The Chain by Adrian McKinty #BookReview

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You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim’s parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don’t kidnap a child, or if the next parents don’t kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain.

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I’m late to the party as ever because I had this book for a while but then I suddenly had a really good reason to bump this novel to the top of my reading list. See just last month I found out that The Chain is the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year. The author leaves Lee Child, Jane Casey, Will Carver and Chris Brookmyre behind him by winning this award. You can imagine that I just had to see for myself what made this novel so special.

And yes The Chain is special, the concept of the novel most of all. It’s a living nightmare when your child is kidnapped and when you are driven to do things that are immoral and criminal even. But wouldn’t you do anything for your child? How far would you go? Is there a limit? Would you harm another child in order to save yours? The whole system is quite a clever set up from the kidnappers and it looks flawless as well. Is there any way to stop this insane thing from happening over and over again? It would seem not and so I kept on reading, hoping that there was going to be a twist, something to change the odds and let the people behind all of it become the ones hunted.

The first half of the novel was gripping and frightening, the tension was hanging in the air and I had my eyes glued to the pages, but when the worst of the worst was over and I relaxed in the second part of the story, it also kind of lost its momentum a little bit. It picked back up again in the very end but it never really reached that same riveting level again as at first.

I did enjoy the characters of Rachel and Pete and they certainly made me wonder how a cancer patient and a heroin addict were going to lead to a twist to the story. Why do Americans always go looking for trouble? I didn’t see this ending well! Rachel and Pete are clever but so are the people behind The Chain so the game is on! I really enjoyed the way the author also wove the past of one of the characters into the present events. I believe that both parties surprised each other, and me in the process as well.

The whole novel is so movie-worthy, I could easily see it vividly in my head so I’m very happy it is already snapped up by Universal and is going to be turned into a movie. I’ll be at the front row to see this one!

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

PS. The new WordPress editor didn’t save most of my review the first time I wrote it (which I was much happier with) but it is what it is now ;-). Also I hate that I can’t justify text anymore (at work I have to so it feels wrong) but what can you do huh?

The Minders by John Marrs #BookReview

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Five strangers guard our secrets.
Only four can be trusted…

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.

Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.

But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect…

The Minders is published in e-format on 23 July 2020 and will follow in paperback on 17 September. US paperback publication will follow in February 2021.

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When has this author ever let you down? The answer is NEVER!

I recommend you read The One and Passengers first because the author gives little nods to these books, combining finding your match through DNA with driving autonomous cars and introducing a new trend in the future: storing information in our heads. We are still in danger of The Hacking Collective though, the same hackers who were able to create chaos and mayhem when driving autonomous became the new normal. So the government came up with a brilliant idea (well at least they think so) and that’s storing sensitive information in people’s minds. Sounds simple and it is but have you ever thought about the consequences? The pressure of knowing things and not being allowed to share them with people you care for, even if it would give them peace? Marrs always makes the impossible still look authentic and apart from making it seem so real he also gives so much room for thought every time.

The Minders follows 5 people who – for very different reasons – start over somewhere else, get a new chance at a new life, a better life. But will they get it? Can they leave their old life behind, can they change who they are as much as is needed? They get strict instructions not to contact people from their past or the other minders but it’s clear that every one of them is struggling with their new identity and each one of them reacts differently. As always the backstories of every character were very distinctive and made them all such interesting characters to follow. I found Flick and Sinead the characters who pulled most on my heartstrings though, as opposed to the men Bruno and Charlie, but all of them made for addictive chapters. There was also another character Emilia in the picture but we don’t know a lot about her, she doesn’t remember anything. Someone’s after her but it’s a mystery who. Who should she trust? The mystery woman who warns her or her husband who she doesn’t remember either? The truth and her role in the whole picture left me speechless. Gripping chapters, ruthless (gasp worthy) murders (the first one left me particularly stunned), cliffhanger-endings, you get it all in this novel.

If you enjoyed The One and Passengers you already know the fantastic reading experience that awaits you when you pick this one up. If not, you really don’t know what you’re missing! I have to say that I still loved the previous two novels a teensy bit more but I can’t really explain what did it and in the end it doesn’t really matter as his three books are brilliant, more brilliant and most brilliant.

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

The Curator by M.W. Craven #BookReview

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It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again . . .

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This is such a great series and Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are back again as the wonderful complimentary duo in the author’s third book. The start of the novel gave me an immediate jolt with a crime that was happening before my own eyes, giving me an utter feeling of powerlessness. But what is it exactly that is being performed? In the next chapters there are different sets of the same body parts found at different places accompanied with a cryptic message (ah I think you’ll get the gist now) and it gets even more mysterious when it turns out these belong to more than one person and also, the colorful pathologist Estelle Doyle finds them to be extracted with different tools and post as well as ante-mortem. Intrigued yet?

If you think the previous novel (Black Summer) was baffling (it had an opening chapter that stays fresh in my mind btw) then you’ll be happy to hear The Curator is just as brain spindling this time with absolutely no discernable pattern to connect the crimes in the current investigation. And yet, there is, of course. It was a thrill to follow Poe, Bradshaw and their boss Flynn and see them take the meandering path towards The Curator.

I wish I could talk to you about all the new, nifty things I learned about in this book that can give away someone’s involvement in a case but sadly, I can’t. I’ll give you one thing though, I’ll tell you the bottom line of it all… it’s actually thanks to Edgar (Poe’s dog) that the case is cracked open, you’ll see when you read it, it made me smile that he was the unintentional instigator. It’s all in the details and Poe is always paying attention to the details, I love him for it!

All the books in the series have plotlines that you can sink your teeth in and that pose such great mysteries. They let you forget about the world completely. They take you to places and cover subjects you never imagined reading about and, ah before I forget, I even managed to finally have an answer to the eternal Chicken or the Egg conundrum. The question was answered in two seconds flat by the ever so brilliant Tilly of course.

Overall I can say that the whole of the series is wonderfully intoxicating, I love the complexity of the cases and the plot is always clever and air-tight. I can’t believe we have to wait another year for the next novel but it’ll be well worth the wait I’m sure.

Why didn’t I give 5 stars then you ask? I have no idea, I might as well. I’m rounding it up anyway on all platforms that don’t allow half points. Truthfully, I don’t think anything can top my appreciation for the previous novel’s promise of someone being dead AND alive. I also had an inkling about The Curator believe it or not (I had two people in mind) so I wasn’t entirely surprised. I was astonished however by how it all ended, I certainly didn’t see that coming!

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

The Holdout by Graham Moore #BookReview #MeetTheJury #The Holdout

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‘Ten years ago we made a decision together…’

Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar fortune, vanishes on her way home from school. Her teacher, Bobby Nock, is the prime suspect. It’s an open and shut case for the prosecution, and a quick conviction seems all but guaranteed.

Until Maya Seale, a young woman on the jury, persuades the rest of the jurors to vote not guilty: a controversial decision that will change all of their lives forever.

Ten years later, one of the jurors is found dead, and Maya is the prime suspect.

The real killer could be any of the other ten jurors. Is Maya being forced to pay the price for her decision all those years ago?

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I love reading courtroom thrillers so The Holdout piqued my interest right away, and who doesn’t want to cast their vote and see if they were right… I know I do! This isn’t a novel that reports in detail what goes on in the courtroom though, it’s more what is going on outside of court that will keep you awake at night. The Holdout centers on ‘the twelve’ main characters, the jurors who are present every day to hear about The People vs Bobby Nock, a teacher who is thought to be involved in the disappearance of 15-year old Jessica Silver.

It did take me some time to form an opinion about this case that is the start of the novel and which runs as a red thread throughout the story with growing complexity. For a four-week trial and one week of deliberation I did expect to learn more, I felt I missed information and that I didn’t get the full picture, so this got me wary. Was I being pushed to one side? The author sticks to the facts, so it left me with a few unanswered questions about the investigation, testimonies or lack thereof (nobody wants to hear the main suspect?) and also about some expert findings. Couldn’t the possibly contaminated evidence be redone? If they knew it might or might not be contaminated, why would they still present it to the court as their expert findings, why wasn’t it thrown out on that basis? I know, I know, I might be too sceptical and difficult on this part but I just wanted to cast my own vote in all fairness. I’d make such a great (read: pain in the ass) juror :-).

At least I kept with my opinion, which was more than you can say of the jury. It was VERY scary to discover that the jury changed their mind for so many different reasons, invalid reasons lacking a real foundation. It was uncalled for, someone’s life is in the hands of people and they go over it so lightly, I felt horrified and it certainly didn’t make them my favorite people, but were they right or wrong in the end? As for the guilt question, it certainly wasn’t crystal clear, so yes I had serious doubts as well. If he didn’t kill her, then who did? And who killed this jury member 10 years later at their reunion? What was going to come out that was worth killing for?

Now I know I’m not Hercule Poirot but I had an inkling and I was right about a small part of the story regarding what happened to Jessica. Finding out who killed the juror swept me nearly from my feet though. You better sit down when you’re reading this one. I never expected this outcome nor what happened after. I was fascinated to see how it would play out for the killer. I love reading novels that pose moral dilemmas and this one certainly kept me thinking about the choices the jurors made, even when I wasn’t reading.

There really are a couple of brilliant and unexpected twists in this novel and I’m sure you won’t be able to tear yourself from reading once you start. The Holdout certainly makes you think about your own beliefs and values. What would you do in a case like this? I still don’t think I agree with the way Maya handled it, but I’m not the one who has to live with these decisions so I’m cool with it :-). I don’t think I ever want to be on a jury now though, no thank you. I am, however, very thankful I can just read a story like this. I love to read it, I don’t want to live it :-).

I received a free copy of this novel from Orion Publishing. This is still my honest opinion.

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney #BookReview @alicewriterland

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Meet Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from.

Except one person.

Someone who knows Aimee very well―and what she’s done. . .

When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is―but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

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Oh the year couldn’t have started in a better way, this one’s as twisty as twisty can be! I loved reading it, it was the next best thing to a sugar rush! I already enjoyed Alice Feeney’s first novel, Sometimes I Lie, so my expectations were already quite high of I Know Who You Are and still she managed to give me more.

Aimee is an actress and she feels that she’s actually been acting her whole life, not only on set. Everyone wants her to play a certain role in life and she tries to please them all, while she tries not to forget who she really is. There’s something about that though, the fact that she likes to put on a mask more than being herself that made her quite illusive and secretive and even though I didn’t have anything concrete it did start to make me think she was hiding something.

OK yes, she is hiding something alright! The second storyline that started when she was only 5 years old brought SO MUCH understanding about who she is and how she became an actress. She’s so insecure and she doesn’t even like being in the spotlight, yet acting is her calling. I know I keep on going on about the acting but I found it such a natural thing for her, I completely got her character.

Someone is calling her out though, claiming to know who she is by leaving mysterious notes. And then her husband Ben goes missing. Are the two related? Who is stalking her?

Honestly, this book was unputdownable. I was massively intrigued by the present storyline and finding out whether Ben was alive or dead, but the past storyline was quite heart-breaking and pulled me in completely. There really are a lot of despicable people in this novel that I loved to hate and I still haven’t decided which one of them was the worst.

I know lots of readers find the ending to be a little outlandish, I totally get it, but for once I was riding the wave and I’m completely with it. OK yes, it’s a totally bonkers twist, but it still makes sense and it just gives you such a delicious yet horrible shock. It’s just what a really amazing author would go for, no holding back here and I love that she ran with the idea!

I can’t wait to read the third novel, His & Hers this summer! I have no doubt I’m going to love that one too!

I received this book in my Book Fairy book box. This is my honest opinion.

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

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

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

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

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

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

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

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

You will be wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW Degrees of Guilt blog tour 2

The Sixth Wicked Child (A 4MK Thriller Book 3) by J.D. Barker #BookReview

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Hear No Evil

For Detective Sam Porter, the words “Father, forgive me” conjure memories long forgotten; a past intentionally buried. For Anson Bishop, these three words connect a childhood to the present as he unleashes a truth concealed for decades.

See No Evil

Found written on cardboard near each body, these words link multiple victims to a single killer—discovered within minutes of each other in both Chicago and South Carolina—clearly connected yet separated by impossible miles.

Speak No Evil

Chicago Metro and the FBI find themselves caught in chaos—a hospital on lockdown, a rogue officer, and corruption at the highest levels. When Anson Bishop, the prime suspect in the notorious 4MK serial murders turns himself in, he reveals a story completely unexpected, one that not only upends the current investigation, but one that will change the lives of all involved.

Do No Evil

With unrelenting tension and pulse-pounding suspense, the past unravels at breakneck speed as the truth behind the Four Monkey Killer’s motive is finally revealed in this masterfully crafted finale.

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Wowza, what a novel! A brilliant and perfect ending to one of my most liked book series. There’s so much to take in and wrap your head around in this one, it seriously had my thoughts in a twist. I really had no doubt it was going to be good but I didn’t know it was going to be this good. The Sixth Wicked Child might be the third and last novel in the trilogy but all three novels have very strong plotlines and every one of them is a thrill to read if you like your reads very dark and about a really disturbed killer.

Just like in his previous books, there are also more than 500 pages in this novel but it was never boring, not even for a minute, not even slightly, it was in fact a right exhilirating read from start to finish.

The Sixth Wicked Child mainly brings the background story of a young Anson and about detective Sam Bishop’s past as well. In the present both characters are set up against the other in the most wondrous way. The author really messes with the readers in this one, in what to believe, making us wonder from the very first pages if we actually really know without any doubt if the 4MK killer is all that he seems. Is the bad guy really the bad guy and the good guy, the one we so cheered for and held in our hearts (because he’s a bit of an underdog after all), all that he claims to be? Isn’t there a little bit of bad in everyone? All registers are open, everything is possible and while I didn’t want to believe it could be any other way, surely, knowing this author’s capabilities I knew better than the rule the other possibility out.

In the novel there are multiple plotlines once again, which means there’s a lot to follow and try to work out in your head. You have the FBI working the case with Metro (Nash and Frank Poole) and then there’s a team working at the hospital (Clair and Kloz), and then Anson and Bishop each have their own agenda as well.

I finally received all the answers and hearing the truth in this novel really gutted me. The reason why 4MK drops 3 boxes with every victim, and the reason for all those murders is suddenly pretty plausible. I loved the diary entries from a young Anson again and I couldn’t help feeling touched when I read everything he and Kristina, Tegan, Libby, Vincent, Paul, Weasel and The Kid had to go through. I didn’t know how Bishop would fit in with this story for the longest time though, or how this story was going to end because one of them, Anson or Bishop would be the last one standing, in my mind. The author kept me in suspense, only to deliver a phenomenal ending that I didn’t see coming at all in the last chapters.

I received a free ecopy of this novel via the Read Now section of Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

Force of Nature by Jane Harper #BookReview

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Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

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I had a chance to read this novel via a free app that gives everyone access to 50 Dutch novels in different genres (children’s and adult) in July and August, and I heard so much about Jane Harper’s books and the marvellous Australian setting, that this was the first title I absolutely wanted to read.

I don’t know if my reading experience was influenced a litte because I (had to) read this novel in Dutch and that I not only missed the eloquence and the lovely descriptions in English but also felt it missed a bit of schwung, especially from the investigators’ side. I was more captivated by the women bitching to each other, even though they got me a bit worked up too with their nasty behaviour.

The missing person mystery performed a true balancing act in my head. One minute I was convinced Alice was dead, but the next I found a reason to believe she might be very well alive somewhere. Did her disappearance have anything to do with those documents of the accounting firm she works at? Did someone hold a grudge against her (a serious one)? Let’s face it, she’s definitely not the most likeable person of the bunch. OK that’s an understatement, not in a million years would I be friends with her. But honestly, none of the women were very likeable or kind for each other and for that alone I could easily imagine any one of them killing her. I wished I could care more but I just wanted to know, it wasn’t that I was still crossing my fingers that she wasn’t dead. What kind of a bad person did I turn into?

I’m afraid I had all sorts of scenarios going on in my head but when push came to shove, it just wasn’t as complex or layered as it could have been and I was a little disappointed when I heard the truth. I expected a big bang there and to be hit pretty good with lots of drama, revenge etc. and there was some build up of tension and possible danger but the potential bomb was disfused before it could go off.

I do not regret reading this story, it kept me guessing well enough, but I guess I had high expectations and they weren’t really met in this novel.

I read a free ecopy of this novel in Dutch through the app Vakantiebieb. This is my honest opinon.

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh #BookReview

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BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

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Soooo many people told me how much they enjoyed reading Steve Cavanagh’s novels. I really can’t think of any (good) excuse that explains what kept me so long from picking up one of his novels. When I heard Twisted was a brave new standalone though, one with such an intriguing blurb (the shorter is sometimes really the better), I finally caved, so now I don’t have to feel FOMO any more, yay! And I’m truly happy I finally FINALLYYYY discovered Cavanagh’s unbridled talent of writing plot twists.

I can’t think of any other title for this novel that would be more perfect, because the story is indeed Twisted with capital T. I believed I knew how the story was going to go down but I was so wrong about my ideas. The story is totally unpredictable because there are some big game changers along the line. When you read this then don’t underestimate any of the characters in this novel, they all try to be the most clever one and take a run for the money (literally). There can only be one of course and I was eager to find out who would come out on top of the game. Cavanagh was able to reshuffle the cards throughout the novel a few times to keep the reader on their toes. The only constant is the danger for life :-).

The reason I didn’t give this one the full points in the end is that I did not really like any of the characters more than the others. At some point or other I liked and also disliked every one of them, so there were a few moments that I didn’t know who to root for anymore, if any. None of them are really good people, Maria, Paul and Daryl are all deceitful and oh so very greedy (as if there’s nothing else to live for)… oh and then there’s dirty secrets, lies and deceit involved as well of course, everything you want from a great novel really ;-).

I can’t say any more about the plot in case I talk too much, but I also noticed that I hadn’t written anything down about the story when reading. This makes it abundendly clear the whole story was so absorbing I didn’t even think of it. I loved the twists and that the novel’s about an author whose identity is a mystery. You’re constantly searching if you’re reading about a fictional character called JT Lebeau or about the author talking about himself. I’m sure the lines blurred occasionally :-). All in all, this was a very surprising novel and it’s definitely not the last novel I will read by Steve Cavanagh! Highly recommended!

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

One Year Later by Sanjida Kay #BlogTour #Extract @SanjidaKay @CorvusBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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Welcome to my stop for One Year Later by Sanjida Kay. Thanks so much to Corvus and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join this blog tour! I absolutely enjoyed  The Stolen Child in the past and this novel is definitely on my readlist too. You’ll have to be a bit patient but it’s a delight that I can already share an extract today. But before you read it, check out how wonderful this novel sounds first:

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Since Amy’s daughter, Ruby-May, died in a terrible accident, her family have been beset by grief. One year later, the family decide to go on holiday to mend their wounds. An idyllic island in Italy seems the perfect place for them to heal and repair their relationships with one another.

But no sooner have they arrived than they discover nothing on this remote island is quite as it seems. And with the anniversary of the little girl’s death looming, it becomes clear that at least one person in the family is hiding a shocking secret. As things start to go rapidly wrong, Amy begins to question whether everyone will make it home…

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Author

Sanjida Key Author Picture

Sanjida Kay is a writer and broadcaster. She lives in Somerset with her daughter and husband. She has written three previous psychological thrillers, Bone by Bone, The Stolen Child and My Mother’s Secret to critical acclaim.

Extract

Prologue

He stands on the edge of the cliff and stares at the drop below. It’s early, around 5 a.m., and he’s only had two hours’ sleep.

He blinks, rubs his eyes. The wind, skimmed straight from the sea, is cold, and he can taste the salt on his tongue. There’s a pale-blue line where the ocean meets the sky: the first sign of the approaching dawn. He has a torch in his pocket, but it’s of little use, faced with the dark expanse of beach below him. He shifts slightly and feels the earth give way beneath one foot.

He doesn’t have long.

The tide is almost fully in, and the man who’d phoned him had said she was at one end of the beach. The caller was drunk; he said he was on his way home from the festival, although that in itself was suspicious, because no one lives at this end of the island, save for the Donati family and the people staying in the holiday house below their farm. The man was slurring his words – fear, combined with the alcohol, making him barely comprehensible. He didn’t say which end of the beach. Martelli had driven here as fast as he could, radioing for the ambulance from the car. He offers a silent prayer: that she is above the tideline, that he can find her in time, that she’s still alive. The clouds shift; the line of light over the water turns to buttermilk, and he thinks he can see her. Could be rocks or flotsam. Or a body. If it is the English girl, she’s lying stretched out on the sand below the headland, where this spit of land joins il cavalluccio marino.

He clicks the torch on and starts down the cliff path. It’s treacherous in daylight, never mind at night: narrow, twisting and steep, stones breaking through the soil. He slips, thinks he’s going to lose his footing. He can’t see how far it is to the bottom. He slides, collapses back against the side of the cliff, grabbing handfuls of vegetation to stop himself from falling the rest of the way. Loose grit and pebbles slide from beneath his boots, and he can smell the sweet, sharp scent of thyme and wild marjoram where he’s crushed the plants in his fists. It’s momentarily comforting: his grandma puts them in her rigatoni campagnolo. But then his torch hits a rock on the shore and the bulb smashes. He’s in darkness, his breath ragged in his throat. He pushes himself half-upright and scrambles the rest of the way down. His ankle throbs where he’s grazed it. The paramedics are not going to be able to carry her up here on a stretcher, he thinks, and the tide is approaching so fast, he’s not sure if they’ll make it round the headland, either.

If she’s still alive.

He runs across the sand, through crisp, dried seaweed and a ragged line of plastic bottles, Coke cans scoured clean, baling twine and polystyrene chips. The tourists can’t reach this beach, so no one clears away the rubbish. She’s on her side, one arm flung out, her legs at a disjointed angle. Has she fallen from the cliff? The rocks surrounding her are sharp as needles, erupting through the sand like prehistoric teeth. The foam-tipped edge of a wave creeps across the toes of her right foot. She’s missing one sandal. Her white summer dress is rucked up, exposing her thighs, revealing part of one breast. He throws himself onto his knees next to her. Her dark hair is wet and covers her face, so he can’t see what she looks like – if she is the missing girl. But he can see the blood: an uneven pool staining the sand, spreading out from the back of her head.

Where the hell is the ambulance?

His radio crackles, but there’s no word from the paramedics. He gently touches her with the tips of his fingers, and she’s cold, so cold.

Mio Dio.

He’s never seen a dead body before and his stomach clenches into a tight fist. Briefly he brushes the crucifix hidden under his shirt and then slides his hand beneath her hair, feeling for a pulse.

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

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