Posted in Reviews

Review: For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

For Better and WorseFor Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am fast becoming a super-fan of Margot Hunt, especially now that I’ve read this sophomore effort and loved it. Hunt is able to ratchet up the suspense to a full 10 and keep the pace going until the end of the book.

In this book, Natalie and Will, successful lawyers whose personal life feels a little stale, discover a horrifying secret after their son’s school principal is arrested. Then Natalie makes a decision she can’t take back and finds her and her husband in quite a pickle. Can they work together to get out of this conundrum?

The description probably reads very vague, and that’s on purpose, because I don’t want to give away too much to begin with. Going in with a blank late is better, that way you can experience the intense emotions this book conjures in a real, raw way. And there are some very, sensitive aspects of this book, to warn you.

This book is really a big “What would you do?” Scenario and it’s done in a way that is really suspenseful and doesn’t give you the full picture until the ending, which I loved. You’re not sure how everything’s going to turn out until the author wants you to figure it out – and you’re not sure how the characters are going to handle things either. That’s a big part of the book as the true nature of the characters is slowly revealed as the story goes on.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see what Margot Hunt comes up with next. I’ll definitely be reading it!

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Posted in Reviews

#BlogBlitz: Suspicion by Leigh Russell

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About the Book

Happily married to the charismatic headmaster of a prestigious boarding school, Louise thinks her life is perfect.

But after hearing that her husband is having an affair, Louise must decide how far she is prepared to go to save her marriage. Confident in her IT skills, Louise cyber bullies her rival.

When the police then become involved, Louise realises she has made a dangerous choice as first one woman, then another, is found murdered.

Realising she has taken on more than she intended, Louise has to make another choice, and this one could cost her not only her marriage, but also her life…

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My Review

5/5 Stars

This novel had the creepy atmosphere of the Stepford Wives, with Louise and her husband desperately trying to make everyone think their lives are perfect, coupled with the real-life scenario of finding out your spouse is cheating. What WOULD you do to salvage a life that you love?

Louise was an interesting character and I had no idea what she was going to do next. I felt bad for her and sympathized with her, but as you’ll see in the book, she makes some questionable decisions and ends up doubting her own sanity at points. It was so suspenseful and I had no idea where the truth lay for a bit.

The book really creates a great mystery coupled with the complex characters that keep you guessing. It only took me a couple days to read this one because I was so hooked on the premise and needed to find out what was going to happen next.

Highly recommended!

About the Author

3EA4A787-BE9C-4F6F-8AE8-BE4B3BC3CE87Leigh Russell, author of the internationally bestselling Geraldine Steel crime series, has sold well over a million books worldwide.

Her novels have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Turkish. Reaching #1 on Kindle, her books have been selected as Best Fiction Book of the Year by the Miami Examiner, voted Best Crime Fiction Book of the Year in Crime Time, a Top Read on Eurocrime and shortlisted for the John Creasey New Blood CWA Dagger Award, long listed for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award, and a finalist for the People’s Book Prize. 

Leigh studied at the University of Kent, gaining a Masters degree in English. She serves on the board of the Crime Writers Association, chairs the Debut Dagger Judges, and is a Royal Literary Fellow.

Links

  • Facebook: facebook.com/leigh.russell.50
  • Twitter: @LeighRussell
  • Website: leighrussell.co.uk

 

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Oath by Michael L. Lewis

The OathThe Oath by Michael L. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So for those of us not raised in the traditional British upper-class (therefore, uh, most of us) the idea of an all-male boarding school is caged in secrecy and brings up images of raucous boy behavior and hazing – and The Oath is like all of those nightmares brought to life in a suspenseful drama that makes readers wonder if they could survive the onslaught.

There’s three main characters who are “juniors” at a prestigious school in Northern England – Arthur, Ian and Jonathan. They soon find themselves the targets of a group of sadistic seniors, who put them through a series of torturous rituals. After one particularly gruesome event, the boys vow to avenge themselves, no matter what.

This particular school will give you chills as soon as you follow Jonathan and the others onto the train. It’s clear that they are at the bottom of the food chain and that those at the top are quite disturbed. I totally was cringing as they settled into the school and learned how things work. I was definitely sure I would have run for my life.

I found that I liked the trio and was really rooting for them. Especially after the episode that required them to make “the oath.” I was anxious to see if things were going to work out or if they would become victims of the school’s environment.

I have mixed emotions about the ending. I don’t want to say too much but I wish things had worked out a little more….judiciously. It seemed some people didn’t nessecarily get what they should have, so to speak.

But overall, this book was filled with suspense and really opened up a world that is pretty foreign to most of us. I enjoyed it very much and would read more from this author, definitely.

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Posted in Reviews

#BlogBlitz: The Feud by Amanda James

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About The Book

Matthew Trevelyar leaves his job in London to return to his Cornish roots in the village of St Agnes. After losing his wife to leukaemia, he wants to make a fresh start.

His new life is going well until Matt returns to his cottage to discover a grim warning on his doorstop. The message is clear – Leave now and go back to London.

Not wanting to give up his new life, Matt eventually discovers that there has been a 200-year-old feud between his family, the Trevelyars, and another local family, the Penhallows.

When Matt learns that one of his ancestors burned down a barn belonging to the Penhallows, and that a child died in the fire, he understands why his family name is mud. But why is Matt paying for the sins of his ancestors now? And is there more to the feud than meets the eye?

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My Review

4/5 – Very Suspenseful!

This book features a villain that could rival Cruella De Vil, and that main conundrum is whether she’ll be able to succeed in either driving Matt out or ruining his life – and she does not hold back!

I really enjoyed the really tense atmosphere James was able to create through this scenario and the book only took me a couple of days to read because I was so sucked in. I really sympathized with Matt, who was someone very relatable as a character trying something new and looking for a new start. There’s not a person in their 20s or 30s who doesn’t know that feeling!

I also liked Lavender and really felt for her. She was also relatable in that it was easy to get inside her head and see where she was coming from (I don’t want to say too much). She was failed by many people and that made her a really endearing character and it had me rooting for her and Matt.

The little twist at the end was also very awesome – did not see that coming!

Overall, i highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, suspenseful read set in a gorgeous location (BRB, planning my Cornish vacation now!)

About the Author

B604545E-6573-42AA-A503-CCF1DE25F8B4Amanda has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published, given that she left school with no real qualifications of note apart from an A* in how to be a nuisance in class. Nevertheless, she returned to education when her daughter was five and eventually became a history teacher. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true when her first short story was published. Amanda has written many short stories and has six novels currently published.

Amanda grew up in Sheffield but now has realised her lifelong dream of living in Cornwall and her writing is inspired every day by the dramatic coastline near her home. She has sketched out many stories in her head while walking the cliff paths. Three of her mystery/suspense novels are set there, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Summer in Tintagel and the Behind the Lie. Rip Current is also set in Cornwall and will be published by Bloodhound Books in April 2018.

Amanda, known to many as Mandy, spends far more time than is good for her on social media and has turned procrastination to a fine art. She can also usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

Links

Posted in Reviews

Review: Dead as a Doorknocker

Dead as a Door Knocker (House-Flipper Mystery #1)Dead as a Door Knocker by Diane Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’re looking for a cute cozy with a light mystery sprinkled on top, this is the book for you. It has a solid storyline with a dead body thrown in and a couple of twists that kept me guessing until the end.

Whitney is an aspiring real estate agent/mogul who is offered what she thinks is the deal of a lifetime – a great house in a nice neighborhood for well below market value that she and her cousin could update and flip easily. But as soon as the keys are in her hand, things start to go very wrong. When she and her cat, Sawdust, find a body buried in their flowerbed, she knows things are just going to keep getting worse until she can get some answers. And hopefully she can get them before the police put her in jail.

I want to start off by saying that I am not a cat person (#teamdog), but the chapters that show Sawdust’s point of view were cute. I really enjoyed them and they were creative. A++ for those.

I also liked the family storyline, with Whitney living in her parents’ pool house and working with her cousin. I don’t know it gave it a nice feel and made me want to be friends with them. I was kind of jealous that I don’t have a big family like that to lean back on when things get rough. It hit the perfect pitch.

The mystery was good too, not too intense, but with a couple of good twists ahead plenty of suspects to keep you guessing. I enjoyed Whitney’s sleuthing and thought the ending was put together well – nothing was too obvious and there were some good twists in there.

Overall, this is a sweet, light cozy mystery for anyone who likes the genre. Highly recommended.

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Posted in Author Q&As

Author Q&A: Bianca Sloane, “Tell Me a Lie”

2ECDAFB7-2005-42EA-B1B1-8BDCDBD14826This two-book (so far!) story has become one of my favorites, so I am so glad to get a chance to chat with author Bianca Sloane! Below, she talks about her super-compelling characters and what she’s working on next – sign me up!

As stated on my review, discussing this book involves spoilers for Live to Tell, the first book in the series. Please read/come back later accordingly.

Was it always your plan to “split” this story into two parts, or did the idea come as you were writing? 

BS: It was not my original intention to split the story in two. The idea to do so came during the writing process. When I was finishing up “Live to Tell,” I realized I really wanted to know Jillian’s side of the story. She was pretty insistent! So, I started a draft of “Tell Me a Lie. Butthen, I rewrote the second half of “Live to Tell” during the revision phase, so everything I’d written for “Tell Me a Lie” had to be scrapped. Even though it was a LOT of work, I think both books are much better for it.

How did you get into the new point-of-view for this second book?

BS: I’m one of those weird writers whose characters talk to them, so getting into Jillian’s head wasn’t that difficult. Sometimes, I might have a particular actor/actress in mind for the purposes of what a character sounds or looks like. In developing Jillian, I drew inspiration from the“Hitchcock Blonde, the so-called icy blondes Hitchcock was famous for casting in his movies, such as Grace Kelly and Kim Novak, their characters recognized as being beautiful, sophisticated, cool, and cunning.

The narrator of this book, Jillian, is a cold-blooded murderer, but I found myself feeling sympathetic for her at points. Why was it important to show her various sides? Do you see Jillian as a tragic character or pure evil?

BS: To paraphrase Stephen King, even murderers will help the little old lady across the street.

I always want my characters to feel like walking, talking, breathing people. I think by and large, no one is ever one thing. We all have the capacity to be sweet or snarky with lots of shades of gray in between and I always try to show that with my characters. I don’t think of Jillian as evil or tragic (I think what happens to her in the end is a tragedy, even though it is of her own making), but rather someone who is misguided. She does all the wrong things, but in her mind, she does them for all the right reasons.  

Will we be seeing any of these characters again? Maybe Charlotte or Chase? 

BS: I’ve had a “maybe” story swirling around in my head for a little while involving Chase and his brother, Gabe (with an appearance by Charlotte 😊). It’s a really big blob, so I’d need to spend some time exploring whether the idea has any legs. In other words, anything is possible!

What are you working on next?

BS: I’m finishing up edits on my next book to get it ready for copyediting. I’m still mulling over the title, but it centers around one of my greatest fears – home invasions. I’m also in the midst of the first draft for the book after that. All I can say about that one is, never underestimate the viciousness of teenage girls.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

BS: Read and write. Read widely within the genre you want to write in, read books outside your genre. Reading a variety of stories is a great way to stretch and learn more about story structure, character development, dialogue, cliffhangers, themes, plots, and so much more.

I also can’t stress enough that craft books should be at the top of your pile. In addition to “On Writing,” by Stephen King, which should be required reading, I highly recommend anything by James Scott Bell. Also, “Screenwriting Tricks for Authors” by Alexandra Sokoloff is just a goldmine of information.

It goes without saying that if you want to be a writer, you have to write. It’s just that simple.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Tell Me a Lie by Bianca Sloane

Tune in tomorrow for an exclusive Q&A with Author Bianca Sloane!

Tell Me A Lie (Live To Tell #2)Tell Me A Lie by Bianca Sloane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This book was quite a thrill ride, right from the start, just like its predecessor. A note about that before we get started: There is no way to talk about the plot of this book without giving spoilers for the previous book, Live to Tell. As such, I highly recommend that if you haven’t read that book or are a “purist” who wants no spoilers at all, please go, read the book(s) and come back – you won’t be gone long, because you will sail through these fast-paced thrillers.

Som with that warning, I begin.

Tell Me a Lie begins right where Live to Tell left off: Jillian has just shot her philandering husband Charles, who was just arrested for his mistress’ murder. Now, Jillian must try to find a way to defeat Charles once and for all by avoiding punishment for his murder. But with the police and Charles’ family on her tail, can Jillian outsmart everyone and tell the ultimate lie? Or is she doomed to live in her husband’s shadow forever?

This book was great at just ramping up the drama and suspense from the first pages. While it’s not a question of “whodunnit,” it’s such a wild ride, waiting to see if Jillian will indeed be able to get away with murder. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

What I like about both of these books is that the author does such a good job of really fleshing out the characters and making them realistic and even sympathetic. At some parts, I felt bad for Jillian, who was really a cold-blooded murderer. I was excited to see if she could get away with it all.

Like its predecessor, I highly recommend this book to fans of drama and suspense, or anyone looking for an exciting read. But be warned, you won’t be doing a lot other than reading for a few days!

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