BLOG TOUR: Dark Waters by G. R. Halliday

This seriously chilling crime novel will not be one you forget, with it’s gripping plot and likeable lead detective.

THREE MISTAKES. TWO MURDERS. ONE MORE VICTIM TO GO . . .Annabelle has come to the Scottish Highlands to escape. But as she speeds along a deserted mountain road, she is suddenly forced to swerve. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a dark, damp room. A voice from the corner of the room says ‘The Doctor will be here soon’.
Scott is camping alone in the Scottish woodlands when he hears a scream. He starts to run in fear of his life. Scott is never seen again.
Meanwhile DI Monica Kennedy has been called to her first Serious Crimes case in six months – a dismembered body has been discovered, abandoned in a dam. Days later, when another victim surfaces, Monica knows she is on the hunt for a ruthless killer.
But as she begins to close in on the murderer, her own dark past isn’t far behind …

Seriously, I cannot emphasise enough how deliciously creepy this is! This plot took a turn that I was certainly not expecting and it honestly sent shivers down my spine at times. Halliday’s books are certainly different to any other police series I’ve read in a while and you definitely won’t forget them in a hurry. The reader feels such horror and empathy for Annabelle that you can’t tear your eyes from the page until you know what’s happening. It’s gripping, spine-tingling and a truly original plot.

Monica is again a brilliant character and definitely a force to be reckoned with. Her determination gains the support of the reader the whole way through and she’s a fantastic and engaging character. I was urging her on the whole way through, knowing she would get there but feeling increasingly concerned for Annabelle’s fate – the fact that I couldn’t put this down demonstrates Halliday’s brilliant writing.

As the plot builds it gets more and more creepy and while I thought Halliday’s first book in this series was different, this one certainly is. It’s not necessarily one for the faint-hearted but I loved it. The writing truly is excellent and at times could send a shiver down my spine. Each character is well thought out and adds something to the story – they all have a purpose whether it’s contributing to the creepiness or helping Monica get to the heart of Annabelle’s disappearance.

I enjoyed every second of this and would highly recommend for those of you that want a truly gritty and gripping detective series. If you haven’t read the first one I would highly recommend it but if not you will still definitely enjoy this one!

Dark Waters
G. R. Halliday
Harvill Secker, 16th July 2020

BLOG TOUR: From the Shadows by G. R. Halliday

This is the ultimate creepy, spine-tingling detective series that will keep you guessing the whole way through.

Seven days. Four deaths. One chance to catch a killer.
Sixteen-year-old Robert arrives home late. Without a word to his dad, he goes up to his bedroom. Robert is never seen alive again.
A body is soon found on the coast of the Scottish Highlands. Detective Inspector Monica Kennedy stands by the victim in this starkly beautiful and remote landscape. Instinct tells her the case won’t begin and end with this one death.
Meanwhile, Inverness-based social worker Michael Bach is worried about one of his clients whose last correspondence was a single ambiguous text message; Nichol Morgan has been missing for seven days.
As Monica is faced with catching a murderer who has been meticulously watching and waiting, Michael keeps searching for Nichol, desperate to find him before the killer claims another victim.

I thought that Monica was a great lead detective, with her commanding confidence and gut instinct that even the reader trusts. I did feel perhaps that there was too much focus on her height, but other than that she was an extremely likeable and strong character. She was patient, independently confident, but also a caring and very relatable person.

The mystery is gripping and chilling right from the start. When Robert disappears we see his perspective for a while and honestly it’s slightly terrifying, but it made me want to keep reading as I just had to understand what was happening. It’s the perfect balance between intriguing and spooky, so it kept me hooked the whole way through.

Introducing another character, Michael Bach, was another really clever aspect. His determination to find out what happened to his client Nichol perfectly complemented Monica’s gut instinct and patient investigation. It was clear to me throughout that there was some sort of link, but Halliday refuses to give too much away and keeps us guessing throughout.

The plot builds extremely well – it gets more and more fascinating throughout and it’s very hard to predict. I also liked this as it’s unusual compared to a lot of other detective novels you might read – the conclusion is not necessarily like your typical murder novel, and once you read this you’ll know what I mean!

This book was gritty, captivating, sometimes horrifying and chilling throughout. It’s clever and unique plot is a brilliant contrast to other detective series that sometimes fall prey to the same tropes and I do love Monica as the lead detective. I’d 100% recommend this.

From the Shadows
G. R. Halliday
Vintage, 18th April 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Accusation by Victoria Jenkins

This was a gripping, unusual and fast-paced psychological thriller that is a definite must-read!

They say she’s guilty. She says she’s not. Who do you believe?
‘Help me! Help me, please!’
When Jenna hears the cry in the park one night, she feels she has no choice but to run and help. Cradling the injured woman in her arms, the attacker nowhere to be seen, all Jenna wants is to keep her alive until the ambulance arrives and for the ordeal to be over.
But the nightmare begins when the victim wakes up…
Jenna’s relief turns to horror when the finger is pointed at her. There must be some mistake: she’s never seen the woman before in her life, and Jenna tried to save her life. Why would she accuse Jenna of a crime she didn’t commit?
As the case against Jenna grows, her world starts to fall apart. Her teenage daughter is keeping secrets and her husband is growing more distant every day. To save her family and clear her name, Jenna has to prove she didn’t do it. But someone knows something Jenna did do. And they want to make her pay…

This story begins with what seems like a nightmare come to life – Jenna is accused of a crime she didn’t commit. It’s horrifying and the reader goes through the stressful journey with Jenna as she is questioned, charged and more evidence starts to come to light.

Jenna is a great character and easy for the reader to connect with. She’s strong and determined to prove her innocence but she’s also fearful at times, making her a character that the reader can sympathise with. At first the accusation comes completely out the blue, but Jenkins is a clever writer and slowly starts to build a cloud of suspicion around Jenna herself…

As the plot builds, it becomes clear that everything is linked – Lily’s new boyfriend, Jenna’s unknown history… I really got hooked as the plot went on and absolutely couldn’t put the book down until I had finished it! I thought the ending was fantastic – everything came together and it was really satisfying. It was fast-paced, focused but had just the right level of a ‘happy ending’ for me – while it was wrapped up well, Jenkins didn’t waste time going overboard with the happy ending and ended the book really well.

I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting a new thriller to pick up, it’ll keep you gripped throughout and you’ll find yourself not able to put it down!

The Accusation
Victoria Jenkins
Bookouture, 9th June 2020

BLOG TOUR: Fearless Girl by Emma Tallon

Another fantastic book from Tallon that I thoroughly enjoyed.

It’s been three years since Freddie Tyler was sent to prison, now he’s back on the streets of London and about to find out that everything has changed.
As Freddie enters his West End club for the first time in years, he finds ex-girlfriend Anna Davis sitting behind his desk, confidently leading his team of men. Anna used to hate the world he lived in, but she has now become a big part of it. And she’s not about to give up running the family business easily.
Anna shows a toughness Freddie has never witnessed in her before when she tells him about her new enterprise, smuggling stolen diamonds through London’s Hatton Garden. And alarm bells start ringing when Freddie meets Anna’s new partner. Cold and ruthless, Roman Gains isn’t someone Freddie trusts around the club and particularly not around Anna.
Whilst tensions flare between Anna and Freddie, a new Russian firm enters their world, determined to bring the Tylers down. And when they take out one of his best men, Freddie has to take drastic action to wrestle control from Anna. But she has other ideas. And when Roman becomes Anna’s closest ally, Freddie finally reaches breaking point. Could this be the fall of the Tyler empire and the last time Freddie and Anna are on the same side?

This was a really great addition to the series, especially after the shocking ending to the last one. I honestly never thought Tallon would actually send Freddie to prison and so to finally be able to read the next installment was so exciting. The progress and development of the characters was excellent and I loved seeing Anna become more determined and confident in herself but I also felt sad at some of the measures and decisions she has to make in order to survive. Tallon writes these characters so well, they have such a depth of emotion and so many layers, that it’s very easy for the reader to feel sympathy or a connection towards them. While I love Anna, I had a real soft spot for Freddie in this book. He’s definitely not perfect in this book and at times I was furious with him, but there was something almost amusing about him discovering just how capable Anna is.

The actual story throughout is another brilliant and fast-paced battle, with highs and lows throughout. There are always excellent twists and turns in this series and Tallon has the perfect blend between an engaging plot and character development. What I liked about this one was that there isn’t just one strand, we follow both Anna and Freddie and there are some definite red herrings throughout. It makes it really interesting and I was completely hooked throughout.

I couldn’t possibly not talk about the love story at the heart of this series and this book definitely didn’t disappoint with this. I’m always rooting for Anna and Freddie and it’s part of what makes this series so unique. Tallon wrote this chapter of their story perfectly, although I don’t want to give too much away!

I read this book in one sitting as I honestly couldn’t tear myself away from it. I loved every minute, as I always do with this series, and I’d highly recommend not just this installment but the whole series.

Fearless Girl
Emma Tallon
Bookouture, 14th April 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Prized Girl by Amy K. Green

This is a compelling, fast-paced and creepy thriller that everyone will be hooked by.

Jenny Kennedy appears to have it all. She’s the perfect daughter, the popular girl at school and a successful beauty queen. But then Jenny is found dead in a murder that rocks the small town she grew up in to the core.
Her estranged half-sister Virginia finds herself thrust into the spotlight as the case dominates the news and is desperate to uncover who killed Jenny. But she soon realises that maybe Jenny’s life wasn’t so perfect after all.
The truth is that Jenny has more than a few secrets of her own, and so do her neighbours… What really happened that night?

This book starts off with a bang and goes right into the death of Jenny from the start. As a reader, it immediately hooked me as I wanted to know more. It starts from the perspective of Jenny’s sister Virginia, who is an interesting character. She feels unreliable as her blackout drunk moments make everything a bit uncertain for her, so I was unsure whether to trust her which again made it all that bit more intriguing.

The way the plot moves is very gripping, as it switches between Virginia in the present and Jenny in the past, building up to her death. Jenny is sweet, she’s a kid desperate to do her own thing, but there’s a sadness in reading her chapters as the reader knows it doesn’t work out for her. Her need to be independent and escape is tinged with sadness the whole way through, but it’s clever writing as I felt connected with Jenny and desperate to know who killed her.

At no point did I really feel confident in guessing who did it until the very end. Green’s writing is so clever, the twists and turns happen so suddenly that the reader is left reeling and confused. It’s brilliant, as it means the suspense is held the whole way through the book – each time Green hints at something, I learned not to take it for granted, as you never know whether something will actually be revealed or not.

The ending is fascinating, as it investigates morality and decisions made in the heat of the moment. Virginia really comes into her own at the end, seeming stronger and more confident in herself. But here is where Green is really clever, as she doesn’t make Virginia magically perfect, she still has her struggles and poor thinking at times, but she also seems more content, strong and independent.

This should definitely be your next thriller read, it’s got great characters, a fast-paced and constantly moving plot and excellent writing.

The Prized Girl
Amy K. Green
HQ, 19th March 2020

BLOG TOUR: My Perfect Wife by Clare Boyd

This was a gripping and unusual thriller, which swaps between the perspectives of the two key women involved in a really intriguing manner.

I finally have everything I ever wanted. A home with floor-to-ceiling windows, a devoted husband who dazzles everyone he meets, and two angelic children I adore. But as I watch my husband chatting with the girl next door, I wonder if anyone can see the sadness in my pretty pink smile, or hear the scream behind my straight white teeth?
I know I’m crazy to think there’s a hint of desire in his eyes.
I know it’s madness to see a flicker of fear in hers.
I know all this, because I’ve been wrong before.
And if I’m wrong again, he’ll try to take my children away.
The party is my last chance to prove to my husband that I’m on the mend, that I can handle something as simple as a drinks reception without snapping under the pressure. It’s all going perfectly, until I see something in the swimming pool that changes everything. But if I can’t trust myself to believe it’s real, who will?

I really liked the intriguing plot of this book – the contrast between Elizabeth and Heather, the two women at the centre of this book was really fascinating. Elizabeth with her fancy life and the apparently perfect husband and Heather with the fantasy of what could have been – they give two sides to the same story and at times it’s difficult to know who I believe. I loved the focus on these two women, both strong in their own way and both dealing with their own issues. They are simultaneously at odds with each other but also struggling with the same things and I loved this contrast. It was different seeing them having to battle to work together, so the power struggle between them was excellent.

The plot moved at a great pace – it was fast and kept me hooked but there was enough time spent on some of the details and dramas. The psychological thriller elements of this book are a great addition, Elizabeth is hard to follow and her disorientated thoughts make this even more fascinating and interesting. The mind games between Elizabeth and Lucas are one of my favourite elements of this book, it’s full of twists and turns and unexpected elements and the action really builds throughout.

I feel like it’s hard for me not to give too much away but honestly this is a compelling book full of intrigue and twists throughout. The characters are strong and I never knew who to trust so it was really difficult to put the book down at times. The ending is really good, the suspense and drama simply doesn’t let up and Boyd manages to keep an element of uncertainty right until the end. I would absolutely recommend this book.

My Perfect Wife
Clare Boyd
Bookouture, 4th March 2020

BLOG TOUR: Conviction by Denise Mina

This is unique, chilling and fascinating thriller, with a strong and independent female lead who I absolutely loved.

It’s just a normal morning when Anna’s husband announces that he’s leaving her for her best friend and taking their two daughters with him.
With her safe, comfortable world shattered, Anna distracts herself with someone else’s story: a true-crime podcast. That is until she recognises the name of one of the victims and becomes convinced that only she knows what really happened.
With nothing left to lose, she throws herself into investigating the case. But little does she know, Anna’s past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.

The style of writing in this book is so unique, it drew me in right from the start. It’s blunt, bizarrely honest and at times feels fragmented when it follows Anna’s real-time thoughts, but I loved it. It was different, but the slightly jarring effect was actually very captivating. It was this that hooked me in to this book before the plot even got going.

What drew me to this book in the first place was the concept of the podcast being the catalyst. The way this was executed within the book was excellent, as the plot didn’t rely too heavily on the podcast but used it as very gripping starting point. Mina gave just enough of a link between the podcast and Anna to keep me curious throughout, without giving away too many of the precise details as to why they were linked. The tension just kept building, and even though the story was a little bit out there, it was just fantastic. The way it was written from Anna’s blunt and unapologetic perspective made it so believable that I never stopped to question what was happening, I just enjoyed reading it.

As we got nearer to the end I was honestly starting to wonder if we were ever going to find out the truth – Mina kept it going right up until the very end. Surprisingly it didn’t drag at all, and instead I found myself desperately turning the pages as I had to find out what happened. I was genuinely shocked, and although I don’t want to give too much away, I will say that this was one of those endings where it just crept up on me and I was left totally shocked. The way that Mina writes keeps the reader totally focused on the main thread of the story, leaving you blind-sided when she reveals something that should have been obvious.

I honestly absolutely loved this. It was deliciously creepy, twisty throughout and full of suspense with a very strong female lead character. If this isn’t on your list to read, it should be now.

Conviction
Denise Mina
Vintage, 20th February 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Woman Downstairs by Elisabeth Carpenter

This is a brilliantly gripping book, with a plot that really gets to the reader.

Can you ever really know your neighbours?
When human remains are found in a ground floor flat, the residents of Nelson Heights are shocked to learn that there was a dead body in their building for over three years.
Sarah lives at the flat above and after the remains are found, she feels threatened by a stranger hanging around the building.
Laura has lived in the building for as long as she can remember, caring for her elderly father, though there is more to her story than she is letting on.
As the investigation starts to heat up, and the two women become more involved, it’s clear that someone isn’t telling the truth about what went on all those years ago…

Both Sarah and Laura were great characters, with the reader able to connect with both women. I thought Sarah’s curiosity and determination contrasted perfectly with Laura’s anxiety and timidness. Each time the perspective swapped it was so easy to get back into each character and I was kept hooked throughout.

The plot itself was excellently written, it played on the horror of being so unknown and alone that no one would know you’d died. It takes the fears of the reader and puts them into writing, building up the sadness of the crime throughout and increasing the intensity. It’s very clever writing, it’s detailed, emotional, fast paced and full of suspense.

Each character plays an important part in finding the heart of the story. They all add an element of intrigue or surprise, an added layer to the mystery, and it works really well. The ending is at just the right point in the story, right when the suspense builds we reach the reveal and it’s brilliant. Everything starts to link together really well, in a way that’s clever and not too obvious.

If you want something that will grip you right from the start and play on deeper fears in an extremely clever way, this is the book for you.

The Woman Downstairs
Elisabeth Carpenter
Orion, 6th February 2020

BLOG TOUR: The 24 Hour Cafe by Libby Page

This is a heart-warming story that goes deep into the thoughts and lives of the characters.

Welcome to the café that never sleeps.
Day and night, Stella’s Café opens its doors to the lonely and the lost, the m
orning people and the night owls. It’s a place where everyone is always welcome, where life can wait at the door.
Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They love working at Stella’s – the different people they meet, the small kindnesses exchanged. But is it time to step outside and make their own way in life?

Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café, where one day might just be enough to change your life . . .

I love character-driven novels and this book was exactly it. Both Hannah and Mona were very realistic women, driven by their dreams but starting to recognise the struggles and realities of life. It focuses on a 24-hour period in Stella’s cafe, but there are flashbacks to the past as both girls remember and reminisce about key moments, both happy and sad. It becomes quite emotional at times, but also interesting to see both sides of the same events.

The book is not totally focused just on the two women however, as there are other characters who come in to the cafe throughout the novel. The reader gets to see glimpses of their lives as well, from the poverty-stricken student, the elderly couple, or the magazine seller outside. It’s fascinating and wonderful to see the thoughts and lives of so many different kinds of people. Some are extremely touching, but throughout there is a sense of realness to the people. There are also some beautifully written sections about dreams, the future and in these sections there is some truly emotive and gorgeous writing. It evokes a sense of passion in the reader as well, making them want to achieve their own goals and dreams as well. I loved these parts of the book and they also managed to break up the heavy emotions of each person as well.

The ending is simply beautiful. It brings back some wonderful links to the characters we see throughout the book, in a genuine and touching way. Within just a few pages, the last chapter manages to highlights the ups and downs that life can bring and it’s honestly just brilliant writing. It left me feeling satisfied and happy after a book that had brought me such a range of emotions.

The stand-out for me from this novel is simply the writing itself. It’s emotive, realistic, touching and truly genuine. I loved this and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys character-focused writing.

The 24 Hour Cafe
Libby Page
Orion, 23rd January 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Day That Changed Everything by Catherine Miller

This is a heart-warming and emotional story exploring the meaning of family and motherhood.

When you lose the love of your life, how do you find yourself again?For Tabitha, the day that changed everything started like any other.
She woke up, slid her feet into fluffy slippers, wrapped herself in a dressing gown and tiptoed out of her bedroom, leaving her husband Andy sleeping. Downstairs, she boiled the kettle and enjoyed a cup of tea as the sun rose.
Upstairs, Andy’s alarm sounded, and Tabitha took him a freshly brewed coffee, like every other morning. Except today, the incessant beeping rang out and her husband hadn’t stirred. She called his name, she nudged his shoulder. But Andy wouldn’t wake up.
Three years later Tabitha is trying her hardest to get by in the shadow of her grief. She may have lost the love of her life but she won’t give up on the family they dreamed of. Fostering troublesome teenage girls and a newborn baby is a chance to piece together her broken heart.
But being a mother isn’t easy, and neither is healing the heartache she carries around. After losing everything, could saving these three children help Tabitha save herself too?

I really enjoyed how this book explores the meaning and importance of family through the eyes of Tabitha and the girls she fosters. Tabitha herself is the key to this story, starting from the devastating moment she discovers her husband has died. It’s truly heartbreaking and the emotion pours out the page. The story flashes back and forward between two timelines. It focuses on the time directly after her husband’s death and a couple of years after when she starts fostering. It gives the reader a better idea of her character development and allows us to really connect with Tabitha as we see her progress.

The writing throughout is really beautiful at times, but it’s what I’d expect from Miller, who’s novel 99 Days With You I absolutely adored. It’s emotive, passionate, devastating at times and she writes everything that Tabitha feels so well. It’s a brilliant exploration into human emotions.

The two teenagers that Tabitha fosters, Syd and Max, are an excellent addition to Tabitha’s life. They are funny, stroppy, typical teenagers, but they are also genuinely struggling with their own emotions and experiences. The way that Miller manages to get this across without writing from the perspective of the twins is truly excellent.

This is a book less about a dramatic storyline and more about the characters and themes. I would highly recommend this for someone who wants to lose themselves in a character-driven, emotional and well-written book.

The Day That Changed Everything
Catherine Miller
Bookouture, 17th Jan 2020

BLOG TOUR: All The Wrong Places by Joy Fielding

This was fast-paced, full of suspense and with a chilling mystery character.

You always know who you’re meeting online . . . don’t you?
Four women decide to explore online dating, downloading an app that promises they will swipe their way to love and happiness.
But not everyone is who they seem online. Hidden behind a perfect smile and charming humour, one man appears to be the perfect date. But the night he has planned is unlike any other.
The clock is ticking, and for one woman, this date might just be her last . .
.

I really liked the characters in this, I felt that Paige was definitely likeable to the reader, even if she was a little bit perfect! I think she was written excellently, because it meant when she did break out of her perfect little bubble, her emotions and choices were all the more impactful because it was so different for her. Chloe’s story was again particularly emotional to read – it hit quite deep for the reader to see her going through a difficult marriage, and the ending definitely took me by surprise.

I personally loved Joan, Paige’s mother – what a brilliant and confident woman! She was funny, bold and not afraid to be herself, and I personally loved seeing her character development throughout. Heather was actually quite a tragic character, as in the struggles she faced were not so obvious on the outside, but as the book revealed more about her life I felt quite sad for her. For me, this focus on the four women blended the best bits of both thriller and women’s fiction.

The chapters written from the perspective of the killer were genuinely chilling… His thought process and his ability to switch personas and stories was definitely quite terrifying. As his plan becomes clearer throughout the book, the tensions rises and the pace quickens as well. It’s a real rollercoaster and I was hooked throughout.

The ending really does just happen so quickly there’s barely time to blink. I loved this, as there’s so much that happens that among all the action there is a sinister build up to something else. I only saw it coming at the last minute, and honestly I thought the ending was great. A very sinister ending to a book that gave chills throughout.

All The Wrong Places
Joy Fielding
Zaffre, 12 December 2019

BLOG TOUR: What She Saw Last Night by MJ Cross

I read this in one day, desperate to finish it, and genuinely almost missed my train stop!

Jenny Bowen is going home. Boarding the Caledonian Sleeper, all she wants to do is forget about her upcoming divorce and relax on the ten-hour journey through the night.
In her search for her cabin, Jenny helps a panicked woman with a young girl she assumes to be her daughter. Then she finds her compartment and falls straight to sleep.
Waking in the night, Jenny discovers the woman dead in her cabin … but there’s no sign of the little girl. The train company have no record of a child being booked on the train, and CCTV shows the dead woman boarding alone.
The police don’t believe Jenny, and soon she tries to put the incident out of her head and tells herself that everyone else is right: she must have imagined the little girl.
But deep down, she knows that isn’t the truth.

What a book. I was so hooked on this! I felt that the start had just the perfect pacing – it was both slow enough to make me want to carry on but fast enough to keep my attention.

This is the kind of book where you never know what’s going to happen. Every chapter held something unexpected, and there were points where I was genuinely shocked that certain things actually happened. There are lots of twists and turns, but I liked that there are different character perspectives for the same events, so the reader gets a glimpse into both sides of the story. It’s genuinely sinister at times, sometimes scary and the writing is superb. The descriptions are so vivid that I felt really engaged throughout, I could really imagine and feel what was happening in the story, which is partly why I was so gripped by it throughout.

Jenny was a great main character. Clearly inexperienced, but ultimately super determined, I was always confident that she was going to get what she wanted eventually. It was a very rocky journey, and perhaps didn’t turn out the way I expected, but it was so so good. It wasn’t always realistic, but I find the most gripping thrillers and crime novels never are, so it worked really really well I felt. The plot was always unpredictable, helping to keep the reader engaged throughout.

After such a highly charged book, the ending was really emotionally satisfying and gave me exactly what I wanted. It’s not often a book hooks me as much as this one did, so I would highly recommend it.