Chiller Review: All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

All the wicked girls

Blurb:

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer vanishes.

Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes.

And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

Summer lives in the dark, depressing small town of Grace, Alabama. She is a gifted student, the centre of her family’s hopes and dreams. Her twin-sister Raine is the complete opposite – a problem teenager who tends to get herself mixed up in all kinds of trouble, just like her father. But when Summer goes missing one day, Raine must push her troubled life to the side for Summer – because Raine vows to find her sister no matter the cost.

What I say:

I absolutely adored this book and can only describe it as a chillingly addictive masterpiece.

This story is told from Summer’s point of view in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, Raine’s view point set in the present day and Noah. I thought the author managed to capture the voice of each character and managed all three narratives very well.

One of the stand out things for me in this novel was the setting which had a very strong sense of place and really comes to life for me in this novel. The author does a fantastic job of creating a chilling, claustrophobic, bleak and religious backwater town in America. This also becomes apparent through the characters and the harsh climate they are in – there has been a steady decline in employment causing a lot of the townsfolk to survive on scraps of food and struggling to live as the area becomes more and more poverty-stricken. With nothing but their wits to survive, many of the characters in the town turns to religion which has them believing the down-turn in weather is really the apocalypse reeking vengeance.

Within this environment is Raine, Noah and his best friend Purv all trying to find Summer while hiding secrets of their own. I loved all three of these teenage characters who each have a really strong voice while facing up to the many secrets which are slowly revealed over the course of the book.

This is such a compulsive read, with its brilliant characterisation, dark themes and strong setting which really came to life for me. I would definitely recommend for anyone who loves a dark thriller.

Big thanks to Emily Burns and Bonnier and Zaffre Books for an ARC.

All The Wicked Girls is out now and be purchased via Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

To find out more about Chris Whitaker follow him on Twitter at @WhittyAuthor .

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Orenda Blog Tour: Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir

Today I’m excited to be hosting another stop on the Snare Blog Tour, published by Orenda Books. Snare is the first in the Reykjavik Noir series written by Icelandic crime writer Lilja Sigurdardottir and translated by Quentin Bates.

The Blurb:

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After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonja is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonja embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash.

 

What I say:

Wow – what can I say about this novel without giving too much away. I love the atmosphere which the author does a brilliant job of creating a murky criminal world in Iceland and shows the type of lengths people will go to, to survive.

Sonja is a mother who has been separated from her son after a very messy divorce. She’s desperate to share joint custody with her ex-husband, Adam, but down on her luck her desperation gets the better of her. This forces her to survive in the criminal world of drug smuggling as she creates new ways to deliver the merchandise and evade capture from the customs officials.

Running parral to the main action her girlfriend, Agla, is struggling to cope with a fraud investigation following the financial crisis which causes her to drink heavily and jeopardise her relationship with Sonja. But Sonja’s ex-husband is not who he seems in the surface as he slowly becomes more and more embroiled in the same investigation.

Th character of Sonja is a new twist on the archetypal protagonist, she is an intruging woman who is ingenious, driven and thinks fast on her feet. Sonja’s relationshp with her son Thomas takes centre stage and as the novel progresses you can really feel the emotional turmoil Sonja is living everyday trying not to be ‘snared.’ It was too easy to be caught up in the action as I feared her being caught. When I started reading this novel I didn’t expect to root for a drug smuggler before which just shows the writer’s skill.

I absolutely loved the character of Bragi, a customs officer, even though he’s the nemesis of Sonja I really felt for him as he dealt with his wife’s deterioting illness. I also loved his observations about the world of the airport he works in and really enjoyed his point of view chapters.

The chapters themselves are very snappy which I thought fitted this novel, cutting from one scene to another like a film being played right in front of your eyes and built pace and tension.

The translation is excellent from Mr. Quentin Bates, a talented crime novelist himself, with his translation the story flowed right off the page and drew me deeper into the dark criminal world of Reykavik.

This novel is full of tension and a brilliant cast of characters full of fiendish malice. I think this is a fresh new voice in Scandinavian Noir – I will definitely be looking to read more books in the series.

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About the author:

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardottir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Translation rights have been sold in eight countries to date, and film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavik with her partner.

Snare is out now and be purchased via Amazon here.

To find out more about Lilja Sigurdardottir follow her on Twitter at @lilja1972.

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

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Blog Tour Race To The Kill by Helen Cadbury

Today I’m absolutely honoured to be hosting the next stop on the Race To The Kill blog tour, the third crime novel in the Sean Denton series by Helen Cadbury and published by Allison and Busby.

 

51YcjllpUWL._SY346_First up is the blurb:

It is the middle of a long night shift for PC Sean Denton and his partner PC Gavin Wentworth when they are approached by a dishevelled-looking woman desperate that they follow her. She leads them to the old Chasebridge High School where they find the dead body of a refugee. The investigation which points to the neighbouring greyhound stadium finds Denton caught up in a world of immigration, drugs and sexual abuse, and one in which his private life becomes increasingly entwined.

My Review:

PC Sean Denton stumbles across the dead body of a refugee, squatting in the old derelict high school Sean used to go to as a child. After discovering he has passed his interview to join CID he is seconded to the Murder Investigation Team and quickly becomes caught up in the case. But there are sinister goings-on in the newly fashioned Greyhound Stadium nearby where nothing is as it seems.

This is the first novel I have read in this series and I have no idea how I had missed it – I just loved it.

There are so many different things that was great about this novel I’m not sure how to begin. This story gripped me from the very beginning, with a plot which builds in tension and pace at every chapter and a cast of characters who I truly cared about. This story does contain hard hitting themes about the injustices of society with a focus on the working classes or the people in society who are marginalised for their circumstances, which the author does a brilliant job of weaving into the plot without hitting the reader over the head with it.

One of the stand out things is the characters, who really came to life in this novel. I felt like I could understand and empathise with many of them, even if I didn’t agree with their actions. My favourite character has to be PC Sean Denton – he is a PC who notices the little things which makes him such a good policeman but is struggling with his dyslexia as well as dealing coping with his father’s illness. Sean is just your average guy but is such a lovable character because of it and one of those people who you just root for. He’s not your classic archetypal hero, but he is definitely a new love of mine.

This isn’t a high action, all guns blazing police procedural but that’s one of the things I loved about this as it allowed me to be slowly drawn into the character’s lives alongside trying to solve a good mystery.

I thought this novel works very well as a stand-alone as the author does a fantastic job of showcasing Sean’s life and background without getting to bogged down in what happens in the previous novels. Though I will certainly be reading the other two books in the series. I don’t want to spoil it by giving too much away but what I will say is I think it is one of those stand-out novels which really speaks for itself.

A big thank you to Anne Cater and Allison and Busby for my ARC and allowing me to be a part of this blog tour. A massive thank you as well to Helen’s family for allowing this novel to be published.

I would definitely recommend this novel which is out now and can be purchased on Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

My thoughts:

I was saddened to hear about Helen passing. Being a relative newcomer to the crime fiction writing world, I had seen Helen Cadbury at writing events but it wasn’t until I went to Iceland Noir last November that I managed to meet her properly. Immediately, she made me feel welcome and while chatting to her I remember thinking how warm, friendly and funny she was. I’m sad I didn’t get to meet her again but I hope her voice lives on in her writing.

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Helen Cadbury on a panel at Iceland Noir 2016

About the Author:

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Helen Cadbury wrote fiction, poetry and plays. She worked as an actor before becoming a teacher and recently spent five years teaching in prisons. She had an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam University. Her debut novel, To Catch a Rabbit, was the winner of the inaugural Northern Crime Competition. Helen passed away in June 2017.

Race to the Kill tour poster

 

Publication Day Review: Yesterday by Felicia Yap

Today it’s publication day of Felicia Yap’s debut novel, Yesterday. So I thought it would be a good idea to repost my original review of this fab book, which I just loved!

Blurb:

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There are two types of people in the world. Those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?

Humans are divided into two categories, they are either a mono or a duo.

Monos: Can only remember the day before

Duos: Can not only remember yesterday but the day before as well

When a women turns up dead in the River Cam the police suspect foul play. How can you solve a murder when everyone can only remember what happened yesterday?

I can’t actually describe anymore of this book without giving anything else away. I thought this novel was just CAPTIVATING and I actually read this in two sittings! It is a high-concept dystopian thriller which plays on the memories of the characters and sweeps the reader along on a complex and exciting narrative.

The story is told from the point of view of Hans, the police officer who is investigating  the murder, Mark who is a duo and had been having an affair with the dead woman, his wife Claire who is a mono and Sophia. It is also features many of the characters’ diary entries which I found fascinating.

The author Felicia, does a brilliant job of creating a realistic world where humans have to rely on technology to capture their memories otherwise they will be lost forever. I found the world of the novel refreshing and was so different from other books I’ve read recently it just sucked me in and I can tell you I loved every second of it!

Weirdly, one of my favourite characters was Sophia – a character with a very strange world view and whose thoughts and actions were very catatonic, I just couldn’t wait to read the chapters where I was in her head.

This is a book full of pace, has a number of clever twists and turns and is fraught with emotions. I found this such a refreshing and different read it kept me glued to the page. I also felt the themes of memory loss were explicit and very realistic and made me question how I would cope if this ever happened to me.

I’m not sure which one I would want to be – a mono or a duo, I think they both have their problems. Is it better to know more than others in your society or live in blissful ignorance? What one would you be?

This is one of those novel I would recommend looking out for and would rate this as one of my tops reads so far this year!

I would like to say a massive thank you to Millie Seaward, WildFire Books and Headline Publishers for sending me an advanced review copy.

The good news is this book is out today and can be ordered from Amazon by clicking here

Or to order this book from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Felicia Yap follow her on Twitter at @FeliciaMYap.

Blog Tour Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

Today I am part of the blog tour for Exquisite by Sarah Stovell, published by the wonderful Orenda Books, along with my counterpart Being Anne whose review you can check out here. Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this epic blog tour!

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Blurb:

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

We are first introduced to Bo Luxton, a successful writer who is runs a writing course, is married to Gus, twenty-two years her senior with two daughters and lives in a beautiful house in the Lake District.

Alice Dark’s life seems to be at a standstill; she lives in a squalid bedsit in Brighton with a loser of a boyfriend who seems to drink and take drugs and works for cash in hand – she wants more from life.

When the two women meet at the writers retreat Bo is organising, they hit it off and end up staying in touch via email once the retreat is over. As their kinship develops and Bo invites Alice to stay with her a sinister relationship develops.

The novel is told from both women point of view, sometimes via email or telephone along with a characters view point from prison which immediately tells the reader that something bad will happen.

I adored the beautiful imagery and language the authors uses throughout this novel to draw the reader in and sets up a claustrophobic atmosphere which made the action even more chilling.

The author weaves an intricate plot with a brilliant ending I didn’t see coming and does a superb job of creating two such disturbing characters – even now I’m unsure who was telling the truth – or are they both liars?

This is a novel full of tension, toxic passion, breathless pace and disturbing characters – I loved it and cannot recommend this book enough! This is a psychological thriller at the top of its game.

Big thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour and for my ARC.

About the author:

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Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

This novel is out now and can be purchased on Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

To find out more about Sarah Stovell follow her on Twitter at @Sarahlovescrime

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Blog Tour Review Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Today, I’m absolutely ecstatic to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Fierce Kingdom penned by Gin Phillips. As part of the blog tour I have reviewed the book and I have an exclusive extract of the novel which I will share with you later on today. Don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this fab blog tour!

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First up is the blurb:

Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.

‘The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.’

When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.

It’s a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.

But sometimes the rules are different.

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My Review:

I love thriller novels and I had heard so much about this novel, so when I was sent an copy I just jumped at the chance to read this.

Joan and her four year old son, Lincoln, decide to visit one of their many favourite haunts, the local zoo, after school to catch the last of the day’s sunshine. But as time fades quickly Joan and Lincoln have to make a mad dash towards the exit before the zoo closes for the night; but all too soon they are faced with a bigger danger – a man with a gun is blocking the exit and is on the hunt for humans. Joan is faced with every parent’s nightmare and the fight for survival.

Wow – what can I say about this novel? I absolutely loved the action and the drama of this story which was just utterly breathless – the pace was relentless from start to finish and I found myself holding my breath a lot willing Joan and Lincoln to survive.

I most admit some of the decisions Joan makes along the way made me question how I would react in the same/similar situation? What is apparent though is the strength and determination which Joan has, which I felt made her an outstanding heroine. Joan’s desperate need to protect her son also shines through this novel and I loved the relationship between Joan and Lincoln which really showed the love between them – it made me want to close my eyes at times because I just felt so scared for these characters.

I think what made this book so scary for me is that it hits on themes which seem very relevant in the society we live in now.

I thought Fierce Kingdom was a gripping novel which takes the reader on a fast-paced journey of a mother’s fierce protection for her child. This was such a thrilling read which I just couldn’t put down and I would urge you to read – just don’t read it in a dark room on your own!

I would like to say a huge thanks to Alison Barrow and Transworld Publishers for my advanced review copy.

This novel is out 15th June which you can preorder from Amazon just click here

Or to preorder this book from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Gin Phillips follow her on Twitter at @GinPhillips17

Thriller Review: Yesterday by Felicia Yap

When I received a shiny package a couple of weeks ago which contained this novel I couldn’t wait to get started. It’s a novel I’ve heard a lot about and it didn’t disappoint!

Blurb:

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There are two types of people in the world. Those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?

 

Humans are divided into two categories, they are either a mono or a duo.

Monos: Can only remember the day before

Duos: Can not only remember yesterday but the day before as well

When a women turns up dead in the River Cam the police suspect foul play. How can you solve a murder when everyone can only remember what happened yesterday?

I can’t actually describe anymore of this book without giving anything else away. I thought this novel was just CAPTIVATING and I actually read this in two sittings! It is a high-concept dystopian thriller which plays on the memories of the characters and sweeps the reader along on a complex and exciting narrative.

The story is told from the point of view of Hans, the police officer who is investigating  the murder, Mark who is a duo and had been having an affair with the dead woman, his wife Claire who is a mono and Sophia. It is also features many of the characters’ diary entries which I found fascinating.

The author Felicia, does a brilliant job of creating a realistic world where humans have to rely on technology to capture their memories otherwise they will be lost forever. I found the world of the novel refreshing and was so different from other books I’ve read recently it just sucked me in and I can tell you I loved every second of it!

Weirdly, one of my favourite characters was Sophia – a character with a very strange world view and whose thoughts and actions were very catatonic, I just couldn’t wait to read the chapters where I was in her head.

This is a book full of pace, has a number of clever twists and turns and is fraught with emotions. I found this such a refreshing and different read it kept me glued to the page. I also felt the themes of memory loss were explicit and very realistic and made me question how I would cope if this ever happened to me.

I’m not sure which one I would want to be – a mono or a duo, I think they both have their problems. Is it better to know more than others in your society or live in blissful ignorance? What one would you be?

This is one of those novel I would recommend looking out for and would rate this as one of my tops reads so far this year!

I would like to say a massive thank you to Millie Seaward, WildFire Books and Headline Publishers for sending me an advanced review copy.

This novel isn’t out until 10th August but the good news is you can preorder this book from Amazon just click here

Or to preorder this book from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Felicia Yap follow her on Twitter at @FeliciaMYap.