The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts #BookReview

YOU’LL NEVER FORGET THE FLOWER GIRLS

The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose. 

One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity.

Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing.

And The Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again…

amazon uk amazon com

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The Flower Girls is a novel that largely centers around Hazel, a woman with a haunting past. Even if she can’t remember anything of it she’ll never be able to leave her past behind. She was only 6 years old when her sister – only 10 herself at the time – murdered a little girl and although Hazel received this new identity there’s always that fear that she might be recognised. And now Georgie, a little girl, is missing and she was in the vicinity… even after almost 20 years she knows it’s only a matter of time before she’ll find herself in the eye of a media storm again.

The plotline mainly highlights the impact of such a crime through the eyes of several people, each with their own personal angle. There’s a writer Max, a policewoman, and also a victim’s rights advocate who also happens to be the aunt of Kirstie, the murdered girl in 1997. The aunt, Joanna, really resonated with me and I enjoyed those entries most of all. She wants her niece’s killer to stay in jail forever, never getting out on parole, she doesn’t believe in rehabilitation.

I enjoyed reading the different angles but I missed hearing from the killer herself for most of the novel, what are her thoughts now, looking back on the events and why did she do it, what did she think then? The novel isn’t really about what happened exactly almost 20 years before, but I still kept wondering about what had happened for 90% of the novel and it’s only in the last pages that I finally received some answers about that eventful day, be it still quite briefly. I wanted to find a way to understand her reasoning or what made her do this in the first place so that I could take my own stand in this but I didn’t get to hear much of her for most of the novel. It didn’t make it any easier to find absolution. I didn’t hear the motive in both cases so I guess I have to assume it’s a matter of nature and of a person born evil. I know a lot of killers are just born bad but it didn’t feel as satisfying as I wanted it to be because I didn’t know all the facts. Of course in real life we don’t always get these answers as an outsider either and only learn what we know from reading the paper. Yet I still wonder if it would change my feelings. If this novel is anything, it’s certainly making you stand still and really think it through.

The Flower Girls definitely felt more psychological than thriller, maybe I’d even go so far as to call it an interesting study. It’s a novel that sets you up to think about accountability at a young age among other things, and how it can mark a person for the rest of their live. It makes you think about the real cases, what sort of lives the child killers lead now and if they’re also still looking over their shoulder.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Never Tell by Lisa Gardner #BookReview

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A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

D. D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many.

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder.

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

amazon uk amazon com

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This novel is on fire! It has a burning hot cover and there are actually quite a few fires to put out in this novel as well ;-).

I read a few of the previous books in the series (nrs. 5 and 6 and one in her other series too) and looking back on those reads (I gave Love You More five stars) I was very tempted to read Never Tell even though I didn’t know if it was a good idea to jump in at book 10 again. I took the plunge though and I’m so happy I did. Never Tell is another strong and fabulously suspenseful thriller and can be read as a standalone perfectly. The only thing you won’t really fully experience is the story of Flora at the time when she was held captive in a present narrative (which is a plotline in another novel). In Never Tell she’s looking back on it which was chilling and unsettling to read but makes me want to hear even more as well so I think I’ll go back and pick up that novel later.

The story itself is told in alternating chapters by the woman who is suspected of killing her husband, a detective and this Flora. The latter helps D.D. Warren professionally as an informant but she’s also an important link to the murder because she saw the victim, Conrad Jones, when she was held captive in conversation with her abductor. She tried to bury what happened to her but now she’s feeling strong enough and is determined to unearth Jacob Ness’ secrets and lies with the help of one of those true crime buffs on the internet and to find out who Conrad Jones was and what he was hiding from his wife.

I loved all three characters although Flora, whip-smart and headstrong, is probably my favorite. I don’t think one of them was less than the other two though, they were quite evenly matched. Evie was mysterious and I felt a little unsure about her. She’s the underdog of course, suspected of murdering her husband but on the other hand she might be holding some secrets too. I knew she was smart and resourceful right away, the way she was trying to find out what her husband was hiding in the months leading up to his death and I couldn’t help finding her initial reaction, shooting a computer, quite strange too and certainly enough to raise my eyebrows. I loved hearing about her past as a young girl and how she loved her brilliant father so much but at the same time it also made me wonder even more about his death. What lead to his death, and was it an accident after all?

If you enjoy reading police procedurals then you should definitely put this one on your list, there is excellent investigative work in Never Tell. 

The story is one spidery web of secrets and lies, taking you deep into Flora’s history and Evie’s past and as I said already, it sets quite a few fires alight along the way to the action-packed ending. Surprising twists and a great cast make this a brilliant page-turner that I can recommend to everyone.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher (Cornerstone) in exchange for my honest opinion.

WWW Wednesday (13-02-2019)

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 read three of Lisa Gardner’s books in the past and gave them 3, 4 and 5 stars respectively so I’ll just keep you in suspense a little longer about how much I liked this one. It can definitely be read as a standalone, I’ll tell you that much ;-).

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner

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What I’m reading now:

I only read a few pages of this one so can’t really comment on it yet but so far so good. I hear a lot of praise about it and read a very positive review by Ludwig’s Thrillers last weekend so I have high hopes!

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

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What I’ll (probably) read soon:

When I came across this novel on Twitter and looked up the synopsis on Amazon I definitely wanted to add it to my readlist. It’s published in May in case you’re interested.

The Furies by Katie Lowe

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You’d kill to be one of them.

1998. A sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing. No known cause of death.

Four girls know what happened.

And until now they’ve kept their silence.

Violet is returning home, back to the sleepy coastal town which holds so many memories.

In 1998, after a tragic accident claimed the lives of her father and sister, she joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls’ school with an unpleasant history of 17th century witch trials.

There she is drawn to Robin, Grace, Alex and their charismatic teacher, Annabel; she is invited to join them in their advanced study group.

There they learn about art, literature and the grisly history of the school. Though Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, she warns them off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology. However, the more the girls learn, the more they start to believe that magic is real, and that together they can harness it.

But when the body of a former member of the society is found on campus nine months after the she disappeared, fingers are pointed at those closest to her. Leading Violet to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.

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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 !

Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox #BookReview

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They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him, before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

amazon uk amazon com

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This is the 3rd novel in a series but I hadn’t even noticed until I saw it mentioned on Goodreads after I finished reading it. Gone by Midnight scored highly for me both on the mystery and the wonderfully crafted characters. Oh and of course I want to mention the glorious setting of the Australian outback with its croc-infested creeks as well which made me feel happy as can be for once that I wasn’t actually there.

But the first thing that made me want to read this novel was the blurb of course. Seriously, how good does this sound?! Can you tell me how on earth a little 8-year old can disappear into thin air while he wasn’t caught on camera anywhere and the other kids claim they haven’t left the room at all? No? Me neither, no matter how hard I thought about it, and even while I was reading it, I still couldn’t come up with anything that could explain it or tell me where the child could be. If we’re talking about puzzling stories then this one’s definitely on top of the heap.

I adored Ted and Amanda, the two detectives on duty. They were such a contrasting pair, Ted rather straight-laced and Amanda quite the opposite, but they were both big personalities and so great together. They both have a lot of baggage though with lots of unpleasant memories in the last years. Ted was wrongfully accused of a crime and goes through life still having to bear sideway glances. He’s divorced and has to find his feet juggling the new case with the care for his 3-year old daughter Lillian who’s come to stay with him for a short time. Amanda is a tattooed biker woman – and the last woman on earth I’d ever associate with a fairy btw which makes it so funny she’s called a fairy – but she has a knack of seeing details others miss and I was in awe of her deducting skills. It took me a bit longer to warm up to her –  she’s so extraverted and disliked by so many people so don’t hold it against me that I didn’t want to hand over the prize for Ms Sympathy either – but then I found out they were actually both huge animal lovers and that kind of sealed the deal. It’s so endearing to see how much Ted loved his dog Celine and his geese (he has named them all too and they’re even quite prominent in the novel) and Amanda is the crazy cat lady of service.

There’s a lot going on with both of them and their personal stories were as fascinating as the search for the missing child. There were a few red herrings thrown at me and even though I was rather sceptical of the plotline the author lead me to believe, I had only a feeling to go on and I didn’t have a clue how it would play out. I enjoyed the last part of the novel but I did feel that the transition to the final stage was pretty brusque and a big revelation was kind of dropped on me out of thin air. I was surprised yes, definitely, but also confused about the lead up to the revelation, as I didn’t see any good reason for it. Apart from that one gap, it had a great ending that made me really cross my fingers and hope for the best. The danger can come from where you least expect it ;-).

It wasn’t hard to see where the idea for the novel originated from and even though Ms. Fox changed quite a few details, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann immediately sprang to mind when the boy disappeared. She made it her own story though and put a great spin on it. I can definitely recommend this novel!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. 

New BFF: Alexandra Wolfe

BFF

Hi, hello, hallo, bonjour!

I’m especially including that last one because my guest of today is Alexandra who lives in Canada :-). Alexandra is my top commenter if you must know 🙂 and I’m very grateful she wanted to participate. She’s so sweet and always so thoughtful, it’s a joy to read her comments. If you want to have a blog friend with whom you can really interact then you should definitely hop on over, you can find her at: Alexandra Wolfe. Also do check out these random facts about Alex, she certainly impressed me!

Alexandra is an opinionated woman – she says so herself – and I honestly really like that about her, she’s not going to sugarcoat anything and I appreciate her honest reviews. She rates books on a scale to 10 and has a genius system of 5 categories or points of review that guide her, listing good things and bad things in each category that work well or don’t work for her so that she can give each book a fair score.

She also has a second site which she started only a few weeks ago which you can find here:  http://terranincognito.ca/

This one will appeal to everyone who loves fantasy because she started her own story set in space —SPACE FLEET— think of it as Star Trek meets The Expanse. She would love to have more people following the online story, or help write the story itself, so if you like the sound of this, do reach out to her. You can also join the team on twitter if you’re interested: https://twitter.com/IncognitoTerran

Now do you want to like really REALLY get to know her? Read on then because the question round is about to start… in 3.. 2.. 1..

QandA

Name: Alexandra Wolfe

Age: Over the age of consent! 😉

Birthday: March 12th

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What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job? Back in the day I studied Earth Sciences, art history and English. Which, of course, is why I’m now a freelance editor.

Do you have any other hobbies? I have a number of hobbies, but the one that takes me out and about most, is photography. I love to snap pictures of everything, but most especially, I love taking what I call floral portraits! And who doesn’t love looking at lots of flower pictures, right?

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Your favourite color? One colour, I’m only allowed one? How about rainbow? Or ultraviolet …

Out of: The Horoscope.co

The lucky color for Pisces zodiac is Turquoise.

This unconventional watery combination stimulates a great creativity flow, but also sooths the visionary and innovative native in Pisces.

Other hues that appeal to people born on March 12 are purple, pink and sea-green.

Do you collect anything (besides books)? Words, which I think anyone who visits my blog already knows about. I use to collect BIG bugs and stamps as a kid, and as I moved to adulthood, I collected rocks, that was the geologist in me … now, not so much.

Logophile

What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it? Serpent’s Reach by C. J. Cherryh is probably the oldest book I still have with me, since I moved to Canada. I could only bring so much with me. And, of the handful of books I couldn’t bear to part with, this one is probably the oldest (70s). I reread it every couple of years or so.

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? Oh yes, way to many—in this last year alone I think I’ve bought 4 or 5 books I wish I hadn’t. Just check the blog to see how many were DNF in my 2018 list. I think I need to go back to borrowing books from the library!

Do you listen to audio books? No, not really. I’ve tried pod casts and fall asleep within minutes, so an audio book will probably be lost on me.

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Do you have a favorite genre? I would have to say science fiction, though these last 3-4 years it’s been crime/mystery fiction more than anything else. I just lost interest in SF back in the 90s. I’m just not interested in reading an overly long thick book that could stop a charging rhino! Long doesn’t mean good, it usually means bad editing!

What is the book highest on your wish list right now? It’s a toss up between THE LOST MAN by Jane Harper and THE KINGDOM OF COPPER by S. A. Chakraborty. I am so looking forward to reading both these books, which I have on pre-order.

How is your library organized? Someone laughed when I told them it’s no more scientific than biggest and heaviest books at the bottom of the bookcase, smaller lighter ones at the top. I had a bookcase fall over on me, it’s not pleasant let me tell you.

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Do you read more ebooks or physical books? I have probably 30+ ebooks on my iPad, most of which I haven’t read. But currently on my bookshelves? Maybe 300+, with another 300+ boxed in the storage locker. No book is left behind. Those I DNFed or will not read again, get donated to my local library. I think I have single-handedly created an English language section for them. 😀

Do you have a favorite book? Argh! Again, with this only one book, one colour … I have favourites, and from different times in my life. As a child it would have been Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh. But now, I guess the last book I read that I really enjoyed would be THE CITY OF BRASS by S. A. Chakraborty, however, next week it might be something else.

Among the bustling markets of eighteenth century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike.

But alongside this new world the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust.

Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and sleights of hand: there’s nothing magical about them. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes…

Be careful what you wish for.

What’s the cover in your collection that you’re most proud of? Currently, maybe THE CITY OF BRASS cover, with the vivid colours and the lone female figure dwarfed by the huge Djinn palace. Talk about evoking scale!

I also have a collection of children’s books that I love and this is one of my favorites:

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The Secret Lives of Princesses is a treasure trove of incredible behind-the-scenes stories that reveal the secret lives of the world’s most mysterious princesses.

Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200, >300 …? Probably somewhere around the 700 mark, right now.

What’s the title of the last book you purchased? THE WHISPERER by Donato Carrisi.

Six severed arms are discovered buried in a forest clearing. They are arranged in a mysterious circle, and appear to belong to missing girls between the ages of eight and thirteen. But the rest of the bodies are nowhere to be found.

Criminologist Goran Gavila is given the case. A dishevelled, instinctively rebellious man, he is forced to work with young female police officer Mila Vasquez. Lithe, boyish, answering to no one, Mila has a reputation as a specialist in missing children. She also has a tragic history of her own that has left her damaged, unable to feel or to relate to others.

Theirs is a fiery but strangely affecting working relationship – and as they uncover more secrets about the dark secrets in the forest, their lives are increasingly in each other’s hands…

A gripping literary thriller that has taken Italy by storm, The Whisperer has been as sensational a bestseller in Europe as the Stieg Larsson novels. It is that rare creation: a thought-provoking, intelligent literary novel that is also utterly unputdownable.

Who was your favorite author when you were a child? Two really, Lewis Carroll and A. A. Milne. I also really liked this one:

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From which author do you have most books? I guess that would have to be Robert A. Heinlein, as I own all but maybe two of his books.

Robert A Heinlein

Robert Heinlein was an American novelist and the grand master of science fiction in the twentieth century. Often called ‘the dean of science fiction writers’, he is one of the most popular, influential and controversial authors of ‘hard science fiction’.

Over the course of his long career he won numerous awards and wrote 32 novels, 59 short stories and 16 collections, many of which have cemented their place in history as science fiction classics, including STARSHIP TROOPERS, THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS and the beloved STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND.

Are there books you’ve read 2 or 3 times? Oh yes, most of Robert Heinlein, some C. J. Cherryh books, a couple of Elizabeth Moon, and definitely Frank Herbert’s Dune series as well.

How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already? I’m not on Goodreads, but I am trying to read between 25-30 books a year. I use to read 50+ … yes, one a week. But I’ve cut way back in recent years.

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

A — A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
L — Lockdown by Laurie R. King
EX — Extraordinary People by Peter May

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

Kelly – Another Book In The Wall
Zoë – What’s Better Than Books
Umut – Umut Reviews
Luci – Lunarlucibooks
Chloé – Review by Chloe

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 in May! 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides #BookReview

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I love him so totally, completely, sometimes it threatens to overwhelm me.
Sometimes I think-
No. I won’t write about that.

ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

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Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

amazon uk amazon com

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‘Grasping at vanashing snowflakes is like grasping at happiness; an act of possession which instantly gives way to nothing.’

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If you haven’t heard about this novel by now, I really don’t know where you’ve been hiding. The Silent Patient is promised to become one of this year’s bestsellers and I think they are RIGHT, this novel really has bestseller written all over it!

Alicia Berenson was a very intriguing character because she kept quiet from the start, not saying another word after she’s been caught and arrested for the murder on her husband Gabriel in flagrante delicto. We know the facts, her husband was shot 5 times in the head and he was tied to a chair but what we don’t know is WHY she did it. I wanted to, no needed to know why she did it so badly in the end! The author kept me very much in suspense though and the slow build only added to the story.

The fact that she’s not talking forced me to guess her motive constantly. Her profile just didn’t fit with the murder but I knew she did it. It was very conflicting and I couldn’t flip those pages fast enough to find out more. I also couldn’t understand why she wasn’t talking, the only clue she left was a painting she made. I’m not a big art lover or expert but I was quite fascinated about the meaning behind this painting which name refers to an old Greek tragedy; it made it even more intriguing.

Before there were answers there’ll be a lot more questions and silence though and luckily psychotherapist Theo Faber comes along and is determined he can make her talk after 6 years of silence. In other novels the therapist often remains an authority but in this novel I really got to know Theo, I heard his own thoughts and became familiar with the struggles he’s facing in his personal life as well. I liked him, it was easy to connect with him and it was there from the start. I wished that he would be successful and would be able to get Alicia to talk. As a reader you’re sooooo waiting for that moment to happen!

To help the story along he’s aided by Alicia’s diary entries and this clever literary tool let me hear from Alicia even when she’s keeping quiet. Layer after layer there’s more to be discovered about her life but I was still totally blindsided in the end and I almost had a whiplash inducing shock when all the puzzle pieces fell into place without much of a warning. I was stunned. What the… how the hell did this happen? It all makes sense though when you think about it and I loved the twist. My initial outrage at her was gone, just like that. I understood why she did it, how she was pushed over the edge. It was a brilliant end scene.

If you enjoy psychological thrillers I’d definitely put it on the list like NOW! This is an absolutely amazing debut with an unbelievable stunner of twist! It’s perfect for fans of Jo Spain who read The Confession (also not a who but a why dunnit novel).

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Same book different cover #10

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I’m back with 5 new book covers to pick and choose your favorite one. This is just for fun so there are no wrong answers! OK, I’ll go first, then it’s up to you:

The Last by Hanna Jameson

The Last 02  The Last

I’ve seen a million books with eerie mansions on the cover already so definitely cover number 2. Great choice with the red color too!

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz

The Sentence Is Death  TheSentenceIsDeath

Also cover number 2, I like the dripping paintbrush but I just want a bit more color on the cover. Color definitely sells it for me.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party  The Hunting Party 01

Do I even need to say it? Cover 1 of course and I feel very very strongly about this one. It’s so easy to remember if you’ve seen the yellow cover before, don’t you think?

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You 01  Everything I Never Told You 02

This one’s more difficult, I don’t feel very strongly about either of them. I don’t like the font of cover 1 so I’m going with cover 2 although it doesn’t make me feel very much, it’s nice but a bit too clean and it’s not revealing at all.

The Woman Inside by E.G. Scott

The Woman Inside 02  TheWomanInside

Cover number 2! They are very similar indeed and maybe the look of the person in the first cover is more ominous and evil but I still love the look of the second cover more!

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So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out Battle Of The Books #1 – #2#3 – #4 – #5#6 – #7#8#9