Once Gone by Blake Pierce

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Helllllllo readers, hope you’re well and all happy bunnies. I’m on day 5 of dry February which feels pretty damn awesome still although tomorrow could be a struggle after the week I’ve had. However, today, it’s still Thursday but I’ve got a fantastic book to tell you about. Without further Lizzo warbling, onto the review.

Women are turning up dead in the rural outskirts of Virginia, killed in grotesque ways, and when the FBI is called in, they are stumped. A serial killer is out there, his frequency increasing, and they know there is only one agent good enough to crack this case: Special Agent Riley Paige.

Riley is on paid leave herself, recovering from her encounter with her last serial killer, and, fragile as she is, the FBI is reluctant to tap her brilliant mind. Yet Riley, needing to battle her own demons, comes on board, and her hunt leads her through the disturbing subculture of doll collectors, into the homes of broken families, and into the darkest canals of the killer’s mind. As Riley peels back the layers, she realizes she is up against a killer more twisted than she could have imagined. In a frantic race against time, she finds herself pushed to her limit, her job on the line, her own family in danger, and her fragile psyche collapsing.

Yet once Riley Paige takes on a case, she will not quit. It obsesses her, leading her to the darkest corners of her own mind, blurring the lines between hunter and hunted. After a series of unexpected twists, her instincts lead her to a shocking climax that even Riley could not have imagined.

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I’m going to do something a little less Lizzy and going to go straight into the review because I think the blurb gives enough away already. The first thing I have to mention is this book was free, and I know what you’re thinking free books are normally a little bit watery. This is full on whack – immediately we are thrown into the action; there’s barely time to take a breath and we’re in the horrifying atmosphere, tied up with a young woman who is terrified for her life. From here we’re taking on a rip-rolling adventure, with red-herrings, murders, terrifying back-stories and intriguing characters.

In terms of the characters we follow the story of Riley and her partner in the FBI Bill. Riley is struggling with her past and a terrifying event that happened on her last case. Currently taking leave from the force she is pulled back to her job needed for her intense ability to put herself in the shoes of the murderer. Her past story is fed into the tale to add intrigue and interest and I did wonder whether I was reading the second book in the series (I wasn’t I must add.) Bill is her lovable partner who has a lot of respect for Riley and constantly supports her. Both help to give the tale depth.

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In terms of plot it does move quickly and I have seen a number of reviews that have commented it moves too fast. For me, I don’t think it does although I think an extra 150-200 page wouldn’t have hurt I’m not sure that it wouldn’t have reaaaaly added anything and could have been a little bit of over-waffling so I’m not complaining. The writing is really excellent; it builds suspense and mystery and also weaves in a number of sub-plots that are well-written and add to the drama. The writing is gutsy, full of intrigue and exciting elements. It honestly drew me and kept me there.

The only wobbles come towards the end which I will try to explain without spoiling the plot. We see the backstory of the main character and how it affects her and yet she follows the complete same actions knowing how dangerous it is. I did actually take a minute to stop and say to myself ‘girl – what are you doing’ because it felt like exactly the same actions all over again. Additionally there are parts that feel a little over the top and we do spend a lot of time in the main characters mind for me it worked but only just. It’s a little bit dense.

However the ending is superb and will 100% be tuning in to the next book, if it’s half as good as this one, this reader will be a happy bunny.

Linnnnnks

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Rhythm of Deceit (The NightHawk Series) by Rachael Richey

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Hellloooo readers, hope you’re well and not too hungover/full of christmas turkey because I have another really exciting review for you. I reviewed Rachael’s first book a little while back and had the sequel just lingering and waiting to be read. In my slightly bookish slow down in terms of reading I’ve been going to authors I know will engage and excite me and this one definitely did. Thank you to Rachael for sending her book and helping me with my bookish slump – with no more delay onto the review.

Two years after finally being reunited, Abigail Thomson and Gideon Hawk are happily married and living in Cornwall with their children.

While Gideon is busy focusing his energies on his musical career, Abi makes an unexpected discovery of old diaries dating from 1950. As she and her daughter read through them, the reasons behind Abi’s mother’s destructive actions become much clearer, and they discover a shocking sixty-year-old deception.

Meanwhile, Simon Dean, the vengeful ex-drummer of Gideon’s band NightHawk, is about to make life very difficult for them all—again—and he is prepared to go to desperate lengths to achieve his goals

I think I’ll start by saying that I really did enjoy Rachael’s first book and this one really just follows on just a few years from where the first book ends. Abi and Gideon (*swoons*) are very happily married and have a new little one called Ollie. Gideon is in the thought process of creating a new solo career in London whilst Abi and her daughter Natasha stay at home and look after darling little Ollie. After a slightly unwarranted visit to Abi’s father a suitcase is discovered which belonged to Abi’s mother. Here we get to dip into the story of Joan and Pauline (Abi’s mother and her sister) and see the heartbreaking story that has been hidden for so long. Whilst this is all developing, Gideon is still have trouble with Simon who just can’t leave his dreams of reuniting the band alone. Will it all end in happiness? You’ll have to read the book to find out (you know me by now, no spoilers here!)

Now I’ve got that out of the way onto the details. I must admit, and Rachael did warn me, I loved this book even more than the first – the relationship between Abi and Gideon grows and they really become a power-house of a couple and it left me feeling so warm inside. Simon becomes even more of an aggravating git but the evil side of him definitely adds a smidgen of drama and made me gallop through the book. Natasha is also utterly utterly wonderful which to a point I knew she would be – young yet gutsy and determined she adds an extra spark to the story. I found the backstory between Joan and Pauline incredibly heartwarming and I found myself feeling incredibly torn with my feelings during the first book. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and spending the first book cursing Abi’s parents I found myself torn. The author has really worked to make this tale a emotive and evocative tale.

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The writing is exciting and moves with pace throughout and we get to experience each different story-line as it develops; the diary, the story between Gideon and Simon and the life of Abi and Natasha. They all intermingle throughout and the story really pulls it all together in a way that is so clever and found my gabbling to get to the end and find out the final conclusion. The writing is heady exciting and has a warmth to it overall. I write reviews where I want more from the characters but here it really is thrown at you.

I can’t really put into words why I liked this so much better but I think it’s that the relationships and the dangers are emphasised so much more and having been so excited about the first book watching everything develop I felt I had such a connection with the characters which doesn’t happen in all books. I honestly couldn’t put this down and I honestly cannot wait to see what happens next. Thumbs up – this book is pretty fantastic.

Linkkks

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The Weight of Silence by Helen Gudenkauf

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Hello readers, feel like this is going to be a regular occurrence but this lovely book came from the really upsetting closing of my local bookstore which I have bought books from throughout my time in the different world that is Stoke on Trent. I plucked up the courage to finally ask when it’ll be closing its doors and it’ll be the end of January which will be a really upsetting day. This book was not what I was expecting at all but did I enjoy it – yes I think I did.

Calli Clark is a dreamer. A sweet, gentle girl, Callie suffers from selective mutism, brought on by a tragedy she experienced as a toddler. Her mother Antonia tries her best to help, but is trapped in a marriage to a violent husband.

Petra Gregory is Calli’s best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli have been heard from since their disappearance was discovered.

Now Calli and Petra’s families are bound by the question of what has happened to their children. As support turns to suspicion, it seems the answers lie trapped in the silence of unspoken secrets.

As the blurb suggests the book follows Calli Clark who is a selective mute which is brought on by an incredibly stressful situation as a young child. Living in an amongst the woods with her alcoholic father and her graceful but fragile mother Calli is a dreamer and a delightful girl. However, one early morning Petra and Calli both disappear. We follow the story as the families attempt to find their daughters amongst the uncompromising forest and realign their lives.

These past few months there has definitely been a reading focus for me on different book focuses that I have yet to experience really and the only other experience with selective mutism was a Natasha Preston book which I struggled with if I’m honest. As a reader I immediately became engaged with the plot line and the many different narrative voices that are given to us. The writing is heady and evocative and really sold the landscape and the lifestyle of the characters we are reading about.Sometimes the multiple narrator doesn’t work but here it does -although only just. It does however allow the plot to become clear a lot quicker which means that you’re constantly moving between the different storylines.I also liked that Calli’s chapters were written in third person which helps to contrast with the first person used in the rest of the book – seeing as she doesn’t talk it helps to set the scene and keep the consistency of the novel. I thought the sixteen hour period of time worked well to engage the reader too.

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There are a number of wobbles – I was throughout annoyed at many of the characters especially both Calli’s parents. Griff is frustrating and difficult to agree with, although he is a flawed character there’s something utterly horrible about him. I really felt for Antonia and the difficulties that she has with Griff and protecting her children from his alcoholic tendencies but there was more to it. She’s irresponsible to her children throughout and I really felt for little Calli. I also thought the book was a little light for the heavier aspects of the novel as a whole; we deal with alcoholism, domestic abuse, child abuse and yet it falls slightly off the mark in really investing the reader and I think it’s because of the characters being so unlikable and so difficult to relate emotionally.

Overall though I did enjoy this; it brought me an interesting plot line the suspense was woven in well and I did gabble through to the end. I didn’t quite get the ‘who-dunnit,’ at then end but I did enjoy working through what I thought the ending would consist of. A little heavier, more likeable characters and I think this would have resonated more with me, but still a good read.

Linkkkkkks

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Close My Eyes Paperback by Sophie McKenzie

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Helllllllo readers and happy Thursday – it’s an odd day of the week for me because it’s so close to the weekend but still so far away. It’s been an interesting week – a lot of ups and downs and still trying to slowly get through this quarter life crisis. I’m currently using the excuse of not yet passing my driving test but I’m getting closer and closer to passing and then I have to start making life decisions – like nuh-uh, still not ready. For now imma going to ignore all of that and bring you a review – enjoy bookworms.

It’s been eight years since Gen Loxley lost her daughter, Beth: eight years of grief in which nothing’s really moved forward, for all that her husband, Art, wills it to. Gen, once a writer of novels, has settled in to a life of half-hearted teaching, while Art makes his name and their fortune – and pressures her into trying IVF once again. For Gen, it seems a cruel act of replacement; life without Beth is unthinkable, unbearable – but still it goes on. And then a woman arrives on Gen’s doorstep, saying the very thing she longs to hear: that her daughter was not stillborn, but was spirited away as a healthy child, and is out there, waiting to be found…So why is Art reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister? What is the truth about Beth Loxley?

As the blurb suggests the book follows the life of Gen and Art who terribly lost their little girl when she was born stillborn; something that Gen is yet to recover from. As Art moves on with his life Gen is trapped in the grief of her daughter’s death – however when a lady arrives on her doorstep tell her, her sister was there at the birth and the little girl was fine alarm bells start ringing. As Gen starts to dig into the history of the birth, her life is turned upside down as she struggles to come to terms with the fact her baby may be alive – is Art involved? How could the doctor have orchestrated anything like that? What did happen the day her daughter was born – read le book to find out.

Did I like this book? Difficult question – it did at the start pull me in, Gen is written with gusto and understanding although quite a tiring character at the beginning she begins to grow with every page turn – gutsy and determined she really grew on me as a character. Art is also really well written – mysterious, a total gentleman but quick to act he really gave this book strength and helped to cement my interest. In terms of plot the book the book does move with pace; the story kicks in very quickly and immediately we start pulling together clues as we discover what really happened in the hospital that night and I did find myself gabbling through.

Although predictable there is an original storyline and the plot moves with pace. The writing is evocative and mixes in a number of interweaving character plot-lines and the secondary characters are built up so that they become more involved with the main premise of the book. One major wobble though was the author tended to really build up a scene in a couple of chapters and then the actual scene would be over maybe in a couple of lines. I think if these scenes had been slowed down it would have created a much stronger impact and helped to tell the story better on the whole.

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However, and this seems to be the same as many of the readers I’ve seen review this book it is mindbogglingly far-fetched lapsing on pretty ridiculous. As the plot grows we encounter a number of murders, attempted kidnaps and a whole lot of mixed up character relationships. It felt a little like the author thought how the hell do I sort all of this mess out. I did enjoy it but the ability to believe what was happening meant I read it without really investing in the plot or the characters which was a little tiring because I had made it so far through.

Once the story is over it’s a very abrupt ending which although underwhelming was the only way it could have really ended – we then suddenly fly a number years later and Gen is  recounting all that has happened – the ending is a little dark which I liked but it was overwhelmed with the feeling of it all being too over-dramatised to really make me feel anything at all.

Overall I did enjoy reading this – but almost from the sense of what on earth is going on towards the end. Would I recommend buying a copy of this book and searing it out no, but if you saw in the library and thought I want something a little dramatic and over the top with touch of romance and suspense – maybe.

Linnnnnnks

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A Single Step: Book 1 of The Grayson Trilogy by Georgia Rose

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Hellllllo readers, hope you’ve had a wonderfully bookish day; I’ve got a really lovely review for you today I really think you’ll enjoy. Although I get to review some really fantastic books every so often one appears and it’s just, well, perfect for me as a reader and that has to be the best thing about book blogging; finding books I never would have done before. Today I get to share one of these with you; without delay the review.

Meet Emma Grayson, heroine of The Grayson Trilogy, a series of mysterious and romantic adventure stories.

‘The gun continued to be levelled at me. “Answer it…but don’t tell him I’m here or he’ll get to listen to you die.” That concentrated my mind considerably, and as I reached for my phone I came up with a plan…’

Emma Grayson was left devastated when her life was torn apart by tragedy and betrayal. Now someone believes it’s time for her to start again and puts an advert for a job through her door which leads her to the Melton Estate. Despite her desire for a solitary existence she finds herself discovering a life she could never have imagined, challenging her independence, her fears and her resistance to love.

As the blurb suggest Emma Grayson really needs a new start after a terribly raw personal event and in the midst of it all she manages to secure a job with Lord Cavendish of Melton Manor Estate working in the stables and taking care of the horses. Although Emma is desperate to keep herself to herself she finds herself becoming more and more involved with the tight-knit community found at the estate. Throw in the rather wonderful Trent who keeps getting in the way and sparks begin to fly. We follow Emma as she attempts to right herself and recover whilst also getting experience the hustle and bustle of the estate.

The tale is told on first person narrative which from the very beginning allows us to really relate and connect with Emma especially in the first few chapters where we are reliving the tragedy. I found myself immediately warming to Emma despite her colder attitude towards people. She is both a little stubborn and on edge but I found her growth throughout the book delightful to read about. Trent is just as well written; a bit aloof and full of himself but he has a warm persona that I adored reading about. Supporting characters could have featured more strongly in terms of characterisation but this may be built throughout the series.

In terms of writing the description of the surrounding landscape really helped to bring the tale to life and although there is a lot of detail about the stable work it didn’t overwhelm (I am honestly terrified of horses but I didn’t feel it was too much of a feature.) I thought the mystery about the manor intriguing and the trips Trent makes with Lord Cavendish helped to raise the suspense making the read all the more exciting.

There were a couple of wobbles for me; I couldn’t quite decide what the genre of the book was. This is often not a problem but it felt a little disjointed; mystery, romance? There is also a lot of the facts of Emma’s past thrown into the beginning of the story and although it’s good to learn so much I think it did cause the book to drag a little. I think dispersing it throughout would have helped with the suspense a little more and also push the story forward. This is also causes a bit of confusion when we start learning more about Trent’s back story and it feels a little clumsy.

However, this a lovely story to get you mitts on and throw yourself into. There are a few problems but that doesn’t distract from the wonderful writing style the deeply raw character back-stories and the strong plot-line. There are so many special moments and a real understanding of the story of life on the estate the caring for horses. The plot rises and falls and builds strongly rather than haphazardly and that really does bring about a really special story.

 Linnnnnks

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Streets of Broken Hearts by Sydney Bristow

Happy Thursday readers another interesting review for you today. A couple of weeks back I was finding it incredibly difficult to get through the bulk of a couple of the books I was reading at the time. It wasn’t a reading slump per se, I just couldn’t push myself to get into the books. However, recently my blogging inbox has been stacked with new books to get my teeth into which has really helped pull me out of that dry reading patch and today’s review is one of them. I’m also experimenting with some scheduled posting because of my job and having to fit blogging in and around so many different things so we’ll see how that goes. Without further delay, onto the review.

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September 1927, Chicago It took Al Capone three years to hunt down a brilliant but decrepit physicist who owed him a measly $7,000 for one reason: the physicist managed to reverse the aging process, rendering him unrecognizable. But Capone has no interest in this medical mystery. He just wants his money. To recover the debt, Capone orders the physicist’s daughter, Justine Bryce, the most successful cat burglar in town, to steal a luxurious necklace from a famous diplomat – while it’s still around her neck. Failure will ensure her father’s execution. As well as her own. Justine is determined to save her father at all costs. Even if it means trusting a man she is doomed to love forever, a charming but unattainable nightclub owner who trained her as a thief, Vance Flynn. Vance agrees to help, but he has his own reasons for securing the necklace. With only 24 hours to carry out the scheme, Justine needs to steal the necklace while dodging a shrewd but deranged detective who frames her for murder, not to mention double-cross the most vicious gangster in the country…all to avoid ending up on the wrong end of a gun.

So that’s quite an extensive blurb so I’m not going to say too much because I think there’s a lot to give a feel of the book as a whole already. The reason this book grabbed my attention was the historical fiction feature of the book and I did really find it intriguing. Tommy guns and speakeasies feature throughout helping to place the reader into a different time period. The author weaves a number of different plot lines including the lifting of the necklace, the difficult relationship between Justine and her father and the shifty and unreliable Greg Skinner who appears to be taking the law into his own hands. There are also a number of plot lines inter-weaved with the supporting characters that are managed wonderfully.

In terms of characteristation Justine is a brilliant character, spunky, determined, impulsive but also intelligent I loved reading about her adventures. In terms of her language some of it felt a little modern and didn’t quite fit with the period of the time however I found her as a main character intriguing to read about. Greg Skinner, although a character I loathed was a brilliant addition to the plot line. Corrupt, needy, obsessive; his character really added a sense of threat and dread to the novel which was really well built up. Additionally the supporting characters including Vance (I really had soft spot for him) and Vikki are given enough traits to help spin the storylines and make them feel real. I also thought the adding of the British detective was brilliant. Being a proud Brit it was nice to have it included.

A couple of criticisms; as I mentioned above although the style of writing is really solid I think there could have been more to make you feel as though you were transported to a different time. It’s the main reason I adore historical fiction and I felt although it was there, it could have been improved on. I also thought some of the plot lines fell through at the end especially within the exploration of Justine and her father’s relationship, it kind of didn’t go anywhere despite it being pivotal to the main plot line. If there is a second book in the writing I think this should be explored more thoroughly because it was a sticking point for me as a reader. I also thought that the ending was a little weak especially in terms of what happens to Vance. I don’t want to spoil it but it felt a little tied up in terms of Justine but also a little confused as to what had really happened. Once again if there’s a second book I can see this being something to explore more fully. Finally I felt that at times that the writing pace didn’t match the pace of the novel within; with the tension racking up the writing style didn’t quite make it punchy enough for me in some of the chapters especially at the beginning but I must admit it was getting there towards the end.

So, overall I really enjoyed this book as a concept and I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to read it. I think although the writing style was strong some discrepancies in language, style of the time and the writing pace (I hope I’ve explained that coherently) lost me a little. Room for a little improvement but overall still a great read. Great characters, great ideas and definitely worth a read; with a few tweaks this could be bang on.