Never Tell by Lisa Gardner #BookReview

Blank bookcover with clipping path

whats-it-about-2

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

D. D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many.

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder.

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars_1457015900_81_246_96_2

This novel is on fire! It has a burning hot cover and there are actually quite a few fires to put out in this novel as well ;-).

I read a few of the previous books in the series (nrs. 5 and 6 and one in her other series too) and looking back on those reads (I gave Love You More five stars) I was very tempted to read Never Tell even though I didn’t know if it was a good idea to jump in at book 10 again. I took the plunge though and I’m so happy I did. Never Tell is another strong and fabulously suspenseful thriller and can be read as a standalone perfectly. The only thing you won’t really fully experience is the story of Flora at the time when she was held captive in a present narrative (which is a plotline in another novel). In Never Tell she’s looking back on it which was chilling and unsettling to read but makes me want to hear even more as well so I think I’ll go back and pick up that novel later.

The story itself is told in alternating chapters by the woman who is suspected of killing her husband, a detective and this Flora. The latter helps D.D. Warren professionally as an informant but she’s also an important link to the murder because she saw the victim, Conrad Jones, when she was held captive in conversation with her abductor. She tried to bury what happened to her but now she’s feeling strong enough and is determined to unearth Jacob Ness’ secrets and lies with the help of one of those true crime buffs on the internet and to find out who Conrad Jones was and what he was hiding from his wife.

I loved all three characters although Flora, whip-smart and headstrong, is probably my favorite. I don’t think one of them was less than the other two though, they were quite evenly matched. Evie was mysterious and I felt a little unsure about her. She’s the underdog of course, suspected of murdering her husband but on the other hand she might be holding some secrets too. I knew she was smart and resourceful right away, the way she was trying to find out what her husband was hiding in the months leading up to his death and I couldn’t help finding her initial reaction, shooting a computer, quite strange too and certainly enough to raise my eyebrows. I loved hearing about her past as a young girl and how she loved her brilliant father so much but at the same time it also made me wonder even more about his death. What lead to his death, and was it an accident after all?

If you enjoy reading police procedurals then you should definitely put this one on your list, there is excellent investigative work in Never Tell. 

The story is one spidery web of secrets and lies, taking you deep into Flora’s history and Evie’s past and as I said already, it sets quite a few fires alight along the way to the action-packed ending. Surprising twists and a great cast make this a brilliant page-turner that I can recommend to everyone.

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

Advertisements

Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox #BookReview

gonebymidnight def

whats-it-about-2

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him, before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

This is the 3rd novel in a series but I hadn’t even noticed until I saw it mentioned on Goodreads after I finished reading it. Gone by Midnight scored highly for me both on the mystery and the wonderfully crafted characters. Oh and of course I want to mention the glorious setting of the Australian outback with its croc-infested creeks as well which made me feel happy as can be for once that I wasn’t actually there.

But the first thing that made me want to read this novel was the blurb of course. Seriously, how good does this sound?! Can you tell me how on earth a little 8-year old can disappear into thin air while he wasn’t caught on camera anywhere and the other kids claim they haven’t left the room at all? No? Me neither, no matter how hard I thought about it, and even while I was reading it, I still couldn’t come up with anything that could explain it or tell me where the child could be. If we’re talking about puzzling stories then this one’s definitely on top of the heap.

I adored Ted and Amanda, the two detectives on duty. They were such a contrasting pair, Ted rather straight-laced and Amanda quite the opposite, but they were both big personalities and so great together. They both have a lot of baggage though with lots of unpleasant memories in the last years. Ted was wrongfully accused of a crime and goes through life still having to bear sideway glances. He’s divorced and has to find his feet juggling the new case with the care for his 3-year old daughter Lillian who’s come to stay with him for a short time. Amanda is a tattooed biker woman – and the last woman on earth I’d ever associate with a fairy btw which makes it so funny she’s called a fairy – but she has a knack of seeing details others miss and I was in awe of her deducting skills. It took me a bit longer to warm up to her –  she’s so extraverted and disliked by so many people so don’t hold it against me that I didn’t want to hand over the prize for Ms Sympathy either – but then I found out they were actually both huge animal lovers and that kind of sealed the deal. It’s so endearing to see how much Ted loved his dog Celine and his geese (he has named them all too and they’re even quite prominent in the novel) and Amanda is the crazy cat lady of service.

There’s a lot going on with both of them and their personal stories were as fascinating as the search for the missing child. There were a few red herrings thrown at me and even though I was rather sceptical of the plotline the author lead me to believe, I had only a feeling to go on and I didn’t have a clue how it would play out. I enjoyed the last part of the novel but I did feel that the transition to the final stage was pretty brusque and a big revelation was kind of dropped on me out of thin air. I was surprised yes, definitely, but also confused about the lead up to the revelation, as I didn’t see any good reason for it. Apart from that one gap, it had a great ending that made me really cross my fingers and hope for the best. The danger can come from where you least expect it ;-).

It wasn’t hard to see where the idea for the novel originated from and even though Ms. Fox changed quite a few details, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann immediately sprang to mind when the boy disappeared. She made it her own story though and put a great spin on it. I can definitely recommend this novel!

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

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides #BookReview

TheSilentPatient def

whats-it-about-2

I love him so totally, completely, sometimes it threatens to overwhelm me.
Sometimes I think-
No. I won’t write about that.

ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

‘Grasping at vanashing snowflakes is like grasping at happiness; an act of possession which instantly gives way to nothing.’

5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars_1457015900_81_246_96_2

If you haven’t heard about this novel by now, I really don’t know where you’ve been hiding. The Silent Patient is promised to become one of this year’s bestsellers and I think they are RIGHT, this novel really has bestseller written all over it!

Alicia Berenson was a very intriguing character because she kept quiet from the start, not saying another word after she’s been caught and arrested for the murder on her husband Gabriel in flagrante delicto. We know the facts, her husband was shot 5 times in the head and he was tied to a chair but what we don’t know is WHY she did it. I wanted to, no needed to know why she did it so badly in the end! The author kept me very much in suspense though and the slow build only added to the story.

The fact that she’s not talking forced me to guess her motive constantly. Her profile just didn’t fit with the murder but I knew she did it. It was very conflicting and I couldn’t flip those pages fast enough to find out more. I also couldn’t understand why she wasn’t talking, the only clue she left was a painting she made. I’m not a big art lover or expert but I was quite fascinated about the meaning behind this painting which name refers to an old Greek tragedy; it made it even more intriguing.

Before there were answers there’ll be a lot more questions and silence though and luckily psychotherapist Theo Faber comes along and is determined he can make her talk after 6 years of silence. In other novels the therapist often remains an authority but in this novel I really got to know Theo, I heard his own thoughts and became familiar with the struggles he’s facing in his personal life as well. I liked him, it was easy to connect with him and it was there from the start. I wished that he would be successful and would be able to get Alicia to talk. As a reader you’re sooooo waiting for that moment to happen!

To help the story along he’s aided by Alicia’s diary entries and this clever literary tool let me hear from Alicia even when she’s keeping quiet. Layer after layer there’s more to be discovered about her life but I was still totally blindsided in the end and I almost had a whiplash inducing shock when all the puzzle pieces fell into place without much of a warning. I was stunned. What the… how the hell did this happen? It all makes sense though when you think about it and I loved the twist. My initial outrage at her was gone, just like that. I understood why she did it, how she was pushed over the edge. It was a brilliant end scene.

If you enjoy psychological thrillers I’d definitely put it on the list like NOW! This is an absolutely amazing debut with an unbelievable stunner of twist! It’s perfect for fans of Jo Spain who read The Confession (also not a who but a why dunnit novel).

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

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen McManus #BookReview

TwoCanKeepASecret def

whats-it-about-2

Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about it. It’s where her aunt went missing at age sixteen, never to return. Where a Homecoming Queen’s murder five years ago made national news. And where Ellery now has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, after her failed-actress mother lands in rehab. No one knows what happened to either girl, and Ellery’s family is still haunted by their loss.

Malcolm grew up in the shadow of the Homecoming Queen’s death. His older brother was the prime suspect and left Echo Ridge in disgrace. His mother’s remarriage vaulted her and Malcolm into Echo Ridge’s upper crust, but their new status grows shaky when mysterious threats around town hint that a killer plans to strike again. No one has forgotten Malcolm’s brother-and nobody trusts him when he suddenly returns to town.

Ellery and Malcolm both know it’s hard to let go when you don’t have closure. Then another girl disappears, and Ellery and Malcolm were the last people to see her alive. As they race to unravel what happened, they realize every secret has layers in Echo Ridge. The truth might be closer to home than either of them want to believe.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I read One of Us is Lying last year and that novel was one of my absolute favourites of the year so I couldn’t quite believe my luck when I received an e-mail from the publisher to read this novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed Two Can Keep A Secret, the book has a great start and plenty of mystery to keep you very happy but even with all the effort put into this novel, I can’t help but love her debut more. I probably spoiled the whole thing myself though by comparing the books and expecting the same. I mean, I loved the characters in her debut so much (maybe a bit more than in this one because the secrets were so intimate that I felt like I knew the characters, I certainly sympathised with them a lot) and of course that whole read was such a rollercoaster of secrets and lies, I somehow expected that to happen here too.

This one’s more of a stealthy read though, apart from the start that really grabs your attention there’s actually a string of mysteries that follow and are intricately weaved together. It lets you simmer in your suspicions until the big reveal in the end. The author resorted to a somewhat more traditional plot style here with an unsolved case, a present mystery, and a possible link between them that I was searching for througout the novel. It’s a good setup but to be outstanding you have to find that extra touch. I do think she did her best! The setting is brilliant and she gets all the points for the creepy location. Ellery and Ezra’s Nan lives near a Halloween theme park called Murderland you see, now renamed as Fright Farm for a good reason :-).

The novel had a Pretty Little Liars vibe, especially with the blonde, brunette and redhead trio in school (two of them cheerleaders and one an aspiring journalist) who play a central part in the story and are targeted and threatened by someone unknown. I really warmed to the two POV’s too, Ellery, the new-in-town girl, and Malcolm, younger brother of Declan Kelly who was previously suspected of murdering his girlfriend Lacey. I was happy though it it didn’t turn into a big romance and the mystery received all of the attention. Ellery is a would-be detective and it was great to see her sleuthing, even if she gets it wrong a few times and she dragged me along into her pit of suspicion.

The novel kept me awake, it was really engrossing, but I can’t say I was very surprised when the villain was revealed. There is a clue if you are a really attentive reader and although I’m sure a lot of readers won’t pick up on it, this didn’t get passed me unnoticed :-). But I did thoroughly enjoy the thrilling culmination. What surprised me even more in the end however was the person who got a spot in the limelight when I didn’t expect it.

The best things are always saved as last though and I still had one last burning question on my mind. I didn’t think I would receive an answer any more but she showed me her awesomeness again with a real OMG moment in the VERY LAST SENTENCE. Those last words… you have to read them to believe them, but really major chills!

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

A brilliant debut! My Name is Anna by Lizzy Barber #BookReview #BlogTour @ByLizzyBarber @arrowpublishing @Rachel90Kennedy

My Name is Anna def

Welcome to my blog stop on the book tour for the brilliant debut novel My Name is Anna by Lizzy Barber. My thanks to the author, to Rachel Kennedy and Arrow Publishing for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I can’t wait to tell you more so let’s go!

whats-it-about-2

Two women – desperate to unlock the truth.
How far will they go to lay the past to rest?

ANNA has been taught that virtue is the path to God. But on her eighteenth birthday she defies her Mamma’s rules and visits Florida’s biggest theme park.
She has never been allowed to go – so why, when she arrives, does everything seem so familiar? And is there a connection to the mysterious letter she receives on the same day?

ROSIE has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers, her family fractured by years of searching without leads. Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, the media circus resumes in full flow, and Rosie vows to uncover the truth. But will she find the answer before it tears her family apart?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

Most surprising novel of the year so far! I loved this debut, it was so much deeper and darker than I thought it would be.

A story always has two sides and I was thrilled the author didn’t choose to write this magnificent story in a single narrative but opted for a dual narrative by Anna and Rosie, sharing their own individual story in alternating chapters. Their very different, contrasting lives made for fascinating reading and the anticipation of seeing these threads come together was agonizing.

As a reader I knew more than the main protagonists right from the start so I had to wait a while for one of the girls to catch up with what I already knew and some readers might perhaps find it a bit of a slow start but it’s oh so important to watch the whole thing unfold in its own time, it’s essential to see how that seed of doubt develops, grows and is cultivated. It can’t be rushed or it wouldn’t be believable anymore so I tried to resist the urge for a quick progression and my desire to see the storylines cross-over. The buildup was subtle and let me see the many nuances in the girls’ lives. Not only were they raised on different continents, they were raised very differently as well. You can’t miss what you don’t have but my heart went out to Anna because I knew of course what they were both missing. As I turned the pages I  was overcome with a sad feeling thinking how different both their lives could have been.

Anna lives with her religious neat-freak mother and she’s destined to lead a strict and frugal life. I didn’t envy her life and I certainly didn’t like her mother. Rosie on the other hand was raised in a warm and affectionate family, she smokes, drinks and goes to parties (without her mum knowing). She’ll never be like other teenagers though, the fact that her sister is missing casts a big shadow on their family. The grief of this entire broken family of parents, a sister and even the brother who doesn’t even know the missing girl was so touchingly described that it made my heart ache.

I was hugely awarded for my initial patience because the last part of the novel was terrific. The story intensified gradually with the help of two other narrators who help reveal the backstory and the reasons why this happened 15 years earlier. It made such compelling reading! I might have had my judgement at the ready from page 1 but hearing the full story that led to the kidnapping, it changed my initial views and condemnation. Never judge a book by its cover, or in this case, by the facts. I’m not saying I’m agreeing with what Anna’s mother did but at least I can say I have some understanding.

My Name Is Anna made me feel a wide range of emotions and quite surprisingly the story turns more and more dangerous. Who does Anna have to be afraid of though? Her mother or this mystery man who knows who she is? The story builds to an amazing climax too that made me hold my breath. Gripping and tense, check and check!

I’m very happy with the way it ended, I loved the epilogue. It could have ended differently or the author could have written clichés to give the story a ‘happy ever after’ ending with no further thought but she didn’t and that’s what makes it so much better and made me close the novel with a sigh of contentment.

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

*** Don’t forget to check out the other 2 blog tour stops today ***

blog tour graphic final - my name is anna

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley #BookReview

TheHuntingParty def

whats-it-about-2

EVERYONE’S INVITED.
EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT.

Bristling with tension, bitter rivalries, and toxic friendships, get ready for the most hotly-anticipated thriller of 2019.

In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

The Hunting Party was an interesting murder mystery with a nice big bonus. Not only is there the hunt for a killer in a close circle of friends but one of the biggest joys for me was actually figuring out who the victim was. It mustn’t have been easy to write the story and describe what happened without giving anything away towards the identity of the murder victim but I couldn’t catch any of the POV’s slipping at any point. It’s actually only in the final part of the novel that you find out who it is although I did make some progress myself in ticking off a couple of persons from the list. The strategy Lucy Foley used made it possible to predict who wasn’t murdered rather than who was and in the end I had it all limited to 2 or 3 possibilities. The same questions kept mulling in my head however: who deserved it, who provoked it, who held such a terrible secret it was worth killing for? As the story progresses it seems there’s more than one likely candidate to give and to receive.

Even with so many guests I never had any problems discerning who’s who, although I had my own set of mnemonics to remember them: there were the stars (Miranda & Julien), the wannabees (Emma & Mark), the happy family (Giles, Samira and baby Prya), the perfect son-in-laws (Nick & Bo) and of course the underdog (Katie). I really liked Katie, the only single person of the company and a bit of an odd one out. The most memorable one was Miranda though, she’s the one who always wants to be in the picture and she was highly intriguing.

The first night at the lodge – game night – already showed a few glitches in what seems at first sight a perfect group of friends as it gears up for the fateful New Year’s Eve. A copious dinner and even more amounts of alcohol makes everyone quite unhibited and frank. When they start a game of truth or dare you know they’re asking for trouble. It was quite a rollercoaster ride of twists and reveals that followed, some I saw coming but others came right out of the blue.

I very much enjoyed getting to know this lot, the characters were nicely fleshed out and I love it when you scratch the surface and there’s so much to discover and believe me there were secrets and lies flying around your ears. I also really liked the two additions to the group, Doug and Heather. I didn’t know what reasons they had to want to move and work at such a remote location but I warmed to both of them quickly and found them to be the most enjoyable people in the story.

If you enjoyed similar novels like Sleep and An Unwanted Guest then you’re definitely going to like this one as well, it keeps right up with those and even steps up the game delivering two mysteries in one go.

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

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover #BookReview

AllYourPerfects def

whats-it-about-2

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

Colleen Hoover has quite clearly moved away from writing cute little romance stories. Well even those stories, the ones she wrote until a few years ago, were more emotional and touching than so many others but I still place them in the category of feel-good stories. It Ends With Us wasn’t a feel-good story for me, it was a punch in the gut kind of story, it was poignant and real, and this one – don’t let the cover let you think otherwise – is the same. She now obviously writes stories with a message, about things that life throws at you and how people cope with that.

The story has 2 plotlines, one showing Graham and Quinn at the very start of their relationship (cue swoonworthy moments) and years later in the present, when their relationship comes under such durress it might not even survive. How did it get this far when they were such a perfect couple? I really wanted to hang onto the chapters in the past but the author didn’t let me and kept the story going into the present too so that I couldn’t escape what was going on with them.

““What’s the secret to a perfect marriage?’ The old man leaned forward and looked at me very seriously. ‘Our marriage hasn’t been perfect. No marriage is perfect. There were times when she gave up on us. There were even more times when I gave up on us. The secret to our longevity is that we never gave up at the same time.”

The main topic of the story was maybe a little bit out of the way of my own experiences and ideas about what I want in life, but I could understand Quinn and it wasn’t hard to root for them to find their way to each other again. I liked Quinn but it hurt me too to see how she pushed Graham away and let this unfulfilled dream come between them. As a bystander it’s easier to see what is needed and what is going on of course, and I wanted to tell her that communication was the only way out of it but I could only hope and wish so hard that they’d come to the same conclusion before reaching the breaking point of their marriage.

I really liked the story but if I want to compare it to the previous novel I read then I have to admit I really liked reading All Your Perfects but didn’t love it like It Ends With Us. It was heartfelt but this time it didn’t break me into a million pieces like her other novel did. It is however still a very recommendable story!

I purchased an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.