The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

theliarsgirl

Length: 336 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

Her first love confessed to five murders. But the truth was so much worse.

Dublin’s notorious Canal Killer, Will Hurley, is ten years into his life sentence when the body of a young woman is fished out of the Grand Canal. Though detectives suspect they are dealing with a copycat, they turn to Will for help. He claims he has the information the police need, but will only give it to one person – the girl he was dating when he committed his horrific crimes.

Alison Smith has spent the last decade abroad, putting her shattered life in Ireland far behind her. But when she gets a request from Dublin imploring her to help prevent another senseless murder, she is pulled back to face the past – and the man – she’s worked so hard to forget.

The Review: I had read Distress Signals (review here) and really enjoyed but I have to admit when I read the opening chapter of this I was hopping around. Because this was fully up my street, heading more into the territory of everyday psychological thriller (kinda Kathryn Crofty for anyone who read her, for those of you who are fed up of me comparing everyone to her, I’m sorry, but she’s my holy grail in psychological thrillers to date).

Our protagonist, Alison Smith, has been called back to Dublin to talk to her ex boyfriend, who is in a psychiatric hospital after admitting to the murder of female students of St John’s University, ten years ago.  With a new killer repeating history Will is saying he has information that he will only tell her. Here is a book that sends you around in circles and back again. You wonder via both Will and the detective on the scene (who actually I wouldn’t mind seeing more of) if there is any chance at all that Will could be innocent and your eyes search out every single word trying to figure out if you’re right or wrong. You also have to take into account that at the time Alison and her best friend Liz, were going through tumultuous times and we wonder why we need to know this ( I guessed why totally wrongly a number of times!!).

I loved both the detective aspect of the book-the perfection found in the expertly done ins and outs of the system (expected of course, from someone who wrote the mecca of all writing manuals, the ‘Self Printed’ spoken of here ) and also the cautionary aspects in terms of social media and student life too (a number of ‘what the frig’ moments in terms of getting information really got me). I hated/ loved following victims knowing where it was leading and wanting to help them, but being unable to (um, because it’s a book and not real life;)).

I have to admit one part that I didn’t quite need was the dark voice of the ‘baddie,’ but that’s just because in general I feel that unless they’re adding something significant to the book by showing us either an actual justification for the crime, or how they do it in a way the protagonist/ police can’t, then they’re just adding a ‘scary’ voice that isn’t necessary (this is more than likely totally me though!). The other thing was the last portion of the book which wasn’t quite for me, after the slow burn the sudden crazy drama just didn’t resonate and when I realised there was so much more to go I guessed the ending. Saying that I loved the book, the everyday, the twists, the turns, setting, marking Catherine Ryan Howard for me as a definite ‘straight onto the to be read list’ author. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

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The Friend by Teresa Driscoll

thefriend

Length: 293 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

The chilling new psychological thriller from the #1 bestselling author of I Am Watching You.

On a train with her husband, miles from home and their four-year-old son, Ben, Sophie receives a chilling phone call. Two boys are in hospital after a tragic accident. One of them is Ben.

She thought she could trust Emma, her new friend, to look after her little boy. After all, Emma’s a kindred spirit—someone Sophie was sure she could bare her soul to, despite the village rumours. But Sophie can’t shake the feeling that she’s made an unforgivable mistake and now her whole family is in danger.

Because how well does she know Emma, really? Should she have trusted her at all?

Time is running out. Powerless to help her child, still hours from home, Sophie is about to discover the truth. And her life will never be the same.

 

The review: Following my  gush about I am Watching You , I quickly turned to this ‘The Friend,’ which was again being lauded all over the place. Unfortunately it didn’t make the same impression, although I most definitely will look out the author again. This is the story of Sophie, who has moved to Tedbury with her husband and her son. Sophie has befriended Emma and her son and Emma’s son are close in age. We meet Sophie on a train, inconsolable after hearing that the two boys are in hospital, with one in a very serious condition, except they can’t tell Sophie which is hers and which is Emma’s. From the start I was excited and thrilled. We were brought back to how Sophie and Emma met and walked through their friendship, with some mysteries appearing that made us see that maybe Emma wasn’t the trustworthy friend Sophie thought she was. While I enjoyed the narration of the story, I’m afraid  the I found the ‘aha’ moments to be slightly over dramatic and not quite as worthy of mistrust as the reader was told to believe. There were a few parts where I thought we were being led to something and then not enough materialised. All in all it was enjoyable but didn’t quite live up to either the description or the previous book. Saying that as I said before I would look out the author’s next offering. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for the book in return for an honest review

Rating: Unfortunatley a 3/5

The Reunion by Samantha Hayes

thereunion

What they say:

They were all there the day your sister went missing… Who is lying? Who is next?

THEN – In charge of her little sister at the beach, Claire allowed Eleanor to walk to the shop alone to buy an ice cream. Placing a coin into her hand, Claire told her to be quick, knowing how much she wanted the freedom.

Eleanor never came back.

NOW – The time has finally come to sell the family farm and Claire is organising a reunion of her dearest friends, the same friends who were present the day her sister went missing.

When another girl disappears, long-buried secrets begin to surface. One of the group hides the darkest secret of them all…

If you love Sue Fortin, Gillian Flynn and The Girl on the Train, this psychological thriller packed full of twists and turns will be impossible to put down.

The Review: I had heard so much about this book and so was absolutely thrilled when I was approved. This is the story of Claire, who has decided to help her dad, who is struggling, by having a  reunion of her friends and family. I loved the coming together of everyone and the everyday, which was as readable as the suspense. There are many voices in the book, one in particular, which, even now, I found to be eloquently and stand outishly done, with an innocence and fragility that was mind blowing.

As you are meeting everyone you have in the back of your mind that someone possibly had something to do with the disappearance of Eleanor, and the author most definitely lays a number of foundations so that you’re patting yourself on figure out what happened to poor Lenny, before you’re sent off in another direction. Actually I feel I have to add at this stage that I think some of the traps laid were never explained, that or I missed them, but I was gripped enough by the book that I don’t think I missed anything. There were a lot of characters, although for the most part you had them clearly enough drawn in your mind that that didn’t matter.

A lot of reviews have said they worked out what happened early on and I have to say fair you-know-whats to them, because I most definitely didn’t! I read this over two nights and was absolutely loathe to put it down. Thanks so much to Bookouture and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

#Excerpt #FirstChapter An American Cage by Ted Galdi

americancage
Length: 330 pages
Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book
What they say:
Three inmates break out of a maximum-security prison in Texas, one of them Danny Marsh, a suburban kid in his twenties who landed in jail because of a crime he never intended to commit.

An American Cage, a “tale of convicts on the run that convincingly examines their psychological states” (Kirkus Reviews), follows Danny and his two escape partners over a twenty-four-hour period as they struggle to cross Texas to freedom in Mexico. On this dangerous journey, Danny has to evade the rabid Texas authorities, and even worse, the schemes of one of his closest allies, who isn’t who he seems.

Click here to read the first chapter!
About the author
Suit HS(1)
Ted Galdi, an Amazon #1 bestselling author, has been featured by Kirkus magazine, ABC, FOX, iHeartRadio, and many other media outlets. He’s a winner of a Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award and a Silver Medal in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Ted is a graduate of Duke University.

His available releases are the books Elixir, An American Cage, and Lion on Fire, and the short story A Road to Nowhere.

To learn more about him and take advantage of his free offers, visit his website at

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

anks so much to thedarkest

Length: 404 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

A completely gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Before I Let You In will be captivated.

The review: Well, from one standout to the next, and boy was this a standout! Again, this will very likely figure in my ‘best of’ at the end of the year, as it was a book that stayed with me long after I’d moved on.

“The cry for help is ragged and desperate, the voice hitching. There is no one to hear it. A moon hangs so fat it oozes an aura into the sky that almost blots out the stars surrounding it. It looks down on land as flat as an open palm, and as unforgiving as a clenched fist, and gives no answer to the screams of fear and rage that float up to it… ‘Help me! Please! Help!’ There is no one to catch the words. No one, except a lone figure, turning, walking away towards lights int he far off distance.”

And so it starts. The book really begins with Beth, a young teen who’s obviously planned to do something that she hasn’t let her parents in on, as she leaves with her mother to sleep over at her friend’s house. This book thrusts you into every parent’s nightmare, made vivid by the last things, those little everyday occurances that just had to happen before she left-her dad barely said goodbye to her as he was watching tv, her mum doesn’t walk her to her friends door. This is something I always always think of, that the little things that you take for granted, in this case, that her father obviously didn’t think to say a proper goodbye, because little did he know it was going to be a night unlike any other he’d experienced, and then the if only her mother had seen her into her friend’s house.

It is the finer details of this book that keep you hooked, as they search for Beth, then find her, as you sit by her hospital bed, wondering can she hear anything, will she wake up, then as you stand on the doorstep of a house with her mother pleading for someone to tell you they can help you find the attacker or wonder if people you thought were so close to you can even be trusted. I have to admit I struggled with Melanie, the mother, feeling for her so much, but not really liking her as a person. This was especially hammered home as I loved her daughter, Beth, so much.

Some of the chapters were from the point of view of an unknown person, and I have to admit some of it made for slightly violent reading. These, coupled with the unfolding of Beth’s story were real game-changers for me, I was nervous and preparing myself to find out how this had happened to poor, innocent Beth, who was too young to know better. I knew what the end result was, of course, but still willed her to not go where she was headed. Meanwhile I was watching Mel and couldn’t figure out if her deductions were correct because, of course, she was unravelling. The pacing in this was up and down a bit, obviously we had the emotional side of Melanie and Jacob, which was honed in on a lot, to be fair, and some of the people who want a bang bang bang book might have a problem with it, but I was very emotionally invested, so it didn’t matter.

In terms of the whodunnit part- the fact that you had a village of people to look at, and worry about, was excellent, and I was shocked by the gang mentality that sprung up against the people they suspected. The part of the book that held me, though, was when what was to happen, happened, and we heard Beth’s thoughts. I have to say I have not cried like this over a book in some time. I sobbed my heart out for both her and her mum, and it sprang into my head a few times after I’d finished.

I’m split down the centre on the ending, it could have gone either way for me, as in the book could have finished earlier and I’d still have been satisfied, but then the ending that was given sent a bit of a chill so, in the end I was happy out(when the book continued on after the place I expected it to end there was a bit of a ‘what’s going on, why aren’t we finished here?’ but I was jumping the gun. All in all another excellent book that, again (and you’ll be hearing this a lot in the next while as I’ve been extremely lucky book-wise), I’d be very shocked if it didn’t end up in my end of year ‘best of’s.’ Most definitely recommended for exquisite beautiful, emotionally charged writing and settings, tension and chills. Definitely looking forward to the next by Ms. Copperthwaite, Her Last Secret, which, luckily enough, is on my Kindle right now (you can pre-order it here now). Thanks so much to Netgalley and of course the excellent Bookouture for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

Rowan’s Well by C J Harter

rowans

Length: 314 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal buy link for the book

What they say: Who’s the one person you’d trust with your life? Think again.

Mark Strachan has everything: good looks, beautiful, doting wife, great job, loyal best friend… and a secret flaw that goes to his very core. A deep secret he’ll wreck lives to protect.
Mark’s life is about to change. He’s going to commit an act so shocking there’ll be no going back. Unless someone can stop him.
At Rowan’s Well, on North Yorkshire’s rugged cliffs, Mark will force his family, and best friend Will, to face the consequences of loving a man like him.
At Rowan’s Well, it’s hard to tell where love ends and hatred begins…

If you like psychological thrillers with page-turning suspense and shocking twists, you’ll love this.

The review: So to begin we’re not actually beginning at the beginning, but sometime closer to the end of the story, it is ten years after, although what the after is we don’t know. Mark Strachan is telling a story while ‘looking out of the window at the upper floors of the high-security wing opposite’ about an event when he was young to someone whose part in this story we don’t know. His story is vivid and packs a punch almost straight away-I could tell this character had issues and was very likely to be telling of something that had played a part in something he had done (hence the ‘after’) or the person he had become.

We are shot back to twelve years before where Mark is starting in boarding school, noticibly without any of the parental support other have. I think books like this hit me hardest, with characters that would be so different if they had a family who showed them the love they so craved, and Mark is a character I’ll probably be adding to my ‘best of’ list come the end of the year. Luckily, he falls in quickly with the lovely Will, and you get the impression that they’ll both have each other’s backs. We’re shown a lot of how the boys get on and interact, and I really enjoyed both the banter and light/ dark humour. Then things happen, and one fateful night we see Mark saving Will, but at the cost of another lad’s life.

Mark is an interesting character, where Will is an open book, we constantly wonder whether secretly all the bad luck that piles up in stacks around Mark, is actually his own doing. When I say bad luck, there are a number of events that take place over their lives, most involving expanses of water, that are so real, you feel the fear, the panic, that comes with being trapped under water. (There are a number of these, and you do wonder why they choose to stay anywhere near water!!)

The outstanding imagery also left me in no doubt that this was to be a beautiful read (I was to be correct!) Actually, I have to admit here that I can sometimes have to force myself not to skim over imagery, but I couldn’t even consider that here, it was second to none, powerful and vivid and amazing.

We are told there’s something in his eyes that make people nervous, yet the author is pretty excellent at showing us Mark’s point of view, making us worry that all the bad luck that befalls him ISN’T because of him. This is an interesting book because it has a hint of all the light horror stories I read as a teen (I know, you’d never know, would you?!) and it had me hooked.

There is the added dimension of his home life, where we wonder about his mother, and see him gravitate towards Will’s family. The jump comes when both him and Will fall for two women who are twins, and so we know they’re bound together for life. So begins a chapter in Will’s life where he truly has someone to love. I have to admit I read through this somewhat impatiently, and sometimes was confused, in particular as to their family dynamic, which I didn’t find so clear, waiting for something bad to happen, and when it did, when we found out what Mark did, we were placed in a scenario of having to find out if it was intentional, planned. To get Marks viewpoint throughout this, while looking at the prison system and seeing the differing opinions of Mark on the outside and through the prison employee’s eyes, was excellent. Actually it was Mark’s time in prison I enjoyed the most as Mark tried to communicate what had led him to this point, his horrendous past and I really empathised (special mention for Fitz, who broke my heart) and noticed that he was possibly the most human bad guy I have read to date. I read this book as I would watch a film, and the last scenes played out perfectly, with my heart in my throat. If I am to find any issues with this, it’s the descriptions of the timeline, I think I’d have rather to have just been given the dates as opposed to this ‘x years before or after, ‘ but, saying that it probably won’t bother most, I also found some parts a little confusing, but more seasoned readers of this genre will figure it out! I would highly recommend this book.

Ratine: 4.5/5

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

whileyou

Length: 326 pages

Please note that the image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:
Tara Logan adores her perfect little family: husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer. 

But her happiness is shattered when she wakes up one morning in her neighbour’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them. And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee and scared of losing everything she cares about, Tara flees home and stays silent, holding her breath as the investigation grips the neighbourhood.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara starts to wonder if someone in her life knows what really happened that night. When the police turn their questions towards her, Tara realises she has to find out.

But what will it take to uncover the real story, and can she survive the truth?

The Review: Okay. So anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows of my love for all books by Kathryn Croft. (The Girl You Lost’s review is here while The Girl With No Past’s review is  here

This was another book designed to keep you guessing as to who (if not Tara herself) was involved in the murder, this read featuring the demise of her neighbour Lee. From the off I was pulled straight in, as always the characters are everyday people next door types, with varying personality traits that have you wondering what they themselves know, and as a result I was basically suspecting everyone. Throw into the mix her issues with her husband Noah, a very difficult daughter, Rosie, who was the one person I hoped hadn’t been involved in the crime, and the addition of characters as you went on and you were pretty sure it could have been anyone! Central to the story was that Tara couldn’t remember what had happened and had no idea how she woke up next to a dead body and so you didn’t know if she was involved or not.

While You Were Sleeping kept me gripped, and waiting for the ending, but I think a problem was that there were a few too many unlikable characters. Saying that, I kept reading on, being thrown from one conclusion to the next with my head all jumbled, waiting to see what happened. A really enjoyable read, although I have to admit it didn’t quite grab me in the same way as the two books I’ve named above.

Rating: 4/5