Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Disclaimer - Renée Knight

"Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day she became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew—and that person is dead.

Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day . . . even if the shocking truth might destroy her".

OK, so I'm a little bit early in posting my review for this, as it's not actually published until April 9th, BUT I just couldn't hold it in anymore! This is a seriously creepy story. Imagine picking up a book from your nightstand and realising that it's actually been written about YOU, and about something in your past that you really, reeeeeeeeally want to keep secret. Scary, no? 

I was on tenterhooks the entire time I was reading, and swung wildly from loving characters, to hating them and back again. Knight's way of leaking out tiny bits of information at a time (and even then the information that she gives you isn't always what you think it is), meant that I could not stop reading - I HAD to find out what had happened to Catherine, why she wanted to keep it a secret and where did the other characters come into it all? Is everything really as straightforward as it seems? 

This was a definite 4.5 stars from me - the fact that it made me neglect everything else around me for two days says it all - an excellent plot with plenty of creepy twists and turns, some really loathable characters to get fired up about and a brilliant twist at the end. Read it, people.

Disclaimer is out on 9th April and you can get it here:

*Thanks to the lovely Alison Barrow at Transworld Books for my proof copy*

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Distance - Helen Giltrow

"Charlotte Alton has put her old life behind her. The life where she bought and sold information, unearthing secrets buried too deep for anyone else to find, or fabricating new identities for people who need their histories erased.

But now she has been offered one more job. To get a hit-man into an experimental new prison and take out someone who according to the records isn't there at all. 

It's impossible. A suicide mission. And quite possibly a set-up.

So why can't she say no?"

This was the most fast-paced novel I have read in ages. So fast-paced in fact, that for the first few chapters I had to keep flicking back to remember who was who, but once I settled into the storyline and figured out who was doing what it hooked me. The story reads like a Lee Child novel on speed - there's loads of action, loads of intrigue and the characters are extremely well-written. There is an air of mystery surrounding the whole plot all the way through and nothing becomes completely clear until the last third of the book, when all the lines tie up neatly together. It's hard to read this novel without becoming attached in some way to the main characters throughout, which I was surprised by as I don't normally feel much attachment at all to characters in this genre. The characters are complicated and cold-blooded but still have soul - it's not very often you read of an assassin who actually feels something towards their work. In short, this is simply a brilliant book. It gets a solid 4.5 stars from me, and would make an absolutely cracking movie. And I quite want to be a spy. Or an assassin. 

The Distance is out on 26th February and you can get it here:

*I received a copy from the publisher*

Thursday, 19 February 2015

A Memory of Violets - Hazel Gaynor

"In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s flower girls—orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive.
Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart."

Oh my gosh. I was warned about this book. I was warned by another lovely blogger that it would make me "ugly-cry", (thanks Becca! x) and oh man, did I cry. The only way to describe this novel is just absolutely BEAUTIFUL. It is one of the most stunning novels I have ever read. 

I have sisters, and they mean the world to me and the thought of not having a a relationship with them, or losing them breaks my heart - the way Hazel Gaynor links the stories of these two sets of sisters conveys perfectly the relationships I have with both my sisters. Her writing is beautiful, her characters are just stunning and the storyline was perfect. I literally do not have a bad word to say about A Memory of Violets. What I will say is that it is a 5 star book, it will make you "ugly-cry" and is best enjoyed in the comfort of your own home, where no one can judge you for being an emotional wreck by the end of it. 

A Memory of Violets is out now and you can get it here:

*I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from the publisher*

On Laughton Moor - Lisa Hartley

"Detective Sergeant Catherine Bishop has an enigmatic new boss, Detective Inspector Jonathan Knight. How he will adapt to life in Lincolnshire after years in the Met is anyone's guess. When the body of a well known local thug is discovered, an intriguing message found on his battered corpse raises unwelcome questions. Is DS Bishop herself being accused of the grisly murder, or does the message point to a more sinister secret? As the body count grows higher, Bishop and Knight find themselves in a race against time to discover the identity of a merciless, faceless killer whose motivation is a mystery."

This was a cracking debut - it was a little slow to start, but once it got going I was hooked. Catherine Bishop is a great character and I found her easy to relate to. I would have liked to have learnt a bit more about her boss, Jonathan Knight, as there were hints here and there about *something* that had happened to him earlier in his life, but you never actually really hear the full story. I'm hoping that this is because Lisa has another book lined up in the series and we will learn about it then! 

I didn't have a clue with regards to the twist until the last few pages when it all became clear - this I WAS happy with, as there is nothing worse than guessing the killer before the big twist comes. In all, I really enjoyed it, and am hoping that there is more to come!

On Laughton Moor is out now and you can get it here:

*I was lucky enough to have been given a copy by the author*

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Silent Scream - Angela Marsons

"Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood … 

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country. 

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades. 

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?" 

I seriously love a good crime novel. It's got to be my favourite genre, but it can be so hard to find a really excellent crime thriller where everything all fits together just perfectly - the plot, the characters, the writing. Generally, I always find one thing that, even though I may love the book, there's a little niggly bit that makes me think "meh" and it's rare that I find one without the 'meh' factor at all. The thing I love most about book reviewing is that you get to find some absolute gems - debut authors that you've never heard of before that make you sit up and think, "I need more of this!". Angela Marsons has TOTALLY done of these things with Silent Scream. I don't think I've been so hooked by a new author since the discovery of Mark Edwards or Mark Billingham, (the only other winners of the 'zero meh' factor, congrats boys).

I loved the plot - totally twisty-turny as a good crime thriller should be. I thought I knew who was behind it all, then I really didn't have a clue, and then another curve-ball was thrown right when I thought everything was all coming together. I loved the characters - Kim Stone is a fantastic lead character, just the right mix of slightly damaged crossed with woman on a mission to see that justice is done. I actually want to be Kim Stone when I grow up. 

Silent Scream gets 5 stars from me - if you finish a crime thriller feeling like you just need to have a lie-down and a cup of tea to get your breath back, then the writer has done their job. Angela Marsons, I still don't have my breath back. 

From 20th February you can get Silent Scream here:

*I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley*

Friday, 13 February 2015

Runner - Patrick Lee

"Sam Dryden was done being a hero. But when, acting on instinct, he hides a terrified young girl from a group of well-armed pursuers, his fate is sealed.

Eleven-year-old Rachel can't remember much, but she knows she was imprisoned by the men trying to kill her. And that she is important to them.

In Dryden, though, Rachel has found the perfect protector.

An ex-soldier with the kind of elite military career he's not at liberty to talk about, Dryden's a man well versed in secrets, and driven to do what's right. But hunted and on the run, it's only as Rachel's memory returns that Dryden begins to fully appreciate the scale of the dangers they face. And then only one thing matters:

Don't. Get. Caught."

I finished this book last night and by the time I was done I was COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED, (not just because it was the middle of the night). This book was fabulous - it hooked me in from the very first page, where hero Sam first meets Rachel. What followed was a complete non-stop roller coaster that hurtled through pages and pages of non-stop action.

It is a very well-written book and the characters were perfect - I loved the people I was supposed too, hated the people I was supposed and some of the characters just made your heart bleed a little bit. Sam is a great hero - think Jack Reacher style hero! - but Patrick Lee manages to write him without making him come across as completely unrealistic. Four stars from me for Runner - I highly recommend it if you are a Lee Child/Jack Reacher fan you'll love it.

Runner is out now and you can get it here:

*I was very kindly given an ARC by Eve at Penguin *

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Fragile Lies - Laura Elliott

"His name is Michael Carmody. 
He is a writer and a father. 
His son is lying in a coma, fighting for his life. 
Her name is Lorraine Cheevers. 
She is an artist and mother. 
An illicit affair has destroyed her marriage. 
Michael is desperate to find the couple who left his son for dead, a victim of a hit and run. 
Lorraine is desperate to start a new life for her and her daughter. 
Michael and Lorraine are about to cross paths – damaged souls, drawn to one another. 
They don’t know that their lives are already connected. 
They don’t know the web of lies surrounding them. 
They are each searching for the truth. But when they find it, it could destroy them both."

To be honest, I was looking forward to reading this but it was just….OK. In the end. There was a good story line, and the connecting stories that linked the characters was also good but there just something missing. I can't put my finger on what it was - maybe just the fact that I couldn't really relate to the characters? The adultery side of the novel made it extremely difficult to like certain characters, which may have been the author's intention, but I felt like there were some characters that I was supposed to like but I just didn't. That said, I did really like both Emily and Ralph, both had a very sharp wit about them in some places that did make me laugh.

In all, this was a good read - a few twists and turns through the storyline that made it more interesting, but I think it could have been so much more - maybe I've just read too many psycho-thrillers lately and I was waiting for the BIG TWIST??!! I will definitely be recommending this to my mum, because I know she will love it!

Fragile Lies is out on 12th February and you can get it here:

*I received an ARC from the publisher and Netgalley*

Monday, 9 February 2015

Follow The Leader - Mel Sherratt

"A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a magnetic letter in the shape of an E.
Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing.
As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert.
The race is on. Allie and the team must work quickly to determine where the killer will strike next. The rules are simple but deadly—to catch the killer, they must follow the leader."

Normally I don't like it when a writer lets you know who the killer is at the beginning of a good old crime thriller, but in this case it really worked. You know who the killer is and you know (mostly) why he's killing them, but you don't always know who the victim is in relation to the killer and there's plenty of little red herrings thrown in to chuck you off the scent. 

This is the second in the series of Allie Shenton novels, and I was slightly concerned as I haven't read the first one yet, but it completely worked as a stand alone novel, making reference to the first but without any spoilers. I liked Allie, but some of the other characters in her team could have done with a bit more fleshing out - that said it's possible I may have felt like this because I hadn't read the first in the series. Perfect excuse for me to go and read it! 

Follow The Leader is out on 10th February and you can get it here:

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Etta and Otto and Russell and James - Emma Hooper

"I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. I will try to remember to come back.
Etta's greatest unfulfilled wish, living in the rolling farmland of Saskatchewan, is to see the sea. And so, at the age of eighty-two she gets up very early one morning, takes a rifle, some chocolate, and her best boots, and begins walking the 2, 000 miles to water. 
Meanwhile her husband Otto waits patiently at home, left only with his memories. Their neighbour Russell remembers too, but differently - and he still loves Etta as much as he did more than fifty years ago, before she married Otto."

What a lovely, lovely book. The story of Etta and Otto and Russell and James is just incredibly written. The story is told through a series of letters, flitting between the present day when Etta embarks on her pilgrimage to the ocean and Otto's time in the war - each character hooked me in within a few pages and it was easy to become completely emotionally attached to each of them. A beautiful love story, (you can't help but love Otto, waiting patiently at home), reminiscent of Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I would recommend this to anyone who can appreciate a lovely piece of literature. Emma Hooper is a very talented lady and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. 

Etta and Otto and Russell and James is out now and you can get it here:

I was kindly given an ARC by the publisher and Netgalley. 

Friday, 6 February 2015

The Kind Worth Killing - Peter Swanson

"Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched - but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?
Back in Boston, Ted's wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline. But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?"

WOW. Every now and then a book comes along that makes you shriek a little bit as you read it, that makes you want to grab hold of the arm of the person next to you and shout "OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD!" in their face. This is that kind of book, and that is the kind of treatment that poor old Mr H has been experiencing since I picked it up. The story alternates between the characters involved and is told in turn from each person's point of view (but not in a confusing way). I started reading, and I thought, "yeah, this is OK. But I dunno why the Book Club Bestie was raving about it so much??". Til I hit the first twist - and Mr H got grabbed by the arm while I screeched, "OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD!" in his face. 

Each character was easy to relate to - and I loved each and every one of them, even though I probably wasn't supposed to like some of them, and the ending was perfect - subtle, with an extra twist of "OH MY GOD'. Peter Swanson has done a brilliant job in creating a fantastic thriller, with quite brilliant characters and this could quite possibly be my book of the year so far.

The Kind Worth Killing is out now and you can get your copy here (and you really should):

I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC from the publisher and Netgalley.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Dolls House - M J Arlidge

"A young woman wakes in a cold, dark cellar, with no idea how she got there or who kidnapped her. So begins her terrible nightmare.

The body of another young woman is discovered buried on a remote beach. But the dead girl was never reported missing - her estranged family having received regular texts from her over the years.

For DI Helen Grace it's chilling evidence that she's chasing a twisted monster who is clever and resourceful - a predator who's killed before.

As Helen struggles to understand the killer's motivation, she realises she's in a desperate race against time…"

Oh my. I am a MASSIVE fan of DI Helen Grace (and creator, M.J. Arlidge) so I was hugely excited to be offered his new novel as an ARC from Netgalley. I LOVE HELEN GRACE. She is so cool. Massively, amazingly cool. Yes, she is slightly screwed up (who wouldn't be with that past?), but she totally KICKS ASS in every book. 

This third instalment in the Helen Grace series was super creepy - and I couldn't put it down. The whole idea of someone going missing - but nobody ever actually realising they were missing - made the whole thing just even more terrifying than your usual serial-killer-psycho-thriller scenario. If you haven't already read the first two novels in this series GO AND DOWNLOAD THEM NOW…..then get ready for this one, I guarantee you won't be able to put it down. 

The Doll's House is out on Thursday 12th February and you can get it here:

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Reaper - Steven Dunne

"A damaged detective and a brutal serial killer collide in this nail-biting thriller debut.
Detective Inspector Damen Brook thinks he’s left his past behind him in London. But it seems a serial killer has followed him north…
Brook’s seeking sanctuary. Years in the MET have left their mark - so much so that he's fled to Derby leaving behind his marriage, his teenage daughter and very nearly his sanity to wind down a once promising career in the peace of the Peak District.
But one winter's night, Brook is confronted by a serial killer he hunted many years before - The Reaper - a man who slaughters families in their homes then disappears without a trace.
To find this killer Brook must discover what the Reaper is doing in Derby, why he's started killing again and what, if anything, connects the butchered families.
As Brook becomes entangled in a deadly game of cat and mouse, he is forced to face his own demons by revisiting the previous investigation and confronting a past that destroyed his family and nearly cost him his life…"

I can't quite believe that I haven't discovered Steven Dunne before, as what he writes is right up my alley. I heard differing views regarding The Reaper, the main criticism it seems, is that it is too long. And it was. But in a really, really good way. The book could have ended at a certain point, (indeed I thought I was finished), but then it carried on….and what happened in those last few "additional" chapters literally took my breath away. So yeah, maybe The Reaper could have finished earlier, but those last extra pages were worth it - I went from loving Brook, to hating him and back again all that short space of writing. 

I think Brook is an excellent character, your usual messed up, mildly alcoholic detective, but written in such a way that you can't help but root for him when the chips are down - and seems they frequently are for poor old Damen. I am so looking forward to the next in the series (I know right - nothing beats discovering an author and then realising THERE ARE LOADS MORE IN THE SERIES). And having "chatted" with Steven on our mutual Facebook Book Club, he seems to be a jolly nice chap too.

The Reaper is out now (as are the rest in the series) and you can get them HERE: