Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

5 Stars from me!

Wow. Just wow. This is one of those books which sticks with you after you’ve finished it – and not necessarily in a comfortable way!

There is an awful lot going on within these pages, the depth of the story and the message is huge even though it is dealt with in a sensitive manner. There are so many issues, all given the lightest touch, and all jostling for their time to be considered.

Just the single thread regarding Jodie is a whole massive story on its own – how anyone copes as a teenager these days let alone with a neglectful, alcoholic mother, let alone with facial disfigurement.

Our former barrister, Zara, who now works to support victims of sex crimes, is also worthy of a story of her own as she turns her back on a glittering careers, tries to fight against decades of history and family ‘rules’ in order to tread her own path, all while battling her own demons as she risks everything to support Jodie.

The accused – their story is another one worthy to stand on its own. The complexities of friendships, the weight of responsibility upon their young shoulders.

Then there is the alleged assault. The main crux of the book, it demonstrates beautifully and painfully how incredibly difficult it is to ever prove a rape/sexual assault. I deeply admire those brave souls who endeavour to do so when they are up against the men who lie, the women who lie, the jurors who have their own preconceptions and judicial system which isn’t always stacked fairly.

I am so glad I read this book.

 

Synopsis: Take It Back is a gripping courtroom drama, perfect for fans of Apple Tree YardHe Said/She Said and Anatomy of a Scandal.

The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses four boys of something unthinkable.

The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Someone is lying.

Former barrister Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, takes up Jodie Wolfe’s case; she believes her, even if those closest to Jodie do not.

Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price? 

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Someone Else’s Baby by Ruby Speechley

5 Stars from me!

I was sucked into this story immediately and raced through the pages, Someone Else’s Baby is an immersive dive into the world of surrogacy and fast paced psychology thriller to boot!

Charlotte and Steve seem to have a genuinely lovely relationship – they live in tiny flat with hardly any money but that old adage ‘money can’t buy happiness’ has never been more true for them seem very together and very in love.

As such it is both weird and yet totally believable that they decide to go ahead with surrogacy. I found it really quite beautiful how supportive he was of her – I know his motivations were more financial but still I would imagine a lot of men wouldn’t find it easy to support their partner as lovingly as he did.

The complex relationship between Charlotte and her mum – along with her reason for wanting to become a surrogate – was well handled and the emotional play between the two women was a nice touch.

I won’t spoil the storyline, there’s lots I could say about Malcolm and Brenda but I will resist! Yes there was something that I assumed all the way along and I was right but it didn’t ruin anything for me. Even having said that, this book is packed full of surprising moments and exciting revelations as the story unfolds.

I’ve not read anything by Ruby Speechley before but it is a name I will look out for in the future as Someone Else’s Baby was a gripping read with the added benefit of being about an unusual subject matter – really quite interesting as well as being a fast paced thriller!

Synopsis: She gave away her children. Now she wants them back.

Charlotte Morgan knows how it feels to desperately want a baby. As a child, seeing her mum devastated by losing her longed-for babies, Charlotte wished another woman could give her mother what she so craved.

Now Charlotte’s a mum herself, and knowing how much love her daughter, Alice, brings into her life, she vows to help others achieve their dreams of becoming a parent.

When she meets Malcolm and Brenda on a surrogacy website, it seems that she has found the perfect couple. In their late forties, they’ve spent their life building a successful business and travelling the world, but there’s just one thing missing – a child of their own.

When Charlotte falls pregnant with twins, the pair are overjoyed. And while Charlotte’s heart breaks as she hands them over, her reward is knowing how much happiness the two tiny babies are going to bring into their life.

But are Malcolm and Brenda all they seem? As secrets become unravelled, Charlotte is forced to face that she has handed her babies over to virtual strangers. And when Malcolm and Brenda disappear without a trace, Charlotte is plunged into a frantic search for the babies she carried – before it’s too late…

A gripping psychological thriller with a heart stopping ending – readers of The Wife Between Us, Rachel Abbott and C.L Taylor will not want to put this down… 

Author Bio:
Ruby Speechley, graduated from Sheffield Hallam university in 2009, with an MA in Creative Writing. She is a Faber Academy alumna and prolific writer whose work has been longlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction prize, the Exeter Novel Prize, the Caledonian Novel Award, the Bath Novel Award and has won the Retreat West First Chapter Competition.
Ruby is a mum of three, lives in Bedfordshire and was born in Lisbon, Portugal at the time of the first earthquake there in 200 years! Her debut novel, Someone Else’s Baby is published by Hera Books on 25 July 2019.
Twitter: @rubyspeechley
Facebook: Ruby Speechley Author
Instagram: rubyjtspeechley

Deserve to Die by Miranda Rijks

5 Stars from me!

Practically the perfect page turner! This book should be your beach side summer read… but keep an eye on your children…

Dom and Stacey have an enviable life, the sort of people you would equally love and hate to know as they have it all and a perfect, solid marriage to boot.

Pretty, perfect, perky Tamara on the other hand seems like a gift from god when she arrives with almost Mary Poppins-esque timing and grace and swoops in to magically fill the shoes of Dylan who died in tragic circumstances. In no time at all this beautiful, considerate and uber organised woman proves herself to be invaluable to Dom.

But then things start to go wrong for Stacey. Poor Stacey with her charmed life, dream career, darling children and her handsome, dedicated, husband. Suddenly she can’t seem to catch a break – its almost as if something, or someone, is conspiring against her.

I won’t spoil the story, other than to say it’s absolutely brilliant – as was Fatal Fortune so I can’t say I’m surprised! Brilliant author with gripping and well constructed books; I can’t wait to read more and highly recommend.

#DeserveToDie @MirandaRijks #InkubatorBooks @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Dom and Stacey have the perfect life. Until they meet Tamara. Brilliant, beautiful, she hides a horrifying secret. One that may destroy them all.

Happily married with two beautiful children, Dom and Stacey have it all. He runs a successful design agency, she is finding fame as an author of children’s books.

Everything is perfect. Until they meet Tamara.

Because Tamara is a woman with a plan.  She executes it step by step – patient, systematic, methodical.

And as her plan unfolds, Dom and Stacey find their lives slipping out of control.  Taking them from heaven into the deepest, darkest hell.

About Miranda Rijks:

Miranda Rijks is a writer of suspense novels.

Miranda has an eclectic background ranging from law to running a garden centre. She’s been writing all of her life and has a Masters in writing. A couple of years ago she decided to ditch the business plans and press releases and now she’s living the dream, writing suspense novels full time. She lives in Sussex, England with her Dutch husband, musician daughter and black Labrador.

Miranda loves connecting with her readers, so you can reach out to her at www.mirandarijks.com

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MirandaRijks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MirandaRijksAuthor/

Website: www.mirandarijks.com

Black Wolf by G D Abson

4 Stars from me

A bit deeper and and a more grown up read than my usual fluffy crime thrillers, Black Wolf is the sequel to Abson’s debut thriller Motherland and again features Captain Natalya Ivanova of St Petersburg’s Serious Crimes Unit.

The book begins with a beautifully described and atmospheric scene which dunks you straight into the cold, stark, brutal world in which the book is set. It took me a while to comprehend that this is truly based on modern day Russia.

Natalya has a case taken off her but can’t let go of it – the body of a young woman, found on a remote roadside who is found to have links to an anti-Putin activist group – Decembrists. Natalya knows that there will be no true attempts made to find the murderer and she continues her own investigation, even though doing so puts her job and possibly her life in jeopardy.

The beautiful, wintery back drop of St Petersburg and what feels like a private glimpse into Russian politics made this a fascinating read. Dishonesty and corruption are rife, freedom of speech/thought/deed are non-existent and there is a palpable sense of danger throughout.

No spoilers from me. This is a great book to get your teeth into and lose yourself in the icy and dangerous political climate of Putin’s Russia.

Synopsis: A young woman is found dead on the outskirts of St Petersburg on a freezing January morning. She has no injuries, and heavy snowfall has buried all trace of an attacker.

Government security services immediately shut down the case, and Natalya suspects the authorities have something to hide. When the dead woman is revealed to be an anti-Putin activist, Natalya has to go undercover to expose the truth.

But with her career at stake and her own family in danger, how far is she prepared to go?

A captivating, pacy thriller that plunges right into the beating heart of Putin’s Russia.

Wicked Girl by I V Olokita

3.5 stars from me!

Wow – where to even start with reviewing this book?!

Wicked Girl by I V Olokita has a striking cover and for once you can judge a book by its cover as it is a truly striking read.

I can honestly say I have never read anything like this before and I found myself to be as compelled as I was repulsed by the events that unfolded.

It is a shortish, fast paced read and I am left still pulling threads to unravel the storyline as my brain does its best to catch up. Is John inherently evil? Is Grey? Are Barry and his wife? Is Elsie?

I think this is a book you could read again on a different day and end up with an entirely different view on who was the hero and who was the bad guy – the only thing I feel 100% sure of is that Doggo was a good boy!

Wicked Girl, part dreadful nightmare stuff, part hilarious Villianelle style dark comedy – the only way you’ll know for sure is to read it for yourself. Be warned though, not for the feint hearted.

My thanks to #damppebblesblogtours and IV Olokita for the review copy and for letting me take part in the blog tour.

Synopsis:

“Even if a dog goes mad, it will always be a dog.”

So said a small white sign hung on a wall in Birmingham Mental Institution Ward number 3. It had a black frame, written in a hand they were all well acquainted with. The letters had faded over time. In the end, among all the calligraphy in the frame, one could detect a blurred signature. It was mine.

John Wilcox is a young idler who loathes people except for young women. His destiny brought him near Birmingham Mental Institution during an earthquake. At that time Wilcox saves Elsie, an eccentric, half-deranged teenager. John pulls out every manipulation at his disposal to convince her that he is the right person to help her recover. Grey, Elsie’s father, goes on a quest for his lost daughter. She, too, like her mother, was trying to escape him. And so, began the tragic story between prey, and it’s supposed predator.

Wicked Girl is a psychological crime fiction, where a sequence of accidents generates cold-blooded, and blood-curdling actions. It is a fascinating combination of romance, tension, and humour, unpredictable to the very end. Presented in a clear, straightforward way, yet its plot is packed with wit, action, and surprises grabbing the reader’s attention all the way to the last word.

About I.V. Olokita:

I.V. Olokita has been providing medical care most of his life, specializing in management of medical aid to disaster areas all over the world. He also has a BA degree in logistics, and an MA degree in emergency and disaster situations management. He volunteers to rescue missions in disaster areas all over the world. I. V. Olokita is a happily married father of two adolescents and a foster father of five cats and two dogs.

Olokita’s first book (in Hebrew), Ten Simple Rules, was published in 2014. It won an Israeli literary prize, and immediately made an online bestseller. The following year, another book by Olokita, The Executioner From The Silent Valley, made a local bestseller in Israel. In May 2016, his third novel, Wicked Girl, was published, to great success, and is now presented in English. Olokita’s books are characterized by direct writing, twists and turns, requiring the reader to delve into and maintain vigilance from the beginning of the book to its surprising end.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OlokitaI

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iv.books/

Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer

4 Stars from me

Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer is an unusual comedy – not for feint-hearted or easy to offend! I’m going to focus this review on the first of the three novellas contained within the book.

Aptly named, Dirty Barry, is a despicable dentist (now in my book they are all despicable anyway but that’s another story…). He believes himself to be irresistible to women and has a variety of ways of ascertaining which of his female clients will succumb to his dubious charms. By all accounts of a fair few of them do and become members of the 5 o’clock appointment club where he seduces them and then films them in the act.

Well, he does until he encounters our unexpected hero in the shape of a cowboy named Cullen who seems set on his path of righting wrongs as he walks along the moral high road.

I won’t spoil the story for you but suffice it to say the dentist gets his comeuppance and there are plenty of laughs and much cheese along the way!

I read this as part of the http://www.damppebbles.com #basecowboys blog tour – my thanks to Emma for the opportunity.

Synopsis:

BASE COWBOYS is a comic crime trilogy set in the Scottish Borders. It is the sixth laugh-out-loud book in the CULLEN series written by Borders author Mark Farrer and will appeal to readers of Christopher Brookmyre, Carl Hiaasen, Nick Spalding or Tom Sharpe. The book tells the stories of three amoral ne’er-do-wells, their unfortunate and accidental intrusion into Cullen’s life, and the imaginative ways he finds of ensuring (his) justice is done:

Dirty Barry

The first casualty of adultery is… the tooth!

Barry Sullivan is a sordid dentist who resorts to blackmail to keep his string of married women in line. But now Cullen has toothache – and a very different interpretation of the dental code of practice.

Bronchial Billy

Meet Billy – the fastest gun in a vest.

Billy is a geriatric slum landlord desperate to win first prize in a Country & Western gunfight competition. But his trigger-happy birthday celebrations provoke Cullen, and now Billy must pay. Will he meet his High Noon at the Grand Ole Opry or will he go out with a bang? Whatever happens, there’s sure to be fireworks.

Pale Ale Rider

There’s trouble brewing…

Tyler is a teenage tearaway with the eyes of a serial killer. But when he decides to rob Big Paul’s local pub, he gets more than he bargained for. Will Tyler lose his bottle, or just get smashed? Cullen thinks he’s seen dead eyes like those before, and now he has a plan: he’s not bitter, he’s just a little twisted.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

5 Stars from me!

Having enjoyed ‘The Couple Next Door‘, I was keen to read ‘Someone We Know’ and I wasn’t disappointed. I was completely hooked by from start to finish. This is a highly accomplished psychological thriller that will keep you well and truly on the edge of your seat.

There are a few separate yet very linked stories running throughout the book and they all probably would have stood up well as main storylines in their own rights.

The book is packed full of ‘what would you do‘ theoretical conundrums and a fair sprinkling of infidelity and untrustworthy friends.

I literally hated putting this book down, I just wanted to keep on reading and find out what was going on. Throughout all of the domestic nitty gritty and suburban life there is a murder to solve after all. I usually guess the killer early on in these things but there were so many threads and viable would be murderers that it kept the pace fast and the story interesting.

Can’t recommend this enough, go read it!

 

Synopsis: “No-one does suburban paranoia like Shari Lapena – this slowly unfurling nightmare will have you biting your nails until the end.” 

–Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10

The new domestic suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House, and An Unwanted Guest, Shari Lapena

Maybe you don’t know your neighbours as well as you thought you did…

“This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much… My son broke into your home recently while you were out.”

In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses -and into the owners’ computers as well-learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets?

In this neighbourhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide…

You never really know what people are capable of.