The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton #BookReview

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What’s it about?

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

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

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

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

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Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough #BookReview

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What’s it about?

Don’t Trust This Book

Don’t Trust These People

Don’t Trust Yourself

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

Louise

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

David

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

Adele

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

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

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Review

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

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

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

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

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

When You Disappeared by John Marrs #BookReview

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What’s it about?

All she wanted was the truth, but she’ll wish she never found out.

When Catherine wakes up alone one morning, she thinks her husband has gone for a run before work. But Simon never makes it to the office. His running shoes are by the front door. Nothing is missing—except him.

Catherine knows Simon must be in trouble. He wouldn’t just leave her. He wouldn’t leave the children.

But Simon knows the truth—about why he left and what he’s done. He knows things about his marriage that it would kill Catherine to find out. The memories she holds onto are lies.

While Catherine faces a dark new reality at home, Simon’s halfway around the world, alive and thriving. He’s doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the truth.

But he can’t hide forever, and when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he is.

And wish she’d stayed in the dark.

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Review

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After reading both of his novels I can say that I’m officially addicted! He’s got what it takes to completely transport me to another country and another lifetime and he really let the characters come alive so much in this novel that they crept under my skin. When You Disappeared is a deeply character-driven family drama and I was really invested in the characters (or one of them at least). This is a novel that’s all about the journey and isn’t fast-paced in that way but more of a slow unfolding and discovery of the characters throughout the story. Don’t expect it to focus on an investigation after Simon went missing and you’ll be absolutely fine.

The novel starts with Simon’s return after 25 years and then turning back to his decision to disappear and leave his childhood sweetheart Catherine and his 3 children so many years ago. He actually planned to take his own life but in the end he decided that would be too easy, better to let his wife suffer and wonder what happened to him so he just vanished… until now. The reason why he left is surrounded by mystery but it must be something terrible is all I could assume. It is much worse than I thought though… that ending, knowing, finally understanding it, realizing… it’s harrowing!

When he knocks on her door after such a long time and after she’s overcome the shock of seeing him again, Catherine demands why he left and what she did to him that make him take this action. He’s there to tell her why he’s resented her all this time but first she has to hear what she made him do while he was away. He tells her he set fire, he stole and killed and it was all due to her. She quashed his dreams and ideas and all he knew was that true happiness was non-existent. When you think you’ll have it, something dark and rotten will turn it around and take it away. He’d seen it often enough, with his mother, with the ‘perfect’ family of his friend Douglas, and then what his wife did. It sounds bitter and there is definitely a heaviness I felt when I was reading this book but thankfully positive notes became more and more prominent the further I advanced into the novel.

There’s nothing that gives an idea as to what happened but the alternating storylines of their pasts gave me a pretty good idea of who these people were, their true selves come forward through their actions and how they coped with their struggles. I learned how he led a decadent life without worries while she tried to pick herself up, got 3 jobs to provide for her children. Even though Catherine did something so awful that Simon gave up everything and I should probably have sympathized with him for making such a grave decision, I didn’t, not one moment really. He pushed his family out of his mind just too easily, he did atrocious things and I found myself not feeling sorry for him and not sympathising anymore. I was wondering if the author was going to make me feel guilty and swing my sympathies by the end of the novel but I can’t say. I can only confirm that I felt deeply for one of them in the end.

It took until the end of the novel to be enlightened why he finally came back and is even so many years after the facts still trying to instill guilt. Their interactions in the present were like a dance, seeing what their truths did to the other when hearing them so honestly declared. It was fascinating to see how they spent their lives and slowly they are coming to the crux of the story with a twist, a turn of events that I never imagined and was so tragic.

I’m not sure this novel is for everyone, it’ll have some divided opinions probably because of this unlikeable character and the lack of exciting things happening, but I was really drawn into it. When You Disappeared was a rich story that had me completely immersed.

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

Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas #BookReview

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What’s it about?

She can run
Libby Hall needs to hide, to escape from everything for a while. Which is why the house swap is a godsend. The chance for Libby and her husband Jamie to exchange their tiny Bath flat for a beautiful haven on the wild Cornish coast.

But she can’t hide
But before they can begin to heal their fragile marriage, Libby makes some disturbing discoveries about the house. And soon the peace and isolation begin to feel threatening. How alone are they? Why does she feel watched?

Because someone knows her secret
What is Jamie hiding? Is Libby being paranoid? And why does the house bring back such terrible memories? Memories Libby’s worked hard to bury. Memories of the night she last saw her best friend alive . . . and what she did.

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Review

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As a reader of so many thrillers each year it’s not so easy to find a novel with a great plottwist that I didn’t see coming, but boy this one certainly hit it off! Oww yes, you are going to love Last Seen Alive if you enjoyed Claire Douglas’ previous novel Local Girl Missing! Even if they are completely different stories, you’ll experience the same exhilarating feeling when reading this. You are led to believe – again – that the story is a pretty straightforward one but I can assure you that you don’t know anything ;-).

I’m not going to lie, the first part of the story is a storyline which you’ll find in other novels as well, Libby is seeing things that don’t add up, suspicion is all around. Ms. Douglas is doing the legwork for the brilliant plotting in part 2 and 3 of this novel and this first part is very relevant is all I can say. I was totally invested in the lives of Libby and James and I did my best to try and figure out what was going on and who was to be suspected in this story but I still didn’t see IT before I was told in the second big break in this novel. I really like it that the author also included Libby’s own thoughts and theories and suspicions, making the character really think for herself and cleverly showing all the possibilities there are and so creating very subtly the seeds of suspicion. If you’re like me, all you’ll probably do is nod your head and think that’s exactly what I was thinking. Well you’re going to do a double-take when you find out how this plotline is going to develop. That’s a promise I make :-).

The prologue of the novel alone is to die for. It’s not even a page long but raises soooo many questions and is a brilliant set up for the rest of this novel! A lifeless body, a woman standing over him, one question on her lips, was she seen killing her husband?

All through the first part of the novel, when Libby and James are in Cornwall enjoying a little in promptu vacation after a few tumultuous weeks, I was wondering what could have happened to this couple to have brought this on, I kept going back to that prologue in my head. They are so wonderful and happy together and I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what could make Libby kill her husband. How well do you really know a person though? Who’s keeping secrets? Libby sees strange things in Cornwall… is someone really taking pictures of her husband? Who’s standing in the back yard of the holiday cottage?  When they get back home the situation escalates even further. Could I keep on denying that the ever so friendly and kind James had some (dirty little) secrets? Libby doesn’t want to believe he did anything wrong but puuuhlease ;-). Argh Ms. Douglas sets the stage and she’ll go in for the cut in part 2 and 3. I had the whole situation judged and catalogued and I was finding myself out of my depth suddenly with the major turn of events.

Well the second part of the novel, where Libby revisits her past at the age of 21 and right before she met James, shows she has some secrets of her own. I already knew she had some bad memories about her trip to Thailand but didn’t realise it ran so deep. Secrets I didn’t come to expect from this teacher, someone who seems to be born to teach children. The twist is really well done!

The third part is confession time in the present, time to get all the secrets out on the table and she’s going to have to spill it all to the police when the body in the back yard is discovered. There’s lots more fun to come when they try to make Libby confess and she has to come clean about everything. I really appreciate the amazing plotting Ms. Douglas has done. I seriously love this author! The only downside is that this is one of those books that you’ll always remember the twist of ;-).

Without any doubt, I highly recommend reading this one and I think you’ll see it on my favorite list of this year! I already look forward to the next novel!

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

Broken Branches by Jonathan Lee #BookReview

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‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

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review-2

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Wow! I was a little bit afraid of a plotline centered around a curse – it sounded a little bit too fantastical already for me and I hadn’t even started it – but I can tell you that I didn’t need worrying. Yes of course there’s this talk of a curse, something that is passed on from generation to generation, from father to son, and even when it wasn’t clear from the beginning what this curse really entails, it was obvious that the tree in this novel is tied to it. The tree is important in the past and present, it is described often and detailed and fed the creepy feeling that goes along with a curse, yet it didn’t dominate the story too much, it was verging but never over the top in his creation of a kind of surreal atmosphere.

I’m just going with a brief outline here: the main characters are Ian and Rachel. She’s acting strange, distant, they don’t talk anymore, she sleeps alone.. you get the drift. He’s researching his family history, a tedious job. He hopes to find answers there and get their marriage back on the rails, if he ever gets through the stacks and stacks of paper in his study. Weird things are happening, it’s all very mysterious and I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t. Even though there were a lot of confusing events and no real answers, I didn’t even understand what he was trying to do compiling a family tree, it never annoyed me and I was and became invested in Ian’s life, even more so after he shared so many about his youth.

I really liked the character of Louisa, his grandmother, the most. She’s like a little ray of light in his past and it seems she was the only one friendly to him in his childhood and as a young adult. She’s straightforward, honest, righteous, kind. The contrast between her and his own parents was so big I felt it in my bones, the unfairness of it all.

I had no shortage of (in hindsight quite rediculous) theories about what was going on but had to give the story its time to unfold by its own accord.

I was pretty astonished when I realised right at the very end of the novel what the author just told me. He took this idea, something that is a delicate thing, but not all that uncommon, and created a perfect plotline around it. This is a memorable story. It was poignant, honest, and it had me under its spell.

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

They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen #BookReview

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What’s it about?

She knows there’s a killer on the loose.
But no-one believes her.
Will she be next?

Hannah had a normal life – a loving husband, a good job. Until she did something shocking.

Now she’s in a psychiatric clinic. It should be a safe place. But patients keep dying.

The doctors say it’s suicide. Hannah knows they’re lying.

Can she make anyone believe her before the killer strikes again?

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Review

star three and a half

Hannah is staying in a private pschychatric clinic and it seems it wasn’t entirely out of her own volition. The reason for her stay is carefully dodged but I’m great at making lists of possibilities in my head and cross-referencing them with details I find so I thought I had her backstory figured out quite soon. I was pleasantly surprised my nose was pointed in the right direction and that I didn’t have to wait for the reveal of her reasons to stay until the end of the novel, which was what I kind of expected. It was a pretty little bomb dropped at the exact moment that you’ve got that feeling that you really just have to know now ‘what exactly is going on’ and I can only say that it’s very much in line with what I was expecting from Ms. Cohen. If you’ve read other books by this author, you know that there’s no limit to what she can write and in my books she’s known for her great plot twists and plotlines that are running very deep and are intricately crafted. A great start of this novel because Hannah suddenly becomes a very unreliable narrator, there’s no denying that you’ll have her backstory in your mind all the way through now. I’m still impressed with how cleverly she made Hannah to be doubted now at all times. A woman who did ‘that’ is surely not to be trusted?

Hannah’s convinced two of the patients there – one of them happened to be one of her best friends – didn’t kill themself.

“I’m frightened. I’m frightened that I’m right and I’ll be next. I’m even more frightened that I’m wrong, in which case I’m as crazy as they all think I am.”

Then her mother finds a picture of a woman on her daughter’s nightstand with the eyes pierced out. Who is she and why so much hatred? She starts investigating on her own and soon enough you can’t stop but wonder if the threat is actually coming from in- or outside the clinic.

People are lying and not everybody is who he or she claims they are and it’s up to Hannah and her mother to dig around and make people talk. Lots of deceit and lies to go round but are any of these people responsible for killing someone? I knew the who early on and the author didn’t really disguise it all that much, it’s not like it all really came out of the blue, so what really intrigued me the most was finding out why? What was the motive? And is Hannah in real danger?

As I was racing towards the end, I got really on edge how this was going to go down… I felt fearful but also relished that sense of danger lurking in the shadows. Ms. Cohen held out a long time and made me wait for it, keeping me on tenterhooks for the grand finale!

Maybe this isn’t my favorite novel by her, I still think When She Was Bad or Dying for Christmas proved to be just that little more exciting and sinister but it was still a good read with a couple of nice twists!

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

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay #BlogTour #BookReview

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What’s it about?

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her?

Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well- heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth …

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About the author

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Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

Connect with the author

Twitter | Facebook | Website

Review

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I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today and I can tell you that Orenda Books has published a novel that has that little nugget of originality yet again. You will be surprised, I can’t think of anything other to say.

The Other Twin is an intriguing investigation into India’s death by her sister Poppy. She conducts her own search into her sister’s past to find out who her sister really was and if it was even plausible that she commited suicide. It was difficult to find out much about India because she removed her digital presence on all social media but there is one person, someone tagged in a picture as Penny, who seemed close to her and who might know more. But how to find that person is nearly impossible. In the present days social media can be a real source but you can also dissapear if you want. Poppy didn’t really know her sister like she thought she did by the looks of it.

The depth of the secrets and lies in this novel is mountain high and I simply couldn’t fathom the scale of it until I almost got to the end. Poppy runs into a wall everywhere she turns and everyone, even in her own family, keeps their lips pressed together. Maybe they know, maybe they don’t but it won’t keep her from trying even harder. Even though I didn’t know anything – there’s no reader’s advantage here, I was as much in the dark as Poppy was – I just had to keep on reading because the writing was addictive and the mystery kept me in its grip. I had a sense of unease while reading this but I had no idea where this story was going to lead. I loved how unexpected the truth turned out to be. It was staring me in the eyes and I simply didn’t recognize it, understand it, see it. If you want to read this story I would advise you not to read too many reviews though because some are bound to give some spoilers and that would just take away all the fun and would in fact most certainly have an impact on your own rating.

This was a great debut which I am happy to recommend to all readers who enjoy the psychological thriller genre.

I received a free copy of this novel from the author L V Hay, publisher OrendaBooks and tour organiser Anne Cater in exchange for my honest opinion.

Check out the other blog stops as well. I’m sharing today with
Thoughts of a Highly Caffeinated Mind
Tomorrow is not to be missed either at :
Chocolate’n’ Waffles and Rae Reads

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