Category: Review

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

Posted May 23, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Life’s Too Short by Abby JimenezLife's Too Short by Abby Jimenez
Series: The Friend Zone #3
Published by Hachette UK on April 20, 2021
Narrator: Christine Lakin, Zachary Webber
Length: 9hrs 6mins
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
five-stars

When Vanessa Price quit her job to pursue her dream of traveling the globe, she wasn't expecting to gain millions of YouTube followers who shared her joy of seizing every moment. For her, living each day to its fullest isn't just a motto. Her mother and sister never saw the age of 30, and Vanessa doesn't want to take anything for granted.

But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her baby daughter, life goes from 'daily adventure' to 'hourly nappy change'. The last person Vanessa expects to show up offering help is the hot lawyer next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. No one warned her that he was the Secret Baby Tamer or that she'd be spending a whole lot of time with him and his geriatric Chihuahua.

Now she's feeling things she's vowed not to feel. Because the only thing worse than falling for Adrian is finding a little hope for a future she may never see.

“One Day Syndrome. You live your life like there’ll always be one day to do all the things you put off. One day you’ll take the trip. One day you’ll have the family. One day you’ll try the thing. You’re all work and not enough play. Money can’t make you happy unless you know what you want,”

Oh how I loved this book. I don’t think I have ever binge read a book so fast as I did with this, I couldn’t put it down! I haven’t read a huge number of romance in recent years, I downloaded this on a whim one night when I was maxing ot my library cards. There were other books I’d intended to read first but then someone else was waiting for this so I bumped it up to the front of the queue. Vanessa and Adrian are just so adorable. She is busy living her best life and he’s busy working. This is a couple who shouldn’t work together but throw in a baby and a dog and it just works!

“Don’t get a cat,” she went on. “It’ll walk around pushing your drinks off the coffee table. You’re not emotionally strong enough for that.”

What really makes my heart sing about reading a romantic comedy like this is that it’s not all sunshine and flowers, it discusses some really serious issues. Do you remember the ice bucket challenge from 2014? Do you remember why everyone was pouring buckets of freezing cold water over their heads? Amyotrophic Latral Sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS or Motor Neurone Disease (Lou Gehrig disease in the United States). ALS is a major theme running through the book. It also touches on bereavement, substance abuse and unwanted pregnancy.

Vanessa has lost a number of family members to ALS, due to this she has decided that she’s not going to let the possibility of her life being shortened stop her from living the life she wants. She’s quit her job and started a YouTube channel as a travel blogger, not expecting to get so much support and become a celebrity in her own right. She spends her life travelling the world and raising money for ALS research. When her younger sister gives birth but cannot look after the baby due to her addiction, Vanessa steps in to care for her and moves in next door to Adrian

“You know how when you ask someone what they’d do if the sun was headed for Earth and they had twenty-four hours left to live? And everyone always says they’d be with family, eat their favorite food, go someplace they’ve always wanted to go? Nobody ever says they’d spend the last day curled up in bed crying- because they wouldn’t. That’s not what anyone wants to do with their final hours. I mean, yeah, you’d cry. And you’d be scared because you’re gonna die. And you’d find yourself looking at the sky throughout the day, knowing what’s coming because that’s just human nature. But for the most part, you’d just enjoy the time you had left. Especially because there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no escape, nowhere to hide. So why bother? Obsessing over the end is pointless. If you spend your life dwelling on the worst possible thing, when it finally happens, you’ve lived it twice. I don’t want to live the worst things twice. I try really hard not to think about the bad stuff. But every once in a while I’m human and I look up. Yesterday was just one of those days that I looked at the sun.”

There are so many quotes in this book that I want to share. It’s a novel about positivity, tackling life head-on and not letting the bad things get you down. I have laughed, I have cried. I’ve downloaded the first book in this series and the newest release from Abby Jaminez. I can’t wait to read them!

five-stars

About Abby Jimenez

Abby Jimenez is a Food Network winner, New York Times best selling author, and recipient of the 2022 Minnesota Book Award for her novel Life’s Too Short. Abby founded Nadia Cakes out of her home kitchen back in 2007. The bakery has since gone on to win numerous Food Network competitions and has amassed an international cult following.

Abby loves a good romance, coffee, doglets, and not leaving the house.

Divider

The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

Posted May 18, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 2 Comments

The Rising Tide by Sam LloydThe Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd
Published by Random House on June 24, 2021
Narrator: Anna Wilson-Jones, Charles Armstrong
Length: 12 hrs
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 448
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-stars

HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

The news doesn't strike cleanly, like a guillotine's blade. Nothing so merciful. This news is a slovenly traveller, dragging its feet, gradually revealing its horrors. And it announces itself first with violence - the urgent hammering of fists on the front door.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Lucy has everything she could wish for: a beautiful home high on the clifftops, a devoted husband and two beloved children.

Then one morning, time stops. Their family yacht is recovered, abandoned far out at sea. Lucy's husband is nowhere to be found and as the seconds tick by, she begins to wonder - what if he was the one who took the boat? And if so, where is he now?

As a once-in-a-generation storm frustrates the rescue operation, Lucy pieces together what happened onboard. And then she makes a fresh discovery. One that plunges her into a living nightmare . . .

Wherever her husband is, he isn't alone. Because their children are missing, too.

I read The Memory Wood earlier this year and absolutely loved it. It had me gripped from start to finish so as soon as I saw another novel by Sam Lloyd there was no question as to whether I was going to read it.

The start of this novel was brilliant and for the first 3/4 I couldn’t read fast enough, I was devouring every page. Coming from a fishing town I loved the descriptions of the sea and how it was almost a character in itself. You could feel the swell of the waves and the danger that they brought.

The whole way through I was questioning the reality of what I was reading, knowing that things couldn’t be as they seemed. I was convinced I knew which character was going to be responsible for what had happened, it couldn’t possibly be what it appeared to be on the surface.

I was wrong.

Then we hit the 80% mark. I have a theory that 80% is where the bombshells hit, the twists happen, the pace of the story increases. And that’s where this story fell apart. There was a twist. I found it a complete let down. Things didn’t ramp up and I didn’t enjoy the end of the novel. I read this with my reading buddy and after “the big twist” she put it down in disgust. Over 80% through and it ended as a DNF for her. Now, it didn’t annoy me that much but I did think it let down what had been shaping up to be a 5 star book.

four-stars

About Sam Lloyd

Sam Lloyd grew up in Hampshire, where he learned his love of storytelling. These days he lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and a dog that likes to howl. His debut thriller, The Memory Wood, was published to huge critical acclaim in 2020.

Divider

Faithless by Karin Slaughter

Posted May 17, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Faithless by Karin SlaughterFaithless by Karin Slaughter
Series: Grant County #5
Published by Random House on May 16, 2022
Narrator: Francie Swift
Length: 5 hours
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 393
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-half-stars

Karin Slaughter brings back her two most fascinating and complex characters -- medical examiner Sara Linton and her ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver -- in a heart-pounding tale of faith, doubt, and murder. The victim was buried alive in the Georgia woods -- then killed in a horrifying fashion. When Sara Linton and Jeffrey Tolliver stumble upon the body, both become consumed with finding out who killed the pretty young woman. For them, a harrowing journey begins, one that will test their own turbulent relationship and draw dozens of lives into the case. For as Jeffrey and Sara move further down a trail of shocking surprises and hidden passions, neither is prepared for the most stunning discovery of all: the identity of a killer who is more evil and dangerous than anyone could have guessed.

Having just read the previous book in this series and not enjoyed it as much as I was hoping to I was happy to see a return to form with this installment.

While out walking Jeffrey takes a fall over a pipe sticking out of the ground, which leads to the discovery of a dead body.

There is something that is niggling me about this series, something I’ve noticed in all of the books so far. As the Chief of Police and the Medical Examiner, Jeffrey and Sara should be investigating all of the murders that these books are centred around. What really gets me is that it’s always one of these two who discovers the murder, does nobody else in the town leave the house? Where are all the dog walkers, it’s always a dog walker that discovers a body!!!

I’ve read a few books recently which have had a similar premise, even though I didn’t actually know what they were about when I went into them (I don’t usually read the blurb on books, or read it months before I actually read the book).

I really love the Lena storyline, I like that it shows that even someone in the police force who was a strong independent woman can get caught up in a situation and struggle to get out of it. I can’t wait for the next book to see where this is going given how this one ended.

four-half-stars

About Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 40 million copies sold across the globe, her 22 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated COP TOWN and the instant NYT bestselling stand-alone novels PRETTY GIRLS, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, PIECES OF HER, and FALSE WITNESS. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. Her stand-alone novel PIECES OF HER is now streaming on Netflix, starring Toni Collette, and the Will Trent series are in development for television.

Divider

The Truth About Unspeakable Things Book Review

Posted May 16, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

The Truth About Unspeakable Things Book ReviewThe Truth About Unspeakable Things by Emily A. Myers
Published by WritePublishSell on April 6, 2021
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 288
Format: eBook
Source: Instatours
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-half-stars

In an emotional, thought-provoking journey filled with secrets and regret, a young woman has a second chance at love after abuse.

Emma Marshall is haunted by the trauma of her past. The night she ended her engagement to cheating fiancé, Beaux, was meant to be the night she took back control, but it was only the beginning of his true hold over her. Nine months after suffering an intimate assault by the man who pledged his life to her, Emma is doing - okay. At least, that's what everyone thinks. No one knows the unspeakable truth of what happened between her and Beaux. It's a secret Emma plans to carry to the grave, until Julian Cole moves in next door and opens Emma's mind and heart to the possibility of love after betrayal. As the reporter and music executive grow closer in the music-filled city of New Orleans, Emma must risk everything to protect her newfound happiness. As Emma embarks on a dangerous journey to bring her ex to justice, the bounds of forgiveness are tested as more unspeakable truths come to light. Will Emma overcome her trauma and have her second chance at love? Or, will her past destroy her and everyone she holds dear?

Trigger Warnings: sexual assault/ rape (depicted), self-harm (referenced), abortion (discussed)

I received this book for free from Instatours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I read this book for an Instagram blog tour and wanted to add a bit more detail to my review on here.

I think to say that I enjoyed this book would be incorrect, given it’s subject matter. It was incredibly well written with an engrossing storyline but it has a number of triggers which are the centre point of the plot.

When we open the novel Emma has just returned from a holiday to Greece where she had to make some major decisions around her life and her future following the discovery of her fiance in bed with another woman. She does’t get to have the talk with him about her decision though as he has arranged a surprise party for her return, pulling out all the stops. This got my back up about him from the start, what sort of narcissist knows that his fiancee is likely to leave him and so invites all of her closest family and friends round to try and prevent it from happening.

But this was just the start, Beaux is not a person that you say no to and there are some horrible repercussions for Emma in breaking off their relationship.

From this point on the next few chapters look at Emma rebuilding her life and starting a relationship with her new next door neighbour. At this point I was starting to wonder if I’d inadvertently picked up a romance novel rather than a thriller, in fact, around Chapter 10 I went back to the synopsis to see what I’d thought the book was about.

After this things take on a more thriller journey; Emma learns just what her ex is capable of and what lengths he will go to in order to protect himself.

There were a couple of places where the story jumped around a little bit and things happened a bit too conveniently, but other than that it was one hell of a ride, with twists and turns and OMG moments.

This is a book which is so very relevant to now, it has a very similar theme to another book I’ve recently read which makes me question whether this sort of thing happens more than I’m aware of or expected.

My only negative would be that the final chapter – the epilogue – is a bit of a brain dump of information. I found it really interesting but maybe it shouldn’t have been part of the story but an authors notes at the end of the novel.

four-half-stars

About Emily A. Myers

Emily A. Myers is an author of romantic suspense and mystery, thriller, and suspense. When not writing, Emily enjoys traveling, devouring the latest Netflix series, and scouring the shelves of Sephora.

Divider

Tour – The Lost Bones by Ruhi Choudhary

Posted May 11, 2022 by louisesr in Review, Tour / 0 Comments

Tour – The Lost Bones by Ruhi ChoudharyThe Lost Bones by Ruhi Choudhary
Series: Mackenzie Price #5
Published by Bookouture on May 9, 2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 332
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-half-stars

The woman’s skin was almost transparent. Her light hair darkened at the tips. Her lips were blue and slightly parted. But all Mackenzie could focus on were the eyes. Those arctic eyes that looked glassy like glistening marbles. She could see her own reflection in them staring back at her. The woman looked almost like a carefully crafted doll.

Detective Mackenzie Price knows what makes a killer tick. But when she finds the body of a young woman dumped in the trunk of her car, she knows this case is going to be the most personal and twisted yet.

Looking down at the victim, Mack recognises her instantly: Sophie Fields, the fiancée of Mack’s co-worker who vanished months before. Reeling in shock, Mack keeps one crucial piece of evidence to herself, too horrified to share it: a crumpled piece of paper bearing the words “You’re welcome, Mackenzie.”

As Mack pieces together Sophie’s last known movements, another body is found with a note. This time the victim is Courtney Montenegro, Mack’s childhood bully. As Mack looks at the note it becomes clear that the killer has an unusual MO: they want to protect her at all costs. But why?

The only evidence connecting the victims are identical pieces of material left at both crime scenes. With no other leads, Mack unearths a cold case which may lead her to the killer. Sophie had a sister who disappeared years before. Did she get too close to the truth and pay the ultimate price?

With an obsessive killer still on the loose, Mack knows that she needs to get deep inside their mind to work out who is next on the hit list. Can she get to the killer in time before someone close to her loses their life?

A completely gripping read that will have you on the edge of your seat, this addictive crime thriller is perfect for fans of Lisa Regan, Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Today is my stop on the Bookouture tour for The Lost Bones by Ruhi Choudhary. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book as I agreed to read it before I realised that it was the 5th book in a series and I prefer to read a series in order, however, I felt that this worked well as a standalone and I didn’t think that I was missing anything within the story by not having all the background.

The book opens with Mackenzie “Mack” Price returning from a run and finding the body of her colleagues fiancee in the boot of her car, as the body count keeps increasing it becomes apparent that the murderer is choosing people with a relationship to Mack. With cryptic messages being left for her, the town turning against her and the people in power all in a secret club Mack and Nick have got their work cut out for them.

I loved Sully, the boss who needs something to do with his hands in order to think. Every scene he’s in there’s a different hobby taking place in his hands. I found this really unique – and it’s not often that there’s a unique character in books any more!

I thought I knew how it was going to end, who the bad guy was going to be. I was certain, as we approached the end – yes!! I was right! Feelings of smugness followed. I kept on reading. Two pages later.. doh! I was wrong, everything was turned on it’s head again. I love it when a book can do this to you.

I’ve already downloaded the first book in the series to start reading all of the others.

The whole series is available on Kindle Unlimited.

four-half-stars

About Ruhi Choudhary

Ruhi Choudhary discovered her passion for writing when she was seven years old and wrote her first Star Trek episode. Being a fan of the dark and twisted, she found her calling in crime thriller.

She likes to write stories that make you a little uncomfortable and characters that you struggle to make up your mind about but stay with you.

She lives in Toronto and spends her days training to be a scientist and wishing it rained more often!

Divider

Indelible by Karin Slaughter

Posted May 9, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Indelible by Karin SlaughterIndelible by Karin Slaughter
Series: Grant County #4
Published by Random House on February 7, 2011
Narrator: Deborah Hazlett
Length: 11 hours and 34 minutes
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 445
Format: Audiobook
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
four-stars

When medical examiner Sara Linton and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver take a trip away from the small town of Heartsdale, it should be a straightforward weekend at the beach. But they decide to take a detour via Jeffrey's hometown and things go violently wrong when Jeffrey's best friend Robert shoots dead an intruder who breaks into his home. Jeffrey and Sara are first on the scene and Jeffrey's keen to clear his friend's name, but for Sara things aren't so simple. And when Jeffrey appears to change the crime scene, Sara no longer knows who to trust.

Twelve years later, Sara and Jeffrey are caught up in a shockingly brutal attack which threatens to destroy both their lives. But they're not random victims. They've been targeted. And it seems the past is catching up with both of them...

I am a huge fan of Karin Slaughter, I only discovered her books last year and I’m now trying to work my way through her backlog. This book is the 4th in her Grant County series. These generally aren’t books for the faint hearted but this one was pretty tame compared to all of the previous books by Slaughter that I’ve read.

Much of the story in this book takes part in the past, and you’re actually hard pressed to call it action. It’s providing a lot of backstory around Sara and Jeffrey’s relationship. The exploits of the past are very relevant to the present storyline but I felt they were very drawn out. There isn’t a great deal of anything happening, although we do have a better understanding of the nature of Sara and Jeffrey’s relationship at the end of it and an appreciation of how they’ve got to the point that they’re currently at.

I did much prefer the present story line where the the police station is under siege by two gunmen, who are the gunmen and why are they out to kill police officers – particularly Jeffrey? The clues are in the parallel story line of the past.

Karin Slaughter has said that because this is the Sara and Jeffrey origin story that it is possible to read this book before the other three, however, I have to respectfully disagree. While the majority of the story line will work well this way however, Lena is returning to work today and I think in order for you to understand her actions and reactions to the current situation, you need to understand her back story and what she’s been through.

One area where I did struggle quite a lot is the homophobia. I know this was written 10 years ago and the story line featuring homophobia was set 12 years prior to that but there were times when I was screaming at the book for such backwards thinking. The sensible part of me is saying I know that this thinking does still exist in some places in the present day, it’s just not as prevalent as it was then and although Sara and Jeffrey were not part of the homophobia it still stuck in my throat. I think I’ve become so used to the Schitt’s Creek was of thinking whereby your sexuality is just accepted, that anything other than this is just hard to comprehend.

I’m hoping to buddy read the next book in the series, look out for reviews from myself and Charlie at Read, Watch and Drink Coffee

four-stars

About Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 40 million copies sold across the globe, her 22 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated COP TOWN and the instant NYT bestselling stand-alone novels PRETTY GIRLS, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, PIECES OF HER, and FALSE WITNESS. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. Her stand-alone novel PIECES OF HER is now streaming on Netflix, starring Toni Collette, and the Will Trent series are in development for television.

Divider

The Executioner by Chris Carter

Posted May 6, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
The Executioner by Chris CarterThe Executioner by Chris Carter
Series: Robert Hunter #2
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 3, 2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 496
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Inside a Los Angeles church, on the altar steps, lies the blood-soaked body of a priest. Later, the forensic team discover that, on the victim's chest, the figure 3 has been scrawled in blood.

At first, Detective Robert Hunter believes that this is a ritualistic killing. But as more bodies surface, he is forced to reassess. All the victims died in the way they feared the most. Their worst nightmares have literally come true. But how could the killer have known? And what links these apparently random victims?

Hunter finds himself on the trail of an elusive and sadistic killer, someone who apparently has the power to read his victims' minds. Someone who can sense what scares his victims the most. Someone who will stop at nothing to achieve his twisted aim.

What are you most afraid of? Snakes? Spiders? Needles?

This is the second book in the Robert Hunter series by Chris Carter and I can confirm that some scenes are as stomach churning as the first book, if not more so. This is not a book (or series) for the faint-hearted. I’ve got a strong constitution but there were times when I was reading through my fingers.

The book opens with the murder of a priest and it’s not long before we have a rising body count. We get to view these murders from all sides. The story focuses on different people depending on where we are; for the most part the story focuses on Hunter but in the set up of a murder we follow the victim, then we get inside the murderers head, I loved the scenes where the victim is going about their life, doing their job and then you get to see the moment that the penny drops that something isn’t right.

Although Hunter is the star of the show we also have Garcia, his partner, following him where neither of them should be but doing everything necessary to save a life and catch a killer. While they’re trying to figure out who will die next and why they hear from Mollie, a teenage runway who is having visions of the murders. Given that these murders are so horrific that many of the police on scene are struggling to cope with them, can you imagine what it’s like for a teenager unexpectedly seeing visions of them when alone in the dark. No thank you.

No matter how mentally fit anyone is, there’s only so much savagery one can stomach. There’s only so much psychological abuse one can take before becoming detached. She’d read that somewhere, and she believed every word of it,

I love Hunter as a detective, obviously he’s flawed (aren’t they all) but he has a vast knowledge and is happy to use it without being arrogant about it. He also has a good heart, the way he worked with Molly is great, he goes against the rules because he needs to do what is right for her, not what is wanted by his superiors.

four-half-stars

About Chris Carter

Biographies can be an absolute drag, so I won’t bore anyone with a long life story.

I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, I moved to the USA where I studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a criminal psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well known glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of famous artists. I toured the world several times as a professional musician.

A few years ago I gave it all up to become a full time writer.

Divider

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

Posted May 5, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Little Princes by Conor GrennanLittle Princes by Conor Grennan
Published by HarperCollins UK on January 27, 2011
Genres: Autobiography
Pages: 308
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

The riveting story of Conor Grennan’s year in Nepal reads like a cross between Into Thin Air and Three Cups of Tea. While volunteering at an orphanage, Conor discovers that the children are not orphans: they are trafficked. Despite the danger, Conor treks up dirt paths with photographs of the children, miraculously reuniting dozens of families.

Remember how in my opening week I told you that I had a blog many years ago? This is one of the posts that I have saved from there. I read this book when it first came out and I still think of it often. It’s one I never hear mention of any more but one that I whole-heartedly recommend.

This is quite possibly one of the best books I’ve read, add to this the fact that it’s a biography and five stars just doesn’t seem to do it justice. As soon as I finished it I was recommending it to family and friends.

Not only is this a really interesting and moving story but it’s really well written, Conor does a fantastic job of letting everybody’s personality show through in the way they speak. In a lot of ways this book reads more like a novel than like I biography, which I personally think makes it a lot easier to read. It also has a lot of humorous scenes interspersed with the more moving scenes. I think it’s a sign of a good writer if they can make you both laugh and cry within minutes of each other.

The work that he has done makes Conor an inspiration to many, it would have been so easy for him to have completed his initial 3 months and not looked back but the children affected him and got under his skin, as they have obviously done to a number of people as Conor makes it clear he has not worked alone in his fight to save these children.

A percentage of the proceeds from this book go to aid Conor’s work in caring for the children of Nepal and tracing their families. Once you read this you’ll understand just how important that is.

five-stars

About Conor Grennan

Conor Grennan is a citizen of the US and Ireland. He grew up in Poughkeepsie NY and Jersey City, NJ. He spent eight years at the EastWest Institute (EWI), both in Prague and the EU Office in Brussels, focusing on peace and reconciliation in the Balkans. He left EWI in 2004 to travel and volunteer in Nepal, where he ultimately started Next Generation Nepal (NGN), an organization dedicated to reconnecting trafficked children with their families.

Conor was based in Kathmandu, Nepal, until October 2007, when he returned to the US. He is still active in NGN and serves on the Board. He holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the NYU Stern School of Business, and currently lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.

Divider

The Birdcage by Eve Chase

Posted May 4, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

The Birdcage by Eve ChaseThe Birdcage by Eve Chase
Published by Michael Joseph, Penguin UK on April 28, 2022
Genres: Historical, Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
five-stars

Some secrets need to be set free . . .

Twenty years after their last visit, half-sisters Lauren, Kat and Flore are summoned to Rock Point: the beautiful and windswept cliff house where they sat for their father's most famous painting, Girls and Birdcage.

But what should be a joyous return is darkened by memories of the catastrophic events of a summer twenty years before.

Because when the sisters arrive, it is clear that someone is determined not to let the past lie.

Someone who is watching their every move.

Who remembers the girls in the painting, and what they did . . .

Set on the rugged Cornish coast, The Birdcage is a twisty, spellbinding novel with unforgettable characters who must piece together their family's darkest secrets.
________

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Today is my stop on the tour for The Birdcage by Eve Chase, released on 28th April. I read The Glass House last year and I absolutely loved it so I was really excited when Michael Joseph invited me to be a part of this tour.

Eve Chase’s writing is absolutely beautiful, the way she weaves her story so that two separate timelines converge perfectly is just stunning.

We know from the start that something happened in the Summer of 1999, something that changed the lives of the three sisters Flora, Kat and Lauren forever. We know that although all half sisters, Flora and Kat were close but they were detached from Lauren, who only appeared in their lives when she was nine. Lauren isn’t on her own though, the housekeepers daughter Gemma, is a similar age to her and they get along well. Flora and Kat know what happened at the time of the solar eclipse, they were responsible, Lauren was a victim, but of what we are still to learn.

The tag line for this novel is “some stories need to be set free”, each of the girls is weighed down by secrets. For Kat and Flora it is secrets about what actually happened back in 1999. Today, all of the girls have secrets about what is going on in their lives. Why is Flora not answering the calls from her husband, why are a legal team constantly calling Kat, why is Lauren hiding the letters that she is writing to her friend?

Truth relies on perspective. It’s relative. If you live a life of pure, sheer truth, it’d be blinding, untenable, and every family would kill one another over Sunday lunch.

At the centre of all of this is Rock Point, the family home, the other characters that live there and the landscape itself. This novel honestly couldn’t be set anywhere other than Cornwall for it to have the same windswept impact. The house itself is imposing and gothic, although slightly neglected it is still grand.

And Flora can hear a slow drumbeat, which isn’t the waves, or her heart, but seems to be coming from the house itself, as if it were a sentient being.

Rock Point is home to the girls eccentric painter father, Charlie, and his parents in 1999, although they are no longer present in 2019. His father doesn’t play a major role in the novel but his mother, grandmother to the girls is ever present, as his her parrot, who is able to mimic people at the most inopportune moments. The parrot actually has a surprisingly central role in the novel, seeming to know exactly what is happening and what to say to cause the most disruption. The girls are desperate for their fathers love and affection, his attention. But he lives life on his own terms, not really paying any heed to the consequences of his actions. Hiding his own lies from all of them throughout the novel.

But Charlie Finch is not most people. He’s a Finch. He’s an artist. He has an ability to detach from his subjects, to see human beings as arrangements of form and flesh in space, volume and light a technical challenge to be solved.

While the girls are at Rock Point their father has asked them to sit for a painting, his most important, his daughters with a bird cage. His artwork, and particularly this painting are so important to the now, providing symbology of Charlie’s life. A birdcage is often used in both art and literature (think of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings) as it symbolises loss of freedom, the flighty bird being caged and oppression of women. This is reflected in the storyline, we have 3 very different girls, each one being held within their gilded cage for different reasons. Flora by her family life, Kat by her business and Lauren by the past.

I had already guessed some of what was to come toward the end of this novel, but that didn’t take away from it at all. The joy was in the path to the end. The end was just the perfect wrap up of everything, it led exactly where it needed to and tied up things that had happened right at the start that I’d forgotten about.

Eve Chase is now an auto-buy author for me.

five-stars

About Eve Chase

I’m an author who writes rich suspenseful novels about families – dysfunctional, passionate – and the sort of explosive secrets that can rip them apart. I write stories that I’d love to read. Mysteries. Page-turners. Worlds you can lose yourself in. Reading time is so precious: I try to make my books worthy of that sweet spot.

My office is a garden studio/shed. There are roses outside. I live in Oxford with my three children, husband, and a ridiculously hairy golden retriever, Harry.

Do say hello. Wave! Tweet me! I love hearing from readers.

Divider

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

Posted May 2, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta SepetysBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Penguin UK on April 7, 2011
Genres: Historical
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
five-stars

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia. An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn't know if she'll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope. Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love - first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose . . . Will hope keep Lina alive? Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.

Before this book was published I didn’t know anything about the treatments of Lithuanian’s during World War II, it amazes me that everyone knows about the treatment of the Jews during this period but they were by no means the only people who were mistreated. Having recently read Hotel on The Corner of Bitter and Sweet about the treatment of Chinese people living in the USA I was eager to get another insight into this period from a different perspective.

Knowing that this was about Lithuanian Prisoners of War during World War II, I thought I was prepared for it to be an emotional read. I was wrong, nothing could prepare me for how absolutely heart wrenching this novel is. Within pages of starting this book I was openly crying in public places, I couldn’t help myself and yet I couldn’t tear myself away, I was absolutely transfixed from the start and desperate to know what happened.

We start the novel as Lina, her mother and her brother are being taken from their home, their father has already disappeared days earlier. They are told nothing about where they are going or what to expect, but are taken to a railway station where they are forced to board a train with hundreds of others in appalling conditions. Within the carriage Sepetys introduces us to a number of characters who accompany Lina and her family throughout the novel, she does this with such skill that you grow to care about each of them, know their idiosyncrasies and really do feel the pain of all those involved. As a group they have to fight for their survival but also look out for one another and support each other through what is obviously the worst ordeal of their lives. The conditions on the train are horrific but this is only the start of the story, the trains are a means of transferring the prisoners to work camps where the fight for survival escalates. I actually started to worry about myself at this point in the novel, it was almost as though I had become anaesthetised to what they were going through, I calmed and went a couple of hours without tears. I think part of my calming was the determination, spirit and camaraderie that the prisoners showed. Even when they were suffering and there was little hope to be had, they clung to any glimmer of hope that could be found. The attitude of these people was unbelievably uplifting, in the UK in times of trouble people talk about the spirit of the blitz, although I’m sure it wasn’t a great time for anyone to live through the spirit of the blitz cannot even compare to the courage that is conveyed throughout this novel.

Just when you are thinking that things are as bad as they can get, the prisoners are again moved – to Siberia. For me, the thought of heading to Siberia now when I could take all manner of modern gizmo’s and clothing to keep me warm still isn’t appealing. For a malnourished, mistreated prisoner to be sent there in clothes they’d been wearing for years with no accommodation awaiting them at the other end is beyond comprehension. Yet still, they refuse to be broken and carry themselves with dignity at all times.
If I thought the start of Between Shades of Grey was emotional I was in for a shock at the end, I’m writing this review a week after finishing it and my eyes are welling up as I type, it was absolutely heart breaking.

This was a fabulous book, filled with raw emotion. For a horrific subject matter it was often shocking, but never unbearable to read. Sepetys is very eloquent in her storytelling and I loved the dignity and hope that was present throughout the novel.

five-stars

About Ruta Sepetys

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author and Winner of the Carnegie Medal.
Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. The daughter of a refugee, Ruta is drawn to underrepresented stories of strength through struggle and hopes to give voice to those who weren’t able to tell their story. Her award-winning historical novels are published in over sixty countries and have received over forty literary prizes.

Divider

In The Dark Book Review

Posted April 29, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

In The Dark Book ReviewIn The Dark by Loreth Anne White
on 01/12/2019
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 319
Format: eBook
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
five-stars

A secluded mountain lodge. The perfect getaway. So remote no one will ever find you.

The promise of a luxury vacation at a secluded wilderness spa has brought together eight lucky guests. But nothing is what they were led to believe. As a fierce storm barrels down and all contact with the outside is cut off, the guests fear that it’s not a getaway. It’s a trap.

Each one has a secret. Each one has something to hide. And now, as darkness closes in, they all have something to fear—including one another.

Alerted to the vanished party of strangers, homicide cop Mason Deniaud and search and rescue expert Callie Sutton must brave the brutal elements of the mountains to find them. But even Mason and Callie have no idea how precious time is. Because the clock is ticking, and one by one, the guests of Forest Shadow Lodge are being hunted. For them, surviving becomes part of a diabolical game.

What lies do you tell?
Because we all lie.
Every one of us, and whoever claims they don’t is the biggest liar of all.

8 people stranded at a luxury resort, except the luxury resort doesn’t exist and they’ve all been brought there under false pretences.

The police, with the help of search and rescue, battling to find everyone as the weather worsens.

The story is told in two timeframes and from multiple points of view. There was so much potential for this to be a disaster and confusing. Instead it completely drew me in and shredded my nerves. Just when I felt I couldn’t take any more of the lodge storyline and sitting on the edge of my seat, the scene changed to the rescue mission and they built the tension from a different perspective, again I ended up on the edge of my seat.

Rather than just having the “who done it” aspect of this novel there was a whole “why did they do it” running through the first half of the storyline, with all of the potential victims hiding massive secrets from their past, all of which were interlinked. Once we get past the why then you’re left with the who, at various points you think that it’s obvious… and then you change your mind. By half way through I’d known for certain who the killer was 3 different times. Even approaching the end, I wasn’t entirely sure and that NEVER happens with a book.

In The Dark is available for free with Kindle Unlimited, you can sign up for a free trial here

five-stars

About Loreth Anne White

Loreth Anne White is an Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and suspense. With well over 2 million books sold around the world, she is a three-time RITA finalist, an overall Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Arthur Ellis finalist, and winner of multiple industry awards.

A recovering journalist who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now calls Canada home. She resides in the Pacific Northwest, dividing time between Victoria on Vancouver Island, the ski resort of Whistler in the Coast Mountains, and a rustic lakeside cabin in the Cariboo. When she’s not writing or dreaming up plots, you will find her on the lakes, in the ocean, or on the trails with her dog where she tries—unsuccessfully—to avoid bears.

Divider

The Serial Killers Girl Mini Review

Posted April 28, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

The Serial Killers Girl Mini ReviewThe Serial Killer's Girl Published by Boldwood Books Ltd on 27/04/2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 285
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Lexi Jakes thought she could run from her past.

But when her biological mother is found dead, strangled with a red silk scarf and holding a chess piece, Lexi knows that her worst nightmare has come true. Because the murder has all the hallmarks of her own serial killer father, renown strangler Peter Graves.

Now with her own precious daughter’s life in danger, Lexi will do anything to keep her child safe…she is her father’s daughter after all.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I thought this book showed great potential, the premise was really good but I felt it was let down by the execution. I was looking for a book that had me on the edge of my seat and I just didn’t think that this quite managed to pull it off. 

Lexi is the daughter of a serial killer. Following his arrest she was taken into care and changed her name. Now her mother has been killed in a copycat attack. 

Nobody knows who she is. But Lexi is worried, that she or her daughter might be next.

I felt that the suspense was lacking in this, there was too much story around Lexi’s relationship with her husband and not enough excitement. 

three-stars
Divider

The Perfect Holiday Mini Review

Posted April 28, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

The Perfect Holiday Mini ReviewThe Perfect Holiday by T. J. Emerson
Published by Boldwood Books Ltd on April 20, 2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 331
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Perfect for fans of T.M. Logan's The Catch and The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas.

'This taut, elegant thriller thrums with dark menace and dread. I couldn’t look away' Kate Riordan, bestselling author of The Heatwave

Olivia and Julian are enjoying lazy days in their Spanish villa, a well deserved break from their busy lives. Especially for Julian, who after a lifetime as a carer was thrust into the public eye following the tragic murder of his first wife.

The languid heat and peace of the villa is broken only by clifftop walks, sun drenched lunches and cooling swims. Until a chance encounter with Gabriel - an attractive man, many years their junior - changes everything.

Soon their idyllic break turns into a dangerous, high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse. Will any of them get out alive?

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This is a dual timeline novel, set now (which is “after”) and “before”. In the before timeline we have Julian who is caring for his wife after she’s been paralysed in a car accident. Now/After, he is on holiday with his second wife, Olivia.

I find it difficult to enjoy a book when I really don’t like the main characters, and I really didn’t like Julian, he has no redeeming features. I also wasn’t a fan of Gabriel (although that’s intentional from the authors pov, I can’t imagine anyone would like him). There was potential for Olivia to be a decent enough character but she was never allowed to reach her potential, she was almost secondary to the narrative, a part of the setting rather than an actual person.

This is another example of a domestic thriller, which I never find thrilling. I always love the idea from the synopsis and then find that they fall short.

three-stars

About T. J. Emerson

Before writing fiction, she worked in theatre and community arts. As well as acting, she ran drama workshops in healthcare settings, focusing on adults with mental health issues. Her short stories have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines, and her feature writing has appeared in Stella magazine, Woman’s Own and The Sydney Morning Herald. Her first psychological thriller, She Chose Me, was published by Legend Press in 2018.
She has a PhD in Creative Writing from The University of Edinburgh and works as a literary consultant and writing tutor. She is also the Creative Director of The Bridge Awards, a philanthropic organisation that provides micro-funding for art and community projects.

Divider

No Less The Devil Book Review

Posted April 28, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

No Less The Devil Book ReviewNo Less The Devil by Stuart MacBride
Published by Bantam Press on 28/04/2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 466
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
three-half-stars

It's been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer to catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast.

Now isn't the time to get distracted with other cases, but Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh doesn't have much choice. When Benedict Strachan was just eleven, he hunted down and killed a homeless man. No one's ever figured out why Benedict did it, but now, after sixteen years, he's back on the streets again - battered, frightened, convinced a shadowy 'They' are out to get him, and begging Lucy for help.

It sounds like paranoia, but what if he's right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy's ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn't the only monster out there? And what's going to happen when Lucy goes after them?

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

For my birthday last year my daughter bought me The Coffin Makers Garden, my first Stuart MacBride book, and I absolutely loved it. Since then I’ve started to work through his back list so when I saw he had a new novel available I was really excited. This excitement continued for the first 3/4 of the book. I absolutely love MacBride’s dry sarcastic wit. I usually listen to his books on Audio as the inclusion of the songs from the radio is pure comedy genius – it has caused me to laugh out loud while wandering the food aisle of M&S, meaning I have received a number of strange looks (especially since my earbuds are usually hidden by my hair.

Anyway, back to the book. My first disappointment was that this is an Oldcastle novel but it doesn’t follow on from the other Oldcastle books, there is no Ash Henderson and no Alice McDonald – Dr McFruitloop (one of my most favourite characters EVER).

We have a few threads going on here – crazy posh kids murdering homeless dude, the Bloodsmith murdering people, removing organs and writing in their blood, DS Lucy McVeigh being terrorised by a stalker while struggling with PTSD plus there is a recently released child killer who is convinced that someone “they” is out to get him and so he needs protection. It was sometimes difficult to keep up with all of the different threads that were going on and I did need to concentrate.

And then we hit the twist. We all know that with any good thriller there’ll be a twist, and this was no exception, I didn’t see this one coming – and I didn’t like it. I felt like the ending kind of let down the rest of the book.

It kind of reminds me of Stephen King’s The Stand, it’s a really long book and then you get to the end and go WTF just happened. I’m not happy with that. Now granted, the hand of God didn’t come down and wipe out Oldcastle but still, it would have got 4.5 or 5 stars with a stronger ending.

three-half-stars

About Stuart MacBride

The life and times of a bearded write-ist.

Stuart MacBride was born in Dumbarton — which is Glasgow as far as he’s concerned — moving up to Aberdeen at the tender age of two, when fashions were questionable. Nothing much happened for years and years and years: learned to play the recorder, then forgot how when they changed from little coloured dots to proper musical notes (why the hell couldn’t they have taught us the notes in the first bloody place? I could have been performing my earth-shattering rendition of ‘Three Blind Mice’ at the Albert Hall by now!); appeared in some bizarre World War Two musical production; did my best to avoid eating haggis and generally ran about the place a lot.

Next up was an elongated spell in Westhill — a small suburb seven miles west of Aberdeen — where I embarked upon a mediocre academic career, hindered by a complete inability to spell and an attention span the length of a gnat’s doodad.

And so to UNIVERSITY, far too young, naive and stupid to be away from the family home, sharing a subterranean flat in one of the seedier bits of Edinburgh with a mad Irishman, and four other bizarre individuals. The highlight of walking to the art school in the mornings (yes: we were students, but we still did mornings) was trying not to tread in the fresh bloodstains outside our front door, and dodging the undercover CID officers trying to buy drugs. Lovely place.

But university and I did not see eye to eye, so off I went to work offshore. Like many all-male environments, working offshore was the intellectual equivalent of Animal House, only without the clever bits. Swearing, smoking, eating, more swearing, pornography, swearing, drinking endless plastic cups of tea… and did I mention the swearing? But it was more money than I’d seen in my life! There’s something about being handed a wadge of cash as you clamber off the minibus from the heliport, having spent the last two weeks offshore and the last two hours in an orange, rubber romper suit / body bag, then blowing most of it in the pubs and clubs of Aberdeen. And being young enough to get away without a hangover.

Then came a spell of working for myself as a graphic designer, which went the way of all flesh and into the heady world of studio management for a nation-wide marketing company. Then some more freelance design work, a handful of voiceovers for local radio and video production companies and a bash at being an actor (with a small ‘a’), giving it up when it became clear there was no way I was ever going to be good enough to earn a decent living.

It was about this time I fell into bad company — a blonde from Fife who conned me into marrying her — and started producing websites for a friend’s fledgling Internet company. From there it was a roller coaster ride (in that it made a lot of people feel decidedly unwell) from web designer to web manager, lead programmer, team lead and other assorted technical bollocks with three different companies, eventually ending up as a project manager for a global IT company.

But there was always the writing (well, that’s not true, the writing only started two chapters above this one). I fell victim to that most dreadful of things: peer pressure. Two friends were writing novels and I thought, ‘why not? I could do that’.

Took a few years though…

Divider