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

BLOG TOUR: Dark Waters by G. R. Halliday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Neighbours by Nicola Gill

This is such a cute, feel-good story, that everyone who likes strong and funny characters will enjoy. Warning – spoilers in the review below

Meet Ginny, 34, and Cassie, 55. Neighbours, and (very) unlikely friends.
Some women have it all. Others are thirty-four and rent a tiny flat alone because they recently found their long-term boyfriend in bed with their boss. Ginny Taylor is certain her life can’t get any worse. But then she meets her downstairs neighbour…
Cassie Frost was once a beloved actress, but after a recent mishap she desperately needs a new publicist. And Ginny is a publicist who desperately needs a job – but can she be persuaded to work for the prickly woman who lives below her floorboards?
Ginny and Cassie are two very different women, but they have more in common than they’d care to imagine (or admit). And when their worlds collide, they realise that bad neighbours could become good friends…

This is such an amusing, and in some ways lighthearted book, that everyone would enjoy. The two characters, Ginny and Cassie, are such an excellent pairing and they compliment each other perfectly. I found them really funny at times but other times it was very touching. The way that the two women come together at the beginning is really sweet – neither one is totally happy, and they’re both going through what could be called a rough patch. This is what bonds them and some of the things they get up to together are really hilarious and relatable. I loved seeing them progress and change together, but it was also heartbreaking at times to watch them go through difficult times.

This book really helps the reader connect with the characters, I felt really bonded them and this meant that the story held a lot more emotion than normal. I was with Ginny and Cassie through all the good and bad bits and so I was hooked throughout. This book is special because it takes issues or experiences that the reader can relate to and manages to express those emotions really well, while also injecting a little bit of comedy to lift the tone when needed. I thought it was done very tastefully and really would recommend this to anyone who wants to read something that tackles topics like mental health, love and friendship in a way that’s very easy to read and follow.

The way that Ginny dealt with Cassie’s depression later on in the book was very human and real – it wasn’t perfect by any means, but that’s what made it realistic. There were times when Ginny handled things badly, but the effort was made to point out why it was unhelpful and how she could do better. I thought this aspect of the book was great and made it really emotional at times. There are events that are difficult to read, and so perhaps for this reason I would say there’s a content warning for mental health, but I really thought it was done well, considering the genre of this book. Despite the comedic moments, there are times when this book has elements of such piercing honesty and seriousness, that it almost took me by surprise. Cassie’s good and bad days are written in such an honest and straightforward way that it definitely has an element of real-ness to it that makes it very readable.

The actual story is also excellent, it has the right amount of ups and downs, with a dash of comedy and a bit of heartbreak, but that’s why it works so well. The ending was wonderful, I finished the book feeling very satisfied and happy, which is exactly how I wanted to feel. After a rocky journey, I was left feeling genuinely delighted for both women and was really sad to finish this. This is a definite must-read for me as I loved every second.

The Neighbours
Nicola Gill
Avon, 6th Feb 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Woman Downstairs by Elisabeth Carpenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Woman Downstairs
Elisabeth Carpenter
Orion, 6th February 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Day That Changed Everything by Catherine Miller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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