Last Time I Lied [review]

Last Time I Lied

Today I’m so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Riley Sager’s new novel, Last Time I Lied. As someone who really enjoyed her previous novel, Final Girls, I jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog tour for this title… read on to find out what I thought!

Title: Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Publisher: Ebury

[Synopsis]

Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

Emma has. Her first summer away from home, she learned how to play the game. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned . . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all…

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[My Review]

I want to start this review by saying that I really enjoyed Final Girls [read my review here] BUT that I think Last Time I Lied is even more of an intoxicating, atmospheric read. Riley Sager creates a suitably eerie setting for his new novel, based in an all-Girls camp called ‘Camp Nightingale’; it delves into the disappearance fifteen years ago of Emma’s room mates, and the present day narrative where she returns to the camp full of questions about what happened those years ago.

The way that the story switches between the two narratives really creates a sense of mystery and left me really wanting to find out what happened, and if anyone was to blame. Mystery engulfs the present-day narrative too, and I had a whole host of different theories worked out in my mind as the novel went on – although I sort of guessed one (very small) part right, I definitely didn’t have it all worked out correctly. Ultimately I was left feeling nicely satisfied by the ending (theres a small thing I might have wanted to turn out differently, but nothing that in any way ruins my enjoyment of the book).

It’s definitely dramatic at parts and there are some characters that make more of an impact than others. I loved main character Emma but she wants without her own faults, with I felt was more realistic than if she was the perfect protagonist. Sometimes I wanted to shout at both the teenage and adult versions of her, but intimately I did care what happened to her and that meant I was much more invested in the story than I otherwise would have been.

Sager’s writing is brilliant. Here he’s crafted a compelling and multi layered mystery that does exactly what I feel a novel in this genre should: thrill and intrigue, from first page to last. I’d definitely recommend this as a gripping summer read!

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


[About the Author]

Riley Sager Author PictureRILEY SAGER is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.

Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, Final Girls, was a national and international bestseller that has been sold in 25 languages. A film version is being developed by Universal Pictures and Anonymous Content.

A native of Pennsylvania, he now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Follow Riley on twitter @riley_sager or visit www.rileysagerbooks.com.


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Last Time I Lied BT Poster

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Paper Ghosts [review]

Paper Ghosts

Title: Paper Ghosts
Author: Julia Hearberlin
Publisher: Penguin

[Synopsis]

My Sister disappeared.

I know who took her.

Now I’ve taken him.

———-

Carl Louis Feldman is an old man who once took photographs.

That was before he was tried for murder and acquitted.

Before dementia and his admission to a Texas care facility.

Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip.

Only she’s not his daughter, and, if she has her way, he’s not coming back . . .

Because Carl’s past has finally caught up with him. The woman driving the car is convinced he’s guilty, and that he’s killed other young women. Including her sister Rachel.

Now they’re driving across Texas, following his photographs, his clues, his crimes. To see if he remembers any of it. To discover what happened to Rachel.

Has Carl truly forgotten what he did or is he just pretending? Perhaps he’s guilty of nothing and she’s the liar. Either way, in driving him into the Texan badlands she’s taking a terrible risk.

For if Carl really is a serial killer, she’s alone in the most dangerous place of all…

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[My Review]

Having hugely enjoyed Black Eyed Susans, I was really excited to read Paper Ghosts, and though it took a little longer to get into, I found this to be an interesting and, at times, quite creepy novel.

Main character Grace has her own aims when she offers to take her ‘father’ on a road trip – her sister Rachel disappeared years ago and the Police’s main suspect was (is?) her supposed grandfather, Carl. She wants to finally find out what’s happening, and will seemingly stop at nothing to do so…

The story starts off with a lot of impact, but it is quite a slow burner. A lot of the plot centers around the dialogue and ‘games’ the two play with eachother, meaning if you’re looknig for a ‘thrilling’ read, this probably isn’t for you. However, the tension builds as the novel continues and I found myself really wondering who knows what, and how much is actually a lie? I liked this element of doubt that Julia throws in.

The use of photographs added to the impact and ultimately the story becomes less about who the killer is, and more about how Grace will ‘deal’ with Carl. Julia Heaberlin’s writing is really skillful and makes you want to know more by teasing out little details via Grace, which did leave me feeling a little confused at times (but wanting to know more) with an added sense of ‘chill’ surrounding the whole, horrible case – at times you can almost feel Grace’s desperation bouncing off the page. Paper Ghosts is a very well-written, slow-building story which I enjoyed.


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

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Spotlight on: Whippoorwill by Robert Bartam

Today on the blog we welcome Robert Bartram’s new book, Whippoorwill, “a thrilling tale of espionage set in the American Civil War” with glowing reviews! Read an extract and find out more about the book below…

Whippoorwill - Robert Bartram

Title: Whippoorwill
Author: R.L. Bartram
Publisher: Matador

[Synopsis]

Barely fourteen, Ceci Prejean is a tomboy running wild in the hot Louisiana summer. After breaking the nose of a local boy, her father decides to enlist the aid of Hecubah, a beautiful Creole woman, with a secret past, who takes Ceci in hand and turns her into a lady.

Now, eighteen-year-old Ceci meets and falls passionately in love with a handsome young northerner, Trent Sinclaire. Trent is a cadet at the West Point military academy. He acts as if he knows Ceci. They begin a torrid affair, even as the southern states begin to secede from the Union.

Only weeks before their wedding, the Confederate army attacks Fort Sumter and the civil war begins. Trent is called to active service in the north, leaving Ceci heartbroken in the south. Swearing vengeance on the union, after the untimely death of her family at the fall of New Orleans, Ceci meets with infamous spy master, Henry Doucet. He initiates her into the shadowy world of espionage. After her failure to avert the catastrophe at Gettysburg, Ceci infiltrates the White House.

There, she comes face to face with Abraham Lincoln, a man she’s sworn to kill. Forming a reckless alliance with the actor, John Wilkes Booth, she is drawn deeper into the plot to assassinate the President of the United States. A Confederate spy in love with a Union officer, her next decision will determine whether she lives or dies…

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[Extract]

Trent was lucky. The Confederate musket ball that was intended to kill him merely grazed his brow. He lurched violently back in his saddle. His horse reared wildly, throwing him, unconscious to theground, directly into the path of his own cavalry advancing only yards behind him.

At the far end of the field, Sergeant Nathanial Pike and his men, engaged in the hasty formation of a skirmish line, watched helplessly as the scene unfolded. As Trent hit the ground, a Confederate soldier appeared out of the shadows. Small and slight, little more than a boy, he lunged forwards, grabbed the officer by the lapels of his coat and dragged him out of the path of the galloping horses. Throwing himself across the man’s prone body, he shielded him from the pounding hooves. The cavalry thundered past oblivious, in the half-light, to the fate of their captain.

As the danger passed, the rebel rose to his knees and appeared to search the unconscious man.

“God damn thieving rebs,” Pike snatched his pistol from its holster, his thumb wrenching back the hammer. Before he could take aim, the rebel stopped searching. He leaned forwards and, cradling the officer’s face in his hands, bent down and kissed him, full on the lips, long and hard. Pike’s pistol, arm and jaw dropped simultaneously.

Something, some noise, some movement, made the rebel look up and glance furtively around. He jumped to his feet and, with a final backwards glance at the fallen man, melted into the shadows, like a wraith.

It was some moments before Pike’s jaw snapped shut, his teeth meeting with an audible click. He rounded on his men. “Did you see what I just saw?” he demanded.

His question was answered with shrugs and scowls. Not one man there could swear he hadn’t dreamed it. Then suddenly, they heard it, far off, plaintive and eerie, the cry of a whippoorwill.


Rob PHOTO[About the Author]

With Historical Romance as his preferred genre, Robert has continued to write for several years.

Many of his short stories have appeared in various national periodicals and magazines.
His debut novel “Dance the Moon Down”, a story of love against adversity during the First World War, gained him considerable critical praise, being voted book of the month by “Wall to Wall books”.

His second novel “Whippoorwill” tells of a passionate affair between a young southern woman and a northern man at the beginning of the American Civil War.

He is single and lives and works in Hertfordshire.

Visit Robert on Goodreads and buy Whippoorwill on Amazon.


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Educated by Tara Westover [review]

Educated

Title: Educated
Author: Tara Westover
Publisher: Random House UK

[Synopsis]

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

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[My Review]

Educated is a tale of struggle, resilience, and bravery from Tara and some of her siblings. There’s also so much betrayal and abuse in there too from Tara’s father – often to the point that it is sometimes hard to read. I just hate to think that someone can treat their own family this way, wondering at times if this can really be possible – but the fact that it is Tara Westover’s real life in the pages of this book just shows that, sadly, there is real evil in this world – but also some real light, too!

The support Tara got as she grew up is more uplifting and I liked learning about her life at the universities she attended. She’s incredibly naive at times and often quite hard to ‘work out’, but this all added to my interest in the book. I also really enjoyed reading about the Mormon faith – I still don’t feel like I know that much about the faith because, even with my limited knowledge, I can tell that no one could think that the Westover family is a ‘typical’ Mormon family!

It’s an inspiring read, and for someone like me who generally enjoyed school and spends a lot of time reading, it’s crazy to think some children aren’t given the same opportunities from a young age and are even blocked from accessing education by those who are supposed to care and love them.

Educated is definitely a thought-provoking and unusual read, and one I would recommend.


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

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Only Child [review]

Only Child - Rhiannon Navin

Title: Only Child
Author: Rhiannon Navin
Publisher: Pan Macmillan

[Synopsis]

Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.

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[My Review]

This novel provoked such a mix of emotions as I was reading it. The story itself is unique in its narrative – about a school shooting but seen through the eyes of a first grade child (year 2 for us here in the UK) – and the effects afterwards on not just him but his family and the wider community.

This is such a topical subject, with a worrying number of school shootings having already happened and another awful shooting very recently in Florida. It really makes you think about what a devastating effect this has on everyone. The novel starts so shockingly, with the shooting unfolding at the school and Zach hiding in a closet with his classmates and teacher. That alone gave me the chills and had me riveted. Even though Zach perhaps doesn’t quite understand the seriousness of the situation, I could feel the tension through the pages, ensuring I was hooked from the very beginning – and continued to be so long after the shooting ended.

The characters in Only Child are great because no one is perfect. Even those killed during the shooting are not perfect, though – as Zach points out – people tend to remember those killed in a much more positive way than when they were alive – for example, Zach’s brother, Andy, who suffered from ODD (‘oppositional defiant disorder’, which I wasn’t aware of before googling it as I read this novel) and was, as we see through Zach’s memories, not particularly nice to Zach (or his parents) a lot of the time. Zach’s mother and father, suffering from such grief, are also nowhere near perfect – in their behaviour before, during, and after the shooting – but no one is perfect, and who’s to say how you should behave when something like this happens to you? There is no proper way to behave, is there? Only Child really highlights this, as well as how hard things can be for the child who’s still alive. It’s devastating to read Zach’s naive take on things – of course, as adults reading, we can work out what’s really going on but his innocence shines through the pages and makes me really feel for him. This is a powerful book for making you think and empathise with what other people are going through – I feel for their community, and indeed the parents of the shooter too, so much.

I cried countless times and thought, yet again, how lucky I am to live in a country that doesn’t have the same level of gun culture as America – but how incredibly sad and devastating it is that people over there – both the kids at school and their friends and families – ever have to deal with this kind of thing. Poignant, moving and powerful, this is a must-read and an amazing debut from Rhiannon Navin. I look forward to seeing what’s next from her.

[Rating: 5/5]

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

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The Last Mrs Parrish [audiobook review]

The Last Mrs Parrish - Liv Constantine

Title: The Last Mrs Parrish
Author:  Liv Constantine
Publisher: HaperCollins
Format: Audiobook

[Synopsis]

Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve. 

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

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[My Review]

This is an compelling read (or, as I listened on audiobook, ‘listen’) which I put on whilst doing some DIY and ended up getting really drawn into.

It’s quite a far-fetched plotin many ways, but if you suspend your disbelief you’ll no doubt get into the plotting and sneakiness of certain characters. The synopsis gives away quite a lot of what this book is about already, so you know Amber is trying to get herself fully embedded into Daphne’s life – she wants her life for herself, in fact. We know this from early on, so I’m not spoiling anything here, but what we don’t know is what exactly happened in Amber’s life prior to this, and whether she’ll get her comeuppance (something I desperately wanted to happen throughout!).

Read by Suzanne Elise Freeman and Meghan Wolf (I have to admit that, embarrassingly, I just assumed it was the same person narrating throughout until I came to write this review), the american accent is spot on, with that drawl I always imagine (probably incorrectly!) of the American upper classes – or those trying to fit in there, anyway! I listened to it on a faster speed though, as I’m impatient and the pace of narration is quite slow to start with.

I warn you – this is a story jam-packed with characters you won’t like – some worse than others admittedly. Almost everyone has their faults, some far bigger than others, but there are definitely some surprises along the way! There are very few likable people here… when someone is plotting cold-heartedly to steal someone else’s husband and break up a family, you know they’re a ‘questionable‘ character, shall we say!Almost everyone has their faults, some far bigger than others, but there are definitely some surprises along the way! Usually that would make me struggle to keep interested in a story, but I feel that it just works here – it’s a story all about indulgence, superficiality and the never-ending struggle to be ‘top dog’. It’s also a story about just how much goes on behind closed doors that outsiders can’t see.

This is a really easy novel to race through on a lazy weekend, whether reading or listening, and it’s good fun too!

[Rating: 3.5/5]

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The Child Finder [review]

The Child Finder - Rene Denfeld

Title: The Child Finder
Author: Rene Denfeld
Publisher: Orion

[Synopsis]

Naomi Cottle finds missing children. When the police have given up their search and an investigation stalls, families call her. She possesses a rare, intuitive sense, born out of her own harrowing experience that allows her to succeed when others have failed.

Young Madison Culver has been missing for three years. She vanished on a family trip to the mountainous forests of Oregon, where they’d gone to cut down a tree for Christmas. Soon after she disappeared, blizzards swept the region and the authorities presumed she died from exposure.

But Naomi knows that Madison isn’t dead. Can she find the child – and also find out why this particular case is stirring the shadows of her own memories? Could her future be bound to this girl in a way she doesn’t understand?

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[My Review]

The Child Finder is a well-written, atmospheric novel with a bit of a twist.

The plot is intriguing, with a few different strands to it – we hear from this mysterious ‘Snow Girl’, Naomi’s own thoughts and feelings and past life, and some of the other families Naomi has tried to help.

I loved the alternative narratives and the book’s twist on the usual police/ detective novel; there was more of the thoughts and feelings of people, not just the procedure of finding them – though that is in here too. Naomi is a unique kind of ‘detective’ in that she ‘finds’ children – having had some experience of being a lost child herself. I found some of the novel, around the middle, to be a little slow and at times found my attention wandering, but the pace picked up again towards the end when I was really eager to find out whether Naomi would be able to find little Madison. Some sentences did feel a little overdramatic in the way they were written but I felt that most of the book was just right.

There are plenty of emotive parts and some uncomfortable scenes which adds to the tension, and I really liked Naomi, though she had her own problems and faults – I’d like to read more about her in future books!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

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The Scent of Rain [review]

The Scent of Rain - Anne Montgomery

Title: The Scent of Rain
Author: Anne Montgomery
Publisher: Treehouse Publishing Group

[Synopsis]

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl–Rose–running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

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[My Review]

The Scent of Rain is an interesting, well-researched novel about a subject I find incredibly interesting: religious cults/ organisations.

The novel follows various characters involved with the Fundamentalist Mormon community, and their experiences.  There are some hard to read parts which are really shocking, and here you can tell that the story is well-researched as there is a lot of small details which makes the story even more interesting.

The characters themselves were interesting to read about, though I found some to be a little under-developed – I felt like some of them could have been fleshed out a little more to make me care more about what happened to them – and some of the story a little predictable. Plus, at the beginning, when the point of view changed a lot, it could be a little difficult to remember who was who. However, I felt myself really care about Rose and her predicament as the novel went on, and though there were plenty of horrible (or perhaps just misguided?) characters in this novel, there were also some nicer people that I found myself caring about.

Though there were plenty of uncomfortable, shocking parts, the subject matter itself is very intriguing and I reallyenjoyed finding out more about a community like the Fundamentalist Mormons. It’s crazy (and awful, in my opinion) to think that people are forced to live a certain way like that in a first world country such as America, and duped into believing that – for example – having three wives, or dressing a certain way, will help them in the afterlife. Add to that parents so brainwashed (or so I felt, anyway!) that they’d go against their children’s happiness to appease the Prophet, and you have one messed up community which made for an interesting read!


Many thanks to the author, Anne Montgomery, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Shattered [review]

Shattered

Title: Shattered
Author: Allison Brennan
Publisher: St Martin’s Press

[Synopsis]

Over a span of twenty years, four boys have been kidnapped from their bedrooms, suffocated, and buried nearby in a shallow grave. Serial killer or coincidence?

That’s the question investigative reporter Maxine Revere sets out to answer when an old friend begs her to help exonerate his wife, who has been charged with their son’s recent murder. But Max can do little to help because the police and D.A. won’t talk to her—they think they have the right woman. Instead, Max turns her attention to three similar cold cases. If she can solve them, she might be able to help her friend.

Justin Stanton was killed twenty years ago, and his father wants closure—so he is willing to help Max with her investigation on one condition: that she work with his former sister-in-law— Justin’s aunt, FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid. Trouble is, Max works alone, and she’s livid that her only access to the case files, lead detective and witnesses depends on her partnering with a federal agent on vacation. She wants the career-making story almost as much as the truth—but if she gets this wrong, she could lose everything.

Haunted by Justin’s death for years, Lucy yearns to give her family—and herself—the closure they need. More important, she wants to catch a killer. Lucy finds Max’s theory on all three cases compelling—with Max’s research added to Lucy’s training and experience, Lucy believes they can find the killer so justice can finally be served. But the very private Lucy doesn’t trust the reporter any more than Max trusts her.

Max and Lucy must find a way to work together to untangle lies, misinformation, and evidence to develop a profile of the killer. But the biggest question is: why were these boys targeted? As they team up to find out what really happened the night Justin was killed, they make a shocking discovery: Justin’s killer is still out there … stalking another victim … and they already may be too late.

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[My Review]

The synopsis for this novel instantly intrigued me – not only do I love crime/detective novels, but I really like it when they include a journalist’s investigation, as they don’t have to stick to the procedures and red tape that the police do. When there’s more than one case which may be linked? Love it! And when some of them are cold cases? This book seems right up my street!

I wasn’t sure if the fact that I hadn’t read any of the others in this series, which centers on investigative reporter Max Revere, would matter but it doesn’t seem to at all. I got the hang of who’s who pretty quickly and although I didn’t know all the background of the characters (such as what exactly went wrong between Max and her boyfriend, Nick, and also her ‘friend’ David?), I still picked it all up well enough to not dampen my enjoyment.

From reading other reviews I can also see that apparently this is a book that feature a character from another of Allison Brennan’s series – FBI agent Lucy Kincaid. I enjoyed reading about both characters and the way they interacted, as well as other people involved in the investigation too – though it felt like the Kincaid family was absolutely huge as more characters were introduced. I’ve no doubt that’s partly because I haven’t read previous books in that series, though, but I did have to stop a few times and try to figure out who was related/ associated with who!

Still, Shattered is definitely an enthralling read which kept me wanting to read on to find out whether the cases were all linked, and if so who did it?! I loved reading about the different personalities, methods and attitudes Lucy and Max brought to the case, and following them as they piece the clues together.

Allison Brennan’s writing is skillful and keeps the tension up throughout. There are some twists and turns, as well as some darker parts which really make you think. Definitely worth giving a go!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Did You See Melody? [review]

Did You See Melody.JPG

Title: Did You See Melody?
Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

[Synopsis]

Pushed to the breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied – by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist – but Cara’s fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn’t know what to trust: everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

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[My Review]

Ahh, another release from one of my favourite authors – Sophie Hannah! I kept this until I knew I had some time to really get into it, and I wasn’t disappointed…

This is definitely an odd book in some ways. It starts out as something that seems very different – I felt almost as if I were reading a book you’d class as (and sorry for the annoying classification here) ‘chick-lit’, but then it suddenly becomes more of a mystery/ thriller.

Now, the main character Cara… I had mixed feelings about her. At first, I felt that she was just a bit of a demanding, selfish mother who’d ran off for a holiday away from her kids and husband (a holiday which, incidentally, cost a third of their life savings), and I can’t say I warmed to her, but as you learn more about the events that led her to run off to America to this five-star resort, you’re bound to feel more sympathy and understanding. She’s determined, inquisitive and, at times, quite amusing in her observations of other people around the resort. I enjoyed reading about her, and she lived up to the convincing, interesting characters which Sophie Hannah is so great at creating, as did Bonnie Juno – definitely a hard character to like, but an interesting one nevertheless!

The mystery around missing girl, Melody Chapa, is also rather strange and mysterious. I enjoyed the newspaper clippings and interviews which are interspersed with the plot, and ‘missing person’ cases always intrigue me. The plot didn’t feel too dark or gritty like some of her other novels (particularly the Simon Serrailer series which I love but which is definitely far more police procedural-based); instead it felt like a bit of a roller-coaster of adventure featuring an entertaining main character (Cara) as she tries to find out who she glimpsed that very first night, with the help of some entertaining ‘friends’ (I loved brash American Tarin and her daughter – they are so much fun, if a little off the wall!).

Did You See Melody is a fun, slightly wacky read which is very entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it, from first page to last (great ending, too!).

[Rating: 4/5]

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

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