Thursday, 27 February 2020

Book Review: LITTLE SECRETS by Jennifer Hillier

Author: Jennifer Hillier
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Read: February 2020
Expected publication: 21 April 2020
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸ1/2

Book Description:

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They're admired in their community and are a loving family. Up until the day Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. The only thing keeping her going is the unlikely chance that one day Sebastian reappears. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding him, she discovers that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman.

Kenzie Li is an artist and grad student—Instagram famous—and up to her eyeballs in debt. She knows Derek is married. She also knows he's rich, and dating him comes with perks: help with bills, trips away, expensive gifts. He isn't her first rich boyfriend, but she finds herself hoping he'll be the last. She's falling for him—and that was never part of the plan.

Discovery of the affair sparks Marin back to life. She's lost her son; she's not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. But as she sets a plan in motion, another revelation surfaces. Derek's lover might know what happened to their son. And so might Derek.

What attracted me to this book:

A missing child. Family secrets. A mother who will do anything to save her family. Concepts that sounded like the perfect recipe for a mystery!

My musings:

LITTLE SECRETS may start with a child abduction, but it soon became obvious that the story was not going to dwell there. Because 18 months later, when Marin and Derek have regained some semblance of a life after their son was taken, a new problem raises its ugly head – Derek is having an affair with a pretty 20-something barista. Still crazed with grief, Marin is determined that she will not lose her husband as well as her son, and sets a plan into motion that will ensure that her spouse remains firmly hers.

I think that I am destined to be the outlier this year when it comes to popular books, because despite Hillier’s evocative writing, a story that has plenty of twists and turns and surprises in store, and all the elements that sounded so good in the premise, I was not completely smitten by this story. Was it entertaining? Yes. Was it original? Yes! Did I want to know what happens? Definitely! But did I love it? Sadly, no. I am the kind of reader who needs to emotionally connect with at least one character to love a book, and I found this bunch of people to be an unlikable lot. They had so little in common with my own life or peer group that it may have just been the generational and cultural gap which made it difficult to understand their motivations. Whilst I applaud the author for steering away from the much used missing child theme to offer a more original storyline, I was much more invested in the mystery involving Sebastian’s disappearance than the affairs and sexual games of the adult cast.

Overall, the plot was complex enough to keep me reading, but one major thread that tied it all together at the end seemed flawed to me and raised more questions than answers. My rating always reflects my own reading experience and enjoyment, and in the end it was just ok for me. Considering the high praises the book has received from other reviewers, this may just be a reflection of my own preferences at this time, so if the premise appeals to you I definitely encourage you to read it and make up your own mind.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Minotaur Books for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Audiobook Review: THE OTHER PEOPLE by C.J. Tudor

Author: C.J. Tudor
Read: February 2020
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

"People say hate and bitterness will destroy you. They’re wrong. It’s hope. Hope will devour you from the inside like a parasite."

Book Description:

Three years ago, Gabe's family disappeared. Most people think they died. Some of them blame Gabe. Hardly anyone believes the truth--that Gabe saw his daughter the day she and his wife disappeared, smiling at him from the back of a rusty old car speeding down the highway. So even though it's been three years since that day, Gabe cannot give up hope. Even though he has given up everything else. His home, his job, his old life. He spends his days travelling up and down the highway and sleeping in service stations, searching for the car that took her.

It's hard for most people to understand. But Gabe has found some who do in an online group set up by people who have also lost loved ones--who have suffered like him. They call themselves "The Other People." Because isn't that what everyone thinks: bad stuff only happens to "other people."

When the car that Gabe saw driving away that night is found in a lake with a body inside, Gabe is suddenly under suspicion--and in danger. In desperation, he turns to The Other People for help. Because they are good people. They know what loss is like. They know what pain is like. They know what death is like. There's just one problem . . . they want other people to know it too.

What attracted me to this book:

I can rarely resist the temptation of a mystery with a ghostly element, especially when it comes as highly recommended as this book.

My musings:

I am going to be a big party pooper here, because this book has probably been my biggest disappointment this year so far! I loooved THE CHALK MAN, really didn’t care much for ANNIE THORNE, and this one was a huge flop for me. I am coming to the conclusion that the author’s writing style might just not be a good fit for me.

Firstly, it was all so farfetched! Yes, I am terrible at suspending disbelief, but honestly, this was taking it too far! I don’t mind a good supernatural element, but one scene here actually made me laugh because it rolled out in my mind like some low budget supernatural horror flick. It was so out of context and so silly that I was wondering if it was meant as a satire or if I had missed something.

Ok, let’s back track a bit and start with some positive for the first layer of my shit sandwich. As the opening scene unfolded with Gabe driving on a congested highway and spotting his daughter in a stranger’s car, my heart duly plummeted. What a powerful image! Terrifying! I thought I was in for a treat. Tudor went on to set a dark scene, but I was soon finding that instead of feeling menacing and suspenseful it got depressing. Gabe really wasn’t the most engaging character, the relationships between the characters were unconvincing and I found that none of the other cast members particularly interested me.

As the story delved deeper into the premise of “the other people”, I found myself losing interest. Yeah, yeah, the dark web, we’ve all heard about it, it’s dark and sinister and criminals trawl it, but it just didn’t work for me. There were so many inconsistencies in the plot that I lost track of them all, and the regular little quips about the meaning of life thrown into the story at regular intervals started to grate. I was like a grumpy bear woken early from hibernation and not liking what I saw. I read words like “engaging”, “captivating”, “brilliant” in other readers’ reviews and I just don’t see it. The only clickety-clack I got was from my eye rolls as yet another totally implausible plot point or horror-movie clichΓ© made its appearance.

In summary, I thought the idea was there but the execution didn’t work for me. I hated each and every character, the supernatural elements were thrown in randomly and without context (or purpose) and I was getting a migraine form all the eye rolling. Even though I listened dutifully to my audio book until the very end, I still feel none the wiser of all the hows and whys and how the loose threads could ever connect in a meaningful way. I missed the suspense and the menacing darkness of other thrillers and just felt sad and depressed as the lacklustre plot unfolded. I can normally see why other readers love a book that flopped for me, but I am struggling to understand how one could excuse so many plot holes without stumbling at least once.

Since you are meant to finish a shit sandwich with another positive layer, I will say that my audio version redeemed itself by offering some short stories at the end which I did enjoy much more than the book. 


Sorry, folks – I hope that the many fans of the book will eventually learn to forgive me. I think I will stay clear of this type of story for a while ...

Monday, 24 February 2020

Book Review: MAGPIE LANE by Lucy Atkins

Author: Lucy Atkins
Publisher: Quercus Books
Read: February 2020
Expected publication: 2 April 2020
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ all the stars!

Let me introduce you to my second 5-star read for 2020 – TA DA! 

Book Description:

When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.
As Dee looks back over her time in the Master's Lodging - an eerie and ancient house - a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.
But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why was Felicity silent?

Roaming Oxford's secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family - and what it is to be denied one.

What attracted me to this book:

MAGPIE LANE was like my own personal formula for reading bliss. A nanny in an old spooky English manor house in Oxford. Family secrets. A disturbed child who may or may not have some connection to the weird noises and shadows flitting about in the house at night. Characters who ALL have something to hide. All the very things I just LOVE in a mystery!

My musings:

Dee is a middle-aged woman with some secrets in her past that have seen her live a life looking after other people’s children. She has stayed with many different families and cared for children of all ages and backgrounds, but none has ever got under her skin the same way Felicity has, this pale, mute and unhappy daughter of Oxford’s latest Don.

I immediately loved Dee, from the very moment she shares her self-deprecating humour:

“It may be my functional approach to fashion, but people seem to assume that I’m in charge.”

The picture was painted. A somewhat plain but keenly intelligent middle-aged woman wearing drab clothes to roam the grey streets of a wintry Oxford, wielding an umbrella. I soon realised that I, too, had misjudged her, because Dee was not only smart, but also fiercely loyal to her latest little charge. Not an easy job when you are pitted against Felicity’s father, the arrogant Nick, and her trendy Danish stepmother Mariah.

It wasn’t long until the plot thickened. Nick and Mariah have a dark secret they are determined to keep hidden. Felicity is traumatised. The house, too, has secrets it divulges only at night, in its moving shadows, its silent whispers, its doors that open and close at random, and the spooky little priest hole in the attic where a rotten smell seems to linger. Even Oxford itself, described as: "...a place of dust motes, vaults and arm-span alleys, of angle-poised lamps and dimmer switches, of creaking floorboards and whispers in oak-panelled libraries.” You can see why this was totally irresistible for me! If you are not a fan of the supernatural, don’t despair, because Atkin is always willing to give a perfectly rational explanation for all the things that spooked hell out of me.

Let’s also talk briefly about the unique POV the story is told in. Dee, the nanny, is being interviewed by police who are trying to establish the whereabouts of Felicity, Dee’s young charge, who has disappeared from the house whilst Dee was in London and the girl was in the care of her stepmother. As Dee tells the story of how she came to be the nanny, the full picture slowly emerges in flashbacks and confessions until .... well, that’s something you have to find out for yourself.

I really can’t divulge any more without giving things away, so let me just say that this book was a perfect for me. If you like an atmospheric setting, a creepy mystery and characters that are as mysterious as the setting itself, then you can’t go wrong with this one. Good spooky mysteries are hard to find, and it doesn’t get any better than this. I look forward to reading all the author’s previous books now!


In summary, I loved everything about this book. It read like it had been written specifically for me, with all the ingredients that make for perfect reading bliss. If you, too, are a fan of atmospheric, spooky thrillers with whispers in the night and characters who all harbour dark secrets, then this book should definitely be on your radar!

Image result for 5 stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Quercus Books for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Book Review: INHERITANCE OF SECRETS by Sonya Bates

Author: Sonya Bates
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Read: February 2020
Expected publication: 20 April 2020
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ1/2

Book Description:

A brutal murder. A wartime promise. A woman on the run.

Juliet's elderly grandparents are killed in their Adelaide home. Who would commit such a heinous crime - and why? The only clue is her grandfather Karl's missing signet ring.

When Juliet's estranged sister, Lily, returns in fear for her life, Juliet suspects something far more sinister than a simple break-in gone wrong. Before Juliet can get any answers, Lily vanishes once more.

What secrets did Karl Weiss have that could have led to his murder? A German soldier who migrated to Adelaide, Juliet knew Karl as a loving grandfather. Is it possible he was a war criminal? While attempting to find out, Juliet uncovers some disturbing secrets from WWII Germany that will put both her and her sister's lives in danger ...

Gripping. Tense. Mysterious. Inheritance of Secrets links the crimes of the present to the secrets of the past and asks how far would you go to keep a promise?

What attracted me to this book:

A present day mystery with family secrets and a connection way back to WWII? Yes, please, I’m in! As soon as I read the description of INHERITANCE OF SECRETS I knew that I had to read it.

My musings:

The story starts with the murder of two elderly people in their Adelaide home. Juliet is heartbroken and unable to understand why anyone would want to harm her grandparents, a couple loved by everyone for their warm personalities and generosity. It’s not long though until she realises that her grandparents had not been victims of a random attack, but had been specifically targeted by ruthless killers, and the reason may lay in her grandfather’s past ....

After hooking me immediately with her opening scenes, Bates slowly unravelled her story with the help of dual timelines – one in the present, as Juliet is trying to come to terms with her grandparents’ death and avoid becoming a target herself; and her grandfather’s experiences during WWII that ultimately brought him into the path of the killer. Dual timelines can sometimes be problematic, but Bates strikes a perfect balance here, with the past and present day storylines being equally as compelling as each other. I immediately felt for Juliet, who is not only trying to come to terms with her beloved grandparents’ brutal death, but also finds out that her sister may be somehow involved, her mother is not contactable and her lover is more concerned with his work than supporting her through her grief.

Part mystery, part historical fiction, part fast-paced thriller, INHERITANCE OF SECRETS had something for everyone. I found the history of post-war Australia and the immigrants’ plight to settle into a new life as interesting as the wartime events that ultimately lead to Karl’s arrival in Australia. Bates draws both her setting as well as her characters vividly, and I really enjoyed her writing style. As the granddaughter of a man who was a soldier in WWII on the Russian front, and a prisoner of war for many years later, I related to the theme of secrets that are never revealed because the memories are too painful – even to close family.


Even if you are not usually a fan of historical fiction, the thriller and suspense component in Bates’ novel will appeal to a wide range of readers across multiple genres. Despite some suspension of disbelief being required in parts, I really enjoyed this very readable novel spanning two different timeframes from WWII to the present,  and look forward to reading more from this author in future.

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Thoughts on the book: SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid

Author: Kiley Reid
Read: February 2020
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ1/2

I don't need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like ... happens.

Book Description:

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

What attracted me to this book:

Sometimes I avoid hype books, and other times I am irresistibly drawn to them – this one was snatched up in a bad case of FOMO and bookstagrammademedoit. I liked the sound of a social satire on class and race, one that would challenge my own prejudices and misconceptions. Plus, it was a group read with some great bookish friends, and I can never resist those!

My Musings:

I admit that it took me a little while to get into the story. As you know, there is an incident in a grocery store where Emira gets accosted by the security guard, who thinks she has abducted little Briar, who she is babysitting at the time. Whilst this incident provides the fulcrum of the story, it takes some time to set things in motion.

From chatting to other readers, my initial disconnection may have had something to do with living in Australia and not being familiar with the social complexities of Northern USA. For example, here no one would even blink an eye if a twenty-five year old woman decides to do odd jobs like babysitting instead of choosing a very concrete career path straight out of college. There was also the generational gap – I am a long way past my twenties and thirties, and some of those agonising insecurities are thankfully also in the past. However, as the story progressed I was feeling more and more intrigued and itching to discuss some of the finer points with my reading group.

So here is my recommendation to you – find yourself some buddies to read this book with. Our discussion, which involved people from various backgrounds, ages and nationalities, was such good value! Reid really knows how to stoke the embers that made different opinions flare, highlighting some of our own beliefs, preconceptions and if I am honest, also prejudices I may have lived with for so long that they no longer stood out until challenged by our chat. Don’t you love it when books do that? I appreciated that Reid never once bogged her book down with preachy overtones or overly contrived wisdoms, but chose humour and characters you could either love or hate, which prompted me to form my own opinions. Is there a right or wrong? Our discussion showed that we each took something very unique away from the story, and I can’t ask for more than that. There were certainly enough themes to choose from that most of us could relate – apart from social class and racial issues the story revolved around the intricacies of transactional relationships, motherhood, friendship, trust, loneliness, career and many more.

Whilst I initially had trouble bonding with the characters, I found that I related to parts of them. Emira’s odd jobs and lack of career path in her twenties, Alix’s sense of isolation after moving away from her friendship group, even little Briar, who reminded me of my daughter as a toddler. Briar was by far my favourite character and immediately stole my heart. Oddly, I also felt an almost visceral dislike for Kelley, the root of which I am not entirely sure of yet.


All in all, SUCH A FUN AGE delivered all the things that made me pick it up in the first place, despite some slight cultural differences that may be the reason it didn’t blow my mind as it has with other readers. However, it initiated a fantastic discussion that made me reflect  on my own ingrained beliefs and prejudices, which is always the sign of a good read. Best read in a group or with a reading buddy!

Monday, 17 February 2020

Book Review: THE LIFE WE BURY by Allen Eskens

Author: Allen Eskens
Read: February 2020
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ1/2

No one can change the sound of an echo.

Book Description:

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran-and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Aided by his skeptical neighbor, Lila, Joe throws himself into uncovering the truth. Thread by thread, he begins to unravel the tapestry of Carl's conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it's too late to escape the fallout?

What made me choose this book:

This was definitely a #bookstagrammademedoit read - it came highly recommended by various bookstagram friends. I am so grateful to them, because I loved it!

My Musings:

THE LIFE WE BURY is one of those books that has been sitting on my TBR pile forever. It came highly recommended from several of my bookstagram friends, and I don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up and read it! It’s my bad, because I knew very soon into the narrative that this reflective and compelling tale was also one heck of a fast-paced thriller that would easily make it onto my favourites list!

Without delving too much into the story (you can read the blurb for that), I immediately warmed to the character of Joe Talbert, who is a sweet oxymoron: on one hand he allows himself to get repeatedly screwed over and manipulated by his alcoholic mother, and on the other hand he can drop a six-foot giant with a few well aimed martial arts moves without losing his stride. But most of all, his heart is in the right place. Deep down his family will always come first, which is why he gives his mother bail money even if it costs him his college fund. He also risks losing his job and future prospects by taking in his autistic brother to get him away from his mother’s abusive partner. He is the only one who is prepared to listen to Carl Iversen’s story, when most people shy away from the “monster” who has been convicted of murdering a young girl. Over the course of the book I fell more and more in love with Joe, and feared for him when things started to go wrong.

Although some suspension of disbelief was required, the mix of sentimental reflection on Carl’s situation and the fast-paced scenes of the thriller element made for compelling reading late into the night. Each and every character was so well drawn that I could picture them vividly in my mind, and the atmospheric setting further contributed to a heart-pounding read. There were a few scenes that literally had me hold my breath! The story flowed effortlessly and it was impossible not to become emotionally involved.

After turning the last page I know that it won’t take me long until I will delve into the next book featuring these characters, who almost seemed like people I have met in real life. There’s nothing better than finding a series to get addicted to, and this one now has me well and truly hooked. Eskens is a writer I want to read lots more of! I highly recommend this book to lovers of fast-paced thrillers that also prompt reflection and tug on your heartstrings.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Book Review: THE OTHER YOU, by J.S. Monroe

Author: J.S. Monroe
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Read: February 2020
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Book Description:

You are waiting for your husband to join you on holiday. But when he arrives, you know it's not him...

This clever, twisty psychological thriller explores identity and pretence, paranoia and the disturbing notion that we are all, at some level, impostors.

My musings:

I’m usually not overly fond of books that immediately slap you in the face with a whole line-up of coincidences and rather unsubtle clues to introduce their often quite farfetched premise. It makes me feel like I’m getting set up on some disastrous blind date where the allegedly handsome young man turns out to be a thrice divorced 70 year old with a gambling habit and a penchant for twirling his wiry moustache. So it was with some trepidation that I entered a story where the main character is a “super-recogniser” (or facial profiler) for the police (who knew such a thing even existed?), who has lost her gift in a tragic accident. She coincidentally lives with a rather creepy (but reportedly handsome) guy whose worst fear is that his life will be stolen by his doppelganger, and who is suddenly acting weird. Hmmm, yes. Totally believable. “Not impossible, though”, said the other little voice in my head. “This is FICTION remember?” Oh yes, suspension of disbelief, my old foe, you got me once again!

Once I allowed myself to go with the flow, however, I found I quite enjoyed the story that unfolded. I certainly learned a lot. There were facts about super-recognisers who never forgot a face (I am on the other end of the spectrum I’m afraid), and the way police use them for spotting faces in surveillance footage. Interesting! Then there also was the fascinating statistics about your odds of having a doppelganger somewhere out there, which led me down a google rabbit hole looking up photos of random strangers who look identical. S.J. Monroe spun quite a tale out of all these little morsels, and I was soon engrossed. Had it not been for whiney Kate, who annoyed me, I would have really loved the way the story played out, blindsiding me several times and still offering a satisfying surprise at the end.

Like in his previous novel, FORGET MY NAME, J.S. Monroe likes to explore the often unrecognised possibilities of our amazing brains, and uses these facts to spin an intricate web. Once again he offers us a long list of characters who may or may not be trustworthy, and it is up to you to figure it all out. After twists and turns galore, I had some of it worked out, but other plot elements came out of nowhere. It’s one of those books where you need to dive in, suspend disbelief, and let yourself be carried away with the flow of the story. I found it entertaining and often fascinating, and will be left wondering if I am the one in 135 people who has a doppelganger out there. Like having a twin. This could be fun! Or not .....

Thank you to Netgalley and Head of Zeus for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Blog Tour and special extract from the book THE OTHER YOU, by JS Monroe


Author: JS Monroe
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Expected publication: out now

I am delighted to take part in the Blog Tour for J.S. Monroe's thriller The Other You, where nothing is quite as it seems! Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in this tour for special author interviews, Q & A's and extracts from the book. My review will follow soon.

Book Description:

Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.

At least she has Rob. Young, rich, handsome and successful, Rob runs a tech company on the idyllic Cornish coast. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health. When she's with him, in his luxury modernist house, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.
Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew. And knows, with absolute certainty, that the man before her has been replaced by an impostor.

Is Rob who he says he is? Or is it all in Kate's damaged mind?

About the author:

J.S. Monroe read English at Cambridge, worked as a foreign correspondent in Delhi, and was Weekend editor of the Daily Telegraph in London before becoming a full-time writer. Monroe is the author of six novels, including the international bestseller, Find Me.

Buy Links:

Amazon / iBooks / Kobo / GooglePlay 

Follow J.S. Monroe:

Twitter: @JSThrillers
Facebook: @JSMonroeFindMe

Follow Head of Zeus:

Twitter: @HoZ_Books
Facebook: @headofzeus
Instagram: @headofzeus



Sleep soon starts to lap at her own consciousness, but something’s preventing her from dropping off. What Rob said about doubles last weekend has been on her mind all week. She hasn’t been able to forget it, his words chasing her through her days of painting and nights of restless dreams. And I’ve already met mine, a long time ago. What must it be like to actually meet your double? And when did Rob encounter his? Where? We’ve all got a double out there somewhere, watching, waiting. Shadowless. It’s revealed an unexpected side of him. A new insight.

She turns over, her interest piqued all over again. She remembers being fascinated by identical twins in primary school. The teacher used to tell her off for staring at them in class. Maybe it was an early challenge to her powers of recognition. Spot the difference. And there was this French-exchange girl at secondary school who apparently looked just like her. That had freaked her out.

She lies there, sleepless, her thoughts running loose and wild. What if that French girl were to suddenly come back into her life, discover her on Instagram, decide she’d like a piece of Rob… What was it he said? It’s well within the bounds of probability for all of us to be found by someone with an exact physical likeness. Would Rob be attracted to her? The woman would have a fight on her hands if she tried it on with him. Kate smiles at the ceiling. It’s a preposterous thought. But then she recalls Rob’s tone of voice, how serious he’d been, and her stomach tightens. He’ll take over my life, me, you, the house, my company, all that I’ve achieved, everything’s that’s precious to me. Imagine living with that sort of fear. And what if it became reality? She shoves the idea to the back of mind.

Secretly, she’s thrilled that Rob has been so honest with her, admitted to such fragility. It’s a sign that he trusts her, no longer feels obliged to be the strong one all the time. She will ask him about it again when he’s unwound from London. Diplomatically, of course. Tomorrow they’ll walk the coast path and swim, have coffee at their favourite cafΓ© overlooking the harbour. She starts to drift off to sleep, warmed by the prospect.

And then she’s awake again. Her eyes spring open in the darkness, the sound of blood pulsing in her ears. Rob always insists that he sleep on the right side of the bed. He’s a creature of habit, of quotidian routine. Tonight he’s lying on the left. Should she prod him? Check he’s not been replaced by his double? Relax. She’s being silly. It’s just another sign that Rob’s loosening up, going with the flow a bit more. She rolls over, searching for sleep again. He might be helping her to recover, but she’s doing him some good too.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Book Review: THE GOOD TURN by Dervla McTiernan

Author: Dervla McTiernan
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Read: January 2020
Expected publication: 24 February 2020
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ1/2

Book Description:

Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl's silence - three unconnected things that will prove to be linked by one small town.
While Detective Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone.
For some, like Anna and her young daughter Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn't far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.

My musings:

Dervla McTiernan’s Cormac Reilly series is one of my favourite police procedurals and I was very excited to get the opportunity to read her latest novel. I am happy to say that it lived up to all my expectations!

The book starts with a kidnapping, and a shooting – from here follows a taut and nerve wrecking police procedural that had me on the edge of my seat until the end. As with previous books, I was reminded how much I like the main character, DI Cormac Reilly, who embodies the type of person you would want on your side. He is motivated, fair and with a strong sense of justice that will see him fighting for the right cause even when all the odds are stacked against him. I was happy to see that his young colleague, Peter Fisher, also had a starring role in this book, and he lived up to his mentor’s high standards. I loved all the inter-personal dynamics that came to play here, especially between Peter and his father, who is also in the police force but has chosen a very different path from his son.

As usual, the plot was clever, multi-faceted and compelling, which makes for the best kind of crime story. I’m not going to say any more – as with every mystery, the less you know in advance the better! If you have loved the previous books in the series, or are looking for a new series to fall in love with, then I urge you to pick up this book and let yourself be swept up in its story. I look forward to seeing Cormac Reilly back again in the next instalment and hope that McTiernan continues to star different characters from this Irish crime fighting squad.

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Book Review: THE OTHER MRS by Mary Kubica

Author: Mary Kubica
Publisher: Park Row
Read: December 2019
Expected publication: 18 February 2020
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ1/2

Book Description:

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

My musings:

If you have ever read any of Mary Kubica’s books, you will know that she is a master at creating the illusion of ordinary, believable characters who go about their daily lives, until something extraordinary happens, like a splash of icy water in your face on waking. She knows just the right bait to get you hooked, to lull you into a false sense of security, make you step right up to the edge of the abyss – still trusting, believing the lies – and then push you off the edge! By the time you realise your mistake and get the slightest inkling of suspicion, you are already doomed.

I am going to keep this really short, because every psychological thriller relies on embarking the journey into the unknown, and I am not about to spoil this treat for you! Let’s just give you a small hint that it will soon become obvious to you that the ordinary family that just moved next door in this peaceful Maine neighbourhood may harbour a few secrets. From here on follows the same twisty roller coaster ride I have come to expect from this author, and I enjoyed every crazy turn. I admit that the ending didn’t totally surprise me, and it was probably my only disappointment with the story, but this may have something to do with my oversaturation with psychological thrillers last year.

In summary, if you like a twisty psychological thriller full of surprises and don’t mind a bunch of unlikeable characters who are all a bit tainted, and are able to suspend disbelief, then this one should be on your radar. Even though PRETTY BABY is still my favourite Kubica book, I found this one an entertaining read. Mary Kubica is firmly cemented on my list of auto-buy authors and I look forward to seeing what the author comes up with next.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Park Row for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.