Claire loves to read!

I'm Claire and I'm a voracious reader. I've loved books all my life and am lucky enough to have lots of time to devote to my favourite hobby - reading!

 

My favourite genres are crime, police procedural, psychological thriller, suspense, horror, mystery and paranormal; throw in a hint of romance and it'll tick another box. The type of genres I read has been widened considerably by accepting review requests from authors and publishers, so I'm happy to give almost anything a go!

 

    bookbridgr.com   2016 NetGalley Challenge 
      Reviews Published    2015 Challenge Participant

 *NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTING REVIEW APPLICATIONS*
 

Review: The Forgotten Woman by Angela Marsons

The Forgotten Woman - Angela Marsons

Published by: Bookouture (11th July 2016) 

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Synopsis:

Two ordinary women. Two damaged lives. One friendship that would save them both
Kit Mason has lived a life of unimaginable pain. An ex-prostitute, she has fled the clutches of an abusive pimp and now finds herself living hand to mouth in a new city, without anyone to help her.

Frances Thornton seems to be living the perfect life. A lawyer from a privileged background, her perfect façade hides the painful secrets that still haunt her.

Brought together by their attempts to conquer their addictions in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, the two women strike up an unlikely friendship.

But can they find strength in each other – or will the demons of their past catch up with them?

 

Review:

I was intrigued by this change in genre from crime thriller author Angela Marsons. The Forgotten Woman tells the story of the chance meeting of Fran and Kit, and their battles to overcome their demons. 

 

While I didn't immediately identify with either of the main characters, I could appreciate that they were well written. The backgrounds of the characters was intriguing, particularly Fran's. It felt like the author had drawn on personal experience, or carried out extensive research. Because of this, it was easy to picture the scene playing out in front of me.

 

I didn't think this was as good as the author's crime thriller series, but that is my preferred genre.

Special thanks to Kitty French and Bookouture for providing a review copy, via NetGalley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French

Melody Bittersweet and The Girls' Ghostbusting Agency - Kitty French

Published by: Bookouture (13th July 2016)

 

ISBN-13: 978-1786810397

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Review:

When I first started reading Melody Bittersweet I wasn't really sure what to expect, and was a little dubious. I certainly wasn't expecting the delightfully funny, riotous romp of a tale that ensued. 

 

Melody is a fantastic complex character, whose personality leaps off the page.Supported by a brilliant cast of secondary characters, Melody quickly became my new best friend and someone to be admired. The laugh-out-loud moments just don't stop!

 

Well written with an eye for detail, Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency is a book that really took me by surprise and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who enjoys a damn good read!

 

   

Review: Lizzie's Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow

Lizzie's Christmas Escape: A sparkling feel good Christmas romance - Christie Barlow

Published by: Bookouture (21st October 2016)

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Synopsis:

A gorgeous country house hotel, a liberal dusting of snow, a cosy weekend away…what more could Lizzie ask for at Christmas?

Every Christmas Lizzie promises herself that things will change and she will leap into the new year a new woman. And yet here she is again, at the beginning of December and nothing is different. Her girls have grown up and left home, her husbandHenry is slumped in front of the TV and she is alone in the kitchen, seeking refuge in the cooking sherry and talking to her Gary Barlow calendar. She’s also been very diverted by handsome new neighbour Marcus and she knows she shouldn’t be …

So when best friend Ann suggests a weekend away in the country, Lizzie jumps at the chance. Will this Christmas escape give Lizzie some much needed perspective and allow her to mend her marriage? Or will Marcus prove to be too much of a distraction?

A funny feel good festive read about rediscovering the magic of Christmas - just the thing to curl up with on a cold winters night.

 

 

Review:

This was my first Xmas read of this year and was an ideal way to ease into the cosy, Christmassy feelings these festive books bring about.

 

I found main character Lizzie likeable and believable, even if I didn't really identify with her very much. Best friend Ann is great too, and the pair bounce off each other nicely. Lizzie did seem a little naive at times, which I found slightly frustrating, but that is my only criticism of the character.

 

I found parts of the story predictable, but that doesn't really matter with this type of fiction, as long as some things are still a surprise! I like that it is a very human story and definitely not all sugary sweet, so it feels very realistic.

 

Thanks to Christie Barlow and Bookouture for supplying a review copy, via NetGalley.

Review: Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelsen

Clean Soups: Simple, Nourishing Recipes for Health and Vitality - Mat Edelson, Rebecca Katz

Published by: Ten Speed Press (6th September 2016)

 

ISBN: 9780399578250

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Description:

From bestselling author Rebecca Katz comes this collection of 60 recipes for pure, cleansing soups intended to renew and restore.

In Clean Soups, author Rebecca Katz teaches readers how to incorporate wholesome stocks and soups into their everyday eating so they can detox and feel energized year-round. The book includes foundational broths, blended soups, and traditional healing soups, as well as a 2-day cleanse and information that outlines how to incorporate soups into everyday living. Rebecca also lays out the building blocks for creating delicious and balanced soups, guiding readers to create their own concoctions. Rounding out the book are recipes for soup toppers that can be mixed and matched to enhance and change the flavor of every soup in the book.

 

Review:

I really enjoy a good bowl of soup and much prefer to eat pure, unprocessed food as it makes me feel so much better than how I feel if I eat lots of unhealthy, processed foods loaded with strange sounding artificial ingredients.

 

The recipes included may appear a little daunting to people who aren't used to cooking from scratch, but if they've already purchased the book I'll assume they have the motivation to actually cook the recipes too. Of course, there are lots of nifty gadgets that make it all a lot simpler too.

 

I've made a few soups from this book and I've really enjoyed them. I prefer a blended soup, so it was different for me to leave some in a chunky style, but I found them very tasty so I've learned that I like chunky soups too, and found them really filling.

 

The 2-day cleanse detail is a nice added bonus that seems to fit in well with the clean eating ethos and something other soup books probably wouldn't contain, so could well be this book's USP.

 

Special thanks to Ten Speed Press and NetGalley for providing an ARC in return for my honest review.

Type X (Project W. A. R. #2) by M.A. Phipps, the sequel to Ultraxenopia, my 2015 book of the year, is published today!

Type X - M. A. Phipps

Published by: CHBB Publishing (19th August 2016)

 

ASIN: B01KLCZRLI

 

Synopsis:

Two years have passed since her willing return to the DSD, and Wynter Reeves is no longer the timid girl who only wanted to blend in. Strong, confidant, and in control of her once debilitating powers, the world trembles at her feet while news of what she’s capable of spreads like fire among the State’s enemies. As the death toll rises and Dr. Richter further warps her into a weapon of war, Wynter is forced to embrace the daunting reality of what she’s become. With the remnants of her humanity hanging on by a shoestring, she must choose between the one sacrifice that could lead to her salvation or the dark path of destruction from which there can be no return.

Torn between two sides of a war she never asked for, will Wynter find her freedom, or will she be doomed to remain a monster forever?

 

Review:

This follow-up to last year's Ultraxenopia had an awful lot to live up to. It was great to finally catch up with Wynter and see what was happening in her life, now that she was back at the DSD.

 

It was a bit of a shock at first that two years had gone by since the end of Ultraxenopia, but I soon forgot about that as I was immediately sucked into the story. Wynter is now the State's killing machine and seems resigned to this fate, although she does remember some of the person she was before she was turned into a weapon. I don't put spoilers in my reviews and I'm having trouble with this one already! Suffice to say there is lots of action, a few characters from the first book make an appearance, including Dr Richter, who is determined to recapture his ultimate weapon. There are also some new characters that Wynter is rather suspicious of at first. Conversely, people are suspicious of Wynter. She is determined to prove that she is not the monster people perceive her to be.

 

M.A. Phipps has, again, written a compelling novel that grabs you from the very outset.It is intelligently written and utterly captivating, making it impossible to put down until you have finished the entire book. It is also quite emotionally diverse. I cannot wait to see where the story picks up in book three!

 

 

Review: The Woman who Lost her Mojo by Carol E. Wyer

The Woman Who Lost Her Mojo: An uplifting feel good novel about new love - Carol E. Wyer

Published by: Bookouture (23rd September 2016)

 

ISBN: 9781786810724 

 

Source: NetGalley 

 

Rating: 4.5*

 

Synopsis:

Since splitting from her husband, Charlie’s life has been stuck in a rut. Best friend Mercedes will do anything to put a smile back on Charlie’s face and so draws up a bucket list of things to help Charlie recover her mojo.

Sure enough, as Charlie works her way through the list, belly dancing and bungee jumping, she makes new friends and even begins to attract some male attention.

Journalist Jake gives Charlie butterflies but he almost seems too perfect – there must be a reason why he’s single. Perhaps Rob would be a better bet – yes he’s short and he drinks too much - but a girl can’t have everything can she?

The final challenge on Charlie’s list looms large. Can Charlie complete it and prove to herself that life is for living, whatever may have happened in the past? And can Jake get through to Charlie and stop her from settling for the single life or, the wrong man?

 

 

Review:

I don't read an awful lot of chick lit, but I know I can rely on the Bookouture authors to provide some much-needed light relief when I need a break from my beloved crime and psychological thrillers. Award-winning writer Carol E. Wyers is a new author to me, but I am familiar with her name, having recently found a copy of Life Swap in a local second hand book shop.

 

The premise of this novel is fabulous; two best friends agree to work their way through each others' Carpe Diem list, their version of a bucket list, undertaking the challenges. As Charlie works her way through her challenges, each more scary than the last, she gets into all sorts of trouble, often with hilarious results. I laughed so much whilst reading this book, it's got such a feel good factor! 

 

Charlie and best friend Mercedes seem like a couple of women I'd be friends with, and their relationship is so easy to relate to. Other characters simply add to the enjoyment, particularly adorable Bert. My only criticism would be that I worked out very early on what would happen, but I think this is acceptable in the genre, and the only thing that made me give it less than 5*.

 

Thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing an ARC in return for my honest review.

 

 

Review: The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells

The Beauty of the End - Debbie Howells

Published by: Kensington Books (July 26 2016) (hardback)

 

ISBN: 9781496705983

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Description:

"I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . ."

So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose--and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.

While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April's name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.

Or so everyone believes. . .

 

Review:

I devoured Debbie Howells' debut, 2015's The Bones of You, so when I had the opportunity to read a review copy of The Beauty of the End, I jumped at the chance.

 

Upon meeting Noah, I was a little wary as I wasn't sure whether he would turn out to be trustworthy or not. He comes across as quite needy and clearly still has very strong feelings for April. Strong, verging on the obsessive. He finds out impossible to resist trying  prove her innocence, the pull of her is just too strong, even lying in a coma.

 

The chapters tell the story from different perspectives: Noah's; Ella's; and the young Noah, who tells of his love of April. I found this confusing in a couple of places and had to double check whose point of view it was, but that's likely nothing to do with the writing and everything to do with my compromised attention span!

 

I enjoyed the way the story built, layer upon layer, with twists along the way, but I did manage to work out a couple of things from the clues and words left unsaid. Having said that, the final twist was something I'd not forseen - it was quite a shock! 

 

Ella's story, told via sessions with her therapist, added more depth and structure, and of course I was trying to guess how she fit in. 

Once again, Debbie Howells' masterful storytelling and great attention to detail make for a deeply compelling psychological  that I highly recommend.

Special thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book, in return for my honest opinion. 

Review: The Invisible Man (Leo Junker #1) by Christoffer Carlsson (author); Michael Gallagher (translator)

The Invisible Man from Salem - Christoffer Carlsson

Publisher: Scribe Publications; (14 July 2016)

 

ISBN-13: 978-1925228786

 

Source: Real Readers 

 

Rating: 3*

 

Synopsis:

When a young woman is shot dead in his apartment block, disgraced former police officer Leo Junker is one of the first on the scene. Examining the dead body, he notices that the woman is clasping a cheap necklace - a necklace he instantly recognises. Despite being warned off the case, Leo sets out on a rogue investigation to catch the killer, uncovering a series of frightening connections between the murder and his own troubled youth in Salem, and forcing him to confront a long ago incident that changed his life forever.

 

Review:

After a rather rocky start, I decided to persevere with The Invisible Man From Salem, because I had heard such good things about the author, and the story had really appealed to me.

The Leo Junker of the present day is in a sorry state. Suspended from the police force and with a penchant for knocking back tranquilizers with shots of absinthe, Leo is suddenly transported back in time when a piece of evidence ties him to this current case. Leo's teenage years are told in the present time and first person, which I an not usually a huge fan of, but the younger Leo is more optimistic, relatively sober, and not yet reliant on pharmaceuticals to get him through the day. He is also very well written, and nothing is lost in the translation. This is where the plot began to sink its claws in and I started wondering what the rest of this book held for the maverick cop.

 

All in all, this was an enjoyable read but, for me, the 'wow' factor was missing. Special thanks Scribe, Real Readers and the team at nudge for providing me with a copy of this book, in return for my honest review.

Review: A Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones

A Modern Way to Cook: 150+ Vegetarian Recipes for Quick, Flavor-Packed Meals - Anna Jones

Published by Ten Speed Press (30th August 2016)

 

ISBN: 978-0399578427

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Description:

From the author of the brilliant "A Modern Way to Eat," who was dubbed "the new Nigella Lawson" by "The Times," comes this beautiful collection of 150+ delicious and inspiring weeknight vegetarian recipes.

 

EATING HEALTHY ISN T ALWAYS EASY when you re coming home late at night and tired. In this genius new collection of vegetarian recipes, author Anna Jones tackles this common problem, making nourishing vegetable-centered food realistic on any day of the week. The chapters are broken down by time, with recipes that can be prepared in under 15, 20, 30, and 40 minutes, so no matter how busy you are, you can get dinner on the table, whether it be smoky pepper and white bean quesadilla, butternut squash and sweet leek hash, or chickpea pasta with simple tomato sauce. With evocative and encouraging writing, A Modern Way to Cook is a truly practical and inspiring recipe collection for anyone wanting to make meals with tons of flavor and little fuss.

 

Review:

This is a fantastic book for making quick meals full of yummy plant-based goodness. The recipes are arranged according to how long they take to prepare and cook. It's all so simple, the only way you could go wrong was if you didn't have the ingredients in the first place!

 

There are beautifully clear photographs to accompany almost every recipe, and suggested alternatives to vary the dishes too. This is being hailed as the best vegetarian book of recent years and claims to contain recipes to tempt even the most die-hard carnivore, and I can see why. There are recipes here that my meat-eating husband would enjoy, and I'm personally looking forward to trying the ones I've not already made.

Review: Remember My Name by Abbey Clancy

REMEMBER MY NAME- HB - ABBEY CLANCY

Published by: Mira UK (19th May 2016)

 

ISBN: 9781848454545

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Synopsis:

From the moment Liverpool teenager Jess stars in the school musical, she knows that she’s GOT to be a star. Fast forward a few years and the closest the now 22 year old Jessica has got to stardom is as a children’s entertainer – which is where she meets Jack, uncle to the spoiled 5 year old birthday princess, who spots Jessica’s talent and offers her a job with a record label. But that means that she’ll have to leave her family and her home and move to London – where she quickly finds that the streets aren’t quite paved with gold. And as she spends her days making tea for bitchy PR girls and her nights in a mouldy studio flat, Jessica wonders if leaving Liverpool for London has been a terrible mistake.

 

Attending an industry party – unfortunately only to serve canapes – Jessica’s fortunes suddenly change when Vogue, the singer due to perform at the event drops out. Before she knows it, Jessica volunteers to stand in and takes centre stage. After a dazzling performance, she is surrounded by people wondering who this amazing new talent is. What’s more, her star turn has been captured by the press and she has become an overnight sensation.

 

Plunged into the crazy world of glitz and glamour, Jessica’s life is transformed but as her star rises, she loses touch with her roots. Jessica’s teenage dreams of stardom may have come true, but at what cost?

 

Review:

Remember My Name is a delightful romp through the life of Jessy; an ordinary young woman quickly catapulted into the guise of Jessika, the newest pop star on the planet, simply by being in the right place at the right time. Oh yeah, and by having a rather fab voice too! We follow Jessy as she tries to adapt to the demands of her new life and still find time for her family, friends and herself. Time she just doesn't seem to have enough of...

 

I suspect that there are more than a few parallels with the author's personal experiences here. The story seems very real and the emotions raw. The clever use of description makes it impossible not to feel for Jessy and the impossible situation she finds herself in. Having said that, this is certainly not a literary read, but it isn't marketed as such. I think it would greatly appeal to the YA/NA market.

 

The characters are easy to relate to - Jessy herself is likeable and believable, and other characters like Jessy's sister Becky and fellow singer Vogue are instantly likeable. Others, such as Patty, are slow burners and take a while to get to know. This book definitely puts you through the emotional wringer. I laughed out loud, snorted, gasped, shouted, and appeared to have something in my eye...

 

Special thanks to Mira UK and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Stepmother by Claire Seeber

The Stepmother: A gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist - Claire Seeber

Published by: Bookouture (15th July 2016)

 

ISBN: 9781786810496

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Synopsis:

The perfect wife. A fairytale family. Don’t believe your eyes…

Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.

No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.

And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.

But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.

Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.

After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending … doesn’t it?

 

Review:

Each chapter in this psychological thriller is told from the perspective of new wife, Jeanie, or her sister, Marlena, with Jeanie focusing on what is happening in the here and now, whilst Marlena has a more reflective view. It was useful to get some insight into the sisters' childhood and the ways in which it must have affected their views and actions in their lives and relationships.

 

As Jeanie encounters strange goings-on at home, the intelligence of Claire Seeber's writing shines through, leaving the reader as bewildered as Jeanie. The clever plot twists shift your focus this way and that, until you have absolutely no idea who is responsible for what, who is innocent and who, ultimately, is guilty.

 

Although I enjoyed the story as a whole, there were a couple of parts I found hard to get into. There is an awful lot going on and lots of different points I felt could have been explored further, or omitted all together, to make the story more concise. But, no doubt I'm being overly critical.

 

I thought the characters were quite well developed, and I really liked Jeanie. Although she was a pleaser, she also had a little bit of fighting spirit too, and the combination worked. I could picture each of the characters really well too, the descriptions were so good. Each little mannerism and personality trait came through, it was like the whole book played out in front of me. The descriptions of the environment, the houses and grounds, were fantastic too. I felt as though I could see each of the rooms and the gardens. I distinctly remember feeling the same way about a previous book by the same author and being very impressed by her writing. Claire Seeber is definitely one to watch.

 

Special thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader's copy, in return for my honest review.

Review: Shtum by Jem Lester

Shtum - Jem Lester

Published by: Orion (7th April 2016)

 

ISBN-13: 978-1409166511

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point.

His ten-year-old son, Jonah, has never spoken. So when Ben and Jonah are forced to move in with Ben's elderly father, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.

As Ben battles single fatherhood, a string of well-meaning social workers and his own demons, he learns some difficult home truths.

Jonah, blissful in his ignorance, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled.

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation - a strategic decision to further Jonah's case in an upcoming tribunal - Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben's elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.

As Ben battles single fatherhood, a string of well-meaning social workers and his own demons, he learns some difficult home truths. Jonah, blissful in his innocence, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled.

 

Review:

 

Comparisons to The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time are inevitable and warranted, but Shtum definitely has a darker feel. For his debut, Jem Lester drew upon his experiences with his non-verbal, autistic son, and it really shows. The result is a brilliant, insightful, honest portrayal of the bittersweet relationship between Ben and son Jonah.

 

Ben's father, Georg is a wonderful character and, I think, the glue that holds Ben together when he first moves in. Their relationship isn't perfect, but all the little touches and how they look after each other when they're both hurting so much inside is heartwarming.

 

Ben's and Georg's interactions with Jonah are fantastic and bring such a lightness to this otherwise rather dark tale. The humour is well placed; I laughed out loud several times and was reminded of the times when I cared for young people like Jonah.  It feels as though you are watching from the doorway and listening to what Ben and Georg have to say to Jonah, and each other.

 

Shtum is fantastic, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's one of those books that at first glance you might overlook, as I did. I'm so glad I came back to it and decided to read it. The story of Ben, Georg and Jonah will stay with me for a long time. I'd like to thank Orion for providing an advanced reader's copy, via NetGalley.

Review: Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

Dear Amy - Helen Callaghan

Published by: Penguin UK - Michael Joseph (16th June 2016)

 

ISBN: 9780718183752

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Synopsis:

Margot Lewis is the agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner. Her advice column, Dear Amy, gets all kinds of letters - but none like the one she's just received:

'Dear Amy,
I don't know where I am. I've been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I'm afraid he'll kill me.
Please help me soon,
Bethan Avery'

Bethan Avery has been missing for years. This is surely some cruel hoax. But, as more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything . . .

 

Review:

Dear Amy is a fast-paced debut psychological thriller, with a surprising premise that will keep you guessing as you try to fit all the pieces of the story together.

 

Margot is an ordinary schoolteacher who also works under the guise of agony aunt Amy. I found her to be quite difficult to get to know at first, but with the disappearance of one of her class of children, Katie Browne, Margot became so driven and determined to find the person responsible and save Katie, I found myself liking her more and I was really rooting for her, and for Katie.

 

The story is narrated from the different perspectives of the main characters, and some of it is hard reading due to the subject matter. It is intelligently and cleverly written, with the dropping of little tidbits of information along the way that leave you wondering where on earth they fit in to the whole picture. This really made me think, and I adore this in a book.

 

As Margot tries to work out whether Bethan Avery is still alive, and if so, who she is, the twists and turns get faster and tighter; I had no choice but to hold on tight as I turned the pages, unable to stop reading until I'd reached the exciting conclusion....

 

I'd recommend Dear Amy to fans of psychological thrillers such as You Sent Me A Letter.  It's an impressive, engaging read that's full of surprises. I'd like to thank Michael Joseph for providing an advance reader's copy, via NetGalley.

Review: All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All Is Not Forgotten - Wendy   Walker

Published by: Harlequin UK, Mira (14th July 2016)

 

ISBN: 9780008173616

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.

That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.
Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.
And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.

It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.

And that could destroy as much as it heals.

 

Review:

Jenny's story is told via sessions with therapist, Alan, who also has sessions with Jenny's mum and dad, and as such becomes an integral part of a local detective's hunt for her attacker. The small American town where the attack took place, and the family live, is one where everyone knows each other, making such an horrific attack on one of their own unthinkable. The transcripts of each person's therapy sessions are detailed and intriguing, with therapist Alan also including information from some of his other patients, as he sees it being pertinent to the case.

 

This is such a cleverly written book, it's so hard to put down, and i read it so quickly. The way that each main character's tale is recounted means there's a lot of information as well as a lot of emotion, but this all adds to the suspense and intrigue and doesn't detract from the main point. Some of this is very hard reading, due to the severity of the attack on Jenny, but it doesn't feel gratuitous in any way.

 

It's hard to say too much more without giving the game away, but suffice to say that the tension is ramped up with every chapter, I was utterly incredulous at several points and the conclusion is a revelation I'd not forseen. All in all, this is a tightly wound psychological thriller I'd recommend to all readers of the genre. Be prepared for a white knuckle ride!

 

Special thanks to the author and publisher for providing an ARC, via NetGalley, in return for my honest review.

Review: Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

Baby Doll - Hollie Overton

Published by: Random House UK, Cornerstone (30th June 2-16)

 

ISBN: 9781780895062

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.

For eight long years she's been locked away from the outside world. During that time she's changed from a girl into a woman. She's had a baby.

And now she has seized her chance and escaped.

Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know - to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend - and her freedom.

But is it possible to go back?

Lily's perfect life as a teenager doesn't exist any more. Since she's been gone, her family's lives have changed too, in ways she never could have imagined.

Her return, and the revelation of who took her, will send shockwaves through the whole community.

 

Review:

Lily's story, told from the perspective of the main characters, is absolutely horrific. Despite this, it is also utterly compelling. I can't get my head around the fact that crimes like this really happen, it's unthinkable.

Hollie Overton's gripping and intelligent writing is addictively good. I was desperate to find out who perpetrated this terrible crime, but instead of skimming (and quite unusually for me) I had to read every single word. I was scared of missing some vital clue that would lead me to the kidnapper's door. In spite of my close attention to detail, when the truth was revealed it was a complete surprise. My jaw must've hit the floor, it was such a shock!

 

Lily is a wonderful character. She's a survivor and incredibly strong. Her almost robotic air of calm when leading the authorities to her abductor is breathtaking. In contrast to this, the raw emotion she shows when reunited with her first love shows her humanity.

Abby is fantastic too. She's feisty and confrontational and a delight to read.

The abductor tells the story from their perspective too. To be inside the mind of such a character is at once both scary and thrilling and their story reads well alongside the other interpretations of events.

 

Special thanks to the author and publisher for providing an ARC of Baby Doll in return for my unbiased review.

 

 

 

 

Review: Behind Dead Eyes by Howard Linskey

Behind Dead Eyes - Howard Linskey

Published by: Penguin UK - Michael Joseph (28th June 2016)

ISBN: 9780718180348

Source: Netgalley

Rating: 4*

Synopsis:
A MYSTERY VICTIM

A corpse is found: its identity extinguished in the most shocking manner imaginable.
Detective Ian Bradshaw can't catch the killer if no one can ID the victim. Out there, somewhere, a missing young woman may hold the answers.

A SECRET WEB

Journalist Helen Norton is about to uncover a massive criminal conspiracy. She just needs the final piece of the puzzle. Soon, she will learn the price of the truth.

AN 'INNOCENT' KILLER

True-crime writer Tom Carney receives letters from a convicted murderer who insists he is innocent. His argument is persuasive - but psychopaths are often said to be charming...

WHAT IS THE DARK THREAD RUNNING THROUGH THESE CRIMES?


Review:
This is the second book to feature Detective Ian Bradshaw, Helen Norton and Tom Carney, the first being No Name Lane. I've really enjoyed meeting these three characters again; it felt like catching up with friends that I'd not seen for a while, which is something I absolutely love, both in books and the real world!  This reads well as a stand alone, but there is a bit of background information that comes from the first book, so I'd really recommend reading No Name Lane first, to get the most out of Behind Dead Eyes.

The case itself is horrifying, author Howard Linskey doesn't hold back on any of the gruesome details. As each of the main characters work from their own perspective, the individual threads begin to weave together to form a tangled, multi-layered means of attacking the case in front of them. I found this approach held my interest well. The ending of the book was impressive too; there were so many threads I was concerned the ending would be rather messy, but these were all tied nicely together.

Behind Dead Eyes is intelligently written and is a good example of great British crime writing. I'll be eagerly awaiting the third and final outing for Ian, Helen and Tom. I can barely wait!

Special thanks to the author and publisher for providing an ARC via Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.

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