Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sister sister - by Sue Fortin

Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin

Isn't that cover beautiful?

My Review

Sue Fortin has really stepped up to the psychological thriller bar with this tense and terrifying suspense novel about family bonds, lies and betrayal.

In this fast paced, gripping, dark family drama, we meet Clare, mother of 2 lovely little girls and her artist husband, laid back Luke. They all live in Clares childhood home with her emotionally fragile Mother. They have never been able to quite break their ties with the past as all their lives they have been waiting without any success for news of Clares little sister Alice who was abducted by her own father when she was just a little girl. This has left a huge gap in their lives and despite having a successful career as a lawyer Clare always hankers after what might have been, whilst her mum just wants news of her little girl, she has never given up hope that one day she might return.

And one day she does – Hooray! Alice is alive and well and she has contacted them!

Suddenly Clare’s life begins to change, she is no longer the only daughter. Her home and family suddenly has a new dynamic and despite this being what she has always hoped and longed for she finds it really difficult to accept Alice into her home and life. She’s no longer the sad little blue eyed baby Clare had to protect, she is very much grown up! Very soon Clare begins to feel Alice has a hidden agenda and when things start to go wrong,  they go very, very wrong and poor Clare gets her nose pushed out and neither her Mum or her husband believe her.

Is she in fact imagining things? Has she lost the plot entirely? If so, can we trust what she is telling us?

What unfolds is a terrifying journey of manipulation and betrayal, you wouldn’t want your worst enemy to travel.

By the end I was out of breath, shaken and very impressed.

It’s superbly plotted, brilliantly executed and very twisty. I felt at one point I couldn’t trust anyone’s point of view, suspected everyone of having ulterior motives and at first thought Clare was being irrational. If you love twisty domestic Noir thrillers this is definitely an excellent example of secrets and lies and the moral is trust no-one.

Having read and enjoyed this authors previous books: Closing In and The Girl Who Lied I'm delighted to say this writer goes from good to better with every book!

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher HarperImpulse for my review copy.
It's available now for your kindle

The Description

Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Claire: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Claire thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.
Alice thinks Claire is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.
Two sisters. One truth.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The girl before - J P Delaney - a raunchy thriller

The Girl Before by J P Delaney - my Review

A rather unusual, contemporary sexy thriller.

Meet Jane and Emma, they have quite a few things in common, these 2 young women and yet their situations and personalities are quite different. One thing they do have in common,  is they have both lived at the same address – One Folgate Street, a state of the art architect designed luxury pad filled with the latest hi tech gadgetry, which they have both been permitted to rent at a peppercorn rent in return for abiding by some stringent and frankly weird rules.

Meet Edward Monkton the designer and owner of this unique property. Widowed and obsessive he personally interviews and vets every tenant and insists they follow his intricate requirements to live in the house he created in memory of his late wife and child.

Jane has a very particular reason for wanting to live there, she needs a new start following the stillbirth of her baby, still reeling from grief One Folgate street will give her the chance to begin again. But soon after moving in she begins to receive deliveries of flowers which turn out to be from the ex-boyfriend of the previous tenant Emma and thus we learn about Emma and begin to move back and forth in time as we hear both girls telling their respective experiences in the house.
Emma moved in there with her boyfriend Simon following a violent and distressing break-in, which has left her shaken and feeling unsafe, but far from being the haven she hopes for One Folgate Street becomes the catalyst for her life to spiral even further out of control and reveals herself to be a somewhat unreliable narrator.

Jane begins to investigate what happened to Emma and what she uncovers is at times worrying and unsavoury and leaves her fearing for her own safety.

There are quite a few shocks and twists in the imaginative storyline and it becomes clear that its not easy to know who to trust and who not to. Have the girls been selected as tenants by Edward Monkton for some sinister ulterior motive? What exactly happened to Emma and who was behind it?

A clever and unpredictable page turning thriller with some sinister and tense scenes coupled with a raunchiness that in some places left me a touch uneasy. The stark minimalism and pristine uncluttered cleanliness of the strange house jarred with the raunchy yet clinical passion of its manipulative (yet coldly attractive to some women) owner whom I found petty, pernickety and sexist yet scary and mystifying.

The author seems to have tried to combine elements of 50 shades – with hints of several popular current psychological thrillers, it shouldn’t have worked but it actually did end up pretty gripping reading, if a little too pulp fiction and slightly too little literary merit for my usual tastes.
A quick read if you’re seeking a weekends entertainment to curl up with. Plenty going on, surprises and thrills yet easy to follow.

My thanks go to Netgalley for my advance reading copy and the publishers Quercus for granting my request to read and review it.

The blurb

Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price? 

For all fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl comes this spellbinding Hitchcockian thriller which takes psychological suspense to the next level ....

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there - and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma's past and Jane's present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Another You - Jane Cable - Romantic and dramatic

Review - Another You - Jane Cable

Jane Cable writes wonderfully imaginative romantic fiction set in great locations which she describes so beautifully you feel you’re there.

And look at the beautiful cover.

Another you is set in Dorset, a place I’ve never visited. As I was nearing the end of the book, I watched the first episode of Julia Bradbury’s new walking series on tv and on her first walk she visited every location mentioned in the book – it was great! I recognised the locations of Old Harry, The Dunes and even the military camp and tank museum which feature in this novel, as clearly as if I’d actually been there – and I had – transported by the pages of this lovely book.

The storyline centres around the narrator Marie’s life. She is a Chef in the pub business she owns with her partially estranged husband Stephen, who after a series of affairs, no longer lives there with her. Their Son Jude who is the light of Maries life lives there and works there too and her always angry and grumpy ex-husband still works there too putting undue stress on Maries life. No wonder she enjoys escaping to the beach hut she owns, and strolling along the dunes. 

Between stress induced migraines, hard work and long hours in the pub kitchen with cook Baz and argument after argument between her and her ex it’s not surprising that she is drawn to the enigmatic and gentle Corbin, an American soldier she meets on one of her walks but mystery surrounds him and he keeps disappearing when she most feels she needs him to talk to.

Dorset is preparing for a big re-enactment and celebrations of the D-day anniversary and the story is woven around this, as it brings a flurry of new men into Marie’s life and feeling as vulnerable as she does she embarks on a passionate and physical fling with one of them.

Apart from the mysterious old fashioned Corbin in her life, there comes Paxton, also an American soldier with striking physical similarities to Corbin, he is damaged goods, still reeling from ptsd caused by his recent posting in Iraq. Then there’s Elderly ex militarian George here for the celebrations and his amiable son Mark who has sworn off women after his wife treated him like dirt, devoted to his lovely dog Troy he sails around the coast in his yacht licking his wounds and Marie takes pity on his bachelor status, cooking him tasty meals to keep him going.

Meanwhile teenage son Jude is fighting his own inner battles, newly in love with a girl he is keeping Mum about he is the pawn between Marie and Stephen and often finds himself keeping the peace.

Almost every character in the book is flawed and damaged by circumstances, some almost beyond repair and we watch Maries struggle to find herself and work out what she wants from her own future as she begins to wonder if she is imagining things and going a little bit crazy herself.

There is a mystery surrounding a silver seahorse necklace and a frisson of spookiness that keeps you guessing throughout the book which builds to a tense climax and we wonder if Marie is on the route to self-destruct, fired by her own lack of confidence and low self esteem.

This is a delightful read, very real, romantic without being in any way soppy dramatic and engaging and with enough mystery and suspense to keep the most demanding reader hooked. 

I received my copy in advance through NetGalley.

The Blurb
Sometimes the hardest person to save is yourself… 

Marie Johnson is trapped by her job as a chef in a Dorset pub and by her increasingly poisonous marriage to its landlord. 

Worn down by his string of affairs she has no self-confidence, no self-respect and the only thing that keeps her going is watching her son, Jude, turn into a talented artist. 

But the 60th anniversary of a D-Day exercise triggers chance meetings which prove unlikely catalysts for change. 

First there’s Corbin, the American soldier who she runs into as she’s walking on the cliffs. He is charming and has a quaintness about him, calling her an ‘English rose’. 

Then there’s George the war veteran, who comes to dine at the pub, and his son Mark. George fascinates Marie with his first-hand accounts of the war, whilst Mark proves helpful in making sense of the pub’s financial situation. 

And there’s Paxton. Another American soldier with an uncanny resemblance to Corbin. Young, fit and very attractive, Marie finds him hard to resist. But little does she know Paxton is also battling some inner demons. 

As the heat of the summer intensifies, so do the issues in Marie’s life. 

Why is Corbin so elusive? Why is the pub struggling to make ends meet? Why has Jude suddenly become so withdrawn and unhappy? 

Can she help Paxton open up and begin to deal with his pain? 

Or will she be shackled to the pub and her increasingly spiteful husband forever? 

But as events unfold, Marie finally realises that she is not trapped, but stuck, and that it is down to her to get her life moving again. 

Perfectly blending the complexities of twenty-first century life with the dramatic history of World War Two, Another You is a charming tale that will warm your heart. 

Jane Cable writes romance stories with a strong element of mystery and suspense. Her first novel, The Cheesemaker’s House, was a finalist in The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition and won the Words for the Wounded Independent Book of the Year Award in 2015.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Watcher - Ross Armstrong - a stylish contemporary Noir thriller

When I received my advance copy of this new thriller to read it held double appeal for me. I can't get enough of twisty psychological thrillers and I am a keen birdwatcher (who also enjoys a bit of people watching)

My Review

This fabulous book is a tense and terrifying journey into the world of Lily Gullick a young woman who sees something strange and worrying whilst bird watching from the window of her brand new apartment in a contemporary tower block which she and her husband Aidan bought some time ago.

From childhood Lily has been a keen birdwatcher, taught by her Dad to record and identify the different species she spots and living up here with a balcony overlooking a reservoir it’s the ideal pastime to while away her time with her binoculars. However she also has a great view of the other apartments including the remaining semi derelict old blocks of flats opposite, earmarked for imminent demolition by the new developers they are the grim and hulking crumbling relics of the 1970s with few remaining residents, save a few hardened dwellers hanging on until the bitter end in their graffiti ridden, urine scented fortress.

Lily’s story is strange and compelling, it’s clear she has a vivid imagination and her life has a dream-like and almost post-apocalyptic feel, although it’s set very much in the now of modern day city dwellers and the deep social divide between the Young upwardly mobile city workers and those who are not so much have nots as have never hads.

Lily wants to narrow this gap. She is a people watcher of extremes and has created names and even woven lives around many of the people she knows only by sight. It becomes clear that despite her accurate record keeping and obvious intelligence, she is perhaps not the most reliable of narrators. As she begins her quest to meet and talk to her neighbours she displays an erratic side to her personality, heedless of her own safety she makes ill-judged decisions and when she sees something which really worries her, followed by a sudden death she is convinced is murder, she rushes headlong into a self-destructive investigation which is bound to end badly.

Whilst we watch her, watching others, a pattern of unreliability and instability emerge, it’s clear something is wrong in Lily’s life. Her job is unsatisfying and she is only going through the motions her husband appears to be becoming a recluse, a shut -in, and even though Lily loves him it grows harder for her to connect with him.

It’s the sense of isolation and unease as Lily’s life spirals out of control, which permeate the fabric of this psychological suspense novel, creating a really different form of tension and nail biting suspense. 

There is a big OMFG moment which rocked me sideways and glimpses of Lily’s past and present coming together to create the person she has become, and underneath it all is the baffling was it … wasn’t it? murder investigation, missing girl, and strange goings on which make Lily’s life very surreal with a nightmarish quality lightened with brief moments of levity, which made this book sheer reading pleasure. 

The setting of dark and crumbling monoliths of vandalised tower blocks juxtaposed against modern “Yuppie” waterside apartments, all overlooking a tranquil reservoir peopled by birds creates a stark and isolated world for Lily to inhabit and the perfect backdrop for sinister goings on.

This book is a cunning and accomplished debut. I loved reading this stylish, contemporary Noir thriller with a twist.

I received my copy in advance to read before publication and I apologize for allowing life to get in the way and not getting around to it until after it has been published. The advantage of this is you can rush out and grab your own copy right now.


The Girl on the Train meets Rear Window, The Watcher is an absolutely addictive and on trend commercial psychological suspense read, with a captivating unreliable narrator and some powerful narrative twists. She's watching you, but who's watching her? Lily Gullick lives with her husband Aiden in a new-build flat opposite an estate which has been marked for demolition. A keen birdwatcher, she can't help spying on her neighbours. Until one day Lily sees something suspicious through her binoculars and soon her elderly neighbour Jean is found dead. Lily, intrigued by the social divide in her local area as it becomes increasingly gentrified, knows that she has to act. But her interference is not going unnoticed, and as she starts to get close to the truth, her own life comes under threat. But can Lily really trust everything she sees?

Monday, 2 January 2017

Fracture - Heleyne Hammersley - a journey of discovery

It's a privilege that my first review of 2017 is for the tense and quite wonderful Fracture by Heleyne Hammersley.

What an intense and terrifying road trip of a book!

In this unusual and gripping psychological drama we meet Rosie who has had a very tough time, she bears the mental and physical scars of the bitter ending of a toxic relationship which has left her uncertain of her own future and lacking in confidence.

So when her parents suggest a change of scene might be the thing she needs to boost her recovery it seems easiest to go along with it even though a long solo flight is ultra daunting to Rosie's frayed nerves. Its clear she's apprehensive and uncertain of herself and her mind often plays tricks on her. She sets off on a journey of recovery and self discovery that just might be her undoing.

On arrival in Australia the warm welcome from her laid back Uncle Charlie and loud but lovable Aunt Rita seems to be just the balm she needs to salve her wounds, and following weeks lazing by the pool and reading (my idea of heaven) she finally bites the bullet and gets out to explore her surroundings.

Walking along a cliff top one day she sees a sunbather which her overwrought imagination lets her think is a dead body, when she goes over to investigate - she finds herself staring into the eyes of the naked but very alive and kicking Alfie, an unconventional and irreverent young woman who is about to become a close companion. Is she just the diversion Rosie needs to bring her out of her shell or is she trouble with a capital T?

The book makes it clear from the start that something goes badly wrong as there are snippets of Rosie being questioned by the police about an event she is sketchy about and as the story unfolds it's clear she could be in big trouble. But has she brought this on herself or is Alfie to blame and just how and why has the mysterious and elusive Alfie disappeared?

The psychological twists are superb. Rosie is a likeable yet very unreliable narrator, and although at first her neuroses and hesitance were a touch irritating I soon warmed to her, gained empathy with her and was drawn into her world.

It is a thriller, there is a murder and you never quite know who to trust.

Its clear Rosie has some mental health issues, deep self denial and self esteem at rock bottom. At first I was overjoyed to see her blossoming and building a relationship which at first I thought was going to be the making of her, by the time the alarm bells rang loudly enough to make me have serious misgivings, she was in too deep.

In Alfie she finds the Yang to her Yin, she feels a deep kinship as though she is her own counterpart but Alfie behaves in all the outrageous ways Rosie will never be comfortable with and in this intense love/hate relationship lies the crux of the story a toxic friendship which is more than it at first appears.

This is the second book I have read by Heleyne Hammersley, she writes great characters into threatening situations and takes you on a journey to a beautifully described location to watch them play out.

Fabulous books from a little known author who I highly recommend.

Read my review of Heleynes debut novel Forgotten here.

Buy the ebook or paperback here

My thanks go to the author for allowing me to receive an advance review copy.

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