Shadow Girls by Carol Birch #bookreview

Manchester, 1960s. Sally, a cynical 15-year-old schoolgirl, is much too clever for her own good. When partnered with her best friend, Pamela – a mouthy girl who no-one else much likes – Sally finds herself unable to resist the temptation of rebellion. The pair play truant, explore forbidden areas of the old school and – their favourite – torment posh Sylvia Rose, with her pristine uniform and her beautiful voice that wins every singing prize.

One day, Sally ventures (unauthorised, of course) up to the greenhouse on the roof alone. Or at least she thinks she’s alone, until she sees Sylvia on the roof too. Sally hurries downstairs, afraid of Sylvia snitching, but Sylvia appears to be there as well.

Amidst the resurgence of ghost stories and superstition among the girls, a tragedy is about to occur, one that will send Sally more and more down an uncanny rabbit hole…

My thoughts on Shadow Girls

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The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill by C. S. Robertson #BookReview

DEATH IS NOT THE END. FOR GRACE McGILL IT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.

When people die alone and undiscovered, it’s her job to clean up what’s left behind – whether it’s clutter, bodily remains or dark secrets.

When an old man lies undetected in his flat for months, it seems an unremarkable life and an unnoticed death. But Grace knows that everyone has a story and that all deaths mean something more.

My thoughts on The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill

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Left for Dead by Joy Kluver #bookreview

The detective stared at the young woman lying on the bed. She almost looked peaceful, her face like porcelain. Despite everything she had been through, she was still beautiful.

When DI Bernie Noel hurries to Keira Howard’s hospital bedside, she knows that Keira has been lucky. Barely conscious and badly injured, at least she is alive. Convinced that Keira’s attack is the latest in a string of increasingly violent assaults on young women in the area, the next victim might not be so fortunate. So she vows to find the man who did this, and to stop him before anyone else gets hurt.

Spurring her team into action, she quickly hones in on a prime suspect. But then he suddenly dies while on police watch, and Bernie’s investigation goes into freefall. When Bernie’s superiors won’t let her take the case any further, her gut instinct tells her there’s much more to his death than meets the eye. If it was murder, who would want him dead, and why? So she determines to set out on her own to find out what happened.

But the closer Bernie comes to discovering the truth, the more she is putting her own life in danger. And with Keira finally strong enough to talk her about her attack, Bernie worries she may be at risk yet again. There’s someone out there who has killed to stay safe in the shadows; can Bernie stop another senseless death, and save Keira, before it’s too late?

My thoughts on Left for Dead…

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The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell #bookreview

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?

And where did they go?

My thoughts on The Family Upstairs

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Bloodline by Jess Lourey #bookreview

Perfect town. Perfect homes. Perfect families. It’s enough to drive some women mad…

In a tale inspired by real events, pregnant journalist Joan Harken is cautiously excited to follow her fiancé back to his Minnesota hometown. After spending a childhood on the move and chasing the screams and swirls of news-rich city life, she’s eager to settle down. Lilydale’s motto, “Come Home Forever,” couldn’t be more inviting.

And yet, something is off in the picture-perfect village.

The friendliness borders on intrusive. Joan can’t shake the feeling that every move she makes is being tracked. An archaic organization still seems to hold the town in thrall. So does the sinister secret of a little boy who vanished decades ago. And unless Joan is imagining things, a frighteningly familiar figure from her past is on watch in the shadows.

Her fiancé tells her she’s being paranoid. He might be right. Then again, she might have moved to the deadliest small town on earth.

My thoughts on Bloodline…

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The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton #bookreview

Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight
attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.
Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she’ll make sure no one stops her from
getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

My thoughts on The Perfect Girlfriend…

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The Last to Know by Jo Furniss #bookreview

American journalist Rose Kynaston has just relocated to the childhood home of her husband, Dylan, in the English village of his youth. There’s a lot for Rose to get used to in Hurtwood. Like the family’s crumbling mansion, inhabited by Dylan’s reclusive mother, and the treacherous hill it sits upon, a place of both sinister folklore and present dangers.

Then there are the unwelcoming villagers, who only whisper the name Kynaston—like some dreadful secret, a curse. Everyone knows what happened at Hurtwood House twenty years ago. Everyone except Rose. And now that Dylan is back, so are rumors about his past.

When an archaeological dig unearths human remains on the hill, local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan vows to solve a cold case that has cast a chill over Hurtwood for decades.

As Ellie works to separate rumour from fact, Rose must fight to clear the name of the man she loves. But how can Rose keep her family safe if she is the last to know the truth?

My thoughts on The Last to Know…

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Circle of Doubt by Tracy Buchanan #bookreview

She thought she was the perfect mother—until the new neighbours moved in.

Emma and Dele’s dreams came true nine years ago when they adopted their daughter, Isla. It felt like fate, like they were meant to find each other, and now they’re living the life they always wanted. But then one day a new family moves into Forest Grove—and Emma can’t shake the chilling feeling that the wife looks just like Isla’s birth mother.

Emma tells herself that this sophisticated stranger can’t possibly be the troubled woman she remembers from the adoption. But as they get to know each other and it becomes clear that Tatjana has a special interest in Isla, her suspicions grow.

When small things start to go wrong and her parenting abilities are brought into question, Emma feels undermined, turning to her sister Harriet for support. But things only spiral further when secrets from her past suddenly resurface.

With rumours swirling, Emma begins to doubt herself. Could Tatjana be Isla’s birth mother? And, with everything that’s happening, is Emma the right person to be raising her daughter at all?

My thoughts on Circle of Doubt…

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Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas #bookreview

Una Richardson is devastated after the death of her mother. Hoping for a fresh start, she responds to an advertisement and steps into the rich, comforting world of elderly Mrs Elspeth McKenzie.

But Elspeth’s home is not as safe as it seems.

Kathryn, her cold and bitter daughter, resents Una’s presence. More disturbing is the evidence suggesting two girls lived here before.

What happened to the girls?

Why will the McKenzies not talk about them?

As the walls close in around her, Una fears she’ll end up just like the other girls . . 

My thoughts on Just Like the Other Girls

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Don’t Make a Sound by T. R. Ragan #bookreview

Dont make a sound T R Ragan

Plagued by traumatic childhood memories, crime reporter Sawyer Brooks still struggles to gain control of her rage, her paranoia, and her life. Now, after finally getting promoted at work, she is forced to return home and face her past.

River Rock is where she’d been abandoned by her two older sisters to suffer alone, and in silence, the unspeakable abuses of her family. It’s also where Sawyer’s best friend disappeared and two teenage girls were murdered. Three cold cases dead and buried with the rest of the town’s secrets.

When another girl is slain in a familiar grisly fashion, Sawyer is determined to put an end to the crimes. Pulled back into the horrors of her family history, Sawyer must reconcile with her estranged sisters, who both have shattering memories of their own. As Sawyer’s investigation leads to River Rock’s darkest corners, what will prove more dangerous—what she knows of the past or what she has yet to discover?

My thoughts on Don’t Make a Sound…

On paper, Don’t Make a Sound seems like the perfect book for me.  There’s murder, mystery, a dysfunctional family, and more than one strong female character. When it came to reading what was on that paper, however, something just didn’t click.  I wanted to like it.  I just didn’t, at least not as much as I wanted to.

I’ve tried to put my finger on exactly why that is and I think it’s because it was a bit too much. There were two interconnected stories being played out here, both of which would have made great books in and of themselves but combined gave me ‘reading whiplash’. I didn’t know where to put my energies. Just when I got into one plot, the other came round again and I felt ‘snapped back’ into another world.

My other problem was the relationship between the three female protagonists. It was dysfunctional, which I normally love. But it didn’t quite feel right or real.  I am not convinced that the secrets not shared would have stayed that way.  It felt manufactured for the story. I didn’t like that.  Which meant I didn’t end up enjoying the book anywhere near as much as I wanted to.  A shame, but you can’t have every book be a winner can you?

Emma x