I Know What You’re Thinking – Phill Featherstone

Beth and Cameron meet when they’re children. As they grow up they realise that they have an amazing gift: each can make contact with the mind of the other, a skill that comes in handy when Cameron is kidnapped by a nefarious company. Set in a near future where all adult human genomes are public knowledge, an unscrupulous organisation sets itself up to secretly use living organ donors for rich clients. When Cameron is targeted, Beth – alongside close friends and family – must race against the clock to try to locate and save him. Can she find him in time? Can she free him? And if so, what price must they both pay?


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Review: This was an enjoyable and engaging read. I was a little concerned about the pacing to start with as it throws you in to the action quickly but it maintained this momentum throughout and the high-stakes nature of the story really captures your attention.

I loved the almost sci-fi element of a near future where data is being used for morally questionable scientific procedures. It managed to stay believable whilst taking an interesting view on the possibilities of how data could be collected and used.

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The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill – C.S. Robertson


Rating: 2 out of 5.

Death is not the end.
For Grace McGill, it’s only the beginning.

When people die alone and undiscovered, it’s her job to clean up what’s left behind – whether it’s clutter, bodily remains or dark secrets.

When an old man lies undetected in his flat for months, it seems an unremarkable life and an unnoticed death. But Grace knows that everyone has a story and that all deaths mean something more.


Review: I though Grace’s job was really interesting. The social commentary about those who have no one to notice if they are dead alongside the way Grace gets to peek into a person’s life as she’s cleaning up made for a strong starting point and a unique perspective on people and society.

However, I personally found some of the details about her cleaning rather unnecessary. It slowed the pace without adding anything to the story and would definitely be off-putting to someone more squeamish.

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Elektra – Jennifer Saint


Rating: 5 out of 5.

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.


Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?


Review: If I thought Ariadne, Jennifer Saint’s debut novel, was tragic, this book really hits a whole other level. It was difficult to see these women trying to fix the mistakes of men and yet fall into the same traps as them, their determination yet inability to escape the curse of the House of Atreus and the cycles of violence.

 I was captivated by the questions of morality, revenge and the control you can have over your own life that were central to the story and loved how, again, Saint has turned a well-known narrative and turned it on its head. Whilst stories of the Battle of Troy so often focus on the men, or on Helen, I loved reading about its impact on the three women who are left to deal with the fallout.

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The Interview – C. M. Ewan

It’s 5 p.m. on a Friday.
You have been called to an interview for your dream job.
In a stunning office thirteen floors above the city below, you are all alone with the man interviewing you.
Everyone else has gone home for the weekend.
The interview gets more and more disturbing.
You’re feeling scared.
Your only way out is to answer a seemingly impossible question.
If you can’t . . . what happens next?


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review: The synopsis for this book really drew me in, especially as someone who is fully aware of how scary interviews can be! And it did not disappoint. I loved that it took place in one building over a short period of time. This intensity allowed for a real sense of tension to be created and the short chapters kept up the pace of the story the whole time.

This story starts tense and grows increasingly sinister. I enjoyed the chapters from Joel’s perspective as it instantly raises questions. You know he is lying and that he is studying Kate but you do not know why. Despite this insight into Joel’s perspective, you remain as clueless as Kate and are therefore going on this journey with her, feeling her confusion and panic as the situation progresses.  

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The Wildest Hunt – Jo Zebedee

A long-dead child.

An artist who paints the fae.

An ancient estate on a blood-filled land.

The commission was close to Amelia’s dream: a cosy cottage in Donegal over Christmas and the chance to paint the beautiful Glenveagh estate. But when the weather closes in and the country shuts down, a ritual begins – one that traps Amelia in its circles of magic.

Stranded in a place where iron is power, her heart can no longer be trusted and the land itself is a weapon, Amelia’s survival depends on unravelling the truth of a decades-old death.

Even if it draws the same ancient danger to herself.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Review: Dangerous and magical, beautiful and spooky, this book and its creation of the liminal space between the real world and one of magic and fantasy is truly special. The setting is so well described, creating a real sense of atmosphere and making it easy to imagine while not feeling overly-descriptive. It manages to capture a real wintery sense without being cheesy and Christmassy which I loved at this time of year.

The short chapters were very effective, swapping the focus between different characters as the pieces of the story were gradually put together. This really helped build the suspense as the reader knew more than the characters and I was on edge wondering how things were going to play out. I found it interesting that, although secrets were central to this story, uncovering the truth was not the end-point. There was so much more in how past and present collided that uncovering the secrets only drew you further into the story rather than giving a sense of finality.

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The Perfect Neighbour – Susanna Beard


Rating: 2 out of 5.

Synopsis: After Beth and her family move to the suburbs, she struggles to settle in. She misses the close-knit group of friends and neighbours she had in Kingston and longs to reach past the high fences on her street to meet some new people. Beth finds herself particularly drawn to Oksana, her beautiful but cold Russian neighbour. Though her attempts to get to know Oksana are brushed off, Beth remains determined, until one day she sees something in the window of Oksana’s house

Sofia longs to be free. Leaving her family and travelling to England was scary, but not as scary as being trapped as a maid in a house with no passport and no way to get out.

Alternating between Beth and Sofia’s points of view, The Perfect Neighbour shows us that just because someone appears perfect does not mean that they cannot be hiding terrible secrets. You can never know what is happening next door, which begs the question, how involved in your neighbours business are you willing to get?


Review: This book does a really good job mixing classic thriller tropes with a difficult and sensitive subject but I’m sorry to say that it bored me. I didn’t mind the slow start as it allows you to get a sense of both Beth and Sofia’s characters, and helps to build up sympathy for Sofia. However, the chapters ended up feeling very repetitive and the plot seems dragged out which reduced any tension or sense of urgency.

I thought the characterisation was good and made for characters that were thought-out and convincing. The author did a good job expressing Beth’s reluctance to get involved, balancing her people-pleaser attitude with her genuine concern for the girl and I feel that it is clear why Beth acts the way she does. Sofia’s actions similarly make sense with the mix of fear and determination she feels.

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The Good Sister – Sally Hepworth


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis: Twins Rose and Fern have always had each other. With Fern’s aversion to loud noises, crowds, bright lights and difficulty reading social cues, it makes sense for her to rely on Rose. So, when Rose’s marriage is struggling and she finds herself unable to get pregnant, Fern sees it as an opportunity to pay her sister back for everything she has done for her. What Fern does not expect is to build a relationship that, in turn, forces her to face long buried memories.

The book is told from two perspectives – passages from Rose’s diary which mostly focuses on events that have happened in the past, delving into descriptions of their mother’s emotional abuse and her desire to protect Fern from an early age, and Fern’s present day.


Review: It took me a long time to get in to this book. Described as a psychological thriller, it felt neither psychological nor thrilling until a good way through the story and I could not figure out how this seemingly mundane description of two sisters’ lives would reach an exciting pinnacle.

However, I am glad I persevered.

This is not the type of thriller that is necessarily shocking but seeing where the story is going makes it so much more compelling. The more the story progressed, the more uncomfortable I felt reading it and I wanted to scream at the characters. I ended up so invested, desperately hoping for a certain outcome and stressed, worrying that things were not going to turn out as I hoped because there is so much manipulation and tension that is developed.

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Madness – Paityn E. Parque


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis: When Ezra dies, she thinks that will be the end. What she does not expect is to wake up in the Battles, a twisted game where people must kill to earn blood points in order to escape. In the Battles you have unlimited lives, the only way to truly escape the game is death by suicide.

As she figures out to survive, Ezra must decide whether to trust those around her. Allies are lost and gained as time goes on but, as she begins to find her place in this brutal world, Ezra starts to lose herself. When it is kill or be killed morality and humanity seem to become less important and as Ezra gets stronger, the harder it is for her to keep control.


Review: This book is dark, it’s the Hunger Games meets Alice in Borderland with a real sense of hopelessness. Although it does have similarities with various survival game narratives, the plot does not feel too derivative, likely because of the acceptance that there is no escape. The chances of buying your way out of the Battles are so slim, that people need to find a new purpose.

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Could You Survive Midsomer? – Simon Brew

CAN YOU AVOID A BIZARRE DEATH IN ENGLAND’S MOST
DANGEROUS COUNTY?

All is not well in the beautiful county of Midsomer. On the eve of its first Villages In Bloom competition, a man lies slain, smelling of damson jam. Who could have done it?

Well, that’s where you come in. Step into the shoes of Midsomer CID’s newest recruit, choose your own path and decide which way the story goes.

Could You Survive Midsomer? sets off on an engaging pick-your-own adventure format to challenge the reader to solve a crime or succumb to the county’s suspiciously high death rate. Set in television’s most celebrated and murderous county, the book allows readers to see if they can get to the bottom of the mystery and bring the perpetrator to justice, avoiding an untimely, and possibly bizarre death, along the way. Your task is to make the right choices, solve the case and – most tricky of all – stay alive!


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review: I’m a huge fan of murder mysteries and love Midsomer Murders so was really excited that this book gave you the chance to make decisions to try and solve the murder yourself. The interactive element to it is similar to some children’s books where you get to make your own story and it just makes it so fun to read. I love that you are not just passively reading what the author has written, instead you are taking an active role and so you have to pay attention to avoid a disappointing ending.

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Motive – Alan McDermott


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Synopsis: There are four distinctive strands to this book:

Serial killer Karen Harper who bases her murders on who has motive, killing not for revenge but simply for the thrill.

Ex-Army Ryan Anderson who starts working for a Manchester gang leader. He works hard to prove himself to the boss but can never seem to gain the trust of those he is working with.

Scott Davison, in hiding and recovering from serious injury in France. When he meets Kelly Stone he is afraid his past has caught up with him and the decision to open up is a tough one.

And Detective Inspector John Latimer who is trying to clear his friend, and former DCI, of a murder he swears he did not commit.

Alternating between the different characters, this book jumps between different times and locations , ultimately bringing the strands together to show how these separate lives are entwined.


Review: I really liked the concept of this book – four seemingly separate characters and plot lines that become entwined as more is uncovered, with DI John Latimer at the center to put all the pieces together before it is too late. However, I found that the different strands of the story took too long to link up. Almost frustratingly, I kept wondering where the book was going and when it would feel like one cohesive story. It did get there eventually, but by then I was less invested.

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