Chiller Review: The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst

Blurb:

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.

Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she’s just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger…

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Bad things seem to follow little Ellie Atkinson around – dangerous things are happening to people who make her angry. Her teachers and fellow students believe she is evil and someone to be feared – but is there more to it?

Imogen Reid, a child psychologist agrees to take on the case of Ellie after recently moving back to her own town of Gaunt with her husband Dan. But as Imogen refuses to listen to people’s warnings about Ellie, she becomes increasingly more obsessed with her. But she hiding a secret of her own…

What I say:

What a wicked mind the author Jenny Blackhurst has!

This story had me gripped from the very beginning with a chilling opening and breath-taking twisty action which didn’t let up until the end.

The author does a fantastic job of capturing the voice of a troubled eleven-year-old girl, who slowly spirals out of control. Ellie is such a fabulous protagonist who becomes increasingly alienated for being ‘strange’ but as she fights back, the town has other ideas. Her voice is so compelling and quite frankly freaked me out. Some of the other characters in this book are just plain creepy and quite sadistic which just added to the horror elements in this story.

I particularly loved the setting of this book; the town of Gaunt, which Ellie is forced to live in and Imogen has moved back to. Gaunt is claustrophobic and suffocating, slowly forcing the characters to breaking point. Imogen is someone who views the town as a complete outsider, having escaped to London for years which gives the reader a glimpse into this creepy place.

The author manages to play with the readers misconceptions and stereotypes as the tale become darker and more terrible than even I could’ve guessed, showcasing the superb writing and wicked mind of Jenny Blackhurst.

The Foster Child definitely got under my skin and had me glued to the pages. This is a story full of chilling characters, a claustrophobic setting and a tightly woven plot full of twist and turns and a dash of horror mixed in. What’s not to love?

To find out more about Jenny Blackhurst follow her on twitter @JennyBlackhurst .

The Foster Child can be ordered from Amazon here or from Waterstones here.

Big thanks to Millie Seaward and Headline for my ARC.

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Blog Tour: Killed by Thomas Enger

Today, I’m pleased to be on the next stop on the blog tour for Killed by Thomas Enger, published by Orenda Books and translated by Kari Dickson.

Blurb:

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Crime reporter Henning Juul thought his life was over when his young son was murdered. But that was only the beginning…

Determined to find his son’s killer, Henning doggedly follows an increasingly dangerous trail, where dark hands from the past emerge to threaten everything. His ex-wife Nora is pregnant with another man’s child, his sister Trine is implicated in the fire that killed his son and, with everyone he thought he could trust seemingly hiding something, Henning has nothing to lose … except his own life. 

Packed with tension and unexpected twists, Killed is the long-awaited finale of one of the darkest, most chilling and emotive series you may ever read. Someone will be killed. But who? 

This is the fifth instalment in the Henning Juul series, and my did it start off with a bang! I loved the opening which really sets up the action in the novel and didn’t let up.

There are a lot of characters which feature in this book but there’s a handy glossary at the front which sums up/reminds you who everyone is which was great.

The author does such a fantastic job of creating a dark twisted story, soaked in criminality and which left me breathless. Especially after discovering what really happened with Henning’s son (which I didn’t expect).

I was sad to discover the series finished with this novel and I’m looking forward to reading more from Thomas Enger.

I read this as a stand alone but I think it would work so much better being read as part of the series, so would recommend reading this as a whole. Especially with discovering some great characters in this novel and seeing the relationship between them. I know I will definitely read the rest of this series immediately.

If you like a good crime series with a slice of dark menace – I would definitely recommend this!

About the Author:

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Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2009, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called THE EVIL LEGACY, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

To find out more about Thomas Enger follow him on twitter @EngerThomas.

Killed is out on Kindle now, and paperback this month, and can be ordered from Amazon here or from Waterstones here.

As always, don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this fab blog tour!

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Blog Tour Review: Hydra by Matt Wesolowski

Today, I’m super excited to host the next stop on the Blog Tour for Hydra by Matt Wesolowski, published by Orenda Books, where I have a reviewed this book.

Blurb:

In November 2014 Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and sister to death with a hammer. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation.

King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out.

This is the second book in the ‘Six Stories’ series which sees Scott King back with a new podcast looking back into the case of Arla Macleod and whether she was really culpable for the massacre which took place on that fateful evening.

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What I thought:

Wow – this just blew my mind!

I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this as I loved the first book, Six Stories, from Matt Wesolowski and this didn’t disappoint.  Just like it’s predecessor, Hydra is told from the point of view of six people which are set out as podcasts. In this novel however, the author adds in an audio file at the end of each podcast which allows the reader to slowly delve deeper into the chaotic mind of Arla Macleod, which only added to the creepy atmosphere.

One of the things I loved about this story is the way the reader was able to see the vulnerable side of Scott King , as he is faced with his own Troll who seems to be not only stalking him online, but manages to find out details about him so they could threaten him personally. This gave the novel another layer of suspense along with the massacre at the heart of the story.

This tale was just so chilling and at times very disturbing which touches on the supernatural, particularly with the appearance of the ‘black-eyed kids’ which I must say gave me the heebie-jeebies.

This was a cross between a crime story mixed with horror which tackled the stigma around mental illness, particularly amongst teenagers as well as religion and the lengths some parents would go for their staunched beliefs.

I won’t say anymore about how phenomenal this book is as I think everyone should read it themselves. But, I must admit I may have scared myself by reading this book late at night, by lamplight, and my did my mind play tricks on me – I would advise you not to do that as I kept imagining black eyes staring back at me. And whatever you do Don’t Let Them In!

This is an original, chilling, and disturbing novel which will keep you awake at night! If you haven’t read any of this series I would highly recommend you do so immediately.

About the Author:

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Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for children in care and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North.

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous magazines and US anthologies.

Wesolowski was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at ‘Bloody Scotland’; Crime Writing Festival 2015 and his short crime story ‘Tulpa’ was subsequently published in the Northern Crime One’ anthology (Moth Publishing 2015). Matt’s debut novel Six Stories was published by Orenda Books in 2017, with the follow-up Hydra published in 2018.

To find out more about Matt Wesolowski follow him on twitter @ConcreteKraken.

Hydra is out now and can be ordered from Amazon here or from Waterstones here.

Big thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my ARC and invite to the blog tour.

As always don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this tour!

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Blog Tour Review: This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

Today, I’m super pleased to be on the next stop on the Blog Tour for Eva Dolan’s new novel, This Is How It Ends, published by Raven Books.

The Blurb:

This is how it begins.

With a near-empty building, the inhabitants forced out of their homes by property developers.

With two women: idealistic, impassioned blogger Ella and seasoned campaigner, Molly.

With a body hidden in a lift shaft.

But how will it end?

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My thoughts:

Oh wow, I just thought this tale was brilliant! In keeping with the way the story is structured I thought I’d split my review like the novel.

This is How it Began:

Ella is an impassioned PhD student and idealistic blogger who would like to do something more worthwhile with her life, to help make a difference to those who don’t have a voice. But is there more to her than meets the eye?

Molly is a seasoned campaigner, a pro who has seen everything and been in more protests then she can count. But Molly is being forced out of her home and will fight with every ounce of her being to stay. But is she really as brave as she makes out?

So when these two women throw a party to drum up more publicity about the Castle Rise development Molly is being forced out of, they would never have dreamt the night would end in hiding a dead body….

This is How it Was:

The story is split into a dual narrative; Molly’s point of view is set in the present day as she struggles to deal with her guilt about what she did and the developers moving further forward with their campaign to demolish Castle Rise. Ella’s point of view is set in the past, each chapter going further back in time to reveal what led up to the events that happened on that night. The way these two narratives are handled as they slowly reveal small tidbits of information, kept me as the reader guessing up until the very end and I thought was just pure genius.

I thought this book was just fantastic, not only was it a twisty tale full of manipulation and lies, but it also contained hard-hitting themes and witty social commentary which featured the gentrification of London – making this a very current and passionate novel. One of the things the author does brilliantly in this novel is weave the themes in such a way that it makes it feel as much a part of the story and the characters as the crime itself which has been committed by both women.

The author also writes such beautiful prose and creates such a compelling world in which protesting and fighting for their beliefs is what drives the main characters. I felt such sympathy for the characters in Castle Rise, especially Molly who I wanted to keep fighting even if that meant she had to stay in a rat-infested hole of a home for her beliefs, which I think just shows the expert writing from Eva Dolan.

This is How it Ends:

This would be telling how the story ends, but one thing I would say is the ending just blew me away and was not was I was expecting – at all.

For someone who hasn’t read Eva’s work before, I think she is now an author I will be going back and reading more of as I thought her novel and her writing was just fantastic!

This is a compelling and twisty thriller, filled with witty commentary against a backdrop of social unrest. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good twisty crime novel with passionate characters and hard-hitting themes.

About the Author:

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Eva Dolan was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger for unpublished authors when only a teenager. The four novels in her Zigic and Ferreira series have been published to widespread critical acclaim: Tell No Tales and After You Die were shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year Award and After You Die was also longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. She lives in Cambridge.

To find out more about Eva Dolan follow her on twitter @eva_dolan.

This Is How It Ends is published on 25th January 2018 and can be order from Amazon here or from Waterstones here.

Big thanks to Ros Ellis and Janet Ellis for my ARC and invite to the blog tour.

As always don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this tour!

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Blog Tour Review: The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana

Today, I’m pleased to be hosting the next stop on the blog tour for The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana, published by Mantle.

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First up the Blurb:

When Anna Flores’ adored older sister goes missing as a teenager, Anna copes by disappearing too, just as soon as she can: running as far away from her family as possible, and eventually building a life for herself abroad.

Thirty years later, the death of her mother finally forces Anna to return home. Tasked with sorting through her mother’s possessions, she begins to confront not just her mother’s death, but also the huge hole Gabriella’s disappearance left in her life – and finds herself asking a question she’s not allowed herself to ask for years: what really happened to her sister?

With that question comes the revelation that her biggest fear isn’t discovering the worst; it’s never knowing the answer. But is it too late for Anna to uncover the truth about Gabriella’s disappearance?

My thoughts:

The Missing Girl is a tale of a family who fall apart after Gabriella Flores suddenly goes missing as a teenager. The story is narrated through the eyes of Anna, both in the present day who has come home to deal with the aftermath of her mother’s death, and in 1982 as an eleven-year old girl leading up to the event when her sister disappeared.

I loved loved loved this story.  This is not your usual psychological thriller but is so much more. It does centre around the mystery of a missing girl but also has a moving story at it’s heart; a family who collapses in on itself as a way to cope with the loss. I especially loved the narrative which is set in 1982 where Anna is an inquisitive eleven-year old who seeks approval from her big sister, and wants to be the centre of her world. But when Gabriella starts pulling away and her parents whisper behind locked doors, Anna finds herself increasingly isolated from her family for reasons she cannot understand. This is a moving story of not only Gabriella’s disappearance but of Anna’s lost childhood.

The novel itself is very evocative and beautifully written, as well as being full of pace. I found myself drawn deeper into the world of Anna, her family and her pain which had me turning the pages as I was desperate to know what happened to Gabriella for as much as Anna’s sake as my own.

In this novel, the author does a fantastic job of capturing the voice of a young girl who looks up to her older sister vying for approval, while trying to understand what is going on in the world around her, without ever truly knowing.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves a compelling mystery with an emotive story at it’s heart.

About the Author:

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Jenny Quintana grew up in Essex and Berkshire, before studying English Literature in London. She has taught in London, Seville and Athens and has also written books for teaching English as a foreign language, alongside her fiction book The Missing Girl. She is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative writing course. She now lives with her family in Berkshire.

Big thanks to Annabelle Wright and Mantle for my ARC.

The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana is out now, published by Mantle in hardback and priced at £14.99.

You can order The Missing Girl from Amazon here or from Waterstones here.

To find out more about Jenny Quintana follow her on Twitter at @jennyquintana95.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on this blog tour!

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Chiller Review: Shame on You by Amy Henydenrych

51Oo4snyfiLBlurb:

You think you know her . . .
Meet Holly. Social media sensation. The face of clean eating. Everyone loves her. Everyone wants to be her.

Or do they?

When Holly is attacked by a man she’s only just met, her life starts to spiral out of control. Was she targeted because of her online wellness empire, or is there a darker reason behind the attack? He seemed to know her – but she doesn’t know him.

Or does she?

What if Holly isn’t who she seems to be? What if Holly’s living a lie?

But surely we all lie a bit online, don’t we . . .?

Meet Holly Evans, a cancer survivor and celebrity health food blogger who has a army of social media followers. One late afternoon, she meets a handsome, mysterious doctor in a Starbucks and agrees to go on a date with him. But the night ends in the worst way possible when she is attacked. Her attacker seems to know her, but does she know him?

Wow! I really enjoyed this novel which really showed the extent of which we are willing to share our daily lives online and exist in a virtual world to ‘bare’ our souls, as well as the damage this could have on others.

I knew this story would be an absolute corker as soon as I started it – the opening scene really captured my attention and hinted at the dark crime at the centre of this story.

The story is told from Holly’s point of view as she struggles to both rebuild her life and discover why she had been attacked, and her attacker Tyler. As the story unravels it is difficult to decide who I have more empathy for, which just shows the captivating way the author tells the story.

I liked the way this novel played on modern online culture, focusing on the pit-falls of how we portray ourselves online which could lead us open and vulnerable to attack, and the way in which nothing is a secret anymore.

The author creates a beautifully claustrophobic way of telling the story, which is very descriptive and fast-paced with two very distinctive point-of-view character’s. It is also very dark and chilling in places, which I of course loved, and took me as the reader in a very surprising direction.

This is a claustrophobic psychological thriller with a fast-paced, tightly woven plot with two characters slowly spiralling out of control – a brilliant recommended read!

About the author:

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Amy Heydenrych is a writer and book blogger based in South Africa. She has been shortlisted twice for the acclaimed Miles Morland African Writing Scholarship. Her short stories and poems have published in multiple anthologies including Brittle PaperThe Kalahari Review and the Short Sharp Stories anthologies. When she is not writing her own fiction, she ghost-writes books and columns for global tech and financial companies. She is currently working on her second novel.

Big thanks to Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for my ARC.

You can order Shame On You on e-book from Amazon here or preorder the paperback here.

To find out more about Amy Heydenrych follow her on Twitter at @AmyHeydenrych.

Blog Tour: Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson

Today, I’m pleased to be hosting the next stop on the blog tour for Whiteout, written by Ragnar Jonasson, translated by Quentin Bates and published by Orenda Books.

The Blurb:

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Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kalfshamarvik. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop?

With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thor Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier…

This is the last instalment in the Dark Icelandic series which for me is bitter-sweet as I’ve adored each and every one of this books.

This novel again features the lovable hero Ari Thor, who is pulled into investigate with his old-partner Tomas in the very north of the Island. But with Christmas merely days away and the imminent birth of his first child, can Ari discover the truth behind the ‘supposed’ suicides in time?

What I say:

 I loved this novel and thought this final instalment was the author’s best story yet. The novel is broken up into three parts: A Prelude to a Death, Lies and Innocence which I thought was a clever device. I don’t want to give the story away but I really enjoyed the passages with Asta, in A Prelude to a Death, who is later found at the bottom of the cliffs as it really set up a brilliant mystery and immediately captured my attention.

Ari Thor is back in this story (yey!) and this time he brings along his pregnant girlfriend, Kristen with him on a journey to the north as he tries to uncover a killer. It was really good to see more of this relationship, especially since Kirsten is pregnant and their relationship is at the heart of Ari’s life and the series as a whole.

This story is a slow burner, very much your classic golden crime novel which slowly builds in tension and slowly draws you deeper into the story which I thought was reminiscent of classic crime story telling.

Again, the author’s ability to bring such an atmospheric and harsh climate really came to life in this book along with a brilliant mystery. The Icelandic landscape, the author’s beautiful descriptions and brilliant way he draws you into a captivating tale really sets this series apart. If you haven’t read the others yet, I would encourage you to do so – as soon as you can!

About the Author:

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Ragnar Jonasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and set up its first overseas chapter in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

Big thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books, and Anne Cater for my ARC.

You can purchase Whiteout from Amazon here or Waterstones here

To find out more about Ragnar Jonasson follow him on Twitter at @ragnarjo.

Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this blog tour!

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