinosa, patron of Guatemala’s largest cartel, is ready and willing to pay him just that to eliminate the competition–her sister. Heloise has been battling Maria for control of the cartel in an endless and bloody war. Now Victor decides who survives. An easy job if it weren’t for the sudden target on his back.

Victor’s not the only one on the hunt. Someone else has Maria in their crosshairs and will do anything to get the kill. In the middle of cartel territory with enemies closing in from all sides, Victor must decide where to put the bullet before one is placed in his head. His only chance at survival is to team up with the one person who may be as deadly as he is…

extract

The beach was white sand, stretched in a crescent around the bay. Dark waves lapped against the shore as feral dogs foraged along the water’s edge, searching for scraps left by backpackers. On the furthest spur of sand two wild horses ran back and forth in some ritual Victor couldn’t hope to comprehend.

The seller he was meeting called himself Jairo. He was old and tanned, short and hairy. He had a beard that rose to his cheekbones, pure white and bushy. His shirt was opened to his sternum, revealing a thatch of colourless chest hair. Gold neck chains gleamed from among the curls. His eyebrows were still black, and almost met in the middle. He smelled of rum, else local aguardiente – Victor hadn’t spent enough time in Guatemala to be able to differentiate between them by scent alone.

The last of the sun was disappearing over the horizon, but the heat of the day remained. Victor’s clothes were lightweight and loose, pushed taut against him by the breeze. It came from the east, from out across the Caribbean Sea, somehow cool and warm at the same time.

Jairo was from across the border in Honduras, and he dressed like a bum. His shirt was dotted with grease stains from a couple of days’ worth of messy eating. Threadbare denim shorts hung to his knees. The legs that protruded from the shorts were thin and weak. He wore rubber sandals that revealed the skin of his heels was cracked and split. He had tattoos on his forearms. They were too old and faded, and his skin too tan, for Victor to make out what they portrayed. He was no international arms trafficker. He was no Vladimir Kasakov. He was no Georg, even. He was just a small-time gun runner. He was just a man in possession of an expensive rifle. How he came across the weapon, Georg hadn’t passed on to Victor, and Jairo hadn’t offered its history. He hadn’t even wanted to show it to Victor without seeing the money

‘I check the weapon is in good condition,’ Victor had said. ‘Then you get to see the cash.’

Jairo shook his head. ‘That’s not how this works.’

They spoke in English, because Victor didn’t want Jairo to know he spoke Spanish as well as he did. Better, even.

‘It works how I say it works.’

Jairo was silent. He glanced at the wild horses.

‘Don’t forget that you want to sell the gun more than I want to buy it. I can walk away at any point and keep my money. You’ll still have a rifle you don’t want.’

Jairo thought for a while. He didn’t blink a lot, but he rubbed one palm with the other thumb.

He shrugged. ‘Okay, you can check it. Make sure it’s legit.’

He was nervous while Victor did. He couldn’t stop moving He couldn’t stop fidgeting. If he wasn’t shuffling his weight, he was rubbing his palms together. If he wasn’t rolling his shoulders, he was scratching the back of his neck. Victor took in all the tell-tale signs and acted as if he didn’t see them, as if he didn’t understand. He wanted to buy time. He wanted to assess the situation.

The Accuracy International AX50 was a big piece of engineering. It came in a case made from toughened military-grade polymer large enough to hide a person inside – dismembered, but doable. Victor had squeezed bodies into less. Inside the case, thick foam rubber encased the component parts, isolated and identifiable to Victor’s gaze. He checked each part in turn, acknowledging that every one was as it should be, as expected. Accessories came in a separate compartment, and were, like the weapon itself, all good. Too good.

He kept his thoughts to himself for the moment, still assessing. Jairo was growing even edgier, because in the dim light he couldn’t see Victor’s eyes in the shadow of the khaki cap and he couldn’t read the expression beneath.

‘What do you think?’ Jairo asked when he couldn’t stand the silence any longer. ‘You like it?’

‘It’s beautiful,’ Victor said.

Jairo was picking something from his teeth. ‘You gonna buy?’

Victor kept his gaze on the rifle. ‘How much do you want for it?’

‘A hundred thousand is the price agreed by the middleman. You have the cash? You buy?’

The rifle retailed for a fraction of that, even with all the accessories, but there was a heavy premium on black-market weapons. Jairo was adding a considerable premium to that premium, but for such a weapon it was a seller’s market. If Victor wasn’t prepared to overpay he was never going to be able to acquire what he needed. Whatever he had said, he wanted the gun more than Jairo wanted to sell it.

He rubbed the gun oil from his fingers. ‘Where did you get the weapon?’

Jairo shrugged and adjusted his footing. ‘What does it matter? I’m not gonna ask you where you got your money from. You brought it, yes? In your truck?’

Victor nodded.

He had his pickup parked where the sand dunes became prickled with long grass. Jairo’s own vehicle – another pickup – was parked on the beach itself, out in the open as agreed. Victor had arrived early, but Jairo had been earlier. He had been drinking. There was a sheen to his skin and a glaze to his eyes.

‘Let me see it.’

Victor shut the case and thumbed the catches. He dragged it from the load bed of Jairo’s pickup. Even for Victor’s strength, it was heavy. The rifle alone weighed almost twenty kilos. He carried it in his left hand. He led Jairo to his truck. Led, because Jairo didn’t move fast. He followed at a slow pace. In part because his stride was short like his height; in part because he had poor footwear for traversing sand; in part because of all the nerves.

‘A hundred grand is a lot of money,’ Victor said as they walked, ‘even for a weapon like this. Black-market rates are black-market rates, I get that, but this rifle is brand new. There’s still packing grease on the components. Someone tried to wipe it away, but you can’t do that. You have to use it. You have to get it dirty first. You have to put it together and fire rounds and strip it apart again and scrub and clean and oil it. Then you get rid of the packing grease. Good try all the same.’

Jairo acted confused. ‘What does it matter if it’s brand new? You’re getting a good deal.’

‘That’s my point. The price is too good, black-market rates and all, for a brand-new weapon. This has never been used. It’s mint in the box. So, where did you get it?’

Jairo shrugged. ‘I don’t own the gun,’ he explained. ‘I’m only the seller.’

The light was fading fast and the blue pickup Victor had bought for cash looked almost black. He set the heavy case down in the load bed and dragged forth a sports bag. He shoved it into Jairo’s waiting grip and ripped open a packet of beef jerky from a container of supplies.

‘Want some?’ He offered the packet to Jairo.

Jairo glanced up. ‘Looks disgusting.’

Victor shrugged as he chewed. More for him.

Jairo wasn’t hungry. He was wasting no time, unzipping the sports bag and peering inside, smiling when he saw the bundles of American dollars.

‘You know,’ Victor said after swallowing, ‘at first I wondered if you were part of a sting operation. A non-proliferation thing. That’s always the biggest risk when buying this kind of hardware. I figured there could be binoculars and cameras on me, officials and cops waiting out of sight behind the dunes, ready to rush in when I showed the money. Until then, I’d committed no crime. So, I was weighing up my odds, wondering if they had a clear shot of my features, wondering what repercussions I would face further down the line. Just because I had committed no crime didn’t mean there wouldn’t be fallout. A man like me can’t afford to be on someone’s radar.’

Jairo was half listening, because he had noticed something about the bag. He reached inside.

‘All those nerves you had,’ Victor continued. ‘I figured they had you over a barrel, and you’d get them off if you gave up your buyer. Me. But then I found the packing grease. No way an official sting operation would use brand-new weaponry like that. No way they could get hold of it, even to lure out an utterly deplorable person such as myself. They would use what they had, what they had confiscated. So, this has to be something else. I overthought it. The simplest explanation is usually the right one.’

Jairo pushed his hand deep into the bag, drawing out one of the thick bundles of cash. They appeared to be straps of hundred-dollar bills, a hundred bills per strap, secured with a rubber band. Jairo peeled back the first bill to see that the rest were nothing more than rectangular pieces of blank paper.

‘No, no, no,’ Jairo muttered.

‘You didn’t think I would bring a hundred grand in cash to make a deal in the middle of nowhere, did you? That’s how you get yourself killed.’

‘You’ve made a huge mistake.’

Victor said, ‘When I’ve already made so many, why stop now?’

‘You don’t know who you’re dealing with.’

Victor’s tone was wistful. ‘If only the reverse were true, Jairo, we could save ourselves an awful lot of inevitable unpleasantness.’

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Uh, oh. I don’t know about you but me thinks Jairo may have landed himself into a spot of bother there. If you’d like to read more, Kill For Me will be published tomorrow!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Tom was born in Burton Upon Trent in Staffordshire, England, and now lives in London.

He is the author of THE HUNTER, BAD LUCK IN BERLIN and THE ENEMY.

Tom’s books are known by different titles in some countries so please be careful when purchasing.

Author links : Goodreads | Twitter | Website

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It Was Her by Mark Hill @markhillwriter @millieseaward @LittleBrownUK #blogtour #ItWasHer #MustRead

I’m thrilled to bits to be kicking off the month of June with the final stop on the blog tour for It Was Her by Mark Hill today!

My thanks to Millie Seaward at Little Brown UK for inviting me to join and for my review copy!

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Author : Mark Hill
Title : It Was Her
Series : DI Ray Drake #2
Pages : 448
Publisher : Sphere / Little Brown
Publication date : May 17, 2018

aboutthebook

Twenty years ago Tatia was adopted into a well-off home, where she seemed happy, settled. Then the youngest boy in the family dies in an accident, and she gets the blame.

Did she do it?

Tatia was cast out, away from her remaining adopted siblings Joel and Sarah. Now she yearns for a home to call her own. So when she see families going on holiday, leaving their beautiful homes empty, there seems no harm in living their lives while she is gone. But somehow, people keep ending up dead.

Did she kill them?

As bodies start to appear in supposedly safe neighbourhoods, DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley race to find the thinnest of links between the victims. But Drake’s secret past is once more threatening to destroy everything.

Will they catch her?

mythoughts

Well hello, Mark Hill, sir. Pull up a chair and sit yourself down at my table of go-to authors!

When I was invited to join this blog tour, I figured it was the perfect kick up the backside to finally read the previous instalment, His First Lie. Which I did a mere two weeks ago and it blew my mind. At that point, I said to myself “self, this is an author to keep your eye on” so my expectations of It Was Her were sky high and boy, did Mark Hill deliver or what?!

Now I know quite a few people mention they’re tired of the main protagonist being flawed, damaged and carrying a lot of baggage. To those of you who feel that way, let me tell you, DI Ray Drake’s story is that and so much more. Highly unique and original and brilliant! So my advice to you is not to treat It Was Her as a stand-alone. Start with the first book, immerse yourself into the characters’ background. And then, clear your calendar, grab a copy of this book and be prepared to be completely bowled over.

I am struggling really hard to put into words why this book is so fantastic. It just stands out from the crowd in the way that this isn’t your typical murder investigation. It goes way deeper than that with utterly amazing character depth and development. I expect my crime thrillers to be full of tension, gore and gruesomeness. I do not expect them to make me feel sad, to make me root for someone who may not necessarily deserve it or wish for a happy ending.

As the tagline says, nothing is what it seems. At various moments, I thought I had things figured out only to be proven wrong. There was no way I was ever going to predict the outcome and without giving anything away, it hurt. My heart broke, it left me reeling and I almost threw my book across the room due to the unfairness of it all. And yet, this is also one of the reasons why I love this story so much. Life isn’t fair and not everything is always wrapped up nicely with a bow.

I realise I’ve not mentioned anything about the plot. To be honest, everything you need to know is right there in the book description. Suffice to say this is one compelling and thrilling ride. I raced through the pages as if my life depended on it and could not put this book down. An utterly fabulous addition to the series and I’m bursting with excitement to see what Mark Hill comes up with next. Highly recommended!

It Was Her is available to buy!

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

abouttheauthor

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR.

But I write now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for clicking.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are oh-so-many ways to do it!

Author links : Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website

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Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry @JLPerryAuthor @millieseaward @LittleBrownUK #blogtour

It’s my pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry today! My thanks to Millie Seaward at Little Brown UK for the invitation and the beautiful review copy!

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Author : Jodi Perry
Title : Nineteen Letters
Pages : 381
Publisher : Sphere | Little Brown UK
Publication date : April 19, 2018

aboutthebook

What would you do if the love of your life had no memory of you?

The 19th of January, 1996 . . . I’ll never forget it. It was the day we met. I was seven and she was six. It was the day she moved in next door, and the same day I developed my first crush on a girl.

Then tragedy struck. Nineteen days after our wedding day, Jemma was in an accident that would change our lives forever. When she woke from her coma, she had no memory of me, of us, of the love we shared.

That’s when I started writing her letters. The stories of our life. Of when we met. About the happier times, and everything we’d experienced together.

mythoughts

Lately I’ve been very much about broadening my horizons where my reading is
concerned. Of course, I love my crime fiction but sometimes it’s quite nice to try something different and cleanse the palette, so to speak. Hence why I gladly accepted the invitation to read Nineteen Letters.

Admittedly, there were a few moments at the beginning where I wondered what I’d gotten myself in to. I’m not really the romantic type, I’m married to an even less romantic guy. Surprise bouquet of pretty flowers, what’s that? And surely when you book a weekend away, that’s just an excuse to bring a suitcase of books?

So when I started this story and realised there was quite a lot of that “sappy stuff” going on that almost made me cringe, I thought I’d made a huge mistake. However, I actually soon found myself completely immersed into the lives of Baxter, Jemma and their families.

Retrograde amnesia sounds positively scary. Imagine waking up and not remembering the person next to you, your parents, the life you’ve led so far or even yourself. Do you like wine or ice cream, for instance? What’s your favourite colour, your favourite song? When was your first kiss? What do you do when the essence of “you” might be gone forever?

This is what happens to Jemma after she’s involved in a car accident. Luckily for her, she has Baxter and he is determined to make sure Jemma will one day remember their lives and the intense love they shared. He does this by writing her letters. Nineteen to be exact, a number that holds special meaning to them. Through those letters, he hopes to rekindle the magic he and Jemma had and we, the reader, get to know both of them as Braxton takes us all down memory lane.

“What we had is far too beautiful to be forgotten”

While I found some things a little predictable, I was rooting for the entire cast of characters all the way. Because not only does Baxter have the situation with Jemma to deal with. There is a lot going on in all of their lives. Jemma’s parents have split up but clearly still love each other. Baxter’s father is in a care home and what on earth is going on with Lucas and Rachel?

Nineteen Letters is a moving, sometimes heartbreaking and yet heartwarming story about love, loss, grief and second chances. I smiled. I chuckled, I even had a massive lump in my throat and the overwhelming urge to hug someone tightly. It brings home how short and fragile life is and how quickly things you take for granted can change. There’s a vital lesson here, to take life as it comes and make the best of every day. If you do have that romantic bone in your body, I’m sure you will enjoy meeting Baxter and Jemma.

Nineteen Letters is available for purchase!

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

abouttheauthor

Jodi Perry is a wife and mother, and was born in Sydney, Australia. She has lived there her whole life. Under the name J. L. Perry, her previous four novels have all been #1 bestsellers in ebook.

Jodi travels annually to the UK and US to promote her books at romance events and to meet her readers.

Author link : Twitter

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The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans @EllaMatildaB @LittleBrownUK

** advanced copy received via publisher **

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Author : Claire Evans
Title : The Fourteenth Letter
Pages : 440
Publisher : Sphere
Publication date : September 21, 2017

aboutthebook

One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family and ascend to polite society.

As she takes her fiancé’s hand, a stranger holding a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl’s life. Amid the chaos, he turns to her aristocratic groom and mouths: ‘I promised I would save you.’

The following morning, just a few miles away, timid young legal clerk William Lamb meets a reclusive client. He finds the old man terrified and in desperate need of aid: William must keep safe a small casket of yellowing papers, and deliver an enigmatic message: The Finder knows.

mythoughts

The Fourteenth Letter combines two of my favourite things : historical fiction with a murder mystery. Although I admit that initially, it was the cover that drew me in. It’s just so pretty! I jumped at the opportunity to read this one and while I had quite high expectations, I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed at all.

Phoebe Stanbury is murdered at her engagement party but the investigation into her death isn’t the be all and end all of this story. The focus lies with a young clerk, William Lamb who’s an incredibly likeable character and I warmed to him immediately. William wants to move up in the world but when he meets a reclusive client, he inadvertently gets himself involved in events that will put his life in danger.

This is one incredible debut by Claire Evans. There’s an intricate and complex plot that I won’t get into any further to avoid spoiling it but suffice to say, it had me absolutely hooked. The author leads us through a delicious and immaculately woven web of secrets and even though the ultimate premise is quite dark and disturbing, she manages to lift the mood with surprisingly witty moments.

With vivid descriptions and a wonderful atmosphere, Claire Evans truly brings the various layers of London in the 1800’s to life, from Westminster to Whitechapel, from the rich to the poor, from the privileged to the dark underbelly of the criminal world. While there may have been a slight level of predictability, I found the conspiracies and twists plenty enough to keep me thoroughly entertained.

I really enjoyed this author’s writing, the brilliant characters and the intriguing plot and I look forward to reading more by Claire Evans in future.

Many thanks to Ella Bowman at Little Brown UK for my copy, which I chose to review honestly!

The Fourteenth Letter is available now!

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Friend Request by Laura Marshall @laurajm8

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Author : Laura Marshall
Title : Friend Request
Pages : 384
Publisher : Sphere
Publication date : July 27, 2017

aboutthebook

When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past, her heart nearly stops.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty-five years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life with a terrible secret.

As Maria’s messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress. Trying to piece together exactly what happened that night, she soon discovers there’s much she didn’t know. The only certainty is that Maria Weston disappeared that night, never to be heard from again – until now.

mythoughts

For someone like me, who dislikes Facebook with a fiery passion, this is the stuff of nightmares right here. Imagine receiving a friend request from someone you believe to be dead. I think my heart would skip a beat. Or just stop. And there are various other events that will make you either check your privacy settings or delete your Facebook account altogether.

This is what happens in Friend Request. Louise receives a friend request from Maria but Maria has been missing for decades. She was last seen at a leavers’ party and it’s quite clear early on that Louise knows more about that night than she’s letting on.

Part of the story is set back in 1989 where through flashbacks we learn about the sometimes vicious nature of teenagers. While my high school days were nothing like this at all, thankfully, it’s incredibly easy to imagine the popular cliques, the need to belong and impress, the bullying and how quickly things can spiral out of control. And this was in the days before social media.

In the present day chapters, Louise is forced to reconnect with old classmates as the messages she receives start to become more frightening. What really happened the night Maria went missing? Louise isn’t the only one holding on to secrets and the truth is far worse than she could ever have imagined.

Friend Request is an incredible debut by Laura Marshall. The plot was gripping from start to finish. With a brilliant pace and twists, turns and red herrings, it had me glued to the pages. I always find a true mark of how engrossed I am in a story, is when I finish reading and realise I didn’t take notes to write my review. Which is what happened here. Utterly absorbing and compelling, I highly recommend this one and very much look forward to what this new and exciting author comes up with next.

Friend Request is available now!

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