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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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

 

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.

Blog Tour: The Search by Howard Linskey

For today’s post I’m super excited to host the next stop on The Search blog tour, penned by Howard Linskey and published by Michael Joseph, Penguin. As always don’t forget to check out all the other fab books on this tour!

First up it’s the Blurb:

9780718180362Someone knows where the bodies are buried…

Little Susan Verity went missing during the heatwave of 1976. An unprecedented amount of police resource went into finding her, but to no avail. Until now.

Convicted serial killer Adrian Wicklow was always the prime suspect. In the past, he’s repeatedly lied to the police about where Susan’s body is buried – playing a sick game from behind bars. 

But this time, he says, he’ll tell the truth. Because Adrian Wicklow is dying.

Detective Ian Bradshaw works with investigative journalists Helen Norton and Tom Carney to find the body. However, this is Wicklow’s life’s work. Would a murderer on death’s door give up his last secret so easily…?

This is a story which centres around the investigation into the disappearance of a child in 1976. In 1976, six children went out to play but only five returned, little Susan Verity disappeared without a trace. Andrew Winklow, the prime suspect and convicted child killer who originally confused to her murder later retracted his confession. Now on the 20th anniversary of her disappearance, DS Ian Bradshaw is tasked with her case to try to uncover what really happened, because Adrian Winklow is dying and time is running out to discover the truth once and for all.

Wow! This story just grabbed my attention from the very beginning which opened with the creepy words of Adrian Winklow, and as the narrative unfolded kept me glued to the page.

This story is set in both the past, 1976, and the present day which in this case is 1996. The author does a fantastic job of interweaving both of these timelines into the main plot with both timelines revealing little clues along the way while still keeping up the pace and mystery.

What I really liked about this novel was the fact that the main narrative focused on an interesting cold case which managed to retain the strong sense of a life and death situation and fast-paced action which comes from novels with a ‘present day’ serial killer.

I adored the creepy, disturbing character of Adrian who even when he is at death’s door still manages to plays games with everyone. I’m not sure what really says about me but I do love a good villain!

I also really liked the main characters of DS Ian Bradshaw and journalists Tom Carney and Helen Norton who he turns to for help, to try and unpick the truth from a serial killer’s twisted and clever mind. I was also interested in their dynamic relationships which are just at the heart of this novel and I suspect the series. The author’s writing style just made me feel very invested in these characters and sympathetic – I really cared about what happened to them.

I have never read any of Howard Linskey’s previous books but I will certainly be picking them up now after reading The Search because this was such a fascinating and brilliant read.

This is a fabulous fast-paced and twisty page-turner which is a must for the avid crime-reader.

Big thanks to Jenny Platt and Michael Joseph Books for my advanced review copy.

You can purchase this book from Amazon here.

Or from Waterstones here.

To find out more about Howard Linskey follow him on Twitter at @HowardLinskey.

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Chiller Review: The One by John Marrs

As today marks the paperback publication of The One by John Marrs (hooray) I thought I would repost my original review. #MatchYourDNA

The Blurb:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

51sLGvpEYQL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_One simple mouth swab is all it takes. One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for. 

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Review:

Oh My – This was such a superb read which had me on the edge of my seat most of the time with all it’s twists and surprises I just didn’t see coming. It is definitely a psychological thriller with a difference.

The One tells the story of five characters who have all taken the Match Your DNA test, but what turns out as a simple DNA swab which millions of other have done previously, quickly turns into something more sinister. Something more shocking than they could ever have imagined.

  • Nick is content with his fiance Sally, or so he thinks, right up until the point she begs him to take the test. But what could possibly go wrong  when he is matched with a straight man?
  • Ellie is a successful businesswoman, closed off from the world but then she is matched. Can she open her heart? And what could go wrong when she does?
  • Jade is matched with a man halfway across the world, but does she have the guts to leave everything behind to meet the love of her life?
  • Mandy is ecstatic when she discovers she has been matched to the man of her dreams, after her past relationships but then she starts looking him up online…
  • Christopher is a psychopath who is so wrapped up in his own project that when he meets his match he is unaware of the effect she will truly have on him.

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I loved how the author superbly weaves each of the character’s story, giving equal weight to each one while ending each chapter with a smallish-cliffhanger, leaving me as the reader needing to read more. It was one of those books where because of the short chapters you could keep reading another and another, although because I did just that one morning it forced me to literally run to work.

It was a book which really built the tension up from the word go with the author trickling surprise after surprise until you thought you couldn’t take anymore, well until the author wacked me with yet another corker of a twist about halfway through – turning the story completely on it’s head.

I just loved every minute of this book which had me literally gasping out loud with the many surprises and twists I couldn’t keep up with! I’m still not sure whose story was the most disturbing which makes it all the better.

This was a novel so full of high drama which made for a fantastic read! I would recommend for all lovers of psychological crime.

Big thanks to Stephenie Naulls and Ebury Publishing for my ARC.

The One is out in paperback today and you can you get your hands on it from Amazon here

Or from Waterstones here.

To find out more about John Marrs follow him on Twitter at @johnmarrs1

I wonder, would you take the test? I’m not quite sure if I would anymore…