The Friend, Dorothy Koomson

After her husband’s big promotion, Cece Solarin arrives in Brighton with their three children, ready to start afresh. But their new neighbourhood has a deadly secret.

Three weeks earlier, Yvonne, a very popular parent, was almost murdered in the grounds of the local school – the same school where Cece has unwittingly enrolled her children.

Already anxious about making friends when the parents seem so cliquey, Cece is now also worried about her children’s safety. By chance she meets Maxie, Anaya and Hazel, three very different school mothers who make her feel welcome and reassure her about her new life.

That is until Cece discovers the police believe one of her new friends tried to kill Yvonne. Reluctant to spy on her friends but determined to discover the truth, Cece must uncover the potential murderer before they strike again . . .

So anyone who knows me or for anyone who might have been reading my book blog for a little while now will know how much of a huge fan of Dorothy Koomson I am and that I have been for over ten years now! I met Dorothy last year at an event in Birmingham when she was promoting her then latest novel That Girl From Nowhere (also a fabulous and recommended read btw!) and my fan-girling only continued!

As you can imagine after reading the above, I was absolutely ecstatic to receive a copy of The Friend with a note from Dorothy on some beautiful seeded paper which will flower when put into a pot with some soil and watered regularly (watch this space!). I honestly felt so lucky to have received such an amazing parcel through the post from my favourite author – thank you so much to Dorothy and to her publisher for thinking of me!

Onto the novel itself, the blurb sounded absolutely brilliant and I can confirm the novel itself did not disappoint at all – it is epic! The thriller / psychological parts of the novel were a slightly unusual choice of genre for the author in comparison to her previous novels and storylines but I thought these elements of the novel were gripping, twisty and addictive – a real credit to the novel. In true Dorothy Koomson fashion, the novel slowly unravels page by page without giving too much away too soon and knowing what was going on became essential for me! As always, her characters felt thoroughly developed and really added and extra depth and even a kind of reality to the plot. The novel does feel quite saturated with different names and people but when you get into the flow of it, everything soon falls into place and you get the hang of who people are (or who the author wants you to think they are!). I really enjoyed the different storylines that come together throughout the novel to the main storyline of the novel. I loved reading about and discovering each character individually which I felt was quite an unusual thing for an author to do. This is when the plot really comes into its own. It flows beautifully and it becomes more and more impossible to put down as the reader becomes more and more invested in the characters and the situation within which they all find themselves.

The fine details that are included within the novel is what I’ve come to expect from this author and this is always very much appreciated and this also adds an extra layer of depth and authenticity to the plot and to its protagonists.

I really enjoyed the combination of Dorothy’s usual exploration of families and relationships with this newer inclusion of thriller and psychological elements. The pairing worked absolutely beautifully and I found this novel to be gripping and engaging from start to finish. I would definitely recommend this as a great summer read curled up in the garden or on holiday. Thank you once again to Dorothy and to her publisher for sending me an advanced copy of this novel. I LOVED it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapena

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

To say that I’m late to this party is most definitely the understatement of the year! I have had this on my Kindle to read since its release last summer but it somehow got lost in the ether and it was only when I was reading a magazine that had an article about this author’s new novel that I went back to my Kindle in search of her debut!!

And boy am I glad that I did! My mum had read this novel while away on holiday recently and had mentioned to me that if I had a chance to read it then I most certainly should. I can 100% confirm this is the perfect holiday read. It is a fast-paced, addictive thriller that is extremely difficult to put down so I would recommend reading it when you have a good few hours spare to dedicate to the entire book in as few sittings as possible.

I did in fact read this during an afternoon on a flight home from a work trip and then finished it off in the car on the way home from the airport – brilliant!

The plot is gripping and the characters are diverse and well developed. I was left on the edge of my seat at the end of each chapter and was left guessing right until the very end. I really felt that I experienced the pain, anguish and grief of the whole situation with the main protagonists, Anne and Marco, and was so anxious (and a bit disturbed) about what had happened to baby Cora – although that’s not to say that I particularly liked or warmed to either of these individuals!

I must admit I’m not convinced that the ending of the novel did the rest of the plot the justice it deserves and I was left feeling a bit deflated with the way things panned out – realistic? Definitely not! But an interesting choice for the author to have made nonetheless.

If you’re heading off on a summer holiday in the next few weeks and, like me, you haven’t yet discovered this gem of a novel I would highly, highly recommend it to you for a perfect vacation read! Next up on my to-read list has got to be this novelist’s next book A Stranger in the House! 

Hiding In Plain Sight, Susan Lewis

Andee Lawrence is in heaven. Well, the South of France to be exact.

Ex-detective Andee has swapped freelance investigation and a broken marriage, for two months in Provence, renovating a beautiful villa with the new man in her life. Pottering around a small picturesque town on an early summer’s day, she is at peace.

But her world is about to be shattered.

Remember me?

Two words spoken by a woman from the back of a car that say so much yet reveal so little.
As the car drives away Andee is left reeling, overwhelmed by shock, confusion, self-doubt and mounting trepidation.

Almost thirty years ago, fourteen year old Penny had disappeared from her family’s life, never to be heard from again. It is the missing child case that has haunted Andee her whole life; And now Penny – Andee’s sister – is back.

The question is: why?

I only read my first novel by Susan Lewis a couple of years ago and I was hooked! I was sent the novel at the time by her publisher and I wasn’t sure what to expect. My mum has always been a big fan of Susan’s novels over the years so I think I was excited to see what the fuss was all about. I have to admit I was not disappointed and I have not been disappointed since!

Hiding In Plain Sight is part of the Andee Lawrence detective collection of novels by Susan Lewis and having read the others featuring Andee so far I found it to be wonderfully comforting and familiar to encounter the same characters once more. They are now fully developed characters that have such depth and reality to their personalities.

Unexpectedly, I really enjoyed the mother daughter relationships that feature predominantly throughout this novel. Some of the conversations and chapters surrounding these relationships were extremely moving and at times more difficult to read. I found myself putting myself in Maureen and Andee’s shoes trying to imagine what these unusual circumstances must feel like to experience first hand. I must confess that Andee and Maureen are far more accepting and accommodating than I feel I would be in the same situation! I really enjoyed Maureen and Andee’s relationship with one another as well as with Penny. Their relationship reminded me very much of the one that I have with my mum myself.

As for the plot, I was hooked. I needed to know what was happening and why as quickly as possible. I couldn’t fathom what on earth was going on and I don’t think there was any way that I could have guessed. I had lots of possibilities going round my head but none of these matched the reality. In this way perhaps the reality was little bit farfetched but I really appreciated the twists and turns of the novel all the same.

I would (and already have!) recommend this to anyone who usually likes a novel that explores family relationships and dramas with lots of twists and turns. At times these felt almost eerie they were so mysterious. But I really loved the novel and simultaneously all the thoroughly developed characters who featured throughout the novel.




The Light We Lost, Jill Santopolo

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet in New York on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. As the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

Over the next thirteen years they are torn apart, then brought back together, time and time again. It’s a journey of dreams, of desires, of jealousy, of forgiveness – and above all, love.

And as Lucy is faced with a devastating choice, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny or chance.

…what if this is how their story ends?

I thought this was a beautifully emotional heart-wrenching tale that echoes One Day in many aspects but also reminded me (rightly or wrongly) of the film Remember Me.

It is a tale told over time and through the changing lives of two young adults that feature love, loss, life, careers, family, dreams events AND MORE!

As the reader I was fully immersed in the novel and hung on the author’s every word. I feel like I went on the journey with the characters and the whole thing just came to life so beautifully and so realistically in my mind. I was fully engrossed and read the novel in one sitting on the beach on holiday. I would definitely recommend this to anyone and everyone I can!

Camino Island, John Grisham

Valued at $25 million (though some would say priceless) the five manuscripts of F Scott Fitzgerald’s only novels are amongst the most valuable in the world. After an initial flurry of arrests, both they and the ruthless gang of thieves who took them have vanished without trace.

Dealing in stolen books is a dark business, and few are initiated to its arts – which puts Bruce Kable right on the FBI’s Rare Asset Recovery Unit’s watch list.

A struggling writer burdened by debts, Mercer Mann spent summers on Florida’s idyllic Camino Island as a kid, in her grandmother’s beach cottage. Now she is being made an offer she can’t refuse: to return to the peace of the island, to write her novel – and get close to a certain infamous bookseller, and his interesting collection of manuscripts . . .

I think I can safely say with some confidence that John Grisham is one of my favourite authors. I know it might seem like an easy statement to make but across his wide number of books I have absolutely loved every single one of them. Like no other author, John Grisham truly and genuinely surprises me with his credible, unpredictable (even for me!!) and brilliantly crafted stories.

I picked up Camino Island at the airport on a recent holiday to Mexico. Being a book lover, the blurb of course more than appealed to me as the novel is built around the manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I found in true Grisham fashion this tale is intricately woven and the characters are coherently and consistently presented to the reader. The novel did feature more of a relationship focus, which was something a bit more unusual from his previous works I’ve encountered, but I did enjoy this introduction.

However, as much as I enjoyed this novel as I always do with John Grisham’s books, I found the typical, punchy and truly unexpected twisty ending was seemingly lacking. I found the novel finished similarly to how it begun which felt uncharacteristic for Grisham.

Having said that, I wouldn’t disregard this novel at all. I would still highly recommend it to anyone who usually enjoys Grisham novels or any other crime thriller authors and novels for that matter.

Into The Water, Paula Hawkins

In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .

I was slightly apprehensive when it came to beginning Paula Hawkins’ second novel Into the Water as unlike nearly everyone else in the world ever I hadn’t been a huge fan of The Girl on the Train. But I liked the author’s style of writing and definitely hadn’t ruled out reading any future work by the author!

I found the multiple narratives flowed really well and I really enjoyed the inclusion of these multiple narratives; these added such depth and detail to both the plot and the protagonists.

The novel was very dark and occasionally scary in places! It also features lots of twists and turns to surprise the reader throughout. All in all, I had managed to predict the ending correctly but I think that’s perhaps more my reading of far too many thriller / crime novels and noticing a pattern in identifying the responsible protagonist! I’d definitely recommend this to avid thriller / crime fiction fans. It definitely will not disappoint I can assure you!

Kicking The Bucket List, Cathy Hopkins

Meet the daughters of Iris Parker. Dee; sensitive and big-hearted; Rose uptight and controlled and Fleur the reckless free spirit.
At the reading of their mother’s will, the three estranged women are aghast to discover that their inheritance comes with strings attached. If they are to inherit her wealth, they must spend a series of weekends together over the course of a year and carry out their mother’s ‘bucket list’.

But one year doesn’t seem like nearly enough time for them to move past the decades-old layers of squabbles and misunderstandings. Can they grow up for once and see that Iris’ bucket list was about so much more than money…

I read this book in one sitting as I thoroughly enjoyed it and found several themes throughout to be easily relatable. I liked all three of the sisters and found each one to be developed extensively and I also really enjoyed each sister’s story and how the three stories interlinked at key points during the novel. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys family drama. It would be a fantastic holiday read as it is good to devour in one long read!

Sometimes I Lie, Alice Feeney

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Widow.

This novel captured my attention on NetGalley because of the short but hugely mysterious and enticing blurb.

When the reader begins the novel, it becomes quickly apparent that the novel is broken down into three narratives, from different points in time. These are clearly signposted and I really appreciated this as it didn’t hinder the flow of the story at all – which is something I’ve definitely experienced in the past.

I really couldn’t decide if I warmed to Amber, the chief protagonist, or not and I still remain unsure even now that I’ve finished the novel! Sometimes when I thought I had, all of a sudden, it seemed the author threw in a curve ball which immediately changed my mind about her! I actually felt, to some extent, that all of the characters were similar in nature to this. It was hard to establish who was someone that the reader was supposed to side with / warm too – you really do not know who to trust at all which I thought was very clever!

The plot is full of twists and turns, often I had to take a few moments to get my head around these, but they were on the whole very clever and mostly unexpected which was really refreshing.

I really felt Amber’s frustration / agitation about one of the main situations in which she finds herself. These parts, among others, felt really authentic and I was really sitting on the edge of my seat wanting to shout out loud to help her out!!

I was unable to guess the main twists and turns of the novel. The author drops subtle hints throughout but you begin to question whether these are in fact real or instead complete red herrings! This keeps the reader really intrigued to read on and find out what is actually going on.

I don’t want to write in too much more detail because I feel like I might let some of the important details slip which would spoil the read for future readers! But I would recommend this novel to anyone who usually enjoys fast paced psychological thrillers with lots of unexpected plot changes. Many thanks to the author, NetGalley and publisher for providing me with an early reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Silence Between Breaths, Cath

Passengers boarding the 10:35 train from Manchester, Piccadilly to London, Euston are bound for work, assignations, reunions, holidays or new starts, with no idea that their journey is about to be brutally curtailed.

Holly has just landed her dream job, which should make life a lot easier than it has been, and Jeff is heading for his first ever work interview after months of unemployment. They end up sitting next to each other. On board customer service assistant Naz dreams of better things as he collects rubbish from the passengers. And among the others travelling are Nick with his young family who are driving him crazy; pensioner Meg and her partner setting off on a walking holiday and facing an uncertain future; Caroline, run ragged by the competing demands of her stroppy teenage children and her demented mother; and Rhona, unhappy at work and desperate to get home to her small daughter. And in the middle of the carriage sits Saheel, carrying a deadly rucksack . . . 

So I requested this from NetGalley (HUGE apologies for the delay.. 😦 ) because of the blurb as seen above. It sounded intensely brilliant and also pretty relevant with so much talk to terrorism in the news every day.

When the reader first begins the novel, they are almost bombarded with characters. There is a large amount of scene setting to be done as a train carriage is a busy and bustling setting for a plot. As such, the novel is immediately saturated with protagonists and I found there was a lot of flicking back and forth to remind myself of each character. Having said that, they are a thoroughly well developed set of characters and there were several that I really warmed to / remembered without any prompting – some more than others of course as in any novel!

After the reader has become familiarised with the characters, it becomes unputdownable. It is as if you are on that train with them all! As the novel progresses, it feels more and more horribly realistic, as if it is something that could happen to yourself on any train journey you take. The details are so minute but mirror reality so accurately it becomes so real in the reader’s mind.

Some parts of the novel are quite difficult to read. It is a profoundly sad story and parts are quite harrowing / uncomfortable to face as the reader. But that is a huge credit to the author for producing something that feels so real as a piece of fiction.

I really loved the addition of Kulsoom’s perspective of the goings-on. I found this to be a really interesting, unique and previously unexplored point of view – definitely something I haven’t really thought about before.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a gripping read full of authentic and real protagonists. It is an extremely moving but wonderful journey to go on with them all.

Thank you very much to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me an early copy for review. And again huge apologies for the delay in reading and posting this review.