Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Silent Girls - Ann Troup

"This house has a past that won’t stay hidden, and it is time for the dead to speak.
Returning to Number 17, Coronation Square, Edie is shocked to find the place she remembers from childhood reeks of mould and decay. After her aunt Dolly’s death Edie must clear out the home on a street known for five vicious murders many years ago, but under the dirt and grime of years of neglect lurk dangerous truths.
For in this dark house there is misery, sin and dark secrets that can no longer stay hidden. The truth must come out.
Finding herself dragged back into the horrific murders of the past, Edie must find out what really happened all those years ago. But as Edie uncovers the history of the family she had all but forgotten, she begins to wonder if sometimes it isn’t best to leave them buried."

I loved Ann's first novel, so I was super excited to be able to review this one, and it really didn't disappoint. I love a novel that is filled with secrets that have to be uncovered and The Silent Girls has plenty of them. Full of unexpected twists, lies and a house that contains long-forgotten secrets I was drawn in from the first page - Ann's writing is tight and concise, with secrets revealed in layers, meaning that the reader doesn't have any time to get bored. 

I loved Edie and Sophie, and the way their relationship developed from complete strangers to a formidable team was brilliant. There were some properly despicable characters involved as well, something that I love in a book, it's always good to have a character to hate! 

With a little hint of the past mingling with the present, this is a compelling read, one that I would highly recommend.

The Silent Girls is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to Netgalley and Carina for my ARC**

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Thin Ice - Quentin Bates

"Snowed in with a couple of psychopaths for the winter...
When two small-time crooks rob Reykjavik's premier drugs dealer, hoping for a quick escape to the sun, their plans start to unravel after their getaway driver fails to show. Tensions mount between the pair and the two women they have grabbed as hostages when they find themselves holed upcountry in an isolated hotel that has been mothballed for the season.
Back in the capital, Gunnhildur, EirĂ­kur and Helgi find themselves at a dead end investigating what appear to be the unrelated disappearance of a mother, her daughter and their car during a day's shopping, and the death of a thief in a house fire.
Gunna and her team are faced with a set of riddles but as more people are quizzed it begins to emerge that all these unrelated incidents are in fact linked. And at the same time, two increasingly desperate lowlifes have no choice but to make some big decisions on how to get rid of their accidental hostages..."

My only gripe when it comes to Quentin Bates is the length of time it took me to discover him - I am HOOKED on Gunnhildur, and have devoured nearly all the series since discovering it a few months ago. Yes, I cheated a bit and read this one out of sequence, but it really doesn't make a difference - although I was familiar with Gunnhildur already, this can be read easily as a standalone. 
Quentin Bates has a real knack for creating characters that you can't help but love - even one of the characters in this novel is, realistically, a bit of a psycho, I couldn't help but like him and even found myself thinking that if I were to be kidnapped, I wouldn't mind if it was Ossi that kidnapped me because he really wasn't that bad!
There is a good solid plot line that jogs along at a decent pace - with a great sense of location (making me wish I could go back to Iceland!), and some fantastic characters, followed by a somewhat unexpected ending, I found this a really enjoyable read. I can't wait to go back now and finish off the rest of the series, hopefully that'll keep me going until Quentin's next offering :) 

Thin Ice is out on 3rd March and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Monday, 22 February 2016

The Girls in the Woods - Helen Phifer

"In an old album there is a beautiful Victorian photo that captures three young sisters, staring silently at one another. Only the trained eye can see the truth hiding in plain view. One of the sisters is already dead.
Annie Ashworth is currently off duty. With her baby bump growing fast, she is under strict instructions to stay away from police work and look after herself, especially as she has a history of leading danger right to her door. So when her police officer husband, Will, is called to the discovery of a skeleton buried out in the local woods, Annie tries to keep out of the investigation. But as another body is discovered and her own niece suddenly goes missing, staying away just isn’t an option.
As Annie is soon to discover, a picture really does tell a thousand stories. But which one leads to a killer?"

I love this series SO MUCH - Annie is a brilliant character, one that I warmed to straight away in book one and I love that we get to keep coming back to her over and over again. Things are, as always, fast paced for Annie and Will, and despite the fact that Annie is pregnant she can't help but get drawn in to the goings-on that Will is working on, even more so when her psychic ability comes into play and she is visited by the ghost of a dead girl.
This is a brilliant read, with a properly sinister killer - one who could be your next door neighbour but hides a gruesome secret. I really enjoyed the read and was quite prepared for the ending when Helen threw out a MASSIVE twist - one that I never would have seen coming in a million years - a twist that really elevates the story to whole other level. Brilliant. I can't wait for the next one.

The Girls In The Woods is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Behind Closed Doors - B. A. Paris

I am excited to be able to host an extract of Behind Closed Doors, as well as my review today - a difficult read, but one that kept me hooked from start to finish!

"Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie."

Behind Closed Doors makes for an incredibly uncomfortable, tense read, one that I found hooked me immediately - while it didn't blow me away, it was extremely addictive and very cleverly written with a protagonist that really is truly despicable. 

The story of Grace and Jack is one that is chock full of twists and turns, full of lies and deceit and made for a quick, easy read despite the uncomfortable subject matter. Although the characters are very well written, and Jack in particular is very well-written, I found my self more drawn to Millie, Grace's sister, than to Grace herself, and it was a case of that I was turning the pages to find out how Millie dealt with things, than with how Grace dealt with it all. I'm not sure what it was about Grace that I didn't like, perhaps it was just the way she rolled over for Jack in the beginning, but I couldn't warm to her at all. Millie, however, I loved. She is feisty and funny and knows her own mind, never letting her disability hold her back. 

Perhaps a difficult read for some, I did enjoy this and would recommend it.

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

EXTRACT from Behind Closed Doors


‘The dream is over, I’m afraid.’
‘It doesn’t matter,’ I said reassuringly, telling myself that it could be the best thing to happen to us. ‘We’ll manage.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, I’m sure you’ll be able to find another job easily—or you could even set up on your own if you wanted. And, if things are really tight, I could always go back to work. I wouldn’t be able to have my old job back, but I’m sure they’d take me on in some capacity or other.’
He gave me an amused look. ‘I haven’t lost my job, Grace.’
I stared at him. ‘Then what is this all about?’
He shook his head sorrowfully. ‘You should have chosen Millie, you really should have.’
I felt a prickle of fear run down my spine. ‘What’s going on?’ I asked, trying to keep my voice calm. ‘Why are you being like this?’
‘Do you realise what you’ve done, do you realise that you’ve sold your soul to me? And Millie’s, for that matter.’ He paused. ‘Especially Millie’s.’
‘Stop it!’ I said sharply. ‘Stop playing games with me!’
‘It’s not a game.’ The calmness of his voice sent panic shooting through me. I felt my eyes dart around the room, subconsciously looking for a way out.
‘It’s too late,’ he said, noticing. ‘Far too late.’
‘I don’t understand,’ I said, choking back a sob. ‘What is it that you want?’
‘Exactly what I’ve got—you, and Millie.’
‘You haven’t got Millie and you certainly haven’t got me.’ Snatching up my handbag, I looked angrily at him.  ‘I’m going back to London.’ He let me get as far as the door.
‘Grace?’ I took my time turning round because I wasn’t sure how I was going to react when he told me what I knew he was going to tell me, that it had all been some kind of stupid joke. Neither did I want him to see how relieved I was, because I couldn’t bear to think what would have happened if he had let me step over the threshold.
‘What?’ I asked coolly. He put his hand in his pocket and drew out my passport. ‘Aren’t you forgetting something?’ Holding it between his finger and thumb, he dangled it in front of me. ‘You can’t go to England without it, you know. In fact, you can’t go anywhere without it.’ I held out my hand.
‘Give it to me, please.’
‘Give me my passport, Jack! I mean it!’
‘Even if I were to give it to you, how would you get to the airport without money?’
‘I have money,’ I said haughtily, glad that I had bought some baht before we’d left. ‘I also have a credit card.’
‘No,’ he said, shaking his head regretfully, ‘you don’t. Not anymore.’ Unzipping my handbag quickly, I saw that my purse was missing, as was my mobile phone.
‘Where’s my purse, and my phone? What have you done with them?’ I lunged for his travel bag and scrabbled through it, looking for them.
‘You won’t find them in there,’ he said, amused. ‘You’re wasting your time.’
‘Do you really think you can keep me a prisoner here? That I won’t be able to get away if I want to?’
‘That,’ he said solemnly, ‘is where Millie comes in.’ I felt myself go cold. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Put it this way—what do you think will happen to her if I stop paying her school fees? An asylum, perhaps?’
‘I’ll pay her fees—I have enough money from the sale of my house.’
‘You paid that money over to me, remember, to buy furniture for our new house, which I did. As for what was left over—well, it’s mine now. You don’t have any money, Grace, none at all.’
‘Then I’ll go back to work. And I’ll sue you for the rest of my money,’ I added savagely. ‘No, you won’t. For a start, you won’t be going back to work.’
‘You can’t stop me.’
‘Of course I can.’
‘How? This is the twenty-first century, Jack. If all of this is really happening, if it isn’t some kind of sick joke, do you really think I’m going to stay married to you?’
‘Yes, because you’ll have no choice. Why don’t you sit down and I’ll tell you why.’

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Devil in the Valley - Castle Freeman Jr.

"In his quiet Vermont home, a man named Taft sits and wonders what's missing from his life. He's at a loss until a strange voice startles him from the rocking chair, where a stranger has seemingly appeared out of nowhere: well-dressed and smooth-talking, this man offers Taft the chance to have anything he's ever wanted-for a price. So begins The Devil in the Valley, the latest novel from critically acclaimed author Castle Freeman, Jr. Combining his deft hand for the supernatural with his classic setting of rural Vermont, Freeman gives us a story that touches on temptation and greed, and explores what we're willing to trade to obtain the things we most desire. A modern fable that explores the supernatural while staying rooted deeply in our world, The Devil in the Valley is a powerful novel from a master at his craft."

Having studied Dr Faustus at Uni and LOVED it, I was excited to be offered this to review - pegged as a modern day re-working of Faustus I dived straight in and wasn't disappointed. 

Castle Freeman Jr has written a perfect modern day version - he hasn't followed the storyline exactly, but pretty darn close to it - and it is an absolute joy to read. Whereas the original Faustus was given 24 years to enjoy his deal with the devil, Taft has only a few months, and he uses those few months wisely. I loved him, really loved him. When we meet him he is prickly, a drunk, someone who the reader feels sure will abuse the power that Dangerfield gives him, but he is also not what I thought he would be. 

A book that, whether it is meant to or not, has an underlying "feel good" factor, I enjoyed every last page - and the ending was just the icing on the cake. Whether you know the story of Faustus or not, this is a novel that every reader will enjoy, with characters that offer far more than I was expecting. 

The Devil in the Valley is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**