The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse #BookReview

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What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

amazon uk amazon com

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A beautiful story about change and the process one of the character’s goes through of finding herself again. The novel spreads an important and uplifting message, one that encourages everyone to stay true to yourself.

Are rich people really happier? At her introduction our main protagonist Nina thinks so. She was born into a rather poor family but then her future husband swept her off her feet instantly. It made her want to create a distance between her old life and her new one which also meant a certain detachment from her sister as well.

The difference couldn’t be bigger when her husband passes away. Not only does she need to deal with the loss of her husband and the boys of their father, she’ll have to take a step back from her posh lifestyle too.

Of course all of this doesn’t get resolved without any struggle. Just remember there’s always sunshine on a cloudy day, even if you don’t see it immediately it is present, it’s only temporarily hiding behind the clouds. It sure helps that good sisters do what good sisters do, which is sticking by their sister’s side when she needs it and it was sweet to see their dynamic.

I enjoyed the highs and lows of the story which made me feel for Nina and her children. I didn’t feel as sad and emotional as I thought I would feel, however, when reading about this broken family, but I have to admit by the end of the novel my throat closed up after all, and that made me even happier because it was a good feeling that caused it ;-).

The only thing that made me a little sad was the fact that they didn’t speak very highly of Finn and that felt a bit unfair. I don’t feel you should speak ill of the dead – unless they are bad people – and I just didn’t feel that he was. I was happy they gave it a twist in the end at least that was a bit more forgiving.

The art of hiding is a wonderful novel about grief but also hope and happiness and I certainly see myself reading more of this author’s books.

I received a free paperback copy of this novel from the author. This is still my honest opinion.

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Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler #BookReview #BlogBlitz @HSCinkpen @orion_crime @TrapezeBooks

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I’m changing up my schedule guys, there won’t be a review on Sunday because this beauty releases today in e-book and I just couldn’t resist getting involved. I’m super happy I did because Degrees of Guilt is absolutely brilliant!

Happy publication day to HS Chandler!

Degrees of Guilt blogblitz

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When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

amazon uk amazon com

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I enjoy stories that involve morals and put you on the spot. I adore novels that provoke a reader and make you question the side you’re on. I love novels that secretly make you want to cheer the bad guy on..  it’s wrong to do so and you feel guilty but ok not all that much because sometimes, you know, it just can’t be helped. Degrees of Guilt is exactly this kind of brilliant novel, it hits all the high notes. In hindsight, I have to admit the title kind of gives it away but I was still very much unaware of it when I started reading this novel. I was ready to judge and condemn but I’ve never felt so torn.

The novel did start chillingly, with a woman, cold and rational, standing beside her dead husband. She also admits to the crime right away. How could this court case go then, it’s all rather clear cut, right? Awful crime, no remorse, big sentence to be expected. Well you might be mistaken there. There was a lot of background story that explains her current predicament. The novel massively challenged me to take mitigating circumstances into consideration. How much can be excused and can you ever understand why someone would murder someone else? I don’t know if I could say it out loud but eh deep down I understood why she did it for one hundred percent. What the outcome, the verdict would be was a big mystery though, and what I wanted it to be and how the jury saw it and if we were on the same page at all, I can’t say.

At first there wasn’t a bone in my body that made me consider her innocent but as the days progressed it was obvious that she was a victim too, trapped in a loveless marriage. I have read plenty novels with disturbing content and domestic abuse before but the author detailed her daily horrors so perfectly, it was such a quiet venom that poured from the pages, it would melt the coldest of hearts. A big tipping point and a scene that had a big impact on me was when I read about the tampons. I don’t know why that stood out but I think it’s something that is just completely our (a woman’s) business and everyone else should keep out of it.

Even though I knew what she had done and saw the damage together with the jury, I couldn’t help sympathise with Maria almost from the beginning. I believed her, I wanted to believe her, although I didn’t really know why she felt the need to lie about parts of her story. Why would she do that? A tiny part of me did feel a moment’s hesitation there about her. I didn’t know what to think.

Degrees of guilt is a domestic drama mixed with fantastic scenes in the courtroom and let’s not forget the sizzles between Lottie and hottie Cameron. Gawd there’s electricity crackling in the air! Their game was tantalising to watch unfold and he was sooo hot I could feel my own cheeks burn ;-). I found it a bit odd to insert this into such a novel but then it did help to lighten up the story a little and in the end it just worked out brilliantly.

Degrees of Guilt is definitely one of the best releases of the year for me. The novel demands to take a stance about the justice in this case and what you think is fair, it is so heartfelt, you just can’t not think about it when you’re not reading it. What would you do if you were on the jury? I can tell you it’s a difficult one because our heart and our head speak a different language when reading this novel! I can’t believe this is the first novel by Helen Fields I read but it most definitely won’t be the last.

I received a free ecopy via Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

New BFF: Blue Mood Cafe

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Happy hump day! I’m so happy I can introduce you to another fabulous blogger today! Jonetta is the sweet lady running the Blue Mood Café. She’s totally awesome, very kind and quite an eclectic reader. You can find hot romance, young adult and thrillers on her blog.

I love her Saturdays at the Café series because she lists all the novels she’d love to read and there’s always a few I want to add when visiting. She also participates in 4 reading challenges this year among which an audiobook and historical fiction challenge if anyone’s interested in joining, but then she reads soooo many books a year, I’m seriously jealous!

I hope you all already know this lovely lady, but if you don’t, here’s your chance to find out more… time to move on to the interview!

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Name: Jonetta

Age: Now, now 😏

Birthday: September 29

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What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job? I studied accounting in college and though I decided I didn’t want to continue a career in that field after about 8 years, it was useful training that allowed me to branch off into a multitude of fields (research and development, marketing, government relations). I opted for early retirement when my wonderful employer was acquired by a not-so-nice one. I did some consulting but don’t do that so much any more.

Do you have any other hobbies? My first love was interior design and have helped friends and family with various projects over the years. Reading and blogging have consumed me most recently.

 

Your favourite color? Blue

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Do you collect anything (besides books)? I collect porcelain demitasse.

What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it? I’ve books I’ve owned since childhood and am sure I read it.

Have you ever regretted a book you purchased? A book that sounded so promising but you wished you’d have spent your money on another book after reading it?

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Absolutely! I regretted not only the money but the time I spent wasting my brain space on the philosophies spewed throughout. It was my first experience with an author who used his zealot followers to write positive reviews about a book they never read. It was years ago and all those 5 star reviews influenced my decision to not only buy it but recommend it for one of my Shelfari group reads. I still feel taken advantage of after six years.

Do you listen to audio books? I love, love, love audiobooks 💜 Years ago when I was dating my husband long distance, I used to rent them from Cracker Barrel (popular highway restaurant chain in the US) for about $2/week. You could pick them up from one location and return them at any other. Those books helped make a 10-hour round trip monthly road trip easier. I also remember when I was a six-year old child that my parents got me two books on records. I played them over and over again for years. Now, I’m listening to more books than I’m reading.

Do you have a favorite genre? I’m an eclectic reader, enjoying so many genres. With that said, left to my own devices, I’m going to always be drawn to my first love, mystery & suspense. That love was developed and nurtured by the old Nancy Drew books and the Alfred Hitchcock films and old TV shows (which I still watch!)

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What is the book highest on your wishlist right now? Might I list three? Redemption by David Baldacci, Under Currents by Nora Roberts and Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The first two aren’t yet released but I let the third book get away 😒

How is your library organized?

I only read eBooks and listen to audiobooks so everything is digital. I use Goodreads as my tool to manage my books. I use a system of shelving that’s consistent and having a coding system in the personal notes section of the book that tells me if I own the book, am waiting for library purchase, etc. It’s highly organized as I own a LOT of digital books.

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Do you read more ebooks or physical books?

I started reading eBooks exclusively about eight years ago, which is a big surprise to me. My husband bought me an eReader because I used to travel a lot for my job and I’m also a technology lover. However, I couldn’t conceive of giving up physical books. Well, the ease of purchase, handiness of having my library at my disposal and the ability to set my reading layouts just won me over. I miss the feel and smell of print books but am unwilling to give up the conveniences of digital reading. However! I love when publishers send me print books. My physical shelves runneth over 💜

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Do you have a favorite book?

It’s typically the last 5-star book I read, which was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I’ll never forget this story. Also, looking back over the years, some of the most impactful were In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which introduced me to true crime told in the narrative; The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, which introduced me to the horrors of the Holocaust; and, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, which taught me the value of literary fiction as a teen. I have tons of favorites in every genre, too many to capture here but these are good representations of what influenced my love of reading and appreciation of all genres.

What’s the cover in your collection that you’re most proud of?

I don’t have a single one that stands out to me right now but I added Dual Citizens recently to my readpile because of the cover…

Cover love

Lark and Robin are half-sisters whose similarities end at being named for birds. While Lark is shy and studious, Robin is wild and artistic. Raised in Montreal by their disinterested single mother, they form a fierce team in childhood regardless of their differences. As they grow up, Lark excels at school and Robin becomes an extraordinary pianist. At seventeen, Lark flees to America to attend college, where she finds her calling in documentary films, and her sister soon joins her.

Later, in New York City, they find themselves tested: Lark struggles with self-doubt, and Robin chafes against the demands of Juilliard. Under pressure, their bond grows strained and ultimately is broken, and their paths abruptly diverge. Years later, Lark’s life is in tatters and Robin’s is wilder than ever. As Lark tries to take charge of her destiny, she discovers that despite the difficulties of their relationship, there is only one person she can truly rely on: her sister.

In this gripping, unforgettable novel about art, ambition, sisterhood, motherhood, and self-knowledge, Alix Ohlin traces the rich and complicated lives of two indelible women. Dazzlingly insightful and beautifully crafted, Dual Citizens captures the unique language of sisters and makes visible the imperceptible strings that bind us to the ones we love for good.

I am, however, very prood of my copy of Native Son by Richard Wright. It’s a First Edition, published in 1940 and is one of my all time favorite books.

Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200, >300 …? Let’s just say I own more than 500 physical books and many, many more digital books 😏

Here’s a pic of my library of collectable books assembled by my husband and me:

What’s the title of the last book you purchased? I bought The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss…for my 7-year old nephew. For me, it was Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer. It was recommended by What’s Non Fiction? and sits right by my reading chair.

As authoritative as it is amusing, this book distills everything Benjamin Dreyer has learned from the hundreds of books he has copyedited, including works by Elizabeth Strout, E. L. Doctorow, and Frank Rich, into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best foot forward in writing prose.

Dreyer offers lessons on the ins and outs of punctuation and grammar, including how to navigate the words he calls “the confusables,” like tricky homophones; the myriad ways to use (and misuse) a comma; and how to recognize–though not necessarily do away with–the passive voice. (Hint: If you can plausibly add “by zombies” to the end of a sentence, it’s passive.) People are sharing their writing more than ever–on blogs, on Twitter–and this book lays out, clearly and comprehensibly, everything writers can do to keep readers focused on the real reason writers write: to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively.

Chock-full of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts on the rules (and nonrules) of the English language, this book will prove invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills, mandatory for people who spend their time editing and shaping other people’s prose, and–perhaps best of all–an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language.

What was your favorite author when you were a child? When I was really little (5-6 years old), I loved the Raggedy Ann & Raggedy Andy book series by Johnny Gruelle because I was consumed by the notion that my dolls and stuffed animals came to life at night. As mentioned before, I became a huge fan of the Nancy Drew book series. I also loved the Little House on the Prairie book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also loved The Bobbsey Twins book series by Laura Lee Hope. I don’t even remember the stories but do recall reading them all. I was also a Louisa May Alcott fan.

From which author do you have most books? J.D. Robb. I’m in love with the In Death series and own every book in the series (58 and counting).

Are there books you’ve read 2 or 3 times? I don’t really reread but did so with the J.D. Robb books…three times when there were 35 books in the series.

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How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already? I plan to read 150 books and have read 57 to date.

Can you spell your name with the first letters of titles in your book case? 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
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uts! by Kevin & Jackie Freiberg
The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
T
reasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
T
hen Came You by Jeannie Moon
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

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In case you missed it, here are the 5 last BFF’s (Blog Friends Forever) I posted about. You can find the tab with links to these and the previous posts on my home page.

Luci – Lunarlucibooks
Chloé – Review by Chloe
Alex – Alexandra Wolfe
Kelly – FromBelgiumWithBookLove
Deborah – The Reading Chick

I don’t want my BFF club to be complete just yet! There’s still room for plenty more so give me a shout if you want to be featured ! 

I Know You by Annabel Kantaria #BookReview

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You trust me.

You shouldn’t.

That picture you just posted on Instagram? I’ve seen it.
The location you tagged? I’ve been there.

You haven’t been careful enough, have you?
Because I know all about you.

But when I meet you, I won’t tell you that.
I’ll pretend. Just like you do.

You’ll like me though. You’ll trust me enough to let me into your life.

And then I’ll destroy it.

amazon uk amazon com

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After a disappointing read last week where I struggled to even finish the novel, I’m very happy to have picked up a book that had my attention from the very first page and didn’t let go. I Know You is a cleverly written novel where the threat is unmistakenly present but hidden from view. Who exactly is lurking in the shadows, checking every trace, every picture and every comment on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, effectively getting to know someone better than you can imagine? It’s a complete mystery and a very creepy one indeed.

What I loved about this book is that not only you don’t know who the voice is in the chapters labelled I Know You, you also don’t know who they’re keeping tabs on, and best of all, the character in the novel that is the center of all the attention is completely unaware as well.

The novel creates a false sense of safety at first and almost reads like a contemporary novel with Taylor looking to make a friend after her move with hubby Jake from the US to the UK. She meets Anna at the local walking club and they hit it off right away. Taylor and Anna, Anna and Taylor, they become the bestest of friends and I was delighted with the blossoming of their warm friendship. There are other characters surrounding them, friends they make at the local walking club and book club, namely Simon, Sarah and Caroline, but they all have something about them that seemed off meaning one of them might have an ulterior motive and could be that menacing voice that starts to pop up. These extra chapters were brilliant and didn’t leave room about the evil intentions of this mysterious person. What the anonymous voice intended to do was kept for the very end though and not something I had foreseen. Every time I read these chapters dispersed throughout the novel my thoughts drifted off to my own digital footprint and I was examining if I didn’t leave too much information about myself too. Yes people know which restaurants I visit and what books I like to read, but I hope I’m doing a better job at keeping the rest to myself and I sure hope nobody is interested as much as well. 

Who’s after who? Who’s the false friend, and are they after Taylor or after Anna, or someone else entirely and why? The author made it very difficult to be sure about anything because most of what was revealed could be applied to both women. Very very slowly I started to have an idea though where the why was perhaps a little easier to determine than who. I can’t say I had anything to go or any hard proof to build my case but I thought I had figured out how this particular puzzle fit together. I was still quite surprised when I found out I was right though, although the shock one of the characters gets when finding out that someone’s keeping an eye on them was probably a million times worse.

This novel might very well be a wake up call to many about what you post online and what a window to your life it can be and for that (and the great story too) I highly recommend it!

I received a free paper copy of this novel from the author. This is still my honest opinion. 

WWW Wednesday (08-05-2019)

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a book list hosted by Taking on a World of Words, and I’m happy to participate today.

The three W’s are:
What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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What I finished reading:

I was really interested in this novel and Annabel Kantaria, the lovely author, saw this and asked her publisher to send me a copy of her novel last year. I really enjoyed it, it kept me guessing long enough :-).

I Know You by Annabel Kantaria

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What I’m reading now:

Time for another novel I’ve had for a while. I received this novel courtesy of Amanda Prowse’s husband (he’s such a darling), and she even signed it for me! I love the beautiful cover and I read a few reviews from fellow bloggers who really enjoy this author’s books so I was very excited to try. She certainly knows how to write about painful things like grief. Even though the novel is about coping with someone passing away, it is very touching but not too raw and I’m sure they will find happiness again in the end. I’m waiting for it! I haven’t cried yet but I’m not making any bets that’ll stay that way.

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse 

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What I’ll (probably) read soon:

I was invited for a blog blitz of two books that both sounded interesting but it’s this month so I only picked one. Degrees of Guilt a courtroom drama and it’s been a while since I read a novel in this genre so my interest was immediately piqued. The blurb also contains a challenge, one I simply can’t ignore… :-).

Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler

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When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

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So that’s it, what are you reading this week? Share your link in the comments below so that I can come and take a look !

The Furies by Katie Lowe #BookReview

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In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. The novel opens with this image, as related to us by the narrator, Violet, looking back on the night it happened from the present day, before returning to relate the series of events leading up to the girl’s murder.

After an accident involving her Dad and sister, Violet joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls school in a quiet coastal town, which has an unpleasant history as the site of famous 17th century witch trials. Violet quickly finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, alongside Robin, Grace, and Alex – led by their charismatic art teacher, Annabel.

While Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals – warning the girls off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology – the girls start to believe that magic is real, and that they can harness it. But when the body of a former member of the society – Robin’s best friend, with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance – is found dead on campus nine months after she disappeared, Violet begins to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.

amazon uk amazon com

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If I don’t hit it off with a novel right away – if I’m not feeling ‘it’ – it’ll be difficult to turn that feeling around and, unfortunately, that’s what happened when I started reading The Furies. The fact is that for some reason I didn’t take in some of the narrative in certain paragraphs and I had to go back and reread parts of the story. I believe the reason for this could be because of the lyrical and descriptive writing style and the plot didn’t really capture my attention after the – I must admit – wonderful first chapter.

I loved the rich history of the school and how the author broached the Greek mythology in the story but the characters fell flat for me and weren’t all that interesting. The plotline involves four girls (Violet, Robin, Alex and Grace) but in reality there are only two stealing the show which are Robin and ‘Vivi’. These girls have quite a toxic relationship where one is being manipulated by the other and I should maybe have felt for Violet but she didn’t really say or do anything to make me care for her very much.

There was even one disturbing scene where she was involved (I might say it merits a trigger warning) and it didn’t sit well with me at all, not her behaviour at the time but I was appalled by her reaction afterwards as well. Let’s just say that her way to deal with a situation was taking revenge with some witchcraft where she should have acted rationally. I do love young adult and have enjoyed many novels in this genre before but I feel this one must be for younger readers. I know I was looking too hard into their actions and struggling with the decision-making in the novel so much I wasn’t able to really enjoy it like I should have. The Furies contains storylines of peer pressure, revenge and assault so it does touch on some interesting and not so easy topics but the girls are naïve and the surface was only scratched for me, I was not able to feel the emotions that such tough subjects could provoke.

The Furies reminded me of tv shows as Pretty Little Liars and The Craft, and it does show some similarities so if you really enjoy voodoo-doll and animal sacrifice rituals then you’ll find the storyline to your liking. I think this might work better for me as a tv show.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

Night by Night by Jack Jordan #BlogTour #BookReview @JackJordanBooks @CorvusBooks

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I’m thrilled to be hosting the Night by Night blog tour today! Massive thanks to Kirsty Doole of Corvus Books for inviting me on the blog tour and the free e-copy!

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If you’re reading this, I’m dead.’

Rejected by her family and plagued by insomnia, Rose Shaw is on the brink. But one dark evening she collides with a man running through the streets, who quickly vanishes. The only sign he ever existed – a journal dropped at Rose’s feet.

She begins to obsessively dedicate her sleepless nights to discovering what happened to Finn Matthews, the mysterious author of the journal. Why was he convinced someone wanted to kill him? And why, in the midst of a string of murders, won’t the police investigate his disappearance?

Rose is determined to uncover the truth. But she has no idea what the truth will cost her…

amazon uk amazon com

Author

Author Jack Jordan

Jack Jordan is the global number one bestselling author of Anything for Her (2015), My Girl (2016), A Woman Scorned (2018), and Before Her Eyes (2018). He wrote his first novel at seventeen and self-published his first two e-book bestsellers by the age of twenty four. He lives in East Anglia.

To find out more about Jack and be one of the first to hear of new book releases and news, follow him here:

Facebook | Twitter  | Instagram

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Yay a new Jack Jordan novel and what a thoroughly absorbing thriller “Night by Night” is! When I read Jordan’s first novel My Girl, I was impressed with its intensity and how it made me ‘feel’. Night by Night did very much the same thing, and took me much by surprise. I was expecting a pretty straightforward mystery but it turned out to be such an emotional read, it nearly broke me in the end.

In the first chapters the author already sets the tone by making me feel very, very sorry for Rose who suffers from a tragedy she really didn’t deserve. I already choked up there for the first time and I wasn’t even 50 pages in. Rose feels alone and lonely and one night she bumps into a man who drops his journal at her side. She doesn’t know who he is but at the very first page she reads a startling message. It turns out that even though he’s in an entirely different situation, he’s feeling frightened and lonely as well and the community isn’t welcoming him either. Rose knows what she has to do, what she can’t do for herself she’s determined to do for this man called Finn Matthews. Even though she doesn’t know him she cares and wants to know he’s ok, she doesn’t want him to be all alone and is determined to help. The police don’t take her missing person’s report serious though and Rose feels forced to make her own inquiries. She’s treading on very thin ice.

There were a few tough issues included in this novel, homophobia being the most prominent one I might say and I think the author handled this brilliantly. It was at times tough to read about the things that happened and call me a fool but I really wanted Rose to find Finn in time and see that he had escaped the hardships of his peers and the stalking and that he was leading a good life somewhere else. Some little voice inside of me warned me not to expect too much though and protect my little heart. I also absolutely had no idea who he was afraid of, it was such a mystery and I really didn’t have any suspect in mind, it kept my mind whirring when I should have been asleep.

The novel really amps up the tension towards the end and I didn’t only fear for Finn but for Rose too! I couldn’t turn those pages in the final chapters fast enough, I felt the danger coming closer and it was so emotional to hear the truth and see what happens. I tell you, when you reach those final chapters you better hold on to your hats and hope to finish it unscathed! Night by Night holds an unbelievably tense ending in store. Jack Jordan is a wonderful author and this novel is definitely one of his best works!

Follow the blog tour: 

Night by Night blog tour