Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen McManus #BookReview

TwoCanKeepASecret def

whats-it-about-2

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

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

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

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup #BlogTour #BookReview @JennyPlatt90 @MichaelJBooks

TheChestnutMan def

Welcome to my blog stop on the book tour for The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup. My thanks to the author, to Jenny Platt and publisher Michael Joseph for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I can’t wait to tell you more so let’s go!

whats-it-about-2

One blustery October morning in a quiet suburb of Copenhagen, the police make a terrible discovery. A young woman is found brutally murdered in a playground and one of her hands is missing. Above her hangs a small doll made of chestnuts.

Ambitious young detective Naia Thulin is assigned the case. Her partner, Mark Hess, is a burned-out investigator who’s just been kicked out of Europol. They soon discover a mysterious piece of evidence on the chestnut man – evidence connecting it to a girl who went missing a year earlier and is presumed dead – the daughter of politician Rosa Hartung.

The man who confessed to her murder is behind bars and the case is long since closed.

Soon afterwards, another woman is found murdered, along with another chestnut man. Thulin and Hess suspect that there’s a connection between the Hartung case, the murdered women and a killer who is spreading fear throughout the country. But what is it?

Thulin and Hess are racing against the clock, because it’s clear that the murderer is on a mission that is far from over . . .

amazon uk amazon com

Author

Søren_Sveistrup

Søren Sveistrup is an internationally acclaimed scriptwriter of the Danish television phenomenon The Killing which won various international awards and sold in more than a hundred countries. More recently, Sveistrup wrote the screenplay for Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman. Sveistrup obtained a Master in Literature and in History from the University of Copenhagen and studied at the Danish Film School. He has won countless prizes, including an Emmy for Nikolaj and Julie and a BAFTA for The Killing.

review-2

I was surprised when I received this novel and saw it had a whopping 515 pages to read. It was so captivating though that not even for one millisecond I considered this a disadvantage, I raced through it!

Frankly, I wasn’t nearly prepared enough when I started reading this as this novel had my heart nearly beating out of my chest after turning those first pages. Even though nestled cosily in my chair I felt a deep fear for what was coming. The start of the novel is heads-on disturbing and brutal (yeah just the way I like it). The tension eases slightly when the investigation starts but returns with lightening speed every so often and definitely ramps up towards the end when it gets more gruesome again. I have to say the assaults in this novel were quite brutal and an attack on my senses as well with their vivid imaginary descriptions.

Detectives Thulin and Hess were a great team even if they are quite different. The one green and one blue eyed detective Hess is a bit of an Einzelgänger and was dropped in Copenhagen while they’re investigating his past actions in The Hague. He doesn’t want to be there of course so at first he doesn’t want to invest any time or energy until it comes to his attention that there might – or must – be a link between the present murder and a murder that happened a year earlier which the killer confessed and was arrested for. The killer’s calling card leaves everyone baffled and he can’t help but take an interest after all.

The novel had a brilliant plot and I loved how the storyline was built. Even though I felt that the key to unlocking the mystery had to lie with Ministery of Social Affairs Hartung and her missing daughter Kristine, I wasn’t quite able to figure out how and why she fit into the story and the truth left me gobsmacked. Even though as a reader you know a bit more than the detectives, it’s impossible to stay far ahead of them so you reach the same conclusion almost at the same time, leaving you quite speechless about the outcome.

If you twist my arm about anything I didn’t like about this book it might be that it sometimes took a few moments to know whose POV I was reading at the start of a chapter but that’s really all I can think of. It’s such a minor detail though and I’m still giving The Chestnut Man all the stars. One other thing I want to mention is that the Dutch version of the book is called Oktober (yes the month October) which is in my opinion nowhere near as great a title as The Chestnut Man.

This novel is definitely one of the best thrillers I read of late. I recommend it especially to the readers who read and enjoyed The Fourth Monkey Killer and who don’t mind a bit of torture now and then. You definitely want to add this one to your readlist! It does feel obvious that the author is in the movie business and I really want to see this made into a series or a movie. I know now when to look away after all :-).

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

*** Don’t forget to check out the other blogs stops on this book tour ***

The Chestnut Man Blog Tour Banner Final

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

My Name is Anna def

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

whats-it-about-2

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

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

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

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blog tour graphic final - my name is anna

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley #BookReview

TheHuntingParty def

whats-it-about-2

EVERYONE’S INVITED.
EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT.

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

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

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

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia #BookReview

LeaveNoTrace def

whats-it-about-2

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

Purchase

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars_1457015858_81_246_96_2

This was the first novel I read by Mindy Mejia. I had heard plenty of positive echos about her first novel The Act of Hattie Hoffman and I was also very attracted by Maya’s occuption as a language therapist. It’s an uncommon job and it triggered me, wanting to know more about it.

I was also very drawn to the story of father and son disappearing. What were their reasons and how did they survive? The wilderness and threats of the Boundary Waters were vividly depicted, the nature described in a beautiful manner but from an outsider’s point of view. I would have loved to read scenes of their way of life (as in The Marsh King’s Daughter), their hardships and the struggles of a young boy with his father but the story’s setting doesn’t involve the past but focuses on the present, from the moment Lucas is arrested for breaking into a camping store.

Maya and Lucas’s interactions were interesting and I understood how Maya’s past made her want to help Lucas. Maya was left behind by her mother when she was little and I felt for her. Her past intrigued me and I could really see how this formed her character. The girl who doesn’t want to bond with anybody starts to get an unhealthy interest in Lucas though. She then becomes a bit of a loose cannonball and I raised my eyebrows when I saw what unprofessional conduct she shows. There was definitely a YA vibe in the second part of the novel which came as a bit of a surprise to me and then it seemed to change course once again when Maya and Lucas find themselves in a bit of action as well. It bothered me just a little bit because I was mostly interested in the mystery and I felt I was being kept away from getting to the heart of the story.

In short, I enjoyed the first and last part of the novel where the different pieces of the puzzle fall into place and everything was all brought together brilliantly. It was maybe a bit of a different read then I was expecting but I enjoyed the reveal of Lucas and Josiah’s reasons for taking off and I was satisfied how it was all wrapped up in the end.

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

Sleep by C.L. Taylor #BookReview

Blank bookcover with clipping path

whats-it-about-2

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

Sleep by C.L. Taylor was an answer to my prayers as I’ve been trying to find and read more locked-in type novels with a promise of lots and lots of possible suspects. If this isn’t one that fits the description then I don’t know what is! I’m such a fan of these settings where there’s no escape and the person forming a threat is right there.. it gives me a thrill to try and work out who it is.

I don’t know why but at first I thought that sleep itself might be a dangerous thing for Anna but, luckily for me, the novel doesn’t take this disturbing route but even if it’s not spooky scary, the novel can still keep you up and give you a sleepless night in the end ;-).

Anna’s reasons for finding it hard to get to sleep are quite different from mine though. She was involved in an accident where some people lost their lives and she feels terribly guilty even though it wasn’t her fault. Unfortunately, someone else feels she is exactly the one to blame. The motive was quite straightforward but the one with ill feelings was not easy to spot. This mysterious person starts taunting her, asking her how she can sleep. In an effort to leave it all behind her she takes a job in the only hotel on the Scottish island called Rum but it will soon turn out that the taunts haven’t stopped and even increase in intensity. Someone’s followed her and is looking to make her pay.

I very much enjoyed trying to figure out who was behind all of it. The author managed to surprise me halfway through the novel with a great twist and threw in some red herrings towards the end as well so that nobody escapes from being a suspect. At a certain time I thought I’d picked up on a tiny clue and I was getting more excited when there was a reference later again but alas, she still managed to wrongfoot me. It was only right at the end that I was certain I had put my money (figuratively!) on the right person. Yay me!

The novel is similar to An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena so I can recommend this novel if you enjoyed reading the former and can’t get enough of it! Sleep.. or don’t sleep if it’s as gripping to you as it was to me!

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

The Lingering by SJI Holliday #BlogTour #BookReview

The Lingering

Welcome to my blog stop on the book tour for The Lingering by SJI Holliday. My thanks to the author and to Anne Cater and publisher Orenda Books for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I can’t wait to tell you more so let’s go!

whats-it-about-2

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

The Lingering is a ghost story but also a story about manipulation and control. I usually stay far from novels that even just hint at something paranormal, ghost stories are simply too unbelievable for me but there are exceptions for everything and this novel is definitely one I’m happy to have made. This is one novel that hooks you right away and impossible to put down. I was completely engrossed from the beginning thanks to Holliday’s amazingly suggestive writing. I never quite knew what was going on exactly.. she introduces a ghost – or two, three – into the story, unless they are hallucinations of course, who’s to say ;-)? It was a thrill to find out is all I can say.

The story was oh so creepy and unnerving! Should this story ever be made into a movie then I’m not sure I’ll watch it because it’s the kind of movie I’m usually too afraid to watch. Holliday brings so many terrific gothic/horror-elements together in this novel that you really can’t escape that ominous feeling of foreboding. Something is amiss and you don’t know what it is and where it will lead but it made me very nervous.

Rosalind House is an old building – a former asylum – and if the walls could speak they’d undoubtedly have many disturbing stories to tell. Some of what happened in the 1950s is told by reports that a doctor made in the past, when he was sent to evaluate how patients were treated and what methods were used. Even further in the past the village had witches to deal with as well, so as for setting, it counts as unbelievably atmospheric.

Add to this a community with their own rulebook, quite reminiscent of a sort of cult, and residents you don’t know anything about and you have the perfect ingredients for this scary story. To top it all off, one of the residents, Angela, strongly believes in ghosts and spirits and she’s determined to prove it. Two newcomers Ali and Jack also join the commune and Angela jumps at the chance to make friends but Ali is closing herself off from contact. There’s definitely something going on with Ali and Jack as well and the reasons for leaving everything behind in such a hurry is shrouded in a big mystery and take their time to unfold.

The story builds up tension and Ali, a firm non-believer, experiences some unsettling and strange events that left me doubtful. Is someone playing tricks, is she mental or are there really spirits from the past trying to make contact? It’s definitely one of the former but Holliday kept me in the dark until my nerves were frayed and my nails almost bitten to the quick. The only regret I have is that I would have liked perhaps more insight and backstory into some of the other characters too, like Rose. It’s just a small niggle though, because I couldn’t get enough and they all intrigued me.

The Lingering is one helluva page-turner that you better not read in the late hours of the night if you still want to have some sleep. If you enjoy scary reads then I can very recommend this one!

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

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

Lingering BT