Only A Mother by Elisabeth Carpenter #BlogTour @LibbyCPT @alexxlayt @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m really excited about sharing my review of Only a Mother by Elisabeth Carpenter as part of the blog tour. Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invite.

About this book…

ONLY A MOTHER . . .
Erica Wright hasn’t needed to scrub ‘MURDERER’ off her house in over a year. Life is almost quiet again. Then her son, Craig, is released from prison, and she knows the quiet is going to be broken.
COULD BELIEVE HIM
Erica has always believed Craig was innocent – despite the lies she told for him years ago – but when he arrives home, she notices the changes in him. She doesn’t recognise her son anymore. 
COULD LIE FOR HIM
So, when another girl goes missing, she starts to question everything. But how can a mother turn her back on her son? And, if she won’t, then how far will she go to protect him?
COULD BURY THE TRUTH

My review…

I have read both previous books by Elisabeth Carpenter so feel well qualified to say that Only A Mother is her best book so far! I always review in order to spread the book love to other readers but only very rarely do I feel compelled to message an author to tell them how their book has made me feel! There was a point about half way through this book that a simple paragraph hit me so hard that I unbelievably burst into tears! And after staying up late to finish the book last night, I’ve been unable to move on from it today and pick up anything else to read as I still feel emotionally connected and involved in the life of Erika, mother of a convicted murderer. A major book hangover has left me unable to even put the book back on my shelf-another sign that there’s a big possibility of this book being one of my favourite reads of the year already! It was a perfect example of my favourite genre and that puts me under so much pressure as I need to try and communicate why!

I looked at my previous reviews for this Author’s books before I attempted to write this one and I found a passage that also applies so well to this book that I’ve used it again here…

If you’re looking for an action packed, twist upon twist rollercoaster of a psychological suspense then this book probably isn’t for you! But I personally love Elisabeth Carpenters books so I hope that other people will also pick up this book and enjoy it, which is why I’ve tried to bring an understanding of her style to my review. Her books are subtly crafted and the tension is very slowly built up across the viewpoints of her characters whilst also drawing in those who have been the most affected by the issues raised. She takes normal families and uses difficult situations to explore the emotional dilemmas that face them and how they cope.

And that is exactly how I felt here as well. Erika was a relatable character for me as a mother because I think every parent worries about how they have brought up their child, hoping that they have made the right decisions and will be proud of the adult they become. But what if the sweet, loving child you tuck up in bed every night ends up a convicted killer. You can’t turn off your love for that child completely as there is always the hope and conviction at the forefront of your mind that your child couldn’t possibly have done the things they have been found guilty of. And this is true even more so in today’s society where it is becoming more and more culturally acceptable to blame others for any of your child’s misdemeanours. But Erika was a wonderfully sketched character who was gradually shaded in so we didn’t see her decisions in black and white but were able to look deeper into her eyes to see the past as her true colours came alive. She was braver than I would have been, staying in her hometown, in the house that both she and Craig were born and bred into and punishing herself by dealing with the daily attacks on her family by members of her own community.

Everything about Only A Mother worked for me. The plot was carefully brought to fruition even though I had my mind made up about who/what/why well before the end. The setting was recognisably authentic and even though it was painted as a bleak habitat there were some exquisite comparisons to the life Craig lived whilst in prison. But ultimately it was the character development that wormed its way into my heart and gave it a great big squeeze. Erika and Luke especially were flawlessly brought to life which was ironic because it was ultimately their own flaws that made them feel so convincing.

Elisabeth Carpenter is now right up there with my favourite authors and this book is one I will remember for a very long time. I loved it from start to unexpected finish. Just stunning!

Meet the author…

Elisabeth Carpenter lives in Preston with her family. She was awarded a Northern Writers’ New Fiction award, and was longlisted for Yeovil Literary Prize (2015 and 2016) and the MsLexia Women’s Novel award (2015).

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The Disappeared by Sibel Hodge #BlogTour #Review @Bloodhoundbook @sibelhodge

Today I’m sharing my review of The Disappeared as part of the blog tour for Bloodhound Books. Many thanks to Emma Welton for the invite!

About this book…

The widow. The secret. The liar.


The Disappeared…

 

On a routine flight from Africa to England, Dr Mason Palmer is tragically killed when the light aircraft he’s travelling on crashes and disappears in dense bush land.

 

The Widow…

 

Ten months later, Nicole Palmer is still trying to block out the grief of her husband’s sudden death. Until one morning she receives a photo of Mason through the post, along with a cryptic message. A message only he could’ve written.

 

The Secret…

 

But when Nicole tries to find out if Mason is really alive and what actually happened to him in Africa, everyone she turns to for answers ends up dead.

 

Determined to find the truth, Nicole uncovers a conspiracy that spans the globe, and discovers there are powerful people who are prepared to kill to keep her silent.

 

Who’s lying? Who’s watching Nicole? And can she expose their murky secrets before they catch up with her?

My review…

I’ve enjoyed Sibel Hodges books in the past so I was keen to read her latest thriller. It’s a little different from the previous books that I’ve read by her and I have to say that I wish that I had read the notes at the rear of the book before I’d started as I would have liked the info about the real life events the book was based on before I read it. It certainly added a newly created depth to the action packed thriller that I had just finished and left me with some thought provoking reflections to consider.

From the first few pages it’s obvious that someone is determined to prevent Nicole’s husband from returning home to her. So when Nicole hears that her husband has been killed in a plane crash into the ocean, it is more of a shock to her than it is to us the reader. But in a further plot development, a few months later she receives a photo in the post that confirms with a dated newspaper that Mason is in fact still alive but in hiding, in fear of the people who tried to kill him. And as Nicole goes to find her husband, no one she comes into contact with is safe from those that need to silence Mason.

Sibel Hodge has created a current and relevant plot line for her thriller that unravels at one heck of a pace! It’s an action packed piece of fiction that brings the characters together in a storyline that’s actually based on factual events. This makes it even more important to take the time to understand the politics running in the background. Having a strong and believable female lead character like Nicole helped to raise the level of tension so that the reader actually cares about the outcome for her and Mason but also gives a personal perspective on a political and cultural issue that I’m sure many people haven’t been aware of. It certainly increases awareness of the trail that leads back from an everyday product which I am sure none of us think about when it’s in front of us.

A well written and thought provoking thriller.

Meet the author…

Sibel Hodge is the author of the No 1 Bestsellers Look Behind You, Untouchable, and Duplicity. Her books have sold over one million copies and are international bestsellers in the UK, USA, Australia, France, Canada and Germany. She writes in an eclectic mix of genres, and is a passionate human and animal rights advocate.

 

Her work has been nominated and shortlisted for numerous prizes, including the Harry Bowling Prize, the Yeovil Literary Prize, the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition, The Romance Reviews’ prize for Best Novel with Romantic Elements and Indie Book Bargains’ Best Indie Book of 2012 in two categories. She was the winner of Best Children’s Book in the 2013 eFestival of Words; nominated for the 2015 BigAl’s Books and Pals Young Adult Readers’ Choice Award; winner of the Crime, Thrillers & Mystery Book from a Series Award in the SpaSpa Book Awards 2013; winner of the Readers’ Favorite Young Adult (Coming of Age) Honorable award in 2015; a New Adult finalist in the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America’s International Digital Awards 2015, and 2017 International Thriller Writers Award finalist for Best E-book Original Novel. Her novella Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave has been listed as one of the top forty books about human rights by Accredited Online Colleges.

Lazy Sunday morning catch-up on #mychestnutreadingtree

Morning everyone and hope you all have had a fabulous Christmas and New Year. I thought I’d give a little update on why I’ve still kept my policy of not accepting any review requests at the moment. I was convinced I would be able to take it off in January this year as I thought I would be unemployed and be able to catch up on my ridiculously high TBR pile plus all the blog tour reads I agreed to do in January to stop me sobbing into my pjs with no job to get up for every morning. BUT…

I HAVE A JOB!! And it’s not just any job either but one in the same school I was working in before! I will be doing a slightly different role with more hours but I’m completely over the moon about it! It’s a temporary contract but I will think about that once it’s over as you never know what’s around the corner and I am gaining more experience which should also help me in the future. This means I will have even less time for reading and spending time on the blog as I’ve also decided to do some more qualifications connected to my new role. And due to an upcoming family wedding (I’m Mother of the Bride so need to spend time finding the perfect outfit and helping DD#3 with the final planning!) I’m probably going to dramatically cut down on reviews and blog tours in May.

So that’s my news! Hope you’re all enjoying all the brilliant books that have already been published in 2019. I’m completely regretting my Goodreads Challenge target of 250 books but I’m going to have lots of fun trying!

Happy Sunday and I hope to personally catch up with some of you at events and meet-ups soon!

Jo xx

Puzzle Girl 🧩 by Rachael Featherstone #BlogTour @DomePress @emily_glenister @WRITERachael

Today I’m delighted to bring you a review of Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone. Huge thanks to Emily at Dome Press for the invite and my review copy of the book.

About this book…

Love is a riddle waiting to be solved… Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes

has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything.

When she finds herself stuck in a doctor s surgery, a cryptic message left in

a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious puzzle-

man behind it. Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive

dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin.

Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together

and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

My review…

As a HUGE puzzle fan myself (jigsaws, crosswords, sudoku, pub quizzes-you name it and I love it!! And I’m INCREDIBLY competitive as well which is very unlike my everyday persona!) I knew that Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone was a book I needed to read. I was also a big Bridget Jones fan (until the final book!) so the comparison to my heroine drew me in towards Cassy in the hope of finding another Bridget but what I got was a far more unique and genuine young woman in an hilarious but considered storyline that got better with every single page I read.

It’s hard to believe this is the author’s first book as it felt accomplished and naturalistic as if she had been doing this her entire life! Cassy was a wonderful character creation and one that I took to straight away. I felt sorry for her after she faced a difficult end to her seven year relationship but in typical Cassy fashion she doesn’t do herself any favours when it comes to dealing with the aftermath of her breakup! She has her best friend Dan to keep her grounded in her personal life but when it comes to work, it’s a very different matter indeed! Cassy is determined to get a promotion whatever it costs and her work colleague Martin won’t be standing in her way if she has anything to do with it! But an accident throws Cassy an unusual puzzle to solve when she ends up at a walk in clinic. A cryptic clue left in a crossword book leads Cassy on a search for the elusive “puzzle man”, an hilarious journey that leads to misunderstandings galore and a chance to reevaluate everything Cassy holds dear.

My initial sympathies started to slide away once Cassy began her search for the man of her dreams as she began to make some very questionable decisions! Puzzle Man could have been anyone which was why she started to hang around the clinic like a viral infection it is impossible to rid yourself of! Everyone she met there was a possible suspect and these possibilities led to some of the funniest moments in Puzzle Girl for me. Every character explored was relevant to the plot in some form or other like a cryptic clue just waiting to be solved so it was often impossible to guess who was Cassy’s mysterious crossword solver was. This meant I was able to just sit back and enjoy the narrative for the pure pleasure of it!

This was a truly enjoyable game to play! Working out the clues to solve the mystery was certainly an enjoyable part of looking for Cassys puzzle man as I had my suspicions about who it would be long before they were revealed! But I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time I was reading Puzzle Girl and that’s a sign of true pleasure for me so thank you Rachael Featherstone for the first class entertainment. It’s a must read for chick lit fans everywhere that I would definitely recommend.

Meet the author…

Rachael Featherstone was born and raised in Woodford. Her path to writing was a little unorthodox. After reading Mathematics at Oxford University, New College, Rachael went to work in research.

When Rachael’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Rachael decided to take a chance, quit her job, and fulfill a lifetime ambition to write a novel. She went back to university and completed a Masters in English Literature and had several short stories published.

Rachael now lives in Hampshire with her husband and daughter.

Puzzle Girl was published by the Dome Press in ebook in August 2018 and in paperback in January 2019.

Publication Day #review My Name is Anna by Lizzy Barber @ByLizzyBarber @arrowpublishing @Rachel90Kennedy #mynameisanna

About this book…

Two women – desperate to unlock the truth.
How far will they go to lay the past to rest?

ANNA has been taught that virtue is the path to God. But on her eighteenth birthday she defies her Mamma’s rules and visits Florida’s biggest theme park. 

She has never been allowed to go – so why, when she arrives, does everything seem so familiar? And is there a connection to the mysterious letter she receives on the same day?

ROSIE has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers, her family fractured by years of searching without leads.Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, the media circus resumes in full flow, and Rosie vows to uncover the truth. 

But will she find the answer before it tears her family apart?

My review…

My Name is Anna is a stunning debut novel that I defy you not to lose yourself in and read in one session. It’s an involving, character driven mystery that is so beautifully written it’s impossible not to fall in love with these two young girls as they struggle to make sense of their life changing discoveries.

There’s a fascinating and very current feel to the plot line and, as I’ve always been drawn to real life cases where missing children are searched for by their families, it was a must read for me. The computer generated images of how loved ones will hopefully have aged always breaks my heart when I see them, whilst wondering what the reality of the comparison would really be. Families are often torn apart by the disappearance or murder of a child, as often feelings of guilt overwhelm any strong connection between the parents, so it was interesting to meet the Archer family and realise that they were still a complete family unit. Saying that, it’s a far from normal atmosphere for their children to grow up in and Rosie plus her brother Rob have to deal with the constant media attention so that they are constantly living with the disappearance of their sister Emily.

The other narrator we follow is 18 year old Anna. Anna lives in Florida with her God fearing mother in a very strict household but has always accepted this way of life. That is until a rebellious trip to a local theme park with her boyfriend makes her question everything that has gone on before. I loved watching Anna as a character as she became more independent from her controlling parent and, although I found her mother a difficult person to warm to at first, as the plot developed I couldn’t help but feel a certain sympathy for the life she had lived and the reasons behind it.

Although it’s obvious both these girls are connected in some way, I never lowered my guard to the possibility of further twists to the plot. And as the situation became clearer, my emotions were torn, watching as the build up to the powerful and affecting denouement exploded with a harrowing and heartbreaking outcome. This dramatic but poignant storyline means that My Name is Anna is a book you will find extremely difficult to put down whilst also being one that will leave you reflecting on the choices and decisions made. Lizzy Barber didn’t, thankfully, make her ending too melodramatic with all the ends of her threads neatly tied off which I appreciated as it felt more authentic.

My Name is Anna is a contemplative and keenly observed debut novel that really stood out for me and has me excited for future books by Lizzy Barber! A brilliant read!

Meet the author…

Lizzy Barber studied English at Cambridge University and works as the head of brand and marketing for a restaurant group. Her debut novel, My Name is Anna, was the winner of the Daily Mail crime writing competition and she is currently hard at work on her next thriller. Lizzy lives in London with her husband.

Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox #BookReview

About this book…

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him, before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

My review…

How is it that this is my very first Candice Fox book?! I don’t know how she has passed me by before but, thankfully, she’s on my radar now! I was attracted to Gone by Midnight by the blurb but what I got went far beyond my expectations as I met interesting, realistic characters who kept my attention focused throughout a strong and impressive storyline. And although it is part of the Crimson Lake series, it can easily be read as a standalone novel.

When a group of parents go out for dinner in the hotel that they are staying in, they leave their children all together in one hotel room with movies, food and fun to keep them busy. There is no way that they can leave the room and the parents will all pop back to double check on their offspring throughout the evening. Honestly, have parents learned NOTHING from media coverage of similar cases involved children left alone?! So it’s no surprise (well, not to us as the readers!) when one of the mum’s checks the sleeping group of boys and realises that her son is missing. But this missing person enquiry takes on a different direction when a notorious local is brought in to help investigate at the request of the mother.

Yet again I read this bad boy in one session (Christmas has been great for toppling my TBR pile!) as once I was caught up in the drama of this missing child, I couldn’t rest until I found out what had happened to him. And the plot didn’t develop in quite the way that I was expecting either! The quality of the plotting was quite brilliant which, alongside the wonderfully crafted characters, made this book one to remember. I will definitely be reading more books by Candice Fox in the future if this is the standard I can expect from them. Consider me a fan!

Meet the author…

Candice is the middle child of a large, eccentric family from Sydney’s western suburbs. The daughter of a parole officer and an enthusiastic foster-carer, Candice spent her childhood listening around corners to tales of violence, madness and evil as her father relayed his work stories to her mother and older brothers.

Candice won back-to-back Ned Kelly awards for her first two novels Hades and Eden. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed Fall and co-writer with James Patterson of the Sunday Times No.1 bestseller Never Never set in the Australian outback.

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb #BlogTour #teamlori @OrendaBooks @crimethrillgirl

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of the third book in the Lori Anderson series by Steph Broadribb which is published by Orenda Books.

About this book…

A price on her head. A secret worth dying for. Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

With North due in court in forty-eight hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family. Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined. In this race only the winner gets out alive…

Brimming with tension, high-stakes jeopardy and high-voltage action, and a deep, emotional core, Deep Dirty Truth is an unmissable thriller by one of the freshest and most exciting voices in crime fiction.

My review…

I was so excited to get a copy of the third instalment of the Lori Anderson series that I had to read it on the same day it arrived! I’m completely obsessed with Lori and her life and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen to her next. What would happen between her and JT? Would they ever get a nice quiet life together and be a normal family? Well now, where would the fun be in that?! Ofcourse their involvement is always going to be a little bit different after what they have already been through together so I do recommend you begin at book one in the series to get the most from their relationship.

To be honest, at the start of Deep Dirty Truth Lori is actually managing to do the regular “mom things” with her daughter…this is until she’s kidnapped by the mob whilst on the “school run”. Now this mob family want her dead but Lori has some damn fine skills and they need them! So instead of killing her, they offer her the chance to a job to do for them ( although there’s not much of an opportunity to say no to be fair!) If she brings in Carlton North (who’s being held by the FBI against his will to testify against the family) then the price on her head will be dropped and Lori, and her little family, will be free from further threats to their lives. But if she fails….they die. So Lori sets off to find North but it looks like the truth of the situation is rather different from the one Lori was expecting.

This is probably my favourite storyline so far for Lori and JT. It was an action packed, twisty thriller that grabbed me by the arm, yanking me into the plot immediately. I’ve always had a #girlcrush on Lori and more than ever I loved watching the way she negotiated herself out of some rather sticky situations, always with the safety of the lives of those she loves at the forefront of her actions. Steph Broadribb knows her characters so well now that she knows exactly what makes them tick and how they react to certain situations. This means that you feel as though you are in the middle of the drama as it unfolds for Lori-it’s a real experience reading one of Stephs books and it’s one I hope will go on for a few more books yet!

All The Stars for Deep Dirty Truth! It’s a gutsy, relentless and substantial book with a heart of gold-rather like Lori herself. And I hope she comes storming back in another adventure very soon.

Meet the author…

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts.

My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.

Follow Steph on Twitter @CrimeThrillGirl and on Facebook facebook.com/CrimeThrillerGirl or visit her website: crimerthrillergirl.com