The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joël Dicker #BookReview

Blank bookcover with clipping path

whats-it-about-2

In the summer of 1994, the quiet seaside town of Orphea reels from the discovery of three murders.

Confounding their superiors, two young police officers, Jesse Rosenberg and Derek Scott crack the case and identify the killer, earning themselves handsome promotions and the lasting respect of their colleagues.

But twenty years later, just as he is on the point of taking early retirement, Rosenberg is approached by Stephanie Mailer, a journalist who believes he made a mistake back in 1994 and that the real murderer is still at liberty, perhaps ready to strike again. Before she can give any more details however, Stephanie Mailer mysteriously disappears without trace, and Rosenberg and Scott are forced to confront the awful possibility that her suspicions might have been accurate.

What happened to Stephanie Mailer?

What did she know?

And what really happened in Orphea all those years ago?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars_1457015858_81_246_96_2

First of all I just want to say how great the cover is of the proof copy I received (courtesy of MacLehose Press and distributed at the Capital Crime festival 2019). I swear it’s even more gorgeous than the published novel and people even asked me if I was reading true crime (if you want to see it head over to my IG page).

Now The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer is a massive novel of 635 pages. This usually scares me so I’m not in a habit of picking a book this size but since I received a free copy and it’s really difficult (well, virtually impossible) not to see it standing in your library, I decided to gather my courage and just dive in. Before you continue I might want to say that even though I’m trying hard not to, there may or may not be spoilers ahead, so continue at your own risk :-).

In the first few pages we find ourselves witness to the first opening night of the Orphea Theater Festival of 1994 and while most people are at this event, four people will not live to see another day as they are brutally murdered. After these dreadful events we jump to 2014 where Stephanie Mailer talks to Detective Jesse Rosenberg and she tells him that he didn’t in fact solve that case in 1994, he made a mistake. Before she can talk to him again, she disappears… but the last words she spoke to him were quite memorable:

She raised her hand and placed it at the level of my eyes.
“What do you see captain?”
“Your hand”
“I was showing you my fingers.”
“But I see your hand”, I said, not understanding.
“That’s the problem right there” she said. “You saw what you wanted to see, not what you were being shown. That’s what you missed twenty years ago.”

This little statement played on my mind and I just think I’m really good at this thing or the author really underestimates his readers because 420 pages later the detective came to the same findings as I had after page 16 and the novel can finally take off.

The two cases and timelines are obviously connected, solve one and you’ll solve the other but there’s a lot to untangle and the author makes the detectives really run around. In the end I felt the denouement of the plot was clever, I never could have foreseen how things fit together and there was much more at play than I had expected but the execution was a bit slow and winding. The plot was speckled with red herrings and twists but I knew where to focus my attention to, it only wasn’t getting me anywhere and it frustrated me at the beginning that they weren’t looking where they should.

Apart from that, the other problem I encountered was that the author hammered the term ‘The Darkest Night’ into my reader’s brain so much, it started to annoy me, especially since it wasn’t clear what it meant, apart from the fact that it became some urban legend referring to THAT night in 1994. Yes, The Darkest Night is also the name of a play but after all these pages I STILL DON’T KNOW what the play is about, even when they practice the first scene of the play over and over again. The director of the play – a former police officer – is also an utterly weird guy and it didn’t feel very believable considering his previous profession. Bottomline is that the play is a big part of the story and in the end it marvelously brings all the side characters, the famous theater critic, the CEO with his mistress, the father with his daughter, back to Orphea and I was surprised when the who, how and why of the 1994 killings was revealed. Unsurprising, the final 150 pages or so were the best part of the story for me and I couldn’t put it away then, needing to know the answers and feeling I was getting closer and closer to the truth. A truth that is a real shocker after all

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

 

My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay #BookReview

MyMothersSecret def

whats-it-about-2

You can only hide for so long…

Lizzie Bradshaw. A student from the Lake District, forced to work away from home, who witnesses a terrible crime. But who will ultimately pay the price?

Emma Taylor. A mother, a wife, and a woman with a dangerous secret. Can she keep her beloved family safely together?

Stella Taylor. A disaffected teenager, determined to discover what her mother is hiding. But how far will she go to uncover the truth?

And one man, powerful, manipulative and cunning, who controls all their destinies.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

star three and a half

I’m not sure what’s going on with me lately but I’m still working on it to find my next top read. I really need to finish this review now because it is taking me forever to write something down and the funny part is that I actually liked the novel, I just wasn’t blown away by it. My Mother’s Secret is the second novel I read by Sanjida Kay and I do really enjoy this author’s style of writing so there is definitely that and right from the beginning the story had me hooked again. Differently from my first experience with her previous novel, The Stolen Child it didn’t have that same shocking quality though. It did have several twists but none of them really surprised me.

The story is narrated by Lizzy in the past and Emma and Stella (mother and daughter) in the present. It became clear that Emma knew things about Lizzy’s past and about her husband so I knew there was some connection, there was no denying that. Was she someone close or could it even be that she was Lizzy, but how and why? This little mystery was what actually kept me guessing the longest. Emma did make some strange decisions and I didn’t really like the way she treated her husband, seeking the company of another man. The story flowed nicely but it was all quite predictable, there was a lot of foreshadowing and I knew who everyone was before it was revealed.

There were some serious Gone Girl vibes weaved into the plot in the end and I did enjoy that part though so I’m hoping she’ll surprise me more next time, I’ll be her biggest fan again then.

I won a free copy of this novel in a Twitter giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

Mini #AudioBookReviews – liar, liar, tongue on fire!

The Last Wife audio

whats-it-about-2

Two women. A dying wish. And a web of lies that will bring their world crashing down.

Nina and Marie were best friends-until Nina was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before she died, Nina asked Marie to fulfill her final wishes.

But her mistake was in thinking Marie was someone she could trust.

What Nina didn’t know was that Marie always wanted her beautiful life, and that Marie has an agenda of her own. She’ll do anything to get what she wants.

Marie thinks she can keep her promise to her friend’s family on her own terms. But what she doesn’t know is that Nina was hiding explosive secrets of her own…

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

star three and a half

I read Karen Hamilton’s debut novel The Perfect Girlfriend in 2017 as one of the first and I couldn’t shut up about it at the time so it went without saying that I had to read – or listen to – her next novel. It did take me a while to get into the story but it was worth pushing through. I like revenge stories but sometimes it grows old to read about an obsessive jealous protagonist. Marie, the main character, seems calculated, wanting nothing else than Nina’s life who seems to have all her ducks in order. Nina has a wonderful relationship with Stuart and two children, a boy Felix and a girl Emily, until she dies. Cue Marie who sees an opportunity there… but while I thought I knew how this story was going to go it veered into a completely different direction and the past that I had overlooked at first, plays a much more important role than I initially thought and I saw literally everyone in another light by the end of the novel.

The narration of Marie’s and Camilla’s (the other woman in the picture who Marie rather want to see going than coming) voices were quite pleasant to listen to but I didn’t really like Stuart’s. The narrator (Michelle Ford) made his voice croak and he sounded much older than he should be in my head, he also spoke rather slowly, making me feel that he was a bit simple minded. It’s a small qualm but still. I know I was wrong about him though, he’s not a dumb ass and neither is Marie. My opinions about her changed greatly and I even felt sorry for her (the one I called the bitch in my head I have to admit) at a given point. She tries so hard to have Nina’s life and when she finally almost has it, only then does she realize that Nina had quite a few secrets and now she’ll have to make her own decisions if she wants to keep the secrets too. Personally, I think I’d give this 4 stars if I had read it, it had quite a few suspects and twists involved in the second part of the novel, there’s only a teensy bit more love for this author’s debut that had me hooked right away.  

Line

HowNotToDieAlone audio

whats-it-about-2

Andrew’s been feeling stuck.

For years he’s worked a thankless public health job, searching for the next of kin of those who die alone. Luckily, he goes home to a loving family every night. At least, that’s what his coworkers believe.

Then he meets Peggy.

A misunderstanding has left Andrew trapped in his own white lie and his lonely apartment. When new employee Peggy breezes into the office like a breath of fresh air, she makes Andrew feel truly alive for the first time in decades.

Could there be more to life than this?

But telling Peggy the truth could mean losing everything. For twenty years, Andrew has worked to keep his heart safe, forgetting one important thing: how to live. Maybe it’s time for him to start.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars_1457015858_81_246_96_2

First of all, the narration was performed by Simon Vance and we hit it off right away, I loved the fast tempo in which he told the story. He sounded a bit on speed, going a hundred words an hour, but I liked it. You had no choice but to pay attention, there’s not a single chance that you risk a wandering mind when listening to this one. Peggy’s accent was rather special to my ears, I don’t know where she was from. It was still understandable so there were no worries but let’s just say Andrew’s voice was easier.

Secondly, I really liked Andrew’s job. He works for the city council and he has to investigate dead people’s homes, looking for evidence of next of kin in the form of letters, cards, any contact details, and also see if there are any financial statements or official documents lying around that can shed a light on their finances. I was intrigued and interested in witnessing what he came across when entering someone’s home.

I know this might sound weird but I had already thought about this before this audiobook and I actually think this could happen to me when I’m old. I think that’s why I also connected quite well with Andrew, we are actually pretty much alike. For one, he’s also in the same situation as the people of the houses he visits, he lives a very solitary life and he also happened to have told a little white lie about having a family. A white lie that is hard to keep up and is going to get him into trouble, especially as his boss is insisting at organizing dinner’s at everyone’s homes. Where is he going to find a wife and two kids in a fortnight so to speak? 

I found the story itself rather slow and not all of the characters were equally interesting or fleshed out enough. I liked the friends Andrew had online and the plotlines revolving around them, and I liked how understanding Peggy was but I didn’t care for his other colleagues or his boss at all. In the end you know how this is going to end and while the journey towards the end is just as important, I felt was just not quite so memorable as I would have liked and for once I liked the narration more than the story itself. 

New BFF: Aleks and the Books

BFF

Happy hump day! Can you believe we’re the middle of the week – again?!

Today on The Belgian Reviewer I want to introduce you to sweet, friendly and smart Aleksandra who blogs at Aleks and the Books. She’s Polish-born but settled in Britain where she resides in Cardiff. She’s a very diverse blogger and reads several genres but to start off I can already say that she also likes to read The Classics and she has compiled a list of 50 novels that she wants to read so if you want to join The Classics Club, you need to check it out (the deadline is far, far FAR away you’ll see!). She’s only started with her blog so do show her some blog love, and you can always follow her on Goodreads too. Now let’s get to know her a little better, shall we?

QandA

Name: Aleksandra

Wikipedia: Etymologically, the name is a compound of the Greek alexein; meaning ‘to defend’ and andros; meaning ‘man’. Thus it may be roughly translated as “defender of man” or “protector of man”. The name was one of the epithets given to the Greek goddess Hera and as such is usually taken to mean “one who comes to save warriors”

Age:

2070898_1

Birthday:  20th January

What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job?
I am currently studying English Language and German, and I’m in my 3rd year now going on Erasmus exchange to study psychology and sociology in Berlin! And hopefully in the future I will be able to do my Master’s as well.

F01

Do you have any other hobbies?
I love running! I have run 2 half-marathons (one in the UK, one in my hometown in Poland), and a couple of 5k and 10k races. I am not a professional runner or anything like that (I am quite terrible at running tbf), I just like to be physically active, challenge myself and have fun with other people! And I also love shiny medals.

I also love nature and everything that’s connected with it. I love going out with my camera and taking pictures of the landscapes, I love hiking in the mountains (my biggest dream now is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro), I love travelling and exploring new places, and I love animals! The first photo is from one of my recent hikes in Tatra Mountains, and the photo of the waterfall is Henhryd Falls in Wales.

Photo 04   Photo 05

Do you have any pets? 
I personally don’t have a pet, but my family has a cat called Masha (it’s short for Maria in Russian). She’s British Shorthair, she’s very fluffy and cuddly, and she loves relaxing next to books.

Photo 06

Your favourite color? 
Definitely pink! But I do like pastel colours as well such as lilac, mint, pastel blue and pastel yellow.

Do you collect anything (besides books)?
I have a small collection of all the medals I earned for my races. If I’m correct, I should have seven of them, and two new ones will join our family very soon!

Photo 07

I also collect pin badges from the places I’ve been to! It’s not a big collection as I got this idea about collecting them not so long ago, but it’s such a small and nice thing to get while on holidays, and I always feel like a proper traveller when I can showcase them on my traveller’s backpack!

What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it?
I think Harry Potter series are my first books I have till this day. Soon after, I bought a complete trilogy of The Lord of the Rings which is also chilling on my bookshelf at home! I think I was around 12 or 13. I got rid of most of my books from childhood (I know I know, very silly of me), but as a kid I didn’t buy many books anyway, I preferred to borrow everything from the library.

Foto 2       Foto 1

Have you ever regretted a book you purchased? A book that sounded so promising but you wished you’d have spent your money on another book after reading it?
Oh yes… Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! I remember I got it in English when I was once visiting my family in London and I spent a fortune on that. I DIDN’T hate it, but I was so totally disappointed after finishing that I thought it was the biggest waste of money ever.

Do you listen to audio books? 
To be totally honest, I don’t like audiobooks. I’m a very visual person and I have to have raw text in front of me to fully understand the book! I even have to watch films and shows with subtitles on, I just like looking at the text I guess!

Do you have a favorite genre?
I think currently it’s historical fiction, but I also like contemporary fiction, classics and nonfiction. I like topics of identity, culture and social issues, so I don’t mind a good thriller, as long as it explores these things in even small details!

Do you read more ebooks or physical books?
I love my Kindle and it travels with me everywhere. I like how small and convenient it is to have even the biggest books in a tiny device, and it’s very useful when you don’t have to drag It by Stephen King with you on a train! I have a lot of physical books, but recently I’ve been using my Kindle much much more.

Do you have a favorite book? 
If I could only name one… My favourite book of all time is The Little Prince. It’s a universal and beautiful story and it played a really important role in my life. My second favourite book is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I absolutely love it, I think it’s beautifully written and it’s very thought-provoking. And the third favourite book is just recently finished The Midnight Library. There are a couple of other books that are my all-time favs, but I think these three mean a lot to me and have a special place in my heart.

Foto 4

What’s the cover in your collection that you’re most proud of? 
This edition of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. For some reason I really like it, and it’s not this basic cover of a woman in a red hood that you can usually see on The Handmaid’s Tale editions! And behind it, you can see Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go which has red pages, how cool is that?

Photo 09

What is the book highest on your wishlist right now?
All the Light We Cannot See. I still can’t believe I haven’t read that.

How is your library organized? 

This is my shelf from my room back at home. I still haven’t read a lot of the books so most of them are unopened and fresh editions, some of them are my young adult books that I haven’t touched since I was 14, and there are quite a few poetry books as well! Most of them are in Polish, some of them are in English, there should be a couple of books in German and one edition of Harry Potter in Russian. I really wish I could show you my shelf with my books at uni, but unfortunately they are all hidden in boxes now, waiting for me to come back from my Erasmus exchange.

Photo 08

Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200, >300 …?
If I think about all the books I own in all the places I’ve left my books, and also including books on my Kindle, that should be definitely more than 100! I know that only in my room I have around 40 books I still haven’t read…

What’s the title of the last book you purchased? 
I bought my last books at the airport in August, and they were The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. I have already finished The Midnight Library, and the another one is on my to-read list!

Reni Eddo-Lodge is a London-based, award-winning journalist. She has written for the New York Times, the Voice, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Stylist, the Pool, Dazed and Confused and the New Humanist. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race is her first book. It was chosen as Foyles Non-Fiction Book of the Year and Blackwell’s Non-Fiction Book of the Year, longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize and shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Readers Award for Non-Fiction.

From which author do you have most books? 
Naturally J. K. Rowling – all 7 books of Harry Potter in Polish editions, 3 books in English (and one of them is an American edition), The Tales of Beedle the Bard, The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch through the Ages and The Casual Vacancy. Jane Austen is next and her books are in my favourite, flowery and very girly editions – and that’s Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey!

Foto 3

How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already? 
My challenge for this year is 32 books and I’ve already finished 27 of them. I used to read much more, but since I started uni, I haven’t had much time to do well in my adult life and still read 50 books a year. But I think I’m going to change my challenge soon and add a bit more since I’m doing pretty well this year.

img_6219-1

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

I did my best to find those books I actually made it! There was a problem with K, but if you’ll accept a title in Polish then it should all be fine The books are:

A – Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi
L – Lion by Saroo Brierley
E – Emma by Jane Austen
K – Krew elfów (Blood of Elves in English) by Andrzej Sapkowski
S – Serena by Ron Rash

Line

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

Kelly – FromBelgiumWithBookLove
Deborah – The Reading Chick
Jonetta – The Blue Mood Cafe
Zoé – Zooloo’s Book Diary
Annelies – In Another Era

I would really really love more friends in my BFF club so give me a shout if you want to be featured! I’m especially thinking of all newbie bloggers here who we don’t know very well yet!

The Chalet by Catherine Cooper #BookReview @HarperCollinsUK @catherinecooper

Blank bookcover with clipping path

whats-it-about-2

French Alps, 1998

Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.

20 years later

Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.

Someone knows what really happened that day.

And somebody will pay.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

The Chalet is a wonderful wintry novel set at the foot of the ski slopes in the French alps. The plotline jumps between two time periods following different sets of people in each storyline. In 1998 two brothers came to the Alps with their girlfriends Louise and Nell and they went skiing in very bad weather. There was an accident and only one of them made it from the mountain.

In the present two couples are spending a week at La Madière (Ria and Hugo who invited Simon and Cass with their little baby and the nanny in the hope of reigning in Simon as a new investor for Hugo’s travel agency) and Millie and Cameron (the ‘cabin girl’ who cooks and cleans and the owner of the luxurious chalet). Someone among this (not always very lovely) bunch of people is putting on a show and it becomes clear that there are some invisible ties to the past and someone has to pay for what this person believes is not an accident but murder.

The Chalet intrigued me from the word go! I was looking for someone with a hidden agenda and at least one of them seemed to fit the bill a little too perfectly but could it be that easy? It took me a long time to make up my mind but in the end I settled on a suspect, even though my conclusion didn’t even sound very logical to my own ears, there was just this thing that didn’t add up, but in the end I was still right on the money! It is only with the big reveal that everything falls in place though and it finally makes so more sense. I loved how the background story of the past bleeds so well into the present happenings and I didn’t even mind that I had a hunch who was masquerading in The Chalet because I was so engrossed in untangling the secrets in the lives of all these people. I did feel Ria and Louise were the most developed and deep of the whole cast and I liked to read about these women most of all. It felt to me that the bad guy was in this case actually a bad woman so I didn’t mind that the men’s contributions to the story were smaller or at least didn’t leave the same impression as the women’s, I was interested most of all in the women anyway. Revenge is a dish best served cold and The Chalet hits the spot.

The Chalet is a great debut with interesting characters and a decent revenge plot, and it didn’t disappoint at all. Mystifying, addictive and surprising!

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

The Capital Crime Book Club #booksubscription #unboxing @CapitalCrime1

Capital Crime Book Club

Last year I went to the 2-day Capital Crime festival in London, which was absolutely amazing to be a part of, but unfortunately due to the COVID19-virus the 2020 event had to be postponed until next year. That doesn’t mean I can’t get excited this year though because they launched their very own Book Subscription Box this month and I have the first box!

Capital Crime 01

The Capital Crime Book Club is an affordable monthy book subscription service where subscribers receive:

  • Two carefully curated paperbacks from the crime and thriller genre.
  • Access to exclusive online author interviews with the opportunity to submit questions in advance.
  • The first to hear about the latest news and competitions in the crime and thriller community.
  • Access to the back catalog of festival content and interviews which grows every month.

Do you want to see what I received?

Capital Crime 02

I have tested a few book subscription boxes in the past but The Capital Crime Book Club is the perfect match for me!

I loved the books in this box and I’m not the kind of reader who needs much more swag than books. I really do like the pen and the (signed) postcard and that is the perfect book swag for me and they’re items I’m definitely going to use to bookmark my page and to write my reviews! The pen even has a little light in it by the way, you can even write in the dark haha.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman is a wonderful hardback edition (wow!) with beautiful endpapers and a lovely silver wolf hiding behind the dust jacket, and… saving the best part for last… it was signed! Totally unexpected but quite a bonus.

Capital Crime 03

What’s it about?

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings.

But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late

The House Guest by Mark Edwards was a novel I really really wanted because I loved the author’s previous novel so much (and also because he was such a nice and kind author to me at the Capital Crime event last year) so no you’re not seeing double (well you are but… you know what I mean), I had bought the book already.

Capital Crime 04

What’s it about?

A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite them into your home—but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

Line

The books in this box are definitely the genre of books I like to read. Yes I had one novel already but I know it’s a real exception because I don’t buy new books very often.

The very best thing about this box is that it is finally a book box that not only ships internationally but also comes at TRULY affordable subscription prices.

You have the options to subscribe for 3, 6 or 12 months at 14,99 £/month, 12,99 £/month or 10,00 £/month if you sign up for 12 months. I received the launch box free for review but I honestly have not found any book box that looks better so I signed up for 6-months right away and I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I see myself signing up for a whole year after that even.

If you need another little nudge… the October box looks amazing too! I read What Lies Between Us digitally but I’m very happy to add the paperback to my library because I’m a big fan of the author (and there’s a big chance you’ll see this book in my top 10 favourite list of the year)! I can’t wait to read Remember Me either, it has received top reviews.

Some might say that there’s no surprise in what you’re getting but I rather have the organizer share the books than seeing a million unboxings from other bloggers before having the chance to open the box myself and get that surprise. No I’d rather have it this way then.

EiHflVsXsAA1dpn

So there you go. Would you be happy with the September/October box? Which one do you prefer? 

If you love both boxes (like me) then I wouldn’t hesitate any longer and join the book club (they have the coolest members ;-)). You can find out all about the scheme and sign up at the Capital Crime Website here.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough #BookReview

CrossHerHeart def

whats-it-about-2

Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job, and her best friend Marilyn, but when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go. Then her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see. Lisa’s world explodes, and she finds everything she has built threatened. Not knowing whom she can trust, it’s up to her to face her past to save what she holds dear.

amazon ukamazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars_1457015727_81_246_96_2

Whatever you do, if you can help it then don’t read the blurb on Amazon. I can’t believe they printed a major spoiler that wasn’t necessary at all because believe me, before I read the novel I didn’t know and I loved that I was totally wrong-footed what this novel was about, led to believe something else was going on, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

This is only my second novel by the great Sarah Pinborough and she really deserves that noun before her name. I absolutely loved the fantastical Behind Her Eyes and although this one’s more normal (well that’s debatable but it’s not fantasy anyway) it’s brilliant in its own genre. I read a few of these novels with a plot leaning towards this one but none that were written this way. Again, it felt different for me and so well-written I found it an outstanding novel.

Lisa and Marilyn are colleagues but also friends and if feels like there’s more that bonds them. I was sucked in. Both their stories are tragic, a horrible childhood and an abusive relationship won’t let your attention slip for a second and it was so well-written that it couldn’t be any other way then that they krept under my skin. I honestly thought I knew what each of the secrets was that they are trying to hide from each other but at least one of them left me completely thunderstruck at the end of Part One of the novel. In Part Two there are other new secrets waiting to be revealed 😊 The author made me feel even more sympathy for Lisa, even when it seems she doesn’t deserve it, at least some of the characters are not sympathetic towards her at all. I had to examine my own feelings here for a moment. Should I feel guilty, as some of her colleagues were trying to make me feel? Is she not the woman I came to know in the first pages, a sweet and loving yet somewhat overprotective mother for her daughter Ava? Lisa wasn’t the only questionable one though..

Who is the threat in this novel, leaving unsettling clues at Lisa’s house? I’ll make you a promise… you’ll never guess. And when you finally learn know who it is then there’s a whole new mystery about the reason why…  Sarah Pinborough has so many twists and turns up her sleeve, I haven’t counted them but it’s seriously one of the reasons she’s now definitely one of my favourite authors and I want to read many more of her novels! The story has a definite emotional side to it, I loved how heartfelt it was and all of the mysteriousness of it made me race through it. I can’t wait to read her other novels!

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

 

#CoverReveal: A Sky Full of Stars by Dani Atkins @HoZ_Books @AtkinsDani

Book Cover reveal

It’s a real pleasure to be involved in the cover reveal for A Sky Full of Stars by Dani Atkins. You don’t have to take my word for it but it’s such a gorgeous cover, I absolutely love it!

whats-it-about-2

He’d have done everything differently, if he’d known. He’d have held her tighter, kissed her longer. He’d have refused to let her go.

When Lisa married Alex, she gave his life meaning. She was a professional astronomer: a stargazer. And when she gazed at Alex, she saw that behind his tough exterior was a man she could love.

Alex, Lisa and their young son Connor made a happy little universe. But then Lisa dies in a train crash, and their universe is destroyed. Alex is shattered by loss, and overwhelmed by the difficulties of being a single father to a six-year-old boy. How can he and Connor carry on without Lisa lighting up their lives?

Then Alex meets four strangers. Two men and two women, who never met Lisa, but whose lives changed profoundly because she died. As Alex hears their stories, he begins to realise the world may not be as cruel and senseless as it seems. Perhaps, after all, the future is written in the stars…

Line

So … Are you ready to take a look? Well here it is

Cover A Sky Full of Stars

Doesn’t it look amazing?! If you can’t wait any longer you can pre-order A Sky Full of Stars right now:

amazon uk

The novel is out on February 4th in hardback and e-book and on August 5, 2021 in paperback.

Author

Dani Atkins is an award-winning novelist. Her 2013 debut Fractured has been translated into sixteen languages and has sold more than half a million copies since first publication in the UK. Dani is the author of four other bestselling novels, one of which, This Love, won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2018. Dani lives in a small village in Hertfordshire with her husband, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie.

Connect

Twitter: @AtkinsDani
Facebook: @DaniAtkinsAuthor

Lost You by Haylen Beck #BookReview

LostYou def

whats-it-about-2

Libby would do anything for her three-year-old son Ethan. And after all they’ve been through, a holiday seems the perfect antidote for them both. Their hotel is peaceful, safe and friendly, yet Libby can’t help feeling that someone is watching her. Watching Ethan. Because, for years, Libby has lived with a secret.

Just days into their holiday, when Libby is starting to relax, Ethan steps into an elevator on his own, and the doors close before Libby can stop them. Moments later, Ethan is gone.

Libby thought she had been through the worst, but her nightmare is only just beginning. And in a desperate hunt for her son, it becomes clear she’s not the only one looking for him.

Who will find him first?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

Oh this one’s a sneaky surprise!

I was eating the cake right away in this novel because my lord, the opening chapter couldn’t have been a more harrowing scene. A woman is standing on a hotel’s rooftop ledge with a little boy in her arms, claiming he’s her son and threatening to jump. All I can say is that the chapter ended what a real cliffhanger and a lot of screaming. It immediately begged for answers. Who is she? Did she really do it and what on earth got into her?

With this in mind I dove into the next chapters where I was introduced to the three and half year old boy’s ‘real’ mother Libby where she is preparing herself and toddler Ethan for their first holiday together. I followed Libby and Ethan enjoying their first days at a splendid hotel and the lead-up to that heart-pounding moment. There was not a doubt in my mind that she wasn’t his mother until

… the story backpedals to 4 years earlier. I’m not saying I was disappointed because I love the writing style but as the story unfolded I could clearly see how this one was going to unfold… Libby wants a baby so much but it looks like nature is not on her side in this, while Anna is having financial problems. Surrogacy isn’t far from anyone’s mind right? Well it certainly comes into play but the story really isn’t so simple, and while it might seem very easy whose side to take, it really wasn’t, my loyalties and beliefs about who should raise this boy went in the tumbler while reading.

Libby and Anna were both well-developed characters that you can’t help sympathise with at different moments. Love is beautiful and ugly at the same time and I certainly felt a few stabs in my heart. But what is right and what is wrong and how far can they go for what they want? Who to root for? I found this a tough decision! There were some not so smart decisions on both sides and it made me totally invested in their stories but then the author made it even better by adding a thunderbolt of a twist so the story didn’t end up where I thought it would at all. I think I even cried out at one specific moment when I saw what was happening! I was maybe not entirely convinced at first about the novel’s originality but I seriously had to reconsider that opinion. I’m not really a fan of novels about surrogacy but if it’s like this… more please!

Final verdict: emotional, thought-provoking and twisty! I promise I won’t underestimate Haylen Beck (aka Stuart Neville) again ;-).

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

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa #BookReview

The Travelling Cat Chronicles def

whats-it-about-2

It’s not the journey that counts, but who’s at your side.

Nana, a cat, is devoted to Satoru, his owner. So when Satoru decides to go on a roadtrip one day to find him a new home, Nana is perplexed. They visit Satoru’s old friends from his school days and early youth. His friends may have untidy emotional lives but they are all animal lovers, and they also wonder why Satoru is trying to give his beloved cat away. Until the day Nana suddenly understands a long-held secret about his much-loved owner, and his heart begins to break.

Narrated in turns by Nana and by his owner, this funny, uplifting, heartrending story of a cat is nothing if not profoundly human.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I was a little bit afraid to pick this one up because I believed and had heard that there would be tears involved when reading this (I couldn’t resist buying a copy at the airport last year though) so I left it sitting on my shelf. It has a wonderful cover so I looked at it regularly since then and suddenly I felt I could handle whatever was laying ahead and I went through all my nine boxes to find it again :-).

The story is about a cat called Nana (and he is the narrator of the story)  and his owner Saturo. the story of how they found each other and what happens when they visit Saturo’s old friends. There’s a great deal of friendship, of selflessness and of kindness to be found in the novel and of course it is a perfect novel for cat owners. I don’t know if everyone gets how much you can love an animal but I do, I understood Saturo’s affection to Hachi (his first cat) and to Nana fully.

In the end the author sums up a few of the things the duo came across on their travels and it filled my heart because then I fully felt how wonderful their friendship and journey was together. Of course there was the expected heartbreak as well, it wasn’t really a surprise what was coming and in what form it was going to present itself. In fact I knew as soon as they started their roadtrip. The ending was indeed very touching. There were no traumatizing Marley and Me moments though, it’s nothing of the sort. No it’s the sheer beauty of love and loyalty to ones owner, an owner who’s like a cat whisperer. Saturo knew Nana’s thoughts and Nana was a well-behaved cat who absolutely loved her owner. I can only hope my cat feels the same about me, I’d like to think she does anyway and this heart-warming novel makes me want to give her extra cuddles!

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