I Know You by Annabel Kantaria #BookReview

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You trust me.

You shouldn’t.

That picture you just posted on Instagram? I’ve seen it.
The location you tagged? I’ve been there.

You haven’t been careful enough, have you?
Because I know all about you.

But when I meet you, I won’t tell you that.
I’ll pretend. Just like you do.

You’ll like me though. You’ll trust me enough to let me into your life.

And then I’ll destroy it.

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After a disappointing read last week where I struggled to even finish the novel, I’m very happy to have picked up a book that had my attention from the very first page and didn’t let go. I Know You is a cleverly written novel where the threat is unmistakenly present but hidden from view. Who exactly is lurking in the shadows, checking every trace, every picture and every comment on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, effectively getting to know someone better than you can imagine? It’s a complete mystery and a very creepy one indeed.

What I loved about this book is that not only you don’t know who the voice is in the chapters labelled I Know You, you also don’t know who they’re keeping tabs on, and best of all, the character in the novel that is the center of all the attention is completely unaware as well.

The novel creates a false sense of safety at first and almost reads like a contemporary novel with Taylor looking to make a friend after her move with hubby Jake from the US to the UK. She meets Anna at the local walking club and they hit it off right away. Taylor and Anna, Anna and Taylor, they become the bestest of friends and I was delighted with the blossoming of their warm friendship. There are other characters surrounding them, friends they make at the local walking club and book club, namely Simon, Sarah and Caroline, but they all have something about them that seemed off meaning one of them might have an ulterior motive and could be that menacing voice that starts to pop up. These extra chapters were brilliant and didn’t leave room about the evil intentions of this mysterious person. What the anonymous voice intended to do was kept for the very end though and not something I had foreseen. Every time I read these chapters dispersed throughout the novel my thoughts drifted off to my own digital footprint and I was examining if I didn’t leave too much information about myself too. Yes people know which restaurants I visit and what books I like to read, but I hope I’m doing a better job at keeping the rest to myself and I sure hope nobody is interested as much as well. 

Who’s after who? Who’s the false friend, and are they after Taylor or after Anna, or someone else entirely and why? The author made it very difficult to be sure about anything because most of what was revealed could be applied to both women. Very very slowly I started to have an idea though where the why was perhaps a little easier to determine than who. I can’t say I had anything to go or any hard proof to build my case but I thought I had figured out how this particular puzzle fit together. I was still quite surprised when I found out I was right though, although the shock one of the characters gets when finding out that someone’s keeping an eye on them was probably a million times worse.

This novel might very well be a wake up call to many about what you post online and what a window to your life it can be and for that (and the great story too) I highly recommend it!

I received a free paper copy of this novel from the author. This is still my honest opinion. 

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A Gift for Dying by M.J. Arlidge #BlogTour #BookReview

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Today it is my great pleasure to be joining the blog tour for A Gift For Dying, the brand new standalone thriller by M.J. Arlidge. My thanks go to publishers Michael Joseph who provided an advance copy of the book for review and tour organiser Tracy Fenton!

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Adam Brandt is a forensic psychologist, well used to dealing with the most damaged members of society.

But he’s never met anyone like Kassie.

The teenager claims to have a terrible gift – with one look into your eyes, she can see when and how you will die.

Obviously, Adam knows Kassie must be insane. But then a serial killer hits the city. And only Kassie seems to know where he’ll strike next.

Against all his intuition, Adam starts to believe her.

He just doesn’t realise how deadly his faith might prove…

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I was thrilled to be invited for the blog tour of A Gift for Dying. I’m running a bit behind reading the DI Helen Grace novels so I’m ever so happy with this standalone.

The novel has short and snappy chapters and I was continually tempted to read one more chapter. Kassie certainly had a firm hold on my thoughts and even when it’s not a thin book, it was definitely an easy and fast read.

What I enjoyed most of all in the novel was the uncertainty relating to Kassie’s ability (I’m not sure you could call it a gift really). She claims she can foresee someone’s death quite well when she looks people in the eyes. Adam Brandt, the forensic psychologist who is called in to assess Kassie doesn’t believe her in first instance. He’s the voice of rational thinking and he’s seen quite a lot of people with delusions in his years of experience. He was playing the devil on my shoulder with Kassie on the other side.

She continually asks Brandt to believe her and I really felt for her, but like him, I was also very sceptical. Believing her would also come with a terrifying consequence. You see, there’s one helluva revalation in the first half of the novel which hangs over the rest of the novel and made it quite difficult to believe Kassie. I actually didn’t want to believe her at all. Don’t worry if this sounds strange, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it! I always had it in the back of my mind, even if I wanted to I couldn’t forget about it! Could she be speaking the truth or is she simply insane, or perhaps there’s someone close to her using her? Aah how wonderful to be kept guessing… Brandt feels protective of Kassie but at the same time she’s seriously incriminating herself because it all comes back to her and the police are not buying her story.

I said it before but I’ll say it again because it really doesn’t always work for me the way it did this time but I loved the paranormal angle. If you’re not a big fan of these threads, you can still enjoy this. Besides that he also satisfies readers who love a bit of heartbreak and drama as well as every die hard triller fan by inserting an emotional and touching plotline and not holding back on a few gruesome murders :-). The novel shocked me too but the weird part is that it wasn’t even these aforementioned murders that surprised me most. He sure knows how to write a twist! I’m sure this novel will please readers of all genres.

*** Don’t forget to follow the rest of the book tour, next one up: Over The Rainbow Book Blog ***

MJ Arlidge Blog Tour

Dark Pines by Will Dean #BookReview

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SEE NO EVIL

Eyes missing, two bodies lie deep in the forest near a remote Swedish town.

HEAR NO EVIL

Tuva Moodyson, a deaf reporter on a small-time local paper, is looking for the story that could make her career.

SPEAK NO EVIL

A web of secrets. And an unsolved murder from twenty years ago.

Can Tuva outwit the killer before she becomes the final victim? She’d like to think so. But first she must face her demons and venture far into the deep, dark woods if she wants to stand any chance of getting the hell out of small-time Gavrik.

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star three and a half

Dark Pines is the first instalment in a new series where Tuva Moodyson takes the lead. Tuva is definitely an interesting character, not only because of her profession – she’s a journalist – but because she does this job, quite successfully, while she’s also deaf. It just doesn’t seem an obvious combination and I’m happy she put me in my place showing me there’s nothing extraordinary about it. I was positively surprised she never comments on her deafness in a negative way. Even better, she tells she’s able to cut out all the noise and work in perfect silence and describes it so lovingly that it almost feels as if she’s to be envied. Wonderful! Being deaf really doesn’t hinder her in life apart from always having to think about having extra batteries for her hearing aid with her. She’s in fact much less positive about her life in Gavrik and would rather live in bustling London. Unfortunately, she’s stuck in this tiny town because it’s allowing her to be closer to her bed-ridden mother and the local paper happened to offer her a job there. The things she considers negative are what other people would consider positive and the other way around really, but you can always move of course, her condition is much harder to deal with. Much as I admire her for this, I did feel she was defined so much by it, it makes it harder to come up with other traits she has character wise.

I had one or two other things I would have perhaps changed a bit as well. The first is that the story was sometimes a bit too repetitive. Tuva drives up the hill so many times and she also turns around so many times from when she’s going to visit her mother that it frustrated me a little. Did I mention I don’t have a lot of patience? I couldn’t help it, I just wanted her to get it over with and visit her mother. The second point I’d like to make concerns an incomprehensible train of thought Tuva had which involves going into the big dark forest all on her own. If there’s a killer out there on the loose, I really don’t know why anyone would think it’s a good idea to walk in the woods alone ‘to confront your fears’. It felt utterly foolish and it was also too soon in the novel to start thinking she could be killed so it didn’t immediately create a lot of tension for me ;-).

That being said, I really enjoyed its wonderful cast of suspects. There are 5 houses on the hill and each resident seems kind of dodgy. There’s a hoarder, a taxi-driver with kid, two woodcarving sisters of creepy trolls, a ghostwriter with a checkered past, and a couple where the husband might have a hidden agenda. Every single one of them presented the possibility of being a ruthless killer. They kept me well entertained and I made two guesses where I soon knew I was on the wrong track, before I finally made the right one nearing the end.

I think Dark Pines is a good debut of the series. I’m definitely curious to see where Tuva Moodyson will take me in the next novel, Red Snow and I look forward to getting to know her much better.

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

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen McManus #BookReview

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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 . . .

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Author

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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.

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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 ***

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

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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!

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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?

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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 ***

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The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley #BookReview

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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.

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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.