March Reads in Review

Hello April! I have to say, I am really glad you are here as March was pretty rubbish. My daughter caught Covid, then my dad and my mom. And, while none of them were that badly affected (thankfully), it did add a complexity to the month (home-schooling, double-shopping) that I found difficult for some reason to bounce back from and why I didn’t do much blogging – though, here the fact that I struggled to find books that I enjoyed – also didn’t help.

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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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One Bad Thing by M. K. Hill #bookreview

She thought she’d got away with it. She was wrong.

Hannah Godley is an agony aunt on a London radio show Queen of Hearts. She’s warm and empathetic; a good listener. Her catchphrase is: Be kind, always. But when a stranger phones in to tell a tragic story about her brother who killed himself after he was the victim of a terrible prank by two people, Hannah goes cold. Because she remembers Diane’s brother well. In fact, all these years later, he still haunts her dreams. All because of that one bad thing she did when she was young…

Is Diane just a sad, lonely woman looking for a friend, or does she know what Hannah did, and is looking for revenge? Because as Diane insinuates herself into her life and family, Hannah is going to discover that you can never truly escape that One Bad Thing you did – sooner or later, you’re going to have to pay the price…

My thoughts on One Bad Thing…

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Girl A by Abigail Dean #BookReview

I am Lex Gracie: but they call me Girl A.
I grew up with my family on the moors.
I escaped when I was fifteen years old.

NOW SOMETHING IS PULLING ME BACK…

My thoughts on Girl A

There was a lot of hype when Girl A came out last year. Which was why I avoided it. I don’t do well with hype. But then I saw a copy in my local library and thought ‘why not’. Turns out it was a good decision because Girl A is a very, very, good book.

Why? It’s dark, and gritty, and painful to read (the subject matter isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and there were bits that – had it been a movie – I would have closed my eyes and turned away because I’m more than a bit squeamish). But it’s also uplifting, showing the power of humans to overcome the worst obstacles and find beauty in the world. I really struggled to put this down at night.

Lex, the central character is complex and compelling and I wanted to see where her story, and those of her sibling went. Each gets a chapter, but with Lex’s story, and their family history, woven in. It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel because it’s so well written. I can’t for her next book (though I have to wait until January 2023 to read it). 5/5 stars.

Emma

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Open House by Katie Sise #BookReview

A decade ago in upstate New York, art student Emma McCullough walked into the woods and was never seen again. It’s a mystery that still haunts her bucolic university town and her broken family, especially her sister, Haley, whose need for closure has become an obsession. But now, finally, the first piece of evidence in the vanishing has been found: Emma’s bracelet, lodged in a frozen piece of earth at the bottom of a gorge. For Emma’s three best college friends, for a beloved former teacher, and for Haley, the chilling trinket is more than a clue in a resurrected cold case. It’s a trigger.

Then a woman is attacked during an open house, and the connections between the two crimes, ten winters apart, begin to surface. So do the secrets that run as deep and dark as the currents in this quiet river town.

My thoughts on Open House…

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Every Missing Thing by Martyn Ford #bookreview

One family. Two missing children. A lifetime of secrets.

Ten-year-old Ethan Clarke’s disappearance gripped the nation. Just as his parents are starting to piece together a life ‘after Ethan’, their world is ripped apart once more when their daughter, Robin, disappears in almost identical circumstances. They’ve lost two children within a decade…and now doubts about their innocence are setting in.

Detective Sam Maguire’s obsession with the first case cost him his own family, but he has unfinished business with the Clarkes. He is convinced that discovering what happened to Ethan holds the key to finding Robin. But what if the Clarkes know more than they’re letting on?

With the world watching eagerly, the clock is ticking for Sam as he embarks on an investigation that forces him to confront his own demons. To uncover the truth, he must follow a trail of devastating deception—but the truth always comes at a cost…

My thoughts on Every Missing Thing…

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A Familiar Sight by Brianna Labuskes #BookReview

Psychologist and criminologist Dr. Gretchen White is a specialist in antisocial personality disorders and violent crimes. She’s helped solve enough prominent cases for detective Patrick Shaughnessy that her own history is often overlooked: Gretchen is an admitted sociopath once suspected of killing her aunt. Shaughnessy still thinks Gretchen got away with murder. It’s not going to happen again.

When a high-profile new case lands on Shaughnessy’s desk, it seems open and shut. Remorseless teenager Viola Kent is accused of killing her mother. Amid stories of childhood horrors and Viola’s cruel manipulations, the bad seed has already been found guilty by a rapt public. But Gretchen might be seeing something in Viola no one else does: herself.

If Viola is a scapegoat, then who really did it? And what are they hiding? To find the truth, Gretchen must enter a void that is not only dark and cold-blooded, but also frighteningly familiar.

My thoughts on A Familiar Sight

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These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall #BookReview

A dead woman’s cherished trinkets become pieces to a terrifying puzzle.

Mickie Lambert creates “digital scrapbooks” for clients, ensuring that precious souvenirs aren’t forgotten or lost. When her latest client, Nadia Denham, a curio shop owner, dies from an apparent suicide, Mickie honors the old woman’s last wish and begins curating her peculiar objets d’art. A music box, a hair clip, a key chain—twelve mementos in all that must have meant so much to Nadia, who collected them on her flea market scavenges across the country.

But these tokens mean a lot to someone else, too. Mickie has been receiving threatening messages to leave Nadia’s past alone.

It’s becoming a mystery Mickie is driven to solve. Who once owned these odd treasures? How did Nadia really come to possess them? Discovering the truth means crossing paths with a long-dormant serial killer and navigating the secrets of a sinister past. One that might, Mickie fears, be inescapably entwined with her own.

My thoughts on These Toxic Things

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One Small Mistake by Dandy Smith #BookReview

One small mistake. One deadly consequence.

Elodie Fray wants to be more like her perfect sister, Ada, the one her parents are actually proud of. When she decided to quit her job and pursue her dream of becoming an author, she thought it would be her time to shine, but a year on nothing has happened. And she’s getting desperate.

When Elodie makes one small mistake on a drunken night with a friend, things quickly spiral and suddenly everyone believes she has a book deal. Unable to find a way back from her little lie, her perfect dream becomes a perfect nightmare – and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Meanwhile, everything is not as it seems in Ada Archer’s perfect life. When her sister suddenly disappears, she questions everything – from her marriage, to the man who’s been charged with Elodie’s abduction. The papers say it’s him, but the more she digs into her sister’s life the less convinced she is. Ada will do anything to discover the truth, even if it kills her.

No one knows what happened to Elodie Fray, and now her only chance of survival is her sister.

My thoughts on One Small Mistake…

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The Chateau by Catherine Cooper #BookReview

They thought it was perfect. They were wrong…

A glamorous chateau

Aura and Nick don’t talk about what happened in England. They’ve bought a chateau in France to make a fresh start, and their kids need them to stay together – whatever it costs.

A couple on the brink

The expat community is welcoming, but when a neighbour is murdered at a lavish party, Aura and Nick don’t know who to trust.

A secret that is bound to come out…

Someone knows exactly why they really came to the chateau. And someone is going to give them what they deserve.

My thoughts on The Chateau

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