Mystery

All posts in the Mystery category

Beautiful Bad – Annie Ward

Published March 24, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

IN THE MOST EXPLOSIVE AND TWISTED PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER SINCE THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, A PERFECT LOVE STORY LEADS TO THE PERFECT CRIME.

‘Compelling. Filled with unexpected twists… a riveting read’ Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Wife Between Us

Maddie and Ian’s romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to the always wonderful Quercus Books for hosting a bloggers event at the end of last year where they showcased some of the fiction they were most excited for in 2019 and secondly, for providing me with a complimentary review copy in exchange for an honest review. As soon as I picked up Beautiful Bad, I turned to my blogger bestie, Janel @ Keeper Of Pages and told her that I NEEDED to read this book. The proof copy was beautifully simplistic and incredibly effective with just a few lines of text on the back cover that went like this:

“Things that make me scared:

  1. When Charlie cries.
  2. Hospitals and lakes.
  3. When Ian gets angry.
  4. ISIS.
  5. That something is really, really wrong with me…”

I mean – wow. Who couldn’t resist but pick this book up with a teaser like that?

Annie Ward, author of Beautiful Bad.

Now, I hope those of you who have followed my blog for a while understand by now that I will always, always give you an honest review. If I absolutely don’t like a book and DNF it (i.e. a one star rating), I won’t review it as I don’t think it’s fair to the author or his/her future readers to review a book that I haven’t read the whole way through. My two star ratings are for books I finished but I had a few problems with and didn’t really enjoy that much but can see why other readers might. I’m sure you also appreciate that I don’t revel in writing more critical reviews and even if I didn’t enjoy a book, I will ALWAYS try and find something positive to say about it rather than ripping all an author’s hard work and efforts to shreds. Three stars and above = I enjoyed the novel but to varying degrees depending on whether I rated it three stars, four stars or the big five stars. I feel that I had to put that little disclaimer in because I did enjoy Beautiful Bad in general but unfortunately, I did have a few problems with it that were purely personal to me and I completely understand that other readers might feel very differently.

My expectations were so high with Beautiful Bad, partly because of that intriguing taster on the back cover and there were just a few ways in which it didn’t meet those ridiculously high standards of mine. As it’s a psychological thriller, I don’t want to get too deeply into the nitty gritty but I want to assure readers that haven’t read this yet and are excited about it that it really is a very compelling and fascinating read. The reason I kept on reading was that I was curious to find out what exactly was going on and what happened on one terrible day.

The novel is told from both Maddie and Ian’s point of view and we hear in intricate detail about how they met, fell in love, the initial struggles of their relationship, where they are right now in the present as a married couple and what difficulties they continue to face. Annie Ward explores mental health and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in an assured, often saddening way and I was constantly gripped by the relationship between the couple and how they managed to navigate through their troubles, especially with the addition of a gorgeous little boy, Charlie to their family.

Iraq, one of the many settings we visit in Beautiful Bad.

Image from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/iraq-lawmakers-seek-timetable-for-withdrawal-of-foreign-troops-1519933363

Through the eyes of Maddie and Ian, we are taken to a multitude of different settings including Iraq, Kansas, Manhattan, England and the Balkans and piece by piece, their journey to becoming a married couple is slowly explored. With such a variety of locations to explore you may be wondering exactly what my issue was, especially as I normally thrive on learning about different places and cultures. However, in Beautiful Bad at times it felt like there was too much unnecessary detail within these settings. That is to say, I didn’t feel I learned much about the place in enough detail as I would have liked. I understand this might have been to explore the juicier details of Maddie and Ian’s relationship but even then, I don’t feel as if the right sort of things were explored. It just seemed to be them going for a drink, fighting with Maddie’s friend Jo, falling in love WAY too quickly and him calling her “Petal” far too much which became slightly sickening. As a result, I didn’t feel as if I connected with any of the individuals as characters because sadly, I just couldn’t find their relationships believable on any level.

This book has so many potentially great things going for it, it was such a shame I felt such a disconnect with the characters and parts of the narrative. It’s mysterious and puzzling and even though I found some parts a bit slow, by about the middle of the novel, I was gripped enough by the story that I wanted to continue and see how it ended. Additionally, I have already seen so many positive reviews for this book so please don’t let my variable opinion sway you towards not picking it up – it certainly has some incredibly thrilling moments and in the hands of a different reader, you might get the completely opposite reaction. If you’ve already read it, I’d love to chat with you in the comments, please let me know what you thought!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

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Talking About The House On Half Moon Street (Leo Stanhope 1) by Alex Reeve with Chrissi Reads

Published March 21, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Everyone has a secret… Only some lead to murder.

Leo Stanhope. Assistant to a London coroner; in love with Maria; and hiding a very big secret.

For Leo was born Charlotte, but knowing he was meant to be a man – despite the evidence of his body – he fled his family home at just fifteen, and has been living as Leo ever since: his original identity known only to a few trusted people.

But then Maria is found dead and Leo is accused of her murder. Desperate to find her killer and under suspicion from all those around him, he stands to lose not just the woman he loves, but his freedom and, ultimately, his life.

A wonderfully atmospheric debut, rich in character and setting, in The House on Half Moon Street Alex Reeve has created a world that crime readers will want to return to again and again.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: I told you when I started reading this book that it wasn’t what I had expected. Did you have any preconceptions of this book? Did it live up to your expectations?

BETH: I know you weren’t super keen on this one when we originally looked at it and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect myself. I’m desperately trying to step away from judging books too much before I give them a chance so I went into it with an open and intrigued mind. Also, even though I usually read the synopsis before I get stuck in, I tried to go into this book a little blind so that I could find out all about it myself without making any pre-judgements. In the end, I’m glad I did this as it made the story and the character of Leo more exciting for me and I was curious to see how it would continue.

BETH: What do you think you anticipated from this novel? How did your opinion change as you began and then finished it?

CHRISSI: I was NOT keen at all on reading this book. I did a you (hee hee) and judged it by its cover and the crime genre. I’m not a massive fan of the genre because it doesn’t always capture my attention. I personally feel that the genre is overpopulated and there are so many similar books. However, my opinion completely changed. I was pleasantly surprised and I feel like Alex Reeve brought something new to the genre.

CHRISSI: We’ve read books set in Victorian London before. How do you think the setting is compared to other books set in the same era?

BETH: I think the setting was definitely very evocative. Victorian London is one of my favourite settings to read about and I especially enjoy crime set in this era. However, because a lot of different works of fiction have been set within this time period, there is always a chance it can feel a bit stale. Luckily, I don’t believe this is the case with Half Moon Street. The author drops you expertly into the Victorian era with a lot of vivid descriptions of the streets and the people that walked them at this time in history. It took me right back in time, like I wanted and sits perfectly alongside other books set in this period.

BETH: Who was your favourite supporting character and why?

CHRISSI: I’m not sure it’s a ‘favourite’ as such but I was intrigued by Rosie Flowers. Yes, that really was her name. I wanted to know whether I could trust her or not and I was very interested in her history. It’s hard to pick a favourite as the characters are incredibly well rounded and developed. I think I could have easily picked a few. Maria herself intrigued me throughout, even though she had died (not a spoiler) early on in the story!

CHRISSI: Did this book capture your attention all the way through? What was it about the story that kept you reading?

BETH: I can say with complete confidence that my reason for turning the pages was most definitely the character of Leo. From the very beginning, you understand what an extraordinarily difficult life he has had and this could have made a story all of its own. When a murder is thrown into the mixture, Leo (turned amateur detective) becomes an even more endearing character who you find yourself rooting for constantly.

BETH: How do you think the author manages to capture the dark side of Victorian London?

CHRISSI: I felt like Alex Reeve really captured the dark side of Victorian London well. I definitely felt the atmosphere that I can imagine was around Victorian London. There were many elements that portrayed Victorian London effectively. The prostitution, the murders, the gore (especially the talk of the innards at the start!) the role of the men and women. It was all there in all it’s glory gory. It really struck a chord with me, that Leo knew he’d be put in an asylum if it was found that he dressed as a man.

CHRISSI: Without spoilers, what did you make of the ending? Can you see this becoming a long series?

BETH: I liked the ending! I thought I had it all figured out but not quite. Things are resolved to an extent but the reader is definitely left hanging in one respect as to what might happen next (generally speaking) in the life of our main character, Leo. It absolutely has the potential to run as quite a long series because of the strength of Leo’s character and the potential adventures that he could become embroiled in.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. As long as the series doesn’t go on for too long. I think it’s my problem with some crime fiction. It seems to go on for many books and my interest wanes. A trilogy is enough for my attention span! 😉

Would WE recommend it?

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Devil Aspect – Craig Russell

Published March 18, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A terrifying novel set in Czechoslovakia in 1935, in which a brilliant young psychiatrist takes his new post at an asylum for the criminally insane that houses only six inmates–the country’s most depraved murderers–while, in Prague, a detective struggles to understand a brutal serial killer who has spread fear through the city, and who may have ties to the asylum 

Prague, 1935: Viktor Kosárek, a psychiatrist newly trained by Carl Jung, arrives at the infamous Hrad Orlu Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The state-of-the-art facility is located in a medieval mountaintop castle outside of Prague, though the site is infamous for concealing dark secrets going back many generations. The asylum houses the country’s six most treacherous killers–known to the staff as The Woodcutter, The Clown, The Glass Collector, The Vegetarian, The Sciomancer, and The Demon–and Viktor hopes to use a new medical technique to prove that these patients share a common archetype of evil, a phenomenon known as The Devil Aspect. As he begins to learn the stunning secrets of these patients, five men and one woman, Viktor must face the disturbing possibility that these six may share another dark truth.

Meanwhile, in Prague, fear grips the city as a phantom serial killer emerges in the dark alleys. Police investigator Lukas Smolak, desperate to locate the culprit (dubbed Leather Apron in the newspapers), realizes that the killer is imitating the most notorious serial killer from a century earlier–London’s Jack the Ripper. Smolak turns to the doctors at Hrad Orlu for their expertise with the psychotic criminal mind, though he worries that Leather Apron might have some connection to the six inmates in the asylum.

Steeped in the folklore of Eastern Europe, and set in the shadow of Nazi darkness erupting just beyond the Czech border, this stylishly written, tightly coiled, richly imagined novel is propulsively entertaining, and impossible to put down.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Clara Diaz and Constable, an imprint of Little Brown Publishers for getting in touch via email and providing me with a complimentary digital copy of The Devil Aspect via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. After reading that incredible synopsis, I couldn’t help but be excited to read this novel, the first of Craig Russell’s work that I’ve come across and now I’ve discovered him, definitely won’t be the last. This fascinating and occasionally unsettling work of fiction is part historical, part crime and mystery, part thriller with a drop of horror thrown into this heady mixture of genres to make it a story that I still find myself thinking about weeks after finishing it.

Craig Russell, author of The Devil Aspect.

You don’t need to know anything extra about this novel save what is in the synopsis above. In fact, if you’ve already skipped the synopsis and headed straight to my thoughts, I might even boldly suggest that you go into this novel knowing as little as possible. This isn’t because the synopsis gives away spoilers but because I read the synopsis a long while before I actually physically started the book and had forgotten much of what the novel encompassed. This meant that the juicy little surprises revealed throughout the narrative came as a welcome shock compared to if I had been overly familiar prior to starting my journey into Russell’s delectable writing. All you really need to know is that it’s the story of a psychiatrist in the 1930’s who begins work at a Prague asylum harbouring incredibly dangerous prisoners who will never be released back into the general public. He is investigating new medicinal and hypnotic methods into unravelling the evil deeds that they have done with the hope that he can make them better people as a result.

Prague, 1935 – the setting for The Devil Aspect.

Image from: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/62768988526418513/?lp=true

That’s The Devil Aspect in a nutshell. However, you can’t really put this book into a nice little box and wrap a bow around it. It’s about so much more than that. It explores the unpredictability of madness, the power of the human brain, the danger of psychopaths, the difference between evil and good and how folklore and superstition can be used against already fragile and vulnerable individuals to take advantage. It’s definitely a thought-provoking read that made me consider how frightening the human mind can be, especially as we don’t know half of what it’s capable of OR how the terrifying way in which our memory can fail/change, sometimes without our conscious knowledge that it has occurred.

I’m not usually too bothered about graphic events in a work of fiction but holy hell, some parts of this really were brutal – Russell definitely doesn’t shy away from detail. I’m sure all I need to mention is Jack The Ripper for you the reader, to understand what I’m alluding to? As an aside, I would have been interested to see the fascist angle in this book to be explored in more depth however I completely understand why the author didn’t do this. He has SO many irons in the fire with what he chooses to write about and perhaps another thread to the story would have been slightly too much to deal with. I was a perfectly willing and happy participant to the surprises and shocks I received throughout The Devil Aspect and will absolutely be seeking out more of the author’s work.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Talking About The Colour Of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris with Chrissi Reads

Published March 14, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Whatever happens, don’t tell anyone what you did to Bee Larkham…

Jasper is not ordinary. In fact, he would say he is extraordinary…

Synaesthesia paints the sounds of his world in a kaleidoscope of colours that no one else can see. But on Friday, he discovered a new colour – the colour of murder.

He’s sure something has happened to his neighbour, Bee Larkham, but no-one else seems to be taking it as seriously as they should be. The knife and the screams are all mixed up in his head and he’s scared that he can’t quite remember anything clearly.

But where is Bee? Why hasn’t she come home yet? Jasper must uncover the truth about that night – including his own role in what happened…

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: This book has been compared to The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time. Do you understand and/or agree with that comparison?

BETH: Absolutely. It also reminded me a little bit of The Trouble With Goats And Sheep by Joanna Cannon.You started reading this novel a little bit before me and I saw your post saying that it reminded you of The Curious Incident. Now I’ve had a chance to read it myself, I completely agree. Both stories follow a young boy with autism as he struggles to cope with the suspected murder of one of his neighbours. There are differences however which made it unique in its own special way. For example, Jasper has synaesthesia which offers an additional quirk in how he views the world. Secondly, whilst our main character in Curious Incident is desperately trying to investigate his neighbours murder, Jasper appears more troubled by the situation.

BETH: Was this book what you expected? If not, why not?

CHRISSI: Not at all. I expected it to have Curious Incident vibes and it did. However, I thought it was totally unique. The character of Jasper was so well thought out and well developed that it made me absolutely adore him. I thought the family dynamics were fascinating. I basically can’t rave enough about this book because I thought it was fantastic. I really did. It will stay with me for some time!

CHRISSI: What did you think had happened to Bee Larkham? Did your opinion change throughout the book?

BETH: I had no idea. The author drops little hints along the way and it does become quite worrying, especially in the clues that are given throughout the narrative and how they connect to our main characters but as for the details of what happens to Bee, it is left deliberately vague until the very end. It’s much more a story of Jasper, his relationship with his father and his struggles with face blindness and how to recognise people, even those that should be completely familiar to him. I wouldn’t say my opinion changed through the novel exactly but I was surprised by the final reveal.

BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel? Who was it and why?

CHRISSI: My favourite character was Jasper. He was so endearing. I have taught children very similar to Jasper before, although without the synaesthesia, so he reminded me of them. I have a special place in my heart for children with autism. I think it’s fascinating how they see the world and Jasper certainly fascinated me. He’s such a delightful character and I think, if you’re going to read this book, you’re in for a treat when you meet Jasper.

CHRISSI: Had you heard of synaesthesia before reading this book? If so, did you think the author’s interpretation was accurate?

BETH: I had heard of it before but was always a little bit confused about what exactly it entailed. This is one of the only novels I’ve read that focuses on the subject and explains it to the reader in a way I could finally understand. Jasper has problems with face blindness and is only able to recognise people (even his own father) by either focusing very hard on particular items of their clothing or the colour of their voice. Whenever there is noise, be that music, bird song or just people talking, they emit a very specific colour. Some of these are more palatable to Jasper than others and he will recognise that person in future by concentrating on the specific colour he sees when they speak.

BETH: If this book was a colour, what would it be and why?

CHRISSI: My initial thought is blue. I don’t know if that’s because my version had a blue cover. I feel like the colour blue has such a strong representation in this story that it just has to be blue!

CHRISSI: This book is undoubtedly unique. What was it that made it so unique for you?

BETH: Can I say everything? Even though the similarities to Curious Incident are there, it stands on its own completely as a very separate, very special piece of writing. I loved how it explored Jasper’s world and the growth of his relationships with other characters, even his own father. The description of the colours was done so beautifully it made the writing more vibrant and an absolute pleasure to read. Then there was the mystery element of what exactly happened to Bee Larkham and I adored how this was unravelled – from her very first days on the street until the present time when her demise is much more convoluted than you could ever imagine.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Certainly! I thought this was an incredible read!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

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CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

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Blog Tour – The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Published February 9, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland, in this stunning new standalone novel from New York Times bestseller Jane Harper

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Dark, suspenseful, and deeply atmospheric, The Lost Man is the highly anticipated next book from the bestselling and award-winning Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature.

What did I think?:

I’ve been so amazingly lucky to be involved with the blog tours for Jane Harper’s first two books in the Aaron Falk series, The Dry and Force Of Nature so I was delighted when Caolinn Douglas contacted me via email and asked me to be part of the tour for Jane’s new book. The Lost Man is a thriller set once again in the author’s home country of Australia but this time, it’s a stand-alone novel that introduces us to brand new characters and once again, an impossibly mysterious situation. In this story, we follow Nathan Bright and his family as they struggle to deal with the discovery of his brother Cameron’s body. As I’ve come to expect with all of Jane’s novels, nothing is quite what it seems and Cameron’s death is much more complex than originally expected.

I was excited to read The Lost Man as a buddy read alongside blogging bestie, Jennifer from Tar Heel Reader and boy, did we have a lot to talk about? This book really got under my skin in the most unexpected manner and the second half of the novel in particular had me on tenterhooks throughout, to the point where I actually had to message Jennifer and just squeak acronyms at her i.e. OMG, OMG!

Jane Harper, author of The Lost Man.

Jane Harper is an absolute wizard at creating atmospheric settings and using the harsh climate of the Australian outback to her advantage in developing a tense, nail-biting narrative that I found it difficult to tear my eyes away from. The seclusion of the area, the isolation of family members and the way that they are forced to interact, communicate and work together as the nearest neighbours are three hours drive away was nothing short of brilliant and I could almost smell the unease in the air. The thought of being in such a remote area where it would be difficult to get prompt help in an emergency is absolutely terrifying to me and the idea of having to be prepared with survival materials every time you take a drive was quite difficult to wrap my head around but completely fascinating and only served to heighten the drama of the situation.

The Australian Outback – road trip anyone?!

Personally, I felt this book was very much a novel of two very different halves. Let me stress that this isn’t a bad thing at all. I found the first half of The Lost Man to be slightly slower in pace. We were introduced to the Bright family, we experienced their confusion at losing their brother/son/husband etc and we began to see bits and pieces of Nathan’s private investigation into uncovering the reasons behind Cameron’s death. At this time, I appreciated the intricate detail that Jane Harper presented us with, allowing the reader to become familiar with the setting and the situation. In fact, I felt as if I was eased into a situation delicately and methodically so by the time I was halfway through, I was entirely comfortable (although obviously intrigued) with what was happening.

Holy Moley, by the second half of the novel does she pull the rug out from under your feet or what?! I was genuinely thrilled by the direction the narrative took, the secrets that were uncovered and the meaningful way in which the reader gets to know each individual personality a bit deeper. Jennifer and I had a lovely chat about halfway through and as with all of our little talks, we tried to analyse the plot and figure out what might be going on, voicing our predictions for the rest of the book. I’m over the moon to announce that we were wrong and I couldn’t be happier telling you that.

I honestly feel that Jane’s literary writing style is almost one of a kind. There’s not many other authors out there that I can think of that manage to create such literary, intelligent work that combines beautiful characterisation with a plot that you can’t help but become heavily invested in. As a result, I simply HAVE to give it nothing less than the full five stars!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jane Harper is the international bestselling author of The Dry and Force of Nature. Her third book, The Lost Man, will be realised in February 2019.
Jane has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year.
Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea.
Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

Find Jane on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/556546.Jane_Harper

on her website at: http://janeharper.com.au/

on Twitter at: @janeharperautho

Thank you so much once again to Caolinn Douglas, Grace Vincent and Little Brown UK for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. The Lost Man is published on 7th February 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to The Lost Man on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863488-the-lost-man

Link to The Lost Man on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Man-Jane-Harper/dp/1408708213/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549469849&sr=8-1&keywords=the+lost+man+jane+harper

Blog Tour – Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

Published February 7, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Death stalked the Vale.
In every corner, every whisper.
They just didn’t know it yet.

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

What did I think?:

This review comes with an extra special thank you to the powerhouse that is Quercus Books who drew my attention to this novel when they hosted a Word-Of-Mouth event for bloggers just before Christmas, showcasing the books they were most excited for in 2019. Also, many thanks to Milly Reid for accepting me onto the blog tour this week in order to promote this surprisingly fantastic book. I say surprising as I haven’t actually read any of Jo Spain’s work before and so I went into Dirty Little Secrets with very little expectations at all. I always find the best kinds of books and certainly the ones that stay with you long-term are the ones that come out of nowhere, knock you for six, have you tweeting and raving about them and then automatically recommending it to anyone who will listen. That’s what Dirty Little Secrets was like for me and I’m stupidly excited to share my thoughts with you all today.

Jo Spain, author of Dirty Little Secrets.

So what can I tell you about this book while remaining suitably vague and mysterious? It’s an absolute must read, in my opinion, particularly if you like unreliable narrators, multiple points of view, intriguing and unlikeable characters, a plot that just won’t quit coupled with a remarkably literary and focused writing style. I was genuinely bowled over by how invested I got in this story within such a short space of time and I fully believe this was purely because of the way in which the characters were written. We hear from numerous individuals around the gated community of Withered Vale who are all being interviewed about the police regarding the suspicious death of one of the members of their community, Olive Collins. None of the neighbours are particularly personable, they all appear to have their own little secrets and skeletons in the closet and additionally, each harbours a potential motive for wishing harm on Olive.

I adore a decent psychological thriller, especially one that can keep me on my toes and have me gripped throughout, constantly feeding my curiosity without giving the game away too early. Dirty Little Secrets does all that combined with a unique focus on the characters and their individual stories to whet our appetite as a reader and have us wondering exactly what might be going on here. I loved that literally ANYONE could have had a hand in Olive’s death and it left me scratching my head on numerous occasions wondering how the author was going to wrap it all up. Well, she wraps it up gloriously I assure you and I’m delighted to report that I was left in complete darkness and ignorance until the very end.

Why have I not read any Jo Spain before? How is that even possible that a talented author has been writing books like this and I haven’t even realised?! Her writing came completely out of nowhere, sucked me in and left me truly hungry to go and peruse the rest of her back catalogue. I may have been woefully ignorant of this author in the past but thankfully, that’s no longer the case and I can’t wait to get stuck into more of her work, especially if the brilliance of Dirty Little Secrets is anything to recommend her by.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jo Spain is the author of the Inspector Tom Reynolds series. Her first book, top ten bestseller With Our Blessing, was a finalist in the 2015 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller. The Confession her first standalone thriller, was a number one bestseller and translated all over the world.
Jo is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, a former political advisor in the Irish parliament and former vice-chair of InterTrade Ireland business body.
She now writes novels and screenplays full-time. Her first co-written TV show TAKEN DOWN was broadcast in Ireland in 2018 and bought by international distributors Fremantle.
Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and four young children. In her spare time (she has four children, there is no spare time really) she likes to read. Her favourite authors include Pierre Lemaitre, Jo Nesbo, Liane Moriarty, Fred Vargas and Louise Penny. She also watches TV detective series and was slightly obsessed with The Bridge, Trapped and The Missing.
Jo thinks up her plots on long runs in the woods. Her husband sleeps with one eye open and all her friends have looked at her strangely since she won her publishing deal.

Find Jo on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14190033.Jo_Spain

on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/JoSpainAuthor/

on Twitter at: @SpainJoanne

Thank you so much once again to Milly Reid and Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Dirty Little Secrets is published on 7th February 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Dirty Little Secrets on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38120306-dirty-little-secrets

Link to Dirty Little Secrets on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dirty-Little-Secrets-Jo-Spain/dp/1787474321/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549467094&sr=8-1&keywords=dirty+little+secrets+jo+spain

The Last – Hanna Jameson

Published February 4, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Breaking: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

Breaking: London hit, thousands feared dead

Breaking: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilization, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?

What did I think?:

This review comes with an enormous thank you to Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books who were very kind to send me a proof copy of this extraordinary novel in exchange for an honest review. I was actually supposed to attend the launch of this book in Shoreditch, London on Friday night but unfortunately due to some pesky snow affecting the rail network I was unable to get there. From what I’ve heard though, a great night was had and congratulations to the author and publisher on the recent release of this book.

Apart from being an aesthetically pleasing novel with some of the most gorgeous endpapers I think I’ve ever seen, I don’t think any fans of speculative or science fiction (with a remarkably realistic edge) could resist the pull of that glorious synopsis. I certainly couldn’t. Lucky for me the story inside the pages completely matched that stunning outside cover and I was hooked from page one with an endlessly fascinating plot and set of characters.

Hanna Jameson, author of The Last.

The Last is Jameson’s fourth novel after her debut, award-nominated novel, Something You Are and two further novels in the series, Girl Seven and Road Kill and even though I haven’t had the pleasure of exploring these works yet I can tell she is a writer to be reckoned with. The Last immediately pulls you in with its quirky first-person narration in the form of journal entries from historian Jon Keller and ensures you remain gripped with the discovery of a body in a Swiss hotel after a nuclear bombing that has devastated an unknown portion of the world.

It appears to span a mixture of genres from the Agatha Christie like murder mystery to a thrilling, almost dystopian end of the world scenario topped off with a unique, modern twist in terms of style and how the story is presented to the reader. There are a variety of interesting characters to get to grips with and in similarity to another novel I’ve read recently, not a single one of them are reliable or appear completely innocent which only heightens the drama and tension of the narrative.

Switzerland, a beautiful setting for a wonderfully gripping story.

I don’t believe I warmed to a single one of these characters – even Jon, our main protagonist and story-teller. However, I don’t think we were meant to. Each individual we meet within the hotel could have a reason for committing murder and although the reader is never told every single character’s circumstances in intimate detail, we are left with the air of mystery that makes us question whether it in fact, could have been them. I adore unlikeable characters, it’s always fantastic in my opinion to have an emotion connected to a person you’re reading about and if this emotion is a strong one, it’s the bait on the end of the line to keep you reading, desperate to know what’s going to happen with their story.

The scariest thing about this novel? Perhaps that it has the potential to actually happen with the management (or mis-management?) of nuclear weapons around the world at the moment, something I have very strong opinions on. It’s an event not entirely out of the realms of possibility and it really makes you think about how you would cope if you were in the position of being one of the survivors of a nuclear attack. More than that though, I feel the author wrote in a very insightful manner about how certain characteristics and behaviour would be forced to emerge if you were going to survive something like this. I know I certainly couldn’t be as ruthless and emotionless as some of the characters in this novel but it was really interesting to see how people coped, which personalities came to the forefront and how plans were made/roles were developed within a group to make the best of such a horrific situation.

After eager anticipation in waiting to read this novel, I’m delighted to say it didn’t disappoint. It gave me everything I wanted in terms of character, plot development, thrills and chills and unexpected incidents. I’ll certainly be checking out Hanna Jameson’s back catalogue of work and am excited to see what she’ll bring out next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0