‘Apple of my Eye’ spoiler-free review!

Hello! I’m back with another review today 🙂 This time, it’s for Apple of my Eye, the second thriller by Claire Allan. You may remember me reviewing Her Name Was Rose last year – well I was delighted when Avon Books sent me Allan’s next book to review!

apple of my eye


synopsis

When a mysterious note arrives for six months pregnant Dr Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.

As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.

Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother…


my thoughtsIt’s a little while since I read a thriller and I was in the mood for one – this one did the trick! It was fast-paced and very entertaining.

I enjoyed the split perspectives, alternating between main character Eli and stalker Louise. I don’t know if it was the author’s intention but I found Louise to be the more interesting character of the two! I thought her motivations were explored really well.

I’m not sure that the introduction of a third point of view was the wisest decision on the author’s part; I felt that it allowed me to guess one of the twists too quickly. However, I still ended up being surprised by another element of the plot so it wasn’t all bad!

I enjoy the fact that Allan sets her books in Northern Ireland. The references to Belfast in this one particularly were delightful, as I recognised so many places!

I want to give a quick mention to the way the author portrayed Eli’s anxiety. I thought that her panic attacks read very realistically and I appreciated the way her mother responded by offering reassurance and proper support, not just telling her to ‘calm down’.

Overall, this was a strong thriller if slightly predictable in parts. I’d recommend it to those of you looking for a quick and entertaining read!

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Do you guys like thrillers? Let me know some of your favourites in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone, hope you’re all having a great week 🙂 Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McClean. Thank you Anne Cater/Point Blank Books for providing me with an ARC!

van apfel girls are gone


synopsis

‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

So begins Tikka Molloy’s recount of the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – disappear.

Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney’s urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.


my thoughts

One of my favourite things about this book is the setting. I could picture it so vividly from the very first page. The stifling heat almost seems to radiate from the pages, which definitely adds to the tension. I always think of atmospheric books as being cold or gloomy but this is definitely an atmospheric book if ever I read one. Admittedly, some of the Australian words and phrases would throw me off occasionally – but it’s always good to learn some new lingo when reading, right? 😉

This is a slow-burning but sinister thriller, with some real jaw-dropping moments. Honestly, things would be going along quite nicely and something would happen out of the blue that would truly shock me. Yet at the book’s heart is an endearing coming-of-age story. In that sense, it’s quite difficult to categorise this book; at times it almost felt like YA due to the narrator recounting her childhood, but there are definitely a lot of dark adult themes throughout.

I will say that the book is very open-ended and doesn’t wrap everything up neatly in a bow. So if you are a reader who likes to have all of your questions answered, you might not be satisfied with how this one concludes. But I think the point is not to reach a conclusive answer; it is to make the journey with the protagonist as she deals with her emotions surrounding what happened.

It’s hard to say much more about this one without giving away spoilers. So I’ll just end by saying I think this would be a great summer read for anyone who enjoys slow-burning thrillers with a bit of a twist!

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If you’re interested in this book, check out the other stops on the tour! x

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’55’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for 55, a debut thriller published by Simon and Schuster.

55 review


synopsis

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

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

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

Heath is a serial killer.

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

Gabriel is the serial killer.

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


my thoughtsThis is a really good debut thriller! The book starts off at a break-neck pace and continues to hurtle through the next 400 pages. The concept of two men walking into a police station and claiming that the other is a serial killer immediately caught my attention and held it until the very end. There were a couple of moments that felt a little repetitive but I suppose that’s unavoidable in a story with this concept.

I liked the Australian setting, having not read many books set there. The author really captured the stifling heat of the Australian wilderness; I felt transported.

I appreciated that the protagonist, Sgt Chandler Jenkins, seemed different to the police officers we so often read about. It would have been very easy for the author to fall into the trap of writing the usual stereotype. It was nice to instead read about a single father trying to do right by his kids and hold down a career.

I will say that there’s no big reveal like you might expect from a thriller. Instead, we learn things slowly and are led to question everything we are reading. I personally didn’t find it too hard to make connections between certain clues but maybe that’s because I always try too hard to work things out!

Overall, 55 was gripping, fast-paced and easy to read, with a shocking ending. Thanks to Anne Cater and Simon Schuster for the opportunity to read it!

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Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour! x

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‘Keep Her Close’ spoiler-free mini review!

Hey everyone! I’m reviewing a thriller tonight that was kindly sent to me by Avon Books!

keep her close


synopsis

It’s six months since DS Josie Masters saved her nephew from the clutches of the killer clown, but she’s still haunted by that terrible night. The Thames Valley police force, however, regard Jo as a hero – much to the jealousy of some of her colleagues.

When a young girl goes missing from Jesus College, Jo is assigned to the case, along with new recruit, the handsome DS Pryce. The city of Oxford goes into turmoil when two more girls disappear from Oriel and Somerville, and Josie soon realises that the killer is spelling out her own initials in a deadly game of cat and mouse. This time, the case is personal – but who is the perpetrator?

In a race against time, Jo hunts for the killer – but soon realises he could be a lot closer to home than she’d realised…


my thoughtsThis second thriller by M. J. Ford was just as gripping and easy to fly through as the first. There were plenty of twists and turns which is just what I want from this kind of book.

In terms of character development, it was ok but a bit sparse compared with other similar series I’ve read. Also, while I liked the main characters, the supporting characters were quite indistinguishable from one another. They almost blended together in my mind. I guess it worked to keep the focus on the right people but I personally like everyone to feel a bit more real.

There’s so much I wanted to talk about in my initial reading notes but when I reached the end, there was a huge twist that then affected everything I’d said! I can’t talk about any of it now without it being a spoiler. I guess the author succeeded in throwing me off the scent and surprising me!

All I can say is that this is a decently-written thriller that will keep you gripped and entertained for a weekend if it’s the kind of thing you’re into 🙂

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‘A Version of the Truth’ spoiler-free review!

 
a version of the truth

Hey everyone! Today is release day for A Version of the Truth by B. P. Walter which was very kindly sent to me by Avon Books. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped to. Read on to find out why!


synopsis

We all see what we want to see…

2019: Julianne is preparing a family dinner when her son comes to her and says he’s found something on his iPad. Something so terrible, it will turn Julianne’s world into a nightmare and make her question everything about her marriage and what type of man her husband is or is pretending to be.

1990: Holly is a fresher student at Oxford University. Out of her depth and nervous about her surroundings, she falls into an uneasy friendship with a group of older students from the upper echelons of society and begins to develop feelings for one in particular. He’s confident, quiet, attractive and seems to like her too. But as the year progresses, her friends’ behaviour grows steadily more disconcerting and Holly begins to realise she might just be a disposable pawn in a very sinister game.

A devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over twenty-five years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find?


my thoughts

This is a really hard one for me to rate. I so wanted to give a glowing review for release date but unfortunately, I found this one quite hard to swallow.

I was quite intrigued by the opening of this one but things quickly went downhill from that awful cliché hated by bookworms everywhere: “I let out a breath I only now realised I’ve been holding”. Later on, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was incorrectly referenced as being written by Emily Brontë. I know this is nit-picking but the fact that little things like that grated on me so much shows how frustrated I was feeling for the duration of the book.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I was liking the book at first. I enjoyed the Oxford University vibes and I was suitably intrigued. However, the subject matter become more and more disgusting as the book progressed. I feel like the whole purpose was just to shock the reader.

This book features some of the most unlikeable characters I have ever had the misfortune of reading about. Unlikeable characters in themselves would not normally be enough to lower my opinion of a novel quite so much but, in this case, I just couldn’t bear reading about them. Not one of them had any redeeming qualities; even the Mary-Sue heroine annoyed me and I really struggled to feel any sympathy towards her despite the horrible ordeal she is put through.

Now I’m no prude but the amount of sex in this book was a little much for me. And it wasn’t even the fact that it was there, it was the way things were described. Every chapter got progressively more disgusting. Add to that some very questionable comments about gay men, bisexuals and AIDS and I was losing interest fast.

I pushed through A Version of the Truth since it had been gifted to me by a publisher but the ending was honestly the biggest cop-out I’ve ever read. I have never been so dissatisfied.

Wow, I had hoped I could give this review a slightly more positive spin but I guess writing it has made me realise just how much I disliked this book! It’s a real shame to have to give a negative review on release day. But hey, other readers might enjoy this one. I feel like it will certainly be divisive and, unfortunately, due to the subject material, I landed firmly in the negative camp.

a version of the truth

Are there any books that have made you have such a strong reaction whilst reading? Let me know in the comments! And thank you for reading x signature (2)

‘The Last’ spoiler-free review!

 

The Last book review

Hey everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Last by Hanna Jameson, which was very kindly sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review by Viking Books UK! You may remember me mentioning this in my list of January anticipated reads so I’m hugely grateful that I was able to get a copy! The book released in the UK on January 31st so definitely check it out if you’re interested.


synopsis

Breaking: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

Breaking: London hit, thousands feared dead

Breaking: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilization, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia, and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?


my thoughts

This was a very unique book. The concept of an apocalyptic murder mystery is highly original (or at least it’s not something I’ve ever come across before). It’s like Cluedo at the end of the world! The plot was hugely compelling; I genuinely could not stop reading. I must have read over 100 pages in a single sitting. If you like gripping reads, this is definitely one to try.

I will admit that the book jumped in very quickly and that it took me a minute to feel invested. The narrative does go back eventually and fill in the gaps but readers should bear in mind that everything kicks off before you even know where you’re at. With hindsight, I can see why this was done but it can feel a little disconcerting when you’re just starting the book.

The concept of nuclear war is terrifyingly plausible and the author definitely highlights current world issues to lend her story a frightening level of believability. Let’s hope we never get to this point!!

The novel is ambiguous in moments (something which I don’t mind but that might annoy other readers). I did find the ending slightly too open-ended for my tastes but, equally, I don’t think there’s any other way the author could have wrapped it up.

Overall, this was a scarily fascinating book that I would definitely recommend for fans of apocalypse stories. It’s tense and creepy at times and grips the reader from start to finish. I really enjoyed it!

the last

A final rating of 4 musical notes!

4 notes


Have you read this one? Are you a fan of apocalypse stories? Let me know some of your favourites in the comments! And thank you for reading xsignature (2)

‘Your Turn To Die’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! This weekend, I’ve been participating in the 24in48 readathon and one of the books I read was Your Turn To Die by Sue Wallman. Let’s take a look at it!


your turn to die

What the book is about…

Sue Wallman’s most spine-tingling thriller yet! Every winter, three families gather in an old house to celebrate the New Year. This year, 15-year-old Leah and the other kids discover that the house has a dark past. As they dig into the history, terrible things start happening, and if Leah isn’t careful, this New Year might be her last.


What I thought of it…

Well, I haven’t read Wallman’s other books but if this is the most spine-tingling yet then I don’t think I’ll bother. If I’m totally honest, I wasn’t expecting this to be anything amazing. But it was even worse than I thought it would be. I didn’t enjoy it at all.

The characters were completely flat, with no distinguishing features or personalities. I only read this yesterday and I’ve already pretty much forgotten everyone. For teenagers, their behaviour throughout the entire book came across as completely juvenile; I could not imagine real teenagers acting the way that these characters did. I also thought that the dialogue between them read unrealistically; it did not feel natural in the slightest.

I found the plot boring and highly predictable to a point – and then the final twist was so farfetched that I wanted to throw the book across the room. It’s like everything that had been building up from the start was completely disregarded for this big twist that left me feeling a bit cheated. Though I have to admit to skimming the last 100 pages so something might have slipped past me (but I doubt it).

Also, that poor dog. The author lost me when the dog was fed chocolate and it only got worse from there. Major trigger warning for animal cruelty. I wouldn’t normally say anything like that for fear of spoilers but if you have any inclination to read this (and I don’t see why you would but it’s possible), you need to be prepared. The treatment of the dog turned my stomach.

Do yourself a favour and just skip this one. Life is too short to waste time on bad books!

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Has anyone else read this one? Do you push on when you’re not connecting with a book or do you DNF? x

‘Cuckoo’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! I just finished Cuckoo by Sophie Draper, which was sent to me by Avon Books – and I loved it! Let’s jump straight in…


What the book is about…

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There’s a stranger in your house…

When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again.

But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.

As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

A haunting and twisty story about the lies we tell those closest to us, perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Cass Green.


What I thought of it…

I’m gonna come out and say it straightaway: this is one of the best thrillers I’ve read. Cuckoo is slow-burning and mysterious (I fully acknowledge that some readers won’t enjoy that style and will want something more fast-paced, but I really love books that are written in this way).

The book has a great atmospheric opening. I could really picture the dreary autumn day and the rain lashing against the windows of the quaint village pub. The vivid descriptions of the setting continued for the book’s duration; it was great to be able to picture everything so clearly, as thrillers often leave out this kind of detail. The farmhouse was almost a character in itself, which I have mentioned in the past is something I love in a book! At one point, the protagonist Caro is snowed in and this lends the story such a claustrophobic feel. The atmosphere leaps from every page.

The unique selling point for this book is the inclusion of various dark fairytales scattered throughout the plot. While this may sound strange, it works SO well and really adds to the book. Draper’s writing is really quite creepy at times and there were some nights I couldn’t read it before going to bed! I’d say that Cuckoo almost borders on horror in places.

This book hooks you in immediately and doesn’t let go, twisting and turning right to the very end. And I mean, RIGHT to the end. It never lets up. But it does it in a slow, creeping way that ensures you are feeling everything right along with Caro.

I will be keeping an eye open for more of Sophie Draper’s books!

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I hope you’re all having a wonderful January so far and a great start to 2019! x

Mini Reviews: The ‘Perfect’ Series by Helen Fields

Throughout this year, I have been working my way through the ‘Perfect’ series by Helen Fields. Guys, this is by far my favourite thriller series. You can find my review of book one, Perfect Remainshere.

Since people aren’t always interested in sequel reviews, I’m going to keep my thoughts on Perfect Prey, Perfect Death, and Perfect Silence brief and just do bullet points 🙂

A huge thank you to Avon Books for providing me with a free copy of this series!


Perfect Prey

This book in one sentence: Graffiti describing murder victims is appearing around the city of Edinburgh… before the victims are turning up dead.

  • This second book jumps straight back into the action with no messing around
  • Even more gripping than the first instalment; no time wasted on introducing characters
  • A great cast – it felt comfortable, like visiting old friends
  • Gory book is gory
  • Absolutely brutal twists!

perfect prey


Perfect Death

This book in one sentence: A killer watches from afar as his victims die slowly from poisoning.

  • Slightly slower in pace than book two
  • Less gruesome (what can I say, I’m here for the blood)
  • Hugely compelling plot that had me reading late into the night
  • Fantastic dynamics between the characters
  • A great exploration of gender roles in the police force; Fields writes brilliant female characters!
  • Raised the fascinating question of nature vs nurture

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Perfect Silence

This book in one sentence: Someone is abducting women and making dolls out of their skin. Yikes.

  • Definitely the most gruesome instalment yet, yesss
  • Links back to the previous books while never letting the story stagnate; everything is constantly moving forward
  • Once again, jumps straight into the action and doesn’t hang around
  • The righteous anger of protagonist Ava is exhilarating to read and drags the reader along, making it impossible not to root for her
  • Some adorable baby moments
  • A nice reference to my hometown – though I wish it could have got more page-time!

perfect silence


Overall, I cannot recommend this series enough. Fields’ plots are superbly clever; these are no bog-standard, generic thrillers. I think that’s what keeps me coming back to this series again and again. I’m invested in the lives of the characters and I am never EVER bored. If you like gritty stories with realistic characters, you need to get your hands on Perfect Remains.

I cannot wait for book five in the Spring!

‘The Lingering’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Lingering by S.J.I. Holiday! Huge thanks to Anne Cater/Orenda Books for sending me a copy to review 🙂


What the book is about…

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient spiritual commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.


What I thought of it…

This was a great thriller! Right from the prologue, I was completely hooked and the book never lost my attention once. The short chapters made this an incredibly pacey read.

The Lingering is told in alternating POV chapters between Ali, who has just moved into the commune with her husband and is struggling to adjust, and Angela, a longer-term resident who is intrigued by the idea of paranormal activity in the building. We are also given glimpses into the mind of Smeaton, who runs the commune, as well as journal entries from a doctor in the 1950s who was investigating reports of mistreatment at the old asylum. These perspectives are all fascinating and each one adds something to the story. There is not a single superfluous word.

The thrills start very quickly in this one; in fact, it was creepy before anything even happened! You could not pay me to move into an old asylum! Holiday conjured the setting perfectly. Things were very vague at first, which added to the creeping sense of dread; it’s great to go into this book not knowing much about it because it will only add to the spooky atmosphere! There were some genuinely scary moments.

This felt like a book of two halves, with part one successfully building the tension and part two erupting into madness. Every piece of information that was slowly revealed had me on the edge of my seat; I couldn’t believe some of what I was reading. It was really exciting. However, it wasn’t all cheap thrills; there was real substance to the story as well.

I’m not going to say any more because I recommend going into this one blind. But I’d say this is the perfect read for a dark and gloomy night… just maybe leave the lights on!!

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You might also like…

 

If you’d like to find out more about this book and what other readers thought of it, check out the other stops on the blog tour! x

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