Blood Moon by John David Bethel #BookReview

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What’s it about?

On a hot, steamy afternoon in Miami, Cuban-American businessman Recidio Suarez is brutally beaten and abducted. Handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded, he has no idea why he has been targeted. What he discovers is heart-stopping. What he endures during almost a month of captivity compares only to the most horrendous stories of prisoners of war. He is tortured, and under the threat of death, and worse – the rape of his wife and torture of his children – Suarez is forced to hand over his multi-million dollar holdings to his captors.

Suarez survives and then spends the next few months staying one step ahead of the murderous pack. During this time, he and his lawyer, Nolan Stevens – a former Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the FBI – are having difficulties convincing the Miami-Dade Police Department that a crime has been committed. Their efforts are complicated by Steven’s difficult history with the head of the MDPD Special Investigations Division, who is not interested in pursuing the case.

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I’ve had this novel Blood Moon for quite some time already and I have no idea why I haven’t read it sooner really because when the author contacted me I was immediately interested when I heard it was based on true events. Nothing prepared me for the horrendous ordeal the main character, Redicio Suarez, had to go through while abducted though. The preface is written by the true victim of these crimes and I thought at first that it’d be easier to read, maybe I was even a bit disappointed I already knew how the story was going to end, but I had to revise this opinion quite soon! I was nothing but relieved to know that this man would survive ultimately. Reading about the time he was held captive was in some ways worse than many thrillers I’ve read and you wouldn’t even be able to come up with this if it was fiction. These abductors were crossing the line of human dignity in every way possible, they were monsters. If I hadn’t read the preface I wouldn’t have expected him to have survived really, it was that brutal. I had no idea where the line was drawn between fact and fiction and it felt so outlandish that even part of it was true, it left me wondering and occupied my thoughts largely throughout this story.

The first thing I did when I finished this was look up what I could find about Marc Schilling in an attempt to recount some of the facts and it turns out that plenty of what he went through wasn’t made up. Blood Moon was really intense to read and the accounts of duct tape around his face, being in the dark all the time and having to sign documents without seeing a thing actually turned out to be real. I got chills while reading this but knowing afterwards that these parts weren’t fiction and did actually happen made my blood run cold. The way his abduction ended was quite spectacular although the true version of events would have suited just as well. The first part was largely a description of every single thing he was subjected to, along with the backstory in how they started to get the idea to plan all of this. I can’t believe someone would do all this and go to these lengths to get everything, not wanting to leave a single penny.

His escape from the money grabbing vultures who abducted him didn’t go how I’d anticipated at all and you might think it would put an end to his nightmare but even then it continues. While he should be protected by the police, the bad people put away behind bars, that apparently is a storyline that only occurs in fiction stories. It was sad and frustrating to read that he had to go through all of this and then wasn’t believed, even ridiculed and yes in another way but a victim once again. This time personal grudges were dragged into it as well and unfortunately he’s right in the middle of it.

I shook my head quite a few times while reading. At times it’s just so unbelievable, or maybe I almost didn’t want to believe this could be so close to the truth. I felt it was a bit of a stretch that his lawyer would do the legwork the police should have been doing. I wanted to shout as well that it was dangerous what he was doing but then I also wanted to get some justice, some closure for him so that he didn’t have to be afraid anymore. I just can’t imagine what that does to a person.

Blood Moon was a tense and quite violent read at times so I wouldn’t recommend this one for the faint at heart. There’s no gussying up and I can assure you that the writing isn’t suggestive so it is all due to the facts and his account without embelishments that it was so heart-breaking to read at times.

If you want to know more about what Marc Schiller, the true victim, went through, then you should definitely read this book. For your info: there was also a movie made based on the story that many have probably seen (I know I did) but doesn’t do justice to him at all. I can’t believe either they actually made a comedy out of this, there’s really nothing to laugh after reading this. You can check out an article with more info here.

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


Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson #BookReview

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What’s it about?

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light. Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

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Let me start with a moment of truth: I was on the fence at first when I heard this was a contemporary crime novel with historical facts of WW2 weaved into the story. I feel very protective about that time in history and I like reading novels about that era but they are usually survival stories, biographies and such. To incorporate these atrocious events into a fiction novel, I just didn’t know if I’d feel good about it, so I didn’t want to read it at first. Then I started reading all the reviews and saw the ratings for this novel and I had to admit my fears might have been unfounded. I became more than curious and I was very happy when I finally got my hands on a copy of Block 46.

Of course Johana Gustawsson handled everything with great care and yes it was still horrifying to read about and even when I’d read similar stories and I recognized many references, it was undoubtedly very hard-hitting and painful to read at times. I was already wondering if these chapters would continue for a long time. I was drawn to them yet also relieved when the lighter chapters of the investigation followed. It helped to relieve the tension and heaviness and this way I was able to continue reading and I didn’t need to stop to catch a breath, or a moment. On the contrary, I flew through the pages because Erich’s account was so harrowing that I wanted to know what would happen to him as quick as possible. With the title of the novel in mind I had a feeling where he would go but what happens in Block 46 exactly? People who go in never come out but it is very mysterious what happens in there.

When his faith became clear about one third in, the atmosphere of the novel did change somewhat and it wasn’t as oppressive as before. The mystery gained interest and was complete with two totally different threads.. what could Erich’s story have to do with the recent murders and in two countries no less? I was calculating years in my head fairly soon but things just didn’t add up.

The storylines blend perfectly and I admire her audacity to take this on. She could easily have written two books, one historical and one a detective story and done a great job but she really excelled by fusing them together. I was utterly captivated and confused about who was behind all this and how it all fit together. I didn’t see the ending coming – at all! High fives around for an amazing plot twist in this marvellous story!

Block 46 was written by a very talented author that we certainly haven’t heard the last of!  The best news is that the follow-up, the yet to be translated Mör, promises an equally exciting investigation with bodies in Sweden and London and a suspect who’s been locked up in a psychiatric facility for the past 10 years. She’s making dual timelines and hard and gritty scenes (think amputated limbs in her second novel) her signature and she’s got a new fan here!

I received a free paperback copy of this novel from my blog friend Emma and this is my honest opinion.

The Good Mother by Karen Osman #BlogTour #Extract

I am delighted to be a host on the blog tour for The Good Mother by Karen Osman! I honestly really like the sound of this novel and I hope you do to, read on for an extract that is sure to pique your interest!

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What’s it about?

How far would you go to protect your children?

A gripping psychological suspense, with a shocking twist that will leave you reeling…

Catherine is a good mother and a good wife. The family home is immaculate, her husband’s supper is cooked on time, but when she starts writing to Michael, a prisoner convicted of murder, she finds herself obsessing about his crime and whether he can ever truly be forgiven…

Kate has no time for herself. Caught in the maelstrom of bringing up two young children with no money, and an out of work husband, she longs to escape the drudgery of being a wife and a mother. And she soon starts taking dangerous risks to feel alive…

Alison has flown the nest. But university life is not what she had hoped for, and she finds herself alone and unhappy. Until the day her professor takes a sudden interest in her. Then everything changes…

Three women – all with secrets. And as the days tick down to Michael’s release, those secrets can no longer be ignored.



He lunged at her and, whether it was the amount of wine he’d drunk making him clumsy or he had simply tripped over a chair leg, he came crashing down on the floor. Seeing the knife still in his hand, she didn’t hesitate. She turned and ran for her life. Out through the kitchen and into the hallway. She could see it now – the front door was just a few seconds away. She had to get out into the street where there were other people. Her hand reached for the door handle and she yanked it hard. But it wouldn’t open – it was either stuck or locked. She tried again, praying the door was just jammed by the carpet, but it didn’t budge. She could see the keychain hanging on its hook to the side and made a grab for it. Shaking, she tried to find the right key from the bunch to open the door. She could hear him stumbling around in the kitchen and knew she only had seconds to spare. Hearing him coming out of the kitchen, she turned to look back. He looked deranged. There was blood where he had banged his head on the floor and as he came rushing towards her, the last thing she saw was the cruel glint of the blade of the knife, and she knew everything was over.

Chapter 1


15 August 2010

Dear Michael,

My name is Catherine and I am a volunteer with the charity Friends of Inmate Rehabilitation. I hope things are as well as they can be.

When I was asked to correspond with you as part of the charity’s efforts to help prisoners, I was initially apprehensive. However, I reminded myself that we have a duty to help those less fortunate than ourselves, and I hope that through these letters I can give you a little insight into the outside world. The only information I have about you is your name and offence and I’m aware that you have spent over ten years in prison already. The charity informed me that you will soon be up for parole, which I’m sure you’re looking forward to. As a result, they assign people like me to help you prepare for life outside through letters.

So, where shall I start? My husband, Richard, our daughter, Helen and I live about two hours away from Durham. Richard works in finance, and I volunteer for various charities as well as work at the local library.

Are you from Durham? I used to know the city fairly well and I always thought it was such a lovely place, especially the cathedral. In fact, I have a lot of memories of strolling through the cobbled streets, and I have walked for miles along the river. We moved to the Lake District just under ten years ago, and we really enjoy life here. When the weather’s fine, we spend a lot of time outdoors, walking and hiking, and my daughter loves nature and wildlife, so for her it’s ideal.

Do you get to go outside a little each day? I do hope my questions aren’t too personal. Perhaps in the next letter, you can tell me a little bit more about yourself? If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask me. This is the first time I have done anything like this and I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing! I’m hoping you can help and guide me through it.

Catherine looked at the letter in front of her. Then, before she could change her mind, she carefully wrote her signature at the bottom of the page. Leaving the letter to one side, she headed for the kitchen to make tea. Returning, she sat in her favourite chair by the window looking out over the beautiful views. A rugged mountainous backdrop gave way to gentle green slopes. But the rolling hills were not enough to capture her attention; the letter taunted her from its place on the desk. Was she really going to write to a murderer? Her family would be horrified if they found out. She had taken up various volunteer positions in her time but nothing like this. Once she had contacted the rehabilitation centre it had all happened remarkably quickly and, in hindsight, Catherine had been surprised at how easy the process had been. She had thought they would do intensive background checks, but they had simply sent her a list of prisoners for her to review, interviewed her over the phone, and asked her if she had a preference. When she saw Michael’s profile, she instantly felt a connection. She couldn’t explain it – not yet, anyway – but instinctively she knew it had to be him.

Do you want to read more? Good news, The Good Mother is available on NetGalley

Buy links

Amazon |Kobo | iBooks|Google Play

About Karen Osman


Originally from the UK, Karen won the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Montegrappa Novel Writing Award 2016 with her crime-thriller novel and now has a three-book deal with Head of Zeus. When she’s not writing novels, Karen is busy bringing up her two young children and running her communication business Travel Ink.

Follow Karen

Twitter: @KarenAuthor

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Don’t forget to check out the other tour stops as well. Tomorrow’s stop will be Emma the Little Book Worm!


The Missing Girls by Carol Wyer #BookReview

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What’s it about?

One girl found dead. Another girl gone…

Long shadows danced on the tin walls. Inside the trunk lay Carrie Miller, wrapped in plastic, arms folded across her ribcage, lips sealed tight forever…

When, a girl’s body is found at a Midlands storage unit, it is too decomposed for Detective Robyn Carter to read the signs left by the killer.

No one knows the woman in blue who rented the unit; her hire van can’t be traced. But as the leads run dry another body is uncovered. This time the killer’s distinctive mark is plain to see, and matching scratches on the first victim’s skeleton make Robyn suspect she’s searching for a serial killer.

As Robyn closes in on the killer’s shocking hunting ground, another girl goes missing, and this time it’s someone close to her own heart.

Robyn can’t lose another loved one. Can she find the sickest individual she has ever faced, before it’s too late?

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This is the third novel already where DI Robyn Carter investigates a case, and now I’m more certain than ever that this is a series to follow with each new book she publishes. I liked the second novel but I do feel this one’s stronger, with a very good plotline and a real motive. She scores high points in my books! Robyn and her team, Mitz and Anna, Ross and even Shearer are also all really starting to grow on me and it was a warm welcome to see them back.

I’m not going into the plot because there really isn’t much to share except that it’s all a big mystery, you don’t know who and you don’t know why and Robyn really doesn’t have a lot to go on. It’ll take great skill to get on the right path that will give her an inkling of who it is and until the motive slowly and carefully comes into the picture, but skill is something Robyn (and the author) possesses in oodles.

A few details that I want to highlight this time which makes me really love this series and this novel so much: I like how fully detailed Robyn and the pathologist’s findings are described. Some people don’t enjoy descriptions like this but I do, it’s like standing next to a body yourself at that moment, experiencing everything in that moment at the same time as the detective and it satisfies that need that I’m feeling to know and learn more about what fascinates me. I also really enjoy Robyn’s personality in general and I continue to admire and like how she goes through the investigation step by step, the way that Robyn keeps control of all the different leads she’s working on. She makes it very organised by using post-its, by the way she talks about it, by recapitulating her findings from time to time and that works really great to keep up myself and get a clear image of it in my head as well where we’re at, even if it’s nowhere at that time. I appreciate this writing, keeping it a steady pace and never letting the investigation run in chaos, all over the place. She’s gently leading me towards a motive, a person who might be responsible for all this. It’s like a mist before my eyes and she makes the sky clear up gently and slowly.

She didn’t let me down, there were a few unexpected twists and turns while I was racing towards the big reveal of the killer’s identity but it wasn’t that which made me audibly gasp, it was another sort of twist and turn that got me even more excited than unmasking the killer this time. The ending leaves much to the imagination and I’m very impatient to see what’ll happen next. What a great move, and also what a tease! I can’t wait for book nr. 4!

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

Close to Home by Robert Dugoni #BookReview

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What’s it about?

While investigating the hit-and-run death of a young boy, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite makes a startling discovery: the suspect is an active-duty serviceman at a local naval base. After a key piece of case evidence goes missing, he is cleared of charges in a military court. But Tracy knows she can’t turn her back on this kind of injustice.

When she uncovers the driver’s ties to a rash of recent heroin overdoses in the city, she realizes that this isn’t just a case of the military protecting its own. It runs much deeper than that, and the accused wasn’t acting alone. For Tracy, it’s all hitting very close to home.

As Tracy moves closer to uncovering the truth behind this insidious conspiracy, she’s putting herself in harm’s way. And the only people she can rely on to make it out alive might be those she can no longer trust.

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star three and a half

I’m a big fan of detective Tracy Crosswhite and the three other members of her team (Faz, Del and Kins) working as one of the Seattle homicide teams and I was super happy to see this fifth new novel coming out!

The Trapped Girl, the fourth installment in the Tracy Crosswhite series was such a cracking read, I knew in advance it would be a hard one to match. Close To Home was definitely a strong novel and an enjoyable read but I have to admit, it didn’t have the same waw-factor. Probably part of the reason I didn’t feel the the same thrill was that I expected it to be more alike and Mr. Dugoni took quite a different approach with his new novel. Close To Home was much more police procedural than thriller, taking everything from fighting over jurisdiction to interviewing people on the witness stand in the court room and processing evidence. Even though this change took some getting used to, his writing still was as detailed and sharp as ever.

There are two plotlines in this novel that pretty much alternate, one involving an investigation into a hit and run which finds its way into the navy and the other plotline focuses on one of the team members, it is a rather personal one for Del. His niece of 15 years old died of a heroin overdose and he wants to find whoever provided her with the drugs. Mr. Dugoni delved into the many problems involving this addiction. He’s really going deeply into the issue, explaining why it became so epidemic and he even makes a plea for a safe location to use. It’s something that Del is very much opposed to, seeing what it did to his niece but then a friend who lost her son as well says she probably wouldn’t have lost him if he could have done it in a controlled environment and he starts to feel slightly differently. It’s controversial and it definitely makes you want to think about it and come to your own conclusions.

The navy setting was a completely new scene for me and although I’m not attracted to these kind of scenes in books or movies per se, he wrote about it in such a way that it did get me interested and I have a better picture now of some of its inner workings than before. There isn’t much to say about Leah Battles, who works there, though. The idea was to throw suspicion her way and cause doubt about the fact that she tampered with evidence or not but I strongly felt she didn’t. I’ll leave it in the middle if she did or didn’t do it ;-).

I’ve come to love Tracy’s tenaciousness and in this novel it’s no different, even when the case was in peril of being lost to her, she didn’t give up trying to find the person responsible, even if it gets quite dangerous for herself. As usual, this series has delicious banter and digs among the team members, which I’ve come to love about this series, and I was relieved it wasn’t any different in this novel.

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

Here’s also the link to my previous reviews of The Trapped Girl and My Sister’s Grave.


The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay #BookReview

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What’s it about?

Zoe and Ollie Morley tried for years to have a baby and couldn’t. They turned to adoption and their dreams came true when they were approved to adopt a little girl from birth. They named her Evie.

Seven years later, the family has moved to Yorkshire and grown in number: a wonderful surprise in the form of baby Ben. As a working mum it’s not easy for Zoe, but life is good.

But then Evie begins to receive letters and gifts.

The sender claims to be her birth father.

He has been looking for his daughter.

And now he is coming to take her back…

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More please! I haven’t read the first novel Bone to Bone by Sanjida Kay but I plan to go back and read that one in the future as well. The Stolen Child was a story that seriously kept me hooked, made me take a million guesses and still managed to surprise me in the end.

The Stolen Child starts with Zoe and Ollie’s high anticipation to seeing Evie for the first time, the little wonder they’d been waiting for and were able to adopt. Their bliss and love for her is springing from the pages. Seven years later there’s also little Ben who was their own little miracle and their family is complete. They move from London to Ilkley and all would be well if Ollie wasn’t so absent. Zoe has to raise the children almost single-handedly and is often angry at her husband for leaving her alone struggling to manage the household, the children and her painting.

On Ben’s second birthday Zoe finds Evie acting weird. She’s wearing a dress she has no memory of buying her and she soon discovers that someone is leaving her presents and cards, signed by her real daddy. Apparently her birth father was able to find her but they have no idea who he is, what he looks like, and when they talk to Evie about it, she claims to have never met him but it’s clear that he already has her into his grip. Through little snippets I was also painfully aware that her father is watching them and biding his time. Then she goes missing… a parent’s worst nightmare!

There were plenty of red herrings in this novel… and quite a few suspects who could be her father. Was it teacher Jack, family friend Andy, fellow artist and sculptor Haris who she came to know really well in the last weeks, or is even her husband Ollie to be suspected? I kept rotating these names in my head and each and every one of them seemed to be lying or hiding something. I dismissed them one by one but then something made me wonder and put them under suspicion again.. I wasn’t sure of anything or anyone in the end. It was wonderful to finally discover who it was!

This novel was a joy to read, it was well-written and had a carefully crafted plotline wih everyone acting as a suspect and with possible motive. Every time something was revealed I felt it was too convenient and too easy for that person to be the father and abductor. I was going slightly bazonkers (to put it mildly haha) being so clueless until the end.

My only misgiving was that Evie wasn’t a very likeable child and I found her reactions strange towards her being adopted. She might be curious about her real daddy but just to dismiss her family that she’s known for 7 years, while they love her so much, felt euhm a bit unrealistic.

A very recommended read if you want to take part in a little guessing game. This one will have you racing to the end to find out!

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

The Night Stalker by Clare Donoghue #BookReview


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What’s it about?

Dead Woman’s Ditch. The site of a grisly two-hundred-year-old murder – and a recent hit and run. When a young woman’s body is found at the macabre landmark in Somerset’s Quantock Hills, DI Mike Lockyer and Sergeant Jane Bennett are called in to investigate.

They find a community gripped by fear and superstition. The locals won’t venture out at night, believing there’s a man stalking the hills; a phantom cloaked in folklore and legend, keeping the sinister legacy of Dead Woman’s Ditch alive.

Confronted by a hostile CID team and a murder victim with close ties to their own squad, Lockyer and Bennett will have to accept what they can’t see before they can find what’s really there . . .

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Dead Woman’s Ditch, Great Bear, Will’s Neck, Frog Combe.. this is Shervage Woods, the incredible atmospheric setting of this story. Imagine driving home through the winding hills, passing cattle grids, the weather cold with rain hammering down and snow falling all around. A small village where the land still lends itself to ghost tales and plenty of legends, the one with John Walford not even nearly forgotten.

Dead Woman’s Ditch is the place where a woman, Jane, was killed in 1798 by her husband John Walford. A decade old murder finds root in a present case when there’s a woman found dead at the same place and the local population goes on and on about a link between the deaths. Other than the place there’s nothing that binds them, Walford is long dead, and yet. DI Lockyer doesn’t believe in legends and superstitions but the deeper he digs, the more stories he hears and he has to wonder if there really is a connection.

DI Mike Lockyer and DS Jane Bennett are assigned to the case in Somerset because there’s a London connection. In reality though he has to take control of the investigation without the present DI Bill Townsend knowing so. It seems people higher up aren’t very convinced about his competence and Lockyer has to agree, 3 days in and the investigation still stands nowhere. Townsend is convinced the girl was killed in a hit and run at best, but Lockyer conducts the investigation like it should, leaving no stone unturned and he discovers way way more than he bargained for. At the same time there’s also the voice of Steph, a young girl who has the feeling she’s being followed and is scared of driving home at night. Nobody takes her fears seriously though so she’s left to buckle up and just get on with it. I had the strongest sense of foreboding and if I could have spurred the team on myself I seriously would have.

I had no idea how this story was going to play out for such a long time, I kept wrecking my brain who could be behind all of this. I thought I paid attention to detail and figured it all out by myself while they were still fumbling about. I was dead wrong. I can’t say anything anymore than that I fell from surprise into surprise into surprise. No typo, it’s exactly what I mean. The middle part of the novel was maybe a little bit of nothing really big happening at all but it all came rushing down in one spectacular cascade. The ending of this case was great! Now I know why I loved the first novel so much again too, such a great reveal.

This novel can be read as a standalone but I read novel 1 and now number 4 and I advise you to do the same so that you can place the personal lives of Lockyer and Bennett better.

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