The perfect summer read: In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira #BookReview @avadellaira @HotKeyBooks @imosebba

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Because the missing pieces always matter . . .

Marilyn is in search of freedom. She grew up as a child actor, her mother’s meal ticket out of mediocrity. But it’s been a long time since she booked a job, and she and her mother have no choice but to move in with her volatile uncle.

Marilyn is counting down the days until she can escape to college, and the promise of her own future. That is, until she falls in love with James, the boy downstairs, who shows her that her life is worth living in the present. At 17, Marilyn is about to learn that everything can change in an instant.

Angie is in search of answers. She is mixed race and has never met her father, but she knows she looks and thinks a lot like him. Though Angie grew up with her devoted mother, Marilyn, she’s always felt the absence of the man she never knew.

But after discovering that her mother has been lying to her, Angie sets off on a road trip to Los Angeles, in search of an unknown uncle – and maybe even her dad. At 17, she hopes to finally find out the truth about where she came from so she can discover who she truly is.

Told from the perspective of these two young women, Marilyn’s in the late 90s, and Angie’s today, IN SEARCH OF US is a sweeping inter-generational story about mothers and daughters, love and loss, holding on and letting go.

amazon uk amazon com

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This is just one of those books that really fill your heart and makes you sad and smile and it’s all happening at the same time you know. There’s a mystery and a love story at the base of this novel. They’ll meet in the proverbially perfect and heart-shattering middle.

The novel switches between Angie wanting to know more about her father and trying to find out if  he’s dead or alive, and how it all started with her father and Marilyn, Angie’s mother. I loved seeing the romance between Marilyn and James develop and how she was welcomed into his warm family. You know that they’re not together any more and Marilyn still can’t think of him without tearing up so I was prepared for something terrible to happen but when I came to that part of the novel the impact was still bigger than I anticipated. I knew it was coming, couldn’t avoid it try as I might, and still was quite in shock.

Both plotlines, Angie’s search in the present and Marilyn’s encounter with James, at the same age but 17 years earlier, were very engrossing and it was actually fun and engrossing to read this dual timeline. Angie might have started out alone in her desire for answers but as the story progressed and the connection between Marilyn and James became bigger, we both ended up longing to know and even I hoped he was still alive.

But even if 16 year-old Angie had all my sympathy and understanding and I adored Dellaira’s skilled writing that made her turn to her favorite songs whenever she felt the need in time of worries and trouble, I loved her mother Marilyn in her younger version most of all. She’s such a good person and the attraction and romance with James was nothing other than perfect. They have such a sweet connection, I was already dreading the moment it would end. They seemed so right for each other so I couldn’t wrap my head around it, until I actually read the words.

In Search Of Us was such a lovely novel with beautiful people (the only exception being Uncle Woody who grudgingly shares his house with Marilyn and her mother), lots of cool 90’s music references  and a whole lot of love. This novel is going to steal your heart, just like it did mine :-).

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

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New BFF: On The Shelf Reviews

BFF

I want to wish Lorna aka LJ a warm welcome to the blog today and I want to thank her very much for cutting this week in the middle with her participation to my Blog Friend Forever series!

Lorna is a very kindhearted person and I always love seeing her comments. She’s an accomplished blogger and I’m sure she will soon earn her stripes as a writer as well, she already nailed NanoWrimo last year after all. You can already give her a follow on Twitter if don’t already – you can find her as @ljwrites85 and do take a look at Lorna’s blog and the reviews she’s written on On The Shelf Reviews if you don’t know her yet. I found an awesome quote on her blog btw that I really want to share with you as well:

It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living –Terry Pratchett.

The author’s name will make a comeback in the answers too, you’ll see… so let’s go:

QandA

Name: Lorna

Age: Not a number I say out loud any more lol!

Shhh Rihanna

Birthday: 22nd July

What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job?

In a previous life I studied design (turned out I wasn’t very good at it!), at the moment I’m working towards becoming a published writer as well as running my blog.

Do you have any other hobbies?

I suppose I still class writing as a hobby, as I’m still unpublished.

Your favourite colour?

I love all shades of blue.

Do you collect anything (besides books)?

I have quite a collection of notebooks. My favourite is the Wonder Woman one that I got last year which I still haven’t used because it’s just too pretty!

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What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it?

I suppose that has to be Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. Unfortunately me and my son read my original copy from the nineties so much it fell apart!

harrypotter

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?

This is going to be an unpopular opinion but Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’ve tried at least three times to read it and I’ve only got as far as page sixty.

Gone Girl Amy

Do you listen to audio books?

No but it’s something I keep meaning to do.

Do you have a favourite genre?

Hands down Mystery/Thriller!

What is the book highest on your wishlist right now?

I’m so excited because I’ve just got a book I’ve wanted since I saw it last year on NetGalley, The Chalk Man by C.J Tudor. I read it before this post was published and you can read my review here. I rated it 5 stars btw and HIGHLY recommend.

How is your library organized?

My library is not organised at all! It’s just wherever I can fit a book.

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Do you read more ebooks or physical books?

At the moment I’m reading a lot more ebooks, just because that’s what I get sent to review. I still love buying physical books though!

Do you have a favourite book?

There’s a few! The Harry Potter series, Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett and the Sherlock Holmes short story collections.

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

The 20th Anniversary edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone.

Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200,> 300 …?

Not including ebooks I own around 250 books.

What’s the title of the last book you purchased?

I got a copy of Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear from a charity shop. I love recycling books!

What was your favourite author when you were a child?

Hands down Roald Dahl, he was just so imaginative and his books have stood the test of time. I read my own son The Twits and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and he loved them as much as I did.

From which author do you have most books?

Probably Terry Pratchett or MC Beaton.

The Hamish Macbeth books were adapted into the BBC Scotland television series Hamish Macbeth. Running for three series between 1995 and 1997, the titular police officer was played by Robert Carlyle. The series bore little relation to the content of Beaton’s novels. Macbeth and Lochdubh were retained, in name at least, but little else survived.

The author was not happy with the TV series. “It wasn’t like the books, I wrote about a six-foot laid-back highlander and I got a 5ft 8″ Glaswegian with a chip on his shoulder,” Beaton says. “It was an unfortunate experience.”

The TV adaptations took several liberties with the plots, combining elements from several novels into each episode, changing the details enough to make them work together.

While Beaton was not happy with the changes, the TV series developed a loyal fan base, and many viewers have since come to know the Hamish Macbeth that Beaton originally created. Her earlier novels are being reprinted and re-released to fill the gaps between new volumes.

Beaton has often been left out of plans for her own creations. “They wanted to do a making of Hamish Macbeth without even mentioning me at all,” Beaton joked. “However, it does lead to ideas to killing people.”

In 2016, another Beaton creation, Agatha Raisin, became a TV series.

The Hamish Macbeth series so far:

Death of a Gossip (1985)
Death of a Cad (1987)
Death of an Outsider (1988)
Death of a Perfect Wife (1989)
Death of a Hussy (1990)
Death of a Snob (1992 )
Death of a Prankster (1992)
Death of a Glutton (1993), also published under the title Death of a Greedy Woman
Death of a Travelling Man (1993)
Death of a Charming Man (1994)
Death of a Nag (1995)
Death of a Macho Man (1996)
Death of a Dentist (1997)
Death of a Scriptwriter (1998)
Death of an Addict (1999)
A Highland Christmas (1999)
Death of a Dustman (2001)
Death of a Celebrity (2002)
Death of a Village (2003)
Death of a Poison Pen (2004)
Death of a Bore (2005)
Death of a Dreamer (2006)
Death of a Maid (2007)
Death of a Gentle Lady (2008)
Death of a Witch (2009)
Death of a Valentine (2010)
Death of a Chimney Sweep (2011), also published under the title Death of a Sweep
Death of a Kingfisher (2012)
Death of Yesterday (2013)
Death of a Policeman (2014)
Death of a Liar (2015)
Knock, Knock, You’re Dead (2016)
Death of a Nurse (2016)
Death of a Ghost (2017)
Death of an Honest Man (2018)

Death of a GhostThere are many ruined castles in Scotland. One such lies outside the village of Drim. Hamish begins to hear reports that this castle is haunted and lights have been seen there at night, but he assumes it’s some children or maybe the local lads going there to smoke pot, or, worse, inject themselves with drugs. Hamish says to his policeman, Charlie ‘Clumsy’ Carson, that they will both spend a night there.

The keening wind explains the ghostly noises, but when Charlie falls through the floor, Hamish finds the body of a dead man propped up in a corner of the cellar. After Charlie is airlifted to the hospital, Chief Detective Inspector Blair arrives to investigate the body, but there is none to be found. Dismissed as a drunk making up stories, Hamish has to find and identify the body and its killer before the “ghost” can strike again.

Are there books you’ve read 2 or 3 times?

Yes! Bridget Jones’s Diary, Wyrd Sisters and the Harry Potter series.

How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already?

Yes, I set it at 75 but I think I’ve put it too low, I’m already up to forty.

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

my name in books spines

 

 

L – Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain
O – One Day by David Nicholls
R – Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
N – Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
A –A Game Of Thrones by George RR Martin.

 

 

 

 

In case you missed it, these are the BFF’s (Blog Friends Forever) I posted about before :

Martina – The Mystery Corner
Liis – Cover to Cover
Anne – Inked Brownies
Danielle – Books, Vertigo and Tea
Drew – TheTattooedBookGeek
Jillian – Rant and Rave About Books
Meg – Magic of Books
Betty – Bookish Regards
Anais – Zeezee with Books
Nicki – Secret Library
Donna – Chocolatenwaffles’ Blog
Chitra – Books & Strips
Annie – The Misstery
Dee – Novel Deelights
Stephanie – Teacher of YA
Tina – Reading Between the Pages
Savanah – Off-Color Lit
Delphine – Delphine’s Babble on Some Good Reads
Lisa – Rambling Lisa’s Book Reviews
Alex – Coffeeloving Bookoholic
The Readers Bay
Kathy – Books and Munches
Diana – A Haven for Book Lovers
Norrie – Reading Under The Blankie
Lynne – Fictionophile

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 added! It’d be very appreciated!

The Map of Us by Jules Preston #BookReview

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One of the most original and charming books you will ever read, this is a must read for all those who love Eleanor Oliphant and The Keeper of Lost Things

A story of love, line graphs and lost directions

Violet North is wonderfully inconvenient. Abandoned by her family and lost in an imagined world of moors and adventure, her life changes in the space of just 37 words exchanged with a stranger at her front door.

Decades later, Daniel Bearing has inherited his father’s multi-million pound business, and is utterly lost. He has no idea who he is or where his life is headed.

When Violet’s granddaughter’s marriage falls apart, Tilly, always adept with numbers, compiles a detailed statistical report to pinpoint why. But the Compatibility Index Tilly creates has unforeseen consequences for everyone in her world.

Tilly and Daniel share a secret too. 10.37am, April 22nd.
Soon, a complex web of secrets and lies is exposed and an adventure begins with a blue typewriter…

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I wish I could have liked The Map Of Us more but I’m afraid we weren’t the best match. There was perhaps 76% probability that we would hit it off but that means there was a 34% chance of the opposite. It’s something Tilly would say; she must have rubbed off on me after all :-).

I have to admit I was excited to read this novel mostly because of the reference to that other novel, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, but I couldn’t find the same connection or recognition in Matilda – or Tilly as she’s called by 3 people – that I found in Eleanor.

The novel was told in alternating voices in short snappy chapters of only a few pages, or even just half a page at times, so it was easy enough to digest, but on the the other hand the big cast of quirky characters that changed so quickly made it difficult to get invested in them and remember them sometimes as well.

The author also introduced also a few different literary styles that some will undoubtedly find original but I found it halted the flow of the story somewhat. Some of them worked really well like hearing her mother’s voice through letters addressed to Tilly, and others – like the almost poetic entries of her father’s thoughts in almost three word sentences – not so much.

The thread that followed Violet North, the grandmother who starts writing stories on her blue typewriter, was the one I looked forward to returning to most of all and I really hoped she would find happiness in the end. She lives in a world of her own and created a fictuous character who roams the Great Moors and lets her have adventures when she can not. Like Violet, most of the other characters in this novel live in a world of their own: Tilly’s father’s passion is building sand sculptures (no dolphins though!), Tilly’s world seems to be built by numbers, her sister Katherine’s world is filled with the haunt for the perfect handbag (she’s got 342! bags) and her brother Matt is the world authority on the color blue. Can they break out of their limited worlds and make a connection with someone outside of their world? It’ll be quite a journey.

This novel was a bit out of my ‘rational’ comfort zone and a bit too wordery for me, making it difficult to understand why some of it was relevant to the story so I guess that’s why it didn’t really work out for me. It reminds me a little of We Were Liars by E. Lockheart, where the prose also rubbed me the wrong way. If you like originality and you’re looking for a quirky read though this might be exactly your cup of tea.

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

A Woman Scorned / Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan #BookReviews @JackJordanBooks @CorvusBooks

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Are you afraid?
You should be.

The husband: in over his head with no way of knowing the truth.
The mistress: blinded by love, betrayed by her family…
The neighbour: will stop at nothing to protect the life he has fought to create.
The wife: a woman bent on revenge, but how far is she willing to go…?

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It seems like a lifetime ago that I was blown-away when I read My Girl, but even though it’s been a long wait for his new book, Jordan can take all the time in the world if it means he’ll deliver another phenomenal story like the one in A Woman Scorned.

I have no idea how to do this novel justice with my review but Jordan is such a master in writing amazing twists and turns into a story, it’s like I’m watching a David Blaine show. There are no frogs coming out of someone’s mouth just yet but let’s just say it’s a close call ;-). The whole story from beginning to end is delightfully twisted and I was surprised by new revelations with every new point of view. This was quite a rollercoaster read. It’s disturbing, frightening and so compelling that I really didn’t want to put it down. I couldn’t help it, it was just that good!

It’s no secret that I love my villains most when they look normal on the surface but calculating and cunning on the inside and you’ll know who you’re going to meet soon enough. It’s pretty obvious from the very start that Amber isn’t a woman to be toyed with. Only a few pages in and I knew she was a reckoning. Revenge is always a great motivator and when I met Amber and heard that she knew about The Mistress and kept it all in her pretty little head, well I knew she was dangerous, but how dangerous exactly? I was anxious and excited to find out :-). There was a lot more going on though, the story definitely doesn’t stop with Amber’s awesome yet disturbing introduction at the start of the story, far from it! Such fun to discover!

I only had one small disappointment, I wished it hadn’t ended so soon :-). Nah, I’m just kidding, the story wrapped up beautifully and I’m happy the way it ended!

If you enjoy psychological thrillers than this is a must-read so just go and read it already!

I bought an e-copy of this novel on Amazon. It’s currently on sale for 0.98 GBP. This is my honest opinion.

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Before Her Eyes def

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She can’t see the killer
But the killer can see her…

Naomi Hannah has been blind since birth. Struggling with living in a small, claustrophobic town, Naomi contemplates ending her life. But then she stumbles across the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. She senses someone else there at the scene – watching her. Naomi may not be able to see the killer’s face, but she is still the only person who can identify him.

As the police begin hunting the person responsible and more victims are discovered, Naomi is forced to answer the question on which her fate hangs: why did the killer let her live?

In a town this small, the murderer must be close, perhaps even before her very eyes…

amazon uk amazon com

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What do you do when you turned the last page in a novel that gave you such a high? Exactly, you dive into the next one right away! I was so very happy that Jordan published two books, one novella and one full-length novel around the same time. Writing in pairs is such an excellent idea, I thoroughly enjoyed going from one novel to the next!

Both novels were vastly different though and alhough I really live for psychological thrillers that deliver twist upon twist, Before Her Eyes is more of a police procedural and made its own impact on me with a brilliant plot. Jordan makes the story that much more menacing by including a blind woman into the story and the tension ramps up when she crosses paths with a serial killer the moment she stumbles quite literally on the scene of a murder. This is stuff worth holding your breath for! She realises she’s not alone either and at his mercy she does make it out alive but wow, being so close and not knowing who’s in front of you must be terrifying and I got the goosebumps feeling how Naomi must have felt at that moment. Behind Her Eyes was a nerve-wracking novel, even I could feel the killer breathing down my neck. Naomi’s blindness was definitely a major advantage to the story and created the perfect amount of tension.. she feels like she might be in danger and I couldn’t blame her for one second. I’ve never seen the killer so close yet being unable to figure out who he or she was at all.

A missing person’s case of the past undoubtedly has something to do with the present case. It’s all pretty vague for the reader and for Detective Markus Campbell who’s told to drop this line of investigation but luckily, he’s like a dog with a bone and tries to find out more. At least one detective with common sense or is it true that there’s something to be said of corruption in the office after all?

I had no sympathy whatsoever for the killer after a particularly horrific action towards Naomi which made my heart bleed and made me want to shout some – not to be misunderstood – profane words. Detective Lisa Elliott wasn’t exactly on my friend list either. I hoped veritably that Marcus would be able to star as the hero of the day even if he had to pull a one man show. The picture of where to look was muddled though, Marcus struggled and couldn’t make heads or tails of the killing spree and I was none the wiser either but I was certainly drawn into the story and let it unfold with a few surprising and shocking revelations, ruling out suspects and getting new ones in my sight as I went along, only to find them killed unceremoniously with the progression of the story. Jordan has written a complex story with a clever plotline, a past that runs through into the present and where everyone has their own set of motives. Some of it was set up to distract and I fell victim to this as well so eyes on the prize if you want to do better than me :-).

Then, just when you think Jordan has given it his all, he adds that one perfectly amazing touch and that one final sentence that just hits the ball out of court. Oh yeah, talk about ending on a high note! It makes me want mooore!

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

If you want to check out his earlier work, you can also read my reviews of Jordan’s previous novels by clicking the links : My Girl and Anything For Her

WWW Wednesday (06-06-2018)

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 recently finished :

I read both of Jack Jordan’s books in the past and I loved them.. one novel was even in my top 10 fav list of 2016 so I couldn’t wait to read his newest novella. Spoiler alert: I loved it. If you can’t have over the top reviews, you can just skip reading the one (where I’m reviewing two of his books actually) I’m publishing on Sunday :-). I do have an unpopular opinion the day after though about a novel so that’ll compensate ;-).

A Woman Scorned by Jack Jordan

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What I’m reading now:

I received this novel from the publisher and it’s a lighter read than I’m used to but it has a lot of feeling and it’s pretty interesting as the story is told via a mother-daughter relationship told in a past and present voice so that the daughter has become the mother in the present. I really like it so far!

In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira

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What I’ll (probably) read soon:

Book 5 in this detective series is calling to me. This really is an outstanding series, you never know where the plot will lead and also the subsidiary plotline about Davies (the detective’s dead husband) is a very interesting addition to the story.

The Chosen Ones by Carol Wyer

The Chosen Ones defOn a hot summer’s morning, a young father is found murdered in a cornfield, outside the quiet town of Colton. Tied to a post, arms spread wide; Detective Robyn Carter is reminded of the crucifixion, and she knows she’s looking for a killer with a twisted sense of right and wrong.

The victim’s girlfriend is devastated, unable to fathom how she will tell her sick little boy. Still reeling from her own loss, Robyn vows she will find the killer – no matter what.

But then a local doctor – a popular woman with a young family of her own – is found dead outside her surgery. There are similarities between her and the first body and Robyn must take another look at the picture-postcard town, where no one has any enemies.

Can Robyn untangle the hidden web of secrets, lies, and smouldering grudges, at the heart of this close-knit community, before another life is lost?

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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 !

My Blog’s Name in Books

The Belgian Reviewer

This is a brilliant book meme that Lynne @Fictionophile started and I’m very excited to participate today with some lovely (at least I hope so) book titles.

Rules: 

1.  Spell out your blog’s name. (this is where you wish your blog’s name was shorter LOL)

2. Find a book from your TBR that begins with each letter. (Note you cannot ADD to your TBR to complete this challenge – the books must already be on your Goodread’s TBR)

3. Have fun! 

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My selection, tadaaaa:

Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen McManus
History is All You Left Me – Adam Silvera
Educated – Tara Westover

Bad Girls With Perfect Faces – Lynn Weingarter
Every Last Lie – Mary Kubica
Little Monsters – Kara Thomas
Guess Who? – Chris Mc George
IQ – Joe Ide
A Woman Scorned – Jack Jordan
No Other Darkness – Sarah Hillary

Rival – Penelope Douglas
Evil Games – Angela Marsons
Vox – Christina Dalcher
I Found You – Lisa Jewell
Every Dark Corner – Karen Rose
Where The Light Gets In – Lucy Dillon
Every Vow You Break – Julia Crouch
Retrieval – Aly Martinez

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Feel free to share your thoughts on these. Have you read any of them yet, do you see any you like? Should I delete any title from my list?

Guess Who by Chris McGeorge #BookReview

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WHO
A waitress. A cleaner. An actress. A lawyer. A student. Everyone is a suspect.

WHERE
In a locked room – with no escape, and no idea how they got there.

WHAT
In the bathtub, the body of a man they all knew. Someone murdered him. Someone in this room.

WHY
They have three hours to find out. Or they all die.

THE RULES ARE SIMPLE. THE GAME IS NOT
Imagine Agatha Christie had created an interactive Escape the Room game, and GUESS WHO would be the result.

amazon uk amazon com

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YES! This is exactly the type of novel that I love to read. I had high expectations and a burning desire to play detective and solve the case before anyone else :-). Imagine 6 people held captive in a hotel room, one dead body and a ticking clock. It’ll all go BOOM if Morgan Sheppard doesn’t solve the case. So why Morgan? Good question! He is a reality TV host and has his own show called Resident Detective (it’s all a bit Jerry Springer honestly if you ask me). It’s all just an act though except this time, he’ll have to give it his best if he wants them to survive.

It was fun fun fun guessing who the killer among them was. I didn’t actually know so I kind of settled on a suspect who was the most likely one if I thought about it rationally and just zoomed in on that person like a crazy person. I’m really wondering if everyone had a favorite character to be the killer because I know I had one!

I thought the reactions and thoughts of Sheppard and everyone in the room felt very natural to me. I was floating along with the paranoia and trust-no-one attitude in the room. I also loved the secrets everyone had but most of all those of Sheppard! About halfway through the novel a tip of the veil is lifted why this is all happening and I was very surprised how deep the backstory went and how it was connected to the scene at the beginning of the novel. I knew of course there was some explanation but not in my wildest dreams did I think up this scenario. It’s all very plausible though and makes perfect sense and I was definitely just as invested into the plotline in the past as I was in the present, they were both just as interesting. Lots of surprises to be discovered in this locked-room mystery. How will they get out of this situation? Who is behind all of this? It’s sure to keep you turning these pages. I’m very impressed with this debut novel and I really want to see what else he can pull out of his hat. Well done, I really enjoyed reading this!

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