The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

33257657All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom.

Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web.

Whilst on the face of it The Silent Kookaburra is classed as a thriller / suspense novel, for me I have to say it was also about coming of age; that’s one of the things that came through here for me, the move from child to teenager for Tanya, the novel’s storyteller, and the confusion that comes with it.

Tanya isn’t a happy child, and no wonder.  Her mother is depressed – the result of multiple failed pregnancies – when baby Shelley comes along, lighting up all their lives with her perfect babyness.  A new baby, though, doesn’t necessarily mean the stress and tensions from before really go away and, in many ways, the family carry on as before – with her mom displaying symptoms of OCD, Tanya overeating, her dad drinking and her nanna generally grumbling and groaning.Read More »

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Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney

32991958My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

So this is possibly one of the shortest blurbs in the history of blurbs – and completely intrigued me as a result.  Add to that some positive reviews and I felt like this was a book I really wanted to read.

The first few chapters had me convinced I’d made the right choice and things only got better from there I have to say, especially with some great twists in the last third which pretty much turned everything I had been thinking on it’s head. Read More »

Forgotten by Nicole Trope

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Edna is worried about the new residents at the boarding house. She knows Mary would turn in her grave if she knew the kinds of people her son was letting in.

And then there is someone else. Someone whose heart is broken. Someone who feels she has been unfairly punished for her mistakes. Someone who wants what she can’t have.

What follows is a heart-stopping game of cat-and-mouse and a race against the clock. As the hours pass and the day heats up, all hope begins to fade.

So, just when I thought I had my book of the month sorted (Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica), another has come along that has completely wowed me and left my decision of which book to pick so up in the air. Forgotten by Nicole Trope has everything I look for in a book – characters I cared for, a plot that kept me turning pages, and an ending that left me holding my breath, praying everything would turn out o.k.

It starts with one of those decisions every parent of a young child has faced I think.  They are asleep in the car when your out running errands.  Do you leave them sleeping whilst you run into the store (you’ll only be a minute after all) or do you risk a major meltdown by waking them up and taking them in with you? We will all probably say, when asked, we’d do the latter but in the moment, that’s probably not true; there are plenty of us out there that would at least give it a thought I’m sure.

So it is with Malia, who has not one child but three under the age of five, including newborn Zach.  It’s been a hard morning when she makes her fateful decision. Her two oldest kids have been testing her last nerve, playing up because there isn’t any milk for breakfast. Zach, is fast asleep, and she wants to keep it that way.

So she leaves him the car whilst she runs into the shop to get milk, thinking she can keep her eye on her car the whole time. Only she can’t, and, when she gets back, Zach is gone and her nightmare begins. Nicole Trope does an amazing job here, creating a character I completely felt for when she was one I maybe should have had little sympathy with given what’s happened.

With a baby to find, local detectives Ali and Mike are called in to start the search. For Ali, a new mother herself, this is a difficult one and, as the story progresses, you see just how much it impacts her. You also see her determination to bring Zach home and her anxiety that she could lose her child. I loved Ali’s caring nature and her passion to support Malia and find Zach.

I got to read feel these first hand in the chapters that told what was happening from her perspective. They alternated with Malia’s but also with the person who took Zach, and Edna, an elderly woman who doesn’t trust her neighbour. And all this happens over the course of one day, meaning the tension rises with the temperature, as everyone begins to think there will only be one ending, and it won’t be a good one.

I don’t think I could have felt more involved in the search for Zach if I’d been part of the investigation.  I felt every minute of him being missing and I couldn’t imagine how I would have felt if I was Malia.  This book is 400 pages long yet it felt like it was over in no time at all, so engrossed was I in the story.

From all of this, you can probably tell this will be a book I will be recommending.  I really can’t praise it enough.  Loved it!

Enjoy!

Emma x

loved-it

 

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 28th June, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 400
Genre: suspense / thriller
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

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

Also reviewed by Nicole Trope:

Blame

 

 

 

 

Tuesday intro: The Binding Song by Elodie Harper

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. Diane is currently on a summer break but I have decided to carry on regardless because these are some of my favourite posts. I see others are doing the same – if you are, please leave a link to your post in the comments so that I don’t miss checking out your reads.

tuesday I also thought I would join in with Teaser Tuesday, hosted by The Purple Booker, where you share two teasers from your current read. I read a lot of these posts over the course of an average Tuesday so thought it would be fun to join in here too.

So, after a very long intro, this is what I’m reading this week…

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Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls.

A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared – along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins.

Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels.

Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts…

I have to admit that the cover is what has gotten me on this.  It is so creepy.  I hope the story itself lives up to my very shallow expectations.  Here’s how it starts…

The break in the trees told him nothing.  Ryan had no idea how far he had travelled or in what direction.  He longed to sink down into the mud, rest just for a moment, but instead he scuttled across the open patch of long grass, bent double like a crab.  He tried not to think about the lorry he’d left behind, the warm seat, the friendly driver. Perhaps if he’d styed, he could have hitched  lift out of Norfolk. But it had made him nervous when his companion turned up the radio. At every ad break he started to sweat, wondering when his description was going to blare out over the news.

And here are a few teasers…

“The return to Cherry Tree Drive was almost a relief.  Janet headed straight to the shower, standing under the water at its hottest temperature, washing away as much of Harrogate as she could.  After her scare last week, she had been feeling uncharacteristically on edge, not just around me but also with her colleagues. “

and

“From the street below came a woman’s steady wailing. Steven crossed to the window again. Fiery shadows played over the group’s movements, the orange street lights illuminating their faces.”

What do you think – would you keep reading?

Emma x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

32735394“The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us.” 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

So I feel like I should start this review off with a disclaimer.  Not that this is a review copy (it is, and I feel very lucky to have received one), but that Mary Kubica is one of my favourite authors and, in my eyes, she doesn’t do much wrong in the way of writing great novels that keep me hooked from start to finish.   This book, then, has been one I’ve been looking forward to reading all year…and I am so, so, pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

It starts with a seemingly perfect – if tired – family; Nick, Clara, four year old Maisie and new born Felix.  They are young, happy and successful thanks to Nick’s dental practice.  When a policeman’s knock on the door shatters Clara’s world then, it’s no wonder she struggles to cope, shutting out those who love and care for her and cocooning herself away with Maisie and Felix.

Then, Maisie starts to have nightmares and everything Clara thought she knew about the accident seems to get turned on its head.  It’s not just the accident, though, it’s Nick himself.  Slowly, as she tries to pick up her life, Clara finds out that what she thought she knew about her husband wasn’t true, that there were things he was keeping from her, secrets she is only now starting to try and unpick, ones that have the potential to shatter her world again.

Slowly, through Clara’s voice in the present and Nick’s as he recounts the months up until his death, you start to get a picture of who they areas people and just what secrets are buried beneath a seemingly perfect surface.  It’s not all pretty, some of it is stupid, some of it is sad.  A lot of it seems avoidable.  As I read on, I realised that I had started to care for Clara and Nick as characters as each twist left me a little shocked, stunned or bereft.

The twists also left me wondering just what was going on.  I really had no idea if Nick was indeed the victim of foul play or, as the police insisted, just a man who drove too fast round a narrow bend.  When I finally made it to the end I felt as exhausted as Clara – it had been quite a ride.  Was it the ending I was expecting?  No.  Was it the right ending? Yes.  I have to say I finished the book completely satisfied with where I ended up. For once, even the epilogue didn’t bother me (my over pet peeve).

It all leaves me saying that I loved this book and would recommend it wholeheartedly.

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication Date: 27th June, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 336
Genre: suspense / thriller
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday intro: Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney

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. Diane is currently on a summer break but I have decided to carry on regardless because these are some of my favourite posts. I see others are doing the same – if you are, please leave a link to your post in the comments so that I don’t miss checking out your reads.

tuesday I also thought I would join in, for the first time, with Teaser Tuesday, hosted by The Purple Booker, where you share two teasers from your current read.  I read a lot of these posts over the course of an average Tuesday so thought it would be fun to join in here too.

So, after a very long intro, this is what I’m reading this week…

32991958My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

And here’s how it starts…

I’ve always delighted in the free fall between sleep and wakefulness. Those precious few semi-conscious seconds before you open your eyes, when you catch yourself believing that your dreams might just be your reality. A moment of intense pleasure or pain, before your senses reboot and inform you who and where and what you are. For now, for just a few seconds longer, I’m enjoying the self-medicated delusion that permits me to imagine that I could be anyone I could be anywhere, I could be loved.

Not sure, here are some teasers to peak your interest…

“When I first start to fall, I forget to be afraid, too busy noticing that the hand that pushed me looked so much like my own.”

and

“The knot in the pit of my stomach tightens as she exits the room.  I hear the door click shut before someone clears their throat.”

What do you think…would you keep reading?

Emma x

Find on: Amazon UK / US / Goodreads

 

Tuesday intro: The People at Number Nine by Felicity Everett

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 People at Number Nine by Felicity Everett, which it felt like I was seeing everywhere not so long ago and really peaked my interest.   Here’s what it’s about…

32600066Have you met them yet, the new couple?

When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.

When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.

And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…

And here’s how it starts…

Sara’s gaze drifted toward the window.  It was dark outside now, and she could see her own reflection superimposed like a hologram on the house across the road. Their curtains were half-closed but the cold blue flicker of the TV could just be seen.  She imagined Gavin lounging in the Eames chair with a glass of red, Lou lolling barefoot on the sofa. They might be watching an art-house movie together – or perhaps just slumming it with Saturday night telly. It was all too easy to conjure – the flea-bitten heath rug, the aroma of Pinot Noir mingled with woodsmoke. Even after everything that had happened, the scene still had allure.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

 

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

31443401Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.

Red, the colour of anger and revenge, and the colour Zoey imagines inside herself as she prowls the streets of New York looking for people who need saving. It’s not all altruistic though, it’s her way of taking control of her life, something she doesn’t feel and hasn’t had since her parents were killed and she was left for dead 10 years previously. No one was ever arrested for the murders but Zoey knows who is guilty and, now, she feels strong enough to start making them pay.

On the outskirts of New York, Claudia is looking to start afresh, having left the city and moved into a run down farmhouse left to her by her father. Her plan is to rebuild and refinish the farm, creating a life away from the grind of the city for her and her daughter. Like Zoey, Claudia has a past touched by violence – her daughter, Raven, is possibly the result of rape. She has never wanted to know but it has coloured her and Raven’s lives.

As Zoey and Claudia’s stories unfold over alternating chapters it starts to become clear that violence isn’t the only thing that links them and that their lives are on a collision course, destined to intersect and putting them all in danger again. Just how this happens I won’t say (spoilers) but I will say Lisa Unger brings it all together very well, building the tension slowly and steadily until the final scenes.Read More »

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.

Enjoy!

Emma

liked-it-a-lot

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.

All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford

29713036

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.

‘This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths, but perhaps all of them were murders. It’s a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let’s just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways.’

When Pen leaves home, taking a bus to her new life at university, her mother doesn’t even bother to say goodbye – instead, it’s her mother’s latest boyfriend that drops her at the station.  When she arrives, fellow students can’t believe she has only one suitcase – and shows a gullibility beyond that of most new students.  You know this because she tells you, writing in a journal her psychologist has encouraged her to write.  It has all happened in the past and it is her version of events – something even she admits – though she says this version is the truth.

As a reader, you have to decide if it is – the truth – or if it’s a story to gain your trust and your sympathy, both of which Pen seems to think it’s important to gain as she slowly reveals why she is visiting a psychologist and why she is writing a diary.  The reason is death – it seems to surround her.  Her college friends died and her best childhood friend is in prison after killing a police officer.  In both instances, Pen says she is an innocent bystander but – with so much death surrounding her – you have to wonder if that is the case.

As far as a plot goes, this sounded like a good one to me.  I was eager to read the book and imagined plenty of twists, turns, red herrings and questions – my type of story.      Unfortunately, I got so many twists I couldn’t keep up and, at least two weeks after finishing the book, I still am not sure exactly what I read or what I was supposed to get from the story.

The main problem for me was how it was told.  There is Pen in the present, talking to her psychologist and sharing snippets of her life (having moved back at home after the murders of her friends), the Pen of the past writing about her life in college, and the Pen of the past past, writing about her friend’s murdering of a police officer.  Then there’s the story Pen is telling her psychologist, which is different from her diary and which she admits isn’t the truth.  Confused?  I was.

Normally multiple threads don’t bother me and I like unreliable narrators.  I am used to books that hop between past and present or have more than one voice telling the story and I love having to find out the truth – it keeps you engaged as a reader.  Here though I didn’t know where I was in time and whether I was reading Pen’s diary or hearing her speak to her doctor.  Part of the reason was that there was no break in the chapters to let me know the voice had changed.  Text in italics or dates to head up the chapter would really have helped.  Instead, I kept backtracking to try and figure out where in time I was.

As soon as I start doing that I lose the connection to the book, it takes me out of the story, and that is what happened here.  I found that I really didn’t care, about Pen or what happened to her or her friends.  If I’m honest, even if it had been easier to follow, I may not have cared anywhere because I didn’t like any of them.  I really couldn’t find anything positive in their characters – they were all selfish and self-centred – or anyone to relate to.  I think I was supposed to feel sympathy for Pen and understand how her behaviour in college was impacted by the death of the policeman but it took so long to get to the “what happened” there that I couldn’t pull anything back.

For all that, it wasn’t all bad.  The first third wasn’t bad and I did find myself drawn in.  I did want to know what happened and did see myself enjoying the book.  However, as more secrets were revealed I just couldn’t keep up as I said and so my enjoyment turned to frustration, partly because I feel like there is a good story in here – I just couldn’t find it.  A bit of a shame but it happens and does mean that this one wasn’t for me – sorry!

Emma

not-for-me

Source: Library
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 25th August, 2016 (first published 1st March, 2016)
Pages: 400
Format: ebook (Kindle)
Genre: mystery, thriller
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads