Book Review: The Girl You Lost by Kathryn Croft

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Simone Porter and her husband Matt lead a normal busy life as a journalist and a doctor today, but eighteen years ago, fate had dealt them a cruel blow, the pain of which they still felt.

Eighteen years ago, their six month old daughter, Helena, was stolen from the park. Simone, a teenager herself and Matt a medical student had been exhausted and Matt’s other had come to help them out by taking Helena to the park, when she gets stolen. All efforts at tracing Helena came to no good and slowly Simone and Matt rebuilt their lives, but the grief remained with them.

So, eighteen years since then, Simone gets approached by a young woman who claims that she was Helena, Simone is completely thrown off balance. Simone and Matt don’t know what to think but before they can progress further, even ascertain if the young woman was indeed, their daughter, Helena or Grace as she is called, disappears, again. For the second time in their lives Simone and Matt are plunged into the same feelings of loss and helplessness.

Simone needs to know what happened. She can’t just let her daughter, if it was her daughter, disappear a second time. Refusing to be a silent spectator, Simone follows leads, hunts down information as best as she could. As she investigates, what emerges is beyond what she could have ever imagined.

An absolutely gripping, nail-biting psychological thriller. Keeps you guessing till the very end. I wish I could say more, but that would totally spoil it for you. Do read this if you like psychological thrillers, which keep you at the very edge of your seat.

My Rating: 4/5

Thank you NetGalley and Bookoutre for the review copy of this book.

About the Author
Kathryn Croft is the bestselling author of The Girl With No Past, which spent over four weeks at number one in the Amazon chart. Her first two novels, Behind Closed Doors and The Stranger Within, reached number one in the psychological thriller charts.

Her fourth novel, The Girl You Lost, will be published on 5th February 2016, and is now available for preorder on Amazon. 

After six years teaching secondary school English, Kathryn now writes full time and has a publishing deal with Bookouture. 

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Book Review: Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell

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I came across Caroline Mitchell’s writing when I picked up her first book, ‘Don’t Turn Around’, which I absolutely loved, so when I saw this book on Netgalley, I had to request it.

Detective Jennifer Knight is on the trail of a serial killer who calls himself Raven. Raven is no run-of-the-mill serial killer, he is guided by dark forces, a tarot card reader and there is a method in his madness which is spine chilling. Jennifer is not just a detective, she has some special psychic powers herself. As the investigation progresses, Jennifer knows that Raven has a target and it is her. Jen has to use all of her powers to protect herself and her family.

The second in the Jennifer Knight series, this book does not disapppoint. Another un-put-downable book from Caroline Mitchell. The author keeps the narrative fast and full of suspense. To be honest, I kind of figured it out towards the end, but even that did not detract from the book. A thriller, through and through.

I’m not a big fan of paranomal themed books, however, Caroline weaves in the paranormal element so well, that I love them. She builds up the atmosphere of the unknown, the terror and the ruthlessness so very well, I almost don’t want the book to end, even though I’m desperate to know how it all turns out. I have also enjoyed the characters. Jen in particluar is a protagonist, who I end up rootimg for. I know for a fact that I will be looking forward to picking up the next in the series.

Rating: 4/5

About the Author

Caroline Mitchell is the author of Amazon best selling true story ‘Paranormal Intruder’, and her recent debut crime novel ‘Don’t Turn Around’.

Originally from Ireland, she now lives with her husband, four children and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex.

Book Review: Under Dark Skies by A. J. Scudiere

I was offered this book for review in January, but it somehow completely slipped under my radar until I got chased for a review. And I felt horrible because I hadn’t even read it, leave alone review it. So it went on my list of ‘to-read high priority’ books.

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Agent Eleri Eames had been recuperating in a hospital when she is pulled into a case by the FBI. Given her history, she had not expected to be working with the FBI at all, leave alone so soon, against medical advise. She is partnered with Donovan Heath, a newcomer into the FBI. Donovan had been a medical examiner all through his career -and had been head-hunted to join the FBI.

Tasked with the job of hunting down a missing child, the daughter of a prominent FBI agent, who they believe was kidnapped by a cult. Eleri and Donovan are thrown together to grapple about in the murky waters. As they investigate they realise that they both realise that they have secrets to hide themselves. Secrets so explosive that they could destroy them or help them succeed. Will that success come at a high cost to themselves? I wish I could say more, but that would just spoil the suspense for those of you who haven’t read it yet.

A book that has a very interesting mixture of crime, paranormal elements and characters which made things seem plausible. I liked the way the author brings out the way cults operate and how people are brainwashed into thinking what the cult leaders believe. I also liked the way the author has differentiated between cults, not all cults after all, are evil, some just happen to believe in a different style of living.

A 3/5 book for me. It is just another FBI crime thriller, with some elements that set it aside and make it memorable. It is also well worth the read for the different elements that the author weaves together, very effectively. It is not exactly the genre that I enjoy, but it was still quite interesting. I am tempted to check out the next in the series, when it does come out.

About the Author
It’s AJ’s world. A strange place where patterns jump out and catch the eye, very little is missed, and most of it can be recalled with a deep breath. It’s different from the world the rest of us inhabit, but anyone can see it – when we read. In this world, the smell of Florida takes three weeks to fully leave the senses and the air in Dallas is so thick that the planes “sink” to the runways rather than actually landing.

For AJ, texture reigns supreme. Whether it’s air or blood or virus, it can be felt and smelled. School is a privilege and two science degrees (a BA and MS) mean less than the prize of knowledge. Teaching is something done for fun (and the illusion of a regular paycheck) and is rewarding at all levels, grade school through college. AJ is no stranger to awards and national recognition for outstanding work as a teacher, trainer and curriculum writer.

AJ has lived in Florida and Los Angeles among a handful of other places. Recent whims have brought the dark writer to Tennessee, where home is a deceptively normal looking neighborhood just outside Nashville.

Book Review: Secrets of the Tower by Debbie Rix

I got offered a chance to review this book, and given that it was historical fiction, I grabbed it.

I still find it difficult to believe that there was a time when I used to find history boring. I couldn’t stand it, while in school. It took Philippa Gregory’s books to make a convert of me.

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Two women, centuries apart, bound together by the secrets of one of the most iconic buildings ever created.

Pisa, 1999
Sam Campbell sits by her husband’s hospital bed. Far from home and her children, she must care for Michael who is recovering from a stroke. A man she loves deeply. A man who has been unfaithful to her.

Alone and in need of distraction, Sam decides to pick up Michael’s research into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Immersing herself in the ancient city, she begins to piece together the mystery behind the creation of the tower, and discovers the woman who history forgot…

Pisa, 1171
Berta di Bernardo, the wife of a rich merchant, sits in her chamber, dressing for a dinner party. A gathering that will change the course of her life and a young master mason, Gerardo, forever.

A strong, intelligent woman, Berta’s passion for architecture also draws her closer to Gerardo. As she embarks on a love affair, her maid Aurelia also becomes spellbound by the same man. Yet for Berta, her heart’s desire is to see the Tower built, and her determination knows no bounds…

The author has done an interesting take on the mysteries surrounding the Leaning Tower of Pisa, while interweaving it with the life of a modern woman in 1999. Pisa in the 12th Century comes alive in Rix’s words. The details of everyday life at that time is beautifully narrated. You are transported into Berta’s life and city and then just as quickly, you are back in modern-day Pisa as Sam goes about with her day, trying hard to find out more about the elusive architect that designed the monument. The one thing in common in both times being the turmoil of human emotions. The emotions that could change the tide of our lives, our motivator in so many ways.

A well researched, well written book about two strong women characters. I especially love reading about strong women in history, especially when the society didn’t allow for it. Berta was one such character. I particularly like the fact that she wasn’t a black and white character. She was admirable, strong and also quite annoying in some ways, or just real, in other words. Sam was a character I could identify with.

If I have a complaint about this book, it would be that some ‘complications’ were resolved a bit too easily.

A 3.5/5 read for me. One that I would recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction.

Thank you Bookouture for the review copy of this book.


About the Author

began her career at the BBC where she was a presenter on BBC’s Breakfast Time before moving to present a variety of factual programmes. She is now a Communications Consultant, specialising in the charitable sector.

 

Secrets of the Tower is inspired by Debbie’s own story: her husband, a television producer, had a stroke whilst making a film for Channel 4 about the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the 1990s. The novel also reflects her love of architecture – an interest which is hard-wired into her DNA as both her parents were architects. Many of the historical characters featured are based on real people.

This book is available from Amazon (UK).

Book Review: The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

I came across this book on Cleo’s blog. Her review intrigued me enough to get hold of this book.

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for the review copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. image

A box addressed to Captain Edgar Stephens is found in the Left luggage section of the Brighton Railway Station. It contained a body of a girl cut in three, reminiscent in an extremely gruesome way of a magic trick Edgar had once known.

Edgar had been part of a secret mission during the War called the ‘Magic Men’, one of whom, Max Mephisto was the creator of this trick. Edgar was still in touch with his old friend Max, who had gone back to his life in the show business. All his efforts to involve Max to help solve the case falls in deaf ears, as Max didn’t want to get entangled in the world of uniforms, until Max discovers the identity of the girl who died.

Another murder follows and it becomes very clear that the murders are definitely connected to the Magic Men, and Edgar and Max have very little time to find out who is behind this. The plot gets more and more intriguing as the mystery deepens, murders pile up and we follow Edgar and Max into their past, to the time when the Magic Men were active. The time when they had been tasked to trick the Germans into believing that the Allies had more resources and better protected than they actually were, using illusions and magic. All the Magic Men had to be tracked down if they had to get to the bottom of the case.

We follow Edgar and Max as they track down their motley crew of show men and army folk who came together in a secret mission. The most unlikely of people to be part of a team, but which of them were the reason for these murders, if not actually responsible for them?

An interesting murder mystery, an old fashioned one, set in 1950s, with lots of reference to the War times, it was a charming read, which can’t often be said of a murder mystery. The characters were so well drafted. You can’t help love Edgar Stephens. Max, the world-weary, hardened magician was charming in his own way. Each of the characters had depth and nuances that added to the story.

A fast-paced read, with the final unexpected twist that takes you by surprise. I haven’t read Griffiths before, and this was a really good introduction to her writing. I haven’t read this genre in a while and was fun to revisit. I am now tempted to check out other books by the author.

The author meant this book to be a tribute to her grandfather, and I have to say, it is a great one. She has brought out the flavour of those times so beautifully, you can’t help be transported to the post war Britain.

A 4/5 read for me. A book I would definitely recommend.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

I’ve been only reading on the Kindle these days thanks to a combination of not having any time for a library run and managing to get hold of some interesting e-books. I had never thought I would go for so long without picking up a real book. Well, never say never seems to be the theme around here, these days. I did manage to go to the library this week, finally, but it was a quick 10 minute stop, so have had to grab what I found. This is another Netgalley book that I got approved for. Have I said how thankful I am for having discovered Netgalley?

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Katie has just got engaged a wonderful man, Dan. A man who everyone thinks is perfect for her. All her friends and family are delighted, but something is nagging at Katie.

Katie’s husband, Patrick, had died over 10 years ago. She had been mourning for him since then. Her family had been worried that she isn’t letting go and moving on until she got engaged to Dan. Something however isn’t quite right.

Katie starts having vivid dreams about Patrick. She gets transported into a different world where Patrick is still alive and they have a daughter. A life that she doesn’t want to leave. A life that she yearns for. The life she should have had. The life where the love of her life doesn’t die. The life where things are the way she wants them to be. The dreams leave Katie confused and purposeful at the same time. Convinced that Patrick is sending her messages, Katie follows her heart to go on the most unexpected and yet the most fulfilling journey possible. Katie discovers a world unknown to her, people who she gets involved with who move her in ways that she never imagined.

A book that had me in tears, which had me wanting to flip to the end just because I so wanted to know how it all ends up. A heart-wrenching tale that has your heart go out to Katie. A beautiful read. One that I would go for, armed with tissues.

The book also deals with the a lot of difficult topics like living with the loss of a loved one, the life of a hard of hearing person and foster care of children. All these have been handled so sensitively and beautifully. I love books like these which open up a perspective which I had never come across before. A beautiful book. The first I’ve read of this author, but having read this one, I’m sure it won’t be the last.

A 4.5/5 read for me and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend.

This book can be ordered from Amazon.

Book Review: One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson

I’ve enjoyed Alice Peterson’s books previously (reviewed here and here). Needless to say, I was very excited to lay my hands on One Step Closer to You courtesy Netgalley. 48790_One Step Closer To You_PB.indd

Polly is a young single mother. Her only focus is her young son Louis. She had a troubled relationship with Louis’ dad and wants to put it all behind her. She is also an alcoholic who is determined to stay clean for the sake of her son.

Ben’s sister died and he ended up becoming his niece’s guardian. Ben is clueless about children, and between coping with his own grief at losing his beloved sister, and looking after a five-year old, he is struggling. His little niece, Emily, isn’t talking, or eating properly and he doesn’t know what to do. Ben is also an alcoholic.

Ben and Polly come across each other and turn into good friends. Life is perfect for Polly, her life with Louis and her friendship with Ben are enough for her.

Everything seems perfect until Louis’ dad who had disappeared, suddenly turns up. Polly’s ordered little world is turned upside down and she is forced to confront the demons of her past. A beautiful story. One that had me hooked from the word go. Narrated by Polly, the book has flashbacks to Polly’s past, giving us glimpses into her life, the reasons why she is so complicated and troubled. Polly’s story is a heart-breaking one, one which you empathise with, one which has you rooting for her, hoping for her to find her way out of the mess she gets into, cheering for her when she does the right things.

The story also gives us a perspective into the life of an alcoholic, of how easily things can go wrong. Of how tough it can be for an alcoholic. The author also explores the possibility of alcoholism being genetic in nature.

It was shocking in places, had me in tears in places. I loved Polly’s character,her strengths and her weaknesses, and her brother Hugo. If anything I loved Hugo even more than Polly. I was enraged at times by the way she took him for granted, and despite all that, the strong, unbreakable bond between them was so beautifully portrayed.

All the characters had depth, and felt very real. I had an inkling of one of the revelations that came towards the end, but even that did not detract from the book.

A book I would strongly recommend. A 4.5/5 read for me.

About the Author
At the age of eighteen Alice had been awarded a tennis scholarship to America when she experienced pain in her right hand. It was rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and she hasn’t picked up a tennis racket since, a sadness that shall always be with her. The theme of disability features in her fiction, but there is nothing gloomy about Alice or her work. Rather this gives her fiction the added dimension of true poignancy.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).