BLOG TOUR: Kill For Me by Rebecca Bradley

This was a fast-paced, intriguing and unusual crime novel, with an intelligent yet emotional detective and a very satisfying ending.

A deadly game. An unstoppable killer. The perfect alibi.
Lucy Anderson is late collecting her daughter from nursery. A mistake that could prove fatal. 
Her daughter is gone and there is only one way Lucy can get her back. The ransom is simple, she has to kill someone…
And this is just the beginning. A deadly game with a domino effect has started as the real killer forces others to do his bidding.
Can detective inspector Hannah Robbins find the killer’s next puppet before they’re forced to strike or will this be the case where her opponent has found the perfect way to kill?

Straight from the start this hooked me. Lucy was a very emotionally engaging character, she really connected with the reader, and so the choices she made were even more hard-hitting. She’s forced to kill someone in order to get her daughter back, and the detailed thought process she goes through to make her decision and accept it is really quite painful to read. It also forces the reader to confront the choices they would make in this situation, making it even harder to read. The way this novel works is through a domino effect, with someone behind the scenes pulling all the strings. I don’t want to give too much away, but what happens to Lucy is actually really upsetting for the reader as she is the first character we bond with other than the detective. It’s a fast-paced outcome however, with no time to lose, and the next character that the novel focuses on is so different to Lucy that I felt it hardened the reader to their potential outcome and stopped the reader from becoming too emotionally attached to each character. This worked really well, as each time a new character was introduced the suspense built further and further.

Where this book really shines is in the questions it poses on morality and choice. Are the characters really offered much of a choice? The intense emotional blackmail they face would be hard for anyone to resist, but it’s also equally difficult to imagine letting it force them to commit these horrific crimes. But Bradley writes this part extremely well, highlighting the emotional turmoil they go through, their feelings after committing the crimes, and in the case of one of the characters, a sense of relief when they became the victim. It was truly brilliant writing in the face of a difficult moral topic.

The main detective, DI Hannah Robbins, was a really strong detective. She was intuitive, emotional and frustrated with the sense of the unknown. The reader had a real sense of the urgency needed to solve this case, and she was a brilliant lead character to do it. The ending was very emotionally satisfying, especially after such a difficult story. It wasn’t the most surprising, but that’s fine, as it instead provided satisfaction after such a fast-paced and intense novel.

I loved this, it was different to a lot of other crime/detective novels, it was fast and intense, and the characters were all written really well. I’d definitely recommend this!

Kill For Me
Rebecca Bradley
15th February 2019

Monthly Wrap Up – May Edition!

Hello! Well May was not my best month for getting reviews done – I decided to catch up on some reading purely for fun, as I like not always having to review everything I read. A lot of May has involved blog tours which are always great to be a part of, so check them all out below:

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell was my first review of May and it was a brilliant read. It was an extremely emotional and touching look into what family can mean, with two brilliantly written main female characters.

I next reviewed Closer Than You Think by Darren O’Sullivan which was a very intriguing mystery, a very unusual motive and some really fascinating insights into the mind of the criminal. It also offered a very in-depth look into the main character Claire, so it’s definitely something a bit different to read.

They Call Me The Cat Lady by Amy Miller was the most fun I had reviewing a novel this month. This was such a touching, personal and lovely read, with a beautiful exploration into the growth of the main character. The descriptions in this book are truly gorgeous, and it’s a really heart wrenching read.

I then read The Manhatten Project by Paul McNeive, and this is genuinely quite a terrifying read, if only because of the stark reality it forces the reader to face. This is a very detailed book, showing the psychological consequences of events from our history in a fascinating political thriller with a terrorist plot.

Heartlands by Kerry Watts had some great characters and an emotional crime, but was slightly confusing at times. I found the vast amount of characters didn’t allow enough time to be spent on developing all of them, but it was still a good read with a great lead detective.

I next took part in a blog tour by Bookouture for Fierce Girl by Emma Tallon which has absolutely hooked me into this series. The main couple is completely awesome, totally badass, and I loved it. This was fast-paced, intriguing and really well written.

Finally is my review for the blog tour by Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor which is a completely emotional, fascinating and relevant story, with plenty of plot twists and a really emotive thread throughout. This book is pure brilliance, and I’d definitely recommend reading it.

Book of the Month
Okay, this month I’ve been seriously torn. I loved both The Swap and They Call Me The Cat Lady, but my absolute favourite was The Dangerous Kind. The whole story, the brilliantly written characters, the plot twist and the emotionally satisfying ending – it’s all amazing. I’ll be recommending this to everyone!

BLOG TOUR: The Child Before by Michael Scanlon

This was a detailed, intriguing and complex mystery, with an interesting main detective and a horrific, scary crime.

She began to sing, the girl. Her voice was soft, so soft it was almost of the wind. It was a lullaby. She cradled her arms, rocking them gently back and forth. As if she was holding a baby. But she was not. Her arms were empty.
On a cold morning a cyclist finds the brutally-slaughtered body of a woman in her car, on a remote lane leading to the long-abandoned Irish village of Kelly’s Forge.
But when Detective Finnegan Beck arrives from the nearby town of Cross Beg to investigate he notices there’s a baby’s seat in the back of the car. A bottle of baby’s milk lying in the footwell. And no child.
Little Róisín isn’t the first child to go missing from that same remote location though. There was another baby girl, taken more than fifty years before, who was never found. Has too much time passed for there to be a connection, or does something – or someone – link these two crimes?
Beck claims he does not want to stay in Cross Beg. His heart is back in Dublin, with the woman he loves. But, knowing that a child’s life depends on him changes things. He knows he has to find the missing baby girl. Because if he doesn’t, he fears there’s a chance everyone will give up the baby for dead, just like they did before…

This story was really detailed, so it does require more concentration than other crime novels you might read but because of this it’s much more rewarding.

It starts with some fascinating flashbacks to 1954 when some unknown family is going through what seems like a traumatic incident involving a young baby. It’s very mysterious and creates a real aura of the unknown which is quite spooky. It’s also unclear at first how it’s linked to the present and honestly, when it is revealed, I was definitely not expecting it. It was a very well written and clever twist.

The murder and missing child mystery of the present is quite graphically described, but it’s very intense. The pain and stress of Beck, the main detective, is very clear to see when it comes to finding the missing baby. As the clues as to what may have happened to the baby are revealed, the hunt for her becomes quite emotional. It’s actually quite a stressful read in some places, as the crime and methods of solving it are described in such detail that I felt really involved with it.

Beck himself was an unusual choice for the main detective, his alcoholism and methods of dealing with it were unorthodox, his bluntness was brilliant, but his moments of inspiration were particularly great. I loved seeing his thought process and investigation so in depth, as it made the whole crime seem much more real. The glimpses into his personal life were also fascinating, and his slight character growth/change throughout was really well written.

The ending was seriously shocking. It’s not often that you come across an ending that genuinely and completely blindsides you, but this was it. To be honest, I had no idea where this was going, as there were enough red herrings or confusing clues to mislead the reader entirely. I really loved how Scanlon wrapped it all up, it was detailed, well thought-out, and with a partly happy ending included as well.

This was a very different and detailed crime novel, and if you’re looking for something you can get your teeth into, that has a truly awesome ending, then this is it.

The Child Before
Michael Scanlon
Bookouture, 5th June 2019

BLOG TOUR: A Face in The Crowd by Kerry Wilkinson

This was a slow-paced yet gripping story, with a main character who’s background and personality is explored in detail.

Lucy gets on her bus, the same bus she gets every day. When she gets off, she finds an envelope stuffed with money inside her handbag…
Although this may seem like the answer to all of Lucy’s troubles, she soon discovers that not all is as it seems.
Who exactly is her new neighbour? Is her new boyfriend all he seems? And why is her ex-boyfriends mother seemingly stalking her…?
Everything comes with a price.

I really liked how focused this was on one character, and that this meant we got to know her really well. I’m a big fan of character-based books, so I loved this style of writing.

Lucy herself was really fascinating, she was both anxious and scared, but also stronger than she seemed, and this strength and determination showed itself more and more throughout the book. She was the sort of character that the reader was really able to connect with because her thoughts and decisions were written in such depth.

The actual premise of the book was really different to anything else I’ve read in a while. When Lucy finds the mysterious envelope of money in her bag, her reaction is very believable. The shock, the good intentions, the disbelief – it’s all there, written in such detail. But for someone like Lucy, who’s struggling to claw back debts, it seems like a miracle, and it’s easy to understand why she struggles to hand it in.

I liked how Wilkinson gave enough detail of Lucy’s backstory to demonstrate that it’s relevant to the money, but kept enough back to keep the reader intrigued. It was absolutely brilliantly written at times, creating a real sense of mystery and suspense, keeping me on my toes. There were a lot of secondary characters, but as they all had fairly simple backstories it was easy to follow them all and understand the relevance they had to the story. I really liked Lucy’s friendship with her neighbour Karen, and even the other people in the building were so varied that it kept it all really interesting. I loved Lucy’s care for her dog, it showed a much more vulnerable side to her among all the other threatening and mysterious events. Harry, the guy Lucy was dating, was a great addition – although I suspected he was innocent there were more than enough dodgy signs to make me doubt myself.

The ending to this was really good. It was a great twist, and seriously creepy at times. It was clever, as it built up to make the reader suspect one thing, and then provided a really surprising twist. It was a slow build which made the ending seem really fast paced and satisfying. I would definitely recommend this, as it’s something a bit different and has a brilliant plot throughout.

A Face in the Crowd
Kerry Wilkinson
Bookouture, 6th June 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

Wow. What a fascinating, emotional and relevant story, with plenty of plot twists and absolutely brilliant characters! This is dark and thrilling read, which hooks the reader in early on, leading to an incredibly tense ending.

One in 100 of us is a ‘potentially dangerous person’ – someone likely to commit a violent crime. We all know them: these charmers, liars and manipulators. The ones who send prickles up the back of our neck.
These people hide in plain sight. They can be teachers, doctors, lawyers, holding positions of trust, of power. 
Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the 1 in 100. Each week she broadcasts a radio show that examines brutal offences, asking if more could have been done to identify and prevent their perpetrators.
But when she agrees to investigate a missing person case involving a young mother, she is drawn into aweb of danger that will ultimately lead to the upper echelons of power, and threaten the sfety of her own family.

*spoiler and content warning*

This is probably one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year, with great characters, a brilliant but emotional plot, and a constant sense of frustration for the reader that just makes you want to keep reading. This book starts fairly slowly, but this actually serves to build the suspense in a really clever way. The writing itself has just enough detail in to keep the reader hooked, and so the first few chapters set up the plot and characters really well.

There are quite a lot of characters in this, but they all really worked well. Jessamine was brilliant, she was such a strong and independent person, but her relationship with her daughter also showed her vulnerable side. Jessamine’s progress throughout the novel was really interesting to watch, as she seemed to become more trusting, yet also more stubborn. Her willingness to open up to a relationship to Dougie was counteracted by the fact that it was done on her own terms, as and when she wanted it.

Jessamine’s relationship with her daughter, as mentioned, was quite emotional to watch. Some vulnerabilities were revealed as Sarah became more interested in her birth parents, but these were written as simple little mentions, so they could have seemed small compared to everything else that was going on. I think this worked really well, as instead it showed that being Sarah’s mother was a constant source of emotion for Jessamine, and that above everything else, Jessamine was always thinking of Sarah. I loved their relationship, Sarah was a typical teenager, sometimes moody, sometimes needy, and it gave both characters a sense of ‘real-ness’ throughout. Sarah’s secret was a definite cause for concern for the reader, especially considering what else was going on in the novel, and it was frustrating for the reader to watch Jessamine be so clueless as to Sarah’s behaviour.

Jitesh was 100% my favourite character, if I’m allowed to have a favourite! Watching him cope with his stutter was interesting, but I appreciated the fact that it wasn’t the sole focus of his character. In fact, many of the scenes involving Jitesh had little dialogue in them, and they often focused on Jitesh by himself, his inner monologue and his thoughts and reactions. This meant that out of all the characters, I felt closest to him, as his scenes were the most personal. He was such a sweet and emotional character, and finding out about his past and his mental health was seriously upsetting, mostly because of the immense guilt that radiated from him. His need to help people made him a very likeable character, but he wasn’t portrayed as being ‘too good’ either, he had the perfect balance. I liked his friendship with Jessamine, I loved the way she just accepted him as she was and he did the same with her. It was a lovely friendship, proving that different ages and circumstances doesn’t have to be a barrier to friendship.

The flashback scenes with Rowena were seriously emotional, and they do definitely need a content warning. It’s very relevant content, and relates to a lot of current news stories, but it is quite emotional and hard to read in places. I don’t want to give too much away, but to see a thirteen-year-old child in the situations she was placed it, and to see how easily it happened, was genuinely upsetting. It’s a tough read, but I would say an important one, as it really highlights how power and celebrity can play a big part in these horrendous circumstances. There was one key character that popped up in these scenes, never known by his name, simply known as ‘the celebrity’. This was such a powerful move by O’Connor, as it highlighted really clearly the power and freedom that fame and celebrity can give a person. There’s one scene where some security guards ask for an autograph at an unbelievably shocking moment, and the privilege of the celebrity is so clear it practically jumps out the page.

The ending was so emotionally satisfying. I felt like the entire novel was building up this in such a significant way, due to the fact that the issues being raised were so relevant, but there was also something clearly going on with Sarah that was a constant concern throughout, and to build to an ending after all that seemed near impossible. O’Connor, however, rose to the challenge magnificently, and it was such a fantastic ending I felt like reading it all over again.

There was a plot twist which, although wasn’t the most shocking, still came as a complete surprise because I was so focused on the other parts of the story. It was really clever, and completely made sense as I read it. There was yet another part of the ending which took me by surprise, so it was really a satisfying ending in so many ways! Jitesh’s character development at the end was wonderful to see, his bravery and confidence was incredible, as was his loyalty and determination. The consequences of what was uncovered were interesting to see, and again showed the lack of accountability that was given to people and the lack of evidence available in these years-old crimes. It was upsetting, but then these details are exactly what made this book so realistic, so believable, and so emotional.

I would 100% recommend this to anyone, it’s a clever and emotional read, with characters that tug at your heartstrings, and a storyline that is both difficult but important to read. It’s a fantastic but dark thriller, with a rising tension throughout and constant sense of the unknown.

Thank you so much to Tracey Fenton from Compulsive Readers for organising this tour.

The Dangerous Kind
Deborah O’Connor
Zaffre, 16th May 2019

BLOG TOUR: Fierce Girl by Emma Tallon

Okay, honestly, I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series but after reading this I 100% will be, because oh my god this was awesome.

Anna Davis has grown up. She’s not the naive runaway who escaped her vicious gangland boyfriend anymore. She’s tougher than ever and she won’t let anyone take advantage of her – or the people she loves.
Anna’s devoted boyfriend, East End baron Freddie Tyler, is in trouble. There’s a rat in his organisation and he needs to stop the leaks before a very big mistake from his past is revealed to people who will want swift and brutal revenge.
Anna wants to help Freddie but she’s got problems of her own. Her best friend Tanya’s mother has turned up, and is staking a claim on Tanya’s share of their club. With Tanya buying her mum’s reformed sinner act, Anna knows she needs to act before both their friendship and Club Anya goes up in flames.
But if there’s one thing Anna and Freddie have learned, it’s how to play the game, and as their enemies close in they’ll fight with everything they’ve got to protect the life they’ve built.

I really wish I had read the other books in this series, because I feel like there is so much depth to these characters that I’m missing. Anna and Freddie, the two main characters here, are so well written. They’re incredibly likeable, despite the fact that they are definitely not innocent people, and their emotions are so finely detailed that I felt really invested in them. How on earth did I end up liking the head guy of a crime group so much? Freddie is both hard and disturbing, and caring and emotional, and somehow Tallon combines these two sides of him perfectly. His relationship with Anna is really sweet, and I’ll be going back to the previous books to find out exactly how their relationship has progressed. The past events that have happened (which Tallon details in this book, so I was able to understand the context) clearly affected these two deeply, and watching them both struggle with these emotions was painful. Their pain practically jumped out the page at me. What I really liked was that Anna was portrayed not only as the vulnerable woman who has experienced something tragic, but also as the tough businesswoman who is determined to do things her way. Similarly with Freddie, he is both the tough gang leader, able to commit horrific violence towards people, but also the caring partner struggling with his own emotions after a tragedy of his own. It’s a touching partnership, and I enjoyed how Tallon made them both strong characters in their own ways as well as a strong couple.

I liked the secondary characters as well, from Anna’s friend Tanya, to Freddie’s brothers and friends, to the detective-turned-PI Sarah. They all served a purpose and built the story up further, providing more depth without being confusing. Tallon wrote this really well, as it would have been easy for the reader to be confused at the vast array of characters but it was surprisingly easy to understand, which is purely due to the great writing.

The actual story itself was definitely intriguing, as there were two parts to it that didn’t really seem connected. Freddie’s mafia troubles were different to anything I’ve really read before, but I really enjoyed it, and his reactions and plans were both clever but also impulsive when necessary. Anna’s determination to prove that Tanya’s mother was up to something was tough to read as she became alienated from Tanya, but it also meant the reader was behind her every step at the way, urging her to find out what really happened.

The ending tied everything together really nicely, and while Tallon definitely doesn’t shy away from violence, it was a fast-paced and intriguing ending, building up to a very satisfying conclusion. It was clever how she linked everything together, in a surprising way that still made sense. I liked that there was a slight plot twist/cliffhanger, enough to leave the reader wondering but not too frustrated.

Overall, this is a brilliant, fast-paced and unusual read. The characters are awesome, with lots of depth and emotion that means the reader gets really invested in them. I would 100% recommend!

Fierce Girl
Emma Tallon
Bookoutoure, 21st May 2019

Heartlands by Kerry Watts

This had great potential, with some really interesting characters and an emotional crime, although I felt the vast amount of characters was slightly confusing.

Twenty years ago, Sophie Nicoll never came home from school. Days later her body was found in a shallow grave on a remote farm a few miles from her hometown. Two boys from her school were found guilty. The press called the boys evil. Sophie’s family wanted them dead. The judge promised they’d never walk free.
Two decades later and schoolgirl Shannon Ross has vanished from a small town in the Scottish Highlands.
It’s Detective Jessie Blake’s first big case since she joined Perthshire Police. Having recently arrived from London, Jessie lives in fear of people finding out about her past and her reasons for moving north.
When Shannon’s body is found in the river on the outskirts of Inverlochty, Jessie discovers she’s not the only one with something to hide. As the small community begins to crack under pressure, people begin to point fingers. And soon, the big secrets hidden within the small town are revealed – with devastating consequences.

This story started off quite strongly, with an intriguing insight into the two boys responsible for the death of Sophie Nicoll. It was interesting seeing the perspective of Daniel, and he was written so well that I still don’t feel like I fully understand him, but in a positive way. He’s a dark character, but he had moments where he seemed really human, and so he was a fascinating character to start with. The prologue is genuinely really shocking, and it’s a great start to the novel.

However, I found the transition between timelines really hard to follow, and it wasn’t immediately clear to me that we had jumped forward. This was quite disorientating, and I feel like there could have been more of an effort to distinguish between timelines in some way. Once I got to grips with this it was interesting seeing some of the connections between the years become more apparent, especially with the introduction of the journalist following both stories.

The four parents were a strong core, with Louise’s grief coming through very strongly, and Jason’s anger painful to watch. However, (spoiler alert) I just found Rob’s true past slightly hard to believe, as there appeared to be little connection between his previous life and present life. I understand the idea of a reformed man, but it was a hard connection to make, and I wished more time had been spent on developing this further. I liked the main detective, I thought Jessie Blake was a solid character, with a great sense of justice and a stubborn determination to solve the crime. Her partner, Dylan, was also great, and they were a brilliant team.

I liked the detectives, and thought some of the characters were written really well, but overall this wasn’t my favourite, and I wished more time had been spent on connecting the past with the present.