The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan #bookreview @Phoebe_A_Morgan @1stMondayCrime @HQstories

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan. Phoebe is one of the authors who will be appearing on this month’s First Monday Crime Panel. I’ll have all the details about how you can access the event at the end of the post.

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In a luxury lodge on Botswana’s sun-soaked plains, four friends reunite for a birthday celebration…

THE BIRTHDAY GIRL
Has it all, but chose love over her friends…

THE TEACHER
Feels the walls of her flat and classroom closing in…

THE MOTHER
Loves her baby, but desperately needs a break…

THE INTROVERT
Yearns for adventure after suffering for too long…

Arriving at the safari lodge, a feeling of unease settles over them. There’s no sign of the party that was promised. There’s no phone signal. They’re alone, in the wild.

THE HUNT IS ON.

MY THOUGHTS

I was utterly gripped by The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan. It’s the first book by Phoebe, which I’ve read since I read her debut a few years ago. Now, I’m desperate to catch up on her books which I’ve missed. This is a very clever and a really chilling mystery; I flew through it.

When a group of women start to receive invitations to a luxury retreat in Botswana from an old friend, they are suspicious that something is up. The holiday is really appealing, and they can’t resist taking up the invitation. But when they arrive there, they aren’t greeted by their friend, and someone has left strange notes in their rooms which strikes a chilling chord with all of them.

I wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on here. I wanted to know where the person who invited them was and why she hadn’t turned up to greet her friends. You can sense just how nervous the group are as they try to understand what is going on, and Phoebe Morgan writes this very well. Phoebe Morgan creates a very sinister atmosphere, and it compels you to read on.

As the women’s fears begin to grow and as the danger really begins to creep up on them, Phoebe Morgan takes us back in time. We begin to understand what went on in the past and what has led to the current events happening now. The plot turns even more sinister as Phoebe Morgan gradually begins to reveal what happened between them, and there are some jaw dropping and unsettling twists. The tension keeps ticking up a notch, and I was flying through the final chapters at breakneck speed; I was so desperate to find out what was going to happen.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading at the end, and the twist completely floored me. It’s one of those moments which makes you sit bolt upright as you begin to understand what is happening. I thought it was a very satisfactory ending, and I thought it was very clever how Phoebe Morgan weaved it into her plot.

The Wild Girls is the type of thriller which you can devour in a single day. It only took me a couple of sittings to finish it, and I loved it. I highly, highly recommend this book! Psychological thriller lovers, this is a book that’s not to be missed.

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 15th April 2021

Print length: 320 pages

The Wild Girls is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

FIRST MONDAY CRIME

First Monday Crime is back on Monday, 10th May 2021. It’s a week later again this month due to the Bank Holiday. Alongside Phoebe Morgan, appearing on the panel will be, Tina Baker, author of Call Me Mummy, James Delargy author of Vanished and Marion Todd, author of What They Knew. The panel is being moderated by Jacky Collins. The event starts at 19.30 p.m. and it is being live streamed on the First Monday Crime Facebook page, which you can access by clicking on the link below.

First Monday Crime – Facebook page

Longlist revealed for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year #TheakstonAward

I’m delighted to be able to share the longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for 2021 on my blog today.

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MARK BILLINGHAM | LOUISE CANDLISH | JANE CASEY | STEVE CAVANAGH | WILL DEAN  

EVA DOLAN LUCY FOLEY ELLY GRIFFITHS DOUG JOHNSTONE ROSAMUND LUPTON

VAL MCDERMID BRIAN MCGILLOWAY ABIR MUKHERJEE LIZ NUGENT IAN RANKIN

SUSIE STEINER | CHRIS WHITAKER | TREVOR WOOD

Harrogate, 5 May 2021: Today, the longlist of the UK and Ireland’s most prestigious crime novel award is unveiled with literary legends and dynamic debuts in contention for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

Now in its 17th year, the most coveted prize in crime fiction, presented by Harrogate International Festivals celebrates crime writing at its best. This year’s longlist transports readers around the world from California to Sweden and Calcutta to a remote Irish island and explores every subgenre from Scandi noir to murderous families.

The line-up of returning champions is led by crime fiction titan Ian Rankin, who has received a nod for his A Song for The Dark TimesMark Billingham, hoping for a third win with his Cry Baby, and Steve Cavanagh looking to beat the competition with Fifty Fifty.

This year’s longlist recognises a number of authors who have previously never been listed by the prize. Hoping to claim the trophy on their first appearance are Lucy Foley with her No.1 Sunday Times Best Seller The Guest List, Chris Whitaker with We Begin at The End, Scottish author Doug Johnstone with The Big Chill and Liz Nugent with Our Little Cruelties, and Jane Caseywith herlatest Maeve Kerriganinstalment The Cutting Place.

The longlist also features several previously nominated authors hoping to go one step further and clinch the trophy with Elly Griffiths securing her seventh pick for her much lauded The Lantern Men and Susie Steiner getting her third nod for Remain Silent and Brian McGilloway’s second nomination for The Last Crossing, and best-selling author Louise Candlish hoping to win on her second pick with The Other Passenger.

Joining these outstanding names is the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime’herself, Val McDermid with her newest Karen Pirie novel Still Life. Celebrated in the industry for her impeccable ability to select emerging talent for the annual New Blood panel at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, McDermid find herself competing against many New Blood alumni including: Will Dean for his latest Scandi noir Black River; Eva Dolan for the newest instalment of her critically-acclaimed Zigic and Ferreira series,Abir Mukherjee’s new Calcutta and Assam-inspired Death in the East, and finally Trevor Wood – who has gone from the 2020 New Blood panel to longlisted for Crime’s biggest award.

The full longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021 is:

–          Cry Baby by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere)

–          The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster)

–          The Cutting Place by Jane Casey (HarperCollins, HarperFiction)

–          Fifty Fiftyby Steve Cavanagh (The Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)

–          Black River by Will Dean (Oneworld Publications, Point Blank)

–          Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan (Bloomsbury Publishing, Raven Books)

–          The Guest List by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins, HarperFiction)

–          The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

–          The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone (Orenda Books)

–          Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (Penguin Random House UK, Viking)

–          Still Life by Val McDermid (Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere)

–          The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway (Little, Brown Book Group, Constable)

–          Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

–          Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent (Penguin, Sandycove)

–          A Song For The Dark Times by Ian Rankin (Orion, Orion Fiction)

–          Remain Silent by Susie Steiner (HarperCollins Publishers, The Borough Press)

–          We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker (Bonnier Books UK, Zaffre)

–          The Man on the Street by Trevor Wood (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said“The way the global obsession with the crime genre continues to grow year on year is simply astonishing and this year’s longlist proves the remarkable talent on offer in crime writing– from legends of the craft to eager-eyed newcomers. The shortlist is already too close to call so we encourage all to get voting! A hearty toast of Old Peculier to all longlisted authors for this coveted award – and we look forward to what we know will be a fiercely fought competition!”

Run by Harrogate International Festivals, the shortlist will be announced in June and the winner on 22 July, at the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – with the public able to vote for the winner on harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com.

The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with WHSmith and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2021 by UK and Irish authors.

The longlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith.

The public are now invited to vote for a shortlist of six titles on www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com, which will be announced in June. The winner will be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 22 July, and will receive £3,000, and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

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The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver #bookreview #blogtour @abisilver16 @amberachoudhary @EyeAndLightning

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver on my blog today, with thanks to Amber Choudhary from Midas PR for inviting me to take part.

The Rapunzel Act: A Burton & Lamb Case (Burton and Lamb Thrillers Book 4) by [Abi Silver]

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CAN YOU FIND JUSTICE… WHEN THE WORLD IS WATCHING?

When breakfast TV host and nation’s darling, Rosie Harper, is found brutally murdered at home, suspicion falls on her spouse, formerly international football star, Danny ‘walks on water’ Mallard, now living out of the public eye as trans woman, Debbie.

Not only must Debbie challenge the hard evidence against her, including her blood-drenched glove at the scene of the crime, she must also contend with the nation’s prejudices, as the trial is broadcast live, turning it into a public spectacle. For someone trying to live their life without judgment, it might just be too much to bear.

Legal duo Judith Burton and Constance Lamb are subjected to unyielding scrutiny as they strive to defend their most famous client yet.

MY THOUGHTS

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover Abi Silver’s Burton and Lamb series. The Rapunzel Act is a gripping courtroom drama. It’s the first book in this series that I’ve read, but I will definitely be catching up on the previous books. It’s pacy and very addictive, and I’m sure I’ll keep coming back to this series.

Abi Silver opens her novel with a really intriguing set-up. Debbie is horrified when the police inform her that her ex-wife, Rosie, has been found dead in her home. Debbie, formerly known as Danny, a professional footballer, had a sex change three years earlier after feeling for years that he was trapped in the wrong body. But when Debbie runs from the police, she is immediately seen as the number one suspect in her ex-wife’s murder. But why did Debbie run if she had nothing to do with what happened? It falls to Constance and Judith to prove Debbie’s innocence, which will be no mean feat.

Abi Silver really captured the energy and the intrigue of the court case as Debbie’s trial began. I wanted to know what had happened to her wife. What I thought made this really tense was that I could never be sure if she was responsible for the murder or not. Debbie was the last person to see her wife before she was found dead. If she wasn’t the killer, I wanted to know the motive behind the killing and who did it.

What I thought was intriguing about this book was that a television crew is let in to film the court proceedings. It’s something that not everyone agrees with when the idea is first propositioned. It’s not very common in Britain, and it’s what makes this case particularly fascinating.

There is a real sense of authenticity in Abi Silver’s writing as she takes us into the courtroom and as the trial proceeds. It becomes really intriguing when Constance and Judith get closer to understanding what happened to Debbie. I thought Abi Silver wrapped the plot up really well, and it made for a very satisfactory ending.  

The Rapunzel Act is a really immersive read, and I would highly recommend it if you’re a fan of courtroom dramas. Although it is book four in the series, it can definitely be read as a standalone, but I’m sure, like me, if you’re new to the series, you’ll want to read the previous books to catch up. I can’t wait to read more from this series.

Publisher: Lightning Books

Publication date: 25th January 2021 (kindle) 15th April 2021 (paperback)

Print length: 320 pages

The Rapunzel Act is available to buy:

Amazon UK

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR

The Rapunzel Act Blog Tour Banner (2)

The Retreat by Sherri Smith #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the second novel by Sherri Smith, The Retreat.

The Retreat by [Sherri Smith]

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Sherri Smith illuminates the dark side of the self-care and wellness industry in a thrilling ride of revenge perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers.

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s too-good-to-be-true fiancée invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends—one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship—Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.

MY THOUGHTS

The Retreat is an utterly chilling read by Sherri Smith. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get round to reading it. I thought Sherri Smith’s writing was very immersive. A group of friends, Carmen, Ariel and Katie, head to a wellness retreat. Katie is desperate to make a new start in her life, and she hopes that this break with her friends will help steer her towards that new destination. But soon, strange things start to happen, and it isn’t long before a dark cloud begins to descend. Very soon, they’ll all be in grave danger.

I thought Sherri Smith created a chilling atmosphere for her book, especially as things at the retreat started to go wrong. I wanted to know what was really going on here, and I flew through the book to find out. Sherri Smith has created some well-developed characters with intriguing backstories. Katie was a successful child actor until her manager attacked her, leaving her scarred for life. It destroyed her acting career. She sees this experience as a chance to overcome that part of her life. But her other friends have secrets and things in their lives they are running from as well.

I sensed a really creepy vibe from the moment the group of friends arrived for their holiday. I thought the owner was a very mysterious character. I wanted to know if he had any connection to the events which were now happening. There are whispers that the retreat is actually a cult, and as I was reading, I could see why guests may think like that. It created a very dark and foreboding atmosphere; you know that something terrible is going to happen.

Sherri Smith is a writer who knows how to keep her reader turning the page. I was utterly hooked by the story, and I wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters. As the danger starts to grow around the group, the book and the setting begins to feel very claustrophobic. I really couldn’t trust anyone.

If you’re a fan of creepy psychological thrillers, then you definitely should add The Retreat to your TBR Pile.

Publisher: Titan Books

Publication date: 13th August 2019

Print length: 340 pages

The Retreat is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

April 2021 Wrap-Up

It’s hard to believe that a quarter of 2021 is now done and dusted. I’ve read some great books so far this year and I’ve found a few already which I’m sure will be in my top ten reads of 2021. I’ve made a lot of progress with the manuscript I’m working on at the moment and I’ve nearly finished the first draft. I’ve so far written 90,051 words. I think it may still need a lot of work but I’m really pleased with it so far and I’m really excited about it.

It’s also been so good to visit bookshops again this month. I can literally spend hours just browsing in them. And of course I had to make an obligatory book purchase while I was there. It’s also been so good to finally get out and start seeing people again this month.

I’ve now read 62 books towards my goal of 100 books in 2021. I took part in four blog tours this month and I’ve listed the links below in case you missed any.

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Look What You Made Me Do by Nikki Smith

Trust Me by T.M. Logan

The House of Hidden Secrets by C.E. Rose

This month I have six blog tours coming up, The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver on the 4th May, All My Lies by Sophie Flynn on the 10th, The Assistant by Kjell ola Dahl on the 11th, Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons on the 14th, You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll on the 21st and The Pact by Sharon Bolton on the 24th.

I received some exciting bookpost this month, The Prank by L.V. Matthews, Rachel’s Story by Leigh Russell, The Maidens by Alex Michaeledis, The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan and The Lies We Tell by Jane Corry.

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That’s all from me this month. What are currently reading at the moment? I’m currently reading The Assistant by Kjell ola Dahl and The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan. Let me know in the comments.

Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the stunning debut by Greg Buchanan, Sixteen Horses.

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Near the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, local police detective Alec Nichols discovers sixteen horses’ heads on a farm, each buried with a single eye facing the low winter sun. After forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen travels to the scene, the investigators soon uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in the community – disappearances, arson and mutilations – all culminating in the reveal of something deadly lurking in the ground itself.

In the dark days that follow, the town slips into panic and paranoia. Everything is not as it seems. Anyone could be a suspect. And as Cooper finds herself unable to leave town, Alec is stalked by an unseen threat. The two investigators race to uncover the truth behind these frightening and insidious mysteries – no matter the cost.

Sixteen Horses is the debut literary thriller from an extraordinary talent, Greg Buchanan. A story of enduring guilt, trauma and punishment, set in a small seaside community the rest of the world has left behind . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan is one of the most original crime novels I’ve read. If you’re a fan of literary crime fiction, then you need to read this book. Greg Buchanan is an exciting new voice.

Set in a dying seaside town, Illmarsh, the town and the police are shocked when the corpses of sixteen horses are found buried. Days after the police first come into contact with the horses, people who were there fall desperately ill. What is going on here? What do the murders of the horses mean? And what connection do they have to the dark events that have also taken place in the town?

Sixteen Horses is such a unique crime thriller. It is a stunning debut that will keep you gripped. The atmosphere is very dark and foreboding. It gave me a very uneasy feeling as I was reading it. It seems as though there is no light at all in the town where the events are taking place. The crime is such an unusual one, and it made the book feel very fresh. It’s what made me want to keep reading after I read the opening pages. If you think the opening pages are dark, be prepared, it is about to get a lot darker.

This is not a fast-paced, action-packed crime novel; it is a slow-burner and a more character-driven novel. I loved Greg Buchanan’s writing style, which pulled me into the story and the setting. The setting Illmarsh itself becomes a character. The opening chapters are so chilling, and I had to know what was going on in the town. Who was behind the crimes that were taking place? It puts all the locals on edge, and I could feel the tension as the novel progressed.

Illmarsh is a town that feels forgotten. It added to the atmosphere. I could picture the town on the coast very well, and Greg Buchanan evokes a real sense of place in his writing. Sixteen Horses is a very immersive book and it will definitely appeal to you if you’re a fan of Chris Whitaker.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what Greg Buchanan writes next. This is a stand-out crime thriller. I am sure that there will be many people talking about it in the months to come. Sixteen Horses is a superb debut which I won’t be forgetting about any time soon.

Publisher: Mantle

Publication date: 29th April 2021

Print length: 367 pages

Sixteen Horses is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

WWW Wednesday – 28/04/2021

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What have you finished reading?
What will you read next?

What am I currently reading?

The Retreat by [Sherri Smith]

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s too-good-to-be-true fiancée invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends—one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship—Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.

A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures – until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.

18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a ‘favour’, payable on her release from prison.

Twenty years later Megan is free.
Let the games begin . . .

What have I finished reading?

Exit: ‘The best crime novel you’ll read this year’ Clare Mackintosh by [Belinda Bauer]

Meet Felix Pink. The most unlikely murderer you’ll ever have the good fortune to spend time with.

When Felix lets himself in to Number 3 Black Lane, he’s there to perform an act of charity: to keep a dying man company as he takes his final breath . . .

But just fifteen minutes later Felix is on the run from the police – after making the biggest mistake of his life.

Now his world is turned upside down as he must find out if he’s really to blame, or if something much more sinister is at play. All while staying one shaky step ahead of the law.

TWO BOYS LOVED HER.
BUT WHICH ONE KILLED HER?

On a dark night two years ago, teenagers Rob and Paige broke into a house. They beat and traumatised the occupants, then left, taking only a bracelet. No one knows why, not even Luke, Rob’s younger brother and Paige’s confidant. Paige disappeared after that night. And having spent her life in children’s homes and the foster system, no one cared enough to look for her.

Now Rob is out of prison, and probation officer Wren Reynolds has been tasked with his rehabilitation. But Wren has her own reasons for taking on Rob as a client. Convinced that Rob knows what happened to Paige, and hiding a lifetime of secrets from her heavily pregnant wife, Wren’s obsession with finding a missing girl may tear her family apart…

What will I read next?

In a luxury lodge on Botswana’s sun-soaked plains, four friends reunite for a birthday celebration…

THE BIRTHDAY GIRL
Has it all, but chose love over her friends…

THE TEACHER
Feels the walls of her flat and classroom closing in…

THE MOTHER
Loves her baby, but desperately needs a break…

THE INTROVERT
Yearns for adventure after suffering for too long…

Arriving at the safari lodge, a feeling of unease settles over them. There’s no sign of the party that was promised. There’s no phone signal. They’re alone, in the wild.

THE HUNT IS ON.

Oslo, 1938. War is in the air and Europe is in turmoil. Hitler’s Germany has occupied Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia; there’s a civil war in Spain and Mussolini reigns in Italy.

When a woman turns up at the office of police-turned-private investigator Ludvig Paaske, he and his assistant – his one-time nemesis and former drug-smuggler Jack Rivers – begin a seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity.

But all is not what it seems, and when Jack is accused of murder, the trail leads back to the 1920s, to prohibition-era Norway, to the smugglers, sex workers and hoodlums of his criminal past … and an extraordinary secret.

Both a fascinating portrait of Oslo’s interwar years, with Nazis operating secretly on Norwegian soil and militant socialists readying workers for war, The Assistant is also a stunningly sophisticated, tension-packed thriller – the darkest of hard-boiled Nordic Noir – from one of Norway’s most acclaimed crime writers.

A Ruined Girl by Kate Simants #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new thriller by Kate Simants, A Ruined Girl which was the winner of the 2019 Bath Novel Award.

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TWO BOYS LOVED HER.
BUT WHICH ONE KILLED HER?

On a dark night two years ago, teenagers Rob and Paige broke into a house. They beat and traumatised the occupants, then left, taking only a bracelet. No one knows why, not even Luke, Rob’s younger brother and Paige’s confidant. Paige disappeared after that night. And having spent her life in children’s homes and the foster system, no one cared enough to look for her.

Now Rob is out of prison, and probation officer Wren Reynolds has been tasked with his rehabilitation. But Wren has her own reasons for taking on Rob as a client. Convinced that Rob knows what happened to Paige, and hiding a lifetime of secrets from her heavily pregnant wife, Wren’s obsession with finding a missing girl may tear her family apart…

MY THOUGHTS

A Ruined Girl is a dark and gripping thriller by Kate Simants. Two years ago, a young woman, Paige, disappeared after she broke into the home of her school counsellor with her friend, Rob. But what happened to Paige after that incident? She went missing and has never been seen since. Rob was arrested for the crime and sent to prison. Now, he is out; he is about to start his rehabilitation process. Wren Reynolds is his probation officer. But it soon becomes clear that Wren has her own reasons for taking Rob on. The question that continues to haunt many people is this, what happened to Paige?

Kate Simants latest book is beautifully written. I loved her sense of place and her description in the opening paragraph, which drew me into the story. It was so chilling. I wanted to know what was going on and who the people in the scene were. It really does set the tone for the rest of the book.

Robert Ashworth is a complex character. I liked how Kate Simants delved into his psyche. As part of his rehabilitation programme, he has to meet the people affected by his crime. I can imagine this must be a very difficult thing for people to have to go through; to meet and talk to the person who inflicted this pain on them. I don’t think I would be very comfortable with doing this if I was in their position.

As we get to know Robert and Wren, it becomes clear that Wren has her own motive here for getting to know Robert. I wanted to find out more about this, and I wanted to know more about her character. She is also going through a lot in her personal life at the moment, which also makes her very interesting as well.

What I thought was fascinating and heartbreaking about this book as well is that Kate Simants looks at the dark reality of what it is like for some children growing up in the care system. She paints a vivid portrayal of what it is like for these young people who have no relatives who care and love them and how this impacts them as they grow up.

This is a very dark novel that examines how far we are prepared to go for our close friends and family. It is also very thought-provoking, and I thought that Kate Simants delivered a very satisfactory and shocking ending which I did not see coming. I love Kate Simants writing, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Publisher: Viper

Publication date: 27th August 2020

Print length: 384 pages

A Ruined Girl is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

Our Dark Secret by Jenny Quintana #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Our Dark Secret by Jenny Quintana.

Our Dark Secret by [Jenny Quintana]

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As a teenager in the late 1970s, Elizabeth was clever, overweight and something of a loner. When Rachel and her family moved to town, though, Elizabeth was drawn to the bright and beautiful Rachel like a moth to a flame. She would do anything for Rachel. Anything.

Then the first body was discovered.

Twenty years on, Elizabeth wants nothing more than to keep the secrets of her teenage years where they belong: in the past. But another body has been found, and she can’t keep running from what happened . . .
Can she?

MY THOUGHTS

Having recently enjoyed Jenny Quintana’s most recent book, The Hiding Place, I knew I had to catch up on her previous books. Our Dark Secret has a really intriguing premise. Twenty years ago, Elizabeth did something terrible. She is determined to make sure that secret stays buried. She’s moved on with her life, and Elizabeth doesn’t want anything to upset that. But with the discovery of a body in her hometown, where she grew up, she knows she will have to face the uncomfortable truth. But what really happened twenty years ago?

What I like about Jenny’s writing is that she pulls you in from the very first page. Before I knew it, I’d finished the entire book. This isn’t a fast-paced thriller, and I would describe her books as slow-burners, but they are utterly absorbing. I wanted to find out more about the characters and the secret that bound them together.

We meet Rachel, who is a bit of a loner and a target for school bullies. Then she meets Elizabeth a girl, who she thought at first, she would never be friends with. I was really intrigued by Rachel and Elizabeth’s friendship. If you saw the two girls in the street, you would never think that they would be friends. It’s hard to talk about how they end up getting to know each other without giving the plot away.

Jenny Quintana creates a foreboding atmosphere as we go back in time, and we get to see events in the past unfold. I felt I connected with Elizabeth, and I felt sorry for her. I felt glad for her when Rachel came into her life as it made me think that now she had someone she could talk to. As Rachel and Elizabeth get to know each other more, they make a horrifying discovery when they find the body of a woman. But what connection does this body have to the body which is found twenty years later? A body which Rachel and Elizabeth hoped would never be found.

There are some heartbreaking revelations as Jenny Quintana gradually begins to reveal what happened in the past. I couldn’t believe what I was reading as what happened in those years was explained. It’s what makes this book such a heartbreaking read as well.

Jenny Quintana’s writing is so absorbing, and her books are beautifully written. If you haven’t yet discovered her work, then you need to add her books to your TBR pile. Now, I need to catch up on reading her first novel.

Publisher: Mantle

Publication date: 6th February 2020 (kindle) 20th August 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 320 pages

Our Dark Secret is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

The House of Hidden Secrets by C E Rose #bookreview #blogtour @CazEngland @HeraBooks @rararesources

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The House of Hidden Secrets by C E Rose on my blog today. With thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

The House of Hidden Secrets: A twisty psychological thriller that will have you gripped by [CE Rose]

BLURB

The imposing gates of Ramsay Hall yawned open. As Serena and 4-year-old Lana walked up the long driveway, little did they know the dark secrets that lay within.

When Serena Green accepted the role of housekeeper for wealthy widower Hayden Ramsay, she never imagined her new home would be Ramsay Hall, an ancient, sprawling mansion in Northern England.

Serena quickly becomes an integral part of the household, making friends with Hayden’s younger son Hugh, despite Jack, his older brother’s, coldness towards her and Lana.

But the hall’s beautiful exterior hides many ugly secrets. Though Serena and Jack begin to grow closer, she’s
confused by his behaviour around Lana. What is he guilty of? And is there more to their mother’s death than the Ramsay men will admit, even to themselves?

As the harrowing past of Ramsay Hall unravels, Serena fresh start becomes a fresh horror. She fears for her and Lana’s safety, but what are the bleak secrets in Serena’s own past?

This house is built on a lifetime of
lies… and the truth might just bring the walls crashing down.

MY THOUGHTS

The House of Hidden Secrets is a dark, compelling read by C E Rose. It is a slow-burner, but I was really intrigued by the characters, and there are some shocking reveals as the plot unfolds. Part romance and part psychological thriller; this is an engrossing read that kept me captivated from start to finish.

We meet Serena and her daughter Lana; Serena has just applied for a position at a manor house in the country. She is offered the job by Hayden, the owner, on the spot. But as Serena and her daughter Lana settle into their new home, she discovers that things are not quite as they seem. The owner’s son is hostile towards her, and he can’t believe that his father employed her. But why is he so worried about her employment, and what secrets is he desperate to make sure Serena doesn’t uncover?

I thought C E Rose developed Serena’s character really well. There is an air of mystery about her as she arrives at the property. It is as if she has arrived like a bolt out of the blue. I wondered if there was more to her than what first meets the eye. The owner of the house, Hayden, intrigued me as well. From the beginning, he appeared to be very trustworthy of Serena, even though he has no evidence that she is. The only person in the household who is worried about her presence there is his son, Jack. He doesn’t exactly give her a warm welcome when he first meets her.

As I was reading, I wanted to find out what secrets the residents of the house were hiding. It was clear that something had happened in their past and that Jack doesn’t want Lana poking around. But Lana begins to grow close to Jack’s brother, Hayden, and as Hayden begins to gradually reveal more about the family’s secrets to Lana, she is shocked by what she learns.

What I really liked about this book was how C E Rose developed Serena and Hayden’s relationship. You can see there is a spark between them from the beginning, but C E Rose paints Hayden as a troubled and vulnerable character. I wanted their relationship to develop further, and I could see that Hayden wanted to be with Serena.

The writing is very engaging, and I did not want to put this book down as I was reading. There are some very intense scenes as C E Rose wraps her story up, and the ending was very chilling. The House of Hidden Secrets is a dark, utterly absorbing read. I really enjoyed it.

Publisher: Hera

Publication date: 14th April 2021

Print length: 288 pages

The House of Hidden Secrets is available to buy:

Amazon UK

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