Review: The Child Next Door by Shalini Boland @bookouture

The Child Nex DoorKirstie Rawlings is jolted awake by a child crying. Racing upstairs to check on her new-born, she is plunged into every parents’ worst nightmare. She hears an unknown voice in the baby monitor, saying: ‘Let’s take the child – and go.’

Is someone trying to steal her little girl?

In the bedroom, her daughter is safe asleep in her cot. Is the voice coming from a nearby house? But there aren’t any other babies living on her quiet country road…

The police don’t believe her. And neither does her husband.

Kirstie knows something isn’t right. She thought she could trust her neighbours, now she isn’t sure. As she unravels the secrets of the people living on her street, Kirstie’s perfect life begins to fall apart.

Because someone is hiding a terrible lie. And they will do anything to stop Kirstie uncovering the truth. But is the danger closer to home than she thinks?

Review

I have read and enjoyed previous titles by Shalini Boland. She is one author whose books I’d buy without reading the blurb. Her latest book, The Child Next Door, definitely didn’t disappoint me.

This book started out a bit slow. Kristie is a new mom, living with her husband, in a quiet, cul-de-sac. One evening, Kristie hears something on her baby monitor that convinces her that there is a baby is in danger. Kristie is uncertain on whose baby it is and she is even more scared because she only knows of one baby in the neighbourhood, hers.

Through the chapters, readers get to see how Kristie’s life changed after the incident. There are a couple of things that she did that made it easy for me to connect with her. Her constant checking of locks every night, in particular, reminded me of a period in my own life. My house was burglarized a while back and I spent months doing the same thing. I used to wake up a couple of times in the middle of the night to check all doors and windows despite part of me knowing that they were definitely locked. I think this made me connect with Kristie even more. I could connect and understand her paranoia.

This book has a number of twists along the way that I couldn’t have predicted. I liked how the author revealed information as the story progressed. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, boom! A new twist! Needless to say, I was completely hooked to the story.

I loved the ending. I love it when all answers are provided in a way that sounds believable. This is what happened in this book. The conflict resolution was satisfactory. And then it happened. I thought the story was over and all the surprises were done but then came the epilogue. O.M.G! I remember suddenly, sitting upright, screaming, Whaat?

That ending is everything! Have you ever read something that actually made you envious of the author? Seriously, I wish I could come up with something like that.

This was a gripping, unputdownable psychological thriller perfect for fans of this genre. What a page-turner!

Review: Last Night by Kerry Wilkinson @bookouture

Last Night.jpgIt’s the early hours of the morning and Rose Denton wakes up behind the steering wheel of her car. She’s off the road, through a hedge and in a field.

There’s blood on the windscreen and bonnet – but it’s not hers and there’s no sign of anything or anyone she might have hit. The last thing she remembers is being in a hotel on a business trip but now she’s miles away.

Back home and her daughter’s boyfriend is missing. The last thing he did was argue with Rose over money. He left no note, no text, no clue as to his whereabouts.

The police have questions – and so does Rose’s family. But those are little compared to the ones she has for herself.

What happened last night? And, perhaps more importantly, does she really want to know the answer?

Review

I have read a few books by Kerry Wilkinson and I am totally hooked to his writing. This book just made me like his works even more. Honestly, if you are yet to read Kerry’s books then you are definitely missing out.

Last Night begins with a dramatic scene. Rose wakes up in her car. She is in a field with no idea about how she got there. To make matters worse, there is blood on her windscreen which she can’t explain. I immediately wondered what I would have done in the same situation. Would have I gone to the police or driven home hoping to forget the incident. Tough choice! This was exactly Rose’s predicament. She needed answers fast but unfortunately, her mind was blank and someone else was working hard to ensure that it stayed that way.

I enjoyed this suspenseful read with all its twists. There were instances when things happened outside the main storyline and I feared that Kerry was deviating a bit. However, it turns out that everything that happened was meaningful and I loved how the author brilliantly connected it all in the end making this quite a suspenseful, captivating read from start to finish.

Last Night was an entertaining read. I loved how the book tackled different themes such as marriage and family dynamics intertwined with the ongoing mystery surrounding Rose. This was a fast-paced, unpredictable, addictive read which I definitely recommend.

Cover Reveal: The Date by Louise Jensen @bookouture @Fab_Fiction #TheDate

I still remember when I first read The Sister by Louise Jensen. With her debut novel,  Louise became an auto-buy author for me. I have since read The Gift and The Surrogate and it feels like her writing just keeps getting better with each new title. I can’t even pick my favorite of the three books because they are all so amazing!

Today, I am pleased to share with you the cover and blurb for her latest book, The Date.

The-Date-Kindle

 

About the book

Something bad has happened to Alison Taylor. 

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future.

By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her…

My Thoughts:

I can’t wait to read this one. I already have so many questions. What happened to Ali? Who is trying to destroy her and why? I have feeling that this will be one addictive, twisty read.I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The Date by Louise Jensen will be published on June 21st 2018. The book can be

pre-ordered here.

About the author:

lOUISELouise is a USA Today Bestselling Author, and lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat.

Louise’s first two novels, The Sister and The Gift, were both International No.1 Bestsellers, and have been sold for translation to sixteen countries. The Sister was nominated for The Goodreads Awards Debut of 2016. Louise’s third psychological thriller, The Surrogate, is out now.

Louise loves to hear from readers and writers and can be found at www.louisejensen.co.uk, where she regularly blogs flash fiction. She can also be found on twitter and facebook.

 

 

 

Review: The Scandal/ Beartown by Fredrik Backman

The ScandalPeople say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

Review

I read this book a week ago and I can still remember how lost I felt when I got to the last page. I was sad, fighting back tears wondering how I was supposed to just move on and read another book after this one. I thought I knew how it felt to experience a book hangover but I can’t remember the last time I felt this way.

The Scandal is the story about a small, hockey town called Beartown. This town loves hockey so much. The residents live for the game. Their passion for hockey knows no bound. This is evident right from the beginning of the story. The author introduces the characters, the town and their love for hockey. Everyone in the town is touched by hockey. Simply put, Beartown is a hockey town!

The story is narrated through multiple characters. I admit, at first I was fazed by all the characters. At some point, I groaned to myself ‘not another narrator!’ However, I soon started following the story and was able to appreciate how masterfully the author jumped from one narrator to another and still managed to make the story flow easily. I wasn’t confused trying to keep up with the narrative.

This book gave me the feels!  My initial plan was to read it slowly over a week. I wanted to prolong the experience. However, I was soon held captive by the story and all my plans went out of the window. I ended up devouring this in just a few hours.  The book made me smile but it also really broke my heart and made me dislike small towns at some point. Nevertheless, I was captivated by the tale and weirdly fascinated by the town even when it made me want to never live there. I admired the residents love for their town and the game. In many ways, this book reminded me of Friday Night Lights. Reading it, I found myself thinking of FNL although the storylines are not exactly the same. In my mind though, characters like Tim Riggins and Benji look the same.  I liked how similar the books are in terms of the small town settings, memorable characters and passion for their sport.

I can’t recommend this book enough. The Scandal is a wonderful, moving story with some of the most memorable characters that I have encountered. I have no doubt that this is one of the titles that I will be listing the next time someone asks me about my favourite books of all time.

 

I would like to sincerely thank Renee (its book talk) and Annie (The Misstery) for my copy of this book. Thanks to these wonderful ladies, this book has travelled across three continents. Book bloggers are amazing!

Scandal

Biggest Book Hangovers

I recently read The Scandal/Beartown by Fredrik Backman. The book left me with all kinds of conflicting emotions. I was happy that I had read it but terribly sad when the story ended. I felt disappointed in myself for having read it fast instead of slowing down and prolonging the experience. I didn’t want to move on or read another book. I mean, what do you read after a book that takes such a toll on you? Simply put, the book gave me a massive hangover.

A book hangover is condition in which attachment to a book or series that has ended causes the reader traumatic emotional distress. It usually lasts for one to two weeks, or until a new book of higher-than-average quality enters the reader’s life.

In no particular order, below is a list of my worst book hangovers:

 

  • The Scandal/ Beartown by Fredrick Backman
  • The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Wrecked by Maria Padian

 

 

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak- OMG, that final scene. Devastating!
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • When we danced at the end of the pier by Sandy Taylor
  • Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth

 

 

  • A Daughter’s Courage by Renita D’Silva
  • Blindness by Jose Saramago
  • The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden – I didn’t want this one to end. It was an emotional read but getting to the last page was difficult. I didn’t want my time with the book to end.
  • Stay with me by Adebayo Ayobami
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

 

  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  • A Mother’s Confession by Kelly Rimmer- That twist and the mother in law, that cover. So much to say about this one.
  • It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover- What an emotional roller coaster.

 

When I first thought of writing this post, I had 5 books in mind. Then I decided to list 10 books because 10 is a good number, right? However, going through my blog, I ended up with 17 books read in the last year or so! These are the stories that stayed with me long after I turned the last page.

Have you read any of the books on my list?

Let me know the books that gave you hangovers.

Throwback Thursday: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

throwbackthursday

This weekly feature is hosted by Renee,  (Its Book Talk). Throwback Thursday offers a way to share some of our old favorites as well  as sharing books that we are finally getting around to reading that were published over a year ago.

Distress Signals.jpgAbout the Book

The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads “I’m sorry–S” sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate–and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before.

To get answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground.

Review

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard is a suspenseful, fast-paced thriller with tension escalating right from the first page. The prologue begins with Adam in the ocean. I was immediately drawn to the narrative and wanted to find out what had happened. Why was he in the waters?

The story is narrated through alternating POVs. There are different story-lines cleverly intertwined with the main narrative with Adam as the main narrator. When readers first meet him, he seems like an ordinary guy at the verge of a career breakthrough. However, his life is soon turns upside down when his girlfriend, Sarah, fails to come home after a business trip.

There is another narrator who I shall not name. Let me just say that their narration was dark, chilling and yet very compelling. I looked forward to this narration with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation. Have you ever felt your heart beat change when you encounter a fictional character? I mean, my heart raced a bit  when I got to the darker narrations and tension went up.

This was a captivating read and I enjoyed all the reveals. I liked the fact that I couldn’t predict any of the twists. I literally had no idea where the story was heading. I liked the details about maritime law although they made me fearful of cruise ships. I enjoyed how the author interspersed details about the crime and the setting with the ongoing mystery of the disappearing women.

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard is the perfect thriller. It has everything that makes me enjoy this genre. I have no doubt that fans of this genre will love this book!

Review: The Innocent Wife by Amy Llyod

Innocent WifeTwenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free a man who has been wrongly convicted.

A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’s case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness to her. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release.

But when the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all …

But how do you confront your husband when you don’t want to know the truth?

Review

I think we have all heard the stories and people corresponding with inmates sort of like pen pals. According to reports, there are hundreds of women who correspond with death row inmates. Some end up establishing a relationship despite the restrictiveness of their engagement/contact. Serial Killers like Ted Bundy reportedly had a lot of fan mail from female groupies. This might sound a bit odd given the fact that he killed many women. However, he even got married while awaiting trial. I have always been curious about these relationships and this is what drew me to this book. I was curious about Sam and Denis.

The story begins with Denis behind bars serving time for murder. He is also suspected to be behind the disappearance of a number of women. Sam is a teacher who gets pulled into Denis’ story and soon starts corresponding with him. Readers get to see the romance blossoming. I liked the fact that the author shared the letters between the two. It sort of let us in to their world and it made their romance feel real and normal despite the circumstances.

The story is mainly narrated through Sam’s POV. We get to learn about her life after meeting Dennis and the way it changed especially once he was freed. I did sympathize with Sam at some point. Her longings, disappointments, happiness all came alive through the pages. However, I can’t say that I supported her decisions. The author did a fantastic job though in developing this character such that I might not have understood why she did most stuff but I did get why that stuff seemed normal to her.  I can’t say the same for Dennis though.

This was an entertaining read. As I have already mentioned, the relationship between the two was interesting to read about especially at the beginning of the story. My only issue with this story was that there were sections that dragged a bit. I found my interesting waning off at some point and then suddenly, there was a lot going on towards the end. However, despite the pacing being a bit up and down, I enjoyed reading this book and certainly liked the premise. I also liked the creepy vibe at the end of the narrative.

Review: The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne

BabysitterYou trust her with your family. Would you trust her with your life?

Mark and Melissa Cain are thrilled to have found Jade, a babysitter who is brilliant with their young children. Having seen her own house burn to the ground, Jade needs them as much as they need her. Moving Jade into the family home can only be a good thing, can’t it?

As Mark works long hours as a police officer and Melissa struggles with running a business, the family become ever more reliant on their babysitter, who is only too happy to help. And as Melissa begins to slip into depression, it’s Jade who is left picking up the pieces.

But Mark soon notices things aren’t quite as they seem. Things at home feel wrong, and as Mark begins to investigate their seemingly perfect sitter, what he discovers shocks him to his core. He’s met Jade before. And now he suspects he might know what she wants …

Mark is in a race against time to protect his family. But what will he find as he goes back to his family home?

Review

Jade kinda slithered her way into the Cain’s family. She wanted to be part of the family and so she found a way in. This was evident from the beginning of the story when readers are introduced to the family and to Jade. We quickly learn about her motives and then wait with bated breath to see what would happen next. Would her plans succeed? What exactly did she have in mind for this family? It was obvious that the Cains were in trouble. I kept waiting for them to find out what was really going on. At the same time, I watched with trepidation as the family fell apart clearly knowing that things could only get worse. I was especially mortified as I watched Melissa fall apart. You would have to read the book to know what I mean by this.

The story is narrated through alternating POVs between Melissa, Mark and Jade. As expected, one of the narrations was pretty dark. However, it helped in providing information about the baddie. We get some background information and insight into their dark thoughts. The other narrations reflected the effect that Jade was having on the young family.  Mark’s narration bugged me just a bit. I think the fact that he was a detective and his inability to see what was happening right under his roof seemed off to me. I liked his personality though but I felt as if his portrayal was a bit unrealistic and this made me a little frustrated by this character.

This was a tense read in that readers know that there is a storm coming. The antagonist is revealed from the start so this wasn’t a case of finding out the who. It was more focused on the what. What will Jade do next?  What will happen to Cain and his family? What will save the family?  The Babysitter ended up being a disturbing but captivating read.  Watching the events play out was chilling. I especially found myself feeling nervous for the other characters especially the kids in the family.

Although I do prefer books where the identity of the baddie remains a mystery until the end, I think the author did a great job in making this an interesting read even without big, shocking twists/reveals.

Throwback Thursday: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This weekly feature is hosted by Renee (Its Book Talk). Throwback Thursday offers a way to share some of our old favorites as well  as sharing books that we are finally getting around to reading that were published over a year ago.

About the Book

OveA grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Review

Once in a while, you read a book that brings characters into your life and makes you feel like they are real people that you actually know and not just works of fiction. This was my experience with Ove. I never knew my grandparents because they died when I was young but Ove made me miss them.

A Man Called Ove begins by introducing us to an old, grumpy man called Ove. Ove sure is mean and surly. Forgive me, but I really didn’t like Ove when I first met him. I even wondered why I was reading a book about such a mean old man. However, the author soon sneaked Ove into my heart. The more that I got to know about him, the more I warmed up to him. Reading about him, I found myself laughing, smiling and a bit teary at some point.

 

OPRAH TOUCHED.gif

 

This is a story about Ove, a man going through a hard time that makes him seem cranky until you get to know him. I dare you to read this story and not warm up to him. Honestly, Ove is one of the most endearing characters that I have ever come across in a book. I loved reading about him and getting to know his complex, sometimes misunderstood but wonderful personality. I also enjoyed getting to know everyone who came into his life. This was such a heartwarming story that I definitely recommend to everyone.

Happy Women’s Day!

 

Blog Tour: The Visitor by K. L. Slater @bookouture @KimLSlater

VisitorHolly returns to her home town after some time away – she has been through something terrible and now she needs a safe haven in which to recover, and to plan the rest of her life. She finds a room in a quiet and leafy suburban street, in the home of Cora Barrett.

David lives next door to Cora Barrett and he sees everything that happens on Baker Crescent. David stays at home, and he watches: he likes to feel safe and he doesn’t like to leave the house. He wants to keep his friends and neighbours safe too. So he observes them, and he records every tiny detail of their lives, just in case the information is ever needed.

Both lonely and vulnerable, Holly and David gradually begin to strike up a friendship. But Holly can’t shake the feeling that someone from her past might have tracked her down. And David is always watching… But uncovering the secret that could save his new friend and neighbour could be the one thing that destroys him.

Review

The Visitor is the fifth book that I have read by K.L. Slater. I enjoyed all her previous titles especially Blink and I am pleased to say that this one didn’t disappoint me either.

The Visitor is a character –driven thriller. It was a bit of a slow burner at first but it is still the kind of book that you pick up and can’t put down again until the last page. From the first chapter, it was clear that everyone was hiding a secret. I was especially intrigued by Holly because there were hints of something dark having happened in her past. I desperately wanted to find out exactly what it was. I also liked all the drama in her present life especially at work. David was another character with an intriguing secret that drove me insane trying to guess. What did David do and why is he the way that he is? This character had me screaming at the book seeking answers. Even the old lady Cora had a secret. I love books about secrets and so this was perfect for me.

I love how Slater narrated this story. She dropped hints that had me, as the reader, more intrigued. She would begin by subtly dropping a clue such as name without giving more details. This would get me turning the pages to find out more. I thought this narrative style was brilliant and it definitely helped in building the suspense. I also enjoyed the creepy, stalker vibe in the story. It felt like there was always someone  watching from the shadows. There were also creepy neighbors all around  adding to the tension.

There a number of twists and turns that made this a captivating read. The final chapters were so intense with a final twist that provided a brilliant ending. I thought I had figured out everyone and everything  but boy, was I wrong! This is the kind of book that you haunts you long after the last page. I still can’t stop thinking about the characters and their secrets.

The Visitor by K. L. Slater is an addictive, suspenseful character-driven thriller about lies, obsession, manipulation and a lot of secrets. This was without a doubt an entertaining, compelling read.

About the author: 
kim

Kim is the bestselling author of psychological crime thrillers ‘Safe With Me,’ ‘Blink,’ ‘Liar’, ‘The Mistake’ and ‘The Visitor.’

For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents and collected a stack of rejection slips. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.Before graduating in 2012, 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 is a full-time writer and lives in Nottingham with her husband, Mac.
She also writes award-winning YA fiction for Macmillan Children’s Books, writing as Kim Slater.

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

Don’t forget to check out more review on the tour.

Blog Tour Poster for The Visitor