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.

The Curator by M.W. Craven #BookReview

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It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again . . .

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This is such a great series and Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are back again as the wonderful complimentary duo in the author’s third book. The start of the novel gave me an immediate jolt with a crime that was happening before my own eyes, giving me an utter feeling of powerlessness. But what is it exactly that is being performed? In the next chapters there are different sets of the same body parts found at different places accompanied with a cryptic message (ah I think you’ll get the gist now) and it gets even more mysterious when it turns out these belong to more than one person and also, the colorful pathologist Estelle Doyle finds them to be extracted with different tools and post as well as ante-mortem. Intrigued yet?

If you think the previous novel (Black Summer) was baffling (it had an opening chapter that stays fresh in my mind btw) then you’ll be happy to hear The Curator is just as brain spindling this time with absolutely no discernable pattern to connect the crimes in the current investigation. And yet, there is, of course. It was a thrill to follow Poe, Bradshaw and their boss Flynn and see them take the meandering path towards The Curator.

I wish I could talk to you about all the new, nifty things I learned about in this book that can give away someone’s involvement in a case but sadly, I can’t. I’ll give you one thing though, I’ll tell you the bottom line of it all… it’s actually thanks to Edgar (Poe’s dog) that the case is cracked open, you’ll see when you read it, it made me smile that he was the unintentional instigator. It’s all in the details and Poe is always paying attention to the details, I love him for it!

All the books in the series have plotlines that you can sink your teeth in and that pose such great mysteries. They let you forget about the world completely. They take you to places and cover subjects you never imagined reading about and, ah before I forget, I even managed to finally have an answer to the eternal Chicken or the Egg conundrum. The question was answered in two seconds flat by the ever so brilliant Tilly of course.

Overall I can say that the whole of the series is wonderfully intoxicating, I love the complexity of the cases and the plot is always clever and air-tight. I can’t believe we have to wait another year for the next novel but it’ll be well worth the wait I’m sure.

Why didn’t I give 5 stars then you ask? I have no idea, I might as well. I’m rounding it up anyway on all platforms that don’t allow half points. Truthfully, I don’t think anything can top my appreciation for the previous novel’s promise of someone being dead AND alive. I also had an inkling about The Curator believe it or not (I had two people in mind) so I wasn’t entirely surprised. I was astonished however by how it all ended, I certainly didn’t see that coming!

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

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen #BookReview

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You probably know someone like Shay Miller. She wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is becoming increasingly isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters. They have an unbreakable circle of friends. They live a life of glamour and perfection. They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.

But what they really want is hers.

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I was over the moon when I could get my hands on this book for a very reasonable price. Since I read their first novel The Wife Between Us I’ve been such a fan, and I also loved their second one, An Anonymous Girl. Both books were noticed by the movie business and will be on screen somewhere in the future. They really deserve to reach as many people as possible and it’s clear that these authors know how to write a novel that you can easily imagine playing out on tv. I’m no psychic but I bet there’s a big chance their novel You Are Not Alone will be added to this list as well.

The chapters in the novel alternate between girl-nextdoor Shay Miller and the fashionable sisters Cassandra and Jane Moore. Shay is very shaken after she witnessed the suicide of a woman in the metro and when she is questioned by the police about it, this gives her enough information to go and find out more about the victim. Cassandra and Jane were her friends and even though Shay’s a stranger to them, there’s always some reason to meet again and soon enough she’s taken under their wing. I could see why Shay would be taken in by them, but – even though Shay is a lovely girl who I really liked – I wondered about the Moore sisters. They were very keen to be friends with Shay but why?

Similar to their previous novel, there’s a major amount of manipulations and lies involved. Cassandra and Jane have gathered a tightly knit group of friends around them with Beth (a lawyer), Daphne (shop owner), Valerie (wannabe actress), Stacy (computer whizz) and Amanda (nurse). They each have their own story woven into the plot and I enjoyed seeing where they were all coming from.

You can see clearly that something isn’t quite right but I could not put rhyme nor reason to why they were putting in so much effort. It is so clear that Shay doesn’t know anything (about what exactly?) so why are they so intent on being friends? The authors give clues where the story must be headed and what in the margin of the story must be of some importance, but they keep the best for last. The backstory fit right into place and I finally had that aha-moment I was craving. This duo was able to surprise me again with their brilliant plot and writing.

I really enjoyed a lot about this novel but I still don’t fully understand the reasons for dragging Shay into everything and doing what they did. All I can say is that you grow even fonder of Shay and you’ll hate the sisters a little more until the author gives it another twist that makes you see them in another light.

Greer and Pekkanen are a magic author duo and I hope they write many, many more books because I want to read them all. This one’s perhaps not my new favourite one but it’s still one of the highlights of the past months. I can’t wait to see how they surprise me next time!

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

The House Share by Kate Helm #BookReview

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The Hunting Party meets Our House in this gripping, claustrophobic new locked-room thriller.

When you’re sharing a house with seven murder suspects, you can’t lock the danger out.

Immi think she has found the perfect new home in central London: a shared warehouse with luxury accommodation, a rooftop terrace and daily yoga, all with a surprisingly affordable price tag. The Dye Factory is a ‘co-living’ community, designed to combat the loneliness of big city life.

But soon after she moves into her new haven, Immi realises that it’s not quite as idyllic as it appears. No one seems to know who is behind this multi-million pound urban experiment. And her housemates may be hiding a dangerous secret.

Then, as a series of pranks escalates into something much darker, Immi is left questioning whether, in this group of strangers, she can ever really be safe . . .

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star three and a half

When I saw this novel come up in my emails I was excited right away. I live for locked-room type thrillers, so this one was impossible to resist.

The House Share was quite an enjoyable read even if I have to admit that the start of the novel reminded me of a similar book I read (down to the girl finding an advertisement and an offer to move she can’t refuse). When you start comparing it to a million dollar bestseller… it’s not the best thing to do. This story turns into a completely different direction quickly though so I was happy it made its own stamp in the end.

I don’t know why I always assimilate locked-room thrillers to be novels with people in the same room or in the same remote location with nowhere to go. The House Share differs from that precut format as Immi can walk in and out of the Factory to her job and lead a fairly normal life, the only thing is she’s bound to stay there – if she is chosen as a resident after a trial period – because of the contract that comes with the residency.

At the surface all of it seems golden and the opportunity Immi and Dex get to live at this place is enough to make anyone quite jealous (well not me but then I’m not into healthy stuff or want to be part of a ‘community’ and I can’t contribute any skills like Immi’s sewing clothes). Co-living has never looked so good, there are several perks and benefits to be found over four different communal floors: Play, Retreat, Nourish and Focus. They even have two pets there, Edward and Bella, so even I would get a little excited.  

The other residents or Dyers as they call themselves (the Factory used to dye animal skins there… yes it was a veritable slaughterhouse) all have secrets to keep and Immi and Dex both have secrets of their own.  

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding all of the characters living in the building. There’s the beautiful and vain actress Camille, laid-back IT guy Zoum, healthy Ashleigh, queen bee Bernice and slick Lucas but I couldn’t figure out who the true culprit behind everything was. To add to this great cast of not to be trusted characters was also Hanna, the housekeeper, who seemed to live there and always be around except when you need her.   

I didn’t find any of these people particularly likeable but I did get invested in Immi and Dex, the underdogs of the show. Even though I didn’t know excactly what their backstory was, what they had done that was awful and needed to be kept a secret, I made up my mind right away that I wanted to stick up for them. Did they stumble into a cult, were they even safe there now that people were starting to get hurt? How can they escape when they have no money and nowhere to go?

The tone of the novel was full of menace and you don’t know anything until the end and that end is nothing like you imagined it would be. Some might find it all a bit unbelievable, I thought it was quite clever. I only wished I could have cared for the characters more and that the ending wasn’t dropped on the reader so out of the blue, it makes a great twist but it made all of my sleuthing a total waste of time. You are warned, just (try to) relax and enjoy the show.

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

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney #BookReview #AudioBook

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Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he’s her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she’s a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife.

Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives – and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together for ever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

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Yes I read a sci-fi novel which is already quite extraordinary news but not only that is new, it was also the very first audiobook I ever completed. I did listen regularly to a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime adaptation of How To Stop Time but I feel that doesn’t really count as the same thing, so I’m quite proud of myself that I finished listening to the 128 files of The Perfect Wife. So how was my experience? I’m not going to lie, it was a bumpy ride. It took me two months in all but the first 50 files were the most difficult, I listened very irregularly and only 3-4 files in one go but after that I really got the hang of it and listened to the rest in only two weeks or so. It helped that each file and chapter was a soundbite of app. 7 minutes, so I could really listen to it in small doses if I wanted to (I started to really enjoy listening during my half an hour lunch break).

The narration of the audiobook was ok but the woman’s voice with Abbie as a robot was very softly spoken, I did miss some energy and power there sometimes to really keep my attention afloat. Maybe a robot can’t be so vivacious and energetic as the Abbie I came to know in the flashbacks of the past, that might explain why, but she felt insecure and in doubt of herself, not really what I think a robot would be or what I felt the original Abbie was.

The sci-fi part of it all was quite enjoyable and a future like the one presented in this story wasn’t even very hard to imagine. I liked the general plot idea and it was developped quite well although I would have enjoyed if it was a bit more fast-paced and with more happening in the past. Something was definitely off I but couldn’t really pinpoint what it was. Abbie doesn’t trust her husband in the present and he did seem a little controlling to me from the start but is he a murderer? Did he really love Abbie so much he wanted to recreate her as an Abbie-bot, or does he have another motive? There was a big and slow lead up to the final conclusion. The author has a delicous twist in store at the end and I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard it. That alone is quite the exception. It made me all the more happy I persisted and didn’t give up at first.

So to conclude I’d say from one novice sci-fi reader to another: The Perfect Wife is totally readable and enjoyable as a novel to dip your toes into the genre.

I listened to a free copy of this novel via Titleshare, courtesy of the publisher. This is still my honest opinion.

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann #BookReview

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A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.

One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn’t quite seem to fit.

250.000 copies sold in Germany – 5th bestselling paperback in Germany in 2019

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I really enjoy reading these types of books and yes I know books like Room, The Good Girl, The Marsh King’s Daughter and others talk about abduction, imprisonment and abuse, which is always hefty and disturbing to read but they also happen to really touch me to my core if done right. Dear Child was perfect and pulled at my heartstrings straight away. I fell into its pages from the start because it hits you full on with little snippets about what happened at the cabin, sending shivers down my spine. Fortunately the tension does let up after a little while because much more than a story about the time in the cabin is it a storyline about the aftermath, how everyone reacts, how the media doesn’t leave you alone, and how you are free then but not free in your head, it’s about the enormous trauma it causes. The main character struggles to trust, to enjoy, to be herself when her identity was demolished to the ground from the minute she found herself waking up in that cabin. She had to be someone else or suffer the consequences, so who is she now?

Dear Child is narrated by 3 different characters and keeps you guessing about what happened all those years ago and who took Lena. It’s quite a complex story and I loved how the author added another layer to it. It made me rather confused and puzzled about Lena though, some of just didn’t add up, she seems to be keeping something to herself but I couldn’t see how this piece of the puzzle fit into the greater picture, there was a sizeable mystery aspect woven into the story. Her father doesn’t recognize her in the hospital for instance which was beyond strange because he does recognize her daughter Hannah as his grandchild right away and she seems to have seen her grandfather at a garden party on one of the secret outings that her father didn’t know about.

I loved the determination of Matthias, Lena’s father, but also really liked to follow Lena’s daughter Hannah. Hannah is a young girl who knows everything about everything, she can give full definitions of the most complex terms and processes. In other ways she lacks emotions and she is quite chilling. Her view of reality is – understandably – very distorted. Sometimes I didn’t even know she was talking about things that weren’t real because I only had Hannah’s reality, only when I read further along I would then realise that it was her imagination and that would knock me back again.

The person I loved most in the end though was Lena and I only realised just how much when I was almost turning those last pages. The strength she had, the things she did for her children and how she made their life better, how she told them about the constellations and bedtime stories, preparing them for the moment they would be able to step into the real world, how my heart bled for her and how she was still busy working on a future when she couldn’t even tell if it was night or day.

The last part of the novel took a very unexpected turn, it turns into a real thriller there that made me sit up straight, and it gave the answers to all the much sought after questions I had stored in my head. I didn’t think it would happen again but my heart bled once more when I read about the reasons why this had happened. Although you wouldn’t say so, the story has so much to do with love, love for your wife, your father, your daughter, your children,… sometimes love knows no limits and this book shows the darkest sides but also the deepest and bestest side of love.

A dark and gripping story with a great twist! Well crafted and memorable!

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

Here to Stay by Mark Edwards #BookReview

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A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

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Wowzers! Now this is a bloody good book. I really didn’t expect to like it so much, but I had such a great time reading this, it was so satisfying!

It didn’t start off with a bang though but rather average which means I liked the first part of the novel well enough but Elliot is playing the part of a very naive guy much longer than I thought possible as (even) I could see it a mile coming that Jeff and Lizzy, Gemma’s parents who happen to stay with them for a few weeks, were not the in-laws to dream about. I don’t know what gave it away exactly, their nosiness, trying to suss whether Elliot was wealthy (asking questions about money is so not done, is it not), the fact that they have no respect for his home, or the worst of all, that one of them complains about the cat (how dare they!) and possibly locked the cat flap. There were so many triggers that I’d have my guard up in a flash but Elliot has a bigger heart than I have, there’s no doubt about that. All three of these examples out of so many more would make me pack up their bags and tell them to go fly. Easier said then done though come to think of it. What if your house guests don’t want to go?

The novel really switches gears when it finally dawns on Elliot that something is off and he finally gets that it might be a bit of a problem to get rid of them. The real fun starts then! The Robinsons feel right at home and with nowhere else to go, why wouldn’t they stay?

I never ever in a million years imagined it would be so difficult to get someone out of your house. I wondered how accurate that was because it felt quite unbelievable and I would have asked around if it wasn’t for this lockdown (imagine that being the case in this novel!) but I accepted it for that time being and I googled it after I finished the novel. It seems I wasn’t the only one interested in that answer and I found a (US) post that confirms it, the police can’t do much if they play it right and it can be pretty difficult to evict an unwanted guest

I felt for Elliot and held my breath more than once, not least because I was scared the cat would get hurt in the process (I can’t even recount how many times I said ugly words out loud while reading!) and wanted nothing more than the Robinsons (well Jeff and Lizzy at least, I felt pity for the younger daughter Chloe) getting a piece of their own cake. Oh how I wanted the repulsive people that they were to get theirs. I refuse to feel guilty and actually find it quite funny how worked up I got about them. It was great to hate them so much and to follow the power plays going on because luckily and thankfully, Elliot isn’t prepared to just roll over and give up the rights on his own house. This unsettling and threatening vibe that something or someone is going to have to give is driven to the max towards the ending and there was more than one surprise in store in those final chapters that made me punch the air and left me lost for words all in the matter of turning a few pages.

Here to Stay is a terrifying novel that makes you appreciate your own family that little bit more than before. You don’t want to imagine this scenario coming true! Here to Stay has a wicked plot that was brilliantly executed and his next novel, The House Guest sounds like your next perfect nightmare.

Last bit of advice from me after reading this: choose your in-laws wisely to avoid all risk.  

I bought a hardback copy of this novel at the Capital Crime Festival in 2019 (and Mark Edwards happens to be the first author I ever met, so I couldn’t be happier now). This is my honest opinion.

I Am Dust by Louise Beech #BookReview

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A haunted theatre
A murdered actress
Three cursed teenagers
A secret that devastates them all…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her? Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

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As you all probably well know by now, I’m not very attracted to the supernatural, and the mention of witches, magic or ghosts in a novel makes me shiver horribly, and usually not how I want it to. But, newsflash!, this novel was able to enthrall me, and I really have to credit the wonderful author for being able to do so. I Am Dust is very, very different from the psychological thriller Call Me Stargirl, which was my first novel by this author and made me an instant fan, and is much more of a mix between mystery and teenage drama with a good dash of gothic, BUT it’s equally hard to put down and the ending was as heartbreaking as ever.

The story is told over two timelines, perfectly balancing scenes in the present and past. Both timelines keep you alert and I felt even more excited to see that links to the past gradually start to shimmer through in the present when Chloé starts to remember the game she played. For one or the other obscure reason – and believe me this novel is drenched in darkness and obscurity – Chloé doesn’t remember a lot about the time she spent with Jess and Ryan in 2005. I know I have a faulty memory at the best of times but that’s nothing compared to the big black hole in Chloé’s memory. When she hears that the musical Dust is being revived and especially when she sees who will be the lead actress who will have to tread in the footsteps of the murdered actress of the first show, it starts to jog her memory and little by little memories start to surface, unsettling memories, which might perhaps give an answer to the question why she has to wear long sleeves even at summer time and how it all ended between the three of them back in 2005 when they were such good friends and why they have no contact in the present.

I Am Dust is so much more than a ghost story, it is also a story of unrequited love, jealousy and betrayal. I really loved the atmosphere of the novel, the gloomy light of a few single candles, the board with its Welcome and Goodbye sign, the moving of the glass with the tip of their finger (or even without the use of their finger), the internal debate whether Chloe is some kind of a witch with special powers or not… but I was happy to find the story was also serving my appetite for a conventional story at the same time and the murder mystery and the issues at play between the three of them made it all the more addictive.

‘I’m still here; I am dust.
I’m those fragments in the air,
the gold light dancing there,
that breeze from nowhere.’

I’m not one for ghost stories but those words, lyrics actually from the musical in the book that plays such a huge role, are so beautiful. I loved that they were repeated often throughout the story so that I could read them over and over again.

In the end I felt nothing short of bereft and I wasn’t expecting to feel this way. I finally had the HUGELY surprising answer who killed Morgan Miller but even more than that I was caught in the emotional rollercoaster of Chloe, Jess and Ryan’s story because Louise Beech certainly knows how to write a hard-hitting ending. I had no idea I was so deep under its spell until I felt my heart bleed. I so wish I had discovered this author sooner and had listened to the words of praise from everyone from the start. Don’t be me, so just get one of her books, I’m sure they are all amazing. Ah, now let me read that poem one last time, it felt special before but even more special now that I finished it.

I received a free paper copy of this novel from the publisher, Orenda Books. This is still my honest opinion.

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton #BookReview

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Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?

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star three and a half

It’s raining 5 stars for this novel and *deep breath* I didn’t feel the same excitement. I know it is a mighty good novel for most readers but given the theme of the novel I should have known there was a possibility I could be the exception and feel this way. I know this author and I love all of her books I read so far so I took the chance and I chose this title when I won a really great giveaway last year. Do I regret reading it? Not at all, because it’s still a good book. Will I continue this trilogy? Well no, because I don’t think the road ahead is one for me but don’t let me stop you from giving this a go, I really mean it.

It honestly would have been a great book, an amazing book for me too if it didn’t go so far into fantasyland in the end.

The opening chapter of the novel reeled me right in though. Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of a convicted criminal and it certainly grabbed my attention right away, especially when she goes round to his old house and finds something unsettling that puts a new light on his conviction.

It was incredibly chilling to read a pretty vivid description in one of the following chapters how someone would experience being buried alive, waking up in total darkness and finding out they’re actually in a casket. This was some outstanding writing, I could feel the panic and desperation through the pages! In case you’re wondering about the difference too, the meaning of a coffin and a casket is very well explained in the novel, and even such a small thing makes me love reading this author’s novels, there’s always something new to learn.

WPC Florence Lovelady is someone who doesn’t let go easily but who is unfortunately the only woman in a bastion of men so she has to stand up for herself quite a lot. She ain’t no pushover though and not afraid to do what needs to be done behind the chief’s back, and it only made me like her more. Her only shortcoming is that she tends to get a little distracted with someone else playing on her mind to see she might be in danger. We already know she has lived through something because she’s missing part of a digit at the start of the book so the anticipation and the fear was high, especially when the end came in sight. All in all, she makes a great detective and I was definitely in her corner, even if I didn’t see eye to eye with her beliefs in witchcraft and dark magic.

Did she convict the right man though? It was a straight and shut case but 30 years later she can’t shake the niggling feeling in light of her new finding. If only those bees could talk! The tension builds and builds in the end and it finally finishes with a big bang. Lovelady is one power house of a woman!

Oh The Craftsman is full of twists and turns and even though I couldn’t get on with the thoughts behind the crimes, I can very well see why so many really enjoyed it.

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