Then She Was Gone [review]

Then She Was Gone - Lisa Jewell

Title: Then She Was Gone
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Century

[Synopsis]

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW
It’s been ten years since Ellie
disappeared, but Laurel has never given up
hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?

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[My Review]

Then She Was Gone is a fairly different novel to the one I was expecting. Having read The Girls and hugely enjoying it [read my review here], and also seeing many reviews for the much-loved I Found You, I was expecting a thriller/ mystery-style novel which focussed more on the investigation. This was not at all that type of novel – but I really enjoyed it!

The novel focuses much more on the characters and family dynamics between Laurel and her son and daughter in the years since the disappearance of her other daughter, Ellie. There are parts which are quite sad and emotional and there’s definitely still the element of mystery – it just didn’t feel like the main narrative in this book. I did, however, really enjoy finding out what had happened to Ellie.

The characters in this novel cover a wide range of personality types, from the weird and annoying through to those lovely, helpful  people  – and everything in between. Some people I wanted to scream at Laurel not to trust. There are various parts of this novel which seem, as Lisa Jewell says in her introduction, pretty crazy. You have to suspend your disbelief slightly for some elements, and I saw some parts coming a mile off, but I didn’t feel it impaired my enjoyment of the book and I found myself racing through this novel, finishing it in a few hours. I have to say I absolutely love a good police procedural/ thriller, but in Then She Was Gone I enjoyed reading more about Laurel and her family, and their experiences, instead of just focussing on the investigation – it felt like something a little different, too.


Many thanks to Century and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_STUFF_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Close To Me [review]

Close To Me - Amanda Reynolds

Title: Close To Me
Author: Amanda Reynolds
Publisher: Headline

[Synopsis]

Close To Me is a gripping debut psychological drama that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty’s bestselling The Husband’s Secret, Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go, and Linda Green’s While My Eyes Were Closed.

She can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia-she’s lost a whole year of memories. A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can’t remember what she did-or what happened the night she fell. But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

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[My Review]

Close To Me is an intriguing read that kept me guessing. It’s not exactly what I was expecting – I thought it would be more focused on why and how Jo fell down the stairs, but actually that ‘occurrence’ sort of acts as a starting point for other aspects – and in a way, the more interesting aspects – of the story: her and husband’s Rob’s relationship, and the relationship between her and her children and those around her, too.

Close To Me is less of a thriller-type story, instead focussing on the family dynamics between characters, and despite being a crime/thriller addict I found I really enjoyed finding out more about the life Jo led before her accident. The characters themselves are interesting and well-developed – though that’s not to say I liked all of them straight off. Obviously, Rob’s views and opinions on many things really grated on me, but we’re obviously not supposed to like him anyway! Jo, however, was a tough cookie  to crack – she seemed a bit unreasonable at the start, but as the story develops I warmed to her and started to understand more of why she was behaving the way she was. It’s unclear throughout the novel whether she is a reliable narrator or not, and there are parts which made me think strongly in one direction, and parts which turned me the other way, and I really enjoy books that do this.

The writing is great, and really skilful, and though the story itself – a wife losing her memory and unsure if she can trust those around her, particularly her husband – isn’t  particularly different or original, it is written in an engaging, enjoyable way and so I found myself engrossed in the story!

A recommended read, particularly if you like interesting character development and a good dose of drama!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Headline and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Goodreads Monday [The Word Is Murder]

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!


Today I’m going to pick a book I’m SO EXCITED to read. I’ve always been a huge Anthony Horowitz fan and I really enjoyed Magpie Murders [read my review here], so was excited to see he’s coming out with a new novel this month – and then even more excited to get a review copy! (‘Excited’ is a word used a lot here…)

The Word Is Murder - Anthony Horowitz

Title: The Word is Murder
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Publisher: HQ Digital

Publish date: 24 August 2017

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[Synopsis]

A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral.

A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own.

A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control.

What do they have in common?

Unexpected death, an unsolved mystery and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz’s page-turning new thriller. 

SPREAD THE WORD. THE WORD IS MURDER.

Have you heard anything about this book, or have you got it on your TBR list? 

Don’t forget… follow me on: instagram @snazzy_stuff_goodreads Laura / and twitter @lauranazmdeh!

Last Seen Alive [review]

Last Seen Alive - Claire Douglas

Title: Last Seen Alive
Author: Claire Douglas
Publisher: Penguin – Michael Joseph

[Synopsis]

The Hero

Libby Hall never really wanted to be noticed. But after she saves the children in her care from a fire, she finds herself headline news. And horrified by the attention. It all reminds her of what happened nine years ago. The last time she saw her best friend alive.

The Swap

Which is why the house swap is such a godsend. Libby and her husband Jamie exchange their flat in Bath for a beautiful, secluded house in Cornwall. It’s a chance to heal their marriage – to stop its secrets tearing them apart.

The Hideaway

But this stylish Cornish home isn’t the getaway they’d hoped for. They make odd, even disturbing, discoveries in the house. It’s so isolated-yet Libby doesn’t feel entirely alone. As if she’s being watched.

Is Libby being paranoid? What is her husband hiding? And. As the secrets and lies come tumbling out, is the past about to catch up with them?

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[My Review]

I really loved this tense, eerie story of a house-swap gone wrong. The characters are great to read about, with Libby herself seeming a reliable narrator but there are points in the story where I wondered if everything she was saying was true, and the same with her husband Jamie. Everyone seems to be hiding something, but does it have anything to do with the strange occurrences at the house in Cornwall?

The novel had me feeling a bit ‘creeped out’ at times – something I don’t often feel whilst reading books – and I could imagine being in their situation and how it might make me feel, especially if my partner thought I was being a little highly strung about it.

The tension builds as the story continues, and I don’t want to give too much away but there are some serious ‘Oh my god’ moments that I did NOT see coming – at all! It left me reeling and I finished the book feeling really impressed with the writing, the depth and intricacies of the storyline, and the surprises along the way!

Highly recommended!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Penguin (Michael Joseph) and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write and honest and unbiased review.

Here and Gone [review]

Here and Gone - Hayley Beck

Title: Here and Gone
Author: Haylen Beck
Publisher: Crown

[Synopsis]

It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them…

Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

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[My Review]

This is an intriguing, fast-paced novel that really highlights the desperation you’d feel if you lost your kids -especially if people who were supposed to protect you were behind their disappearance.

This book is, in a way, SO frustrating to read because you know where the kids have gone, Audra knows who has taken her kids, but NO ONE WILL BELIEVE HER. Ahh! This book certainly got me interested and it had some brilliant characters. Audra herself is a brilliant protagonist – she admits she’s not been perfect in the past but she’s a strong female character who I thought was great! I don’t want to give anything away but I particularly liked when she hit things in anger, and parts when she really attacked people – despite female characters often being the ones expected to be a bit more forgiving, or a bit ‘softer’, she wasn’t and I liked her for it.

A big part of the story is pretty uncomfortable to read about at times, but it all added to the pretty dark and twisted plot. There were some parts which are quite ‘out there’ but I didn’t feel like any of it was too unbelievable for this genre.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It’s a fast-paced, dark at times but nevertheless fun read which kept me hooked!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Crown publishing and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_STUFF_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

The House [blog tour review]

The House - Simon Lelic

Today I'm so excited to be a part of the blog tour for The House by Simon Lelic! Read on to find out what I thought…


Title: The House
Author: Simon Lelic
Publisher: Penguin UK (Viking)

[Synopsis]

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…

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[My Review]

The House is the kind of thriller I love – complex, a little bit creepy and peppered with twists and surprise to keep the reader guessing!

It's told in a fairly unique way – at first it seems like the two narrators, couple Jack and Syd, are writing letters or diary-style entries to each other and communicating that way, so we learn a lot about their thoughts, feelings and things they may have kept from each other before. As the novel goes on this style is maintained but it feels less like diary entries and more recounting of the story, making it easier to get into the narrative. It also jumps back and forwards in time a bit; at some points I wasn't sure whether we were in the 'present day' (whatever that was exactly) or further back in time, before whatever the awful incident that happened, actually happened! It all adds to the edgy sense of the confusion this novel manages to portray, and I felt myself getting increasingly on edge at some of the more suspenseful points.

And I should mention – this novel is pretty creepy at times! I love a good horror, and though this doesn't really fit into that genre, there were still plenty of parts that made me feel uneasy along with all the novel's mystery and suspense. There are also some darker themes running through this book which give you pause for thought; Simon Lelic's writing is spot on and, as the novel continues, the story skillfully (and teasingly) reveals more and more about what exactly happened, with layer upon layer of deception becoming apparent…

I hugely enjoyed The House, racing through it in a matter of hours as I just didn't want to put it down, and I would definitely recommend it as a fast-paced, suspenseful and very entertaining read!

[Rating 5/5]

Many thanks to the publisher, Viking, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for having me on the blog tour!

The House is out in the UK in ebook format on 17 August (buy on Amazon here) and in paperback on 3 November.

Check out the other stops on the tour below:

HOUSE-blogtourposter_new

Shelter [review]

Shelter - Sarah Franklin

Title: Shelter
Author: Sarah Franklin
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

[Synopsis]

Early spring 1944.
In a clearing deep within an English forest two lost souls meet for the first time.

Connie Granger has escaped the devastation of her bombed out city home. She has found work in the Women’s Timber Corps, and for her, this remote community must now serve a secret purpose.

Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war, is haunted by his memories. But in the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.

Their meeting signals new beginnings. In each other they find the means to imagine their own lives anew, and to face that which each fears the most.

But outside their haven, the world is ravaged by war and old certainties are crumbling. Both Connie and Seppe must make a life-defining choice which threatens their fragile existence. How will they make sense of this new world, and find their place within it? What does it mean to be a woman, or a foreign man, in these days of darkness and new light?

A beautiful, gentle and deeply powerful novel about finding solace in the most troubled times, about love, about hope and about renewal after devastation. It asks us to consider what makes a family, what price a woman must pay to live as she chooses, and what we’d fight to the bitter end to protect.

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[My Review]

Shelter is an interesting take on a typical WW2 novel, in that it doesn’t focus on life in London or any of England’s big cities during the war. It’s almost entirely based in the countryside, and follows two people brought together by the work that needs doing in the forest: one is Connie, who is seemingly running from something and is starting afresh in training in the Women’s Timber Corps (again, an organisation during the war that isn’t generally given much attention  in novels), and the other is Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war.

Both characters are interesting and well-developed, but as the novel went on I found myself going from hating to liking then hating Connie again – she seemed really selfish and unlikable at times, but I’d then swing back to feeling sorry for her/ respecting her again. It’s a mark of Sarah Franklin’s writing that she can make the reader feel such conflicting emotions – much like Connie’s own confusing emotions, I imagine – but still make the reader want to read on regardless. I also liked that Connie isn’t portrayed as the typical ‘feminine’ character and doesn’t follow the normal maternal instincts that is so expected of women – even in today’s society, nevermind back in the 1940’s! Seppe, however, seemed like a lovely character, though not perfect himself. I really enjoyed reading as their relationship with one another develops.

Shelter jumps back and forwards in time, revealing a little more at a time about life for the characters before the war – particularly Connie’s. Sarah Frankling really made me think about how the war effort didn’t just consist of those fighting and those in munitions factories, etc – it was fought all over, with different people contributing and helping out in their own ways. It also highlights the way that a prisoner of war during WW2 would not necessarily have been German, something I to be honest never properly considered until now.

I’d really recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical or is just a real fan of stories set in WW2, as I am. It’s a fairly easy read but it has some serious issues and parts to it which provoke the reader to think a little bit, something which I really enjoyed.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Bonnier Zaffre and Readers First for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

 

#CoverReveal time! #FatalMasquerade by @VivWrites @hqdigital

Excited to bring a cover reveal to you today, for Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy!

Title: Fatal Masquerade
Author: Vivian Conroy
Publisher: HQ Digital
Series: A Lady Alkmene Cosy Mystery, Book 4

Fatal Masquerade cover reveal banner

[Synopsis]

Lady Alkmene and Jake Dubois are back in a gripping new adventure facing dangerous opponents at a masked ball in the countryside.

Masked danger…
Lady Alkmene Callender has always loved grand parties, but when she receives an invitation to a masked ball thrown by Franklin Hargrove – oil magnate, aviation enthusiast and father of her best friend, Denise – she’s never seen such luxury. The estate is lit up with Chinese lanterns in the gardens, boats operated by footmen float across the pond and the guest list features the distinguished, rich and powerful!

But below the glamour, evil is lurking. When a dead body is discovered, it forces Lady Alkmene to throw off her mask and attempt to find the true killer before Denise’s family are accused. If only her partner, Jake Dubois, weren’t hiding something from her…

This case might just be more dangerous than either of them could have imagined…

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Fatal Masquerade is out in ebook format on 4 October - Pre-order on Amazon here

View Fatal Masquerade / the rest of the series on Goodreads

Find out more about Vivian Conroy here
 

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Spotlight on: A Mind To Kill by @nicholl06 + GIVEAWAY!

A Mind To Kill - John Nicholl

Today I’m thrilled to have author John Nicholl on the blog to introduce us to his new novel, A Mind To Kill, and how John’s own experiences and career has inspired this gripping tale. We also have a signed paperback copy of the first in the series, White Is The Coldest Colour, to give away AND four ebook copies of A Mind To Kill!

 

[Biography: About John]

I’ve worked as a police officer and as a social worker and operational manager for the child guidance service, two social services departments and the NSPCC. I’ve also lectured on child protection at several colleges and universities. I live in beautiful south west Wales with my family, and began writing after leaving my job heading up child protection services for Carmarthenshire.

I’ve written three Amazon internationally bestselling darkly psychological suspense thrillers before A Mind To Kill, each of which are available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes. The books have reached # 1 in multiple Amazon categories in six countries.

 

John Nicholl[Inspiration for A Mind To Kill]

Like all my books, A Mind to Kill, draws on my professional experiences. Far too often during my career I was left incredulous as to the harm sexual predators chose to inflict on their vulnerable victims. My new novel reflects that abhorrent reality.

The book is intended primarily as a gritty and entertaining crime thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. I hope, however, that it also brings some much needed attention to the risk posed by deviant criminals who target and groom potential victims on the internet.

A Mind To Kill is essentially a dark tale of female revenge. It’s not a book for the faint-hearted.

 

[Synopsis]

They kill innocence. She wants revenge.

When Rebecca’s childhood abuser escapes justice it sets her on a path to revenge. Revenge on any man who preys on the innocent.

A gripping page-turner of a psychological thriller packed with suspense.

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The novel is available for preorder now, with a 5 August release date. Pre-order on Amazon here.

Visit John’s website and Facebook page, and take a look at A Mind To Kill on Goodreads.

[Giveaway Time!]

We have a signed paperback edition of White Is The Coldest Colour to give away AND an ebook copy of A Mind To Kill to one lucky reader. Plus four winners will each win an ebook copy of A Mind To Kill!

Enter the giveaway here.

(Giveaway ends midnight on Tuesday 15 August. Paperback copy entry is UK only but international entrants are welcome for the ebook copies!)

 

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Together [review]

Together - Julie Cohen

Title: Together
Author: Julie Cohen
Publisher: Orion

[Synopsis]

This is not a great love story.
This is a story about great love.

On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually does. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie’s actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret – one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

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[My Review]

I didn’t know much about Together before starting it, but I found myself wrapped up in Robbie and Emily’s story. It’s told from present day and jumps back and forwards in time, reaching right back to the early days when they first met and eventually revealing to the reader that ‘thing'(for want of a better word and to avoid giving anything away) which they’re both seemingly running away from, and which they’re so secretive about.

The story took a little while to really grab me, with the first quarter of the book being enjoyable but feeling like nothing particularly special. However, as the novel continues so we see more of this ‘mysterious element’ that’s affecting them both, and Emily and Robbie’s love story (though I’m glad to say not a typically soppy, over-dramatic love story) develops more, I found myself enveloped into their world and really invested in their life.

I found myself captivated by the characters in this novel, both main and supporting characters, and their respective relationships with the two main characters. I found it an extremely poignant story which pulled at my heartstrings and left me feeling more than a little reflective. It certainly makes you think about what makes a relationship special and worth fighting for, and how one element can change everything.

The words in the synopsis say a lot about this –

“This is not a great love story.
This is a story about great love.”

– and I agree.  I hugely enjoyed Together; it’s a beautifully written story and I would definitely recommend it.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to the publisher, Orion, for providing a copy of this novel on which i chose to write an honest and unbiased review.