Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone #BookReview @WRITERachael @AccentPress

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Love is a riddle waiting to be solved…

Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor’s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious puzzle-man behind it. Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

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Puzzle Girl was a pleasant surprise, in the best way possible. I don’t know why I was hesitant to pick this one up but I think the lovely cover made me think it would be too light of a read for me (sorry cover designer) but I was so wrong, I had a really good time in Cassy’s presence.

I love novels where there’s written interaction between characters and they often score high for me (think The Flatshare or Dear Emmie Blue) but this one had an additional bonus of the ‘mystery man’ with whom Cassy makes these written exchanges, and I quite possibly liked this even more.

It was so much fun to see all of the excuses she had to come up with to gain access again and again to the puzzle book at the Threadneedle Walk-in Centre. Just imagining seeing the reaction of Janet, the receptionist of the clinic every time Cassy showed up again made me chuckle every single time. There were a few stories in the sidelines too that were also quite entertaining which involved her bestie Dan (a blend between Joey and Chandler of Friends) who decides to move in with her, Cassy’s attempts to make a good impression with her boss and their potential new client MediaTech and her strife with work colleague Martin. I had to give it to her, whatever is thrown at Cassy she never gives up, it made me love her even a little bit more.

Cassy works as an Account Director at a digital marketing company named Holeywells and even though her job is one of the focal points of the novel where much goes wrong, and as interesting as it sounds being a marketing strategist I was happy that I was never bored by actually having to listen to an entire pitch. The competition between Cassy and Martin and her feelings of animosity whenever he does something that puts her into a bad light were a great part of the story. There were times it reminded me of another novel that I loved this year and I was happy to find some similarities.

Maybe the outcome didn’t surprise me much but it didn’t really bother me, the story had enough drive that I never felt there wasn’t something else to discover. Cassy certainly discovers a lot about herself by the end of the novel and I do love a character having some introspection. And in the end all I wanted was for puzzle-girl to finally meet her dream puzzle-man 🙂.

I underestimated how much I would enjoy Puzzle Girl when I started it. If you’re looking for a fun summer romance in an office setting this is the perfect novel to escape into.

I received a free paperback copy of this novel in a giveaway (I can’t remember who from but I received four paperbacks a few years ago). This is my honest opinion.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney #BookReview

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Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

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Alice Feeney outsmarted me once again. It’s clever, very clever indeed how the author twisted the story in Rock Paper Scissors.

Amelia and Adam are having some marriage problems and the weekend away at Blackwater Chapel – the most remote place you can imagine – is their last hope to salvage their marriage. From the beginning I was wondering if either of them really wanted to though if the thoughts they’re having about each other in the car ride to their destination were anything to go by. Even before they set foot at their retreat I learned that Amelia lied to her husband claiming he forgot to pack his phone so I wondered what else she would lie about with just as much ease?

While following the couple around in this strange, creepy place and witnessing how their marriage is barely holding up, it did make me wonder how they reached this lowpoint. Inspired by Adam’s manuscript Rock Paper Scissors where a man writes letters to his wife, even after her death, Adam’s wife decides to do the same for each year of their marriage. I think I enjoyed these letters most of all in this novel – they are titled with the traditional wedding gift for that year and a not so commonly known ‘Word of the Year’ so I took away quite a few things from this book – because the letters were a means to let me have a peek into their marriage and all the trials and tribulations that they faced. Adam’s focus on writing a screenplay for the famous author Henry Winter made him forget to spend time with his wife and she in return struggled with the fact that they didn’t have children yet… Even though I was suspicious of Amelia’s intentions towards her husband during their stay, the letters indicated she was sincere and someone to root for.

But then another voice enters into the story, someone who’s watching that couple and I had no idea who it was or if this person meant to do them harm (before they harmed each other really). The author gives the story a big spin from there and this mysterious person was tied into the story in unexpected ways. Henry Winter, the author Adam had put on a pedestal plays a bigger part in all of this too but I’ll let you discover the rest of his personal story.

I have enjoyed all of Feeney’s novel and she has written another winner for me with a great twist that even I didn’t see coming. Clever, very clever indeed.

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

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner #BookReview

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Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate―and not everyone will survive.

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It’s been a while since I gave a novel five stars but how can I not give five stars to this stunning debut? I’m so happy this novel crossed my path!

I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about this novel, I loved the writing and the switches between present and past were perfectly aligned. I was one hundred percent invested in Nella en Eliza’s unfurling story but it was also great to take a step back from those scenes and have Caroline in the present day try to locate this apothecary and its intriguing history. It was exciting to see her stepping into the footsteps of Nella. I’ve read a few books about the Victorian era but this was a new subject to read about for me and it was a fascinating topic with a very likeable apothecary. There is a sideplot about Caroline’s marriage troubles and while I thought James was portrayed a little too much as a villain who should never receive forgiveness for his infidelity and who’s solely to blame for all of their decisions (it’s a good thing he cheated on her then or she wouldn’t have had this eye-opener, take a look at it that way Caroline), I liked Caroline’s personal development throughout the story and how she found her true self again, all because she went ‘mudlarking’ (person who scavenges in river mud for objects of value) on a whim.

The story had a good dose of mystery about the fate of the characters. Nella and young Eliza – wise beyond her 12 years – who came to see her in her shop for a poison, Caroline and her library friend Gaynor, there were definitely similarities in the plotlines, especially towards the end where their loyalties to each other are put in the spotlight, and I grew fond of all of them. It was hard to say goodbye, especially to Nella and Eliza who are now long gone but certainly not forgotten.

I didn’t expect The Lost Apothecary to be such a captivating novel, but it really was a great historical read and I can’t wait to read more by this author!

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

Six Days by Dani Atkins #BookReview

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Gemma knows that she and Finn are destined to be together. They are soulmates. But then, on their wedding day, he never arrives at the church.

Gemma is convinced Finn wouldn’t abandon her like this, even though he has disappeared once before. But back then he had a reason. She feels sure something terrible has happened, but no one else is convinced. Even the police aren’t concerned, telling Gemma most people who disappear usually turn up in a week… assuming they want to be found, that is.

For the next six days Gemma frantically searches for Finn, even though every shocking revelation is telling her to give up on him. Before long, even she begins to doubt her own memories of their love.

How long can she hold on to her faith in Finn if everyone is telling her to let him go?

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The novel opens on Finn and Gemma’s wedding day with Gemma getting ready and her feeling so happy to be marrying the love of her life. But when she arrives at the wedding venue Finn’s nowhere to be seen. Gemma can’t believe he just stood her up and dashes to his apartment where she comes to the devastating conclusion that his apartment is completely empty! Still she doesn’t want to believe he simply left her without a word, there must be an explanation.

Gemma turns to the police but he wouldn’t be the first groom to get cold feet. They tell her most of the missing persons return of their own volition in 6 days, hence the title of the novel but will Finn return in 6 days or not? Gemma isn’t the type to sit there waiting until the police really spring into action and consider it a disturbing disappearance so she does everything in her power to find him even if this means it’s almost a single woman’s search as the people around her want her to accept the situation and go forward.

I admired Gemma for believing so hard in them and not giving up even though I had moments too that I wasn’t sure about Finn. Through flashbacks I learned how they met, I witnessed the progression of their relationship and I felt Finn’s love for Gemma and yet I had a few moments of doubt too. One of Finn’s flaws in the past didn’t speak in his favour and there were hints here and there that they’d had an argument of sorts, something they’d disagreed on, so maybe that was enough for Finn to change his mind?

I’m not going to say how this will end but day 5 and 6 had my heart pounding! By then I knew where Finn was – even if Gemma still didn’t – but it didn’t take away any of the suspense. Even so, there were still loose ends and I still couldn’t see how exactly it all fit together and how it could all be explained but the author made a very plausible story out of it.

Six Days is a beautifully told emotive novel that you’ll not get through untouched. This novel has mystery, love and anguish and if you’re ready for it, I recommend you let her pull at your heart strings too!

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

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay #BookReview #BlogTour @HoZ_Books

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Night Shift by Alex Finlay. A sincere big thank you to the publisher Head of Zeus for the invitation to read and review this novel that I enjoyed very much!  

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What connects a massacre at a Blockbuster video store in 1999 with the murder of four teenagers fifteen years later?

It’s New Year’s Eve of 1999 when four teenagers working late are attacked at a Blockbuster video store in New Jersey. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect, the boyfriend of one of the victims, who flees and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, four more teenagers are attacked at an ice cream store in the same town, and again only one makes it out alive.

In the aftermath of the latest crime, three lives intersect: the lone survivor of the Blockbuster massacre, who is forced to relive the horrors of her tragedy; the brother of the fugitive accused, who is convinced the police have the wrong suspect; and FBI agent Sarah Keller, who must delve into the secrets of both nights to uncover the truth about the Night Shift Murders…

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I really enjoyed Every Last Fear so I was thrilled with the chance to read Alex Finlay’s second novel The Night Shift. An added bonus for me was the setting of part of the story in the late 90’s, an era I love reading about. I confess I’m nostalgic like that. It’s been a long time but I vaguely remember that I visited the local video store quite a lot back then. I can still see the rows and rows of grey video cassettes behind the counter. I don’t quite remember the person manning the station but it could very well have been someone like Steve, the first person who was introduced in the novel. Following his interactions with his employees I was already going through a lot of emotions before the story had well and truly started.

If you enjoyed Finlay’s first novel you’ll certainly going to enjoy this one too. Just like in his first novel The Night Shift dives into the action right away. The term slowly easing in definitely isn’t in this author’s dictionary :-). I love this style of writing and I simply couldn’t protect myself from reeling! Right when you think you’ll get to know a character better and you start to feel an affinity he’ll kill them off! The lead up to murder was short and the shock value was high. I was dying to know WHY and WHO asap

The investigation was really compelling with the past history linked to the present with another serial killing 15 years later. I don’t know what the secret ingredient exactly was, whether it was the pace, the plot or something else but it had me hooked! I also loved there were so many different characters to intrigue me as a reader. There are two final girls, a suspect on the run for 15 years, the brother of the suspect who still believes he’s innocent and of course FBI agent and 8-month pregnant Sarah Keller assigned to work the case with Union County detective Atticus Singh. They are a wonderful duo even if it felt a bit of a strange combination at first, they really were great together. Several of these characters are looking for answers though, not only the FBI so with the race for solving these mysteries on, it made for very animated reading.   

With the different POV’s switching at high speed I didn’t have much time to think things through but I didn’t want to take a break from reading to start analysing everything that I read so it’s not so surprising that I missed the who and why entirely. Maybe the why could have been expanded a little more but the story had deaths, danger, secrets, lies… everything you need for a great book. All of this combined with a very skilled writer who loves to do things just a little differently, someone who doesn’t always take the beaten path in writing (he isn’t even on Twitter btw), makes this one well worth reading. 

I find Alex Finlay a bit of an understated author and I’m happy I was introduced to his work. I already can’t wait to read his next book!

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

 

               NightShift_13 March 2022  NightShift_blogtour

The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas #BookReview

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When Saffron Cutler and boyfriend Tom move into 9 Skelton Place, they didn’t expect to find this.

Two bodies, buried under the patio over thirty years ago.

When the police launch a murder investigation, they ask to speak to the cottage’s former owner – Saffy’s grandmother, Rose, whose Alzheimer’s clouds her memory.

But it is clear she remembers something . . .

What happened thirty years ago?
What part did her grandmother play?
And is Saffy now in danger? . . .

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I’m so sorry I didn’t pick this one up sooner, what a great read!

The Couple at No.9 tells an intriguing story of three generations of women of the same family, Saffy (24 years old), Lorna (her mother and grandmother to be at 41) and Rose (Saffy’s grandmother, aged 78). When Rose settled into a retirement home Saffy and her partner Tom (and Rose’s little doggie Snowy) moved into the little cottage she owned in Beggar’s Nook. And what’s in a name, it’s as if it is meant to be, at Skelton Place they actually find 2 skeletons in the back garden. Who are they and who killed them? It’s clear that they’ve been there for a while so did anything happen in the ’80s when Rose was living there?

They try asking Rose about it but her answers are making no sense at all. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the things she shared. She’s talking about Sheila and Jean and a Victor… but who are these people? Even with the alternating chapters in the past recounting the days of Rose and a 2 year old Lorna there are no such characters involved in their lives. The only thing I did feel strongly was that Rose was very protective of her daughter and that she had run away from someone. When she meets this woman called Daphne she feels a kinship and she can’t help it, she lets her in her life. Does that mean the start of their undoing? 

I had no idea who the two bodies were, my super sleuthing skills were failing me terribly, Claire Douglas is just so good at not giving anything away before the right moment comes. I can’t say anything else then that you don’t know anything when reading this novel and I’m convinced there’s no fortune teller who will be able to predict the truth of the matter at heart. This is not a simple whodunnit but there’s a whole history about these women’s past peeled back as layers of an onion. So many questions were raised and so many of these answers gave the story an unexpected twist.  

Claire Douglas is an auto-buy author for me and she doesn’t have to fear that will change in the future. I have enjoyed every single book that I have read of hers so far and with The Couple at No.9 she delivered a smart, sharp and compelling novel once again.

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

What Might Have Been by Holly Miller #BookReview

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Is Lucy’s life ‘meant to be’ . . . or meant to be different?

Lucy’s life is at a crossroads. She’s just walked out of her unrewarding job and has no idea about her next step: use her savings to pursue her dream of becoming a writer, or move to London to try and revive her career? It almost seems like fate that on that same night she meets Caleb, a stranger in a bar, and runs into Max, the one-time love of her life.

Should Lucy stay in the seaside town she grew up in, and in doing so, get to know Caleb better? Or should she go to London and reconnect with Max again after he broke her heart a decade ago? It’s just one decision – but sometimes one decision can change the course of your whole life . . .

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Wow. This book was BRILLIANT! This was entirely my cup of tea. What Might Have Been gives the reader two stories in a sliding doors type of novel. Lucy finds herself in a café chatting to a handsome stranger named Caleb at a bar when she sees her ex Max through the window. Lucy read her horoscope and she knows she’s going to meet her soulmate that day. Is it Max or Caleb though?

After the brief encounter with both men there’s one timeline where she stays in Shoreley, finds a different job locally and sees Caleb again. In the other she goes to London and hopes to get the job she really wants at a big advertising agency. She also meets Max again, the guy she thought was her soul mate in the past already.

Both relationships were interesting to follow and there are some struggles to overcome in each of them. Caleb’s ex makes Lucy feel insecure and Max has never told her the entire truth why he broke things off with her and when he does it won’t make her feel very happy for a while.

Even though it maybe wasn’t the intention to create a personal preference for one man over the other, I did like Caleb most at the start. Maybe it was because he came with a clean slate and hadn’t broken her heart already, maybe because he was the most adventurous, or maybe because with him she didn’t go for the big money and professional acclaim but found her love for writing for herself again. In the end though I knew Max loved her very much too and I felt such turmoil that I wondered if it would be possible to have two happy endings and that you can meet two soul mates in your life. Which person would make her happiest? Or would they both be able to make her happy in different ways so that it didn’t really matter? I couldn’t stop turning those pages…

Lucy believes in signs and soulmates and she read that she was going to meet her soulmate that day when she was sitting at the bar alone. I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s true, she does meet her soul mate that day. My heart was sad and happy at the same time! I was very happy with the way both plotlines in this story ended and it’s certainly a novel I’d love to reread one day.

If you enjoyed Holly Miller’s previous novel, you’ll certainly enjoy What Might Have Been too. I love stories with moral dilemma’s, forbidden love etc. and she was able to create this divine and almost impossible choice in this novel that gives heartbreak and joy in equal measures.

I received a free ecopy from the publisher Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

The Inheritance Games (Book #1 of 3) and The Hawthorne Legacy (Book #2 of 3) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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She came from nothing.
Avery has a plan: keep her head down, work hard for a better future.
Then an eccentric billionaire dies, leaving her almost his entire fortune. And no one, least of all Avery, knows why.

They had everything.
Now she must move into the mansion she’s inherited.
It’s filled with secrets and codes, and the old man’s surviving relatives – a family hell-bent on discovering why Avery got ‘their’ money.

Now there’s only one rule: winner takes all.
Soon she is caught in a deadly game that everyone in this strange family is playing.
But just how far will they go to keep their fortune?

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I don’t read a lot of Young Adult novels but when I do I seem to pick the right ones. The Inheritance Games is a brilliant start of a trilogy. Avery Grambs is a very clever girl, I knew that off the bat, but exactly how clever I had yet to fully discover. 

One day she is invited to the reading of a will of a man she never even heard of and it turns out that she stands to inherit his entire fortune. The only catch is that she has to live at Hawthorne Mansion for a year which wouldn’t be so bad if his other relatives, who didn’t inherit what they feel was coming to them, didn’t live there too. Not a great way to feel very welcome is it? Tobias Hawthorne also leaves each grandchild and Avery a letter, not that Avery’s is very telling but it is the start of her search to answer the question ‘why was she in his will when she didn’t even know him?’

The clues were well thought out and very cleverly constructed. Lots of the names in this novel for example have a special and deeper meaning attached to them, but the key is to know where to look then. I loved how Avery made the right connections and went to the right places to discover yet another clue that would bring her a small step closer to finding out why she was the chosen one. Avery isn’t the only one trying to figure it out though. The four grandsons of Tobias were ‘trained’ by Tobias as he challenged them on a regular basis so this game-mode is in their blood and of course they also want to find answers. The four boys who are working towards the same goal are laid-back ‘cowboy’ Nate, confident but closed off Gray, thrill-seeking charmer Nate, and nerdy cookie lover Xander Hawthorne. Allegiances are made quite soon with Avery but is it not too good to be true, is she a friend or a pawn?

While all this terrific sleuthing is progressing Avery can’t help to let her eye fall on two of the Hawthorne Boys. That’s right not one but two and this makes this novel extra special. There’s a lot of chemistry and the electric attraction whenever Avery finds herself alone (and in danger) with one of them made my heart do little jumps of joy. I know a lot of readers don’t enjoy love triangles but it was so good! It was killing me that she didn’t know who to choose. If you read the novel you want to make your own choice of course so this novel will create a division in teams! I doubt she’ll follow my choice though, I have a feeling it will be the other boy.

The novel has short chapters that are of no help if you don’t want to be reading all night. Otherwise said, it was terribly addictive and the way the novel ended, with another big question waiting to be solved, made me want to continue right away with The Hawthorne Legacy!

I’ve read a few novels in this particular genre (I listened to The Christmas Murder Game and before that I read Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts,…) but The Inheritance Games is by far the best novel in this clue-solving genre I read up until now

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The Inheritance Games ended with a bombshell, and now heiress Avery Grambs has to pick up the pieces and find the man who might hold the answers to all of her questions – including why Tobias Hawthorne left his entire fortune to Avery, a virtual stranger, rather than to his own daughters or grandsons.

As the mystery grows and the plot thickens, Grayson and Jameson, the enigmatic and magnetic Hawthorne grandsons, continue to pull Avery in different directions. And there are threats lurking around every corner, as adversaries emerge who will stop at nothing to see Avery out of the picture – by any means necessary.

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Could it be any better? Well yes it can! The Hawthorne Legacy is even better than the first and that one was already amazing. I’m so happy to hear that the series is going into production for tv! 

Avery Kylie Grambs is back and how! This one is all about exploring her past. Her mother – even though not a Hawthorne – also enjoyed playing games with her and one of their favourite games was ‘I have a secret’. Avery’s secrets as a young girl were not really worth to remember but her mother used to say she had an exciting secret about the day Avery was born… She never told her more than that but now Avery has a lead in her hands that could mean it’s the key to that secret.

The story is complex and filled with twists and turns. In the end we finally know why Avery was chosen and a lot more about her own past (and her mother’s) will have become clear. 

The chemistry with both boys was zinging in this novel again and while I was a bit cautious about one of them in the first novel because of some (game) player vibes, he seemed much more sincere and caring so the playing field was much more leveled out. If you ask me which team I’m on then all I can say is that I’m on the other team, so I am hoping there’s still some temptation in the third novel to keep it as interesting as before. 

You really need to read the series in order to be on board at the start of this novel but I’m sure you won’t regret that you need to read more than one of these novels. The last installment of the series, The Final Gambit is to be released in August 2022 and I can’t wait to dive in and see what new game she and the boys will embark on.

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

One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner (Frankie Elkin #2) #BookReview #BlogTour @centurybooksuk

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I’m delighted to share my thoughts on the latest book by Lisa Gardner ‘One Step Too Far‘ featuring missing person tracker Frankie Elkin. My thanks to the publisher Penguin Random House’s imprint Century for the invite for the blog tour and the digital ecopy via Netgalley. A heads up already, you won’t fail noticing that I’m quite enthusiastic about this novel 😉

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A young man disappears during a stag weekend in the woods. Years later, he’s still missing.

But his friends who were with him that day are still searching for him. Still hunting for answers.

They hike deep into the wilderness.

With them is missing person specialist Frankie Elkin.

What they don’t know is that they are putting their own lives in terrifying danger, and may not come back alive . . .

Purchase

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Author

Lisa Gardner started her writing career aged seventeen. Having caught her hair on fire while working in food service, crafting a novel seemed a safer bet. A mere ten years later she became an overnight success with the publication of her first thriller, The Perfect Husband.

Now an internationally bestselling author and winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for best suspense novel, Lisa lives in the mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

When not glued to her computer, she can be found hiking the mountains with her dogs and/or researching new and interesting ways to get away with murder.

Follow Lisa Gardner on Twitter @LisaGardnerBks ; or visit her website: https://www.lisagardner.com/

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One Step Too Far is such an amazing novel! To say that I loved it is an understatement, it’s phe-nom-in-al! I was already itching to share the book love only 10 minutes after I finished reading it, so I’m excited it’s finally review day.

This is the second novel in a series about Frankie Elkin, a woman – not a detective, not a professional – who tries to find missing persons. A new location and new characters in every novel in the series, it’s a wonderful idea because you can read them as standalones but the characters of the first book in the series (bar owner Stoney, his terrorizing cat (still love him) and the special detective) were so great that I wished she’d stayed in town. That was before I read this novel. By the end of it, I had exactly the same feelings all over again, so many of the characters captured my heart, not to mention the dog, a lab called Daisy who’s a cadaver dog but can also find people alive.

Frankie is on her way to investigate the disappearance of an 8 year old but decides to make a little detour and join a search party for Timothy O’Day who went missing 5 years earlier. The party consists of 8 people (and a dog): a grieving father, a hiking guide, three college friends and three semi-professional searchers. They set out to an area in the massive Popo Agie Wilderness Area that consists of woods, mountains, streams, lakes, gullies, cliff faces, wild animals, you name it. Frankie is the one most out of her comfort zone but this city girl is determined, focused and absolutely amazing at what she does. When night falls on day 1 someone sabotages the group but who? I was hyperalert all through the novel but I honestly couldn’t say and after a while they all wormed their way into my heart.

I’d love to go over everything they went through up on that mountain but that would mean we’d need another hour. Suffice to say that there is lots of blood and wounds involved and yeah people will also get murdered. It’s like a version of The Hunger Games but better, so much better. The plot was so clever. I also had not a single idea how this was going to end.

I really enjoyed the first novel Before She Disappeared but in all honesty One Step Too Far is even better. If this doesn’t make it on my top 10 end of year list I don’t know what does! This character driven novel has wrung me out emotionally too. I nearly cried once, then smiled when it all came to a close, and in the very last pages I was emotional all over again. I think it’s easier to say it’s hormones then to explain to non-readers.

It can’t get any better than this if you ask me, but I can’t wait to follow Frankie again in the next novel and see what trouble finds her there!

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

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne #BookReview

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Nemesis (n.)

1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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OH MY, this novel is HOT HOT HOT. This also proves I haven’t lost it somewhere along the way, I’m still a hopeless romantic. The Hating Game is a fairy tale come true and gosh maybe it’s the dark and lonely days but I needed this. Enemies to lovers first, then in second place friends to lovers, they’re the best kind of love to read about if you ask me.

The animosity between Lucy and Joshua was brilliant and believable and it seemed to have started when Lucy and Joshua met as executive assistants on their first work day after the publishing companies Gamin and Bexley merged. She said hello to him with a smile, he didn’t say anything back, he certainly didn’t smile. It’s been a cold war ever since. The two of them play a lot of games during the day, designed to make the other one either laugh or cry. Joshua is pretty good at doing neither. He’s an unlikeable character but not one you ever really despise. Lucy wants to strangle him on a daily basis though.

Everything changes when Lucy goes on a date with Danny from IT, a date she never intended to have but then she can’t lose face when Joshua doesn’t even believe she has a date. That same day Joshua gives her the kiss of all kisses in the elevator because he was testing something out. Huh? Now she can’t stop thinking about this and neither will any reader. The elevator scene and the entire teambuilding day made me swoon so much and I it got my hopes up right there that they would end up together. How that was going to happen when the promotion was only going to one of them I didn’t figure out though. Would this be the kink in the cable? What would happen after they had played the Or Something game?

I loooved the games they played, the slow burn between the two of them and how much the tension was building. The big moment was put off for sooo long! Maybe some readers might find the characters a little too cliché (Josh has ‘the body’ and a spotless house, he’s also very much the bad guy; Lucy is loveable, quirky and cute) but it didn’t bother me for a minute. This is Romance with a capital R, I can hardly believe this was a debut.

I decided to finally pick this one up because I saw Jonetta of Blue Mood Cafe was going to watch the movie they made of this novel and although I really want to see this I wanted to read the novel first. I do wonder if the chemistry will be as big on screen as in the novel. I don’t want to say the novel is better beforehand but the way I experienced it… Well we’ll see when I get the chance.

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