Love is in the air: Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis #BookReview @LisforLia @TrapezeBooks

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At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

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How many times do you read a novel and when you finished it you want to start reading it all over again? It really doesn’t happen very often to me but this time it did! I absolutely adored this novel! Dear Emmie Blue is a novel about loneliness, homeliness, about family, friendship and love, about caring for someone and being cared for, and of course there’s an utterly enchanting romance involved at the very, very end as well. It’s not only the romance though that makes this book so amazing, all the other characters are so lovely and caring and fill your heart when reading (except maybe Emmie’s mother and Ana, Eliot’s girlfriend). A special mention though for Rosie and Fox, Emmie’s friends and colleagues who work with her at the hotel and who were wonderful and lightened up the mood every time, their comments were truly funny.

I don’t want to get into the plot, if you pay a little attention and have a sixth sense like me you will know where the story is going but that’s absolutely fine because it only builds that anticipation and makes you ache and long for that perfect happy ending.

A little word of warning that this novel does include the mention of abuse, a moment already spoken of in its first pages, but that moment is not written in any detail in the novel, it does play a role in the story though but it certainly shouldn’t hold you back from reading this emotional rollercoaster of a novel.

Dear Emmie Blue was able to do the craziest thing, it brought tears to my eyes and gave me a great big lump in my throat the size of eh.. an avocado more than once when I was reading this. They weren’t all sad tears and I often smiled through my tears but my heart did get a serious beating. The best romance novels are the ones where you truly fall in love a little yourself and you definitely don’t have to worry here, you’ll fall so hard you’ll hit your head. It’s not about the big words, it’s about the small gestures, am I right? The guy in this novel has my heart!

The blurb of this novel states boldly that it is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I’ll tell you even more, it is perfect for fans of Eleanor, of The Flatshare and of The Sight of You (which happen to be three of my favourite novels). If you enjoy reading romance Dear Emmie Blue should be on your list! It’s an absolute winner in the romance genre for me and if this novel doesn’t make my favorite list at the end of the year, I don’t know what will! This novel is guaranteed to be a bestseller and I can’t wait to read this author’s next novel!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Trapeze Books for review. This is still my honest opinion.

Same book, different cover #14

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Happy hump day!

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 Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key 01  The Turn of the Key 02  The TUrn of the Key 03

I have cover 2 and I’m also going with that one. I like how big the font is, it’s so in your face that it feels like that’s the most ominous of all the covers.

The Suspect by Lesley Kara

The Suspect 01  The Suspect 02  The Suspect 03

Even though I have the second one, I actually like the first cover most of all. There’s just something about a message slipped beneath a door…

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louise 

DearEmmieBlue  Dear Emmie Blue

They do look alike but I still like the first one more, it’s much clearer this way.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

AGoodGirlsGuidetoMurder 02   AGoodGirlsGuidetoMurder

That’s easy as well, I definitely choose cover 2! The first is too chaotic for me and the second is much organised and nicer to look at.

The Holdout by Graham Moore 

TheHoldout  The Holdout 02

Not so easy but I think cover 1. It’s a really clear image, one person is holding them up and I also like that they chose a different colour to make it even clearer.

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So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out my previous post in the series: Battle Of The Books #13 

Also don’t forget to check out the Secret Library Book Blog where Nicki regularly holds a book battle with AUDIObooks.

The Suspect by Fiona Barton #BookReview

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When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

Well I was pulled into this as soon as I read that Alex and Rosie’s carefully planned accommodation in Thailand fell into the water when they arrived and everything was coming down on Alex to find them a place to sleep. I sort of recognized this terrible situation from my own experience and so the start of the story was in this way pretty much a matter of same thing, different country! You see, I was the same age, 18 or 19 years old when I went for a few days to Rome with a school friend and the hostel we didn’t or couldn’t book in advance was not able to put us up when we arrived. My friend wanted to go home right away and although I felt the same, someone had to actually find a solution instead of sulking about it. Looking back now that I finished reading The Suspect, I see it could have turned out very differently when you don’t end up where you’re supposed to be, and I was still quite lucky my friend didn’t turn out to be such a poser like Rosie. Yep there was no love lost for her and if it would have been only her who went missing I wouldn’t have nearly felt as bad about it as I felt with both girls gone missing but as it was I did feel much concern for Alex and I (secretly) hoped she’d ditch Rosie in time.

This is the second novel I read by Fiona Barton and I enjoyed this novel more than my first one, The Widow. It’s still a bit of a slow burner too with lots of vagueness and mystery but I was more invested in the story, and I especially liked the multiple POV’s and timelines. The story is partly told by Alex – one of the girls – through e-mails to her friend Mags at home about her time in Thailand, and she gives the unfiltered truth about her time with Rosie who forgets about their planning as soon as she sets foot there and is only interested in guys and partying. The author builds up the suspense with every new and worrying email from Alex and it didn’t take long at all to feel that nothing good could come out of this.

The rest of the story of the missing girls is covered by 3 more perspectives, namely by The Reporter (Kate), The Detective (DI Bob Sparkes) and The Mother (Lesley O’Connor). The author mixes things up nicely by changing Kate’s perspective drastically because yes she might be a journalist always looking for that next scoop but she is also a mother and as it happens she’s not a stranger to the situation Lesley and Jenny, the girls’ mothers find themselves in with her own son Jake travelling in Thailand for 2 years without giving a peep himself the last few months. Suddenly the media, fellow colleagues, are chasing her too for an interview and how much is she supposed to say?

Of course I knew the mention of Jake meant something and that he must be involved in some way. The girls were maybe a little too straightforward good girl/bad girl characters but the author put a lot of effort into creating this ambiguity about Jake, she kept me guessing if he was a good guy or a bad guy. The ending was satisfying although I found the biggest twist to be one that came well before the end of the story and from a corner I totally hadn’t anticipated.

All in all a good story you might want to let your children read before going on holiday on their own for the first time. If they ask one more time what could possibly go wrong you should simply put this novel into their hands.

I received a copy of this novel from a blogfriend. This is my honest opinion.

The Minders by John Marrs #BookReview

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Five strangers guard our secrets.
Only four can be trusted…

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.

Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.

But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect…

The Minders is published in e-format on 23 July 2020 and will follow in paperback on 17 September. US paperback publication will follow in February 2021.

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When has this author ever let you down? The answer is NEVER!

I recommend you read The One and Passengers first because the author gives little nods to these books, combining finding your match through DNA with driving autonomous cars and introducing a new trend in the future: storing information in our heads. We are still in danger of The Hacking Collective though, the same hackers who were able to create chaos and mayhem when driving autonomous became the new normal. So the government came up with a brilliant idea (well at least they think so) and that’s storing sensitive information in people’s minds. Sounds simple and it is but have you ever thought about the consequences? The pressure of knowing things and not being allowed to share them with people you care for, even if it would give them peace? Marrs always makes the impossible still look authentic and apart from making it seem so real he also gives so much room for thought every time.

The Minders follows 5 people who – for very different reasons – start over somewhere else, get a new chance at a new life, a better life. But will they get it? Can they leave their old life behind, can they change who they are as much as is needed? They get strict instructions not to contact people from their past or the other minders but it’s clear that every one of them is struggling with their new identity and each one of them reacts differently. As always the backstories of every character were very distinctive and made them all such interesting characters to follow. I found Flick and Sinead the characters who pulled most on my heartstrings though, as opposed to the men Bruno and Charlie, but all of them made for addictive chapters. There was also another character Emilia in the picture but we don’t know a lot about her, she doesn’t remember anything. Someone’s after her but it’s a mystery who. Who should she trust? The mystery woman who warns her or her husband who she doesn’t remember either? The truth and her role in the whole picture left me speechless. Gripping chapters, ruthless (gasp worthy) murders (the first one left me particularly stunned), cliffhanger-endings, you get it all in this novel.

If you enjoyed The One and Passengers you already know the fantastic reading experience that awaits you when you pick this one up. If not, you really don’t know what you’re missing! I have to say that I still loved the previous two novels a teensy bit more but I can’t really explain what did it and in the end it doesn’t really matter as his three books are brilliant, more brilliant and most brilliant.

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

The Day My Grandfather Was A Hero by Paulus Hochgatterer #BookReview

TheDayMyGrandfatherWasAHero

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In October 1944, a thirteen-year-old girl arrives in a tiny farming community in Lower Austria, at some distance from the main theatre of war. She remembers very little about how she got there, it seems she has suffered trauma from bombardment. One night a few months later, a young, emaciated Russian appears, a deserter from forced labour in the east. He has nothing with him but a canvas roll, which he guards like a hawk. Their burgeoning friendship is abruptly interrupted by the arrival of a group of Wehrmacht soldiers in retreat, who commandeer the farm.

Paulus Hochgatterer’s intensely atmospheric, resonant novel is like a painting in itself, a beautiful observation of small shifts from apathy in a community not directly affected by the war, but exhausted by it nonetheless; individual acts of moral bravery which to some extent have the power to change the course of history.

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When I heard about this novel, it didn’t take more than a second to know that I wanted to read the story of a young girl during WWII. The girl is the person guiding us through the story but it’s mainly about a painting that really went missing during the war and where this novella gives a version of what possibly happened.

This short novella covers in merely 112 pages in fact the way of life in Austria for a family of farmers. The characters here fold back on themselves and they very much live in their own microcosmos in the country side. While it might seem at first that the war is not close by for them – you won’t read about invasions, raids, hunger or camps – it is a false feeling, even they can’t escape from danger. Yes the war is almost at its end as the date reads March 14, 1945 in the first chapter but that doesn’t mean that the threat is gone or that they have come out of it unscathed.

Nelli is the anchor point throughout the story but the story’s orbit extends to the farmer and his wife and their 5 children. Nelli – only 13 years old – is the most interesting character for half of the novel though as she’s lost her memory yet the scarring is right under the surface and it shines through intermittently via an astuteness that is quite extraordinary for a 13-year old. She has a special fondness for stories of martyrs for example and has no problem regaling an audience with vivid descriptions of ways to murder somebody.

I was well aware that she had a vivid imagination so it was difficult to know what the truth was. She often tells two versions of events and sometimes I was hoping that the alternate version of events that she proposed right after the one that was first mentioned was actually the one to be true. Who knows though? Did someone walk away or was this person killed after all, we’ll never really know… and exactly that play with the reader’s emotions, kindling that hope that we still carry in ourselves for the most positive outcome, is what made this novel extraordinary.

It did take me a bit of time and some research to find out more about the political situation in Austria at the time and the characters positions. ‘It’s only the Wehrmacht’ introduced me to their new visitors but I would have enjoyed it if the author had described their situation in more detail as it left me confused at first. The author also put a lot of effort into describing the landscape, the sky and air etc. which I could really imagine but not all of his characters came alive as much as Nelli’s surroundings unfortunately.

It was a interesting short story and Nelli allowed me to read a ‘could have happened’ story about a painting that really went missing in 1945. Above all this she made me realise that heroes don’t always get their fame. There were good people who acted and were never named. There are still so many stories untold, people who were brave and never received the recognition they deserved. It’s time to take notice and this novella is a great tribute for any unnamed heroes.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher MacLehose for review. This review is my honest opinion.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson #BookReview

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The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . . ?

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I have already bought Holly Jackson’s next novel, Good Girl Bad Blood so yes I absolutely bloody loved this YA mystery. It’s been so long since I read something YA that was so highly entertaining and well plotted.

Under the pretext of writing her EPC school project about the role of the media when  high school student Andie Bell disappeared 5 years before, Pippa goes on a quest to discover what happened to her. Andie’s body was never found and Pippa has her doubts about the alleged killer since the very beginning so this is her chance to dig in and she’s quite brilliant at this digging in. Pippa is your next Veronica Mars and there’s no trouble big enough for her so she goes to investigate, interview, befriend strangers or occasionally even trespass a friend’s house.

What I absolutely loved the most about this novel was the long list of suspects that Pippa compiles while working this case. It seems Andie wasn’t the perfect sweet girl that the media made of her after all. There were plenty of twists and turns and while Pippa started out with one suspect, the clues she follows make her add loads of suspects to the list. She didn’t make it easy on me as the list grows and grows.

Holly Jackson surprised me with her debut novel. She made the story really engaging as well by including sms conversations, police reports, productions logs where she includes the transcripts of interviews and most importantly shares her thoughts and conclusions of what she has discovered so far. As a reader you’re totally on the same page as Pippa that way and it’s pretty addictive to keep on reading so you can discover even more.

There’s much to like about this book. The protagonist is young but clever, she’s not your usual detective or journalist so people don’t see her as threat and she’s not running into dead ends right away, it’s silly how they underestimate her. It makes this novel a fast and easy read. She also gets help from Ravi, Sal’s brother who also believes in his innocence and although Pippa does most of the legwork and everything, his contributions were just what the story needed. I also thought I felt a spark of interest between them early on in the story and while it never takes the upperhand, I was actually hoping for them to give in as it would make me quite happy.

Overall an entirely compelling novel with a great ending too. I can’t wait to read her next book and I can only hope it’ll be just as great as this one.

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

Survive by Tom Bale #BookReview

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Paradise is about to become hell…

On a remote island in the Adriatic, an enigmatic billionaire hosts a twisted form of entertainment to satisfy the jaded appetites of his exclusive guests. And for one unsuspecting family, the holiday of a lifetime is about to become a desperate battle for survival.

As young parents, Sam and Jody have managed to defy the odds once before. But years of struggle have taken their toll, and Sam’s demons return to haunt him at the worst possible time.

Caught up in a sick game of cat and mouse, can they put their differences aside and work under intolerable pressure to save themselves and their children?

Live or die. It’s the only choice they have.

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With the current corona lockdown reading about a couple going on a holiday with their two children of 5 and 8 gave me a nostalgic ping, thinking back to the good times when I was in their shoes. Their story was quite mouth watering and I was almost looking in my atlas to see where Sikliw (pronounced Sikley) was located to book the next flight over myself… but that moment passed soon enough as I continued in the story and it wasn’t long that I found myself quite happy still sitting in my own comfy chair at home.

Survive is the ultimate holiday horror story. The plotline was an interesting mixture of The Hunger Games meets Robinson Crusoe, but with the added tension that two small children were involved. It’s totally different when you place a family instead of one individual in the position they find themselves in, there’s just a lot more to lose.

The novel got off on a bit of a slow start because I felt very strongly that something was bound to happen but the author left it simmering for a while and I was obliged to read about the wonderful holiday they were having (oh horror 😉), safe for a couple of snobs the family ran into now and again.

I was getting very excited though when I figured out what the turning point would be even if I had no idea what was going to happen other than that they probably wouldn’t like it. Well it was much worse than not liking it, I think it’s safe to say. The rest of the story really picked up the pace and was full of challenges and tension for the family and their predicament made me wonder several times what I would do in their position. I couldn’t see a way out of their situation either, their peril kept me extremely busy. Thankfully they were resourceful and never stranded in fatalism. I love people who stand up and fight and that’s what they did. Of course it helped that they did get some help from an unexpected ally.

Survive was not my typical novel to read but it also gave me thrills. There were several scary moments but one of them definitely got me sitting on the edge of my seat. It was as chilling as Antartica to watch the scenes unfold and I’m surprised I didn’t dream about it at night because I saw it playing out so vividly before my eyes, it was like I was watching a movie.

Sam and Jody were an interesting couple. I found it quite unconventional that Jody was in fact the one in charge most of the time, leading the way – literally and figuratively – and the one who comes up with the best ideas. I didn’t take to Sam for the opposite reason and he irritated me sometimes even though I know that men are just as entitled to feel fear and don’t have to be automatically charged with solving everything. Still, I like a real hero when it comes to these kind of adventures, I can’t help it and I found him  a bit useless sometimes. I have to credit the author though for making them realistic characters without getting stuck in any clichés.

The end of the novel held plenty of action and until the very last moment I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out. I enjoyed the ending, it was very fitting even if I felt a little sad when I was reading one of the final twists. I forgive the author for messing with my heart at the last moment though and I’m thankful the author made me read a novel a little bit out of my comfort zone. I needed to put my mind off things and thanks to Surive I was able to escape everything that was going on for a few hours.

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

Q&A with Tom Bale, author of the ultimate summer thriller ‘Survive’ @t0mbale

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On the blog today I’m very happy to welcome Tom Bale, a British author who has written eleven novels so far, including the great titles See How They Run and All Fall Down. Today, however, the spotlight is on his shiny new novel Survive which is claimed to be the ultimate summer thriller.

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My review will be up this weekend but until then I hope you’ll enjoy the interview I had with the very kind author. You’ll see that I wasn’t shy asking him about his favorite holiday destination and preferred drink, so if you want to know all, by all means keep on reading!

QandA

1. Can you tell me briefly what your latest novel Survive is about?

Survive is the story of Sam and Jody, a young couple with two children, taking their first ever foreign holiday. They’re expecting a week of all-inclusive luxury, but instead they end up fighting for their lives.

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2. What inspired you to write this novel, it’s a bit different from your other novels, isn’t it?

It is quite different, yes. I saw it from the beginning as an allegory of sorts, driven by anger and frustration at various news stories illustrating how the one percent treat the rest of us. I was also influenced by a Graham Greene novel, Dr Fischer of Geneva, which has essentially the same theme. As the idea formed, I drew on real-life experiences of holidays with my family – including the rather frightening incident at the start of the novel – and I also sought to create the otherworldly feel that I remembered from John Fowles’ The Magus, a novel that had a big impact on me when I read it as a teenager.

3. The location in the novel is an idyllic island named Sekliw. Did you base it on a real place? I was thinking of Malta when I read it, but I could be completely wrong and it could well be purely fiction as well of course.

The nature of the story meant it had to be a completely fictional island, but when I described it I was thinking of various locations in southern Europe – Greek islands, Cyprus and so on. I’ve never been to Malta, but it sounds like that would make a suitable candidate as well.

(There’s also a clue in the island’s name as to another of the books that inspired me: reverse the word and think Stephen King!)

4. I felt that Jody was the stronger person in the novel, often taking the lead instead of the usual ‘alpha man’. What were your thoughts for this unusual plotline?

To me it was a natural reflection of many relationships that I’ve known and witnessed, especially those involving the parents of young children. Very often the woman is the stronger of the two, the key decision maker, even if that’s not always immediately obvious to others. I also thought it would make for a more interesting dynamic if Sam is less at home in the holiday environment, given that as a society we often still expect the man to take the lead and be the more dominant partner. But once they’re in danger, I think it becomes more balanced. Jody and Sam are both strong at different times and weak at others, and most importantly they have to work together to protect their children.

Tom Hanks

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OK time for some slightly different questions now, inspired by the novel 🙂

5. What is your favorite holiday destination? Do you like an active vacation and do you sign up with a rep (like Gabby (Gabrielle) in Survive) right away or do you like exploring on your own, or perhaps you prefer to relax at the pool all day?

When my children were little we had some wonderful holidays where we signed up for the excursions and the kids took part in daytime activities and loved watching the evening entertainment. Nowadays I’m more likely to favour a quiet beach where I can read and swim in peace. My favourite destination has to be Greece – I’ve been to half a dozen islands and several different places on the mainland, and every single time it was a wonderful, idyllic experience.

6. Which books would you take with you if you were going on holiday next week and why did you pick these?

I love choosing books to take on holiday – and no matter how many I take, I always go mad and buy several more at the airport! Right now I’d go with Masked Prey, the latest book from my favourite thriller writer, John Sandford. For non-fiction I’d take Putin’s People by Catherine Belton, partly because the issues I explored in Survive are more relevant than ever. Finally, a book I’m about to re-read after many years: Sandmouth People by Ronald Frame, which is an evocative, multi-layered story set in the quintessential seaside town.

Beach Reads

7. If you were dropped on a deserted island, which 3 items would you take with you?

I know it ought to be food and drink, but my first thought is a large library of books. My second is a large collection of music – perhaps a solar powered MP3 player? And my third would be a speedboat – but failing that, a solar powered fridge full of beer and chocolate!

8. Do you have ANY survival skills? Basically, are you a Jody (with some skills) or a Sam (not so skilled) and would you be able to survive if put to the test?

I don’t really have any survival skills – I was never in the boy scouts, for one thing. But I’m a fairly practical person, and years of plotting out stories has made me a pretty good problem solver. I suspect I’d be okay at building a shelter and finding a way to collect water, but useless when it came to identifying edible plants or berries, let alone catching and cooking fish.

9. OK let’s round up with a more positive note than thoughts of death. What is your favorite cocktail to drink on holiday? 

I don’t really drink spirits, so I’m more likely to take a sip of someone else’s just to try it out, and then return to my ice cold beer!

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Huge thanks to Tom for taking the time to answer my questions!

Anyone already having second thoughts too about that all-in holiday? If not, I’ll ask again after you read the novel 😉

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver #BookReview

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When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

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I’m feeling very torn about this novel and the rating I gave might very well change in the future because Nothing Important Happened Today is a novel I really need to reread at a later date. I believe I’d appreciate the plotline much more and give it a a much higher rating now that I know where the story is actually going and what the author is showing throughout the story. I read this novel like I’m used to and I had the same expectations as always and that’s where I hit the wall.

I like dark novels normally, the darker the better if you want my opinion and even though this novel involves the quite brutal act of several people committing suicide, I didn’t feel as unsettled as I thought it would make me feel. Mystified yes, more than a little, intrigued also but not really deeply affected or dare I even say it, sad. What is wrong with me? Well I can only say it was the writing style of the novel that wasn’t really working for me. It was far too detached and didn’t let me get to know the inner thoughts of the characters involved. I wanted to understand how they would get to that point of jumping off a ledge without a second thought, I wanted to feel the deterioration of their emotional state but I simply didn’t get it. I felt confused and a little bit bored by these people, the lovers, the nobodies, even Levant, the one the spotlight shines on when he hangs from that bridge. Each one of them had a reason but that reason was so hard to subscribe to, and it didn’t make sense at all that they didn’t know each other and yet they were there together for their final moments. Oh and throughout the novel the author also throws in some instructions on how to grow a cult and get a natural following too which was fascinating to read about but it was equally hard to correlate that to those people involved.

I don’t want to put anyone off reading this novel, quite the opposite really. I absolutely love the author’s idea for the novel, it’s brilliant BUT the fact remains that I couldn’t get into it when I was reading it, so if you are planning to read it, then you must not seek that connection to the characters so desperately like I was. Unfortunately I have the patience of a young pup too so at a certain point I skipped to the near end. I know that’s totally not done so let’s just forget I did that, ok? Anyway, it was in those final pages that I finally understood the whole picture and realised the way I should have looked at those sections with the jumpers. I should have given the author more credit from the start and I can only say I kind of messed it up for myself. I’m hoping for a second chance with this novel soon though so that I can share a whole other review then. If there’s one thing to conclude about Nothing Important Happened Today it’s that it’s completely different from anything you’ve read before!

I received a copy of this novel from the sweetest blogfriend I know. This is still my honest opinion.

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh #BookReview

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Two sisters on trial for murder. They accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?

‘911 what’s your emergency?’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

One of them is a liar and a killer.

But which one?

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This is the second book I read by Steve Cavanagh and let me fill you in right away, it was just as brilliant as Twisted, the first one I read. The title for this novel is perfect but just the same, he could also have called it Twisted 2 and it would work just as fine.

The general feeling I had when reading Fifty Fifty was that there was a conflicting war raging in my head and it started as soon as I had turned those first few pages. I simply can NOT have not knowing who the culprit is when I know full well it has to be one of only two suspects. I mean, how hard can it be? I’m a master sleuth after all :-). Well it was giving me a splitting headache, that’s how hard it was.

At first both sisters seemed possible suspects but then I thought more clues were leading towards one of them. One of them has mental issues, the other one is pretty organised and calculated, so you have your pick. I was well aware that it could of course also be a clever move from the author leading me on and that I needed to pick the other one… although if I were a profiler, I’d definitely be going with one sister.. at least I think… Argh, after a while I simply didn’t know anymore what to think. The best strategy in such a case I find is settling with ‘your initial thought’ so I did just that and guess what, everything added up for her being the one. Yeah and still I was wrong :-). I’ll tell you who else was wrong: her lawyer! Both Flynn and Kate are convinced that their client is innocent and at least one of them is in for a big surprise. That’s the only thing about the whole book that seems a bit unreal, they are both such goody toeshoes, neither wants to take clients on who aren’t innocent. I learned enough by now to know that a lawyer with a conscience, only prepared to defend innocent clients is not how the world goes round, and two of them in the same room… let’s just say it made me shake my head for far too long.

Anyway it takes a lot of skill for a story to work for both characters and not be obvious who’s pulling the strings. Cavanagh really kept me guessing and spreading uncertainty with each new revelation that was brought up or dismantled in the courtroom. Flynn is one heck of a lawyer and Kate’s not too bad herself. I was hanging onto their words to see how they would discredit a witness or turn a testimony into their favour. I was very excited to see if the baddie would get away with it after all and of course I was more than interested to know why the father had to die in the first place. Everything falls into place in the end and afterwards you’ll just say of course…

I haven’t read the rest of the series yet (I certainly will though!) but I was at no disadvantage, this can be read perfectly as a standalone. Brilliant and addictive!

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