Lost You by Haylen Beck

This book was not what I expected, with an unusual plot but it was extremely gripping throughout, right until the shocking end.

You’re looking for your son. But she found him first.
When a little boy goes missing, his mother desperately wants to find him . . . before someone else does.
Libby would do anything for her three-year-old son Ethan. And after all they’ve been through, a holiday seems the perfect antidote for them both. Their hotel is peaceful, safe and friendly, yet Libby can’t help feeling that someone is watching her. Watching Ethan. Because, for years, Libby has lived with a secret.
Just days into their holiday, when Libby is starting to relax, Ethan steps into an elevator on his own, and the doors close before Libby can stop them. Moments later, Ethan is gone.
Libby thought she had been through the worst, but her nightmare is only just beginning. And in a desperate hunt for her son, it becomes clear she’s not the only one looking for him.
Who will find him first?

I opened this expecting a traditional family thriller, but this book was not what I expected. The plot was unusual, emotional and I was left guessing the whole way through. It begins with a harrowing first chapter, where I was then desperate to carry on reading to find out what happened to get to that point.

As the book goes back in time, we are introduced to Libby, a protective and caring mother to her only child, Ethan. They seem a lovely pair, desperate for a bit of fun and relaxation on holiday, but there is a sense of gloom hanging over them from the start. I was tense, waiting for something to happen, but somehow when it did I wasn’t ready for it. Beck’s pacing is uusual, hitting the reader with key events at a different pace to the usual thriller, so the reader is kept on their toes throughout.

As the book then goes back in time we’re introduced to new characters. I don’t want to give away too much, but this is where the book really does get interesting. Over this part of the book I was conflicted, as I grew to care about multiple characters who had the same interest. It was excellent writing, keeping me uncertain about what would happen and how I would feel about it either way. I really enjoyed this sense of the unknown and suspense – sometimes in thrillers I find I’m able to guess the gist of the plot, but this one really kept me guessing.

The ending to this is genuinely shocking. It’s emotional, especially the way Beck writes it, as for a moment the reader is too shocked to comprehend what’s happened. Despite the unusual plot, the ending is where this book really stands out from the crowd. Just when you think you’ve got it solved, Beck comes out with another blinding plot twist. Right until the last page, you’ll find yourself hooked with this book!

Lost You
Haylen Beck
Vintage, 6th August 2020

The New Girlfriend by Sheryl Browne

This is a clever, gripping and intriguing thriller that kept me hooked throughout with characters that are hard to crack and a plot that keeps on getting more interesting…

Your Secrets. Her Lies.
Cassie stares at the woman on her doorstep in disbelief. Just months after losing her only son, Josh, here stands a stranger claiming to be Josh’s girlfriend. But it’s not only the woman Cassie is shocked by, it’s the baby nestled in Kim’s arms. Cassie’s grandchild.
I know what you did.
As Cassie tries to do what’s best for baby Samuel, she starts to receive threatening messages from someone from her past – someone Cassie has been hiding from for a long time. Cassie is frightened that her biggest secret is about to be revealed and she will lose everything, including her precious grandson.
You took everything from me. Now you need to pay.
As the messages get more sinister, Cassie realises the person behind them knows every detail about her life and she fears that she is being watched. Could Kim be the link between Cassie and the mysterious messenger? And is she in danger now that she has welcomed this woman and her baby into her home?

At the beginning of this book I was pretty convinced I’d cracked it. Kim, the new girlfriend, seemed to suspicious to be good and I spent a lot of the novel from then on sure that I was onto something. Browne, however, does not give in. Her clever writing, full of twists and turns, suddenly kept me guessing. There is no black and white in Browne’s thrillers, which is why I keep coming back to her books. Just as I thought I was over one revelation, another one would come to light. It never felt overdone either, each part of the plot worked perfectly to make this a fascinating and unusual story.

Each character had levels of intrigue, no one was one-dimensional. This is what makes Browne’s writing stand out – just when you wonder if maybe after all you have cracked the mystery, a character will do something unexpected and you’re hooked all over again. Cassie was a nervous bundle of emotions, but there’s a hint of a steely and determined nature underneath that shouldn’t be dismissed. Kim’s young innocence contrasts sharply with moments of insight that Browne offers into her mind. Adam’s strength soon gives way to his bewilderment, but much like Cassie, his determination and courage shouldn’t be underestimated. Each of them adds another dimension to the plot, making it more intriguing and unique.

The flashbacks to Josh’s perspective help to keep the plot going at a fast pace throughout. They offer insights into some of the characters just at the moments when you think you have them figured out. Josh himself is a really sweet young man, making his death even more of a tragedy that the reader is determined to figure out.

There’s never a dull moment in Browne’s writing and each of her characters are really well written. There is a level of detail and intrigue to her writing that I really love, and elements such as the flashbacks add another excellent level to the plot. If you haven’t read this then I’d really recommend it, but I’d also recommend all of Sheryl Browne’s brilliant thrillers.

The New Girlfriend
Sheryl Browne
Bookouture, 3rd August 2020

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

This fun, light hearted book has lovely characters and a deeper meaning underneath the humour.

Leena is too young to feel stuck.
Eileen is too old to start over.
Ma
ybe it’s time for The Switch…
Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and L Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.
But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?

Firstly, the premise of this book alone is hilarious. When Leena and Eileen switch lives, it’s such a unique and ‘out there’ idea, but it sets the tone for the book to be a journey full of humour. I loved both women, they were funny, confident and caring in their own way. They contrasted each other but also clearly cared for and looked after each other.

The familial love is not the only kind of love here – this is a romance story and both women, whether they intend to or not, create other meaningful relationships during the switch. Eileen’s hilarious relationship with Leena’s friends and housemates when she moves to London had me chuckling at times. I loved her no-nonsense attitude and instinct to protect the younger adults. Her desire to have a true London adventure was both entertaining and unbearably sweet. She is a true young-at-heart person and some of the escapades she got up to were really funny. However, this was also about Eileen rediscovering what makes her happy and it was lovely to see her journey. I really liked the project she set herself in London (I don’t want to give too much away!) and her dating life was something I was really rooting for throughout.

Leena’s journey on the other hand, although less entertaining in a way, was equally as meaningful. From her relationship with her mum, dealing with grief, managing the village way of life and working out her relationship, Leena’s journey was full of ups and downs. I really felt for Leena, I so wanted her to succeed at everything and she was a character I connected with. I loved her determination at times, especially when it came to village matters. It was really funny, I have to admit, seeing her battle Betty and Archie. However it also proved that friendships are not set by ages and that actually some of the most meaningful friendships are inter-generational. Leena’s personal journey with grief however, contrasted sharply with the humorous moments in this book and there were times when it was truly heartbreaking. What this book highlighted is that grief shouldn’t be hidden away and that people can unite in their grief, turning memories into a positive thing.

The ending to this was delightful. Both women came to the end of their journey, and the end of the switch, stronger and happier. The message to pursue what makes you happy, in your romantic life, work life and friendships, is loud and clear. This book is inspiring and joyful, but it doesn’t shy away from the difficult moments. It’s an absolute must-read.

The Switch
Beth O’Leary
Quercus, 16th April 2020

The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan

What a book…! Full of twists and turns, just when you think you have it all figured out, another curveball is thrown in!

On the hottest day of the year, Caroline Harvey is found dead in Suffolk. Her body is left draped over a cot – but the baby she was looking after is missing.  
Hundreds of miles away, Siobhan Dillon is on a luxurious family holiday in France when her husband, Callum, is arrested by French police on suspicion of murder.
As Siobhan’s perfect family is torn apart by the media in the nation’s frantic search for the missing baby, she desperately tries to piece together how Callum knew Caroline.
What happened that night? Was Caroline as innocent as she seemed – or was she hiding a secret of her own?

I’ll be honest, there were multiple times during this book that I was sure I’d got it all figured out. I was SO smug, sure that I’d outwitted Morgan and sussed out her plot… But of course, I was wrong. Her writing is so clever, subtly teasing the reader and leading them to think one thing, when all along she’s hiding the truth. I really loved this, and although I’ve loved Morgan’s first two books, this one truly got the better of me.

The premise of this book is actually really heartbreaking. Caroline, a woman desperate for love but also desperately lonely, is found dead after babysitting her friend’s baby. It’s a harrowing crime and one that leaves the reader desperate to know what’s happened right from the start. Morgan is clever though, and doesn’t throw this straight in at the first chapter, instead leading with Siobhan’s husband, Callum, being arrested. Highlighting Siobhan’s reaction and emotions instead of the family of the missing baby, cleverly subverts the reader’s expectations and the traditional viewpoint of the victim that’s often found in thrillers.

Straight from the start then, Morgan makes it clear that she’s not going to give us a book that uses traditional thriller tropes. The story focuses on Siobhan and her family, with occasional flashbacks to Caroline’s point of view that really work well to build the suspense further. There are some very clever reveals along the way, not too much so that the reader is overwhelmed but enough to keep us well and truly gripped. Each character is quite hard to read but there’s enough to make the reader feel sympathetic towards the horrifying situation they are in.

Towards the end, suspicion definitely starts to creep in, but Morgan doesn’t allow enough time for the reader to settle in to their suspicions before the ending really builds. It’s fast-paced, thrilling and I was left feeling really satisfied with the conclusion. This was an excellent, gripping thriller and one I would seriously recommend.

The Babysitter
Phoebe Morgan
HQ, 28th May 2020

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this yet, but seeing as I recently re-read it I’ve come back to finally express my love for this book!

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

I genuinely think this is one of my favourite books now… Having recently read it for the second time and loved it just as much as the first time, I think this is going to go on my shelf of books that I can come back to time and time again! It’s heartwarming, inspiring, full of strength and love, and has characters whom I absolutely fell in love with.

This is not just a rom-com book – it tackles issues of unhealthy relationships, family bonds and communication. It’s a beautiful story of two people finding themselves (and finding love of course) and I can hardly find the words to express how perfectly the story builds.

Both Tiffy and Leon are two of my favourite characters I’ve ever read. Tiffy’s confidence in her style and positivity contrasts sharply with her inability to trust in herself and recognise what she’s been through. Her journey to accepting her past and overcoming it, with the help of her fantastic friends Mo and Gerty, is so heartwarming to read my heart almost burst with love! I felt like I was going through her experiences with her as O’Leary’s writing brings Tiffy’s emotions right to the surface of the book.

Leon, whose chapters have their own very distinctive writing style, is much more of a closed book for the reader, but I still instantly warmed to him. His no-nonsense attitude, quiet self-confidence and genuine kindness towards others made him a very likeable man – who doesn’t wish we could find a Leon now! His protectiveness is truly adorable, but his journey is more about his ability to open himself up to love. What I loved most about the writing style of his chapters was noticing how as the writing became more open, so did Leon. The abrupt sentences, although still there, lessened over time and allowed more emotion in and I thought this was a really clever way to express Leon’s emotions. It also contrasted nicely to Tiffy’s chapters, who is naturally more open, and so O’Leary’s more expressive writing was better for Tiffy.

This is a rom-com with substance – it’s not just here for a happy ending, it explores real emotion, real struggles and demonstrates real love and friendships. I’ll be reading this again soon I’m sure, as it’s one of those books that is guaranteed to pick me up or get me out of a reading slump. You really won’t regret picking up this book!

The Flatshare
Beth O’Leary
Quercus, 10th April 2019

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

This novel, full of dark humour, horrifying realness and a ton of emotion, is one of the most brilliant and topical stories I’ve read in a while.

Meet Queenie.
She just can’t cut a break. Well, apart from one from her long term boyfriend, Tom. That’s just a break though. Definitely not a break up. Stuck between a boss who doesn’t seem to see her, a family who don’t seem to listen (if it’s not Jesus or water rates, they’re not interested), and trying to fit in two worlds that don’t really understand her, it’s no wonder she’s struggling.
She was named to be queen of everything. So why is she finding it so hard to rule her own life?

This book truly took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting such a dark humour, such honest and brutal reality, but I loved every second of it, even the painful parts. Queenie is one of the most brilliant, layered and complex characters I’ve read in a while.

Despite some exceptionally heartbreaking moments, much of this novel is full of humour and hope. Queenie and her friend Kyazike both add moments of political seriousness and moments of true hilarity, often coming at the same time, and so Carty-Williams provides a complex layer of emotions that makes Queenie seem particularly ‘real’. At one point, when Queenie is at a Black Lives Matter march, her nervousness and fear is overtaken by her need to express her anger and desperation for change, and it’s powerful scenes like this that really bring home just how current this book is. Queenie also experiences some awful racist and physical abuse through dating apps, which could be incredibly painful for some readers- but it’s her resilience, her strength and the support of her friends and family which carry her through.

This book is also unique in that it focuses on the concept of mental health within in a Black British-Jamaican family. It’s complex, messy, but full of love and a deep family bond. Queenie’s pain, often heartbreaking, is felt by the reader and is sadly relatable. The scenes with Janet are really touching and as Queenie opens up the reader further understands the pain she has been through. Her mental health is written with such astuteness that the reader lives through it with her. It’s fascinating, heartbreaking but hope is always there. I was really happy with the ending, it was the perfect way to bring together all the complex emotions that were felt throughout the book.

Despite the tough times, there are lots of happy and hilarious moments, and the contrast between the two is what makes this book. There’s something in here for everyone to enjoy, but it’s Queenie herself who excels – and this is all due to Carty-Williams’ funny, clever, dark and topical writing.

Queenie
Candice Carty-Williams
Trapeze, 11th April 2019

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This incredible, emotional and extremely powerful novel will stay with me long after I’ve read it.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

This is not just a story about twins. This is a story about different generations, races and identities. It’s a story about family and history, community and experiences and so much more. I felt dazed after finishing it and I wanted to go back and read it all over again. I honestly feel like this is one of those books where every time you read it again you’ll find something new within the story to appreciate and discover. It’s absolutely fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking and often eye-opening.

Each character is a beautifully complex blend of emotion and human decision. They all add something so wonderful to the story and each is focused on throughout the novel at some point. To start with the twins, the heart of this story, each twin is so clearly their own person and yet seem to be one person too. Desiree, the more fidgety and wild twin, also ends up seeming decisive, secure and confident in her love and emotions. Stella, the quiet and serious twin, ends up becoming stressed and exposed. They are both multi-layered and complex and I just absolutely loved it. The discussions of race that surround each twin is illuminating, the idea of the town of Mallard in itself a complicated creation that investigates the depths of human thought. There is never just one level in this novel, there are always deeper levels to be thought about and investigated.

As the story moves on to include the daughters of Desiree and Stella, despite time moving, on the challenges and barriers each daughter faces always seem to come back to identity. Both Kennedy and Jude were beautiful additions to the novel, taking the identities of their mothers even further and yet also showing how the twins are always so connected. Each girl has elements and characteristics of both twins and every time a new connection appeared the story felt a bit more emotional and beautiful.

As well as the four girls, there are some other wonderful characters throughout this novel that cannot be ignored. Early Jones and Reese were two brilliant additions, highlighting how no one person is the same. I particularly liked how these two stretched the traditions of love to provide new heartwarming strands of love.

This novel is a story about humanity – it explores identities of race, gender, age and family on all kinds of levels and depths. And yet, it cannot be ignored that this is also a story about race. It explores the fascinating history of passing as white, the discrimination Black people faced and how love and race are connected. Finally, this is a story about how the past always affects the future and investigates why people wish to be something other than they are. The title alone is a fantastic reflection of this – seeing the girls become two instead of one is a journey that we all go on when reading this.

This is just one of those books you have to read. It will leave you feeling as though you’ve come out of a dream – I couldn’t put this book down at all but already feel as though I want to go back and read it again. I truly loved it and couldn’t recommend this enough.

The Vanishing Half
Brit Bennett
Dialogue Books, 2nd June 2020

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

This was such an excellent and gripping thriller. With a complex main character and a plot that feels subtle right from the start, this kept me gripped throughout.

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…
Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.
Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.
I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.
Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.
I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.
But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

From the very beginning of this book I was hooked. The bizarre intro to the story was seemingly unrelated to the first chapter and so I was already interested as to how they would connect. The intro was sinister, creepy and definitely unusual, a glimpse into the mind of someone disturbed.

Moving from this intro to the first chapter was almost jarring, but it was excellently done. Alison’s behaviour was concerning but not as sinister as the intro, so the reader was instantly drawn to her in a protective manner. The subtle nature of the writing in the first chapter and the shift in tone helped to push the reader towards Alison in this way, so we are already connected to her as a main character. She was both vulnerable and strong, unable to see her own problems but protective of herself and her family, self-destructive but also seeking her own happiness – I enjoyed reading a character who was more complex than most and definitely wasn’t perfect. It made her more human, more relatable and in lots of ways more likeable.

The dual plot of this thriller works really really well. Alison’s personal life and professional life are clearly separate stories but also intrinsically linked and this in itself is gripping enough to hold the reader’s attention. Aside from this, each part of the story is excellently written, two separate strands that both have brilliant characters. Throughout the whole book I was kept on the edge of my seat, the constant unknown of what was going to happen in either story keeping me gripped. I read this book in one day I was so desperate to know what was going to happen!

I think this is one of the few books where I was totally happy with the ending – there were enough surprises to shock me but enough of a happy ending to satisfy me. It built further on the fact that nearly all the characters in this are flawed, which is what makes it so excellent, and I was left slightly dazed… in a good way! I loved how all the little details tied together and it was wrapped up so well.

I would highly recommend this and can absolutely see why it’s a bestseller. If you haven’t read this already then you should!

Blood Orange
Harriet Tyce
Wildfire, 12 December 2019

Killing Mind by Angela Marsons

Yet again, another fantastic and gripping installment in the DI Kim Stone series!

It had seemed so simple. Get in, get the information, get out. But now they were getting inside her mind and she didn’t know how to stop them…
When Detective Kim Stone is called to the home of Samantha Brown, she finds the young woman lying in bed with her throat cut and a knife in her hand. With no sign of forced entry or struggle, Kim rules her death a tragic suicide.
But a visit to Samantha’s parents rings alarm bells for Kim – there’s something they’re not telling her. And, when she spots a clue in a photograph, Kim realises she’s made a huge mistake. Samantha didn’t take her own life, she was murdered.
Then a young man’s body is found in a local lake with his throat cut and Kim makes a link between the victim and Samantha. They both spent time at Unity Farm, a retreat for people seeking an alternative way of life.
Beneath the retreat’s cosy façade, Kim and her team uncover a sinister community preying on the emotionally vulnerable.
Sending one of her own undercover into Unity Farm is high risk but it’s Kim’s only hope if she is to catch a killer – someone Kim is convinced the victims knew and trusted.
With Bryant distracted by the emergence of a harrowing case close to his heart, and an undercover officer in way over her head, Kim’s neck is on the line like never before. Can she protect those closest to her before another life is taken?

This is a fascinating and gripping plot throughout and starts off with a bang like all of the Kim Stone books do! It’s fast-paced, exciting and I always love how Kim is determined right from the start to find out what’s going on. Kim herself is always an excellent lead detective and I love her interactions with the team. She is not always caring towards her team in a traditional way, but her fierce determination to look after and protect them is what I love about her. She’s strong, fierce, caring and she’s such a great leader.

The plot is definitely different to previous books, with an added focus on psychological investigation which I really enjoyed. It added to the whole creepy feel of the book really well. The whole way throughout I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on at Unity Farm and I loved how unique the plot was.

The way that Marsons writes really hooks me in throughout, it’s engaging, a fantastic mix between descriptive and factual, with a wonderful investigation into the characters. I couldn’t recommend this highly enough, I love the series as whole but this instalment is simply excellent. I’ve loved Kim Stone and her team right from the first book and each instalment delves deeper into Kim and her team, so the reader really feels connected. This should definitely be your next series to read!

Killing Mind
Angela Marsons
Bookouture, 13th May 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

Keep Him Close by Emily Koch

Experiencing the same event from two points of view, this books pulls at the heartstrings of the reader with an excellently written crime at the centre of everything.

ONE SON LIED. ONE SON DIED.
Alice’s son is dead. Indigo’s son is accused of murder.
Indigo is determined to prove her beloved Kane is innocent. Searching for evidence, she is helped by a kind stranger who takes an interest in her situation. Little does she know that her new friend has her own agenda.
Alice can’t tell Indigo who she really is. She wants to understand why her son was killed – and she needs to make sure that Indigo’s efforts to free Kane don’t put her remaining family at risk. But how long will it take for Indigo to discover her identity? And what other secrets will come out as she digs deeper?
No one knows a son like his mother. But neither Alice nor Indigo know the whole truth about their boys, and what happened between them on that fateful night.

Alice and Indigo offer different sides of the same tragedy – one’s son confesses to murdering the other. It’s devastating for both women and this story follows the impact this crime has on both of them. It combines all the best bits of the drama and crime genres, with an element of psychological investigation incorporated as well.

Alice’s uptight, unemotional reaction is hard to connect to at times, but Indigo’s out-of-touch nature is just as alien in some ways, so it’s fascinating for the reader to watch how these two unusual women cope with what’s happening around them. The plot soon turns from the tragedy of the death of one of the boys, to solving the mystery of what really happened on that night.

It’s not an overly fast-paced novel, but it works because of that. What is left is plenty of time to investigate the emotions of the two women and delve into their different personalities and characters. It’s a wonderfully written psychological investigation, with powerful and touching emotions being demonstrated throughout from both women. I felt that Koch incorporated brilliant elements of toughness, devastation, genuine sadness and a touch of female independent strength.

For a novel that has drama, intrigue, mystery and plenty of emotion, this is the book you need. It really is fascinating and the mystery is more than enough to keep the reader hooked by itself so the emotional investigation is an added bonus that made me feel more connected to the characters.

Keep Him Close
Emily Koch
Vintage, 19th March 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