BLOG TOUR: Perfect Stranger by Jake Cross

This was creepy, unsettling and had an epic ending.

You let her in. You’ll wish you hadn’t.
Following a whirlwind romance, Rose and Chris’s marriage has been unshakeable for twenty years. But when teenager Katie turns up on their doorstep, blonde, wide-eyed and beautiful, their perfect life threatens to crumble to pieces. Because Katie says she’s Chris’s long-lost daughter, the product of a forgotten summer fling.
The couple is still reeling from shock when Katie tells them she has nowhere to go. The couple is her only hope. Kind-hearted Rose invites Katie to stay, despite Chris’s protests. The poor girl has only just lost her mother – they can’t leave her out on the street.
But soon after Katie moves in, strange things start happening. Someone crashes into a neighbour’s fence. An unexplained fire starts in the couple’s kitchen. And a family friend coming to visit disappears on the way to the house. Chris insists Katie has to go. But it’s Chris who won’t explain where he was at the time their friend went missing…
The couple’s dream life seems to be turning into a nightmare. With dark secrets about Chris’s history with Katie’s mother coming to light, Rose no longer knows who to trust. Soon, she isn’t sure whether she’s invited a dangerous stranger into her home, or whether she’s been living with one all along…

What an epic and creepy thriller this is. Chris and his family seem settled and happy, when a shock letter and almost-mugging begins the path of something that will rock their whole life. Every event simply ups the ante, and increase the tension and questions.

Katie is a very unsettling character. To the reader it seems there really is something wrong, but it’s impossible to put your finger on what exactly. Her lies and stories simply don’t add up, but there’s no way to know what’s true or not. Chris seems naturally a bit suspicious of her, but Rose and Julia are such kind people that Katie quickly integrates herself in their family.

As the book goes on, there are a myriad of unexplainable events, such as a beating, a fire and more, and it just keeps escalating. If it’s even possible, the tension rises even further when it seems that Chris is hiding the truth as well, and halfway through the book I genuinely couldn’t put it down as I was desperate to know who was genuine and who was the real monster.

The ending to this was probably one of the busiest but most epic endings to a thriller I’ve read in a while. There was a LOT going on, but it meant that I just simply couldn’t put it down. It was chilling, tense, dark and quite frightening at points. Katie was at her best in these scenes, and the writing was magnificently creepy. The very final scene finishes the book off perfectly, it’s calm, calculated and the final truths all come to light.

This is such a satisfyingly creepy book, with brilliant characters and a tense atmosphere throughout.

Perfect Stranger
Jake Cross
Bookouture, 21st August 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale

This was a fascinating psychological insight into the mind of the main character, with a fairly creepy story.

Some love affairs change you forever. Someone comes into your orbit and swivels you on your axis, like the wind working on a rooftop weather vane. And when they leave, as the wind always does, you are different; you have a new direction. And it’s not always north.
Any woman who’s ever been involved with a bad, bad man and been dumped will understand what it feels like to be broken, broken-hearted and bent on revenge.
Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: ‘Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again.’
So Taylor consults The Art of War and makes a plan. Then she takes the next irrevocable step – one that will change her life forever.
Things start to spiral out of her control…

There were some beautiful pieces of writing in this book, the quote starting the blurb being just one example of the imaginative descriptions throughout the novel. It’s dramatic, intense and bleak all at the same time.

Taylor was an interesting main character. She was pretty intense herself, and her thought process was hard to understand at times. This definitely upped the suspense throughout however, as she was so unpredictable. Her reaction to Angus ending their relationship was honestly so fascinating, and I felt like I was watching someone spiral out of control. What made it more disturbing however, was the fact that Taylor didn’t actually seem out of control – her methodical, careful process while she was plotting and carrying out her revenge was pretty creepy at times!

Where this novel really finds it own however, is during the second half of the novel as Angus becomes more of a key character. The tension, suspense and drama really builds here, and the psychological elements comes into play. It’s creepy, it’s unpredictable, and I definitely didn’t see the ending coming.

This is great fast-paced read, with unpredictable and tense elements, and a really fascinating main character. Would definitely recommend for anyone that wants to blend a psychological thriller with women’s fiction!

Thanks so much to Anne from Random Things In My Letterbox for organising the tour.

The Sunday Girl
Pip Drysdale
4th April 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

Closer Than You Think

This was a compelling thriller, with some interesting insights into the mind of the killer themselves, while tending to focus on Claire, the only surviving victim.

He’s watching. She’s waiting.
Having barely escaped the clutches of a serial killer, Claire Moore has struggled to rebuild her life. After her terrifying encounter with the man the media dubbed The Black-Out Killer, she became an overnight celebrity: a symbol of hope and survival in the face of pure evil. And then the killings stopped.
Now ten years have passed, and Claire remains traumatised by her brush with death. Though she has a loving and supportive family around her, what happened that night continues to haunt her still.
Just when things are starting to improve, there is a power cut; a house fire; another victim found killed in the same way as before.
The Black-Out Killer is back. And he’s coming for Claire…

I thought the main character, Claire, was very well written. Her vulnerability was so clear, but it was inspiring to see her go from strength to strength throughout the novel. Her fear and constant anxiety was so intense I even started feeling on edge myself, clearly showing the high quality writing in these scenes. Claire’s relationship with her mum was really heart-warming, and her mum was so supportive. It was a wonderful dynamic to read, with unspoken actions between them meaning more than words a lot of the time. Claire’s stepdad was another strong presence, offering her support from a distance, and recognising the long-lasting psychological effects that Claire’s past has had on her. The family unit was really strong, perhaps stronger than it would be in reality, but it was still believable due to the great writing.

Claire’s new boyfriend, Paul, was a really intriguing addition to Claire’s life, and I think it really worked that we didn’t get to see his perspective of their relationship, and instead we only saw hers. He seemed to be the perfect man – perhaps too perfect in some ways, so as to make him seem suspicious, but I do have to say that I didn’t feel this really worked. He simply seemed like a generous and patient man, and I didn’t believe he was the culprit behind the Black Out Killings. The segments that were written from the perspective of the Black Out Killer had a couple of details in that didn’t seem to match Paul as the suspect, so it wasn’t believable enough for me.

In terms of Claire’s personal development and trust issues, making Paul a suspect did work, as it highlighted her improvement and confidence, but other than that I didn’t feel it served too much purpose.

I won’t give away who actually did it, but I did suspect it was them. There were a couple of details I picked up on that made me suspect this character, so I was really satisfied to know that I guessed right. However, the ending left me feeling really frustrated. The relationship between Claire and the killer wasn’t explored enough, and I would have liked more insight into their relationship and history. It was quite an abrupt ending, although I do understand that it was meant to suggest at character growth from Claire herself.

Overall, this was an intriguing mystery, with an unusual motive behind them and some fascinating insights into the mind of the criminal. The ending left me feeling unsatisfied, which was a shame.

Closer Than You Think
Darren O’Sullivan
HQ Digital, 15th March 2019