‘The Lost Child’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! I hope that you’re keeping safe and well, and that you’re still able to enjoy reading 🙂 I finally seem to be getting my reading mojo back after a rough few weeks and hope to get back to blogging properly soon as well. Thank you to everyone who has been taking the time to leave me comments; they warm my heart and I promise to respond to them as soon as possible.

Today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis. And hooray, I don’t need to apologise to anyone today because I managed to finish the book on time! I’m not sure how coherent this review will be as my head is still a little bit fried but I’m hoping it makes enough sense hehe. Read on to find out why you should pick this one up during lockdown… 😉

the lost child


synopsis

1960. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca lives in fear of her father’s temper. As a storm batters Seaview Cottage one night, she hears a visitor at the door and a violent argument ensues. By the time the police arrive, Rebecca’s parents are dead and the visitor has fled. No one believes Rebecca heard a stranger downstairs…

2014. Iris, a journalist, is sent to cover the story of a new mother on the run with her desperately ill baby. But fatefully the trail leads to the childhood home of Iris’s own mother, Rebecca…Seaview Cottage.

As Iris races to unravel what happened the night Rebecca’s parents were killed, it’s time for Seaview Cottage to give up its secrets.


my thoughts

This was an incredibly easy book to get invested in. The scenes set in the present are extremely gripping and then you have the backstory adding so much more. The way everything gradually begins to come together as the book progresses was nothing short of awesome.

The author was able to keep me guessing for a good while with chapters written from an unknown perspective; just when I thought I had figured out who was speaking, Gunnis would throw me off the scent again. I love when a book can do that.

The gradual reveal was really well executed and had me hurtling towards the end of the book, desperate for answers. This is the perfect book to lose yourself in at the moment.

There are a lot of perspectives to get your head around at first and it took me a while to get everyone straight in my mind but after a while, this was no longer an issue and I knew who everybody was and how they all linked up. I love books where history seems to repeat itself so if that’s something you like too, I would recommend this one!

I will say that there were quite a few mistakes in the ARC that occasionally pulled me out of the story a little but hopefully these were caught before the final printing!

This book takes an important look at a mental health issue which is not often discussed and I found it fascinating to read about. The story hurtles along at break-neck speed towards its conclusion and never once relaxes the pace, so the reader is gripped from start to finish. And I think that’s something we all need from our books in the current time.

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To see what other readers think of this one, check out the other stops on the blog tour!

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What books have you been picking up during these testing times? Let me know in the comments! x

‘Real Life’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today is my day on the blog tour for Real Life, published by World Editions! Read on to find out more about this one…

real life


synopsis

At home there are four rooms: one for her, one for her brother, one for her parents…and one for the carcasses. The father is a big game hunter, a powerful predator; the mother is submissive to her violent husband’s demands. The young narrator spends the days with her brother, playing in the shells of cars dumped for scrap and listening out for the chimes of the ice-cream truck, until a brutal accident shatters their world.

The uncompromising pen of Adeline Dieudonné wields flashes of brilliance as she brings her characters to life in a world that is both dark and sensual. This breathtaking debut is a sharp and funny coming-of-age tale in which reality and illusion collide.


my thoughts

I was unsure what to expect from this book and I remain unsure as to how I would describe it. The book defies categorisation. But nonetheless, I was utterly gripped by it. Real Life was a strange reading experience but one which captivated me from start to finish.

The matter-of-fact tone of Dieudonné’s writing contrasts with some quite grisly imagery, and I was genuinely horrified at times. This book is certainly not for the faint of heart. There was one particular section of the novel where I felt I couldn’t get my breath. Any author who can evoke such a physical reaction in their reader is one of clear talent.

However, there were also moments that were poetic and starkly beautiful. I would disagree with the word “funny” in the blurb as there is nothing amusing about the author’s portrayal of domestic abuse. It is raw and unflinching. Nevertheless, there is something truly special about the events in this book.

This is a clever novel, unlike anything I have read before. It certainly won’t be for everyone but if you feel like you could stomach the graphic moments, it’s definitely worth the read. I feel like this one will stay with me for a long time.

real life


Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

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‘Beast’ spoiler-free review!

Hi lovelies! Today, I’m on the blog tour for Beast by Matt Wesolowski, the latest instalment in the Six Stories series. I haven’t read the previous books but this one totally worked as a standalone and I’m sure the others would too. But I’m definitely interested in going back now and reading the earlier instalments after how much I enjoyed this one!

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synopsis

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

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

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire’…


my thoughts

First of all, it was delightful to read about the North East of England, where I grew up! It’s always a weirdly awesome feeling, reading about somewhere you know – or is that just me? Not only that but having lived through the ‘Beast from the East’, there was a great sense of reality to this book. It made me feel even more invested.

This sense of place is one of Beast‘s biggest strengths. Wesolowski really captures the bleakness of the rugged coastal village of Ergarth and it worked so perfectly for the story he was telling. I could visualise everything so clearly and could almost feel the biting cold of that snowstorm all over again.

Beast has a fantastic conversational tone, being written in the format of podcast episodes. I thought this was a really clever framing device to keep the reader hooked.  You can’t possibly put the book down in the middle of an episode! The style makes for a fast-paced read with great flow. I think it would translate so well to audiobook!

I really enjoyed all the different perspectives that were presented and the slow piecing together of what happened. As a reader, you begin to question things and doubt what you thought you knew until the ending totally blows you away.

Overall, I thought this was a unique thriller that kept me gripped from start to finish. Beast takes an important look at society’s obsession with social media and the need to be ‘liked’, and I’m sure it will make many readers uncomfortable at times. But I highly recommend it!

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 Have you read any of the Six Stories books? Do you like the sound of this one? Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

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‘Magpie’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I totally thought I’d already reviewed this book which was gifted to me by Avon Books, oops! But better late than never, right?! This book may not be as fresh in my mind as I would like it to be for writing a review but I’ll give it my shot nonetheless!

magpie


synopsis

Claire lives with her family in a beautiful house overlooking the water. But she feels as if she’s married to a stranger – one who is leading a double life. As soon as she can get their son Joe away from him, she’s determined to leave Duncan.

But finding out the truth about Duncan’s secret life leads to consequences Claire never planned for. Now Joe is missing, and she’s struggling to piece together the events of the night that tore them all apart.

Alone in an isolated cottage, hiding from Duncan, Claire tries to unravel the lies they’ve told each other, and themselves. Something happened to her family… But can she face the truth?


my thoughts

It was a struggle to not compare this book to its predecessor, Cuckoo, even though they are unrelated. I loved Draper’s debut and found it to be hugely atmospheric, even referring to it as “one of the best thrillers I’ve read”. So you can imagine how excited I was to read this follow-up. Sadly, Draper’s sophomore novel didn’t work for me quite so well.

I found the plot of this novel to be very disjointed and I never felt fully invested. Even when the disparate story fragments eventually came together, I was never completely convinced.

I also found this book to be a bit too slow-paced for me. I feel like a bit of a hypocrite saying that because the slow-burning tension was one of the things that worked most for me in Cuckoo but in Magpie, it was just a tad too slow to hold my attention. I also found it to be quite repetitive so, ultimately, I struggled to remain interested.

In terms of the characters, Claire and Duncan’s narrative perspectives were not overly distinctive, making it a struggle to remember who was meant to be speaking. I felt held at a constant distance and never really warmed to any of the characters. The book also switches between first person and third person, and past and present tense, all of which made for a read which didn’t flow overly well.

Overall, I’m disappointed by Draper’s second novel but I still hugely recommend Cuckoo and I haven’t written the author off yet. I will keep an eye out for what she writes next in the hope that it can recapture the qualities I loved in her debut.

magpie


What was the last book you read that disappointed you? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘All The Rage’ spoiler-free review and giveaway!

Hi everyone! Today, I’m on the HUGE blog tour for All The Rage, which is out in paperback today! This is the first Cara Hunter book I’ve read and I’m pleased to say I enjoyed it 😀 And I’m delighted to be able to offer one of YOU a copy of your very own because I accidentally ended up with two! So if you enjoy my review and like the sound of this one, make sure you leave me a comment saying you’d like to be entered in the giveaway! ❤

all the rage


synopsis

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…


my thoughts

As I mentioned previously, this was the first book I’ve read by Cara Hunter and I wasn’t disappointed! All The Rage was extremely compelling. I found it effective the way scenes would chop and change quite quickly, giving short bursts of information; this made for a very fast-paced read and made sure I couldn’t put the book down before finding out the next snippet! The book includes a range of formats, with social media conversations, courtroom transcripts and psychiatric reports all adding a sense of realness to the story and further heightening its gripping nature. It’s certainly a very readable book that will keep you up long into the night!

I will be completely honest and say that it took me a short while to get into the book. Normally, I like my thrillers to grab me within the first few pages and not let go. With All The Rage, it took a little longer for me to become invested. There were a lot of characters to try and keep track of in my head and I was mixing people up quite a bit because I’m silly like that. But then something was revealed around page 50 (which I can’t even hint at because SPOILERS) that got me hooked! From then on, my brain was ALL ABOUT this book.

As I said, there are quite a few characters in All The Rage. I didn’t realise before I picked it up that it’s actually the fourth book in a series so maybe I wouldn’t have struggled so much if I’d been on board from the beginning. That said, I still wholeheartedly believe that this book can be read as a standalone without the prior knowledge! I enjoyed getting to learn the dynamics of this particular police team and following the various subplots which were set up. Everyone felt realistically human, though my favourite character was definitely DC Somer who brought a slightly softer edge to a very masculine-feeling group.

Overall, I found this to be a complex and compelling read with a unique angle which I’ve not seen done before in a thriller. I truly appreciated the important issues which this book addressed while still managing to stand as an entertaining piece of fiction. It’s hard for a book to be original in this saturated genre but I think this one has managed it well.

all the rage


All The Rage is out today, January 23rd! Will you be reading it? Check out the other stops on this huge blog tour for more information and reviews! You can also sign up to Cara’s newsletter here!

And if you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a brand new paperback copy of the book, leave me a comment below! (UK entrants only, sorry!)

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‘Pine’ spoiler-free review!

Hi lovelies! It’s time for my first review of the year! And I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Pine, the debut novel by Francine Toon. If you’re a fan of the Gothic, you’re going to want to read this one…

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synopsis

They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone. In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago. Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust… 

In spare, haunting prose, Francine Toon creates an unshakeable atmosphere of desolation and dread. In a place that feels like the end of the world, she unites the gloom of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.


my thoughts

This was a very enjoyable debut! Pine is instantly atmospheric; Toon does a wonderful job of conjuring the eerie, isolated setting and making her reader feel immediately unnerved. I genuinely loved the setting. Spooky forests with a hint of the mythical are my jam. But what makes Toon’s setting work so well is the combination of this folkloric style with more modern references. The story is so well-grounded in reality that it makes it very easy to suspend your disbelief and accept the possibility of supernatural elements. And this made it all the more unsettling.

The fact that the book is set in Scotland was another huge plus for me. I feel like Scotland is a country that just lends itself so well to this type of story. Toon’s use of Scottish dialect was very well done and I greatly appreciated it. There’s nothing worse than reading a book set in a particular country where the author makes no effort to truly capture the sense of that place. No worries here on that front!

As someone who is used to only reading about children in middle grade books, I really enjoyed reading an adult book that gave us a child’s perspective. I thought this was a smart choice on Toon’s part. It made me feel incredibly invested as well as adding to the uncertainty regarding what is actually going on at times.

The only thing I wasn’t fully sold on with Pine was the ending. I feel like things wrapped up very abruptly and I didn’t really understand the motivations of a certain character. I’m not sure enough clues were laid throughout the story to lead us to that conclusion.

On the whole though, this was a great debut and one that will definitely please fans of Gothic fiction like myself! Huge thanks to Doubleday for providing me with a free ARC!

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Pine is out on January 23rd! Will you be reading it? Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

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‘Through The Wall’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! Today I’m reviewing Through The Wall by Caroline Corcoran – thank you to Avon Books for sending me an ARC!

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synopsis

Lexie loves her home. She feels safe and secure in it – and loved, thanks to her boyfriend Tom.

But recently, something’s not been quite right. A book out of place. A wardrobe door left open. A set of keys going missing…

Tom thinks Lexie’s going mad – but then, he’s away more often than he’s at home nowadays, so he wouldn’t understand.

Because Lexie isn’t losing it. She knows there’s someone out there watching her. And, deep down, she knows there’s nothing she can do to make them stop…


my thoughts

This book takes a great look at the old familiar concept – “the grass is always greener on the other side”. Told from dual perspectives, Through The Wall takes an intimate look at the lives of two women living in adjacent flats. I found the dynamics between these two women to be very interesting to read about and I really liked seeing how things developed.

There were aspects of the book which were surprisingly moving. Lexie and Tom have fertility issues and the book explores a lot of the emotional consequences of this. I really appreciated this as it’s not a subject I’ve read about often. The author handled the issue of societal expectations of women very sensitively.

Unfortunately, the book didn’t really have a lasting impact on me. I found it quite slow and meandering – it was much more of a domestic story than a thriller – and I did kind of wonder where it was going and when it would get to the point. I feel like it could have been much harder hitting and instead it missed its opportunity at the end. Nothing ever really shocked me; I found it all very tame.

Overall, this was a decent read with some surprising emotional themes but one that didn’t quite hit its mark as a thriller.

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Does anyone else struggle to review books that were ok but didn’t blow you away? I always find it so much easier to write a review if I have strong feelings on the book!

Anyway, thanks for reading, everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful month and reading some great books 🙂 xsignature (2)

 

‘Violet’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Some of you may remember me reviewing The Lingering last year. So when I was offered a copy of the author’s newest book to read, I jumped at the chance!

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synopsis

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

A tense and twisted psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there’s a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers…


my thoughts

This book is a great look at obsession and toxic friendships! Dare I say it, I may have actually enjoyed this book more than The Lingering! I’d say this one is more slow burning, with a tension that simmers from the very beginning. I couldn’t put it down.

I was immediately captured by the opening of this story and I never felt bored for a second. I always enjoy reading about faraway places so I felt completely captivated by all the travel aspects of this book. I couldn’t help feeling swept away on this adventure with Carrie and Violet!

As with The Lingering, the short chapters make this a very fast and readable book; it was genuinely so easy to just keep turning the pages, in that desire to know what would happen next. While none of the characters were at all likeable, their choices and behaviours made for an extremely compelling read.

And speaking of The Lingering, I really appreciated the little Easter Egg that Holliday included for her readers. I always enjoy when authors make connections between their books so this definitely made me smile.

If you like you unique thrillers and don’t mind reading about awful characters, then definitely check out Violet!

violet


Have you read any unique thrillers recently? Or just unique books in general? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘Forget Me Not’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I hope you’ve all had a great weekend and if you’re in the UK, I hope you have some nice plans for the bank holiday!

Today, I’m reviewing Forget Me Not by Claire Allan, which was very kindly sent to me by Avon Books 🙂

forget me not


synopsis

It’s six in the morning during the hottest summer on record when Elizabeth O’Loughlin, out walking her dog, comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific knife attack, clinging onto life at the side of the road.

Clare dies minutes later, but not before whispering her haunting last words to Elizabeth.

When it becomes clear that Clare’s killer has more than one murder on his mind, Elizabeth has to take drastic action or face losing everything.

But what if she can’t stop a killer determined never to be forgotten?


my thoughts

This is the third of Allan’s thrillers that I’ve read and once again, I found it to be an enjoyable experience. I would say that I found this one to be slightly more predictable than the first two but maybe I’m just getting better at spotting the clues! I just found the hints to be less subtle in this one and thought it was obvious from early on what the twist was going to be.

That said, this was still a great read. In my opinion, even Allan’s weakest book is stronger than many other thrillers I’ve read!

The book, like its predecessors, kicks off at a break-neck pace and never lets up. Allan keeps the reader hooked from start to finish, with a good amount of tension. As usual, she peppers her story with red herrings (which as I’ve already mentioned didn’t really convince me on this occasion but I still appreciated the effort).

In reading Claire Allan’s books, I have found that she does a brilliant job of capturing human emotion. Her characters always have believable motives for behaving as they do, and I never have any trouble feeling for them. I will say that I found the protagonists of this book to be less likeable and slightly less developed than those of the previous books I’ve read, but it was a minor issue and it actually worked in terms of the story Allan was trying to tell.

So I’m not sure I would recommend this as a starting point if you’re new to Allan’s work but for those of you who have already read and enjoyed her previous books, it’s a worthwhile way to spend a few hours!

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What are you all reading these days? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment and let’s chat! x
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‘Picture of Innocence’ spoiler-free review!

Hello fellow bookworms 🙂 I recently read Picture of Innocence, which was gifted to me by Avon Books. And I have no hesitation in saying that it is one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read! Let’s see why, shall we?

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synopsis

My name is Lydia. I’m 12 years old. I’m not an evil person, but I did something bad.

My name is Maddie. I’d never hurt my son. But can I be sure if I don’t remember?

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

The women in this book are about to discover that looks can be deceiving… because anyone is capable of terrible things. Even the most innocent, even you.

This is the story of every mother’s worst fear. But it’s not a story you know… and nothing is what it seems.


my thoughts
If you enjoy thrillers, then you absolutely need to read this one. I am seriously going to be recommending this one to so many people.

Unlike some thrillers, the protagonist, Maddie, felt really well fleshed-out. I felt like she was a real person, with a strong backstory and understandable emotions. And I just felt so invested in her life and what was happening to her.

I don’t want to talk about anything too specific to the plot because this is one that you really need to experience for yourself. All I will say is that the author did a fantastic job. There are so many twists and turns to this story and I was living for it. And there were so many red herrings! I was desperate to figure out how things were connected and when all was revealed, I was not disappointed!

For a thriller, this was a surprisingly emotional read. The chapters written from the child’s perspective were harrowing. This all added to the impact of the later reveals. The whole book opens up a really interesting exploration of certain themes – though again, I can’t say what these themes were because of spoilers!

Overall, I just really want more people to read this because it was so breath-taking! I know this book is going to stay with me for a long time.

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I hope you’ve all had a fantastic weekend! Let me know in the comments what you’ve been reading! x
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