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

BLOG TOUR: Sisters of Willow House

This was such a heart-warming, genuine and beautiful novel, with gorgeous scenery descriptions and great personalities.

Roisin McKenna and her husband Cian are taking time apart. Unsure of what she wants, Roisin’s prayers are answered when she receives a call from her sister Maeve who is desperate for her help.
Roisin heads to Sandy Cove to help Maeve restore their aunt’s gorgeous tumbledown mansion Willow House and soon all she has time to focus on are its crumbling walls. Despite a shocking announcement from Maeve and hidden secrets in the house’s rafters, Roisin begins to feel a sense of self she’s been missing for years.
The ties that bind Roisin to her husband seem to be unfurling in the Irish wind, when she unexpectedly stumbles into a mysterious man on the beach. Suddenly, she’s swept up in the idea of another life she could lead…
The restoration may have brought the sisters back together, but as a storm rolls over the coast Roisin feels sure she must make a choice. Will her time at Willow House teach her the precious lessons she needs to return home or has the cove called to her in ways she’d never imagined it could?

I enjoyed this immensely, which was a pleasant surprise as it’s quite different to the genres I normally read. However, I really loved the characters, especially Roisin, and felt that I was easily able to connect with her and her story.

I loved the descriptions of Willow House and the surrounding coast, it was really beautiful and often fit with the mood of the plot which was a nice touch. It made visualising the story really easy as well, and so I thought this worked great.

Roisin was such a fun character. She definitely wasn’t perfect, and she had ups and downs throughout the novel, but she was full of emotion and I felt really able to connect with her. I liked the friendships and relationships she had throughout the novel, especially with her sister who was a brilliant and stable influence on her.

The plot itself was fun, uplifting at times, and slightly stressful at others, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had it’s hilarious moments, and it also demonstrated real struggles in relationships, with I think worked really well together.

Overall, this was a great read, and one I would definitely recommend!

Sisters of Willow House
Susanne O’Leary
Bookouture, 26th July 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Night You Left by Emma Curtis

I loved how this switched from the past to the present, offering different perspectives on various events, building up to a fantastic ending.

It only takes a moment to unravel a perfect life…
When Grace’s fiancé vanishes without a trace the night after proposing, her life is turned upside down. But has Nick walked out on her, or is he in danger?
As Grace desperately searches for answers, it soon becomes clear that Nick wasn’t the uncomplicated man she thought she knew. And when she uncovers a hidden tragedy from his childhood, she realises an awful truth: that you can run from your past – but your secrets will always catch up with you . . .

What a book. I really loved this, I loved the switching perspectives and timelines, Grace was a fantastic main character, and the level of suspicion and intensity throughout was brilliant. The story starts pretty much instantly, with the disappearance of Grace’s husband Nick. The reason why I liked this so much is that it doesn’t give the reader much of a chance to gauge Nick as a character, so the reason why he goes missing is even more of a mystery.

It’s really fast-paced, Grace’s urgency and frustration is clear to see, and her pain practically radiates out of the pages. I also liked the chapters that went back in time, and showed Nick’s childhood. It helped build the tension up, especially as there were characters that weren’t present in the current timeline. It also meant that only half the book was written in the present, so the action had to move quickly, and it worked really well. The chapters that were written from the past were actually some of my favourite parts of the book; because the characters in these chapters were children, their emotions were so raw and heightened, that I really found myself sympathising and connecting with them.

Grace herself was a brilliant main character, she was very emotional, frustrated, upset but there was a real determination to find out what happened to Nick. Her relationship with her in-laws was so stifling, and the love and strength she showed to her daughter was so endearing. All the different parts of her character were shown, and the writing was so good. The other characters throughout the book were just as well written; Douglas was a serious, powerful man, and Anna’s vulnerability and wariness came through as well. It was hard to make out who to feel suspicious of, demonstrating yet again why the book was so good. I consistently felt uncertain, tense and desperate to find out what happened.

I thought the ending was brilliant. It’s definitely quite unexpected, and there’s a lot that happens so it really hooked me in, and I couldn’t put it down. It was fast-paced, with lots of action, and it brings in all the elements of both timelines really well.

This is such a great read, it’s thrilling, emotional, tense and has some truly brilliant characters. I’d definitely recommend this!

The Night You Left
Emma Curtis
Transworld Digital, 22nd July 2019