Verity by Colleen Hoover #BookReview

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Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of the night their family was forever altered.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

Sexy. Twisted. Consuming.

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I wanted to read this novel as soon as I heard about it. I’m a longtime fan of Colleen Hoover’s romance books and I happen to be quite a bit of a thriller lover too so this combination of my fav author writing a suspenseful novel was all I needed to hear!

This might be her first novel in the suspense genre but she obviously doesn’t look at the world hearty-eyed all the time and has a pretty wicked mind as well. It was much darker than I expected and I really appreciate that she didn’t hold back at all just to appease some of her readers who aren’t used to this.

While Lowen is staying at the Crawford residence where she’s meant to finish Verity’s manuscript, a woman who became paralysed after an accident, she stumbles upon a manuscript. Intermittent to Lowen’s presence at the house are chapters of this manuscript which slowly reveal a pretty disturbing secret.

It might be an upsetting topic for some readers but it’s CoHo’s trademark to make you feel emotional and I can say that I did feel very strongly about Verity, her actions seriously made my toes curl. Lowen is feeling increasingly disgusted and so was I. Should she tell Jeremy the truth about his wife or not though, that’s quite the dilemma.

At the same time it wouldn’t be a CoHo novel if there wouldn’t be a bit of romance in it as well although I really wouldn’t catalogue this novel in or even near the romance genre. There’s a lot of attraction and it was addicting to read the interactions between Lowen and Jeremy. There were a few too many graphic scenes in the novel for me if I’m being honest, be it with Lowen or the scenes in the manuscript with Verity, but in the end it seems that they kind of served a purpose so that makes me more forgiving :-).

The ending is absolutely worth mentioning the most! It’s one of those endings that I’ll remember in every detail even in 5 years of time. I saw one part of it coming and I felt myself already quite clever but I had no idea there was more! There was another part and it caught me completely off guard. I was quite stunned by this development to say the least. I don’t know if everyone will agree with me and will like hearing so but there’s plenty of room to question the ending and to decide on what you think has happened. It is designed to make up your own mind and I quite liked it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Verity, the plot was clever, the novel was quite sinister and played with my mind. I truly hope she writes more novels in the genre!

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

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An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen #BookReview

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Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive, and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr Shields may know what she’s thinking . . . and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what is real in her life, and what is one of Dr Shields’s manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

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This novel was very high on my wishlist and I might have squeeled a little when I was invited by the publisher to read it on Netgalley. It’s as if they read my mind!

I was’t only very excited to read the novel though, I was a little anxious as well. I don’t need to be reminded how unexpectedly twisted The Wife Between Us was so I didn’t know if the follow-up of that bestseller would be as satisfying as the first. The bar was set quite high but it definitely lived up to my expectations!

An Anonymous Girl really plays the psychological card and is for me THE perfect definition of a ‘psychological’ thriller! The book contains quite a bit of psychological warfare and I couldn’t be happier about that as I’m always fascinated by secrets and lies, how some people can derive answers from non-verbal clues, how they can read people and instinctively know their strenghts and weaknesses, what drives them and what makes them afraid. If you have an interest in the human psyche and psychology then this one is a real hit.

The novel is told in alternate chapters by Jess (Jessica), a girl working as a make-up artist and Dr. Shields, a psychology professor. Their interaction commences with Jess taking part in a survey where she has to answer truthfully on some thought-provoking questions that form the basis of a morality study. I loved getting to know Jess by working my way through her answers. Her thoughts and feelings were there, stripped from every disguise, and I liked her character, it shows she’s flawed but her honesty was touching. It also made me think what I’d answer on the questions myself. The novel takes a bit of a turn when her loyalty is being tested though. It’s not clear what Dr. Shield’s intentions are at first but I did have an unsettling feeling that there was an unseen threat and Jess was being used for something. There’s definitely manipulation in this novel involved but is it Dr. Shields or the third person who joins their little triangle who is lying to Jess? Trust is an important issue in the novel and I have to admit I was quick to judge some people as well… I liked and trusted some characters first, to change my mind about them as the story progressed, until I was completely at a loss about who to trust.

An Anonymous Girl is a novel of action and reaction, and as it nears the end it has something of a chess game with the main characters playing some serious mind games. Halfway through the book Jess doesn’t know who represents the real danger in this tangled web she finds herself in anymore. The tension hung in the air and it was great not knowing what their next move would be. The confrontation and finding out who would lie and who would tell the truth in the end was fascinating to see unfold.

I can’t wait to see what the authors come up with next.

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

The Dark Place by Stephanie Rogers #BlogTour #Review

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My thanks to the wonderful Tracy Fenton and publisher Manatee Books for my copy of The Dark Place by Stephanie Rogers and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour!

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When you look at those you love, what do you see?

When Issy, young mother and beloved daughter, seemingly kills herself her family is devastated.

Believing she would never leave son Noah willingly, Jon and Mel determine to discover what really happened to Issy. As they and the rest of the family struggle to come to terms with tragedy, Jon and Mel start to realise Issy’s secrets come from a very dark place…

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The Dark Place is a compelling and harrowing novel about the aftermath of someone’s death. If you care for a little warning, there are definitely a few sensitive topics included in this novel, so beware.

When a loved one commits suicide the people left behind invariably want to know why so it’s only natural that Issy’s parents, Jon and Mel, ask themselves that same question. Why would a young girl, mother of a small child, with a promising life ahead of her, willingly kill herself? It was a strange sensation to be a witness to Issy’s last moments, I didn’t want it to happen but I couldn’t divert my eyes either and in the end I think it was necessary to feel the conviction in Issy. If I hadn’t, I could have had doubts myself perhaps but it was clear that Issy didn’t hesitate, there was no doubt in her mind whatsoever. So she must have had a damn good reason was what crossed my mind because that scene was heart-stopping and I thought a lot about it throughout reading the novel. I immediately asked myself what had happened in her past to result in such a drastic act. I couldn’t fathom what it was but wanted to find out why as much as her parents.

Besides a search for answers A Dark Place is also a story of dealing with grief. With their binding factor not longer there to keep them a tight little family, the tragedy makes Jon and Mel’s question their relationship soon enough. Their relationship was already in some muddy waters before so I was eager to find out if this would break them or pull them closer together. Even though Jon and Mel blamed themselves for not seeing what was going on with their daughter, I didn’t judge them for it, not even when I knew all there was to know.

The story is told in dual narratives by Issy’s mother and father. They both deal with their loss in their own way and both POVs were different in their approach; it helped to see it both from an emotional side and a more hands-on side. While Mel gets a lot of support from her sister Pam, Jon is handling it in his own way and he’s on a mission to find out why she did this with a little help from a detective. Throw in an overly present lorry-driver Greg who gave me shivers every time I read about him and I was getting more paranoid by the minute.

After a while there was an idea that was starting to take form in my head about Issy’s reason for taking her own life, even with the author’s attempts to mislead me with a few clever red herrings, so it didn’t come as a complete surprise but I was still unprepared for how hard it was to hear what it was all about.

The Dark Place is a compelling story that definitely takes a dark turn in the end. I also admire the brave decision of the author to handle several difficult topics in this novel.

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

Dark-Place-Blogtour

My holiday reads reviewed

I took 3 reads with me so you’re getting 3 reviews in one go. I compared them to each other too and that’s why you get a 3, 4 and 4.5 star review ;-). I’m showing them in the order I read them btw 😉

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She has a loving marriage.

But she has no friends.

Everyone knows her name.

But no one will speak it.

Why?

Cornelia Blackwood is about to do something very wrong, for reasons she believes to be right.

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The Flight of Cordelia Blackwood was a poignant novel with a tragic tale at the heart of it. The genre of novel was different from what I expected it to be but it was a gripping read and I really enjoyed reading it. Even without the experience of being a mother myself, I was drawn into the story right away and I could feel Leah’s agony and longing for a child.

The story is told via alternating chapters and shows Leah meeting Adrian in the past, going through some of life’s tragedies together and a new storyline that runs from the present onwards and hints at something bad happening in the past that made her lose all credit, all of her friends too. The author deftly steers the story in a certain direction and it’s impossible to miss where the answer lies. I couldn’t help conjuring so many worrisome thoughts and I held my heart at least a few times when I read about some of Leah’s life changes, but the author made me squirm in my seat with all the twists and turns in the story before getting to the exact heart of it.

I just couldn’t compute Leah’s treatment with the image that I was building of her in my head… surely she wasn’t capable of doing anything evil? Her story reads as one tragedy happening upon another and made me feel sad for her. But how did she end up so injured and broken, walking around with a cane, and why is she getting these looks? I was trying to get an idea how things added up but it was a well-kept mystery until the end and given her deteriorating state of mind I knew something was coming but I never expected that.

The Flight of Cordelia Blackwood was a story of grief and love and that feeling when it just all seems to be too much. It’s sad and heart-breaking at times and that ending, it left me reeling.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I had the intention before I left to leave one good read behind so I left my copy in Kos for another reader to enjoy :-).

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After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?

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I expected a mystery but I had no idea the story would hold SO SO many secrets and lies. EVERYBODY here is hiding something or other and I absolutely loved all these surprises that follow up at warp speed. And then there is the lie of all lies.. I had no idea who’d turn out to be the biggest liar of them all so around midway the most stunning twist just happened that put everything into a new perspective. I had absolutely no idea and didn’t expect the direction this story was going in. It’s just the things you take for a truth and don’t question that can surprise you the most if they turn out to be a lie, isn’t it. I guess that’s also why we are surprised when someone tells us they don’t love us anymore, right?

The story kicks off right away with Daisy’s abduction and when the police question Jess, who was babysitting, and her parents, Emily and James, there’s already some little white lies here and there about their whereabouts and the circumstances. It starts small but after a while I couldn’t help wonder why they would lie about anything at all and then before you’re even very well aware of it one stone after another is thrown at each other and my paranoia was all over the place. I do love big happy families who come apart like that :-). You can really trust nobody here and I was keen to keep it that way too. Someone did earn my sympathy and trust little by little, and I also started to loathe another character quite vehemently at the same time when my feelings turned out to be viable in the light of some actions.

Little Sister turned out to be not only a story about abduction, the opening storyline even takes a backseat for a while when another timeline is followed taking place during the teenage years of Jess and Emily, but about what happened between the two sisters so many years ago as well. The picture becomes clearer with every flashback about the nature of their sibling relationship and the reasons why Jess left home at the age of 17.  This plotline was just as riveting to read and had its own shock-factor too.

If you’re talking about authors who can deliver an amazing twist then I have to count Isabel Ashdown among them. It took me by surprise how much I enjoyed this one and I already look forward picking up another book from this author. If you have any of her books you want to swap for something I have, you let me know!

I received a free copy of this novel from another blogger in a book swap. This is my honest opinion.

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Dr. Irini Harringford was given away by her parents just before her fourth birthday. Although she has spent her whole life trying to convince herself she doesn’t need them, deep down Irini longs to understand why she was abandoned, while her parents kept her older sister, Elle.

So when Elle gets in touch with news that their mother has died, Irini reluctantly agrees to return to the family home. But she is ill at ease. She and Elle are not close. Irini knows only too well what Elle is capable of. Inexplicably drawn to her enigmatic sister, yet terrified of the sway she holds, Irini tries to protect herself even as she is sucked back into her family’s toxic web of secrets…and soon realizes that the past is more complicated than she imagined, and that her very future rests upon discovering the truth about why she was really given away.

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Irini’s haunted by her past and this has serious repercussions for her love life as it makes her doubt the person currently in her life. Just thinking about what her parents did, giving her up at the age of 3 and keeping her sister, Elle, made me instantly sympathetic and cautious of her parents. Was it because she had a handicap, was it because she was unlovable, she never knew the reasons. What she does know is that she doesn’t want to have children of her own, that’s how big the toll is because of their decision in the past. Truth be told, there was one member of the family who wanted her in her life, her sister has tried to find her again and again and she also succeeded. Isn’t it ever so strange though that she ran from her sister so many times then, going so far as moving and changing her phone number? I was wondering what happened right away. Now that Elle finally caught up with her again Irini decides to take the opportunity and find out the answers she’s always been craving.

This need to know her parent’s motives and the reason why Irini would run from her sister are at the core of the novel and there’s a lot of darting around the answers throughout the story. It was a bit transparent for me though why her mother and father sent her off and the biggest mystery was discovering why she and her sister have such a dysfunctional relationship and what happened in the past between them to cut all contact.

Sister relationships are always interesting to read about and the push and pull between the two sisters was no different. Their interactions make great waves and especially the domineering personality of Elle over Irini. Even though I sympathised with Irini at first and how she was hurt like that, the feeling waned and I can’t say I liked either of the sisters in the end, but Elle really is the worst character I’ve come across lately. Elle’s issues make her very manipulative and controlling and Irini is of course the perfect victim. It was impressive what Elle was capable of and fascinating to watch their interactions.

However, I didn’t always understand why Irini just went along with everything and not once stood up against her or told her off. I knew quite soon that there was something off about Elle so why she got so much credit from Irini I never fully understood. I also found it slightly unbelievable that nobody told her anything throughout her life about the reasons why her parents made the decision and in hindsight also why they didn’t even follow up on her from a distance, they could have at least sent a birthday card each year, right?

There were quite a lot of events unfolding in the last part of the novel and that’s the part that I really enjoyed best, the more you read the better it gets. I’m still not entirely sure about Elle in the end though, is she evil or disturbed, I’m still doubtful. Maybe a bit both.. you’ll have to make up your own mind.

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

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An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena #BookReview

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We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

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Novels with a locked-in trope are my new addiction so it’s no surprise that I was dying to read this one. Being able to hunt for a suspect you must know, someone hiding in plain sight in a very claustrophobic setting is something that enraptures me. An Unwanted Guest certainly captures the same vibe of Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’, a novel where several guests come to stay on a small, isolated island. They’re stranded there while one of them is a killer.

In An Unwanted Guest the setting is a small lodge where several guests are looking for a weekend getaway. Little do they know that there’ll be a snow blizzard cutting them off from the outside world with no power or cellphone reception. There are 10 guests with an additional 2 people working as the lodge’s staff and while this seemed a lot to follow and I was worried I’d get confused about the who’s who I didn’t have any issues at all. I admire how the author deftly wrote about them all, used enough references and repetition to make them all easily recognisable. I was able to identify every person and relationship in no time. There’s the unhappy couple, the couple in love, the engaged couple, the (girl)friends, the singleton writer and the lawyer. Good thing he’s there; or not, because can you really trust a lawyer ;-)?

The novel shows what being trapped with several strangers does to you. Everyone acts differently at first but it the end they all feel the same way, everyone suspects each other and fingers are pointed in every direction. The suspicion and fear is high and the secrets that come out make them ALL look even more guilty. I loved all the suspicion and I couldn’t clear anyone from my suspect list.

Of course I just can’t leave this brilliant novel – that I really couldn’t put down because I HAD TO KNOW WHO IT WAS – without uttering some kind of remark again. The thing is… there wasn’t any evidence around to break the investigation open. It’s more about the group’s reactions and the aftermath of their discoveries than actually solving this whodunnit and I just wished I could have sleuthed and found some interesting clues before it all blew up. The author undoubtedly played on that – quite shocking – surprise effect by revealing the killer’s identity the way she did.. but I would have enjoyed it more if the killer and the motive wasn’t just given up but found through brilliant investigation skills and more deduction.

Overall I very much enjoyed reading this novel and I don’t know for how long I’ve had it but I just found the paperback in my library of The Couple Next Door so that’s pushed up on my readlist now!

I received a free paperback copy from the publisher, Bantam Press, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier #Bookreview

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When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

amazon uk amazon com

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I’m so happy other readers put this book on my radar and told me it would be a read for me. I’m usually careful with choosing to read a hyped book, which I definitely think is the case here, but I have to agree that yes, it really is an outstanding novel. I was a bit surprised too that it was an ’emotionally chilling’ psychological thriller and that it turned out to be such a page-turner that I read it in two days.

We meet Geo – short for Georgina – in the present, while she’s standing trial, testifying against Angela’s murderer. The harsh truth is that Geo kept her mouth shut for fourteen years about what she knew had happened to her friend. Of course I felt like she got everything she deserves, the crime is obvious, she lied to her friend’s parents, she let them hope for news about their daughter, and let everyone search for Angela for fourteen long years and yet… it’s not that simple. Through snippets in the present and the past I really got to know Geo and both in present and past she seems like a good person. Her friendship with her best friend Angela was sincere and in the present she honestly cares for her friend Cat, so where did this go wrong, how could she do this?

The story and Geo’s character really grabbed me from the get go. The revelations and events leading up to her murder were dark and gritty and it also calls for trigger warnings. That sense of foreboding keeps growing stronger and while you know Angela’s body was found, I simply couldn’t imagine it would actually be happening or why as Angela was such a bubbly person.

Calvin James is bad news, that’s pretty obvious, he’s someone that I would take a big detour for so why is she still protecting him now by not telling the police he’s been trying to contact her? Dead bodies are piling up again and still she doesn’t say anything. I couldn’t fathom a logical explanation for this at all. No matter how hard I sympathised with her, I felt she was so wrong here and couldn’t redeem her choice.

Hillier made Geo a very likeable character with quite a tragic backstory, one that forgives her for some stupid choices she made, but is it enough to keep forgiving her for what she’s doing in the present? I was wondering how far she was going to push it.

I really liked the entire novel but my favorite part was close to the end where there was a fantastic twist and even when I figured it out right the moment before the lid was blown off, Jennifer Hillier kept the twists coming and wrong-footed me completely with how this would end. It became even more thought-provoking when looking at the choices she made and deciding for myself if Geo’s a good or a bad person. Obviously she’s a bit of both but maybe everybody will lean more toward one side or another. 4.5 well-deserved stars that I’m rounding up for Goodreads and Amazon.

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

Do No Harm by L V Hay #BlogTour #BookReview

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for Do No Harm by L V Hay. Sincere thanks also to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Orenda Books for the opportunity to be part of the tour.

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Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…

Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…

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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. Her critically acclaimed debut thriller The Other Twin was published in 2017.

Connect

Website: https://linktr.ee/lucyvhayauthor

Facebook: Lucy V Hay Author

Twitter: @LucyVHayAuthor

Instagram: Lucy V Hay Author

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I wanted to read this novel as soon as I saw the cover. Doesn’t it look great and doesn’t it sound menacing? You already expect the exact opposite when you read such an imperative.

This novel was so freaking develish! Do No Harm is a wonderful addictive story about someone’s obsession and the unwillingness of letting go. Obsession and revenge are the best ingredients in any book plot so I was very pleased this novel centers all around these two promising words :-).

It’s obvious that Maxwell, Lily’s ex-husband, can’t get over the fact that they’re not together anymore and that she’s marrying another man, not even a year after they seperated. When strange events start to occur everything points to Maxwell, but the question remains: is he the culprit?

Do No Harm concentrates on 5 characters – if you leave little 6-year old Denny, the sixth main character of the novel, aside – and each character is even more dubious than the next. Do any of them have anything to do with what is happening in Lily and Sebastian’s life? There’s nothing I can share about the plot of this novel, except that it includes a string of red herrings that you’ll walk into with open eyes.

Do No Harm was an exciting and addictive novel to read and L V Hay did a magnificent job with all the characters she created, I couldn’t rely on anyone being honest. An engrossing read that you won’t want to put down!

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

DO NO HARM BLOG TOUR