Last Seen by Lucy Clarke @lucyclarkebooks #amreading #BookReview

About this book…

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

Twisty, pacy, and superbly plotted, Last Seen is the perfect psychological page-turner for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Sabine Durrant.

My review…

I adore Lucy Clarke’s books and, due to their recurring themes of water and the sea, I usually try to save her latest and take it on my Summer holiday with me! Every book so far has been the ultimate beach read but Last Seen has a definite edge for me due to the wonderfully described beach hut setting that conjured up picture perfect, warm and sunny days by the sea. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the main characters lived in a beach hut before so I loved the whole “living the simple life” ethos. Having been born and raised in Norfolk, I have always had a fascination for those brightly coloured little huts that can only be compared to The Tardis…. “it’s bigger on the inside!” Where I lived there were very strict rules about not sleeping in them but everywhere is different and if I had one of the gorgeous but expensive huts in somewhere like Southwold then I would definitely want to spend every second of every single day and night there!

The plot here is a heart wrenching one for any parent to face, let alone one living right on the waters edge. When Sarah’s son goes missing, she firstly thinks that it is due to a row between them on his birthday. But as the days pass by, things come to light that may mean all is not as it first seemed. There are secrets galore to uncover but will any of them lead to the answer of what has happened to Jacob?

What an atmospheric slow burner this book was! I couldn’t put it down until I had discovered what had happened to Jacob! There’s a lot tightly packed into the plot and lots of teasers so that you think you know what’s going on but ultimately, if you’re like me, then Lucy Clarke will keep you in suspense right up until the very end. There are many themes twisting themselves throughout the narrative, friendship and loyalty, jealousy and suspicion and what it really means to be a mother. I felt for Sarah as she fought her feelings that something was seriously wrong when she realised Jacob was first missing. She did what many parents of teenagers do, tried to give her child the freedom to spread their wings but it’s difficult when that goes against every protective bone in a mother’s body! Both Sarah and Isla were clearly drawn characters and their relationships with their sons, and especially with each other, were cleverly constructed throughout. There were many eye opening surprises along the way to maintain the level of tension and the readers interest.

This is a brilliantly written book that will tug at your heartstrings. I almost felt like I was there on the beach with Sarah, looking out to sea, tasting the salty breeze as it swirled around my body and feeling the warm sunshine spreading itself over my skin. In fact, when I took my sandals off whilst reading it I half expected a little gritty pile of shimmering sand to fall out of them. So if you want to feel like you’re on holiday but you’re only in your back garden then this evocative book is the one for you.

I feel like I have been waiting forever for Last Seen to be published and I’m now incredibly sad that it’s all over. The final few pages had the hairs on the back of my neck standing to attention as I felt the summer slowly fade away. It was an emotional farewell, both to the characters that I’d come to love and the questions in my head that had finally been answered. Highly recommended by me!

Last Seen: A summer thriller full of secrets and twists, a gripping read for 2017! Is available to purchase now at Amazon UK

Meet the author…

Lucy Clarke

Novelist, traveller and fresh air enthusiast, Lucy Clarke is the author of four novels, including the Richard & Judy Book Club pick, THE SEA SISTERS.

Lucy is married to a professional windsurfer and, together with their two young children, they spend their winters travelling and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut.

http://www.lucy-clarke.com

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Blood Sisters by Jane Corry #BookReview 

About this book…

THREE LITTLE GIRLS SET OFF TO SCHOOL ONE SUNNY MORNING.

WITHIN AN HOUR, ONE OF THEM IS DEAD.

Two women. Two versions of the truth.

Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak properly, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here. At least that’s the story she’s sticking to.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that sunny morning in May.

And only another life will do…

My review…

Having read and enjoyed My Husbands Wife by Jane Corry I was really looking forward to Blood Sisters and I have to start by saying that I think this is the better novel of the two. Her latest book is packed full of twists, turns and red herrings galore and I became a dizzy mess whilst reading it, trusting everyone and no one! Jane Corry seems to have a talent for creating unreliable narrators who aren’t always very likeable and she puts that expertise to good use here in Blood Sisters.

It did take me a while to get into the rhythm of the narrative to begin with as it is pretty much a slow burner for the first half while we get to meet Alison and Kitty in their respective lives. Alison is an artist and teacher who goes to work in an open prison supervising art classes for the inmates, an unusual decision for someone who is obviously so traumatised by a past event that she doesn’t like to think, let alone talk, about it. Because of her introverted personality I found her very hard to relate to in the first half of the book. Once we found out more about her past and what happened leading up to “that day” I felt I understood her better although I still struggled slightly as she always seemed to be holding something of herself back. Kitty, on the other hand is an open book to us from the minute we meet her as we can hear every explosive thought in her head. Unfortunately though, no one else is able to hear her musings as she has lost the power to communicate verbally since the incident that caused her disability. The scenes in the care home were, at times, harrowing to read about but also incredibly heartbreaking as we could feel those powerful frustrations stemming from Kitty as she tries to grab hold of her flyaway memories and express herself to all those around her. I loved her internal voice and found myself wanting her to remain completely unaware of past events as those memories were obviously going to be very distressing for her if her reactions to certain people and situations were anything to go by!

There was a gasp out loud moment for me part the way through when I finally figured out where the plot was heading after much theorising. And after the slowly built up storyline at the start, the second half was much more of an unputdownable quest for answers until all the threads started to come together. I love it when a book surprises me and this one, with its tightly woven plot and unreliable narrators, maintained a high level of interest throughout as I waited for the next shocking plot twist. Towards the end some of those twists felt a little contrived and rather convenient but on the whole I found the ending totally gripping as it wasn’t entirely what I had been expecting! 

This one is going to be on everyone’s holiday reading list and it thoroughly deserves its spot on all those sunloungers this summer. Enjoy!

Many thanks to Annie Hollands for my review copy of Blood Sisters: The next addictive thriller from the bestselling author of My Husband’s Wife which is published by Penguin on 29th June 2017

Meet the author…

Jane Corry

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist who has written regularly for numerous newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph Weekend section, the Mail on Sunday and Woman. She has spent time working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men – an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her début thriller. ‘I love twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end! My husband says I’m a nightmare to watch dramas with as I love to work out who did it before the final revelation!’

You can find Jane on Twitter at @JaneCorryAuthor and on Facebook at JaneCorryAuthor.

Jane runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals all over the world, including The Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. Until her recent move to Devon, she was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University. She is also an associate member of the Royal Literary Fund.

Many of Jane’s ideas come during her morning dog-jog along the beach followed by a dip in her wetsuit. (She’s an all-year-round swimmer provided the sea isn’t dangerous.) Jane also loves tennis, walking, reading, yoga, the ‘Quiet’ train carriage (a great ‘office’ for writing) and her family. She’s still coming to terms with being an empty-nester but makes up for it with lots of long-distance nagging! Jane’s second husband was a bachelor family friend who is also Godfather to her children. He makes her laugh every day although they can’t agree on how to load the dishwasher!

Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown #BookReview


About this book…

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?

My Review…

I have to admit that this is the first book that I’ve read by Isabel Ashdown as she isn’t an author I’ve come across before. But now that I’ve read Little Sister I think I need to rectify that. I fell head over heels in love with her writing style and just didn’t want this book to end!

I actually read a sample of this book on netgalley and was so desperate to read the rest that I pre-ordered it straight away. I entered competitions to try to win a copy so I could read it sooner but had no luck. So a huge thank you must go to Tracy Fenton at TBConFB who provided me with a review copy of Little Sister and made me a very happy book blogger!

Little Sister is a perfect example of my favourite genre. It has at its heart the relationship between sisters Emily and Jess who have been estranged for the past sixteen years. When Emily’s baby daughter goes missing whilst Jess is babysitting, it brings back memories for both sisters and past grievances come flooding back. But will visiting the past solve Daisys disappearance?

I love a dysfunctional family drama and here we meet one gradually submerging in the secrets and lies that threaten to overwhelm them. The slow burning build up of tension was beautifully crafted from the start and I was completely gripped, desperate to turn the pages to solve the mystery hidden within them but not wanting it to finish. As the threads within the story unravelled I was kept constantly on my toes, trying to guess where it was heading with its shocking twists and constant surprises, until I couldn’t bare to put it down for one second. And that ending!!! I actually sat holding the book after I had finished it just to let those last few pages resonate fully.

This has has been one of my most lusted after books of 2017 so far and I’m so pleased to report back that it didn’t disappoint one little bit! Highly recommended by me.

Little Sister which is published by Trapeze on 27th April 2017 and is available to purchase here from Amazon UK.

Meet the author…

Isabel Ashdown

Dark, compelling and beautifully twisty … have you read Isabel yet?

Isabel Ashdown was born in London and grew up on the south coast of England. The opening of her debut won the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition, going on to be published as GLASSHOPPER (Myriad, 2009) and being named as one of the best books of the year. Today, she writes full-time, walks daily, and volunteers in a local school for the charity Pets as Therapy. Isabel lives in Sussex with her carpenter husband, their two children and dogs Charlie and Leonard.

Undercurrent by J A Baker #BookReview @Bloodhoundbook

About this book…

Phoebe and her disabled husband, Martyn, move into a new house in a village on the edge of County Durham. They plan to lead a quiet existence, a set up that suits them both.

Then Anna, who lives over the road and is bored of spending her days alone, seeks friendship with Phoebe and events take a dark turn.

Phoebe has secrets and is haunted by her past and Anna’s arrival in her life may prove to be the catalyst for her undoing.

What is Phoebe hiding and why are she and her husband so reclusive?

When Anna gets caught in a storm and is rescued by Phoebe the truth becomes apparent and Anna is thrown into danger.

Is there a difference between madness and evil?

Some friendships can be murder.

My review…

I had heard an awful lot about this book from the blog tour that has taken place recently so that tagline is true, this IS the thriller everyone is talking about! Although saying that, this isn’t a “thriller” as such, but more of a slow burning , character driven suspense that keeps you on your toes with a select cast of interesting personalities-none of whom were particularly likeable!

I just loved the setting here and the use of the river that flowed through the narrative as pretty much the star of the show! It played its part well involving itself in the lives of all the characters past and present. And I actually found it comforting as I could practically hear it bubbling away as the book progressed, especially when Anna goes walking alongside it and ends up in trouble.

From the start I didn’t trust Phoebe or her husband and as their story opened up, I also started to get quite strong negative feelings about their son Tom. How could he just up and leave to get on with his life when it’s blatantly obvious that his parents aren’t coping? I really felt for Anna though as her life revolved around the family who were taking her for granted and she was living a life that wasn’t fulfilling her at all. The excitement of a new neighbour must have been difficult for her to resist without realising the dangers she is about to unleash. It’s certainly put me off taking a freshly baked cake around to anyone new to my neighbourhood (now that would lead to acts of violence as my baking is terrible!)

This is an enjoyable debut with a fabulous prologue that really creates a desire to invest yourself fully in the plot as it unfolds. I think many people will be shocked by the dark and rather disturbing undercurrent running throughout and, whilst it didn’t shock me quite as much as it has done others, I still found myself totally gripped enough to read it in one session.

Thank you to Bloodhound Books for my review copy of  Undercurrent which is available to purchase from the 28th March 2017 as an ebook from Amazon UK

Meet the author…

J.A. Baker
J.A.BAKER was born and brought up in the north east of England and has had a love of language for as long as she can remember.
After gaining an MA in Education & Applied Linguistics with the Open University, she found herself with spare time and embarked on doing something she always wanted to do – write a novel.
She has a love of local history and genealogy and enjoys reading many genres of books but is an addict of psychological thrillers.
In December 2016 she was signed by Bloodhound Books who published Undercurrent. J.A. Baker is currently working on her second novel.
She has four adult children and a grandchild, and lives in a village near Darlington with her husband and dog.
You find out more about J.A.Baker by visiting her website at jabakerauthor.com

Close To Me by Amanda Reynolds #BookReview

About this book…

She can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.

Dramatic psychological suspense for fans of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go, and Linda Green’s While My Eyes Were Closed.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.

A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.

But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

My review…

Now everyone knows I LOVE a dysfunctional family (rumours that this is because it shows my own family in a slightly better light are of course unfounded!!) so I was totally tempted by the blurb of Close To Me which seemed right up my street, with family secrets lying at the heart of this memory loss suspense.

I wasn’t sure if I would take to Jo but as we shared a name and are of a similar age I wanted to give her a chance. Jo is struggling after a fall has left her with amnesia, not a total memory loss though, just of the last year. And it’s pretty obvious that her family are all keeping secrets about things that have happened in that year. Jo is having a few flashbacks though and although they seem to be rather erotic in nature, she has always been a faithful and loving wife……hasn’t she? Could her lost year really be hiding THAT much? As the plot unfold in the days following her “accident” we also get glimpses of the life Jo was living leading up to it. And as the plot progressed I actually came to like Jo and felt an empathy with her that came easier than I had thought it would.

One of the things I liked about Close To Me was the family dynamics and the rather realistic dramatic reactions to things that were happening. It came across like a reality show at times, with “looks” between different family members, non communicative children and lots of emotional responses once hidden secrets had been revealed. With Jo being of the age she was, she had to deal with “empty nest syndrome” as well which cruelly often coincides with the menopause which can make women more emotional and sensitive as well as having a dramatic effect on their sex life. Jo thinks she may have had an affair but if so who with? And is that the reason that she feels her fall wasn’t an accident? Due to the way the story was set out, sometimes we could see what had lead to events before Jo did but the twists and turns towards the end weren’t the ones that I had been expecting! I trusted nobody in this book and that’s just the way I like it!

I  read a lot of books now that have similar themes so it does take a lot to stand out for me but I did rather enjoy Close To Me and even read it in one session which says it all.

Close To Me was published on 31st March 2017 by Wildfire and is available to purchase from Amazon UK

Meet the author…

Amanda Reynolds
Amanda Reynolds is an author and creative writing tutor. Her debut novel, Close To Me, will be published in 2017 by Wildfire (a new imprint of Headline) as their first fiction title. She lives in the Cotswolds with her family and two very furry dogs.
Amanda has worked as a goat milker, a teaching assistant and a sales trainer. More recently she was the book reviewer for The Cheltonian and taught regular creative writing classes and workshops.
She now writes full-time, taking a sabbatical from teaching to write her second book, another psychological suspense (due out in 2018).

Tattletale by Sarah J Naughton #BookReview

About this book…

One day changes Jody’s life forever.
She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.

One day changes Mags’s life forever.
After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiancé Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind. But the pieces don’t quite seem to fit…

My review…

Having met the author Sarah J Naughton at Harrogate last year I was intrigued when I found out that she was going to publish her first adult psychological suspense after her previous success as a children’s author. And as psychological suspense is my “thing” I was looking forward to discovering more. But one thing I did discover was never judge a book by its cover – Sarah J Naughton looks like the most sweet natured “butter wouldn’t melt” type (although with rather a wicked sense of humour I have to say!) but OMG she must have some very warped and deliciously disturbed thoughts in that darkly devious imagination of hers!

It has to be said that such a disturbing and intense storyline is quite obviously going to be very graphically described in places but please don’t let that put you off. The horrors experienced by one of our main protagonists have to be explored in all their hellish entirety so we can understand the actions she feels compelled to take. I won’t pretend to have taken to either Mags or Jody, neither of them seemed to have many redeeming qualities and I found it hard to trust either of their narratives. Mags doesn’t make a good impression on anyone she meets, she is closed off and she knows she’s being a total bitch but gradually we come to understand that there’s more to it than a tunnel visioned concern for her brother Abe, laying in a coma after a fall. By the time we meet Abe he is already in a coma but we get to know him through flashbacks via both Jody and Mags and I think he was my favourite character, the one I felt the most connected to, the one I was rooting for, who deserved their happy ending. But this was no fairy tale and those distressing circumstances lead to an incredibly dramatic last few chapters that culminated in an unexpected twisty denouement. It was also one that was expertly constructed, bringing everything together with a poignancy I hadn’t encountered during the previous pages.

This is a very powerful and skin-crawling novel that disturbed me in such a way that I felt I wanted to go and have a scrub clean in the shower as soon as I had finished it. I can’t say it was an enjoyable read due to the subject matter but it certainly kept me engrossed with an unputdownable tale that left me pondering the moral dilemmas raised within it. It would certainly provoke a healthy debate within book club discussions!

Many thanks to the publisher Trapeze for my review copy of Tattletale that I have chosen to read and review.

Tattletale is published by Trapeze on 23rd March 2017 and you can click Tattletale to purchase this book from Amazon UK.

Meet the author…

Sarah J Naughton grew up in Dorset, on a diet of tales of imperiled heroines and wolves in disguise. As an adult her reading matter changed but those dark fairytales had deep roots. Her debut children’s thriller, THE HANGED MAN RISES, featured a fiend from beyond the grave menacing the streets of Victorian London, and was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa award. TATTLETALE is her first adult novel, and has a monster of a different kind. Sarah lives in Central London with her husband and two sons.

Blink by K.L. Slater #BlogTour @bookouture

Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for Blink by K.L. Slater.

About this book…

What if the person you love most in the world was in terrible danger … because of you?

Three years ago, Toni’s five-year-old daughter Evie disappeared after leaving school. The police have never been able to find her. There were no witnesses, no CCTV, no trace.

But Toni believes her daughter is alive. And as she begins to silently piece together her memories, the full story of the past begins to reveal itself, and a devastating truth.

Toni’s mind is trapped in a world of silence, her only chance to save herself is to manage the impossible. She must find a way to make herself heard. She must find her daughter.

A compelling, gripping thriller with a breathtaking twist that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Behind Closed Doors and The Sister.

My review…

So last night I couldn’t sleep so decided to start this book. Two hours later I was downstairs making myself a coffee so I could stay awake to finish this brilliantly gripping and twisty tale of a mother trying to solve her daughter’s disappearance. I started off telling myself “just one more chapter” then I gave up and totally abandoned myself to the fact that this book was not getting put down till the very last word was read.

We have all been here I think, terrified of being late somewhere to pick up a child and something bad happening so that there is no one there when you arrive -it has certainly been a recurring nightmare of mine! And I have to say that A LOT of books play on this greatest fear as a parent, which is why there are so many missing child books out there. So to stand out from the crowd, there has to be something very unique and special about this sub-genre, the development of the plot especially. And here K.L. Slater really does pull the rabbit out of the hat with her take of a family in turmoil, but beware the “smoke and mirrors” as this book will totally mess with your mind!

I enjoyed Safe With Me, the authors previous psychological suspense, but this one resonated with me far more than I had expected it to and I loved it far more than I was expecting to. Her writing style draws you right from the very first page, creating an unputdownable mystery where you just have to know what happened to Evie and why. So be prepared to start this only if you have nothing else to do. You have been warned!

Many thanks to Bookouture for my review copy of Blink.

Blink: A psychological thriller with a killer twist you’ll never forget is published by Bookouture on February 16th and available to purchase from Amazon UK.

About the author…

K.L. Slater

For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents but never made it off the slush pile. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating, she received five offers of representation from London literary agents and a book deal which was, as Kim says, ‘a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

Kim writes psychological crime thrillers for Bookouture. Her first book, ‘Safe with Me’ is published on 3rd November 2016.

Kim is a full-time writer and lives in Nottingham with her husband, Mac. Between them they have three grown-up kids; Kim’s daughter, Francesca, and Mac’s sons, Nathan and Jake.

She also writes multi-award winning YA fiction under the name Kim Slater.

Author website: http://www.KLSlaterAuthor.com
Twitter: @KimLSlater
Facebook: KL Slater