BLOG TOUR: Reckless Girl by Emma Tallon

I have loved this entire series so far, and this book was once again a brilliantly fast-paced, intricate and emotional plot!

She’s back and this time she has a score to settle.
Anna Davis and Freddie Tyler are finally getting their lives back on track when an unexpected face turns up on Freddie’s doorstep. Someone from the past. And she delivers a blow that will tear their lives apart.
Reeling from the news, Anna throws herself into her work. Her clubs are doing well and she’s opening a new business venture with best friend, Tanya. But she’s worried that her relationship with Freddie could be about to fall apart.
Freddie’s got big problems with the business. A new gang is in town, and they’re muscling in on Tyler turf and need to be dealt with. Plus, he’s still being closely watched by a Met detective determined to bring him down.
As Freddie plots to take out his rivals, tensions between him and Anna grow. Could this spell the end of their relationship? And will the rogue detective finally get the chance to arrest Freddie – burning the empire he’s built from scratch to the ground?

What an emotional rollercoaster this book was! Just before reading Reckless Girl I re-read the entire rest of the series, so I was totally in the zone to enjoy this even more than I would have done anyway.

I just love the characters in this series. Anna is a really strong, fierce and independent woman, and I’ve always liked the way her and Freddie’s relationship is written. They are not presented as a couple with all the power in one half, they are written as equals, with a great working relationship and real emotion between them romantically as well. Anna uses her emotions to motivate herself through difficult times, and it’s really powerful. I’ve always really liked Freddie as well, he’s a typical strong man, but very attuned to Anna’s emotions and needs. I love the way his morals are investigated at times, and there are clear do’s and don’t’s for him and his family.

The story in this book hits the reader deep. It plays on Anna’s deepest needs and wants, and it’s so emotional at times. It’s particularly interesting seeing how Freddie reacts to Anna. After the last book, where Anna was 100x more vulnerable and fragile, it’s great to see her coming back to her normal self, and how Freddie gives her the space she needs to do this. Their relationship isn’t perfect all the time, but that’s why I like them both so much, as it feels real.

The ending to this totally took me by surprise. It had sort of been building for a while, but I didn’t think Tallon would actually go there and do it! But this is why I like this series, is that it’s different and often unexpected. I would definitely recommend this book, and the whole series, as I love them.

Reckless Girl
Emma Tallon
Bookouture, 8th October 2019

Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

This was an emotional, tense and brilliantly written character focused novel.

You are cordially invited to the wedding of the year, at the famously luxurious Serenity Spa & Resort on the Californian coast . . .
Ginger is an overworked, under-pampered mother of three who’s barely holding the family together when she learns a secret about her daughter that could ruin everything.
Lulu is a wealthy retiree with four ex-husbands, and a fifth on the way.
Emily harbours a dark secret, which she’s become expert at forgetting with the help of a bottle of wine.
Kate is a powerhouse lawyer with her life in order – except for one little problem that won’t go away.
Only twenty-four hours later a man is found murdered.
All Detective Ramone knows for certain is that these four women sit calmly across from him, offering four very different confessions, each insisting they acted alone.
Why would they confess to the same crime? Only they know the answer – and they’re not telling.

I loved how this was divided between the four women, offering different perspectives on the same events, and on each other. I particularly love character-focused novels, and this did exactly that.

Ginger was the typical over-worked mother, caring and protective but also exhausted and frazzled. She gave life to her parts of the story, and I really liked her chapters especially.

Lulu was actually quite hilarious, despite her story being quite heartbreaking to read. Her attitude in the face of change was brilliant. She was independent, strong, but yet still really vulnerable, and her character had such depth.

Emily was a really fascinating addition to the group. Her issues ran deep, and this was clear right from the beginning. She gave a real darkness to the group in my opinion, but it balanced really well with the other women in the group.

Kate was absolutely my favourite. She was pretty badass, easy to like and easy to empathise with. Her story and character arc was by far my favourite of all the four women, and I was so pleased with how her story ended.

The actual plot was pretty slow, but this is a character-focused novel, and it does that really well. The women all have different and unique personalities and it’s such a fascinating examination of womanhood, female relationships and life itself. The ending did take me by surprise, and it was very satisfying, with the right amount of tension and surprise.

Pretty Guilty Women
Gina LaManna
Sphere, 24th September

Bookish Bites: At Your Door by J. P. Carter

What happens when the past comes back to kill you?
When DCI Anna Tate is called to the gruesome discovery of a dead woman found on Barnes Common, she is plunged into a high‐profile investigation involving a prominent MP. London is baying for blood – but is there more to Holly’s death than at first meets the eye?
Meanwhile, the hunt is on for Anna’s missing daughter Chloe, who vanished ten years ago when her father kidnapped her. The case has been cold for what feels like forever – but a phone call brings a brand new lead…
Can Anna solve the murder case whilst dealing with her own personal demons? Or is someone from the past planning to get in her way?

Loved the overarching storyline surrounding Anna and her missing daughter Chloe! It keeps the reader really connected to Anna throughout, and I was very emotionally invested. I also thought that the case itself was brilliant, there were a lot of suspicious characters so it was hard for the reader to guess, and I thought the twist at the end was really cleverly done.

Disliked the fact that it felt slightly slow and stilted at the beginning. However, once the book got into its stride this was fine and the flow of it really got going.

Favourite moments were the scenes with Sophie, a new character in this book, and slowly piecing together her story and the link with Anna,

Favourite character has to be Anna – her determination, resilience and utter patience make her a really likeable character, and as this is now the second book in the series, her character is more established as well.

For fans of Carol Wyers, Katerina Diamond and MJ Ford

Final comments: This was a generally fast-paced, complex mystery, with an added sense of tension with Anna’s own storyline. I will definitely be continuing the series.

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

99 Days With You by Catherine Miller

This had me reaching for the tissues! An emotional, heart-wrenching, beautiful story, and one that will stay with me for a long time.

Sometimes the end is the start of forever…
Emma and Nathan couldn’t be more different. But when they meet in a hospital waiting room, to the sound of a ticking clock and surrounded by faded magazines, they are both terrified, nervous and alone. And they have one fatal thing in common…
Emma lives a quiet life. She looks after her disabled mother. She lives vicariously through the well-thumbed pages and cracked spines of her beloved books.
Nathan spends his days fifteen thousand feet above the ground, soaring through the air, stomach somersaulting, as a sky diving instructor. After a lifetime of having a recurring dream that he would die at twenty-seven, he treats every day like it’s his last.
As fate throws Emma and Nathan together, everything is about to change.
Emma has never been kissed, or tasted champagne, or travelled abroad. Nathan has never fallen in love, worn odd socks, or grown a sunflower from a seed.
Emma and Nathan vow never to waste an hour, knowing that goodbye could come all too soon. But as they lose their hearts to one another against all the odds, have they found each other too late?

This book had me hooked right from the beginning. Yes, it’s a book ‘about cancer’, but really it is so so much more than that. The characters are truly beautifully written, and so even before they were diagnosed with cancer, their sense of self and the way Miller presents their inner thoughts and dreams had me falling in love with them immediately.

What I loved so much about this book was that it focused on meaningful and beautiful messages, that resonated even more strongly with the cancer diagnoses they both received. This is a love story, but it’s also a story about life. It’s about how to make the most of the life we have, even in the darkest of times. It’s about how the smallest things can bring us joy, and that those moments are more precious than we realise.

I felt like Miller wrote about cancer, their diagnosis, and their experiences really well. It was sensitive and emotional, but she wasn’t afraid to discuss the harder and more realistic topics when needed. It was quite hard-hitting in places, and the end was incredibly emotional, but I felt it was done exactly right.

If you like character-centric books, then you will especially love this. The depth of emotion explored in both Emma and Nathan is incredible, and meant that I felt very connected to both of them.

This was such a beautiful book to read, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone.

99 Days With You
Catherine Miller
Bookouture, 19th June 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

This was a claustrophobic, fast-paced and clever book, with characters who were explored in lots of detail.

Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.
In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.
When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.
Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on theprecipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one more final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?

The concept of this was really fascinating. This is an escape room like no other, with obscure clues and a real sense of claustrophobia throughout. At first, it’s slightly confusing, with a prologue that seems to make no sense, and the introduction of a character who seems to be unconnected. It’s confusing but ultimately fascinating, and I was hooked immediately. The beginning works well because it seems to be disjointed – the scenes are cleverly shocking, and entices the reader to keep going to find out what exactly is going on.

It’s hard not to give too much away about this book… The scenes in the elevator offered insight into the four characters, and showed their twisted relationships with each other as well as their own personal battles. As time went on, it was clear they were losing hope, becoming frustrated and getting increasingly desperate. The emotions were right on the surface, and these scenes were written so well.

There are also chapters that don’t take place in the elevator, and these were actually some of my favourite scenes in the book. They were clever, seemingly not linked, and kept me really hooked until I knew how it all worked together. I don’t want to give too much away, but these chapters become more intense as times goes on and it’s so clever.

Although I partly predicted one aspect of the ending, I definitely didn’t get any of the details. The ending was less about the sudden shock factor, and more about a slow, tense and twisted ending that left the reader feeling both shocked and satisfied. I’ve not read an ending that had so much going on in a while, but it really worked with the tone of the novel, and I couldn’t have put the book down if I tried.

I read this in the space of a day, it was frightening, tense, clever and definitely twisted. Each of the characters brought a lot to the book, especially the women, and I loved the strong personalities. I’d definitely recommend this if you want something different to read!

BLOG TOUR: The Undoing of Arlo Knott by Heather Child

This was such an emotive, beautifully written and unusual story, and I would 100% recommend.

Arlo Knott develops the mysterious ability to reverse his last action. It makes him able to experience anything, to charm any woman and impress any friend. His is a life free of mistakes, a life without regret. But second chances aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. As wonderful as his new life is, a mistake in Arlo’s traumatic childhood still haunts him and the temptation to undo, undo and keep undoing could be too much to resist.

I loved the whole concept of this, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Arlo was one of the most fascinating main characters I’ve read in a long time, he was angry, emotional, desperate and a bit heart-broken. His search for joy and happiness was definitely hard to watch at times, but he was just such a strong character.

This book is definitely more about the character progression than the story itself (or that’s how it seemed to me), but I loved it. Seeing Arlo’s guilt about the choices he makes, the things he chooses to redo, the actions that he erases, it’s all very emotional. It’s powerful at times, and also tackles some very deep and distressing emotions for Arlo, and so seeing his progression throughout the novel is very meaningful.

The story itself, while simple, complements the power of the story very well. It’s not complex, but it’s emotive, and I loved Sabra. She’s vivid, bright and full of big emotions, which pairs with Arlo’s intensity very well.

I really didn’t expect the ending, it was touching and sad, but also was something that made perfect sense to me now that I knew Arlo’s character so well. I really don’t see how it could have ended any other way, and I loved how it was written.

If you want something different to read, this is such a beautiful book, so I’d definitely recommend this.

Thank you to Tracy Fenton for organising this!

The Undoing of Arlo Knott
Heather Child
Orbit, 1st August 2019