Missing Pieces by Tim Weaver #BookReview #BlogTour @MichaelJBooks

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You don’t know your darkest secret.
But someone else does . . .

Rebekah Murphy knows too much. . .

She knows she’s alone on an abandoned island with a killer on her trail.
She knows that to get home to her children, she must survive long enough to understand why this is happening.
She knows someone tried to kill her for a secret.
What she doesn’t know is what that secret is . . .

Detective Frank Travis doesn’t know enough . . .

He doesn’t know where to find Louise Mason. He doesn’t know how and why she vanished into thin air three months ago. He doesn’t know the identity of the man last seen talking to her. Not yet.
But what he does know it that he’s a week away from retirement — and if he doesn’t find out where Louise went, no one will.

What neither Rebekah nor Detective Travis realise is that each holds a missing piece from the same puzzle — and it will cost them everything they love to finally solve it . . .

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We toss the term addictive around quite easily sometimes but you must take my word for it, Missing Pieces is crazy addictive!

It’s laughable in hindsight but when I had the book in my hands I was a little intimidated by how heavy it was, it counts 500 pages so I was a little scared to start with… but I flew right through them. It was an amazing read, and you know why I read it as fast as I could? Because nearly every chapter ended with a splendid cliffhanger. I swear sometimes I would think about stopping at the end of the chapter but then I would reach the end and I just found I COULD NOT STOP READING. 

It’s as much a survival story as it is a very compelling mystery and while I’m not always so into survival stories because they often show the same precut elements (being chased, struggling with the simplest survival skills etc.), it was a completely different story in Missing Pieces. Rebekah, the main character of the novel, is awesome, she’s very resourceful, she’s got what it takes and she’ll do anything to see her two children again.

The novel opens with Bek alone on the island but then also shifts between the time before she arrived there and detective Travis’s final days before his retirement. There’s one case Travis hasn’t cracked and with the hours ticking away he finds himself pushing himself to try and find some answers. I couldn’t work out at all how Louise Mason could be connected to Rebekah because artsy Louise seemed very far removed from mum-of-two Rebekah and they certainly didn’t seem to know each other.   

While Rebekah wonders why someone tried to kill her she is trying her best to survive in this utterly desolate place called Crow Island. The imaginary of the island itself was vivid and movie-worthy and it wasn’t even her struggle to find food that worried me the most but I was more afraid the lack of interaction with other human beings might prove to be the bigger threat for a deterioration of her state of mind. I rooted so much for her that I felt I couldn’t abandon her sometimes. Does that sound crazy? I know it does but really, I sometimes wanted to continue reading just to see how she would tackle a certain challenge. It’s not that I didn’t have faith in her, I just wanted to see what she would do and how and rather see her do it sooner than later. I did hold my breath at one particular time though when a situation that was built up over the course of the book became so tense and dangerous, it was really a make or break kind of moment and when I thought I could breath out again, I found it wasn’t over at all.

How are the women connected, is Travis going to solve the case, what happened to Johnny, who is after Rebekah, what ‘secret’ does she know, how is this all going to end? The questions just kept on coming and I was strung for answers. I highly anticipating the moment the ‘missing pieces’ of this puzzle would fall into place and the author certainly pulled it all perfectly together in the end. Missing Pieces is an incredible pacy read with a taut and compelling plotline that I hugely enjoyed. 

Where was I all these past years and why hadn’t I read any of his novels? I seriously regret not having read any of this author’s books before… what a big mistake! Missing Pieces is a brilliant standalone novel. Gripping is an understatement for this un-put-down-able mystery!

A big, big thank you to Chrissie Antoniou of Michael Joseph for the free paperback copy of this spell-bounding novel. This is my honest opinion.

* Do check out the other stops on the tour *

Missing Pieces Blog Tour

 

The Whispers by Heidi Perks #BlogTour #BookReview @arrowpublishing

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A MISSING WIFE. FOUR FRIENDS. WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH?

Anna Robinson hasn’t been seen since she went on a night out with her four closest friends.
She has a loving husband and a son she adores. Surely she wouldn’t abandon them and her perfect life. . .

But what has happened to her?

At the school gates, it’s not long before the rumours start. Anna’s oldest friend Grace is beside herself with worry – desperately searching for answers, and certain that someone is hiding the truth.

With each day that passes, Anna’s life is under increasing threat. And a the pressure mounts, it won’t be long before something cracks. . .

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The wait was long but it’s fiiiinally my day to boast about this novel! Just so you know what’s coming up ahead ;-). I absolutely loved Heidi Perks’s novel Now You See Her (it made my top 10 of 2019) so I couldn’t be happier with the chance to read her latest novel The Whispers and – I can repeat my words from a few years ago – I absolutely loved it! The Whispers made it definite, Heidi Perks is on my auto-buy list from now on. I love the massive twists she incorporates in her stories. She really took me by surprise again this time and I was ready for anything but this.

The prologue starts with the discovery of a dead body (it’s in the first sentence so it doesn’t count as a spoiler I think) and then jumps to four months before, when Grace Goodwin shows up with her daughter Matilda at the local school in Clearwater, where she grew up herself. She’s looking for Anna, her childhood friend – they were even more like sisters then – but when she sees her it’s clear that Anna’s three new friends don’t really want to share Anna.

It is impossible not to sympathise with Grace who feels all alone and only wants to revive the friendship they once shared but her old friend doesn’t seem interested in reminiscing about the past. Anna’s friendship with Nancy, Rachel, and Caitlyn made alarm bells go off in my head, the circle of friends felt all wrong and Nancy came over as having quite an intimidating and domineering personality, I didn’t like her one bit. Then Anna goes missing after a night out with her besties and NOBODY seems inclined to involve the police. At least she has one good friend, Grace of course, who tries to find answers. Nancy, Rachel and Caitlyn were the last ones to see her so surely one of them (or maybe all 3 together) are keeping secrets? Would they really hurt her though, and if so, why? I was still able to hear Anna’s thoughts through her sessions with a therapist and I knew something was eating at her but she doesn’t immediately share what it is so the anticipation was a wonderful slow build of tension.

Cue an invisible break in the story where there’s a shifting of gears which put some of the things I thought I knew and felt in an entirely different perspective. I fell from one surprise into another and could hardly believe my eyes. I suddenly felt ambiguous towards both Anna and Grace and unsure what to think about the three musketeers,… Whose story to believe? It’s brilliant how she managed to make me feel throughout the story and made me change sides again and again, only to finally leave me with a astonishing ending. The ending should have felt righteous and justified and yet I couldn’t help feel sad for this person. Believe me I wouldn’t change the ending at all and I loved how tragic it is, it’s just one of the things that makes the impression of this novel long-lasting.

The Whispers is a fabulous psychological type of novel. I’d love to read more books of this type so I’m going to add the ones I haven’t read yet and I’ll definitely keep my eye out for the next one!

Many thanks to Rachel and the Arrow Publishing team for asking me to take part in Heidi Perks’ blog tour for ‘The Whispers’, and for supplying me with an ARC to review. This is as always my honest opinion.

* Do check out the other stops on the blog tour here *

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Win by Harlan Coben #BookReview @PenguinUKBooks

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Over twenty years ago, heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family’s estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors, and the items stolen from her family were never recovered.

Until now.

On New York’s Upper West Side, a recluse is found murdered in his penthouse apartment, alongside two objects of note: a stolen Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. For the first time in years, the authorities have a lead not only on Patricia’s kidnapping but also on another FBI cold case – with the suitcase and painting both pointing them towards one man.

Windsor Horne Lockwood III – or Win as his few friends call him – doesn’t know how his suitcase and his family’s stolen painting ended up in this dead man’s apartment. But he’s interested – especially when the FBI tell him that the man who kidnapped his cousin was also behind an act of domestic terrorism, and that he may still be at large.

The two cases have baffled the FBI for decades. But Win has three things the FBI does not: a personal connection to the case, a large fortune, and his own unique brand of justice …

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I’m not one of Harlan Coben’s long-time fans but I really want to become one! This novel is an absolute WINner (yes that couldn’t be helped)!

I haven’t read the 11 books in Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series where Win makes his appearance but that clearly isn’t imperative for enjoying this novel. I do have to say that I am a little curious about Myron himself because he’s talked about on several occasions but he doesn’t make an appearance in this novel. I’m mentioning this to keep the die hard fans from being disappointed ;-). I was happy though that the story really focuses on Win in the first novel of this brand new series.

Win (full name Windsor Horne Lockwood III) is as his name suggests as rich as croesus. He also has class and style and he might come across as a snob because who in the world answers the phone with ‘Articulate’, but aside from that I knew that deep down he is essentially a good guy, someone who will take action for the weak, even if his methods tend to be a bit violent sometimes. He’s charismatic, witty and he has a good dose of self confidence but he gets away with everything for me. Win is an awesome character to come across, he’s very well described and I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the novel.

I would not dare to say much about the complex plot except that it is kept intriguing at all times and I had no idea how the different subplots could end up fitting together. While there is progress on one front continually, other aspects of the story remain delightfully incomprehensible until Win’s tenacity pays off in the end. Over the course of the novel he dives into a story of terrorism in the seventies where a group of youngsters who became known as The Jane Street 6 threw a Molotov cocktail causing the deaths of several, as well as into his own family history and what happened with his cousin when she was 18 and the death of her father on the same night.

I marvel at the way the author used an abduction, an art heist and the murder of a recluse, all over the span of several decades, and made them very logically come together in the end. It’s a very clever and ingenious plot indeed!

I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this but I enjoyed this mystery novel decidedly more than I did the Netflix series The Stranger (I actually found it ok to watch at the time but it is nothing compared to this)! A very promising start to a brand new series! I for one can’t wait to read the next one!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Century. This is as always my honest opinion.

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay #BookReview #BlogTour #AlexFinlay @HoZ_Books

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay and a big thank you to Chrissie of Head of Zeus for the invite to read and review this great debut novel!

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University student Matt Pine has just received devastating news. Nearly his entire family have been found dead while holidaying in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI aren’t convinced – and they won’t tell Matt why.

The tragedy thrusts his family into the media spotlight again. Seven years ago, Matt’s older brother, Danny, was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his teenage girlfriend. Danny has always sworn he was innocent, and last year, a true crime documentary that claimed he was wrongfully convicted went viral.

Now his family’s murder is overlapping with Danny’s case, Matt is determined to uncover the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison. Even if it means putting his own life in danger, and confronting his every last fear.

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That opening chapter of Every Last Fear… BAM! I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be so in your face right from the start. The discovery of Matt’s dead family was a little bit shocking, yet intriguing and it certainly made me want to dive right into the story, so as far as first chapters go, I’ve got to give it credit, it’s easily one of the best I have come across in quite some time.

In general terms, I very much enjoyed the writing style of the author as well as the special format of the story building and it didn’t take me long at all to know that this was going to be a novel to devour and that I would need more hours in a day. There are several mysteries up in the air at the same time making Every Last Fear quite a rollercoaster read. The first being of course the murder of the family which had me guessing wildly why anyone would want to murder an entire family (assuming it wasn’t an accident of course but I thought that was a safe bet) but I could not see any reason for a very long time. The other plotline involves the possible false imprisonment of Matt’s other brother Danny. Matt is absolutely sure Danny’s guilty but his father Evan and sister Maggie were never convinced he did it and never stopped trying to prove otherwise. The small matter of fact is that Danny actually confessed, just to make things more complex. What happened 7 years ago isn’t just told in cold hard facts nor in flashbacks like is often the case in these type of novels, no it’s through the family’s investigation as well as parts of a documentary made after Danny’s arrest that an image took shape in my head until the rest was filled in at a much later point in the novel. 

There’s also a detective in the story, Sarah Keller, but – another surprise – she’s not appointed to investigate the family’s deaths (because they were claimed to be an accident) but leading a money-laundering investigation into Marconi LLP, the firm Evan Pine was employed at before he was made redundant. Did that mean we have to search in the direction of corporate fraud or were the answers lying elsewhere? It’s not Keller who leads us single handedly to the truth in this novel but there was a wonderful mix of leads being followed and progress brought on by several of the family’s characters. There were also parts of an interview with Evan Pine interspersed between the chapters which were intriguing to read and I hoped they would help me build a picture of what happened with Danny Pine and possibly hold a clue in them somewhere that could be useful later into the story.  

At around 60-65% I started to have a small inkling about some of the answers but it was really only in the last 10% of the novel that it all started to make a lot more sense. I absolutely loved that the author was able to keep me in suspense for so long, and although I’m still in two minds about whether the (entire) family really had to die and the motive, I enjoyed the outcome very much. 

Finally, a word of appreciation for making me feel the pain of losing this wonderful family. I knew four members of the family were dead right from the start, yet I couldn’t help hoping for another outcome at the end of the novel. They were so alive in all those pages, Maggie a wonderful tenacious investigator and Evan such a wonderful father, it made it all the more tragic.

Every Last Fear is a very commendable debut novel. I love the author’s fresh ideas and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from Alex Finlay in the future!

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

* Do check out the other stops on the tour here *

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🎬 🔪 The Cut 🎬 🔪 by Chris Brookmyre #BookReview

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Millie Spark can kill anyone.

A special effects make-up artist, her talent is to create realistic scenes of bloody violence.

Then, one day, she wakes to find her lover dead in her bed.

Twenty-five years later, her sentence for murder served, Millicent is ready to give up on her broken life – until she meets troubled film student and reluctant petty thief Jerry.

Together, they begin to discover that all was not what it seemed on that fateful night . . . and someone doesn’t want them to find out why.

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I had only read Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre before and I found that one so very, very clever (you can read my review here) that it made it into my top 10 the first year after starting the blog. So when I saw The Cut and read the first line of the novel (‘Millie Spark can kill anyone’) I was immediately intrigued and wanted more than only this sublime catchphrase.

Millie and Jerry proved to be a brilliant and dynamic combination in this novel, even if you wouldn’t put them together at first sight. On the one hand there’s Millie (Millicent) who is in her seventies and lives with two other older ladies after her release in prison where she spent 25 years after being arrested for killing her partner. At the start of the novel she isn’t anyone’s best friend, her reactions keep everyone at a distance but at the end of the novel she’s transformed into a much friendlier woman, someone who can make jokes and who can have fun after all, and it might just be that Jerry played a role in making that transformation happen. Jerry is a student who studies film. He’s always been extremely interested in horror movies (or video nasties as they are called) and he knows just about every movie title and every actor. The story starts with alternating plotlines introducing these two characters and it was fun to see how their lives intersect and seeing them discover how much they have in common in their passion for the job on a movie set for Millie and love for the end product the actual film, for Jerry.

The story really kicks off when Millie – in Jerry’s company – finds a photo of her boyfriend of the time and doesn’t know who the other people in the photo are. A quick phone call only raises more questions about the night the picture was taken and unwittingly she happens to draw the attention to herself by someone who doesn’t wish her well exactly. She and Jerry don’t really have a choice but to embark on a thrilling and dangerous adventure in search of answers about who her dead boyfriend really was, while trying to figure out who is coming after them and why. 

The Cut is a story that plunges the reader into the movie business, horror movies in particular, and it entails everything from a little history about how the genre came to life to urban legends, while also making you feel as if you’re a fly on the wall on a movie set. Even though it’s not my genre to watch at all, I thought it was very interesting to read about.

The status of horror movies is negative by association. There are rumours of people dying who watched a horror movie or worked on one, and have you never heard media say that crimes that were committed stem from watching this type of movies? In the book they also talk about some cult movie, Mancipium, which was never shown because it’s supposed to be too disturbing for the public. Is it a myth, is it real, who knows? It does play a role in the story but not how I had anticipated at all. I did struggle a little bit following the political influences involved and the powers financing a movie and I thought this would ultimately lead me to the path of destruction and danger but I could never have been more wrong so you don’t need to worry when it sounds a bit complicated because the author created some wonderful red herrings only to lead you to the truth in the end, and what a stunning and shocking revelation it is! Much to my satisfaction, I loved how the story ramped up on speed and tension and the story turns out to be something completely different than I had thought, but in the best way.

The Cut is another great book by Chris Brookmyre, it’s one to sink your teeth in! Very compelling, highly recommended. I can’t wait to read more of his books after reading this one!

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

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson (book #2 of 3) #BookReview

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Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective anymore.
With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.
But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared but the police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time EVERYONE is listening.
But will she find him before it’s too late?

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Good Girl, Bad Blood was a highly anticipated novel to read and I bought it as soon as I finished the first novel of the trilogy, one I absolutely loved and which even made an appearance on my end of year list. Good Girl, Bad Blood is a great sequel to the this young adult mystery murder novel titled A Good Girls Guide to Murder which I reviewed in July last year, but of course the format (with transcripts, a map, in essence lots of visual embellishments) in which Jackson’s debut novel was written, was expected now so the surprising effect wasn’t really there this time. Not that I didn’t appreciate that she used the same techniques though, I love how attractive she made it look again!

In the previous novel Pip was looking for a murderer, believing the police came to the wrong conclusion, but this time she’s looking for a missing person, which meant her investigation is more about finding clues instead of suspects. She does go around interrogating several people again but I didn’t happen to feel the same thrill of sleuthing that I had in the first novel where I was more actively thinking along who the villain could be.

The author raised the bar so high with her first novel and while I heard some readers say this one’s even better, I’m not sure I feel the same way. Don’t get me wrong, Good Girl, Bad Blood is a ‘bloody good novel’ but the best one so far is undoubtedly still the first one for me (I have to admit, I often feel that way). There really is no shame holding this second place though because I still very much enjoyed seeing Pip in her element again, making lots of progress throughout the novel at a steady pace (she’s really a young Veronica Mars and she does it so well) and I can only think of two small things that I would have liked to have seen differently. The first is the fact that Ravi, Pip’s wingman in novel one is taking quite a backseat in this one, and I missed this voice of reason sometimes, not to mention his positive and warm personality, and the other thing is that this novel recaps literally everything that happened in the first novel, it goes on for several pages and while I enjoyed that it jogged my memory this way, I don’t think that readers who haven’t read the first novel will appreciate this because there is no point reading the first of the series after you read this one, so do take that into account if you’re interested in reading it.

Anyway to say I’m very excited to read book 3 of the series As Good As Dead is an understatement (I’ll have to wait till August/September at least though) because in this third story Pip has a stalker and there’s a man behind bars who is probably the wrong person and a real serial killer who’s running free. I’m trying to keep my expectations in check this time but it’s really hard with this series! So, if you’re used to reading detective stories but new to young adult, this is absolutely a great series to start with!

I bought a paperback copy of this book. This is my honest opinion.

Every Step She Takes by K.L. Armstrong #AudioBookReview

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Sometimes there’s no use running from your past. . . .

Genevieve has secrets that no one knows. In Rome she can be whoever she wants to be. Her neighbours aren’t nosy; her Italian is passable; the shopkeepers and restaurant owners now see her as a local, and they let her be. It’s exactly what she wants.

One morning, after getting groceries, she returns to her 500-year-old Trastevere apartment. She climbs to the very top of the staircase, the stairs narrowing the higher she goes. When she gets to her door, she puts down her bags and pushes the key into the lock . . .

. . . and the door swings open.

It’s unlocked. Sometimes she doesn’t lock it because break-ins aren’t common in Rome. But Genevieve knows she locked the door behind her this morning. She has no doubt.

She should leave, call the police. What if someone is in her apartment, waiting for her? But she doesn’t.

The apartment is empty, and exactly as she left it, perfectly tidy and not a thing out of place . . . except for the small box on her kitchen table. A box that definitely wasn’t there this morning. A box postmarked from the US. A box that is addressed to “Lucy Callahan.”

A name that she hasn’t used in ten years.

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I’m giving an audiobook a new try and the results are… well somewhere in the middle ground. After finishing Every Step She Takes I realise that the blurb is more of a teaser but doesn’t really say what the book is about. There is no big mystery who sent the box, the mystery lies in what happens after sender and receiver meet and let’s just say the encounter won’t go exactly as planned.

Goodreads announces Every Step She Takes to be edge-of-your-seat riveting but frankly, it was hard to get into it at first. The build up was slow and at the pivotal moment where the story kicks off, I knew I was headed for a mystery/drama more than a thriller. Lucy/Genevieve Callahan is the character who it’s all about. In a past plotline she shares how, aged 18, she starts a summer job babysitting the two children of a celebrity couple (movie star Colt Gordon and his wife and violinist Isabella Morales) and how it went so wrong one day that she ended up as a musical teacher in Italy, keeping her head down and trying not to be recognized. In the present day she finally has a chance to set the record straight and tell what happened, or didn’t happen, on one fateful night. I thought it would be something major, something worth moving several countries for but it was not as excessive as I presumed. I know the media is not to be underestimated and they can break people but still, I felt it was a little overplayed. Anyway, Lucy has learned from her past experience with the media so she’s not taking any chances this time and decides to take the matter in her own hands and find out who really should be in the media’s eye now instead.

One of the things I liked in this novel was the fact that Lucy (aka llamagirl) received help from someone called PC Tracy via text messages. She and I had the same idea who this PC Tracy was but we were both wrong and it was one of the best twists in the novel. The final chapters also made me happy I persevered with most of the action and revelations revealed in the last part of the novel.

Finally, I don’t want to end this without telling that I really had fun listening to the narrator’s Italian accent for Isabella Morales and Lucy’s lover Marco, she did this brilliantly and I wanted them to talk as much as possible.

You Love Me (You #3) by Caroline Kepnes #BookReview

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Joe Goldberg is back. And he’s going to start a family – even if it kills him.

Joe Goldberg is done with cities, done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.

He gets a job at the local library – he does know a thing or two about books – and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old fashioned way… by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.

The trouble is… Mary Kaye already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s… busy.

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.

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I haven’t read You #1 and #2 but I’m a biiiiiigg fan of the Netflix series YOU so I was very excited to read the third book in the series. It was a weird experience because I really saw Joe Goldberg and the way he sometimes looks in the camera, that half smile of him, while I was reading this novel. I could literally hear his thoughts in my head the way they’re always presented on screen. It was strange but I liked how I could visualise him so I actually find it an advantage to have watched the series first and then read the novel.

Though I have to say Joe is a bit different from before. Our Joe’s grown a bit softer in this novel and while you saw how disturbed he was in the past, he appears to be – or at least wants to be – normal and have a real family AND he found just the right woman for that. Does that mean he can lay off killing someone in this novel? I’m not saying! All I can say is that he really really tries and that he just doesn’t have luck on his side at times. It is impossible not to root for Joe this time to stay out of the police’s hands.

I very much enjoyed reading You Love Me, reading about the many ups and downs for Joe, struggles and unexpected setbacks along the way to his road of happiness. As usual he’s obsessing over this woman MK (or Mary Kay) and while he can admit she’s not perfect in some ways he always finds a reason to justify why she’s acting the way she is. All she has to do is fall for him… and Joe wouldn’t be Joe if he didn’t pull eeeeverything out of the closet to get her to be in a relationship with him! The only one standing in the way is her husband and it’s tempting (so tempting) but he promises himself not to kill her husband for it, or lock him in his silent room at home (of course he has another ‘cage’, it was a perk that came with the house). That’s a nice promise right? But Joe wouldn’t be Joe if he doesn’t lend a hand and tries to get what he wants this time in another way. His manipulation skills have never been put into practice as much as in this novel! Ah and the ending, well the last chapters of the novel did not disappoint at all with twist upon twist upon twist upon twist. I’m deadly serious :-).

The only small issues I had were mostly about Joe’s attitude towards someone who is blackmailing him, it goes on throughout most of the novel and I found it so unlike Joe. He would normally be bothered by this, he would plot and scheme to take revenge but it doesn’t even enter his mind, he’s OK WITH IT. I’m almost ashamed to say he was a little disappointing there, a regular Mr. Goody Two-Shoes and just a little unbelievable. Also his many repetitive references to Closer, Murikami, and calling Mary Kay’s daughter Nomi always a Meerkat became a bit too much (I didn’t always get them either so maybe there’s that too). A last point was the fact that the novel seemed to start from another point compared to how season 2 ended on Netflix, it’s really not the case and it becomes clear after a while with flashbacks what has happened in between but it was a bit confusing at the start and made me wonder if the novels were just that different from what they filmed.

All in all, there’s a lot happening (yes you can read that as there’ll be some dead bodies; I’m sure that’s not really a surprise if you saw or read the previous novels or series) in You Love Me and you’re in for a real adventure that just keeps on giving… I have a good feeling there’s going to be a next novel too so I can’t wait to read or see it, I’ll take whatever comes first because I love both! You can get the beautiful cover of You Love Me as from April 1st, if you’re a fan of the series you know you must have it ;-)!

I received a free paper copy of this novel from the publisher Simon & Schuster UK. This is as always my honest opinion.

🎹 A Thousand Perfect Notes 🎹 by C.G. Drew #BookReview

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Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

Thrilling and powerfully written, this is an explosive debut for YA readers which tackles the dark topic of domestic abuse in an ultimately hopeful tale.

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Hands down… five stars! Six if I could even.. Once in a blue moon there’s this one outstanding book, this one book that reminds you what a five star rating is for. A Thousand Perfect Notes is that one book. It feels like forever that I read something so intense and became so emotional. If you’re into the works of Colleen Hoover, you simply have to read this novel. It could even be a CoHo novel but no I checked, it really is an original C.G. Drews novel. I knew C.G. Drews before she became an author and was a bookblogger so I damn well knew she could write but I’m still really blown away with what she wrote here. Girl, I had no idea you would be this amazing!

A Thousand Perfect Notes had my heart in its grip from the start. It is normal that parents wish for their kids to do well in life but some parents can’t handle their own failures, and some parents want their kids to continue what they started and do as well or no, do even better. Beck’s mother was a famous pianist – until she couldn’t play anymore – and she wants Beck to step into her footsteps, to live up to the Kervinich name and be the best pianist. She doesn’t use positive motivation to achieve this but takes her frustrations out on him. She prefers to throw insults at him in German, but generally just lashes out in any way she sees fit to get what she wants. It was at times hard to read, especially because Beck and his sister Joey were at the mercy of their mother without anyone watching out for them. I don’t know if this is really realistic – in the novel Joey’s preschool teachers never ask any questions about their home situation but it was so obvious in my mind and I didn’t find it normal that they discuss Joey’s problems with a 15 year-old – I can only hope that in real life children in the same position are noticed and they are taken care of.

Beck is a wonderful and kind character, taking everything on the chin that is thrown at him. He is fiercely protective of his 5 year old baby sister Joey but his world only consists of music, from the minute he wakes to the moment he goes to sleep. My heart went out to him and my eyes welled up several times because of the beautiful lines and the heartfelt thoughts. Not only for Beck but also for August, the girl he needs to write an essay with. August is earth and summer, she is smiles and rainbows. August is noticing Beck, she wants to be his friend, even if he doesn’t want to and tries his best to keep her at a distance. Can he let anyone in? What will his future hold and can he put a stop to his situation? There are more twists here than in the thriller I’m currently listening to!

Have you read the blurb? Then you get an idea what you’re signing up for. Yes this novel is hard and tough and heartbreaking but god, I want to reread it already. So please don’t be scared to read it, it’s so worth it! I probably don’t even need to tell you that there’s a good chance you’ll see this on on my end of year list, maybe the only real news is that I already bought C.G. Drews second novel, The Boy Who Steals Houses.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel and this is my honest opinion.

Her Last Holiday by C.L. Taylor #BookReview

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You come to Soul Shrink to be healed. You don’t expect to die.

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.

Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of 2 people. But he has never let on what happened to the third suspected victim: Jenna.

Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?

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I’d love to hear someone disagree but I don’t think you can go wrong with a novel by C.L. Taylor. Unfortunately she did write one about a secluded place with a select yet big cast of characters at the same time as many other authors did (is this the 2020/2021 trend?) so it’s maybe harder to stand out this time. One thing is for sure though, I haven’t read this kind of ending in any of the other novels I read recently.

But let’s start at the beginning and I’ll tell you what that’s about. Fran’s sister Jenna went missing when she went on a retreat in Gozo, organised by the charismatic Tom and his wife Kate. Their company Soul Shrink offers to heal people from trauma, freeing them from anxieties and letting them face the future with optimism instead of fear. At the time the police ruled it as a suicide but Jenna’s parents, especially her mum Geraldine, aren’t so sure so they instruct her sister Fran to attend a retreat incognito and to find out what happened to Jenna.

Her Last Holiday might not have had the same power over me as Strangers, hence the four instead of five stars, but it really was a very enjoyable read with plenty of suspicion to cast. At first all my thoughts settled on one particular person and I’m convinced everyone will have this person in mind as a perfect suspect to commit foulplay and who you’ll love to hate (I really really enjoy it when that happens), but then some of the other group members slowly come more into view and before you know it you don’t trust anyone anymore. It seems that Fran isn’t the only one there under an alter ego. The novel recounts both Jenna’s time at the retreat and Fran’s investigation and the alternation between these two time frames really kept me on my toes. I don’t think there’s anything left to say without spoiling the plot, so to wrap up all you need to remember is that it’s a solid good read so if you love a good mystery novel you’ll find everything you want in this one, and the ending is quite a nice bonus!

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