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Archive for August, 2016

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Lie in Wait

Author: G.J. Minett
Published: 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 21 August 2016

5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Bonnier Zaffre in return for an honest review

Description:

Owen Hall has always been different. A big man with an unusual fixation, one who prefers to put his trust in number patterns rather than in people, it’s unsurprising that he’d draw the attention of a bully.

Or a murder investigation.

And, in the storm of emotions and accusations that erupts when a violent killing affects a small community, it soon becomes clear that a particularly clever murderer might just get away with it.

All they’d need is a likely suspect . . .

My Thoughts & Review:

Lie in Wait is the second novel penned by Graham Minett, his first The Hidden Legacy was published electronically in November 2015, and secured this reader as an unwavering fan.  I was absolutely delighted when I found out this novel was in the pipeline, I really hope to see more of his writing in the future.

The story opens with a thought provoking prologue, ensuring the reader is captivated.  It’s from here that Minett’s prowess as a writer really shines through, in the hands of lesser authors what follows might evolve into a tangled mess of characters and backstories, but instead he cleverly weaves together a tale of mystery, intrigue, and murder.

As the story develops the separate threads came together flawlessly all the while remaining coherent and thrilling, the pace moves along swiftly and this is a book that deserves to be read in one sitting.  Clearly marking each chapter as either ‘Earlier’ or ‘Now’ means that the reader is able to follow the complex tales from the dual timelines.

The remarkably descriptive setting of South England gives the reader a real feel for the setting, indeed it allows the reader to conjure a clear image mentally which adds to the dark and chilling atmosphere.  The characters are all well developed, each bearing their own unpleasantness, darkness or dangerousness.  It almost felt like a case of which one of these awful people would you attempt to trust the most, superb writing to create such a cast that evoke such ill feeling and mistrust.   I was fascinated at how Minett analysed the relationships between the characters – the school days, tales of life and memories of bullying in particular added to the plot

Minett’s style of writing is absolutely ingenious; clever plotting, richly complex characters that get under the skin of the reader and overall the ability to drop the reader right into the heart of the setting make these books some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

You can pre order a copy of Lie in Wait here.

About the Author

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Image and author information courtesy of Amazon

Graham Minett studied Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge before teaching for several years in Gloucestershire and West Sussex. In 2008 he completed a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and subsequently won both the inaugural Segora short story competition in 2008 and the Chapter One competition in 2010. The latter consisted of the opening sections of what would eventually become The Hidden Legacy, which earned him contracts not only with Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency but also Twenty7, part of the Bonnier publishing group.

The Hidden Legacy is his first novel and his second, Lie In Wait, will be published as an eBook in August 2016 and as a paperback in February 2017. He is at present planning his third and is still working at the Angmering School.

He lives in West Sussex with his wife and children but retains close links with Cheltenham, where the rest of his family live.

To find out more about Graham Minett’s books go to his Facebook Page  his website http://www.grahamminett.com/ or follow him on Twitter @GJMinett

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The Second Chance Shoe Shop

 

 

Description:

All Riley Flynn wants is to meet someone who makes her happy. But attracting the right kind of man is not easy, and with her heart still hurting from her last break-up, Riley believes she’ll never find love again.

A year ago, Sadie Stewart’s whole world was shattered when her husband, Ross, died. She has struggled to keep herself together for the sake of their young daughter, but with the anniversary of his death approaching, Sadie finds herself overwhelmed by grief.

Sadie and Riley work at Chandlers shoe shop, in the charming town of Hedworth. But when Chandlers is threatened with closure, the friends are confronted with the loss of not only their jobs, but also their support network – the glue that holds them together when they are close to breaking.

As they put together a plan to save their beloved shop, Sadie realises that she might just be learning to live again. Could it be that new beginnings are just round the corner? The campaign also finds Riley unexpectedly crossing paths with charming photographer, Ethan. Maybe her second chance at love is right under her feet

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The Second Chance Shoe Shop focusses on Riley Flynn and her struggle to find love.  She is also determined to revitalise Chandler’s shoe shop, bring in fresh stock that’s fashionable and affordable but despite her best efforts, shop owner Suzanne is unconvinced.  Suzanne then challenges her employees with a competition to attract more sales, and Riley sees this as her chance.

From the very beginning Riley is a wonderful character, one that most readers will appreciate and admire.  Sadie and Dan are also great characters, very likeable and true to life.  The fact that all of these characters are facing major life changes makes them even more real, readers can relate to them and their struggles.

It was really nice to see that Marcie Steele had used Hedworth as the setting for this book, as she had done previously with That’s What Friends Are For (which is now available under a new title The Little Market Stall of Hope and Heartbreak).  There are familiar names that pop up from this previous book and it was nice to see how life had moved on for them – almost like catching up with old friends.

This is a beautifully written novel, engaging, interesting and a feel good read.  At it’s very core this is a novel about friendship and love, reminding the reader that looking to the future is important, as is holding on to your dreams.

You can buy a copy of The Second Chance Shoe Shop here.

About the Author

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300 Days of Sun

Author: Deborah Lawrenson
Published: 12 April 2016
Reviewed: 18 August 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by the author in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Combining the atmosphere of Jess Walters’ Beautiful Ruins with the intriguing historical backstory of Christina Baker Kline’s The Orphan Train, Deborah Lawrenson’s mesmerizing novel transports readers to a sunny Portuguese town with a shadowy past—where two women, decades apart, are drawn into a dark game of truth and lies that still haunts the shifting sea marshes.

Travelling to Faro, Portugal, journalist Joanna Millard hopes to escape an unsatisfying relationship and a stalled career. Faro is an enchanting town, and the seaside views are enhanced by the company of Nathan Emberlin, a charismatic younger man. But behind the crumbling facades of Moorish buildings, Joanna soon realizes, Faro has a seedy underbelly, its economy compromised by corruption and wartime spoils. And Nathan has an ulterior motive for seeking her company: he is determined to discover the truth involving a child’s kidnapping that may have taken place on this dramatic coastline over two decades ago.

Joanna’s subsequent search leads her to Ian Rylands, an English expat who cryptically insists she will find answers in The Alliance, a novel written by American Esta Hartford. The book recounts an American couple’s experience in Portugal during World War II, and their entanglements both personal and professional with their German enemies. Only Rylands insists the book isn’t fiction, and as Joanna reads deeper into The Alliance, she begins to suspect that Esta Hartford’s story and Nathan Emberlin’s may indeed converge in Faro—where the past not only casts a long shadow but still exerts a very present danger.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Deborah Lawrenson is a new author to me so I had no preconceived notions when I picked up this book, all I had was a description that truly fascinated me and piqued my interest.

Cleverly written as a book within a book, Lawrenson exhibits a the true mastery of her writing abilities.  Transporting the reader to Portugal, the reader encounters Joanna Millard who has travelled to the Algarve coastline to attend a language school and escape from a her stagnant life back home.  When she meets Nathan Emberlin and agrees to help him solve a 20 year old kidnapping case little does she know the journey she is about to take.

Woven into this novel is a book called The Alliance, about an American couple stranded in Portugal during WWII.  The narration then moves back and forth between current day and the story in The Alliance.

What I found incredibly enjoyable was the fact that Lawrenson had taken the time to thoroughly research the impact of WWII on the ordinary people of Portugal, how life was for both native citizens as well as expatiates.  The true extent of the political landscape, espionage and intrigue at the time are well detailed in her writing, giving the reader not only background information,  but also teaching them things they may not have known previously.

At the beginning I did wonder how Lawrenson would bind the two stories together and was intrigued to see how it would work, but I was incredibly impressed at how well it all tied up at the end.

The writing itself is wonderful, the descriptions of Portugal are absolutely mind blowing, more than once I looked online to see just how close to reality they were and was not disappointed, the reader really is transported to Portugal whilst reading this, sadly once you close the book you are back at home.

The characters were interesting and well developed, their predicaments compelling and really captured my attention.

An impressive historical fiction novel with mystery, suspense, romance and wonderfully descriptive settings.

I will definitely be searching out more books by this author to add to my ever growing “To Read” pile.

You can buy a copy of 300 Days of Sun here.

About the Author

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After a childhood of constant moves around the world – my family lived at various times in Kuwait, China, Belgium, Luxembourg and Singapore – I read English at Trinity College, Cambridge. I trained as a journalist on a weekly South London newspaper, then worked on several national newspapers and magazines.

My first novel, Hot Gossip (1994), was a satire based on my experiences working on Nigel Dempster’s diary column, and was followed by a sequel, Idol Chatter (1995). The Moonbathers, a black comedy, followed in 1998.

The Art of Falling was a complete change of direction, which took five years to research and write. But trying to get it published was like starting from scratch again. In the end, after many false dawns and disappointments, I published it myself under the Stamp Publishing imprint in September 2003.

Almost immediately it became clear that the novel had struck a chord with booksellers and reading groups around my home in Kent. Ottakar’s liked it enough to recommend it to their stores nationwide, and the rights were sold to Random House.
The Art of Falling was republished by Arrow in July 2005 and chosen as one of the books for the WHSmith Fresh Talent promotion that summer. It went on to sell more than all the others put together!

Songs of Blue and Gold is in a similar style: a story that grew out of my curiousity about past events and a love for the warmer shores and colours of southern Europe.

My latest novel, The Lantern, has been chosen for The TV Book Club Summer Reads 2011 on Channel4 and More4. I have also written a linked short story for Woman&Home magazine’s 2011 summer reading supplement.

I currently divide my time between rural Kent and a crumbling hamlet in Provence, which is the atmospheric setting for The Lantern.

To find out more about Deborah Lawrenson to go her website http://www.deborah-lawrenson.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @deb_lawrenson

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The Fire Child – Book Review

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The Fire Child

Author: S.K. Tremayne
Published: 16 June 2016
Reviewed: 19 August 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by HarperCollins UK in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Set deep in the Cornish countryside, this story is rich in history and and folklore, but is also chilling and borders on Gothic at times.

The story follows Rachel and her new husband David in his ancestral family home Carnhallow House.  The house is spectacularly described, the wild yet beautiful surroundings of Cornish countryside are wonderfully detailed, but the author takes care to hint at the danger that lurks in these settings too, the information about the mines both important plot wise but also fascinating to read about.

When Rachel realises that her stepson Jamie is deeply traumatised by the death of his mother two years previously, she starts asking questions that spark suspicions about her new husband, his family background and what really happened to his first wife.

Written in a style that feels almost claustrophobic, the reader is gripped by the tension that slowly builds throughout.  There are so many different aspects to this, Gothic horror story, supernatural elements and psychological thriller.  Mystery and suspense aplenty, this is gripping read, one perhaps not to read before bedtime.

The characters were interesting, Jamie was definitely a complex character and one I’m not sure I fully understood most of the time.  Rachel and David were not the most likeable characters, but I think that this was advantageous in this book.

An atmospheric and haunting read, that slowly builds tension.

You can buy a copy of The Fire Child here.

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You Had Me at Merlot

Author: Lisa Dickenson

Published: 16 June 2016

Reviewed: 17 August 2016

5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Little, Brown Book Group UK / Sphere in return for an honest review

Description:

This book provided a break from my usual gritty crime and thriller books, and what a lovely change it was, like stepping out into the sun on holiday.

The story centres around Elle and her friend Laurie, the only singletons remaining in their group of friends.  Elle is quite happy with her relationship status (or lack thereof), but Laurie’s desire to settle down sees her booking a holiday for them both to Tuscany, a singles holiday.

Lisa Dickenson truly brings her characters to life with her writing style, it flows well and feels so natural.  Elle and Laurie are wonderful characters, so lifelike and I think most readers will be able to recall a friend just like one or both of these ladies.  There is a lovely heart warming silliness in Dickenson’s writing, the characters getting up to hijinks gives the reader a giggle and leaves a smile on their face.

Vivid descriptions of the physical settings are absolutely breathtaking, I’ve never been to  Tuscany but after having read this I feel like I went on holiday with Elle and Laurie.  I could almost feel the sunshine and see the beautiful vineyards, but my cup of tea was a poor substitute for the wines being sampled.

Pace of the novel was good, just right for a relaxing and enjoyable read, and it held my interest throughout.

This book radiated warmth and sunshine, the sense of humour Dickenson pours into her writing makes this a delight to read and so very enjoyable.

You can buy a copy of You Had Me at Merlot  here.

 

 

About the Author

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Image and author information courtesy of Amazon.co.uk

Lisa Dickenson was born in the wrong body. She was definitely meant to be Beyoncé. Despite this hardship, she grew up in Devon attempting to write her own, completely copyright-infringing versions of Sweet Valley High, before giving Wales a go for university, and then London a go for the celeb-spotting potential. She’s now back in Devon, living beside the seaside with her husband and forcing cream teas down the mouths of anyone who’ll visit. She is sadly still not Beyonce.

Lisa’s first novel, The Twelve Dates of Christmas, won the Novelicious Debut of the Year award. Her second novel, You Had Me at Merlot, was also an instant hit with readers who were won over by her wit, charm and naughty sense of humour.

To find out more about Lisa and her books go to her website http://www.lisadickenson.com/ or follow her on Twitter @LisaWritesStuff

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Holy Island

Author: LJ Ross

Published: 1 January 2015

Reviewed: 17 August 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Maxine at Booklover Catlady Publicity and LJ Ross in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a murder detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory.

When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation.

Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set on the spectacular Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, cut off from the English mainland by a tidal causeway.

My Thoughts & Review:

LJ Ross is a new author for me, and one I will definitely be following closely from now on, Holy Island is the first instalment of the DCI Ryan Mysteries and if this is anything to go by you will be as keen to read the rest of the books as I am.

Immediately Ross throws the reader into the abyss, a murder scene is the theme for the opening page.  The body of Lucy Mathieson is discovered at Lindisfarne Priory and soon DCI Ryan is on the scene, he takes on the case and is assisted by Dr Taylor in form of Pagan expert.   From there the investigation spirals into an intense murder mystery that will delight readers.  No spoilers or hints as to the plot, this book is far too good to give anything away!

The characters are superb, DCI Ryan is is flawed, struggling with his demons but still strong and and sensitive.  Anna Taylor compliments Ryan’s character well, strong, intelligent and not someone to take for granted.  The author writes the blossoming relationship between these characters well, it does not detract from the story or become bits to skip over like you might with others books.

I particularly liked the contrast of the beautiful settings with the horrific murders, incredibly well thought out and executed.  Overall, this is a very cleverly written novel, deviating from the well trodden path followed by authors of this genre, so that readers are kept guessing what will happen next.  The pace, fast and increasing, just how a mystery novel should be.

The ending……wow, I didn’t see that coming!  Now I need to get hold of the sequel Sycamore Gap asap!

You can buy a copy of Holy Island here.

 

About the Author

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Image and author info courtesy of http://www.ljrossauthor.com/

L.J. Ross is the author of the international #1 bestselling series of  DCI Ryan mystery novels. Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon Kindle UK bestsellers chart.

Its sequels, Sycamore Gap and Heavenfield are also #1 bestsellers. The fourth in the series, Angel, is available for pre-order and is scheduled for general e-book release on 26th August 2016.

The novels are all available to purchase in e-book, paperback and audiobook formats. Holy Island is also available in German translation.

Louise was born in Northumberland, England.  She studied undergraduate and postgraduate Law at King’s College, University of London and studied abroad in Paris and Florence. She spent much of her working life in London, where she was a regulatory lawyer for a number of years until taking the decision to change career and pursue her dream to write.

Now, she writes full time and lives with her husband and son in Bath. She enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends.

To find out more about LJ Ross and her books go to her website http://www.ljrossauthor.com/ or follow her on Twitter @LJRoss_author

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Play Dead

Author: Angela Marsons
Published: 20 May 2016
Reviewed: 16 August 2016
 
5 out of 5 stars
 
Copy supplied by Bookouture in return for an honest review
 
 

Description:

The dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen.

The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.

Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘body farm’ investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.

Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It’s clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work – but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next?

As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer’s secrets – but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim …?  

My Thoughts & Review:

Play Dead is the fourth instalment in the DI Kim Stone series, the previous books being Silent Scream, Evil Games and Lost Girls.

Kim Stone and her team are attending a tour at the Westerly Research Facility when Kim discovers a corpse that doesn’t belong there.   (The Facility is a body farm for research into human decomposition with donated corpses).  The investigation that follows soon uncovers another body, but this one is still alive.  Kim and her team race to identify the killer before they strike again, but when one of the team goes missing it becomes personal for Kim.   

The clever weaving of this murder investigation plotline and the snippets of memories from a young child who has a strained relationship with his/her mother add another dimension to this novel and really builds the intrigue levels.

As ever, the characters are excellent in Marson’s novels but here the reader really gets to see more of Kim’s personality.  She is a wonderful character, strong, determined  and her brusque manner just makes her leap off the page.  The strong relationship she has with her team has deepened, they all respect Kim greatly and this shows through their interactions with her.  The friendship between Kim and Bryant is utterly hilarious at times, the banter they have is entertaining and a joy to read.    The characters are multidimensional, engaging and very realistic. 

Fast paced and utterly thrilling, Marsons writes an incredibly gripping tale that had me on the edge of my seat, just bear in mind that once you pick this book up it will be hard to put it down unfinished – I gave up a few hours sleep just to finish this one.

I have to add how pleased I was with the reappearance of Daniel Bates, the dishy Scottish doctor (he appeared in Silent Scream).

An utterly thrilling series that I cannot wait to read more of!

You can buy a copy of Play Dead here. 

 About the Author

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Image and info courtesy of Amazon.co.uk

Angela Marsons is the author of Amazon #1 Bestseller SILENT SCREAM.

She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their bouncy Labrador and a swearing parrot.

She first discovered her love of writing at Junior School when actual lessons came second to watching other people and quietly making up her own stories about them. Her report card invariably read “Angela would do well if she minded her own business as well as she minds other people’s”.

After years of writing relationship based stories (My Name Is and The Middle Child) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.

She is signed to Bookouture.com for a total of 8 books. The second, third and fourth books in the Kim Stone series, EVIL GAMES, LOST GIRLS and PLAY DEAD are also now available.

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The Butterfly Summer

Author: Harriet Evans
Published: 19 May 2016
Reviewed: 14 August 2016
 
3.5 out of 5 stars
 
Copy supplied by Headline Review in return for an honest review
 
 
 
Description:

What magic is this?

You follow the hidden creek towards a long-forgotten house.

They call it Keepsake, a place full of wonder … and danger. Locked inside the crumbling elegance of its walls lies the story of the Butterfly Summer, a story you’ve been waiting all your life to hear. 

This house is Nina Parr’s birthright. It holds the truth about her family – and a chance to put everything right at last.

My Thoughts & Review:

The Butterfly Summer intrigued me when I first read the book description, something about it made it leap off the bookshelf at me.  It tells the story of Nina Parr,  the discovery of a family history she knew nothing about and an inheritance of a house in Cornwall.  There is also the story of Nina’s grandmother Teddy running parallel throughout – Evans weaves both stories together giving the reader an insight into the female generations of the family and how secrets and lies cause ripples with each new generation.

The only real issue I had with this dual timeline was that until the characters were fully established it was a little hard to keep track.  The story also felt somewhat slow to begin with, it took me some time to really get into it but once I did it was worth it. 

Harriet Evans goes the extra mile with descriptive detail, both the settings of London and Cornwall are vividly and wonderfully described.  The characters are engaging and interesting, the pace is slow but it lends itself well to the idea that you could easily be sitting in the gardens of Keepsake, soaking up the sun and languidly relishing this book.  That said, I did find the novel a little meaty, perhaps it really didn’t need to be as long as it was, but it is still an enjoyable read.  

You can buy a copy of The Butterfly Summer here.


 

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Fear Dreams 

Author: Joyce Schneider
Published: 28 March 2016
Reviewed: 15 August 2016
4.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by author in return for an honest review
Description:
A sensitive woman fearing insanity… Liddy Barron, an artist, was injured in a hit-and-run accident that left her with recurring nightmares, gaps in her memory, and an increasing obsession in the disappearance of a coed named Sasha Perry. 
Was Sasha murdered? Liddy’s turmoil grows as she begins seeing ghostly images. 
Her husband Paul, a scientist, tries to help but insists it’s just her imagination…while intuitive Detective Kerri Blasco, also obsessed with young Sasha’s disappearance, senses that Liddy may have a key to solving the case, and tries to unravel the shocking truth of what really haunts her. 
My Thoughts & Review: 
When I was contacted by the author of this novel I was immediately intrigued by the description of the story and jumped at the chance to read and review this.  Despite being billed as a psychological thriller, this novel touches on several genres (and does so very cleverly), there is suspense, mystery, and a supernatural element all running alongside one another.  

Narrated by Liddy Barron, an artist struggling to regain her memory and psychical health after a horrendous hit and run accident, and Kerri Blasco, a detective investigating the disappearance of a college student named Sasha Perry.  The author cleverly weaves these two seemingly unrelated tales together, holding the reader in the dark until she is ready to reveal just how they join together.  
Liddy is an odd character, you want to feel sympathy towards her because of the accident, her struggles to recover but at times I wanted to shake her.  Her slow slump into madness was very well written, and fascinating to read.  Leaving little clues to keep the reader guessing if she was really losing her mind, hallucinating or actually seeing these things. 
Detective Kerri was absolutely brilliant, perhaps a perfect character to do a spin off series with in the future.  She is well crafted, the reader gets a feel for this character and how she genuinely seems to care about people.  The friendship that developed between the two women was enjoyable to read. 
The pace of the novel is good, drawing the reader in and building suspense effortlessly.  Towards the end of the novel it becomes more of a speed read, the desperation to find out what happens in the end is intense.  
Despite there being no obvious clues as to what happens, the author has left little flags here and there for the budding detectives amongst the readers to try and piece together.  Cruelly, however many of these had me tangled up in knots and I was none the wiser.     
I loved the idea that Liddy was somehow haunted by a ghost, her obsession with Sasha taking over and I found it was difficult not to get caught up in the momentum of it, and I was desperate to know what happened to Sasha by the end

This is a brilliant psychological thriller, it’s gripping, it’s intense and it’s very well written.  I would thoroughly recommend it to fans of thrillers!  

You can buy a copy of Fear Dreams here.


About the Author:

 
J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek. Words and story ideas are always teeming in her head – “a colorful place!” she says. She’s a wife, mother, and loves thrillers and medical thrillers. Once a Liberal Arts major (French and Spanish Literature), she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine and forensic science. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means that there’ll be medical angles even in “regular” thrillers that she writes.
For more information about Joyce Schneider, go to her website, or follow her on Twitter at @JoyceSchneider1

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The Woman Next Door

Author: Cass Green
Published: 22 July 2016
Reviewed: 13 August 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by HarperCollins, UK / Killer Reads in return for an honest review



Description:

Two suburban women. Two dark secrets. The almost perfect murder. 

Everybody needs good neighbours…

Melissa and Hester have lived next door to each other for years. When Melissa’s daughter was younger, Hester was almost like a grandmother to her. But recently they haven’t been so close.

Hester has plans to change all that. It’s obvious to her that despite Melissa’s outwardly glamorous and successful life, she needs Hester’s help.

But taking help from Hester might not be such a good idea for a woman with as many secrets as Melissa… 

My Thoughts & Review:

Another début from a promising author, The Woman Next Door is a slow burning psychological thriller that quietly unsettles the reader.  

The story is narrated from the points of view of Hester, a lonely older woman and Melissa, who outwardly appears the complete opposite of Hester.  
Hester has no children and having lost her job in a nursery she became indispensable to Melissa by looking after her daughter Tilly until she reached teenage years. 
Melissa is married to a handsome and famous man, but his recent affair has pushed her towards a depression, this coupled with the fact that her daughter is growing up causes her great unease.

The characters in this were interesting, all completely normal people that you could encounter in everyday life which helps to make this so unsettling.   
Hester is a well constructed character, so bitter and judgemental, and Green uses her well throughout the novel as an unreliable narrator – her tainted views and negative perceptions adding to the tension and atmosphere.  Cleverly, she evokes sympathy for this character through details of the abuse she suffered at the hand of her late husband, a complete juxtaposition.  Melissa is a hard character to like, she is obsessive about her appearance, and very bitter towards her husband but she’s haunted by something.  However, Green has ensured that the reader is kept on their toes as all is not as it seems.

This novel is packed with deception and secrets, and the pacing of the book allows the intensity to build slowly ensuring the reader remains captive.  Good descriptions allow the reader to envision characters and situation easily. 

Overall a good début from a promising author, I am keen to see what Cass Green writes next.

You can buy a copy of The Woman Next Door here.

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