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…

Foster Child

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 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: 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: CWA Anthology Mystery Tour

Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a stop on the Blog Tour for the CWA Anthology of Short Stores, Mystery Tour, which has been edited by Martin Edwards and published by the fabulous Orenda Books. As part of the tour I have reviewed a selection of the stories and also have a fab giveaway to offer one lucky winner, but more more of that to come….

The Blurb:

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour.

Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

CWA_Cover_Image.jpgContributions from:

Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday 

Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis 

Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson 

Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler 

Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey 

Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles 

Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson 

Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan 

William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

And edited by Martin Edwards

I loved reading this fabulous collection of short stories! There were crimes ranging from blackmail, guilt and just plain old revenge!

I don’t usually read short stories but this collection is just so diverse and riveting it made such a refreshing change. The stories themselves are cleverly written and each story is self-contained. I have only read a selection of these stories but I will be dipping into these stories over the coming cold winter evenings, snuggling up with a nice cuppa while these fantastic writers scare me.

My top stories so far include:

The Queen of Mystery by Anne Cleeves – This is about a woman writer at the top of her game and the lengths some people will go to stay on top…this literally packed a punch.

Return to the Lake by Anna Mazzola – features a young woman who returns to the scene of a mystery from her childhood, trying to deal with what happened. This was very atmospheric and emotive.

Accounting for Murder by Christine Poulson – this story was cleverly told through receipts which draws you in to slowly reveal a twisted tale of betrayal. I don’t want to say anymore because this was a refreshing and fantastic way to tell a story.

Wife on Tour by Julia Crouch – this story is about a wife fed up with the way her husband treats her and decides to take the ultimate revenge. I can’t say anything more than just brilliant.

Snowbird by Kate Rhodes – A story about a man who moves to a beautiful new town  after retiring from his career. But is there something dangerous lurking in the shadows? Oh this tale was so descriptive drawing you into a sinister tale of revenge….

Writer’s Block by Paul Gitsham – A story about a failing writer who gets caught up in a crime he hadn’t intended. Very cleverly plotted and just devious.

A Postcard from Iceland by Ragnar Jonasson – This is one of the shortest tales in the anthology but still manages to get you. Brilliantly atmospheric and draws you in to a fantastic climax, it’s still very mysterious.

A Slight Change of Plan by Susi Holliday – this is a tale of twisted love and a man out for revenge. I can’t even describe what this is about without giving it away but it showcases the superbly evil mind of Susi Holliday.

If there is one book you should read this winter than it is this anthology. It is one of those books you can just dip in and out off, picking a story at random which will take you on a short adventure for the evening and I can tell you some of those stories I’ve read are just so twisted and dark, it will keep you thinking…

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

This publication isn’t out until 15th November 2017 but the good news is you can preorder your copy from Amazon here.

Now for the Giveaway Alert!!

So now I have a fantastic giveaway, arranged by Anne Cater and the publisher, for lucky winner to win a copy of Julia Crouch’s latest novel, Her Husband’s Lover, who is one of the author’s from this fab anthology.

FOR A CHANCE TO WIN ONE COPY of HER HUSBAND’S LOVER BY JULIA CROUCH

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  •  Retweet one of my tweets about the giveaway (@emms_rachel
  • OR comment on the post below with your favourite crime motive. I think you can’t beat some good old fashioned revenge. (You’ll need to follow me on Twitter, so that I can send you a direct message if you win.)
  • Rules: 
Only one entry per reader.
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • I will draw the winners at random. There will be no cash alternative
  • The competition closes for entries at 13.00pm GMT on Monday 13th November 2017
  • My decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

 

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

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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 .

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.

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