Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler #BookReview #BlogBlitz @HSCinkpen @orion_crime @TrapezeBooks

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I’m changing up my schedule guys, there won’t be a review on Sunday because this beauty releases today in e-book and I just couldn’t resist getting involved. I’m super happy I did because Degrees of Guilt is absolutely brilliant!

Happy publication day to HS Chandler!

Degrees of Guilt blogblitz

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When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

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I enjoy stories that involve morals and put you on the spot. I adore novels that provoke a reader and make you question the side you’re on. I love novels that secretly make you want to cheer the bad guy on..  it’s wrong to do so and you feel guilty but ok not all that much because sometimes, you know, it just can’t be helped. Degrees of Guilt is exactly this kind of brilliant novel, it hits all the high notes. In hindsight, I have to admit the title kind of gives it away but I was still very much unaware of it when I started reading this novel. I was ready to judge and condemn but I’ve never felt so torn.

The novel did start chillingly, with a woman, cold and rational, standing beside her dead husband. She also admits to the crime right away. How could this court case go then, it’s all rather clear cut, right? Awful crime, no remorse, big sentence to be expected. Well you might be mistaken there. There was a lot of background story that explains her current predicament. The novel massively challenged me to take mitigating circumstances into consideration. How much can be excused and can you ever understand why someone would murder someone else? I don’t know if I could say it out loud but eh deep down I understood why she did it for one hundred percent. What the outcome, the verdict would be was a big mystery though, and what I wanted it to be and how the jury saw it and if we were on the same page at all, I can’t say.

At first there wasn’t a bone in my body that made me consider her innocent but as the days progressed it was obvious that she was a victim too, trapped in a loveless marriage. I have read plenty novels with disturbing content and domestic abuse before but the author detailed her daily horrors so perfectly, it was such a quiet venom that poured from the pages, it would melt the coldest of hearts. A big tipping point and a scene that had a big impact on me was when I read about the tampons. I don’t know why that stood out but I think it’s something that is just completely our (a woman’s) business and everyone else should keep out of it.

Even though I knew what she had done and saw the damage together with the jury, I couldn’t help sympathise with Maria almost from the beginning. I believed her, I wanted to believe her, although I didn’t really know why she felt the need to lie about parts of her story. Why would she do that? A tiny part of me did feel a moment’s hesitation there about her. I didn’t know what to think.

Degrees of guilt is a domestic drama mixed with fantastic scenes in the courtroom and let’s not forget the sizzles between Lottie and hottie Cameron. Gawd there’s electricity crackling in the air! Their game was tantalising to watch unfold and he was sooo hot I could feel my own cheeks burn ;-). I found it a bit odd to insert this into such a novel but then it did help to lighten up the story a little and in the end it just worked out brilliantly.

Degrees of Guilt is definitely one of the best releases of the year for me. The novel demands to take a stance about the justice in this case and what you think is fair, it is so heartfelt, you just can’t not think about it when you’re not reading it. What would you do if you were on the jury? I can tell you it’s a difficult one because our heart and our head speak a different language when reading this novel! I can’t believe this is the first novel by Helen Fields I read but it most definitely won’t be the last.

I received a free ecopy via Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

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I Know You by Annabel Kantaria #BookReview

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You trust me.

You shouldn’t.

That picture you just posted on Instagram? I’ve seen it.
The location you tagged? I’ve been there.

You haven’t been careful enough, have you?
Because I know all about you.

But when I meet you, I won’t tell you that.
I’ll pretend. Just like you do.

You’ll like me though. You’ll trust me enough to let me into your life.

And then I’ll destroy it.

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After a disappointing read last week where I struggled to even finish the novel, I’m very happy to have picked up a book that had my attention from the very first page and didn’t let go. I Know You is a cleverly written novel where the threat is unmistakenly present but hidden from view. Who exactly is lurking in the shadows, checking every trace, every picture and every comment on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, effectively getting to know someone better than you can imagine? It’s a complete mystery and a very creepy one indeed.

What I loved about this book is that not only you don’t know who the voice is in the chapters labelled I Know You, you also don’t know who they’re keeping tabs on, and best of all, the character in the novel that is the center of all the attention is completely unaware as well.

The novel creates a false sense of safety at first and almost reads like a contemporary novel with Taylor looking to make a friend after her move with hubby Jake from the US to the UK. She meets Anna at the local walking club and they hit it off right away. Taylor and Anna, Anna and Taylor, they become the bestest of friends and I was delighted with the blossoming of their warm friendship. There are other characters surrounding them, friends they make at the local walking club and book club, namely Simon, Sarah and Caroline, but they all have something about them that seemed off meaning one of them might have an ulterior motive and could be that menacing voice that starts to pop up. These extra chapters were brilliant and didn’t leave room about the evil intentions of this mysterious person. What the anonymous voice intended to do was kept for the very end though and not something I had foreseen. Every time I read these chapters dispersed throughout the novel my thoughts drifted off to my own digital footprint and I was examining if I didn’t leave too much information about myself too. Yes people know which restaurants I visit and what books I like to read, but I hope I’m doing a better job at keeping the rest to myself and I sure hope nobody is interested as much as well. 

Who’s after who? Who’s the false friend, and are they after Taylor or after Anna, or someone else entirely and why? The author made it very difficult to be sure about anything because most of what was revealed could be applied to both women. Very very slowly I started to have an idea though where the why was perhaps a little easier to determine than who. I can’t say I had anything to go or any hard proof to build my case but I thought I had figured out how this particular puzzle fit together. I was still quite surprised when I found out I was right though, although the shock one of the characters gets when finding out that someone’s keeping an eye on them was probably a million times worse.

This novel might very well be a wake up call to many about what you post online and what a window to your life it can be and for that (and the great story too) I highly recommend it!

I received a free paper copy of this novel from the author. This is still my honest opinion. 

Night by Night by Jack Jordan #BlogTour #BookReview @JackJordanBooks @CorvusBooks

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I’m thrilled to be hosting the Night by Night blog tour today! Massive thanks to Kirsty Doole of Corvus Books for inviting me on the blog tour and the free e-copy!

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If you’re reading this, I’m dead.’

Rejected by her family and plagued by insomnia, Rose Shaw is on the brink. But one dark evening she collides with a man running through the streets, who quickly vanishes. The only sign he ever existed – a journal dropped at Rose’s feet.

She begins to obsessively dedicate her sleepless nights to discovering what happened to Finn Matthews, the mysterious author of the journal. Why was he convinced someone wanted to kill him? And why, in the midst of a string of murders, won’t the police investigate his disappearance?

Rose is determined to uncover the truth. But she has no idea what the truth will cost her…

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Author

Author Jack Jordan

Jack Jordan is the global number one bestselling author of Anything for Her (2015), My Girl (2016), A Woman Scorned (2018), and Before Her Eyes (2018). He wrote his first novel at seventeen and self-published his first two e-book bestsellers by the age of twenty four. He lives in East Anglia.

To find out more about Jack and be one of the first to hear of new book releases and news, follow him here:

Facebook | Twitter  | Instagram

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Yay a new Jack Jordan novel and what a thoroughly absorbing thriller “Night by Night” is! When I read Jordan’s first novel My Girl, I was impressed with its intensity and how it made me ‘feel’. Night by Night did very much the same thing, and took me much by surprise. I was expecting a pretty straightforward mystery but it turned out to be such an emotional read, it nearly broke me in the end.

In the first chapters the author already sets the tone by making me feel very, very sorry for Rose who suffers from a tragedy she really didn’t deserve. I already choked up there for the first time and I wasn’t even 50 pages in. Rose feels alone and lonely and one night she bumps into a man who drops his journal at her side. She doesn’t know who he is but at the very first page she reads a startling message. It turns out that even though he’s in an entirely different situation, he’s feeling frightened and lonely as well and the community isn’t welcoming him either. Rose knows what she has to do, what she can’t do for herself she’s determined to do for this man called Finn Matthews. Even though she doesn’t know him she cares and wants to know he’s ok, she doesn’t want him to be all alone and is determined to help. The police don’t take her missing person’s report serious though and Rose feels forced to make her own inquiries. She’s treading on very thin ice.

There were a few tough issues included in this novel, homophobia being the most prominent one I might say and I think the author handled this brilliantly. It was at times tough to read about the things that happened and call me a fool but I really wanted Rose to find Finn in time and see that he had escaped the hardships of his peers and the stalking and that he was leading a good life somewhere else. Some little voice inside of me warned me not to expect too much though and protect my little heart. I also absolutely had no idea who he was afraid of, it was such a mystery and I really didn’t have any suspect in mind, it kept my mind whirring when I should have been asleep.

The novel really amps up the tension towards the end and I didn’t only fear for Finn but for Rose too! I couldn’t turn those pages in the final chapters fast enough, I felt the danger coming closer and it was so emotional to hear the truth and see what happens. I tell you, when you reach those final chapters you better hold on to your hats and hope to finish it unscathed! Night by Night holds an unbelievably tense ending in store. Jack Jordan is a wonderful author and this novel is definitely one of his best works!

Follow the blog tour: 

Night by Night blog tour

The Passengers by John Marrs #BlogTour #BookReview @johnmarrs1 @Tr4cyF3nt0n @EburyPublishing

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Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man.

Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

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Author

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John Marrs is the author of #1 Best Sellers The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, Welcome to Wherever You Are and Her Last Move. The One has been translated into 20 different languages and is to be turned into a a ten-part Netflix series in 2019.
After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time writer.

Connect

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Do you want the long version or the short one? For those who don’t want to wait for the punchline: put it on your readlist, now!

This novel is legit one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read, it’s brilliant, timely and I loved it 100%. If you enjoyed reading The One then it’s guaranteed that you’ll love The Passengers too. Even though the subject in the novel is completely different, it follows the same format again, involving multiple (8!) characters with alternating POV’s. Each person has secrets to hide, secrets you’d never EVER thought of and will catch you completely off guard!

I have to be honest, I was completely pro the idea of driverless cars. You see, I don’t have a driver’s license myself so the thought of a stress-free ride where you don’t have to navigate yourself (there’s not even a steering wheel in level 5 cars so you have all the time in the world to eat breakfast, apply makeup or, oh yes, read a book) sounded more than wonderful but what happens to The Passengers was anything but stress-free. There’s a hacker who controls the cars and don’t think he doesn’t mean it! If I had any doubts in the first minutes it becomes clear right away that he is dead serious!

The entire novel is high on tension and plays on the reader’s moral compass. Who would you choose to survive a collision? The pregnant woman? The police woman with two children? The foreign woman who doesn’t speak English? Marrs plays this so well, he even adds the opinions of jurors and those on social media as well, leaving us even more hesistant to pledge our loyalty to one specific person. And then, just when you’ve almost decided he shuffles the deck of cards and secrets come out that might change your thoughts, again and again… The people I felt most loyal to suddenly find themselves ranked quite differently when I had to consider which secret was the worst to have.

Marrs really doesn’t let up until the end, he always seems to have another twist up his sleeve. I don’t know how he can be so imaginative but I really fell from one surprise into another and even when I thought it was finally all over, there was still more to come.

I can’t find any fault in The Passengers, it gets my golden buzzer! The novel is original, fresh and shows a frightening glimpse of what the future might hold. In case you didn’t get it yet: put it on your readlist, now!

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invitation and to the publisher for the paperback review copy.

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The Liars by Naomi Joy #BlogTour #GuestPost @naomijoyauthor @ariafiction

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for The Liars by Naomi Joy. My thanks also to Vicky Joss and publisher Aria for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I think this book sounds brilliant and I’m happy to share a wonderful guestpost on ‘office politics‘ and how it inspired the author to write The Liars.

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Two women. One deadly secret. A rivalry that could destroy them.

Ava Wells is perfect. She has the boyfriend, the career, the looks. One night changes everything and her life isn’t so seamless anymore.

Jade Fernleigh is ambitious. She’s worked hard to get where she is. And she’s not about to let Ava take the job she rightly deserves.

Both women share a secret that could destroy them, but who will crumble first?

Purchase

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Author

Naomi Joy

Naomi Joy is a pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at prestigious Storm Communications. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.

Connect

Twitter : @naomijoyauthor

Guestpost

Office Politics

If you’ve ever worked in an office, you’ll know all about office politics. The cliques that form during after-work drinks, the divisions that emerge between those who are ‘in’ and those who are ‘out’, the horrifying realisation that people can progress at work based only on their relationships with those in charge. It’s a skill unto itself and, if you want to get ahead, you have to learn to play the game.

After graduating from Durham University, I moved to London to pursue a career in PR. The industry as a whole is extremely female-dominated—66% female to 34% male—but, at the top end, this statistic swings the other way: just 20% of the women in PR hold Managing Director positions. This, in my opinion and experience, is part of the reason why office politics and rivalries in the industry can tend towards the ruthless: I’ve seen female bosses take credit for more junior womens’ work, women thrown under the bus for mistakes that weren’t theirs, have heard lies and rumours fly between peers, each determined to outdo the other. But with a vast number of women competing for a dwindling number of roles the further up the ranks they go, it’s inevitable, isn’t it?

During my research for The Liars, I came across a term – The Sisterhood Ceiling – coined by researchers from the London Business School after they found that workplace competition was more likely to negatively impact women than men. It can manifest in a number of ways, from women shying away from competition in order to preserve an office friendship, from women stopping other women succeeding by actively sabotaging them. I witnessed, and experienced, both during my career.

This topic is ultimately what led me to write The Liars: a thriller borne out of an office rivalry. Ava and Jade are peers, both up for the same role at work. Ava is younger than Jade and has less experience, but her connections with those in charge make her the front-runner for the role. This infuriates Jade and she’ll stop at nothing to prevent Ava landing the job that’s rightfully hers. To make matters worse, the pair share an unspeakable secret, one they know will ruin them both if told. But with so much at stake, can either trust the other not to talk? Would you sabotage a rival to stop them taking what’s yours?

Follow Aria

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

*** Don’t forget to check the rest of the blog tour ***

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Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry #BookReview

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Dana Diaz is an aspiring stand‑up comedian—a woman in a man’s world. When she meets a tough computer programmer named Amanda Dorn, the two bond over their struggles in boys’ club professions. Dana confides that she’s recently been harassed and assaulted while in L.A., and Amanda comes up with a plan: they should go after each other’s assailants, Strangers on a Train–style. But Dana finds that revenge, however sweet, draws her into a more complicated series of betrayals. Soon her distrust turns to paranoia, encompassing strangers, friends—and even herself. At what cost will she get her vengeance? Who will end up getting hurt? And when it’s all over, will there be anyone left to trust?

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star three and a half

Last Woman Standing was a wild joyride! Boy am I happy I’m not a man in this novel! I count myself lucky I haven’t experienced any abusive behaviour from men in my life but I’m not blind and with everything #metoo has brought above board I’ve heard more than enough to know lots of women have stories and experiences similar to the ones in the novel. So in a way the novel felt as far removed from me as it was easily imaginable. For once men weren’t going to get away with it though and I was excited to see the fantasy of making them pay play out and find out where it led. Haven’t we all had some wish to get even with someone who wronged us? It made the women, Dana and Amanda, relatable and they had me on their side (at least at first) but I don’t need to tell you that revenge is a dangerous game ;-).

As much as I enjoyed the level of entertainment in this novel, I still had a few minor issues while reading too. First of all, the novel starts with Dana Diaz being introduced as a comic. I welcomed that idea and I enjoyed hearing a bit more about that scene and the terminology, but humour is a dangerous thing, it’s subjective and will be perceived differently by each person. So to cut the story short, I didn’t get her humour, I didn’t find her jokes or her pitch ideas funny, nor her Betty impersonation. Maybe it would be different if it were visual (although I doubt even that) but in a novel it didn’t really work for me. I was a little worried that she’d keep this up all through the novel but luckily it’s mostly in the beginning of the novel and it gets much more serious very fast.

So serious in fact that the novel was more violent than I expected, it all starts pretty innocently and I seriously love a novel about taking revenge but I enjoy it more if they take on a more subtle approach. This was in no way subtle, both girls are really losing it, their actions growing more violent and getting out of hand. It all went a little crazy and I found them to go over the top, I actually felt bad for the men ;-).

In the second half of the novel the relationship and bond between both women shifts, becomes strained and possibly dangerous. The plot becomes quite twisty and there’s more to these women than you’d think. Who to trust, who is is playing who, who will be the last woman standing? I enjoyed the vibe in the last part most of all, stepping away from the themes that the author clearly wanted to address with this novel was the way to go for me.

The ending of the novel was strong but I couldn’t help feeling a little dissatisfied that not everyone was brought to justice. I can’t shake the feeling that the outcome was still somehow unfair and I don’t like that it suggests you can get away with it. It turned me against one of the characters in the last few minutes of the novel, and it tastes sour to leave it this way.

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

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal #BookReview

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London. 1850. The greatest spectacle the city has ever seen is being built in Hyde Park, and among the crowd watching two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning.

When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.

But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening . . .

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Well I am a real fan of historical novels from now on, I am so impressed with this novel! The Doll Factory is another beautiful historical fiction novel set in 1850’s London. I was completely lost in its wonderful setting. The novel is also very rich in contrasting elements that made it even more of a delight to read. There’s not only society’s eternal divide between the rich and poor but there’re also amazing oppositions with love versus obsession and hate, reality and dreams… and I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel that was so much of a love story and a thriller at the same time, working together so brilliantly towards an astonishing ending.

The title, The Doll Factory, refers to ‘Mrs. Salter’s Doll Imperium’ where I was introduced to Iris who, alongside her sister Rose (who only plays a secondary role), has to paint doll faces. It doesn’t make her happy though, she wants to put her own heart and soul into what she’s doing. It is Silas, a taxidermist, whose eyes fall on Iris and her beauty first but when he is driven into a corner he tells Louis Frost, a pre-Raphaelite painter, where he can find a new muse to finish his painting. Iris has no aspirations to become a model, an occupation considered as lowly as someone selling her body, but it is a means to make her own dreams come true of making it as a painter herself

Maybe the novel started out a little slow since the blurb already told me how Iris’ life would be changed and I had to wait a while for her to meet Silas and Louis, but once she does the story really picks up and Iris’s new life was as fascinating for me as it was for her. What follows is such a tentative, careful and most courteous love story between Iris and Louis, while Silas’ obsession with Iris only grows and grows and takes on such disturbing proportions it becomes more than worryingI was perhaps drawn to Iris’ chapters a little more in the beginning, wondering if that obvious connection between them would ever be recognised for what it was, but I was slowly being sucked into Silas’s disturbed world as well. I believe it’s fair to say I loved the first part of the novel most for the romance and the last part for the thrills. I certainly knew it didn’t bode well for Iris and Louis. The more you see them growing towards each other, the bigger my fear and unease grew that Silas would shatter their love spell.

The build-up was brilliant and even though I continually thought about the outcome, it was still able to surprise me and be more horrific than what I had in mind. You realise how deranged Silas is through the novel but never as much as in the end.

I had some expectations about how it would all pan out but it still managed to be much grittier and darker than I had imagined. The last part turns the story into a real and raw thriller where several authors in the genre could learn from, and without it ever feeling forced. I loved every turn of phrase, gobbled up the fear and felt the squeeze in my gut. I was on the edge of my seat really, it was so high on tension! I knew Iris was a strong and determined girl and I loved how strongly she shows it all through the story. She’s a strong and beautiful character. I did wonder (and doubt) whether she’d be able to get Silas to understand she was not and would never be interested in him though. I cheered her along all the way! If you enjoy historical novels you must pick this one up!

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