Hangman by @daniel_p_cole [review] @orionbooks

Hangman - Daniel Cole

Title: Hangman 
Author: Daniel Cole
Publisher: Orion


Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.

[My Review]

I was so excited to read the follow up to the hugely successful Ragdoll – and Hangman, the second in the Detective William Fawkes series, definitely doesn’t disappoint! Much like the first, it’s a rollercoaster of a ride of tension, mystery and general craziness as the focus turns to Baxter this time, and a string of gory murders in the US which have worryingly familiar elements to them…

I have to say, at first I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get to read about Fawkes, who I loved in the last book – however, Baxter more than makes up for it, truly shining with her cutting comments and no-nonsense attitude. I absolutely loved reading about her, and some new characters to add to the mix in Curtis and Rouche who, although very different to Baxter, is another brilliant character who kept me wanting to read on. The characters are really what makes this story such addictive reading; that mixed with brilliant humorous scenes (with a heavy dose of black humour, which I loved) and fantastic situations (some completely crazy and unbelievable, but who cares?) which kept me laughing throughout. It may have even beaten Ragdoll for me (no mean feat!), as I felt like I had more of a grasp on what was going on in this novel – well, to some extent – there was plenty to craziness to keep track of!

I’d forgotten how brilliantly entertaining Daniel Cole’s writing is, and Hangman left me desperately wanting more – that ending too! Bring on book 3 (and quickly, please!).

[Rating: 5/5] 

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

Hangman is out in the UK on 22 March.




Our House [review]

Our House - Louise Candlish

Title: Our House
Author: Louise Candlish
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK


On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue.
Nothing strange about that. Except it is your house. And you didn’t sell it.

For better, for worse.

When Fi arrives home to find a removals van outside her house, she is completely blind-sided. Trinity Avenue has been her family’s home for years. Where are all her belongings? How could this have happened? Desperately calling her ex-husband, Bram, who owns the house with her, Fi discovers he has disappeared.

For richer, for poorer.

The more Fi uncovers, the more she realises their lives have been turned upside by a nightmare of their own making. A devastating crime has been committed, but who exactly is the guilty party? What has Bram hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him?

Till death us do part.

Add to Goodreads button


I had high expectations for this novel from the start and was hoping it would live up to them… and I needn’t have worried because I hugely enjoyed this novel!

Our House is actually less ‘thriller’ than I thought it would be, but this wasn’t a negative; it concentrated more on excellent character development and interactions, plus it added in some great twists to keep things interesting! There wasn’t actually a huge amount of mystery about the plot because you find out a significant amount from fairly near the start, but as the novel continues you realise that there’s more and more which isn’t quite what it seems…! It’s definitely a fantastic example of the hugely popular Domestic Noir genre.

I’m not going to rehash the synopsis or the plot here, but I will say that the way the book is structured – partly showing Fi’s experience, partly through excerpts of the real-life ‘victim’ podcast she is appearing on, and partly through excerpts from a word document her ex-husband is writing (but to whom, and why?) means the reader, at times, knows more than Fi does as we’ve heard directly from Bram, giving us an interesting edge over Fi herself, who is supposed to be recounting the story.  I enjoyed trying to work out exactly what had happened with her ex-husband, and how everything got to the state it’s in when we first join Fi, on Friday 13 January 2017.

Just when you think it’s figured out, something else surprises you, and this made for riveting reading. I’ve really enjoyed other novels by Louise Candlish and this is no exception. Beautifully crafted – as the tension slowly builds, Our House will grab you tightly in its grip and not let you go until you’ve finished the last page!

[Rating: 5/5]

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


The Perfect Girlfriend by @KJHAuthor [review]

The Perfect Girlfriend

Title: The Perfect Girlfriend
Author: Karen Hamilton
Publisher: Wildfire


Juliette loves Nate. She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

The Perfect Girlfriend is a truly addictive, can’t-stop-reading psyschological thriller! It’s actually a fairly slow-moving story but Juliette is such a deliciously devious, complex character that I found myself absorbed in every step of the story. She’s a great character because she’s not all out ‘crazy’, she’s not a completely awful person, but she has some truly chilling traits which makes her such an interesting person to read about. Sometimes I felt (a little) sorry for her but most of the time I just continued reading on and on, in abject fascination, as things got more and more intense! Therefore you can easily imagine meeting someone like her in real life. In fact, you probably have and perhaps just didn’t quite twig…!

As I mentioned, the story is not all action, which I don’t say as a negative at all because the pace at which it does move along reflects the mounting tension of Juliette’s mood, mind and actions. I honestly can’t fault this story; though some parts are a bit more dramatic the character of Juliette is so convincingly odd that I just felt myself believing it all, and it kept me reading on page after page!

[Rating: 5/5]

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

The Perfect Girlfriend is out on 22 March in hardback or available to buy NOW in ebook format (buy from Amazon or ibooks).



The Friend [review]

The Friend - Dorothy Koomson

Title: The Friend
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK


What secrets would you kill to keep? 

After her husband’s big promotion, Cece Solarin arrives in Brighton with their three children, ready to start afresh. But their new neighbourhood has a deadly secret.

Three weeks earlier, Yvonne, a very popular parent, was almost murdered in the grounds of the local school – the same school where Cece has unwittingly enrolled her children.

Already anxious about making friends when the parents seem so cliquey, Cece is now also worried about her children’s safety. By chance she meets Maxie, Anaya and Hazel, three very different school mothers who make her feel welcome and reassure her about her new life.

That is until Cece discovers the police believe one of her new friends tried to kill Yvonne. Reluctant to spy on her friends but determined to discover the truth, Cece must uncover the potential murderer before they strike again…

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

This is an absorbing, intriguing novel which centers largely around friendship, betrayal and secrets… lots of secrets!

The characters really make this novel; Dorothy Koomson has created a varied and interesting cast of people, all with their own problems and worries, and so as the reader I couldn’t help but find myself caring about some of them. There are a lot of names and relationships to get to grips with, especially at the start when the narrative suddenly switches between people, but before long they became almost well-known to me.

I really liked main character Cece and felt for her as time went on, as well as some of the other women, but there was one person who really seemed to be the worst – I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but it will soon become apparent! There’s people you feel you can get behind, others that I really disliked, and the slightly slower-moving pace means you find yourself really engrossed in their lives.

It’s not an all-action, hugely suspenseful novel; the mystery about what happened to Yvonne is almost secondary to the stories each person has and the way their relationships and friendships are affected by certain lasting actions.I personally really enjoyed the element of mystery in this novel, as it kept it the story on the right track; it felt like we were going somewhere, and I am a reader that can easily get distracted or disengaged if it feels like there’s no real journey in a story – not at all the case in The Friend, I’m pleased to say.

I absolutely loved The Ice Cream Girls (also by Dorothy Koomson) and have had That Girl From Nowhere on my ‘to read’ list for ages, so I jumped at the chance to review The Friend. I can say, for fans of this author or any new readers, this is well worth a read. It’s fairly long at almost 500 pages, so prepare to settle in for this one and don’t expect a quick read, but it’s worth the wait – a great mix of character development, tension, and mystery.

[Rating: 4/5]

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

The Friend is out to buy now!


Bring Me Back [review]

Bring Me Back - B.A.Paris

Title: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Publisher: HQ



A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

Well, this kept me reading all day and all night, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! I hugely enjoyed The Breakdown, also by B.A. Paris, so had high hopes for this one too – and it didn’t disappoint.

As well as the addictive plot (what really happened to Finn’s girlfriend Layla, who really knows what, and how on earth can she still be alive – if indeed, she is?) and the constant feeling of unease around Finn with his questionable temper, I also felt that the fact that I really couldn’t being to guess what the outcome would be made this such an addictive read.

The story itself focuses a lot on Finn’s life today as he has seemingly moved on, and is happily coupled up with none other than Layla’s sister Emma! However there are also flashbacks to that night, and chapters which reveal the thoughts of the person leaving these mysterious Russian dolls – could it be Layla herself, and if so where has she been all this time? I liked the characterisation B.A. Paris provides, making you care about what’s happening even though I really didn’t like Finn himself. It’s obvious he’s supposed to be a bit of a questionable character, as the reader never knows if he actually knows a lot more than he let on, and his attitude in general towards both Layla, back when they were together, and in the present day with her sister Emma, jarred with me – particularly his constant comparisons between them. This made me want him to get his comeuppance in some way, whether he did do something awful all those years ago or not! I always like reading about ‘questionable’ main characters, and here the author has effectively created some truly strange people, and people I really enjoyed reading about!

There’s plenty of mystery throughout Bring Me Back, with some red herrings along the way, and although some parts were perhaps a little unbelievable I still raced through it, right until the rather satisfying ending! I feel that this is another riveting read from B.A. Paris and would definitely recommend it.

[Rating: 4.5/5]

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

Bring Me Back is out on 8 March – pre-order/ buy here.


The Sunday Lunch Club by @julietstories [review] #sundaylunchclub @simonschusteruk @BookMinxSJV

The Sunday Lunch Club

Title: The Sunday Lunch Club
Author: Juliet Ashton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster


The first rule of Sunday Lunch Club is … don’t make any afternoon plans.

Every few Sundays, Anna and her extended family and friends get together for lunch. They talk, they laugh, they bicker, they eat too much. Sometimes the important stuff is left unsaid, other times it’s said in the wrong way.

Sitting between her ex-husband and her new lover, Anna is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy at the age of forty. Also at the table are her ageing grandmother, her promiscuous sister, her flamboyantly gay brother and a memory too terrible to contemplate.

Until, that is, a letter arrives from the person Anna scarred all those years ago. Can Anna reconcile her painful past with her uncertain future?

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

The Sunday Lunch Club is a charming, fun read about an extended family who meet together every few weeks for Sunday Lunch Club. The book mainly revolves around these lunches and how various characters interact together (though there is some of the narrative which covers time in between the lunches). Though there are some serious issues at play here, the book manages to stay fairly light-hearted and fun, but with an added layer of emotion which Juliet Ashton does so well.

There are funny moments and heart-warming parts which will leave you feeling all warm inside and the characters have their own quirks, with everyone from the seemingly ‘sensible one’ Anna – who I really warmed to, and would happily have read more of – through to Neil, who at times I quite disliked due to his cattiness, but by the end of the novel had also warmed to! Some parts I could have guessed at, but there are some surprises too, with an element of mystery in some of the characters’ stories.

Most of the narrative is told through Anna’s eyes, and she brings just the right level of calmness to situations despite dealing with her own problems – or perhaps not problems but ‘surprises’! It’s a unique family set up, with each of Anna’s siblings as individual and different as you can get, but this makes The Sunday Lunch Club so much more of an interesting read – and there’s bound to be at least one character which you think, “I know someone a bit like that!”

This was just what I fancied reading – light-hearted, happy and wholesome. The perfect Sunday-in-your-pyjamas-with-a-cuppa read.

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster – Books and the City for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

The Sunday Lunch Club is out in the UK on 19 April.



Everything I Know About Love [review]

Everything I know about love

Title: Everything I Know About Love
Author: Dolly Alderton
Publisher: Penguin


A spot-on, wildly funny and sometimes heart-breaking book about growing up, growing older and navigating all kinds of love along the way

When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It’s a book about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough.

Glittering, with wit and insight, heart and humour, Dolly Alderton’s powerful début weaves together personal stories, satirical observations, a series of lists, recipes, and other vignettes that will strike a chord of recognition with women of every age – while making you laugh until you fall over. Everything I know About Love is about the struggles of early adulthood in all its grubby, hopeful uncertainty.


[My Review]

Everything I Know About Love is one of those books that completely drew me in because, being almost the same age as Dolly, I remember these things affecting me as I grew up – from MSN to the growing popularity in online dating, and everything else that so affected us ‘millennials’ when growing up.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t really aware of Dolly Alderton before reading this, so I was coming at it as a rather ignorant reader, but turns out you in no way need to know background info the enjoy this. Sure, people who know of her or have read her column/ listened to her podcast might enjoy it even more as they can find out more about her, but it’s not at all essential to the enjoyment!

The observations about life are interesting and fun to reads about, and Dolly has an engaging and very frank way of writing – she’s honest about her life and mistakes, and you feel that you’re getting to know her. It made a lovely break from the many crime novels I’ve been reading recently.

Dolly’s writing is incredibly easy to read, humorous without being too ‘try hard’ and it contains lots of feel good messages, again without trying too hard to be a ‘feel good’ or ‘preachy’ book. There are highs and lows, dark and happy moments, and lots of entertaining situations. I raced through this and would definitely recommend this.

[Rating: 4/5]

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


Blog Tour: Veronica’s Bird [review + guest post]

Veronicas Bird Cover

Today I am really excited to be on the blog tour for Veronica Bird and Richard Newman’s new novel, Veronica’s Bird, with my thoughts and a guest post from Veronica about what life was like growing up as one of NINE children!

Title: Veronica’s Bird
Authors: Veronica Bird, Richard Newman
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing


Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the Fifties as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. However, a glimmer of hope revealed itself as she, astonishingly to her and her mother, won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates.

A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness. That was until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the fire.

He soon began to take control over her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as cheap labour on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away from him and applied to the Prison Service, intuiting that it was the only safe place she could trust.

Accepted into the Prison Service at a time when there were few women working in the industry, Veronica applied herself every day to learning her new craft even training in Holloway Prison where Myra Hindley was an inmate. With no wish to go outside the prison, Veronica remained inside on-duty. While her colleagues went out to the pub, the theatre or to dine she didn’t feel able to join them.

Her dedication was recognised and she rose rapidly in the Service moving from looking after dangerous women prisoners on long-term sentences to violent men and coming up against such infamous names as The Price sisters, Mary Bell and Charles Bronson. The threat of riots was always very close and escapes had to be dealt with quickly.

After becoming a Governor, Veronica was tasked with what was known within the Service as a ‘basket case’ of a prison. However, with her diligence and enthusiasm Veronica managed to turn it around whereupon it became a model example to the country and she was recognised with an honour from the Queen. With this recognition the EU invited her to lead a team to Russia and her time in Ivanovo Prison, north east of Moscow, provides an illuminating and humorous insight into a different prison culture.

Through a series of interviews with Richard Newman —author of the bestselling A Nun’s Story— Veronica’s Bird reveals a deeply poignant story of eventual triumph, is filled with humour and compassion for those inside and will fascinate anyone interested in unique true life stories, social affairs and the prison system.

Add to Goodreads button


[My Review]

Veronica’s Bird is a really interesting read, set against the tough and often bleak world of the prison service, where Veronica’s career reached great heights – against all odds, you might say, considering what a tough start to life she had. Despite this, the novel has some real rays of light shining through the sadder/ tougher parts, which are quite uplifting and help you see why she loved doing what she did.

As a general rule I don’t read a huge amount of non-fiction books; I definitely enjoy them but just don’t often find books in that genre that really jump out at me like a fiction novel does! However, Veronica’s Bird really appealed when I read the synopsis – anything about prisons always intrigues me – always has done – and I couldn’t’ resist learning more about a strong female like Veronica, who is so full of drive and ambition.

The story itself is, in some ways, full of drama with the high tension and ever-increasing stress of prison life (for both the prisoners and the staff), but in other ways it’s just about life itself, and the often tricky decisions we have to make to juggle one aspect with another. Veronica’s family certainly weren’t always supportive, but she didn’t let it get her down and ultimately it only spurred her on.

Veronica’s Bird is an inspiring story and I loved finding out more about how the day-to-day running of a prison worked back then, and how things have changed since! Plus there some great moments and famous people which Veronica includes, all of which makes for very interesting reading!

Many thanks to Clink Street Publishing and Rachel Gilbey for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me onto the blog tour!

Guest Post: What was it like to grow up as one of nine children? 

There were two ways in 1950’s Barnsley, a family could go when it is made up of nine children, a mother who was to die very young, a drunkard coal-mining father and no money. The first was to try and hold the family together despite the appalling conditions wrought by real poverty, with love and tenderness wrapping each child in a foil against the awfulness of life. The other was to ensure you did not make eye-contact as your father returned from his shift, red eyes staring through his blackened face, like a vision from hell. If the potatoes were not ready he would, as likely as not, sweep them off the table along with anything else that might be there. Mind you, Father owned the only cutlery and plate, so we had nothing to hold on to during his rages; we ate with
our hands and drank from the tap.

Without my mother’s protective shield, we could have been marginally worse off than we were, but it never stopped him with his ready belt, his fury directed towards me and my younger brother. We were sat in tin baths filled with Izal to ‘clean out our insides’; we were provided with so few clothes that when I was chosen to run in Sports Day at school I could not attend as there were no shoes left. My elder sisters had left for the day with the only pairs available. The house was always chaotic, everything flung about and mixed up. One took whatever one could see which might, conceivably fit, and to hell with the rest, especially when you wanted to show your Dad…desperately, you
could run faster than anyone else.

Life for the very poor in Barnsley post-war was one of unremitting filth. The many pits which surrounded the town dumped fine coal dust on us and everything else, making our bleak lives drabber still, a miserable prospect from the moment we got out of a bed with three other children. We froze in those bitter winters despite having a coal miner as a father, dressed in threadbare clothes and ‘hand-me- downs’ –(third or fourth hand for me), for Dad had sold off his coal ration leaving us with only the slack.

The fury and the explosions tore the family into a dysfunctional mess. Alone, despite my siblings in the house, I was always frightened, wondering when the black shadow at the front door would arrive. As a result, I began to go to church across the road just to seek sanctuary.

To add to this misery, I had to attach exhaustion. Removed from my Boarding School where I had won a bursary and begun to excel in sports, two terms before I was due to sit my ‘O’ level exams, and never being given a reason, I was put to work, loading lorries with sacks of potatoes at three in the morning before going on to market. I was paid a pound a week.

It was only, one day that a friend stopped me in the street and said: ‘You are nothing but a little slave, Veronica,’ that I realised it was time to go. I knew it was now or never to get away from what was laughingly called ‘my family.’ As I left the house, I never looked back. I always looked forward…and upward.

Veronica’s Bird. Copyright © Richard Newman 2018. Authors Veronica Bird and
Richard Newman. Publisher Clink Street Publications 23 rd January 2018.

About the authors

After thirty-five years working for the Prison Service, Veronica Bird is
now retired and living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She is still an active proponent of the justice system and continues to lecture across the country and is a supporter of Butler Trust, which acknowledges excellence within the prison system.

A qualified architect and Swiss-trained hotelier, Richard Newman enjoyed a forty-year career designing and managing hotels worldwide before retiring in 2001. Since then he has gone on to publish a number of novels: The Crown of Martyrdom, The Horse that Screamed, The Potato Eaters, The Green Hill, Brief Encounters and most recently The
Sunday Times bestseller, A Nun’s Story. He is currently working on a new novel about
retirement and an autobiography of his time in the Middle East. He lives happily with his
wife in Wetherby, West Yorkshire where he enjoys being close to his family.

Veronica’s Bird is out to buy now.


No Turning Back [audiobook review]

No Turning Back

Title: No Turning Back
Author: Tracy Buchanan


Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens.

While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby. But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt.

Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the ‘Ophelia Killer’, a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago-and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life?

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

I wasn’t sure what to expect from No Turning Back; from the synopsis it sounded like a bit of a thriller/mystery read but the first half of the book is, I’d say, just about Anna and her way of dealing with that awful day on the beach when she protects her daughter and ends up killing a schoolboy. There’s a lot about the aftermath and how Anna feels, but not much mystery – and I was eagerly awaiting some elements of suspense because there was the mention of an ‘Ophelia Killer’ from years ago which peaked my interest. Although I can always appreciate a novel that is just character-based, I felt this story wasn’t gripping enough without the mystery element, so I struggled to stay hugely interested for the first half.

The tension does ramp up after that, when we find out more about what actually happened all those years ago and on that fateful day, and there were some more interestinfg partsbut to be honest the plot felt a little ridiculous towards the end. However, at least it did get a little more engaging, and there were some surprises which I definitely did not see coming.

The narration is quite easy to listen to, though at the beginning I did find Anna’s voice grating a bit! However I am overly picky when it comes to audiobooks so I suppose that’s my own problem!

Overall I found this an enjoyable read but quite unpredictable; some parts really kept my interest whilst others felt like they dragged and/ or were a little unbelievable at times.



Hydra by @ConcreteKraken [blog tour review] @orendabooks

Hydra - Matt Wesolowski

Today I’m excited to have a review for Hydra, a fantastic new novel by Matt Wesolowski, as part of the blog tour. Read on to find out what I thought, and keep following the tour to see what some fantastic book bloggers also thought!

Title: Hydra
Author: Matt Wesolowski
Publisher: Orenda Books


One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the “Macleod Massacre.” Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden “games,” online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.

[My Review]

Hydra is such a unique, interesting story that I’m not entirely sure where to start talking about it! The premise is brilliant; set out like the transcript of a podcast which explores a shocking murder case (in which 21 year old Arla Macleod murdered her mother, father and sister), it consists of 6 main ‘sections’, each representing an episode of a podcast. Each ‘episode’ features investigative journalist (and podcast presenter) Scott King as he chats to various people who knew Arla or her family, and tries to find out more about the case and the people involved.  Because we get these multiple views, the listener learns more about the case through various perspectives, instead of just one, and in such an intriguing way. Each character is interesting and/ or mysterious in their own way, and I couldn’t wait to find out what they might know – or not know, as it happens.

We find out plenty of information from Arla herself, and the reader peeks further into what appears to be a very damaged state of mind… but why did she end up this way? Was there actually any ‘reason’ she ended up killing her family? As Scott says at the start of the podcast, he aims to explore the case and try to find out more about the smaller details which might not have been talked about much before – he’s not necessarily setting out to find out ‘whodunnit’ because we already know! I really liked this element as it felt more realistic and added to the worryingly realistic feel of the novel.

The narrative fizzles with tension and creepiness – I don’t very often experience a genuine feeling of uneasiness when reading a novel, but Hydra delivered exactly that, and in just the right amounts to keep me wanting to read on. It’s never too ridiculous, despite there being seemingly odd elements due to the strange nature of Arla’s life and personality (I won’t say anymore than that as I don’t want to give anything away).

I absolutely love crime podcasts and have listened to many myself, so this really struck a chord with me – and it’s very topical as podcasts (and in particular true crime podcasts) are really growing in popularity. Hydra also includes topical subjects and information, such as social media and the digital world as well as the unfortunate rise of internet trolls, which makes it even more relatable.

I should also point out that you don’t need to have read Six Stories to enjoy this novel; even though I’ve heard SO MANY amazing things about it I just haven’t got around to it, but I didn’t feel it was necessary to enjoy this one (though I’ve no doubt it would reveal more about Scott King and his podcast which would be really interesting). So if, like me, you’ve bought Six Stories but haven’t yet got around to reading it due to a towering ‘to read’ pile, don’t let it put you off diving into this one! I am now even more excited to go back and read it!

Hydra stayed in my head long after I finished it, and I love how original, atmospheric and utterly absorbing the story is. It’s a testament to Matt’s writing, and I can safely say Hydra is a novel that you’ll struggle to tear yourself away from.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for my place on the blog tour!

About the Author

Matt W Picture 3Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio.

Follow the tour…

Hydra blog poster 2018 FINAL