The Secretary by Renée Knight #BookReview

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She knows all your secrets. But will she keep them?

Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .

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The Secretary had terrible characters but it was so fun to read. Christine and I share the same profession and almost the same amount of years at the job so of course I wanted to read this novel and take a peek behind the curtains of another corporate environment (the offices of one of the biggest supermarket brands in the UK). Christine Butcher is like the perfect secretary. She’s discreet, meticulous, organised… and that’s where our similarities stop because Christine really takes her skills to the limit. It’s unbelievable how devoted she is to her boss Mina Appleton. She knows Mina’s every mood and aims to please Mina however she can. It goes way beyond helping her only at work. Christine is utterly blind to her bosses manipulations, but I must admit I never felt deeply sorry for Christine exactly because of the fact that she was so obsessed with her boss. I’m sure people in the highest echelons would praise her and would want someone exactly like her, but normal people know that her priorities were really askew. She was truly a very fascinating character to read about and I felt like I really knew who she was.  

The story was told through Christine’s eyes and even if she tells the story as if everyhing is fine and normal, there was a constant sinister and ominous feeling present. Would she wake up and stand up for herself? What would be her breaking point? What was she going to do with all the knowledge she had on Mina? Oh I felt gleeful in advance because I seriously don’t think I could hate Mina more. I was waiting patiently for Christine to see that her boss is like all bosses; someone who takes as much advantage as she can but IS certainly NOT your friend. 

I was excited about the story development and I gobbled up every word, phrase and chapter with a racing speed. Christine did not let me down at all and I loved how it ended, so grandiose and clever. Christine is both a good person and a bad person and I loved how hard she made me work to decide which side dominates most. I don’t know if it’s permitted but I still love her in the end.  

I haven’t read this author’s debut novel Disclaimer but after reading this novel I need to have it so I’m definitely putting it on my Christmas list! 

I found a battered copy of this book in a Little Free Library. This is my honest opinion.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware #BookReview @vintagebooks

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Four friends. One promise. But someone isn’t telling the truth. The twisting new mystery from bestselling phenomenon Ruth Ware.

The text message arrives in the small hours of the night. It’s just three words: I need you. Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her.

At school Isa and her three best friends used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. Now, after seventeen years of secrets, something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three women she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten.

Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, not after what they did. It’s time for the women to get their story straight…

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This was the first novel I read by Ruth Ware and in case you missed it on Instagram, I brought a copy of this novel back with me from my holiday in Turkey last year where I swapped it with one of mine (I can’t remember which one) at the hotel. Whatever it was I’m pretty sure it wasn’t nearly as good as this novel though! I chose The Lying Game because I heard only positive echos about the author and her books and also the mere mention of ‘lying’ made me want to be in on whatever secret was being kept. Oh and what a secret it was. Even when you undoubtedly think you’re the only one in the know, you’ll soon find out that you knew just as much as the person sitting next to you.

I liked the present narrative, where Isa, Kate, Thea and Fatima – once 15-year old best friends – are brought back together as adults because something from their past is causing a stir, something is going to come out and it is clear that the bond they had is still in place because they all come running at a moment’s notice after years with barely or no contact at all. What is it that binds them and nobody talks about? Are they going to get their stories straight, are they going to lie some more? 

I loved the other chapters in which Isa revisits her past possibly even more. There was such friendship and loyalty in the chapters and it was very enjoyable to follow them and see the story unfold. The author fed me an idea about what happened through some of the conversations in the present but I couldn’t entertain the idea that what was in my mind could be true. Present and past just didn’t seem compatible and I had no explanation for it at all, it was impossible to see beforehand how and why things would take a bad turn and I just had to sit tight and let all unfold in its own time.

Oh the truth, that horrible, wonderful truth. It startled and surprised me after all. I’d be lying if I said it was anything but amazing. The author really came through in the end and delivered quite a grand apotheosis after such careful world building. It was a slow-burn towards the truth but that last quarter of the book was impossible to put down.

I’m definitely a satisfied and happy reader and I can see why so many others love this author so much. I’m totally joining the club. This novel isn’t going anywhere anymore but is going to have a prominent place in my library!

I received a free copy of this novel from another (unknown) reader. This is my honest opinion.

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh #BookReview

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Two sisters on trial for murder. They accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?

‘911 what’s your emergency?’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

One of them is a liar and a killer.

But which one?

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review-2

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This is the second book I read by Steve Cavanagh and let me fill you in right away, it was just as brilliant as Twisted, the first one I read. The title for this novel is perfect but just the same, he could also have called it Twisted 2 and it would work just as fine.

The general feeling I had when reading Fifty Fifty was that there was a conflicting war raging in my head and it started as soon as I had turned those first few pages. I simply can NOT have not knowing who the culprit is when I know full well it has to be one of only two suspects. I mean, how hard can it be? I’m a master sleuth after all :-). Well it was giving me a splitting headache, that’s how hard it was.

At first both sisters seemed possible suspects but then I thought more clues were leading towards one of them. One of them has mental issues, the other one is pretty organised and calculated, so you have your pick. I was well aware that it could of course also be a clever move from the author leading me on and that I needed to pick the other one… although if I were a profiler, I’d definitely be going with one sister.. at least I think… Argh, after a while I simply didn’t know anymore what to think. The best strategy in such a case I find is settling with ‘your initial thought’ so I did just that and guess what, everything added up for her being the one. Yeah and still I was wrong :-). I’ll tell you who else was wrong: her lawyer! Both Flynn and Kate are convinced that their client is innocent and at least one of them is in for a big surprise. That’s the only thing about the whole book that seems a bit unreal, they are both such goody toeshoes, neither wants to take clients on who aren’t innocent. I learned enough by now to know that a lawyer with a conscience, only prepared to defend innocent clients is not how the world goes round, and two of them in the same room… let’s just say it made me shake my head for far too long.

Anyway it takes a lot of skill for a story to work for both characters and not be obvious who’s pulling the strings. Cavanagh really kept me guessing and spreading uncertainty with each new revelation that was brought up or dismantled in the courtroom. Flynn is one heck of a lawyer and Kate’s not too bad herself. I was hanging onto their words to see how they would discredit a witness or turn a testimony into their favour. I was very excited to see if the baddie would get away with it after all and of course I was more than interested to know why the father had to die in the first place. Everything falls into place in the end and afterwards you’ll just say of course…

I haven’t read the rest of the series yet (I certainly will though!) but I was at no disadvantage, this can be read perfectly as a standalone. Brilliant and addictive!

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

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

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

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

Shay thinks she wants their life.

But what they really want is hers.

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review-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney #BookReview

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My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.

1. I’m in a coma

2. My husband doesn’t love me any more

3. Sometimes I lie

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

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I purchased an ecopy of this novel at the release because many blogfriends recommended it to me. Of course I needed the publication (and purchase) of the second novel by Alice Feeney to finally bump it up my readlist. I’m happy I finally got round to reading this because I really enjoyed it.

There are no less than 3 plotlines in this novel but this was never confusing and I actually like it when there’s a lot going on as was the case here, it keeps me turning those pages. One of the plotlines follows Amber when she’s 11 years old, another one follows her in the present a few days before she finds herself in the hospital and the last one is the one with Amber in a coma. Well she isn’t actually in a coma, she can hear perfectly fine what is going on around her, she just can’t react in any way. As if that’s not enough, she also can’t remember what happened to her. It’s all rather terrifying and her paranoia towards her husband and sister really rubbed off on me :-). It’s not easy to figure out who to trust when you can’t ask any questions. Someone did this to her and I was ready to crucify them myself!

It made sense that there’s a plotline leading up to ‘the event’ but it was puzzling what the plot about her younger self had to do with the story and how she ended up there. It focused largely on her family situation and her friendship with a girl named Taylor when she was a young girl and I had no doubt there was a meaningfulness that totally escaped me; Taylor wasn’t mentioned in the present at all.

The author built up the tension in the days and hours towards her hospital admission and surprised me with a major twist of category 5 (I know, I just decided to have my own rating for twists and this one is of the same order as being told the earth is flat). So many things are actually connected but invisible to see at first sight. The past did have an effect on the present and to understand the present you have to know about the past. I might sound as if I’m talking in riddles but you just have to read it for yourselves if you want the full detail! I’m impressed with this author’s clever writing and I seriously had to wrap my head around that twist.

In conclusion: a wonderful debut that will keep you guessing for a very long time. Read it, it’ll keep you very entertained! 

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

Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler #BlogTour #BookReview @HSCinkpen @Tr4cyF3nt0n @OrionBooks

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Welcome to my stop for Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler. Thanks so much to tour organiser Tracy Fenton and publisher Orion Books for the invitation to join this blog tour! I already published my review in May on the blog but in case you missed it I’m posting it again today. This novel is so amazing, I can’t recommend it enough and I will tell everybody again and again!

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

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

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

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

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

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

You will be wrong.

amazon uk amazon com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*** Follow the rest of the blog tour  ***

NEW Degrees of Guilt blog tour 2

The Daughter in Law by Nina Manning #BlogTour #Extract @ninamanning78 @BoldwoodBooks

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Welcome to my stop for debut novel The Daughter in Law by Nina Manning. Thanks so much to publisher Boldwood Books for the invitation to join their very first blog tour! I have an extract (the first chapter!) to share with you today but first check out how wonderful this novel sounds. When I read the blurb I immediately felt this was my kind of novel!

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No one is good enough for her son…

As a single mother, Annie has an especially close relationship with her son, Ben. They have always been together. Just the two of them. So, when Ben brings home his mysterious beautiful new wife, Daisy, immediately Annie doesn’t trust her. Who is this woman who has taken her son away from her? And what is she hiding?

She’ll protect him with her life…

When Ben disappears, suddenly Annie and Daisy are all the other one has. Alone in Annie’s big, remote house, just the two of them, the tension is rising. And like any protective mother, Annie will stop at nothing to expose her new daughter in law, and the secrets she is hiding…

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Author

Nina Manning

Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. The Daughter in Law is her debut psychological thriller, and will be published in August 2019. She lives in Dorset.

Connect

Twitter : ninamanning78

fB : ninamanningauthor1

Author’s website : https://www.ninamanningauthor.com/

Nina’s author profile : https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/contributor/nina-manning/

Extract

Annie

My favourite room is the spare bedroom at the front of the house. It gets all the light in the morning and looks so inviting. I’ve done it up like a picture I saw in a lifestyle magazine: a checked throw across the end of the bed, floral sheets and hooked back curtains, a little wicker chair in the corner with a few well-read paperbacks stacked on top of it, and a white vase on the bedside table. It really is the most comforting place to be. Of course, no one ever uses it. I like to keep the house looking nice. But it was only ever going to be me and my son.

Getting out of bed was particularly hard this morning. It has been every morning since Ben left. I keep thinking, what is the point? I’ve been feeling that empty hopelessness for several months now. Since Ben deserted me.

For her.

I’d heard all about empty nest syndrome but I never imagined for a moment it would happen to me. I never actually thought he would leave. I thought we would just keep existing together. Forever.

He kept so much of his stuff here initially, that I felt sure he would return – but just last month, he came and took the lot.

It’s so quiet here now. It was quiet anyway, that’s why I took the house. It’s the house I grew up alone in with my father, but fled from as soon as I was able to support myself.

How do you define an unhappy childhood? In those days it was unheard of to make an allegation about your relative. I accepted the violence – it was, after all, part of him and all I had ever known. Throughout my motherless upbringing, the beach house provided a sanctuary for me with plenty of places to hide. I got stealthier as I grew and with my legs pulled up tightly into my chest and my head pressed to my knees, I would squeeze myself into an alcove, the airing cupboard or the shed with the ringing sound of my father’s threats in my ear. Later on, I would sneak out and find my way back to my bedroom past my father’s drunken snores. The next day he wouldn’t remember a thing. Had I not been able to escape down to the shore to skim pebbles or poke about in rock pools, then I would have run away sooner. The sea kept me safe. But as soon as I turned sixteen I took myself hundreds of miles away. I never heard a whisper from my father, who had told me daily I reminded him too much of my brazen excuse of a mother. Then he was dead and the beach house was mine. I left it sitting empty for a while, too scared to return, too busy trying to salvage my own marriage. Then Ben arrived and I knew it was time.

When I returned here all those years later with my son, it was fairly run down and rotting in places I couldn’t get to, much like my father for all those years. The brown weatherworn cladding needed a sand down and varnish and the white framed windows were peeling, but overall the exterior wasn’t so bad. I did the best I could with it and I could overlook most of the natural decay when I scanned the vast horizon and breathed in the fresh sea air.

It’s a remote spot, perched right on the edge of the peninsular before it slopes round into the sea. Standing in the garden or looking out of the window, you would be forgiven for thinking there were no houses for miles, but there is one around along the shore and to the left and then they begin to scatter more frequently as they feed towards the village. People rarely walk this far down as the shore is a little more rustic with huge pieces of driftwood and great mounds of seaweed washing up daily. Besides, the stretch of beach at the end of the garden and over the low battered wall essentially belongs to me. We are protected a little from the wind by a few surrounding trees, but it does get a little breezy here at times. But when it’s still and the sea looks like a flat piece of mirror you could walk across, that’s when I love it the most. Of course, I love the waves too, especially the ferocious ones that thrust themselves towards the wall. I like to watch those waves and feel my own fury in them.

A house on the seafront, much like a savannah plain, is the perfect spot to see when enemies are approaching. And anyone who tries to come between me and my son, I consider an enemy.

But despite the weather and the waves, I know the house is empty. And although I try to fill my days with mundane daily tasks, I too feel empty. I need to feel fulfilled again. I need my son back. Back where he belongs.

There’s no one downstairs humming a tuneless song whilst they make their breakfast. There are no dirty trainers in the hallway, or piles of washing in the laundry basket. There are no toast crumbs on the kitchen side, or butter streaks in the marmite. The house is so eerily quiet. I have never experienced this. Not since having Ben. I forced all the bad memories away from the time I lived here as a child and made it all about me and Ben. It’s our sanctuary; our hub. Our place away from the world.

Now he’s gone. He hardly texts or rings. She has him wrapped around her little finger. Calling all the shots no doubt.

It was a real shock when Ben told me he had met someone. It was more of a shock when he told me he had gone and gotten himself married. He had been spending a lot of time at her house, that I knew. But I had no idea things had evolved so quickly. And to have done it without telling me, his own mother, first. We used to be so close. I am not coping so well.

I did the right thing, of course. I invited them over for something to eat – mostly because I needed to get a good look at the woman who thinks she has replaced me.

But I know it’s only temporary. I can’t be replaced. My son can’t live without me.

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

Blog Tour Nina Manning

 

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

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

Happy publication day to HS Chandler!

Degrees of Guilt blogblitz

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

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

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

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

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

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

You will be wrong.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars_1457015727_81_246_96_2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Now You See Her by Heidi Perks #BookReview

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Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.

Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable: tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.

Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again. Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

Someone is hiding the truth.
So what really happened to Alice?

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Now You See Her by Heidi Perks is also published as Her One Mistake. After reading the novel I think both titles are appropriate and quite fitting although I have a slight preference for the first one which makes me silently complete the sentence with Now You Don’t :-).

I enjoyed the author’s writing style from the very beginning. I knew the book was about a missing child and right from the start she had me highly anticipating that moment of the disappearance of four year old Alice. I was seeking out opportunities for someone to snatch a child and I had a few moments of relief but I knew it was inevitable. I know you have to have eyes on your back when it comes to small children but still, it’s frightening to see how quickly it can happen. The aftermath was so tragic, I felt strongly for both Charlotte and Harriet and it pained me to see that this also caused the loss of their friendship and the support in these tough times when they both need it the most.

In chapters told in the present and the past the women share everything leading up to that moment and the plotline was seriously addictive. I did enjoy a novel with a plot similar to this one not so long ago so I naturally made a connection and I can’t say I was surprised with the first big twist but it definitely wasn’t the only one in the novel so I still had my fair dose of surprises. What troubled me perhaps most was the fact that the novel begins two weeks after Alice’s disappearance with Charlotte and Harriet being questioned at the police station. It raised a big red flag in my head. What had happened, did they find Alice, and most of all why were they both being questioned? I had to wait quite a while to get my answer to that one and I loved being kept in the dark for so long.

I got much, much more than a straightforward abduction and solving of the case. The novel had two great characters and their stories made the story so very compelling. Now You See Her is a wonderfully gripping read. The ending was really high on tension too and it really made me wonder how it was going to end. Will all secrets be revealed and will they find Alice alive? I can only say the best books just don’t let you leave emotionally unscathed 🙂

I can highly recommend this novel where nothing is as it seems at first sight. There are false appearances, lies and deceit to be found in this novel, but friendship and love as well.

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

 

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce #BookReview

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Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

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Oh Alison, what a tragic and unfulfilling life you lead. Alison’s making a right mess of her life and it’s of her own doing. Should I feel compassion? I’m not going to lie, it was hard to sympathise. She’s such a strong woman and then she shows such weakness, drinking excessively and making a fool of herself time and time again. She also has an affair and the worst part is that it isn’t even with anyone nice. Patrick’s debasing treatment of her and the rough sex he forces her into, all on his terms and how he pleases, were enough not to care for him at all. Not even after all that’s happened, he just sunk too low for me to crawl out of that pit.

I didn’t like Alison either but from what I’ve heard and seen myself in real life I know that drinking is a common problem among barristers, so it’s not so strange after all. If it were any other novel I’d have the reaction too that it’s yet another alcoholic, but I feel it’s quite justified here. And of course you can find adultery in all businesses… I’m just hoping they’re not all so loathsome as Patrick. I know that lawyers are in second place of professions with the most psychopaths (CEO’s are number one btw), and he sure comes close.

I was so very focused on Alison and her personal life that I’d almost forget there’s a legal part to this novel too. She’s working on the testimony of a woman who shot her husband and she has to decide the best way of presenting the case. I enjoyed the insight and reading about the different possibilities of going forward here but I can’t say I didn’t see any of it coming right from the start. I do read a lot of these type of novels though so maybe not so surprising I’m naturally inclined to think of every possibility.

I was more surprised however when I reached the ending of the novel… I completely forgot what drew me into this novel at first, being so preoccupied with everything else that was going on with Alison and her marriage, so I find that a really good thing and I was quite shocked when I suddenly remembered that part again. The ending was very fitting and I sure know I’ll never look at blood oranges the same way ever again. It’ll always, always be associated with this novel now :-).

I received a free copy of this novel from a lovely blog friend. This is my own opinion.