Book Review: A Place for Us by Harriet Evans

A Place for Us is a four part saga. Part 1 and 4, I got as a review copy from NetGalley in return for an unbiased review. Part 2 and 3, I just couldn’t resist buying from Amazon. Instead of posting separate reviews, I’ve decided to consolidate the four reviews into one post. Yes, lazy me. Also busy me.

Part 1
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This book came pre-approved for me from Netgalley. I had no expectations from the book, never having read the author.

The day Martha Winter decided to tear apart her family began like any other day.

Martha Winters is having a party. She has invited her whole family, which is spread out across the world and the invitations she sent has made most of them nervous. Each of them seem to know that something is up, and they even seem to know what Martha is about to announce, but we as the readers are clueless. The story goes on through each family member’s view point. Each of them have a story, each of them have something to hide or something to protect. Sometimes in the present, sometimes jumping back to the past. Conflicts, differences, disagreements,disatisfactions that have seemed to have lingered on for years. As it reached the end, I realized why it was called ‘Part 1’. The author left it at a stage where I was gasping for more. I so wanted to read the next part!

It was interesting, sometimes a bit confusing, as there are loads of characters. I have had to go back and re-read parts of the book, but I enjoy such books. Books that ramble, and still make me yearn for more.

A 4/5 read.

Part 2

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I had received the first part of this series as a review copy from NetGalley and had thoroughly enjoyed it. When I found part 2 on Amazon, I just had to order it.

I was a tiny bit worried that I might have to go back to part 1 to refresh my memory, but as I started to read, everything just fell into place. Martha Winters has asked her entire family to come back to Winterfold, for her birthday. Everyone seems to know that there is something Martha wants to share. Each of the family have their own baggage with them. Some with scars from their past, some with new issues and problems. What will Martha’s announcement do to them? You will have to read to find out.

All I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the way the author has created her characters, each with very distinct personalities, each character stands out. Whether you relate or empathize with them or not, despite a vast array of characters in the story, each of them are memorable.

A 4/5 read for me.

Part 3
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I got approved for this book at NetGalley, but by the time I ended up picking it up, it had got archived. Now after reading the first and second parts, I couldn’t stay away from part three. Amazon, thankfully came to the rescue.

Martha’s secret is out at the end of the second book. This part mainly deals with the aftermath. The way each of the family deals with the information in front of them. It affects them all in some way. Some more than the others. Martha’s revelation leaves nobody untouched.

A slower paced, and slightly bleaker read. It’s painful to see what each of them go through. The flash backs to the past reveal the story in just about enough detail to make us want to read on.

Still interesting, and gripping, just not as much as the first two parts. It still made me go straight on to the final part of the story. One thing I was happy about was that I managed to read the last three parts back to back. It made it much more engrossing, and knowing that I would soon (instead of having to wait for the release of the next part) know the whole story was nice.

A 3/5 read for me.

Part 4 – The Final Part
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The concluding part of the four part saga ‘A Place for Us’, picks up from where it left off at the end of part 3.

Martha’s family has scattered once again, some driven away by the secrets that have been disclosed, some by the power of their own pasts. It is once again up to her to bring them all back, to the place which they all can call their own.

A touching end to the tale, and a fitting one as well. The only reason for me to rate it a 3 is because it was very predictable. I did however love the epilogue. It was such a perfect end, and yet very different from what we would normally expect from an epilogue.

On a general note, I really liked the covers. I’m not sure what exactly appealed to me, but I felt they brought out the essence of the book, the place called home. I hadn’t read the author before but would definitely look out for her books. She weaves a tale beautifully. A 3.5/5 read on the whole, if you consider the 4 parts together.

Book Review: The Temple is Not My Father by Rasana Atreya

Most of the books I’ve loved in recent times have been recommended by friends. This one was recommended by IHM.

Luckily for me, I found it in the Kindle store immediately, but getting to read it, took longer as I had so many books piled up to read. I finally read it, loved it, drafted a review but it took a FB group to remind me that I still hadn’t posted it. The last few weeks have been busy. At work and home and the last thing I have energy for is to write a blog post. I’m so knackered that all I want to do is head to bed. And that’s what I end up doing, most days.

So. Back to the book.

‘The Temple is Not My Father’ is a short novella based on the system of Devadasis in Southern India. Devadasi literally translates into ‘Servant of God’, and girls used to be dedicated to the worship and service of deities in temples. This used to be a position of privilege and most of these girls went on to become accomplished dancers. The system continued until the British outlawed the kings and kingdoms in India, leading to the temples losing the patronage of the kings, and consequently their biggest source of income. This ended up in devadasis getting forced into prostitution. This is the story of Godavari and her daughter Sreeja. Godavari was tricked into becoming a devadasi by her own father. It is a heart-wrenching story of a woman, caught in circumstances out of her control, treated like vermin by the same society that forced her into the situation she was in. All she wants is for her daughter to have a good life, a life as far removed as possible from her own.

The author does an amazing job with the story. In a short, simple story, she packs in so much. So many emotions, so many motives and people of all sorts. The ruthless father, the determination of two mothers, Godavari and her own mother, the callousness and hypocrisy of society and also the open-mindedness which sometimes comes with innocence. Beautiful characterisation, beautifully articulated situations, which call out to the reader. And the last line of the book, that was one killer line. One that will stay with me forever. It is a book I will re-read, even though I know it will make me cry, all over again.

A beautiful book, an absolute must-read, in my opinion. And for me, an author, I will be following. A 5/5 from me.

About the Author
Rasana is the author of Amazon bestseller ‘Tell A Thousand Lies’, which was also shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia award. UK’s Glam magazine calls this novel one of their five favourite tales from India (June 2014).

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Dance of the Spirits by Catherine Aerie

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Another book tour by Sage. I have to be honest, this book took a little time before it could capture my interest at all. There was a point where I was wondering if I should email Sage and let her know that I wouldn’t be able to review it. Thankfully, the story did pick up and I did get through the book.

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Jasmine Young is a Chinese woman, part of the Korean War, one of the few to have volunteered into it, unlike most others. Born into a rich and privileged family, Jasmine had the best of education and had not known the lack of anything until her mother died and changed everything for her and her family.

Personal circumstances weren’t the only things that changed for Jasmine. Soon the political climate changed too and circumstances landed her right into the war. Jasmine had just completed her medical training and her first opportunity to work as a doctor is in the war. The book is the touching story of Jasmine as she lives through the horrible war, when people lose love, belongings, and most of all dignity and liberty.

The book is interesting in parts, but in some sections I found it hard to keep reading. Especially the descriptions of war. I suppose it must just be me. All the descriptions of bloodshed and wounded people was a bit too much for me. However given that the book revolves around a medic in a war, it makes sense. I did feel that the author tends to be over descriptive. I love descriptions normally, of the sort that transport you into the places which they talk about, in this book however, it was a struggle. I struggled to read them through.

The snippets of history that the author provides gives a nice context to what is happening in the book. Given that I was completely ignorant about the political situation surrounding the war, it made sense. The class hierarchy and the huge class divide in China that helped in welcoming a Communist wave is brought out very well. I also enjoyed Jasmine’s childhood and the account of her life before the war. It gave us an insight into Jasmine as a person.

Some books are not for you, unfortunately. This was one of those. A book that might well appeal to others, but a book that I struggled to read. A 2.5/5 for me.

I got this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

About the Author

Catherine Aerie, a graduate from the University of California, Irvine with a master degree in finance. She was inspired to write ‘The Dance of Spirits’ while researching a family member’s role in the Korean War, deciding to revive an often overlooked setting in fiction and heighten the universality go love and liberty. Her debut novel was completed after about two years of research.

This book is available from Amazon.

Book Review: Our Orbit by Anesa Miller

image I get to be the host at Sage’s Blog Tours again. This time with Anesa Miller’s book, Our Orbit. Sage sent me this book in exchange of a honest and fair review. image image Nine year old Miriam Winslow has had enough trouble to last a lifetime. If losing her mother wasn’t enough, within months of her mother’s death, her father, Levi, gets thrown into prison for being a tax protester. Miriam and her siblings get separated as each of them have had different arrangements put in place by the authorities. Mirium, the youngest get Rick and Deanne Fletcher as her foster parents. Rick and Deanne wholeheartedly welcome Miriam into their family. Miriam is different from them though. She had been brought up in a different way, no new clothes, no luxuries, extremely ostentatious ways of showing remorse in church. Her father believed in all this, and her mother had gone along with it. Her older brother Issac lived with his wife, away and wasn’t all that affected but her other brother Josh was as fanatic as her father. Rachelle her sister, rebelled and went the other way, landed in juvenile prison.

As all this came to fore, Rick and Deanne struggle but continue to do the right thing for their new foster daughter. Miriam has her own struggles too, having come to live in a family that is strongly secular, where children don’t live in fear that their actions could cause harm to the rest of the family, and a house full of nice beautiful things. For Miriam, it’s a life far far different from the one she left, and one she isn’t sure she ought to be living in, any way, given that she has learned that luxuries of this kind are not right, all her life. Josh, her brother’s strong views do not help at all. Neither does her unbelieving sister’s actions.

A touching story of how two families with conflicting ways of life and beliefs are thrown together by tragedy. A well crafted book, with small insightful incidents, showing how each family and each person responded to things.

All the characters were well-rounded, people who you could understand, even if you didn’t agree with their motivations. Relationships between them explored beautifully, be it Miriam’s relationship with her foster parents Rachelle’s with their aunt and cousin, the siblings themselves or Josh and his girlfriend. The flow of writing was perfect. The book progressed at a very good pace, not too slow, not too fast,perfect for the kind of topic it addresses. I liked the way it ended as well, with just enough for the reader to ponder over.

What I liked most about the book is the way it handled and explored the hypocrisy that comes with blind faith. Of how easily wrongs can be justified for, just because it’s part of our faith. The risk that blind faith or blind belief in anything entails. The book also makes you think about the role of poverty in the way people react to religion. The author tackles the subject with sensitivity and compassion, with an understanding of why people behave the way they do in these circumstances, rather than just being judgmental, which I think makes the book a pleasure to read.

A book that I’m so glad I got to read, a 4.5/5 rating from me.

About the Author

Anesa Miller is a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and has been awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship in Creative Writing from the Ohio Arts Council in 1998. Her poems and prose have been published in The Kenyon Review, The Cream City Review, The California Quarterly, Spoon River Poetry Review, and many others. She now devotes herself to writing full-time. More about her here.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Wrong, For the Right Reasons by Ritu Lalit

I’ve read Ritu Lalit before, and have enjoyed her writing, although all her books I’ve read so far have been of the fantasy genre. ‘Wrong, for the Right Reasons’, sounded very interesting, and luckily for me, the Kindle edition was available on Amazon(UK).

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Shyamoli Verna, a regular young woman, has gone back to her parents’ house. Which wouldn’t have been such a bad thing, had she not had two children in tow, and a broken down marriage with her. Of course, from her mother’s point of view, she had done everything for her daughter, by getting her married. Once married, it was the daughter’s responsibility to stay married. Adjust. Compromise. After all her husband doesn’t ‘beat’ her. A little infidelity? Surely women could overlook that!

Undeterred by her mother’s (and society in general) attitude, Shyamoli sets out to make a life for her and her two children.

It’s a fascinating book, a window to what a divorcee goes through in Indian society, a place where a married woman has the sole responsibility of keeping her marriage intact. The double standards and obstacles that a single woman has to encounter. The style of writing is very engaging. It helps that Shyamoli is a regular woman, with the same insecurities and inhibitions that most of us have. She is an easy protagonist to identify with, to relate to, and to cheer on. You want to see her succeed.

I particularly liked the well-etched out characters. Shyamoli, initially who had lost her confidence, who got road rolled by her mothers, to the Shyamoli who slowly regains her confidence and flair. Her son, and her wonderfully spirited daughter, Ketaki. I really liked that name, Ketaki (although that had nothing to do with liking the actual book 🙂 )and absolutely loved the character of Ketaki. Spirited, exuberant, spunky! What a fun character she was! The various relationships well drawn out. The difficult relationship Shyamoli has with her mother, the complicated relationship she has with her daughter, the comfortable one with her son, they all felt so real, it could have been our neighbours, it could have been our relatives, it could have been us.

The Afghan element to the story was equally fascinating. I’m longing to find out from the author how she knows so much about the Afghan culture and language. To me, it added a unique and wonderful flavour to the book. A book I would easily rate a 4/5.

About the Author
Ritu Lalit, is an author of four books, A Bowlful of Butterflies, a coming of age story about three fast friends in school, HILAWI a fantasy thriller, and Chakra, Chronicles of the Witch Way, again a fantasy adventure, and Wrong, for the right reasons. Forthcoming murder mystery, My Father’s Mistress.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Archers Revenge by Destination Infinity

Destination Infinity is a blogger who I read. I don’t do much of blog hopping these days, but I still read the old timers blogs, albeit sporadically. So when DI asked me to review his book, I agreed. Although, I always worry about reviewing books of people I know. Because what do I say if I don’t enjoy the book? Do I just keep quiet and not mention anything. There was once this lady blogger I came across. She is a prolific blogger and has a few books to her credit. Now, I used to follow her blog, but her books weren’t as great. And she asked me outright how I found her books, which had me grasping for words, wondering how to put it politely..

So yes, where was I? Yes, DI sent me a copy of his book for an honest review, and me being as efficient as I am, took ages to get around to reading it. Apologies, DI, for the delay, and thank you so much for asking for an honest review, it’s so much easier when an author wants genuine feedback.

The Archer’s Revenge is the story of Aryan, a young man, Aryan, and his quest to revenge his father’s death. Aryan’s father’s death was camouflaged as a sudden cardiac death, until he got an anonymous tip that he was murdered at the behest of the Minister, Guru. Having known that, Aryan sets out planning his revenge and he plans to use archery to achieve his objective. He is single minded in his quest, and fate brings him a companion, Divya, another person with a similar story, and a common goal.

It is an interesting story, the plot, well thought out, and well executed. I enjoyed the twists and turns, and had a tiny, really tiny inkling that there was a twist in the offing, however, when it came, it was still a surprise. The plot, and the handling of it, was done well. The author has managed to build up his story and the backgrounds of each of the protagonists really well to explain the motives of the characters, right from Aryan to Guru, the minister. All this makes it a believable book, even if archery might still not be considered a method of choice for most people seeking revenge of this sort.

What I felt could have made it much better, is better editing. The title itself is a case in point. The language, the style of the book, could have been improved much more with proper professional editing, but for a first time author, I thought it was a good effort, with a very different storyline, nicely interspersed with local flavours, and culture.

A book that I would rate 3.5/5.

About the Author
Destination Infinity (Rajesh K) is a vetern Indian Blogger who has recently forayed into the world of writing (books as opposed to blogs).

Book Review: Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

This was one of TGND recoed books. She had recommended this book to me ages ago. I had downloaded it on my Kindle and somehow had completely forgotten about it. It remained at the bottom of my pile of books on my Kindle. Until a couple of weeks ago, when I was browsing through my to-reads on Goodreads and realized that I had forgotten about Nefertiti waiting to be read.

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The book is through the eyes of Mutnodjmet, Nefertiti’s step sister. Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet belong to one of the most powerful families of Egypt. The family that has provided the queens of Egypt. Their aunt Tiye is the current queen of Egypt and she is on the look out for a wife for her son. Her son Amunhotep, is a wilful prince. They need a wife to rein him in, and change his rather different views, especially his religious views. The prince is very different from his father, and will go to any extent to prove it. The queen wants to choose a wife for him who will do what she wants and change Amunhotep’s views and ideas. Nefertiti’s father convinces his sister, Queen Tiye, that Nefertiti is the perfect person to reign in and control Amunhotep. The fact that Nefertiti is stunningly beautiful and charismatic helps.

Soon Nefertiti is married to Amunhotep and Mutnodjmet and her parents move to Thebes. Nefertiti’s family quickly realise that charismatic as she was, Nefertiti was quite unlikely to do anything to anger her husband. Instead of controlling the prince, she encourages him, as she would do anything to prevent him from making his older wife, the ‘Chief Wife’. Wrought by worry and knowing that the only way, she can survive is by not doing anything to earn the pharaoh’s anger or displeasure, Nefertiti does things that change life not just for her, but also for the rest of her country.

Encouraged by her support Amunhotep turns against the ancient gods and the powerful priests of temples and sets up a new god, Aten, for Egypt to worship. While Amunhotep’s seemingly boundless generosity did make the people happy, it was at the cost of other important things like keeping Egypt’s borders safe. And the Pharaoh and his Chief wife had made plenty of enemies who were just waiting for a chance to strike. The glamour and power of her life has made Nefertiti blind to the obvious. In Nefertiti’s circle, there was just one person who was honest and yet loyal to her – Mutnodjmet.

The book is chronicled through Mutnodjmet’s eyes. It is not just the story of Nefertiti and her life, but also the story of Egypt as well as Mudnodjmet. Full of intrigue and the games that the powerful play, it is an interesting take on what must have been royal life in those days. The role of religion and how integral a part it was, of life in those times. A tale that brings a queen from long ago, alive for us. A fascinating book I would definitely recommend, if you like historical fiction. As usual, it made me browse the net in an effort to learn a little more about those times, and found out that my daughter knew more about Ancient Egypt than I did! Anyway. A 4/5 from me.

About the Author

Michelle Moran is a native of southern California. She attended Pomona College, then earned a Masters Degree from the Claremont Graduate University. During her six years as a public high school teacher, Michelle used her summers to travel around the world, and it was her experiences as a volunteer on archaeological digs that inspired her to write historical fiction.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank

Another book I downloaded just because it was a free Kindle book. This is becoming a habit. A Rosie Gardner Mystery, it said. When I started reading, it didn’t feel like a mystery at all.

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Rose Gardner, lives in the little town of Henryetta, where nothing much ever happens and everybody knows everybody else. Rose isn’t having the best of days, her mother is annoyed with her, which isn’t a surprise. After all her momma is always annoyed with her. She storms out of her house, angry and a little surprised at herself for having stood up to her mother. Rose works at the DMV and her already sad day gets sadder when she sees a vision. Rose has a gift of visions, she sees all sorts of visions, and tends to end up annoying people by her visions, but this time, for the first time, it was a vision of herself. She sees herself dead on the sofa at home.

Rose doesn’t know what to make of it, but she decides to do something interesting with her life if it is going to end soon. She lists down twenty eight wishes that she wants to do before she dies. She realised that she has spent twenty four years of her life living her life the way her mother expected her to, she now wants to live life on her terms.

She reaches home armed with the wishes and her new found resolution, only to find her mother murdered, exactly in the way she had seen herself dead in her vision.

Not just that, she finds herself in the middle of a most murky mystery while being the suspect for her own mother’s murder. As she goes about getting herself exonerated and finding the real criminal, she finds that she has an unlikely ally, Joe McAllister, their new neighbour, of whom her mother had harboured suspicions of the worst kind, just because he wasn’t from Henryetta. He also seems very interested in helping her realize her wishes, while helping her out of sticky circumstances.

An interesting read. It had very fascinating, colourful characters and a mystery woven into everyday life which made it more than just a mystery. It felt like a very interesting read, the metamorphosis of Rose into what she becomes finally is most interesting. Rose’s relationship with her mother and her sister Violet form an interesting read as well. Rose herself is a quirky character, who seems to find trouble wherever she goes.

A book which turned out to be unexpectedly interesting. A nice one time read, a cozy book which I could curl up with. A 4/5 read for me.

About the Author

Denise Grover Swank is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She writes urban fantasies without vampires and werewolves, romantic comedy mysteries set in the south, and sexy new adult contemporary romances. Denise has six children, three dogs, and an overactive imagination. She can be found dancing in her kitchen with her children, reading or writing her next book.

This book is available for free on Kindle on Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald

I’ve read Helen Fitzgerald before and have really enjoyed her style of writing. This was another Kindle read. I’ve started to use my Kindle a lot these days. Amazon Daily Deals seem to have a lot to do with my Kindle collection, I have to say.
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Joanna is experiencing a parent’s worst nightmare. You know how when babies cry non stop and all you want to do is somehow make them stop. The only thing you want is to not hear them cry. What if that happens. And you realize to your absolute horror that the silence is permanent. And even worse that you might have done something to bring that about.

Joanna and Alistair are a couple traveling to Australia with their nine weeks old son, Noah. Joanna is knackered handling Noah, through two long haul flights, while being ill herself with a ear infection. All she wants is some calm and may be a few winks. Noah seems to have other ideas and keeps her awake , tired and totally frazzled through the long, seemingly never ending trip.

In Australia, an alert goes out for a missing baby, Noah. Joanna finally has quiet time that she yearned for but not quite what she asked for. For it is quiet but peace, that’s quite another story.

Joanna and Alistair, rally around each other,initially while living through their nightmare. Joanna, alone, in a new country has to deal with accusations, lies, truths and reality that she had ignored so far. As days go by, Joanna is faced by a reality that refuses to go away. With all the pressure and emotional turmoil that she faces, she is edging close to losing her sanity. Her choices, her decisions come to haunt her, and she knows that only she can bring the situation to an end.

A wonderfully written book. A book which you think is all cut and dried but reveals new surprises all through.

The book also captures modern day dynamics, what with social media and press adding to the pressure that people go through in situations like this, when it gets so easy to spread rumours or even suss out the truth, whatever the case might be. The characters are well written, you feel for them, you experience their pain, and despair with them.

All in all, a book that I am glad I picked up, and would definitely recommend. A 4/5 from me.

About the Author
Helen FitzGerald is the second youngest of thirteen children. She grew up in the small town of Kilmore, Victoria, Australia, and studied English and History at the University of Melbourne. Via India and London, Helen came to Glasgow University where she completed a Diploma and Masters in Social Work. She works part time as a criminal justice social worker in Glasgow. She’s married to screenwriter Sergio Casci, and they have two children.

This book is available on Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Stolen by Rebecca Muddiman

It was a book that I downloaded on my Kindle just because it was marked down. And it lay there. Forgotten. Stored away in my Kindle for rainy days when I have no real books to read.

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Abby Renshaw and her baby are on their way to visit a friend who lives in the country side, when she is forced off the road, out of her car and badly assaulted. All through the horrendous experience, Abby is only concerned about her baby who was left alone in the car while the men assaulted her. When she finally manages to get to her car, she finds Beth missing. Her little baby had disappeared into thin air.

The case falls to DI Michael Gardner to investigate. As he digs deeper into the mystery, he discovers dark secrets and betrayals, some of which he himself has first hand experience of himself. But no sign of Beth.

Years pass, he is no closer to finding Beth, and then he finds himself handed another case of a missing child, which brings back focus into this case which he could never solve. Just then some clues surface, but can Gardner go off on what might be a wild goose chase, so many years after this incident? He also has his reputation to stake, and that might get further tarnished if he is unable to solve the current case he was supposed to solve. He is already known as the cop who couldn’t solve his cases. But Abby Renshaw is a hard woman to refuse.

Despite the fact that police got nowhere in their search for her daughter, Abby hasn’t given up. She has been searching for her daughter constantly. Her life revolves around Beth, or rather trying to find Beth. Her marriage has since broken down, and all she really wants is to find her little girl. She keeps seeing girls who looked like Beth, much to Gardner’s exasperation. Could her instincts finally be right? Are they closer to finding Beth, finally?

A very well written, psychological thriller, that keeps you at the end of your seat. Fast paced and an absolute page-turner, it had my engrossed. The author keeps the suspense going until the very end. The reveal at the end was even shocking and totally unexpected, at least for me. The characters are well thought out, you relate to them, feel their pain, go through their emotions. I was surprised to read that this was the author’s debut book, I know I would definitely be looking out for more.

A book that I would definitely recommend if you like thrillers. It was one of the best I’ve read in recent times. 4/5.

About the Author
Rebecca was born and raised in Redcar where she still lives. She has a degree in Film and Media and an MA in Creative Writing. She has lived and worked in Holland and London, and travelled across America on a Greyhound bus in 2002. She won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2010.

This book is available on