#BookReview: SOMEONE WE KNOW by Shari Lapena @sharilapena @TransworldBooks @ThomasssHill

Someone We KnowPublication: 25th July 2019 – Transworld Books

It can be hard keeping secrets in a tight-knit neighbourhood.

In a tranquil, leafy suburb of ordinary streets – one where everyone is polite and friendly – an anonymous note has been left at some of the houses.

‘I’m so sorry. My son has been getting into people’s houses. He’s broken into yours.’

Who is this boy, and what might he have uncovered? As whispers start to circulate, suspicion mounts.

And when a missing local woman is found murdered, the tension reaches breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their secrets?

Maybe you don’t know your neighbour as well as you thought you did . . .

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Shari Lapena is one of these authors who is a constant for me. Whenever she has a new book coming out, I read it right away, barely bothering to read the blurb first. And she never disappoints. I devoured SOMEONE WE KNOW, starting reading it in the evening and finishing it the next morning, right before going to work (I couldn’t wait for the evening to see how it ended).

The author takes us in a neighbourhood in Aylesford, in New York’s Hudson Valley, where everyone is friendly, they organize book clubs and picnics in the park. Until suddenly a woman disappears, a teenager breaks into houses, anonymous letters appear out of nowhere, a body is found in the lake, and love affairs are not so secret anymore.

This is a domestic thriller with capital letters. The story is well-plotted, full of suspense and revelations that the author slowly unravels, keeping me always on my toes, never knowing what to expect next. The author created a cast of characters that the reader can’t trust. Each one of them is hiding something, they are all possible suspects in the murder investigation, and every time I thought I had it figure out, I found out that, actually, I didn’t. I liked how the author keeps the tension high by switching the perspective from character to character.

Another thing Shari Lapena is good at is to create the right setting. A suburban town, a typical American street as you see on TV, and a remote cabin by the lake create the right evocative atmosphere to this gripping novel.

SOMEONE WE KNOW is brilliant, a self-paced, addictive, and riveting novel that you won’t be able to put down!!!

A huge thank you to Transworld Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.

#BlogTour: THE CHAIN by Adrian McKinty @adrianmckinty @orionbooks @Leanne_Oliver1 @Tr4cyF3nt0n #DontBreakTheChain

The ChainPublication: 9th July 2019 – Orion

VICTIM.
SURVIVOR.
ABDUCTOR.
CRIMINAL.
YOU WILL BECOME EACH ONE.

YOUR PHONE RINGS.

A STRANGER HAS KIDNAPPED YOUR CHILD.

TO FREE THEM YOU MUST ABDUCT SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.

YOUR CHILD WILL BE RELEASED WHEN YOUR VICTIM’S PARENTS KIDNAP ANOTHER CHILD.

IF ANY OF THESE THINGS DON’T HAPPEN:
YOUR CHILD WILL BE KILLED.

YOU ARE NOW PART OF THE CHAIN

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour of THE CHAIN, the thrilling and brilliant new novel by Adrian McKinty. A huge thank you to Tracy Fenton and Orion for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a copy of the book.

The love of a parent for their children knows no boundaries and they would do anything to protect them, as Adrian McKinty shows in his new novel. Rachel O’Neill is a woman in her thirties, recently divorced, and with a thirteen-year-old daughter, Kylie. After a year of chemotherapy, it seemed that her cancer had regressed, but suddenly her oncologist wants to see her and she is on her way to her office when she receives the call every parent fears: her daughter has been kidnapped. But this is not a normal kidnapping because now Rachel is part of the Chain and to have Kylie back she has to kidnap another child. How far is Rachel willing to go to save her daughter? Will she have her back? And will she break the Chain?

This was a rollercoaster of a read. Adrian McKinty created a cast of fascinating and multi-layered characters. We see a good woman turning into an unwilling criminal, forced to push away all her doubts and fears to get her daughter back. On the other side, there is Kylie. For a thirteen-year-old girl she is quite resourceful and smart, fighting to stay strong and find a way out of her imprisonment. Then there is Pete, Rachel’s former brother-in-law, a troubled ex-military who has his own demons to fight while he helps Rachel to get Kylie’s back. There are the other parents in the Chain who, like Rachel, show a darker side when it comes to their children’s safety. And, last but not least, the creators of the Chain. Through flashbacks we see how they came to be and I found their story dark, suspenseful, and a bit creepy.

Adrian McKinty wrote a terrifying story that captures two women trying to survive, an evil and ingenious plan that pushes people to their limit, and it also shows how much people share on social media making their life completely public and vulnerable. One of the most-talked books of the summer, THE CHAIN is a riveting and addictive read not to miss!

Blog tour graphic

 

 

#BookReview: WHISPER NETWORK by Chandler Baker @cbakerbooks @BooksSphere

Whisper NetworkPublication: 2nd July 2019 – Sphere

‘Ms. Sandberg was right about something. We had to lean in. It was the only way to hear the whispers…’

Sloane, Ardie, Grace and Rosalita have worked in the same legal office for years. The sudden death of the firm’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. Those whispers have been ignored, swept under the rug, hidden away by those in charge.

But the world has changed, and the women are watching this latest promotion for Ames differently.

This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.

Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand sets in motion something catastrophic and unstoppable: lies will be uncovered, secrets will be exposed and not everyone will survive. All their lives – as women, colleagues, mothers, adversaries – will be changed for ever.

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If Reese Whiterspoon calls it “honest, timely and completely thrilling” and chooses it as her July pick of her book club, then I must read it. I am talking about WHISPER NETWORK, the gripping debut novel by Chandler Baker, the story of four women trying to survive in the workplace.

We are in Dallas. Truviv is a corporate firm whose CEO just died. His successor is Ames Garrett. Many people find him charming and handsome, but there are four women who know the truth about him. Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita know Ames’s true character, but there is a difference between knowing and proving, and when Ames turns his attention to their new colleague Katherine, they need to find a way to stop him, setting in motion a series of events with catastrophic consequences.

WHISPER NETWORK has it all: it’s mystery and it’s social commentary. There is murder, secrets, lies, sexual harassment, marriages and jobs at stake. The protagonists are not always likable, but they are intriguing characters. Ardie, Grace, and Sloane are three women who read Lean In by Cheryl Sandberg from cover to cover, three women who worked hard to get where they are and who want the recognition they deserve. They are women in career, but they are also mothers. Sloane is worried about her daughter being bullied at school, Ardie is a single mother with a four-year-old son, and Grace is struggling with motherhood and work. Rosalita is invisible at Truviv, no one notices her, but she has her own role to play in the story and a young son to raise and she is the one I liked best.

I liked how the author structured the story. Depositions and police interviews alternate with the chapters (in true Big Little Lies style) and the author provides the reader with a commentary of what women endure on the workplace. The author captures how women struggle to balance work and motherhood, she describes in detail post-partum depression and adjusting to motherhood. WHISPER NETWORK is definitely a must-read: a timely, honest, relatable, and captivating story with a shocking ending that I didn’t see coming!

A huge thank you to Sphere and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.

 

#BookReview: DEATH IN A DESERT LAND by Andrew Wilson @andrewwilsonaw @simonschusterUK @jessbarratt88

Death in a Desert LandPublication: 11th July 2019 – Simon & Schuster UK

I’m Mrs Christie. I think you are expecting me…

Baghdad, 1928. Agatha leaves England for the far-flung destination, determined to investigate an unresolved mystery: two year ago, the explorer and the writer Gertrude Bell died there from a drugs overdose. At the time, the authorities believed that Bell had taken her own life, but a letter now unearthed reveals she was afraid someone wants to kill her…

In her letter, Bell suggests that if she were to die the best place to look for her murderer would be Ur, the archaeological site in ancient Mesopotamia famous for its Great Death Pit.

But as Agatha stealthily begins to look into the death of Gertrude Bell, she soon discovers the mission is not without its risks. And she has to use all her skills to try and outwit a killer who is determined to stay hidden among the desert sands…

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I do love Andrew Wilson’s series of historical novels that has as its protagonist none other than the Queen of Crime Agatha Christie. DEATH IN A DESERT LAND is the third book in this fabulous series in which she takes the place of her creations and becomes a detective herself. After her mysterious disappearance and a case in Tenerife in the first two books, now Agatha travels to Iran to investigate the suspect suicide of an explorer on behalf of the British Secret Intelligence Service. She infiltrates herself in a team of archaeologists digging in Ur (former Mesopotamia), but soon her investigation is complicated by the tension between the members of the group and an unexpected murder.

The author craftily mixes real-life characters and events with fictional ones to create a gripping and twisty story. In true Agatha Christie’s style, the plot is multi-layered and intricate with suspicious deaths, murders, and a long list of suspects all with their own motives (I almost expected Hercule Poirot to make an appearance). The detailed descriptions of the evocative and claustrophobic setting of the desert and the archaeological site, the history of the place, the treasures, the local people, make the story feel more authentic and intriguing.

I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie and her novels and, as such, I put her on a pedestal, imagining her invincible, but Andrew Wilson portrays her not only as resolute, smart, and creative, but he also describes her insecurities, her fears, and her shyness making her more realistic and relatable. She is surrounded by a cast of characters that are well-developed and intriguing, all excellently playing an important part in the story.

DEATH IN A DESERT LAND is a must for all fans of Agatha Christie out there. The novel will take the reader in a fantastic journey of mystery and twists.

A big thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.

 

#BookReview: THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW by Milly Johnson @millyjohnson @simonschusterUK @ed_pr @TeamBATC #pubday #paperback

In March, I had the pleasure to take part in the blog tour for THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW, the latest entertaining novel by the ‘Queen of Feel-Good Fiction’ Milly Johnson. It quickly became my favourite book by this author and, since it is published today in paperback, it’s my absolute pleasure to share again my review of this fabulous novel.

Magnificent Mrs Mayhew_PBB.indd

Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Sophie Mayhew looks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge. Still, all this can still be swept under the carpet as long as Sophie ‘the trophy’ plays her part in front of the cameras.

But the words that come out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors put in there.  Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has been in since birth, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone.

But once there, she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie? 

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Sophie Mayhew was raised to believe that her role was to support always her husband, no matter what he does. And as the wife of beloved politician John F. Mayhew, Sophie’s life is always under scrutiny, from the clothes she wears to the expression on her face. Sophie is happy to play the good wife, standing by her husband’s side and helping him in his rise into the government. Until scandal breaks out and when, once again, Sophie has to put her husband first, she decides she has had enough. She runs away from her cold and selfish family to the only place she had once been happy. There she becomes Pom, a French woman seeking refuge and anonymity and she meets a group of people who are genuinely interested in her and don’t use her to their advantage. Will Sophie go back to real life and her troubled marriage or will she choose a life of animosity?

Milly Johnson created a cast of characters that feel realistic and mostly likable. I loved the character of Sophie, even when she played the cold and submissive wife. She comes from a wealthy and unloving family and she marries into a greedy and unemotional family. I felt for her and cheered her on as she finds her place in the world and she rebels against her family. She finds in Tracey, Elliot, and Luke new friends who help during her time of need and make her realize what she really wants.

I am a big fan of Milly Johnson’s books and THE MAGNIFICENT MRS MAYHEW is, without doubt, my favourite novel by Milly Johnson. I found difficult to put it down. I was completely immersed in the story with its engaging, heart-warming, and inspiring plot. Themes of friendship, love, and family take the stage and kept me entertained from the first to the last page.

You can’t never go wrong with a Milly Johnson’s novel and THE MAGNIFICENT MRS MAYHEW is definitely a novel to add to your TBR pile!

 

Milly Johnson credit - Chris SedgewickMilly Johnson is a Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling author of fifteen novels with millions of copies of her novels sold to date. Known as the ‘Queen of Feel_Good Fiction’, Milly’s novels always feature friendship, family, love, betrayal, good food and that little bit of magic in life that sometimes visits the unsuspecting. Milly is a columnist for her local newspaper and is an experienced broadcaster on radio and TV. She is also a patron of several local charities with community, literacy and animal welfare issues close to her heart.

#BlogTour: NEEDLEMOUSE by Jane O’Connor @JaneOConnor100 @EburyPublishing @TessHenderson1 @Tr4cyF3nt0n

imagePublication: 24th April 2019 (eBook); 27th June 2019 (paperback) – Ebury

Time to come out of hibernation…

Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it’s no wonder she’s a little prickly…

Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays – and it makes people think she’s nicer than she is.

Only Sylvia has a secret: she’s been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she’s sure he’s just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.

But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long, are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future.

Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…

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Welcome to my stop for the blog tour of NEEDLEMOUSE, the fabulous debut by Jane O’Connor. A huge huge thank you to Tracy Fenton and Ebury for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a copy of this amazing novel.

Who is Sylvia Penton? She is a woman in her fifties and she works as a personal assistant to a professor in a London University. The most exciting thing in her life is her volunteering at the local hedgehog shelter, but Sylvia is far from ordinary and she has a few secrets. She’s keeping a huge secret that could destroy her relationship with her sister and her family (no spoiler!). Additionally, for the last ten years she’s been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax (that’s not much of a secret as it seems that everyone knows about it). She takes care of him and she sees herself as his protector while waiting for him to leave his wife. And when a younger woman threatens her relationship with Professor, Sylvia shows that she is ready to do anything for the man he loves…

At the beginning, Sylvia’s reserved nature and her borderline obsession with Professor Lomax make her an unlikable (and a little insane) character, but the more I read the more I learned about the protagonist of the novel, about her past trauma, and, as she develops, she becomes more interesting and more endearing and I adored her and felt sympathy for her by the end of the book. The other characters are all very interesting and realistic, all with different personalities, some likable, some just detestable. My favourite character was Jonas, the owner of the hedgehog sanctuary where Sylvia volunteers. He is wise and good-natured and I found fascinating all the facts about hedgehogs he described (did you know that needle mouse is Japanese for hedgehogs?).

I liked how the book is written in the form of a diary in which Sylvia pours all her secrets and her feelings. We see her at the lowest and worst time of her life and we see her come out of it stronger and more likable. Her heartbreaking revelations made for a very emotional read, but there were also a few funny moments that made me laugh. NEEDLEMOUSE is a brilliant and refreshing debut that I loved from the first to the last page.

Needlemouse

V722zGYL_400x400Jane O’Connor is a former primary school teacher turned academic and writer. She was born and brought up in Surrey and lived in London until she moved to the West Midlands in her mid-thirties. Jane’s PhD was about child stars and she is now a Reader at Birmingham City University where she researches children’s experiences of celebrity, media and everyday life. Jane lives in Sutton Coldfield with her husband and two young sons in a house full of pirates, dinosaurs, superheroes and lots of books. She really likes all animals, especially hedgehogs. Needlemouse is her debut novel.

#BookReview: THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL by Abbi Waxman @amplecat

The Bookish Life of Nina HillPublication: 9th July 2019 – Headline Review

Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own… shell.

Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, an excellent trivia team and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

So when the father she never knew existed dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers.

And if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny and interested in getting to know her…

It’s time for Nina to turn her own fresh page, and find out if real life can ever live up to fiction…

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THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL is such an entertaining read. I spent an entire afternoon with my nose in this novel and I loved every single page. In Nina Hill I found a kindred spirit. Like her, I prefer books to people and I often find socializing exhausting. Also, I admired and envied Nina’s organizational skills. Nina is relatable, interesting, and engaging, and very very likable. Actually, I loved all the characters in the novel, I enjoyed all the literary and pop culture references that fill the pages and, for some reason, I found very interesting the random encyclopaedic facts that Nina casually dropped in conversations.

Nina Hill lives in Los Angeles with a grumpy cat and she fills her days with her job in a bookstore and many book clubs and trivia quizzes. Being around people give her anxiety and she is comfortable only when she is around books. She has her days completely planned out and she doesn’t like the unexpected. So when she finds out that the father she never met has died and she has a whole family of brothers, sisters, stepmothers, nephews/nieces, and grandnephews/grandnieces, her anxiety level rises up. Add an adorable trivia rival and possible love interest, and suddenly Nina’s life is far from ordinary.

I love Abbi Waxman’s novels. Her stories are heart-warming, funny, and engrossing and her characters are endearing and realistic. THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL is decisively my favourite and I was happy to see characters from her previous novel make a few appearances (hopefully I will read more about Nina in the author’s future novels). I loved the author’s distinctive writing-style, the way she inserts herself in the novel and in the characters’ lives.

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL is one of these books where I fall in love with the character and I don’t want the story to ever end. A must-read!!!

A huge thank you to Headline and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.