The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

28187230Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

I have waited quite a while to read The Woman in Cabin 10. Despite having loved Ruth Ware’s debut (In A Dark Dark Wood), I was anxious.  Anxious that this wouldn’t live up to the expectations I already had of her as an author able to craft a story that kept me on the edge of my seat from the opening paragraph to the final sentence.

Thankfully, my fears were unfounded (though I am refusing to kick myself for waiting so long to pick this book up, regret never getting me anywhere).  The Woman in Cabin 10 is a cracking read.  It opens strongly, with a break in at Lo’s flat that sounds more than a bit terrifying and means by the time she gets to the ship, she is tired, strung out and just a little (o.k. a lot) on edge.

Her behaviour is unpredictable, fuelled as it is by lack of sleep, too much alcohol and anxiety (something she is already on medication for).  It doesn’t make her the most likeable character, even if you understand her behaviours, and it definitely makes her an unreliable one.  It is no wonder people don’t believe her, or take her seriously, when she says someone has been murdered on the first night of the cruise or that that same murderer is now after her.

As a reader, I have to say I wasn’t too sure myself.  Had I been on board I may have taken the same tack as the head of security or other passengers and asked her how much was down to drink and drugs.  I doubt I would have scoured the ship or locked people in their cabins until land was reached.  Ware does a great job in Lo of building a character that you just don’t quite believe, even if you want to.  And then the question is why would the other passengers want to when she hasn’t done a lot to win them over.

At first, I found Lo quite irritating.  Then, I started to realise that was possibly the point.  She isn’t that likeable and she isn’t that believable.  Which means she is on her own.  She has to overcome her demons, her insecurities in order to prove that she is right and, in the end, survive.  So, it’s not just about saving the mystery woman in cabin 10.  It’s about saving herself too and moving on with a life that is, quite frankly, stuck and going nowhere because of her fears and insecurities.

With that lightbulb moment (I do occasionally have them) it felt like all was forgiven with Lo and I started to enjoy her character and root for her.  It’s a good thing too as she is not only the main character, it’s her voice you hear throughout – not liking it would have mean not liking the book.  Other passengers are slightly stereotypical – handsome photographer, wealthy man of industry, bitchy journalist, plus an ex-boyfriend (which I did find a bit odd given where they were) – and not as well rounded as I might have liked.

They are, really, a means to an end.  Characters that Lo can play off and which provide an ideal cast of potential suspects in a very Miss Marple kind of way – was it the beautiful model with the broken champagne flute in the spa or the Bear Grylls wanna be with the carving knife in the library?

Because of this guess who game I started playing, the stereotypes didn’t bother me. In fact, I enjoyed them and I enjoyed the book.  It was well written, with great pace and it was fun.  For all those reasons I liked it a lot – a recommended read!




Source: Library
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Publication Date: 30th June, 2016
Pages: 352
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US













The Escape by C. L. Taylor

32790943When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

After reading more than one good review of C. L. Taylor’s books, I felt I needed to read at least one myself.  Seeing The Escape on Netgalley seemed the perfect opportunity, especially as it was a standalone and I am not sure I could leap into another series at the moment when I already have so many on the go.

The Escape starts as it means to go on, by throwing you right into the action and not letting up until it’s all over.  It opens with Jo walking to her car, running late for picking up her daughter.  She never leaves her office this late and she’s in a rush.  Just in these first few sentences you realise that Jo is tightly wound, no more so than when a stranger comes up behind her whilst she is trying to get into her car.  You see her internal struggle – does she know the woman? is she really a neighbour? should she offer her a lift? and now that’s been asked for, should she say yes?

All Jo’s instincts are telling her no, not to let the woman (Paula) into her car, not to agree to a lift, but she ignores them – thinking instead about how she will appear and questioning whether her concerns are genuine.  It turns out they are, genuine that is – Paula threatens her and her daughter.  The problem is no one else seems to take her seriously, not least her husband (Max) who won’t even contact the police.  He’s convinced it’s Jo’s imagination, running away with her because of mental health problems, and that there is a perfectly rational explanation.

From this first, slightly scary but potentially harmless meeting, things spiral  quickly and the threats to Jo become more real and more dangerous.  Someone has invaded her life and is determined, it seems, to make it a living hell.  As a reader, you know she’s not loosing her mind, you can read the thoughts of the person who is after her in short chapters interspersed through the book. Still, though, Max won’t believe her – no matter what she says – which is incredibly frustrating but possibly understandable as you start to understand Jo’s history and the reasons she isn’t being believed.

I say possibly because if I was Jo I would have gone on the run a lot sooner than she did and I wouldn’t have tried to reason with Max (though there wouldn’t have been much of a story then I guess).  With the running, the book ratchets up another notch because now is Jo not just trying to escape Paula, she is hiding from the police, and trying and failing to come up with credible lies for the people she comes in contact with.  Whilst you hope for the best, that she can keep her head down till it all blows over, you know that isn’t going to be the case and I felt tense waiting for it all to come crashing down.  And come crashing down it did in a great, big, page turning finale.

If you can’t tell, I really liked this book.  It was such a fast paced, edge of seat read.  Jo was a great character, nice and unpredictable which kept the story moving along, and there were a few twists in the tale I really didn’t see coming and changed how I was feeling about more than one character.  There were, as always in these books, a few times when I had to suspend belief slightly to allow for a plot twist but that was more than o.k. for this book, which I highly recommend.  Liked it a lot!




Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 23rd March, 2017
Pages: 433
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.


The Stranger by Saskia Sarginson

Wimagee all have our secrets. Eleanor Rathmell has kept one her whole life. But when her husband dies and a stranger arrives at her door, her safe life in the idyllic English village she’s chosen as her home begins to topple.

Everyone is suspicious of this stranger, except for Eleanor. But her trust in him will put her life in danger, because nothing is as it seems; not her dead husband, the man who claims to love her, or the inscrutable outsider to whom she’s opened her home and her heart.

I was really looking forward to reading The Stranger – not just because I had enjoyed the other book I had read by Sarginson (Without You) but because the opening, which I used for last week’s Tuesday intro, completely drew me in.  I found it beautifully, though simply written and it painted a picture in my head that I still haven’t quite shaken.

The prologue (from which the intro was taken) has a young girl, a new mother, giving away her baby for adoption.  It is heart breaking.  It also suggests darker things might follow; “After all the hate, there you were.”  And, given the type of books I normally read, I have to admit I envisioned an angry and bitter son appearing years later with an axe to grind, figuratively and literally.

This wasn’t the case though and, whilst what I got was still a thriller, it was a much more nuanced and thoughtful piece of writing than I had maybe being expecting.  The prologue, rather than hinting of what was to come was rather an explanation of some of the behaviours of the central character, Ellie.  These are further explained by flashbacks to her teenage years, which show how she has become the woman she has.

Most of the story, though, takes place in the present and in Kent, a region on the front line of the migrant crisis that played out on our screens the last few years.  Migrants, their role in our lives (picking the food we eat, offering cheap labour) and our attitudes towards them (anger, distrust, general wariness as well as compassion) are front and centre in this book.  Sarginson manages to highlight these issues without being preachy and turns their plight and our response to it into a gripping read, one that kept me turning pages.

She does this by making it about human beings and about love.  Yes, this is a novel full of suspense but it is also a story with love at it’s heart (not a soppy love story but one about caring for and about people).  The question is, who does Ellie love and who is lying to her, because there are two men vying for her heart and each believes the other is the bad guy, the one she can’t trust.  It’s up to Ellie to figure it out, slowly unpicking the web of lies she has found herself at the centre of and which could end up threatening her life.

Possibly the only downside to the book is the who became clear a bit too early for me as I like to be kept guessing  BUT to make up for this there were other twists in the tale I didn’t see coming at all and which kept me reading.  And, I have to remember this wasn’t a standard domestic thriller of girl meets boy, boy turns out to be a psychopath.  It was deeper than that and better for it.  I liked it a lot and would definitely recommend it.




Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Piatkus
Publication Date: 23rd March, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

Tuesday Intro: The Stranger by Saskia Sarginson

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, I’m reading The Stranger by Saskia Sarginson, which I got a review copy of last week and needs reviewing by next week (it’s due out 23rd March if memory serves).  I have only read one other book by Sarginson, Without You but I really enjoyed it so am looking forward to this one.  Here’s what it’s about…

Wimagee all have our secrets. Eleanor Rathmell has kept one her whole life. But when her husband dies and a stranger arrives at her door, her safe life in the idyllic English village she’s chosen as her home begins to topple.

Everyone is suspicious of this stranger, except for Eleanor. But her trust in him will put her life in danger, because nothing is as it seems; not her dead husband, the man who claims to love her, or the inscrutable outsider to whom she’s opened her home and her heart.

And here’s how it starts…


You were born just before Christmas. After all that hate, there you were. Being you. Staking your claim.  I thought I’d see him inside you. But there was no trace of his features in your small face. You were a stranger to me, a terrifying wonder. We cried all the time. You howling in earnest, and me seeping water silently without really knowing why. It was while you slept that I dared to marvel at you: your spiky lashes wet with tears, the way your toes curled in the palm of my hand, and the smell of your flaky scalp under the surprise of your thick, dark hair.  As I pressed my lips to your neck, I felt the tug of my womb contracting, a pain that connected us, a reminder that you were still a part of me.

What do you think – I have to say I like it but do you, and would you keep reading?


Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

29091461If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

Driving along country roads at night is never fun, especially in the pouring rain, and – for a woman alone – it can be especially scary, the idea of being stranded, alone, in the dark. For Cass all these fears start to come to the fore when she pulls over to help a stranded vehicle but can’t then get herself to get out of the car to see if the woman she sees sitting in the driver’s seat needs help. The fact that the woman doesn’t call out to her or get out of her car to talk to her convinces Cass she’s ok and so, instead of doing more, she heads home….only to wake up the next morning to the news that the woman is dead.

The news is bad enough, flooding Cass with guilt as she realises she may have been able to save the woman, but it’s made worse when she finds out that it’s someone she knew. This sends her spiralling, unable to sleep and a unable to concentrate. As the days and weeks go on, Cass struggles to get her mind back on track and starts to become more forgetful still, something which could be down to the murder, the mysterious calls she’s been receiving since then (with nobody speaking when she picks up), or it could be something worse – a sign of the early on-set dementia that killed her mother.

Her husband tells her it’s stress, her best friend tells her she’s been silly but Cass isn’t so sure. Something is wrong, a killer coiled be after her. The only problem is no one will believe her. That included me as a reader, at least at times. Her behaviour was so erratic; her friends, husband, doctors, are convinced she is stressed, anxious, cracking up and it does seem to be the case. B. A. Paris does a great job leaving you guessing almost all the way to the end as to who is right, then they reveal the truth and turn the story on its head.

It’s a formula followed by a lot of authors in this genre – the fragile woman who seems to be loosing her mind, the family and friends who want to support her but don’t believe her, the strange occurrences and odd happenings, before it all becomes clear at the end. I don’t mind formulas at all though as long as they are done well, and that was definitely the case here.  B. A. Paris created an interesting character in Cass, one I couldn’t help but like and root for. She was well written, as was the book, with short chapters to keep you turning pages – which I did – and a strong plot.

When it got to the twist I had an inking but wasn’t 100% sure what was going to happen or how it would turn out. I thought B. A. Paris’ answer was clever and I was left completely satisfied. I hadn’t felt quite that way with their first book, though I had enjoyed it but this felt much more accomplished and much more confident. I am really glad I got the chance to read it – liked it a lot.




Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ
Publication Date: 9th February, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: ebook (Kindle)
Genre: crime fiction

Note: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own




Don’t Look Behind You by Mel Sherratt 


She got into bed but sleep didn’t come easily. Every creak in the house made her alert. She was waiting for him to come and get her.

The small city of Stockleigh is in shock as three women are brutally attacked within days of each other. Are they random acts of violence or is there a link between the victims? For Detective Eden Berrisford, it’s her most chilling case yet.

The investigation leads Eden to cross paths with Carla, a woman trying to rebuild her life after her marriage to a cruel and abusive man ended in unimaginable tragedy. Her husband Ryan was imprisoned for his crimes but, now he’s out and coming for her.

As Eden starts to close in on the attacker, she also puts herself in grave danger. Can she stop him before he strikes again? And can Carla, terrified for her life, save herself – before the past wreaks a terrible revenge?

So I want to start this review not with an overview of the story but with a comment on the tagline “He destroyed your life once. Now he’s back to do it again.” because I don’t think it – or the overview above – do this book justice.  They suggest this is the story of one woman at risk from one man, a popular theme in the books I read at the moment and I have to say that it caught my eye when requesting.  These books tend to follow a pattern though that Don’t Look Behind You doesn’t, which for me was a welcome change and a nice surprise.

What it is does have in common with other books is men’s behaviour towards women, how it can often be violent and how abuse isn’t always physical but emotional, with the effects lasting long after the violence stops or a relationship ends.  It’s a powerful topic that leads to a powerful book, one that doesn’t just entertain as a police procedural / piece of crime writing but makes you pause and think about how much more commonplace attacks on women, by strangers as partners, might be and how hard it is for them to stay safe and live full lives afterwards, lives not shrouded in fear.

Sherratt shows it here with two stories running side by side. The first is Detective Eden Berrisford’s search for a man attacking young women on their way home at night; the attacks are escalating and she needs to figure out who is responsible before someone ends up dead. The second focuses on Carla, who works at a women’s refuge but is also in hiding from her ex-husband Ryan, recently released from prison and out for revenge, blaming her for putting him there despite the fact that he had nearly killed her before he was arrested.

Both stories are compelling and well plotted, alternating in chapters and occasionally crossing over into each other. Because Eden knows Carla through her own work with the shelter she is the common theme running through each but I liked that I heard Carla’s voice too. She is a strong women with a sad history who is trying to rebuild her life – I admired her and wanted her to be happy and safe.

Each story could have probably been expanded into books in their own right but they did work well together and I didn’t find it distracting or difficult to move between the two. I did wonder if they would come together in a big twist at the end and was quite happy when they didn’t because I think that would have spoilt it and the conclusion to both was just right.

For me, it was much more satisfying than my first outing with Eden (and the first book to feature her) The Girls Next Door, where I struggled with some of the characters. Here, I didn’t have any of those problems so was able to settle in and enjoy the book and get to know Eden, who I think could become a firm favourite of mine – and not just because she wears doc martins (the best footwear ever) and drives a scooter (the coolest thing ever).

She is kind, caring, passionate about her job but there is a darker side too potentially, one that is hinted at when she and her daughter are threatened and I do wonder if that will come out in future books? There definitely seemed to be some teasers for what might happen next in her life in this book that I can’t wait to see develop.

I said at the beginning of this post that it was the tag line that caught my eye but it wasn’t the main or only reason. The other was Mel Sherratt, whose books I really enjoy and who is probably starting to rank as a favourite author. Her books have all the elements I love – crime, drama, twist, turns and strong female characters. They are well written, well plotted and keep me turning pages. I never know quite what to expect and I have – so far – always been pleased with what I’ve gotten. You can’t ask for more than that from an author or a book really, leaving me liking this one a lot.




Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture 
Publication Date: 31st January, 2017
Pages: 287
Format: ebook (Kindle)
Genre: crime fiction

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

Interested in what I thought about other Mel Sherratt books, check out my reviews below:

The Girls Next Door (Eden Berrisford 1)

Only The Brave

Follow The Leader

Taunting The Dead

Tuesday intro: All These Perfect Strangers

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, I’m reading All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford which I knew nothing about when I picked it up at the library other than it sounded like a book I would enjoy. Here’s what it’s about…


You don’t have to believe in ghosts for the dead to haunt you.

You don’t have to be a murderer to be guilty.

Within six months of Pen Sheppard starting university, three of her new friends are dead. Only Pen knows the reason why.

College life had seemed like a wonderland of sex, drugs and maybe even love. The perfect place to run away from your past and reinvent yourself. But Pen never can run far enough and when friendships are betrayed, her secrets are revealed. The consequences are deadly.

And this is how it starts…

I am sitting in the waiting room looking at the painting on the wall. It has different-sized circles splattered all over it, every single one of them red. The first time I saw it I was worried it was one of those inkblots where you have to say whatever comes into your head. Stupid, I know, but I was only fifteen. All I could see was blood, which I knew was not a good answer. I decided if anyone asked me, they would be balloons because no one could make a big deal out of that.

What do you think – would you keep reading?


Cloak and Dagger Challenge 2017


During my recent wanderings around my favourite blogs, I came across a challenge that seems right up my street but I had somehow missed the initial sign-up for (it started 1st January).  Never one to be deterred by being late, however, and given it is still January, I have decided to sign-up now.  It’s the Cloak and Dagger Challenge hosted by Stormi at books, movies, reviews oh my! and Barb at Booker Ts Farm.  Here’s how it works:

  • You can read any book that is from the mystery/suspense/thriller/crime genres. Any sub-genres are welcome as long as they incorporate one of these genres.
  • You don’t need a blog to participate but you do need a place to post your reviews to link up (blog, goodreads, booklikes, shelfari, etc.)
  • You make a goal post and link it back to the sign-up page with your goal for this challenge (which is this post here)
  • Books need to be novellas or novels, please no short stories. (At least 100 pages +)
  • Crossovers into other challenges  are fine
  • The Challenge will  be from Jan. 1st to Dec. 31st (Sign up ends April 15th)

There will be a monthly link up so that others can check out your progress and look at your reviews. At the halfway mark and at the end there will be a giveaway for those participating.

As with all good challenges there are levels based on how much you read / can commit to:

  • 5-15 books – Amateur sleuth
  • 16-25 books – Detective
  • 26-35 books – Inspector
  • 36 – 55 – Special agent
  • 56+ books – Sherlock Holmes

Plus a “bonus” challenge of finishing a series (or more).

Books of this genre are my main reads, plus I’ve given myself a more challenging goodreads target this year, so I’m going to try and become Sherlock Holmes and read at least 56 books.  I’m also going to try and finish the M. J. Arlidge DI Helen Grace series plus one other tbd.

Can you tell I’m excited by this one?  Fingers crossed nothing gets in the way of my reading or I don’t suddenly decide that I’m really a romance and roses vs. murder and mayhem kind of girl.

Wish me luck!


The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

25079833‘Mummy dead.’ The child’s pure treble was uncomfortably clear. It was the last thing Brynjar – and doubtless the others – wanted to hear at that moment. ‘Daddy dead.’ It got worse. ‘Adda dead. Bygga dead.’ The child sighed and clutched her grandmother’s leg. ‘All dead.’

A luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbour with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew, and to the family who were on board when it left Lisbon?

Thora Gudmundsdottir is hired by the young father’s parents to investigate, and is soon drawn deeper into the mystery. What should she make of the rumours saying that the vessel was cursed, especially given that when she boards the yacht she thinks she sees one of the missing twins? Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht’s former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore?

The Silence of the Sea was my first read of 2017 (though obviously not my first review, I’m not that efficient) and I have to say I’m really glad that I chose it.  It was a good start to my reading year and has convinced me I need to read more books by an author who writes chilling tales but has a name I will never be able to pronounce.

Much like the first book I read by Sigurdardottir, Why Did You Lie? there is a slightly spooky element to The Silence of the Sea which sets it apart from other books of the genre and leaves you with plenty to figure out and make best guesses at.  And how much spookier could a ship with new crew and passengers running aground be, especially on a dark, cold and rainy night in Iceland.  Add to that the ships reputation as being cursed and bringing those who own it nothing but bad luck and you have a real page turner.

The bad luck in this case starts with a rich man and his beautiful wife who end up not so rich and unable to pay for their luxury yacht, leaving it stranded in Lisbon. It’s the job of Aegir to make sure it makes it back to it’s new owners (and also the bank he works for) safely.  Unfortunately, things don’t quite go to plan when a member of the crew breaks their leg.  To make sure they can set off on time, he volunteers to take the crew members place, setting off with his family on what will be a fatal voyage.

In Iceland, Thora is a lawyer hired by Aegir’s parents to help them keep their granddaughter and make claim on any insurance money.  Slowly, she begins to try to unpick just what happened to Aegir, his family and – as a result – the rest of the crew, convinced it isn’t possible for everyone to be lost at sea but also not sure she wants to think of the consequences – including that Aegir is on the run for reasons unknown.

I say slowly because that’s the pace of this book.  It doesn’t throw things at you but reveals them bit by bit, lulling you into a false sense of security at times before throwing a curve ball and making you sit up and take notice.  The pace might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I didn’t mind it.  It made me feel like I was getting to think through what was happening and come to my own (wrong) conclusions.

As Thora works in the present to find answers, revealing secrets and unearthing red herrings, the past is revealed in alternating chapters, telling just what happened to everyone on board.  Again, there are twists, turns and plenty of suspects.  Nothing is as it seems, which for a reader is great.  Every time I thought I’d figured it out, I found I hadn’t.  Plus the setting was good, lots to make it seem creepy and you feel that danger lurked around every corner and behind every wave.

Thora is a great character, tenacious and caring and I liked her and her slightly annoying but still interesting secretary Bella who helped her in her investigation.  It was hard to say with Aegir and his family, though the captain of the ship I did think was really well written. I could picture him, hardened by years at sea and experienced enough to take on most things. Aegir I was up and down with, liking him one minute, not the next and finding him quite weak and frustrating in others – but then he is at sea with a bunch of strangers, potentially murderous ones, and has a family to protect so maybe I’m being a bit picky here.

This uncertainty about Aegir certainly didn’t stop me enjoying the book, which I most certainly did.  I thought it was a clever idea, well executed and well written.  I found I couldn’t put it down and couldn’t stop turning pages and – as a result – have to say I liked it a lot.




Source: Library
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 26th March, 2015 (first published 2011)
Pages: 388
Format: paperback


Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

25365530‘NEW N A M E .
S H I N Y.
ME . ‘

Annie’s mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…

Good Me, Bad Me is one of those books that seems to have gotten a lot of hype.  They’re the type of books I normally stay away from – at least when they are first released, frightened I’ll be disappointed.  In this case, though, I couldn’t resist.  The description sounded right up my street and also a little different from my usual reads.  I have to say I’m glad I took the plunge because it was different and just what I needed after a string of not so hot books.

It starts with Milly (or Annie as she was) turning her mother into the police for child abuse and murder.  It’s a shocking opening and grabs you immediately, presenting you with an image that isn’t graphic in any way but still stays with you throughout the book.  You are left in no doubt Milly’s mom is guilty and a monster, someone who should go to prison for a very long time.

What you aren’t so sure about is Milly, who is the only voice you hear in the book, as she tries to settle with her new foster family and prepare for the court case where she will be the “star” witness.  Starting a new life isn’t easy and her foster sister, Phoebe, isn’t happy to have her around, especially as Milly takes up too much of her parents’ time.  Phoebe goes out of her way to make life difficult for Milly, who only seems to want to be friends – well, just make friends in general, she is a lonely girl.

Or at least that’s what it seems like at first because there is a darker side to Milly and, after being drawn in by her story and feeling a lot of sympathy for her, I started to feel unsure.  Slowly, secrets from her past are revealed and she does things that maybe aren’t as nice as she would want you to believe. I couldn’t tell if I was being played, if Milly was maybe a chip of the old block, or if her behaviour was a result of her wanting to fit in and be loved.

It made for a compelling read and I found Milly a compelling character, one I wanted to understand but was also maybe a little afraid of, very much like the people around her.  They wanted to be sympathetic, wanted to believe she was an innocent victim, but wondered – was she really?  Or at least I think that’s what they thought because the only voice you hear is Milly’s so you only get her take on what is said and done.  It’s her version – and the question is whether it’s the true one.

I thought Ali Land did a really good job with Milly, of creating someone you didn’t know if you liked but felt you should give a chance to because of what had happened to her.  By making her 15, going on 16, it did feel like there was a grey area there – that nagging question of why Milly maybe hadn’t done something sooner to speak out.  Some of these things are answered in the book but I won’t say because of spoilers but there are a few times when I had “lightbulb” moments, where Milly would reveal something or do something that completely changed my opinion of her.

Of course, because this is Milly’s story, you don’t get to know the other characters that well and the foster family are somewhat two dimensional as a result.  Then again, as Milly’s character starts to emerge, maybe this was on purpose, because in a way they weren’t necessarily real to her but people to be manipulated to reach an end.  Her mother was much more real, or at least a very real monster.

Seen through the eyes of Milly you see confusion, this is a woman who she loved but also hated.  You never meet her or hear from her directly but she dominates a lot of the pages.  And you see through Milly’s memories and nightmares of her just what type of woman her daughter might become.  I liked this about the book, that I kept second guessing myself about Milly.

In fact, there wasn’t much I didn’t like if I’m honest, other than maybe the final twist.  I am not sure I needed that.  I felt I had a good ending, a slightly ambiguous one that seemed to go with the Milly I knew.  So, although I was proved right in the final chapter, I would have liked to have been left with a bit of a question mark.  It’s a small thing and didn’t stop me liking the book though, which I did – a lot (if you can like a book about a child murderer, which I guess is another post entirely!).




Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 12th January, 2017
Pages: 400
Format: eBook (Kindle)

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.