The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen #bookreview @Fab_fiction @HQstories

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen on my blog today.

The Stolen Sisters: the most thrilling, terrifying and shocking psychological thriller of 2020, from the bestselling author of The Date and The Sister by [Louise Jensen]

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Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?

Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
 
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?

MY THOUGHTS

The Stolen Sisters is the intense new thriller by Louise Jensen. I’m a huge fan of Louise Jensen’s work, and she never disappoints!

Twenty years ago, three sisters disappeared. Their story hits all the major newspapers, news outlets in the UK and abroad. What they went through was horrific, but they survived. In the twenty years that have followed, they have struggled to move on. It particularly affects the eldest sister, Carly. She is haunted by the fact that she failed to keep her younger sisters safe that day. Now, her sister, Leah also has her own child to worry about. With the person responsible for their kidnapping now set to be released, it adds new stress into her life. Leah is terrified he will come after them. When she begins to receive letters, counting down to the anniversary of their disappearance, she knows her fears are very real.

Louise Jensen keeps the tension turning up a notch with each new chapter. Leah’s fears come through very strongly in Louise’s writing; it’s not just her own safety she is worried about now; it is also her son’s. This causes extreme levels of anxiety for Leah, and we begin to see the relationship she has with her husband fracture. He simply doesn’t know what to do. I struggled to reason with him on this point. He knows his wife has gone through a terrible ordeal, yet he can’t seem to understand why it is affecting her still, all these years later.

Louise Jensen also takes us back in time to the moment when the girls were taken. Louise describes the horror of their ordeal, yet she still also keeps parts of it cloaked in mystery. As each new anniversary of their kidnapping arrives, they are faced with renewed interest from the press. A few years ago, they even released a book about the case. But now, on the twentieth anniversary, the press want a different angle. Leah is less keen to take part in a new round of interviews. She feels that she is being pressured to do so by her sisters. This did make me think about what new details the press hope to learn from the girls.

Louise does a good job of creating tension throughout the book, especially in the chapters when the girls are being held captive. We know they are somehow going to escape, but I wanted to know how they were going to make this happen. I found that I was holding my breath as I was reading some of these scenes. I had to know what was going to happen next.

It’s the twists which come later in the book that make it so dark and twisted. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, as Louise revealed her secrets.

If you’re a fan of Louise Jensen’s work, you’re in for a treat, and if you haven’t read any of her novels before, then you really need to. I thoroughly enjoyed The Stolen Sisters. I can’t wait to read what Louise Jensen writes next.

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 1st October 2020

Print length: 400 pages

The Stolen Sisters is available to buy:

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Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardóttir #bookreview #blogtour #orentober @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardóttir on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part. My review also coincides with Orentober created by Kelly and Danielle.

Betrayal by [Lilja Sigurdardóttir, Quentin Bates]

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Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.

But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her – but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And why has the death of her father in police custody so many years earlier reared its head again?

As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witch-like cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher…

MY THOUGHTS

I was a huge fan of the Reykjavik Noir trilogy by Lilja Sigurðardóttir, so I was really excited to see what she was planning to write next. In Betrayal, Úrsula has just accepted a high profile role in government and hopes to make positive changes in the law to help benefit asylum seekers in Iceland. It is a cause she is hugely passionate about and has spent much of her time abroad helping vulnerable people. Úrsula also promises to help a mother, whose daughter was raped by a police officer. Because of his position, the case was allowed to be brushed under the carpet. The girl’s mother has been fighting for justice ever since. But as Úrsula gets involved in the murky world of politics, she soon begins to realise how dangerous the world she has stepped foot it in is.

What Betrayal does, as has all of Lilja Sigurðardóttir books, is that it captures your interest right from the first page and Lilja’s writing makes it very hard to put down. It has made her one of my favourite writers, and I bumped this book right to the top of my TBR pile. The chapters are short and snappy, and it’s the kind of book where you’ll think, I’ll just read one more when you get to the end of one. Before you know it, you’ve devoured the entire novel.

I really liked Úrsula. You can see how passionate she is about the causes that she believes in and how she is determined to make positive changes. But politics is a dangerous business. Úrsula soon finds that out when it appears that someone is stalking her. Just as she is determined to bring about change, there are people out there who are committed to making sure that she fails. There is also a vulnerable side to her, which made her feel very human. She has struggled recently to bond with her family and finds that she loves her dog more than she loves her husband.

Another character who I liked was Stella. Stella works at the ministry as a cleaner and is often in close proximity to Úrsula. Stella soon seizes an opportunity when a journalist offers her money to steal from Úrsula’s rubbish. Lilja Sigurðardóttir does a brilliant job here of raising the tension. Although Stella was making the wrong decisions, I did feel her, but I kept thinking that at any moment she was going to be discovered. I did think though if she spoke to Úrsula more then Úrsula would try to help her and would understand more than most the position Stella is in.

The plot races ahead and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. A lot starts to happen, especially when Úrsula starts to receive threats, which puts her family’s security at risk. This is where the character Gunnar comes in, who takes on the role of her driver and bodyguard. Again, he is a character committed to his job, and he is more than willing to put himself in harm’s way to protect Úrsula.

The plot of Betrayal is exciting and fast-paced. I became totally immersed in the story, which has been expertly translated by Quentin Bates. With a cast of highly intriguing characters, this is a book I’d highly recommend.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 1st July 2020 (kindle) 1st October 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 276 pages

Betrayal is available to buy:

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September Wrap-Up

Hi everyone, September seems to have gone by really quickly. I think we’ve probably seen the last of summer in the UK and I have already seen the first signs of autumn. I am missing the long summer nights though, so I’m already looking forward to the spring.

I personally think, though, this time of year is one of my favourites, although I’m not a fan of cold, wet and windy days. My perfect weather is bright sunshine on a freezing cold day. Perfect for hot chocolate.

Towards my Goodreads reading challenge, I’ve now read 114 books so far this year and I’m continuing to make progress with my TBR pile.

Also this month, I joined a new book club on Facebook run by authors, Sam Carrington, Elisabeth Carpenter, Amanda Robson and Caroline England. Each month there is a choice of four novels; group members then vote for the next read. It’s open to anyone to join and if you’d like to, you can do so by clicking on the following link: A Novel Book Club. The choice for this month is The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

I had a quieter month on the blog, blog tour wise this month and I only took part in three blog tours, I’ve listed the links below in case you missed any.

The Watcher by Kate Medina

The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn

A Song of Isolation by Michael J Malone

This month I’ve ordered copies of, Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten, The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen, Stone Cold Trouble by Amer Anwar, The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton, The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard and How the Wired Weep by Ian Patrick and The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

I have four blog tours coming up for October, The Choice by Alex Lake on the 2nd, Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardóttir on the 5th, A Prayer for the Broken by Mark Tilbury on the 9th and Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten on the 20th.

At the moment I’m currently reading Snap by Belinda Bauer, Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone and A Prayer for the Broken by Mark Tilbury. Let me know what you’re reading in the comments.

The Choice by Alex Lake #bookreview #blogtour @Alexlakeauthor @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam

I’n delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Choice by Alex Lake on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

The Choice: The unputdownable new 2020 psychological crime thriller from the Top Ten Sunday Times bestselling author of Seven Days by [Alex Lake]

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A kidnap…
Matt Westbrook only turned his back for a moment. But when he looks around, his car – with his three young children inside – has vanished.

A ransom…
Panicked, Matt assumes a car thief has got more than he bargained for, but then he starts to receive text messages: This is a kidnap. If you want to see your children again, you will exchange them for your wife.

A choice…
Matt and his wife Annabelle are horrified. They can’t involve the police, or their children will be killed. Which means they have to choose: Annabelle, or their children. Either option is unthinkable. But one is inevitable. And they have only hours to make their decision…

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve actually still got Alex Lake’s previous novels on my TBR pile, but now that I’ve read his latest, The Choice, I’m definitely going to be reading them soon. This is such an engrossing read about a family in a desperate situation. It’ll make you think about how you would act if you were to find yourself in a similar scenario. Would you make the same decisions? How would you react?

Matt Westbrook turns his eyes away from his children for a few moments, when he goes into a shop, only to come out minutes later to find his car gone, along with his children. As the horrifying discovery sinks in, he’s soon contacted by the kidnapper who makes a ransom demand. The police aren’t to be involved. Matt is keen to adhere to the kidnapper’s demands, fearing for the lives of his children. But he soon finds himself in an impossible situation when the kidnapper names their price, it isn’t money they’re after; it’s his wife, Annabelle.

You can’t help but feel for Matt throughout this book as he is put in this impossible dilemma. Of course, he desperately wants his children back and for them not to be harmed, but he can’t bear the thought of losing his wife. What I loved about this book is that I had a few different suspects in my mind as I was reading. Alex Lake takes us back to Matt’s university days when he first meets Annabelle. It was in these chapters that kept me thinking about the kidnapper’s possible motives.

Alex Lake also tells part of the novel from the point of view of the perpetrator. The kidnapper’s thoughts are cold and chilling. You can see that they are willing to do anything to achieve their goals, it’s clear to see, as well, that they don’t care at all about the children. It wouldn’t bother them in the slightest if they had to kill them.

Alex Lake keeps the tension turning up a notch. You can really sense that if Matt and Annabelle make one wrong move here, that it will have disastrous consequences. I wanted them to speak to the police, but at the same time, I could also understand why they were wary of doing so. Alex Lake makes their fear feel very real, especially when the kidnapper’s request comes through.

The Choice is a really engrossing read, and I flew through the final chapters, Alex Lake really knows how to heighten the tension. An excellent read!

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: 20th August 2020 (kindle) 1st October 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 476 pages

The Choice is available to buy:

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The Last Stage by Louise Voss #bookreview #orentober @LouiseVoss1 @OrendaBooks

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read The Last Stage by Louise Voss. With Orentober now here, created by Kelly and Danielle, I thought, what better time to read and review.

The Last Stage by [Louise Voss]

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At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now living a quiet existence in a cottage on the grounds of an old stately home, she has put her past behind her and come to terms with her new life.

When a body is found in the manicured gardens of her home, and a series of inexplicable and unsettling events begins to occur, it becomes clear that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is … Someone who wants vengeance.

And this is only the beginning…

A dark, riveting and chilling psychological thriller, The Last Stage is also a study of secrets and obsessions, where innocent acts can have the most terrifying consequences.

MY THOUGHTS

The Last Stage by Louise Voss is a tense and breathtaking psychological thriller. I can’t believe it’s taken me more than a year to get round to reading this book, as I was a huge fan of her previous novel, The Old You. Her last two books have now ensured that I will read anything that she releases and immediately bump it up to the top of my TBR pile.

The tension kicks in right at the very start of the book, with a very tense and disturbing opening, and it never drops. We meet Meredith who once had a short but successful career as a singer when she was part of a band. Meredith doesn’t want to go back to that past, and she is happy in the new life she has built for herself. But as Meredith’s world starts to crumble around her, we begin to see that she is hiding something. She fears that someone from her past is coming after her, and that person means her harm.

Meredith was an intriguing character. I wanted to know what reasons she had for cutting her career in music short, especially when she was being tipped for superstardom. I wanted to know why still, all these years later, she wasn’t keen to go back to that world. What happened all those years ago? What was it that had made her turn her back on music?

It’s hard to go too much into the plot without giving details away. The main question which I kept asking was who was targeting Meredith. I could never work out who the person was who was behind what was happening, and this is what I loved about this book. Once again, Louise’s characters pull you right into the story, what I love about her work, is her ability to bring her characters to life. Creating believable and brilliant characters is one of Louise’s strongest skills as a writer.  

Louise also takes us back in time to Meredith’s teenage years, shortly before she first becomes involved with the band. I really enjoyed these scenes as it kept me wondering if there was something in this section of the novel that would explain the events that are happening in the future.

The tense finale kept me turning the pages as I waited to see what was going to happen next. I didn’t manage to guess at all, who the person behind the events that had taken place was, and I thought it was very cleverly done. It’s a twist that will make you think back to everything that you have read before, and I loved how Louise worked it into the plot. The final chapters were also very chilling as well, and I really had no idea how things were going to pan out.

The Last Stage is deliciously dark. A completely gripping psychological thriller that will keep you hooked all the way through. I loved it.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 9th June 2019 (kindle) 11th July 2019 (paperback)

Print length: 305 pages

The Last Stage is available to buy:

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He Started It by Samantha Downing #bookreview @smariedowning @sriya__v

To celebrate the paperback publication day of He Started It by Samantha Downing, I’m re-sharing my review which I posted earlier in the year as part of the blog tour.

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No-one knows you better than your family.

They know the little things that make you smile.

They know your darkest secrets.

Sure, you haven’t always been best friends. But if it seemed as though someone was after you, that you might be in danger, then you’d be on each other’s side . . .

Right?

So gripping you won’t stop reading.

So twisty that you won’t know who to trust.

And so dark that you’ll realise something truly chilling:

No-one is more dangerous than the ones who know you best.

MY THOUGHTS

I was a huge fan of Samantha Downing’s first novel, My Lovely Wife, so I jumped at the chance to read her second. He Started It is more of a slow-burner, but it is still an ingenious, twisty tale which delivers shocker of an ending that made me hold my breath. Samantha delves into the lives of her characters as she takes them on a journey that will have a huge impact on their lives.

A road trip is the type of holiday that would never appeal to me. I can’t stand the idea of being stuck in a car for hours on end. But Beth, Portia and Eddie are going on a road trip for a very different reason. Their grandfather has passed away, and he has left them his estate worth many millions of dollars which he plans to divide among the three of them. But this is on condition. His grandchildren must complete a planned road-trip, copying one they took with their grandfather many years ago. He wants them to scatter his ashes in the desert right at the end of the trip. It is clear that neither of them are keen to go on the trip and they find the whole scenario creepy, but they are all desperate for cash and are willing to carry out their grandfather’s wishes.

I became totally immersed in Samantha Downing’s latest novel. I wondered how Beth, Portia and Eddie were going to cope on the trip, especially as they haven’t seen each other for years. It is also clear that they don’t all get on; this is certainly the case with their partners who are also accompanying them. Tension simmers in the background as the trip goes ahead, and it mounts when the group become aware of a vehicle that appears to be following them.

I became more and more intrigued by their grandfather. You can see that he wasn’t liked at all, and some very serious accusations are made against him, which doesn’t paint him a very good light. The road trip also shows that he had a very controlling personality. It appears that he still wants to hold control over his family beyond the grave. If he wants his ashes scattered in a particular place, he could have told his grandchildren to take any form of transport, a plane, for instance. I didn’t think for an instant that he wanted to remind his grandchildren of happier times by sending them on this road trip.

Samantha Downing has created another compelling and creepy psychological thriller. I wanted to know what was going to be waiting for them at the end of the trip, and Samantha delivers an explosive finale. Brilliant stuff!

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 1st October 2020

Print length: 400 Pages

He Started It is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones