The Silent Children by Carol Wyer #BookReview

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What’s it about?

The boy studied the bruise turning yellow at the base of his neck. With quick fingers his mother tightened his tie, and pulled his collar high above it. Her eyes alone said, We will not speak of this…

Years later, a man is found shot dead in a local park. On his phone is a draft text: I can’t keep this secret any longer. The recipient is unnamed.

Detective Robyn Carter knows this secret is the key to the case, but his friends and family don’t offer any clues, and all her team have to go on is a size-ten footprint.

Then a nurse is found in a pool of blood at the bottom of her staircase, and a seemingly insignificant detail in her friend’s statement makes Robyn wonder: are the two bodies connected, and has the killer only just begun?

When another body confirms Robyn’s worst fears, she realises she’s in a race against time to stop the killer before they strike again. But just as she thinks she’s closing in, one of her own team goes missing.

Buried in the past is a terrible injustice. Can Robyn uncover the truth before another life is lost?

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Review

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I’m not up to date usually reading a series but DI Robyn Carter is one of two exceptions I’ve made thanks to this author’s great writing. Carol Wyer just never fails to deliver an extraordinary story with every new novel that is published. All four books are entertaining, engrossing and if you like to read police procedurals then this series is absolutely one of the best and shouldn’t be missed out on. I adore police procedurals that are construed this way, with plenty of investigation, lots of possibilities to go through and where every tiny piece of information they gather seems to be a part of one big puzzle but can’t be pieced together right away. Robyn Carter is such a star in finding out how they all fit together.

Suffice to say, I very much liked this fourth novel and I believe it was the meatiest storyline yet, one which came with a whole slew of different characters that emerge one after another throughout the story and provide new questions and suspects. When starting this novel absolutely nothing gave me an indication where this story was going to wander off to and I was stunned when I saw the direction this took and the implications that came with making one important but – there’s no other way to see this in my opinion – quite immoral decision. Never did I suspect the people in the story to be connected in this way but it was fun to discover their connection and see the possibilities opening up. I did have an inkling of what might have been a motive once their connection was revealed but then I still didn’t know one hundred percent who was behind it all, even though I could follow someone’s story told from the time he was a child to the present day interspersed through the novel. I was really invested into these alternate chapters but still couldn’t figure out who he was and if this person was in fact responsible for people’s untimely deaths. I couldn’t predict the killer for a very long time which is what I love in these type of novels.

With every new novel I also get to know Robyn a little better and there are mysteries in her own life that continue to puzzle her as well, even though it wasn’t really explored very deeply yet. My only wish is I could have heard a little more about what happened on her late husband’s last day, I was so looking forward to it. Luckily she gets some diversion from little Schrödinger, a little black cat who reminds me of my own little furry friend and stole my heart from the minute I read about him. The novel ends with an interesting storyline in sight that could give some serious dilemma in the future for Robyn so I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m definitely continuing this series, it’s so good!

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

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The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton #BookReview

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What’s it about?

Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.
Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

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Review

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What a stunning debut! Nate and Juliette are meant to be together, that’s crystal clear for Juliette and when a woman – especially this one – is determined, you know there’s no other way!

Juliette was the perfect girlfriend when she was with Nate so it came as a complete surprise when he told her he needed space and shipped her off somewhere far away, forcing her to live in what she calls a shoebox of an apartment. Out of sight isn’t out of mind for Juliette though, not even close. She’s not going to just stand by and let things go like he wants and the woman is taking on her self-appointed task as a true vocation. She’s thorough and has every angle covered, all while biding her time. She can’t believe he’s denying her everything she wants, putting a rather abrupt stop to her dreams of a shiny future: all she wanted was Nate, the comfortable lifestyle, his families’ acceptance and kids. Was that too much to ask for? When you know where she’s coming from and witnessed how crappy her early life actually was you can’t help but understand on some level why she’s clinging so hard to keep the man of her life.

She starts out with some cheeky actions like looking up his working hours so she knows where he is and checking his facebook profile but her actions spiral way WAY beyond anything classified as normal behaviour.. and all the time he is oblivious! Juliette is a lying manipulative capital B and I loved following her around. How can I even be in such awe for someone so malicious? I don’t have an answer to that one.

It’s been a long time since I met a character like Juliette. I know I shouldn’t make comparisons and I don’t have a habit of doing so but Juliette is so cunning and calculated and she can adapt to whatever scenario is playing out for her, it reminded me of an Amy, if you get who I mean.

I liked this novel very very much and it’s a big contender to get on my fav list of this year. I can highly recommend if you like psychological thrillers and a girl with a vengeance!

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

Rattle by Fiona Cummins #BookReview

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What’s it about?

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London’s Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it’s also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

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Review

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This book gave me serious goosebumps. On a scale from one to ten the level of creepiness is definitely a 9, especially in the beginning… maybe it got down to an 8 but only at the end when the mystery of the villain was more resolved and we got to know him a bit better :-)!

Rattle is about a guy who I thought at first was Jack The Reaper. The similarities are uncanning, down to his stature and his hair, and I was wondering if he really was the precipice of death. Well he was, but not in a ghost-like way anyway, no he was very very real.

Fitzroy is the detective who investigated the disappearance of a girl Grace a few years ago and now the disappearance of a girl called Clare. While she’s chasing a ghost (I couldn’t resist hehe) we see a young boy Jakey who is suffering from the Stone Man Syndrom. I didn’t actually know a lot about this condition before reading this novel but I feel like I woke up really fast when it came to learning all about his condition and the consequences of this disease. It was quite heart-wrenching seeing this little boy suffer so much and seeing his parents caring for him but not being able to do anything at all.

Detective Etta Fitzroy is a great detective and she’ll need to be at the top of her game too because The Bone Collector is very succesful at staying undetected. The cat and mouse game that ensued was gripping and tense and I was wondering along with the detective who this man really was.

Rattle is a novel with a distinctly dark and sinister vibe and The Bone Collector is definitely one of the creepiest characters ever. His persona combined with the uniqueness of the children’s conditions made this an orginal and very intriguing read.

The story was well rounded but the ending also had a little cliffhanger that immediately made me crave for more. The story continues in The Collector and I can’t wait to read how it goes on from here!

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

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld #BookReview

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What’s it about?

“Where are you, Madison Culver? Flying with the angels, a silver speck on a wing? Are you dreaming, buried under snow? Or–is it possible–you are still alive?”

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight-years-old now–if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as “the Child Finder,” Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl, too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Told in the alternating voices of Naomi and a deeply imaginative child, The Child Finder is a breathtaking, exquisitely rendered literary page-turner about redemption, the line between reality and memories and dreams, and the human capacity to survive.

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Review

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First of all, can I just say that I really love this cover? I like the other (white) cover as well but the addition of this ‘blueish tinged veil with a speck of gold’ gives it something more, something magical, and it only added more delight to my reading experience with this extra touch because it’s very much in line with the writing itself.

The Child Finder is told mostly through the voices of Naomi and Madison. Naomi, once a lost girl herself, is The Child Finder. She’s gifted in some way and has a high success rate in finding missing children through her methodical searches, even if it means they’re not always found alive. Although she only takes one case at a time and there’s no rhyme which case she’s going to take – it’s certainly not about the money – she is actually looking for two children in this novel. The children went missing under different circumstances and it demonstrated perfectly how different some cases are regarded and how you can be treated and regarded by the police and public eye if you don’t fit into the mold.. at the end of the day there are just two equally distraught mothers. Thankfully, Naomi is a good and righteous person and her past (or lack of a past because she can’t remember anything before the age of 9) makes her untrusting of most people but also more objective.

I liked reading about Naomi’s search and I rooted for her to get on the right track and find these children but it were really little Madison’s entries that put a magic spell on me. She imagines herself as a Snow Child because she’s fond of fairy tales and it’s her way to cope with her captivity and Mr. B. The way that she told herself things in order to survive her imprisonment was enthralling. Even though the abuse is veiled and Mr. B in his own twisted way really likes the girl there is no doubt that Mr. B is not a good man at all. Mr. B’s character, who he is and where he came from, stays pretty much in the shadows until the end of the novel and I really wasn’t expecting it to pull at my heart as well when all was said and done. I really didn’t want it to but I couldn’t help it.. how bad is it if you find yourself caring for the villain? It is seriously twisted I know, and it takes one helluva writer.

There is so much to be found in this story. There were also interesting parrallels in present and past for Naomi and Madison and while Naomi’s looking for Madison I had the feeling that she was looking for herself too in some way and she was ready to find out the truth about herself. The further she gets in the investigation the more prominent little flashes of her past float to the surface and the more I wanted to found out more. Did she also survive a Mr.B? Where was her mother? Who is with her in her dreams?

“The dream was like a dark demon, bringing with it scraps of the past. It was hard to tell what was a skeleton to be buried – or a treasure to be revealed.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel I really got and understood Naomi at all times. Running away from finding out her past, being scared of the unknown just didn’t seem in line with her strong character. And why would you run from a good thing in your life and the only person you trust? I was a little disappointed because Naomi’s memory loss was actually the second big plotline. She doesn’t remember anything from before the moment she was running in a field at the age of 9 and was found by nomads. She only has nightmares that show her fleeting glimpses of a past that she can’t get a hold on. I felt the ending of this plotline was largely unresolved. I actually hoped I’d get more answers in this novel. I know I know, it might have taken us too far, adding another 100 pages to the novel, but I really wouldn’t have minded at all :-).

Overall, this was a haunting story, beautiful but horrific. I haven’t read Denfeld’s first novel The Enchanted yet but this novel certainly gives me reason to want to read more books by this author.

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

Blood Moon by John David Bethel #BookReview

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What’s it about?

On a hot, steamy afternoon in Miami, Cuban-American businessman Recidio Suarez is brutally beaten and abducted. Handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded, he has no idea why he has been targeted. What he discovers is heart-stopping. What he endures during almost a month of captivity compares only to the most horrendous stories of prisoners of war. He is tortured, and under the threat of death, and worse – the rape of his wife and torture of his children – Suarez is forced to hand over his multi-million dollar holdings to his captors.

Suarez survives and then spends the next few months staying one step ahead of the murderous pack. During this time, he and his lawyer, Nolan Stevens – a former Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the FBI – are having difficulties convincing the Miami-Dade Police Department that a crime has been committed. Their efforts are complicated by Steven’s difficult history with the head of the MDPD Special Investigations Division, who is not interested in pursuing the case.

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Review

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I’ve had this novel Blood Moon for quite some time already and I have no idea why I haven’t read it sooner really because when the author contacted me I was immediately interested when I heard it was based on true events. Nothing prepared me for the horrendous ordeal the main character, Redicio Suarez, had to go through while abducted though. The preface is written by the true victim of these crimes and I thought at first that it’d be easier to read, maybe I was even a bit disappointed I already knew how the story was going to end, but I had to revise this opinion quite soon! I was nothing but relieved to know that this man would survive ultimately. Reading about the time he was held captive was in some ways worse than many thrillers I’ve read and you wouldn’t even be able to come up with this if it was fiction. These abductors were crossing the line of human dignity in every way possible, they were monsters. If I hadn’t read the preface I wouldn’t have expected him to have survived really, it was that brutal. I had no idea where the line was drawn between fact and fiction and it felt so outlandish that even part of it was true, it left me wondering and occupied my thoughts largely throughout this story.

The first thing I did when I finished this was look up what I could find about Marc Schilling in an attempt to recount some of the facts and it turns out that plenty of what he went through wasn’t made up. Blood Moon was really intense to read and the accounts of duct tape around his face, being in the dark all the time and having to sign documents without seeing a thing actually turned out to be real. I got chills while reading this but knowing afterwards that these parts weren’t fiction and did actually happen made my blood run cold. The way his abduction ended was quite spectacular although the true version of events would have suited just as well. The first part was largely a description of every single thing he was subjected to, along with the backstory in how they started to get the idea to plan all of this. I can’t believe someone would do all this and go to these lengths to get everything, not wanting to leave a single penny.

His escape from the money grabbing vultures who abducted him didn’t go how I’d anticipated at all and you might think it would put an end to his nightmare but even then it continues. While he should be protected by the police, the bad people put away behind bars, that apparently is a storyline that only occurs in fiction stories. It was sad and frustrating to read that he had to go through all of this and then wasn’t believed, even ridiculed and yes in another way but a victim once again. This time personal grudges were dragged into it as well and unfortunately he’s right in the middle of it.

I shook my head quite a few times while reading. At times it’s just so unbelievable, or maybe I almost didn’t want to believe this could be so close to the truth. I felt it was a bit of a stretch that his lawyer would do the legwork the police should have been doing. I wanted to shout as well that it was dangerous what he was doing but then I also wanted to get some justice, some closure for him so that he didn’t have to be afraid anymore. I just can’t imagine what that does to a person.

Blood Moon was a tense and quite violent read at times so I wouldn’t recommend this one for the faint at heart. There’s no gussying up and I can assure you that the writing isn’t suggestive so it is all due to the facts and his account without embelishments that it was so heart-breaking to read at times.

If you want to know more about what Marc Schiller, the true victim, went through, then you should definitely read this book. For your info: there was also a movie made based on the story that many have probably seen (I know I did) but doesn’t do justice to him at all. I can’t believe either they actually made a comedy out of this, there’s really nothing to laugh after reading this. You can check out an article with more info here.

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

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson #BookReview

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What’s it about?

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light. Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

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Review

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Let me start with a moment of truth: I was on the fence at first when I heard this was a contemporary crime novel with historical facts of WW2 weaved into the story. I feel very protective about that time in history and I like reading novels about that era but they are usually survival stories, biographies and such. To incorporate these atrocious events into a fiction novel, I just didn’t know if I’d feel good about it, so I didn’t want to read it at first. Then I started reading all the reviews and saw the ratings for this novel and I had to admit my fears might have been unfounded. I became more than curious and I was very happy when I finally got my hands on a copy of Block 46.

Of course Johana Gustawsson handled everything with great care and yes it was still horrifying to read about and even when I’d read similar stories and I recognized many references, it was undoubtedly very hard-hitting and painful to read at times. I was already wondering if these chapters would continue for a long time. I was drawn to them yet also relieved when the lighter chapters of the investigation followed. It helped to relieve the tension and heaviness and this way I was able to continue reading and I didn’t need to stop to catch a breath, or a moment. On the contrary, I flew through the pages because Erich’s account was so harrowing that I wanted to know what would happen to him as quick as possible. With the title of the novel in mind I had a feeling where he would go but what happens in Block 46 exactly? People who go in never come out but it is very mysterious what happens in there.

When his faith became clear about one third in, the atmosphere of the novel did change somewhat and it wasn’t as oppressive as before. The mystery gained interest and was complete with two totally different threads.. what could Erich’s story have to do with the recent murders and in two countries no less? I was calculating years in my head fairly soon but things just didn’t add up.

The storylines blend perfectly and I admire her audacity to take this on. She could easily have written two books, one historical and one a detective story and done a great job but she really excelled by fusing them together. I was utterly captivated and confused about who was behind all this and how it all fit together. I didn’t see the ending coming – at all! High fives around for an amazing plot twist in this marvellous story!

Block 46 was written by a very talented author that we certainly haven’t heard the last of!  The best news is that the follow-up, the yet to be translated Mör, promises an equally exciting investigation with bodies in Sweden and London and a suspect who’s been locked up in a psychiatric facility for the past 10 years. She’s making dual timelines and hard and gritty scenes (think amputated limbs in her second novel) her signature and she’s got a new fan here!

I received a free paperback copy of this novel from my blog friend Emma and this is my honest opinion.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough #BookReview

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What’s it about?

Don’t Trust This Book

Don’t Trust These People

Don’t Trust Yourself

And whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending…

Louise

Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets…

David

Young, successful and charming – Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife…

Adele

Beautiful, elegant and sweet – Louise’s new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her.

But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks… Is David really is the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears?
Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?

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Review

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I’m finally a member of the inner circle yay! I’ve deciphered what the fuss is all about and that’s making me smile so much!

This is such a hyped book, it’s treated with so much secrecy that I felt compelled to read it. I’ve had it on my wishlist for such a long time but I couldn’t get my hands on a copy so I’ve finally caved and bought it. I wanted to read it in English but they didn’t have it at the book store, so I purchased the Dutch version instead. It is number 1 in the Dutch charts here at the moment so when I saw the big stock I simply couldn’t resist and I’m very happy that I finally read it!

I don’t often agree but this time I wholeheartedly (hand on my heart) agree that I totally get the hype and it is well and truly deserved. The story and where it led took me quite by surprise. There’s really nothing ordinary about this novel even if you get that impression at first. Now I do have to say, I am a very (very) down-to-earth kind of person and yes I did have to suspend some beliefs here in order to get along with the story. For one thing, I don’t believe that you can steer your dreams or can even be aware that you’re dreaming while you’re doing it but the writing was so engrossing that I let it slip and just went with it. It makes it an all the more enjoyable read. If you would have told me some of it in advance I’d have said this novel wasn’t my genre and something I like to read but Sarah Pinborough is such a brilliant writer she effortlessly took me on a crazy, dark and engrossing ride all through this novel.

The story is told by two women, Louise and Adele. Louise is having an affair with her boss, and he happens to be married to Adele. When Louise and Adele meet they become best friends. I could feel there was something very wrong about Adele and David’s marriage even though I couldn’t put my finger on it. It’s clear that David isn’t happily married but he still doesn’t want to leave his wife. When Louise catches glimpses of him controlling his wife (calling her a few times a day on set times) she doesn’t know what to think anymore, this doesn’t seem like the guy she knows… The whole love triangle was just toxic and mesmerising to read about. It was all so mysterious I couldn’t help but race through this novel. Never did I expect this evolution of this novel though, it was quite simply impossible to anticipate. Sarah Pinborough wrote an insanely (I can’t stress the word enough) intricate plotline. The plottwists in the end left me speechless and I just have to say it #WTFthatending !

This was an exquisite tale about lies, deceit and obsession. It’s a psychological thriller at its core but also more than that. Highly recommended!