It’s my stop on the blog tour today so I’m pleased to share with you my review for How To Kill Your Best Friend.
Many thanks to Becky at Midas PR for my invite and copy of the book.
I’d do anything for my friends – even murder…
Georgie, Lissa and Bronwyn have been best friends since they met on their college swimming team. Now Lissa is dead – drowned off the coast of the remote island where her second husband owns a luxury resort. But could a star open-water swimmer really have drowned? Or is something more sinister going on?
Brought together for Lissa’s memorial, Georgie, Bron, Lissa’s grieving husband and their friends find themselves questioning the circumstances around Lissa’s death – and each other. As the weather turns ominous, trapping the guests on the island, it slowly dawns on them that Lissa’s death was only the beginning. Nobody knows who they can trust. Or if they’ll make it off the island alive…
This new novel from Lexie Elliot, author of The French Girl, is a slow burn of a summer thriller, set on a remote island. Told from the perspectives of two friends, Bronwyn and Georgie, we meet these two and other friends and partners at the memorial of a third friend Lissa, who went missing some 3 months before, during a late night swim. All of them are accomplished swimmers, so the two best friends can’t make out how this could have happened.
As they all gather in this gorgeous setting, surrounded by luxury, they can’t ignore the ever increasing sense of danger, and as mysterious and threatening messages start to arrive, they all start to question, who can they trust?
As the weather takes a turn for the worst, trapping all onto the island, this novel really begins it’s fabulous tale of buried secrets, past mysteries and gripping twists and turns. Even a sea serpent who takes those who ‘want taken’! As new revelations, past and present, come to the fore and dangerous accident start to occur, this novel really picks up the tension with a fantastic finish.
A wonderful suspenseful summer page turner!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. She graduated from Oxford University where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. A keen sportswoman, she works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. The rest of her time is spent writing, or thinking about writing, and juggling family life and sport.
So behind in posting reviews at the moment, I thought I’d do a 3 in 1.
Three very different books.
In His Other Woman we meet main character Lucy as she deals with a personal crisis that isn’t what it at first appears. We follow Sylvie in It Ends At Midnight as we learn more and more about her dark past secret and we meet a bunch of charming characters in The Girl On The 88 Bus, as they join forces to track down an old man’s lost love.
Lucy’s husband has been missing for days while she tries to pretend to those around her, including her distracted teenagers, that everything is normal. In desperation she uses a phone app to track him—and discovers he’s with another woman.
As her life falls apart, Lucy realises nothing is as it seems. There is another woman in her husband’s life, but it’s someone she has known—and hated—for twenty years.
As the story unfolds, including in the national press, the family must pull together before lives are destroyed . . .
A quick read that moves along at a good pace but equally a novel that features some tough topics. If you like family dramas this new novel from Sarah Edghill is one about a family crisis that also reveals deeper relationship problems which are lurking under the surface, revealing flawed characters that are ticking along trying to pretend everything in life is fine. Until it most certainly isn’t!! A number of twists that kept the pages turning with an ending that, on reflection, seemed right to me. I’ve also really enjoyed Sarah’s previous book A Thousand Tiny Disappointments so do check that out!
It’s New Year’s Eve and the stage is set for a lavish party in one of Edinburgh’s best postcodes. It’s a moment for old friends to set the past to rights – and move on.
The night sky is alive with fireworks and the champagne is flowing. But the celebration fails to materialise.
Because someone at this party is going to die tonight.
Midnight approaches and the countdown begins – but it seems one of the guests doesn’t want a resolution.
They want revenge.
The story opens with two dead bodies impaled on some garden railings. We don’t know who they are or how they’ve come to be there. We follow the main character Sylvie, a barrister and district judge, currently working on a case which could get her noticed. as she is in the throws of a new relationship with a chef. Not long into the book, something happens in the life of her best friend, which in turn opens up a long buried moment in Sylvie past, which her friend now want her to revisit.
The opening of this novel was intriguing and the author’s dark and tense writing soon came through. The characters, although not overly likable, which I think is intentional, all felt slightly unreliable and added to the feel of the story. I did however find the middle part of the story quiet slow moving and a little thin on plot, but all is revealed at the end and the truth comes out revealing the identity of the bodies at the beginning.
When Libby Nicholls arrives in London, broken-hearted and with her life in tatters, the first person she meets on the bus is elderly pensioner Frank. He tells her about the time in 1962 he met a girl on the number 88 bus with beautiful red hair just like her own. They made plans for a date at the National Gallery, but Frank lost the ticket with her number written on it. For the past sixty years, he’s ridden the same bus trying to find her.
Libby is inspired by the story and, with the help of an unlikely companion, she makes it her mission to help Frank’s search. As she begins to open her guarded heart to strangers and new connections, Libby’s tightly controlled world expands. But with Frank’s dementia progressing quickly, their chance of finding the girl on the number 88 bus is slipping away.
More than anything, Libby wants Frank to see his lost love one more time. But their quest also shows Libby just how important it is to embrace her own chances for happiness – before it’s too late.
Having just been horribly dumped by her boyfriend and told to leave their home, Libby has gone to stay with her sister, aka look after her nephew, and whilst travelling down on the 88 bus, she meets an elderly gentleman called Frank and learns of a girl he once met on the same bus route sixty years before and has been looking for her ever since. Whilst we see Libby trying to deal with the breakup of her relationship and the comments she and her sister receive from her mother! Libby sets out to help Frank, to see if once and for all he can find his lost love before it’s too late. Meeting Frank’s carer, Dylan and other people along the way, we are told a story about how people connect with one another and how small acts of kindness can have a big effect on peoples lives. A wonderfully warm and tender story with a great positive feel.
Huge thanks to the authors and publishers for proof copies of these books and the chance to read and review. All three books are out now!
Huge thanks to Sophie Shaw at Michael J Books for sending me a proof copy of the new novel by Kate Riordan, Summer Fever. Having put The Heatwave on my top No.1 spot of 2020 reads, I couldn’t wait to dive in.
Two couples. One sweltering Italian villa . . .
Nick and Laura are the hosts: pretending their marriage isn’t on the rocks.
Madison and Bastian are the guests: neither is remotely who they claim to be.
Under the scorching Mediterranean sun no secret is safe. No betrayal goes unnoticed.
Two couples. But will either survive the summer . . .
This new novel from Kate Riordan slowly sucks you in. Enticing you in, with tale of Nick and Laura moving to a fresh new start to the scenically set Luna Rossa. Working on their dream and getting the place ready in time for their first set of paying guests. But……… and I should have guessed from reading the fantastically superb (yes I loved it!) The Heatwave, things soon take on a much darker side and the reader is taken into this dark and sinister tale of sexual coercion, infidelity and sexual tensions.
After failed IVF treatments, Laura and Nick decide to fulfil Laura’s dream to sell up and move to Italy. They find the wonderful Luna Rossa, house, pool and beautiful views set in a more remote, lesser known area of Italy called Le Marche. ‘The next Tuscany’.
Their marriage isn’t in a good place but Nick is desperate to make amends. However when guests Bastian and Madison arrive from The States, the atmosphere soon changes. Nick and Laura were unsure of how having strangers in their home would feel. How should they behave? Should they eat with them, or separately? Give them space? On arrival however, Madison seems more than willing to be friends and as the two couples start to get to know one another, the dynamics of the four characters make for a wonderfully delicious read. Full of uncomfortable tensions and secret ‘goings on’. Including flashbacks to Laura’s younger days at university with her best friend Lou and details of a discovery more recently back in London, the pieces that make up Laura and Nick’s relationship start to emerge.
Kate again does a marvellous job at capturing the setting and the heat of a European summer. Her ability to create undertones and overtones within an action or interaction between two people is both captivating and chilling. There are indeed some dark themes in this story and a growing feeling of menace, particularly from Laura’s flashback to her time at Uni and the builders working on the house and grounds, but they are wonderfully overlaid onto the idyllic setting and Italian summer. If you are after something a little dark, sinister and sexy this summer give this summer sizzler of a read a go!
Today I’m reviewing the fantastic Let’s Pretend by Laura Vaughan. a wonderfully tense and suspenseful read about the darker side of minor celebrity lifestyles. I really enjoyed Laura’s last novel The Favour so was delighted to receive a proof copy of this new book to read and review. Many thanks to Corvus Books for my copy.
Former child star Lily Thane is now a struggling thirty-something actress. Her old stage-school buddy, Adam Harker, is on the brink of making it big, but he needs an appropriate red-carpet companion to seal the deal, and Lily fits the bill.
Soon after signing on the dotted line, Adam’s dark side starts to surface and their perfect fauxmance turns toxic.
But when Adam winds up dead in a swimming pool, Lily is the only person who cares enough to find out why. She’s convinced someone was out to get Adam – and now they’re after her…
Our main character Lily Thane comes from a reasonably successful theatrical family and had her big break when she was 4 years old, staring in a movie called Snow Angels. Following on from this, there were a few small film roles and some commercials, but the older Lily became, the less work there was on offer. Now in her thirties she struggles to find jobs, even with the tireless ‘help’ from the ‘Momager’. So when Lily bumps into an old theatre school friend, Adam Harker, who’s career is in decidedly better shape than Lily’s, she is offered a different kind of role to sink her acting skills into. But one that could also offer dangers of many guises.
As with Laura’s previous book The Favour, I was soon drawn into the world of the main characters with the author’s wonderful atmospheric writing style and the unpleasant, toxic, yet somewhat likeable characters we meet in Let’s Pretend. This novel touches on and deals with some of the darker side of celebrity. Drugs, the way people use others, rejection, unhealthy body image but still managers to give the reader a glimpse of the real person underneath. It also wonderfully highlights the parallel lives of glamourous parties, travel, gorgeous clothes with the darker and dirtier side of drugs, self doubt, and image.
I won’t go into the plot, as it would spoil the read, but this new novel had me glued to the page. Full of tensions, unlikeable and untrustworthy characters and with wonderful atmosphere throughout, both physically and psychologically. It really casts a spell over you as you read. A well written and captivating psychological thriller.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Vaughan grew up in rural Wales. She got her first book deal aged twenty-two and spent several years working in publishing, followed by a behind-the-scenes role at English National Ballet (still her favourite job ever). She lives in South London with her husband and two children. Let’s Pretend is her second novel for adults.
Today I’m reviewing the new standalone psychological thriller from the popular author Tony Parsons. The People Next Door. Many thanks to the author and to Sarah Harwood for sending me a proof copy of this book.
Lana and Roman Wade have fled the city for a little corner of paradise, exchanging their flat with its unhappy memories for a small honey-coloured house among the rolling green hills of Oxfordshire. Their new home, set in a residential Close known as The Gardens, is their dream and their new neighbours are charming. So why is Lana feeling so uneasy?
Lana and Roman may seem like an attractive, popular couple. But they are also a couple with a secret; a secret buried in the life they have left behind, a secret they have shared with no-one.
But their new neighbours – these charming, affluent men and women in the Gardens – have secrets of their own. Terrible secrets; unimaginable secrets that include the apparently happy family who lived – and tragically died – in Lana and Roman’s new home.
As Lana struggles to adjust to her new life in Paradise, she becomes convinced that her new neighbours are hiding something from her, something connected with the deaths of the family who lived in her house before she did, something that could put her own life in danger…
This new standalone psychological thriller had me glued to the page. Tense and suspenseful it gives off a great unnerving feeling throughout.
Prompted by an unsettling and shocking event, Lana and Roman are making a fresh start, leaving London for an exclusive cul-de-sac in a quiet Oxfordshire village.
Everything seems idyllic with welcoming neighbours, however it’s clear that Roman has been keeping secrets from Lana. The rising tension is well written as Lana becomes obsessed with the house and the previous occupants. It’s clear something is wrong in the cul-de-sac – every house and family has a story – and we sense Lana spiralling into apparent paranoia as she struggles to fit in.
Just when we think Lana may be learning the secrets the narrator is cleverly switched to Roman who is adapting more readily and fitting in with locals. Initially he seeks to reassure Lana, then feeds her paranoia and convinces her, along with the neighbours, that she is ill.
As the plot develops, and Lana returns as the narrator, connections are made and the layers of the onion expertly peeled back to reveal a most surprising conclusion.
Well written and with a great twist, I would highly recommend.
The only word scribbled on a note from Beth’s husband before he disappeared.
The police believe that Oscar took his own life and this last apology was his way of saying goodbye to his wife. But Beth knows there is more to the story. As disturbing secrets about his life emerge, and the lies of those closest to her begin to unravel, she realises she never really knew her husband at all.
She wants to know what he was sorry for, and she’s going to find out… but someone doesn’t want her to discover the truth.
And they’ll do anything to stop her.
Oscar is found dead at the bottom of Cloud Drop, a near by hiking area. His wedding ring had been left in his car and a note at home reads ‘Sorry’. Police are quick to call it a suicide and strangely a number of people seem to go along with this conclusion. However, Oscar’s wife Beth doesn’t agree for one minute. Oscar wouldn’t do that. But the more questions Beth asks, the more she finds out that her husband, though by no means perfect, really wasn’t the man she thought he was, and if things couldn’t get any more worse, strange things start to happen and Beth doesn’t know who to trust.
Another great page turner from Jo Jakeman. I really enjoyed her last book, Safe House, and this is another good one to add to her list.
Full of twists, turns and mis directions, What His Wife Knew moves at a great pace leaving the reader eager to find out more. Told through the voices of the three main characters, Beth, Molly (Beth’s friend) and D C Lowry everyone seems under suspicion. Is Beth’s narration even reliable? Throw in a host of flawed characters and a secret in Beth’s past, all joined together with a well thought out plot, I found this a fast moving, engaging and enjoyable read.
I enjoyed how the story sets off straight from the start, casting it’s suspicions all through the book and ending with a great twist!
George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. None could be prouder than Mrs. March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.
A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs. March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of olive bread, but her latest trip proves to be her last when she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: an assumption by the shopkeeper that the protagonist in George March’s new book – a pathetic sex worker, more a figure of derision than desire – is based on Mrs. March.
One casual remark robs Mrs. March not only of her beloved olive bread but of the belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of Mrs. March’s past.
What a dark, unsettling yet totally engaging read. I found myself unable to put this book down.
Written in the third person, (you don’t know her first name until the very end), but reads in a way you feel totally inside her head, Mrs March tells the story of it’s character and her spiral towards a breakdown. Convince her husband’s new book’s main character, a sex worker, is based on her, we read as her daily interactions become smaller and smaller as she ‘imagines’ (or does she?) that people are talking about her.
Crippled by status, appearances and an already deep need to appear just so, her life and mental state start to fall apart. Along side this are her suspicions of her husband and his possible cheating, flash backs to her younger self and her ‘relationship’ with her young son all make for a read that is a mix of an intermit look at a women’s mental health, phycological thriller, and an engaging mystery. Sprinkled with dark humour, an utterly unreliable main character and an ambiguous time setting, I found it a totally absorbing read.
As a child, it was just a game. As an adult, it was a living nightmare.
‘This time it’s different. She’s gone too far now. She really has.’
When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.
Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death.
Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find long-buried memories suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?
Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .
Lizzie suffers from epilepsy, but over the last two years her medication is working well and she has had no major seizures. She is seriously thinking of taking that step and going to University. Still grieving over the death of her best friend Alice, 12 years ago, in a tragic accident, things haven’t always been this good, however with a recent move to a new house with her boyfriend Ross, a GP, things are looking good.
They have decided on having a housewarming party, and although Lizzie is a little nervous, few of her friends will be there, well none actually, she is still determined to enjoy it. However…….. there is a guest that’s about to turn everything up side down for Lizzie and drag her back to her childhood. Is she ready to re live her past and deal with events she can’t even remember properly?
This is another well written, character rich, thriller from author Lesley Kara. I’ve enjoyed both her previous two books, The Rumour and Who Did You Tell? and I couldn’t wait to read this third and new novel.
A small number of characters allowed the story to really concentrate on each of them, giving the reader a really good sense of their personalities. I enjoy that about Lesley’s books, she really brings her main character to life, making me warm to them instantly. Lesley also carefully and thoughtfully deals with the main character’s epilepsy and uses it well within the story line.
Scattered with red herrings, and a big twist, I found this a fast paced, psychological thriller. Told in two different time lines the story builds as we are given the pieces which allow us to work out what really happened 12 years ago and why. The tension build up in the later part of the book was brilliant!
Many thanks to Alison Barrow of Transworld Books for my super hardback copy. The Dare is out today!
Set in London in the near future, our main character Hannah is grieving the loss of her husband John. John, who was a police officer, was murdered some months before, while returning home from the pub. Overwhelming evidence has meant 28 year old Jem has been found guilty and given a 25 year sentence for murder. However, it is not a prison he will be sent to but a cage, the size of a parking space, which has been constructed inside Hannah’s kitchen. The Government have replaced the old system of overcrowded, expensive and ineffective prisons with the Domestic Prison Service, a system based around restorative justice, where a convicted criminal is housed in the home of the person or person’s family they have committed a crime against, with the view that by seeing these poeple everyday and seeing their pain and the consequences of their actions, they will be less likely to reoffend.
However, this system also has a major effect on the ‘host’, having literally been assigned the same sentence as the criminal and having to face this person on a daily basis, cooking meals for them and organising their time around the Domestic Liasion Officer visits, has many not pressing charges in the first place.
Hannah is already having second thoughts before Jem is moved in and has applied for an excemption. But on those first few days/weeks of Jem’s arrival he has explained the events of the night of John’s death and Hannah is now sure that the wrong person has been charged and sets out on an investigation of her own.
With side characters of friend Aisling and John’s partner Rupert and old boss Mickey the reader soon learns of worrying events that were occurring in the lead up to John’s death.
I found this an engaging read with great characters that are both vivid and realistic. I soon warmed to Hannah as her personality comes through from the very beginning. I loved the fact that she was a baker of cakes which in turn meant that she had to spend a considerable part of her day in the kitchen and therefore unable to avoid Jem. It was a great way to watch the host and the caged getting to know each other. I also enjoyed reading the story of Jem which added another thread to the mystery neatly twisting it into the story of John’s. I found the idea of the new prison system a clever and original idea. The thought of having the person who has committed a crime against you, caged and in your home for years, sounds horrendous and this was brilliantly portrayed by the mention of the lady living up the road in a tent.
The pace and build up of suspense was very well written and kept me interested throughout. I also thought the use of Hannah’s job, the lady next door and Jem’s past gave the book a very real feel and kept it believable and grounded.
Many thanks to Clare Kelly of Zaffre Books for my proof copy.
Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was troubled. Elodie is dead.
Sylvie hasn’t been back to her crumbling French family home in years. Not since the death of her eldest daughter Elodie.
Every corner of the old house feels haunted by memories of her – memories she has tried to forget.
But as temperatures rise, and forest fires rage through the French countryside, a long-buried family secret is about to come to light.
Because there’s something Sylvie’s been hiding about what really happened to Elodie that summer.
And it could change everything.
Oh how I loved this book!
It had all the ingredients I like in a novel. A tense psychological thriller, a buried past, sun, heat and the South Of France. What a great book to loose yourself in at the moment.
I was whisked off to the building heat and tensions of a heatwave gripping The South of France as we follow Sylvie, as she heads back to France, to her old family home after receiving a letter to say there has been some damage to the empty property after a small fire. Born and raised in France, Sylvie has been living in London for over 10 years, seemingly leaving home after traumatic events. Needing to take her daughter with her she reluctantly heads off with a view to sort things out and finally put the house on the market, where it can be sold and finally gotten rid of once and for all.
As we enter the house and dust off its cobwebs so too do we learn, via flashbacks, of the mysteries that surround Sylvie’s first daughter Elodie, a brilliantly created character. The fear, pain and love that Sylvie experienced back then is wonderfully written along with the day to day happenings, some compellingly mysterious, that take place as we stay at La Reverie. Evocative and captivating, tiny details in the narrative superbly evoke time and place with wonderful characters and the gradual build of tension throughout the book.
We slowly learn of the story that surrounds Elodie and read the reactions of both family and locals as the truths begin to surface. Like the summer fires that surround the village, enclosing in on the house, so does the past and bringing with it it’s present danger.
Wonderful smaller characters add even more to the novel, bringing with then their own perspectives and past actions.
I don’t want to give any more of the story line away and spoil it for another reader but I was utterly absorbed in this book and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. A sultry thriller that also had a wonderful dose of the french sun and way of life. This has definitely gone into my top five reads of the year so far. Loved it!!!