Degrees of Guilt by H S Chandler

5 Stars from me

Absolutely brilliant, I loved it!

Degrees of Guilt is a clever a thought provoking legal thriller / courtroom drama. It is packed full of emotion, soul searching questions and dilemmas.

There are some fabulous characters, not least of all Maria who is on trial for the attempted murder of her husband – and who is gutted that he didn’t die.

The jurors are a mixed bunch (I guess that’s the point) and I loved ‘the Tabithas’. Lottie, Cameron and Jack make for interesting reading as their characters and relationships develop. I was a little disappointed with Lottie but it gives a good example of how susceptible women (and men too I’m sure) are to the attentions of an attractive stranger when their own life is lacking a little in excitement.

Cameron… well I won’t say too much about him other than very interesting!

I absolutely loved the emotional roller coaster that this book took me on and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller. Highly compelling and thoroughly entertaining.

So, was she guilty? You’ll have to read it find out!

Synopsis: ‘A compelling legal thriller – I loved it’ Katerina Diamond, Sunday Times bestseller

‘Timely, anger-inducing and very powerful – it’s excellent’ Harriet Tyce, author of Blood Orange

When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

A gripping, sexy and twisty novel for readers who devoured ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL, APPLE TREE YARD and HE SAID/SHE SAID.

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/

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

Between You and Me5 Stars from me!

Such a clever book!

I will confess to discovering and reading this book purely because of the author’s name… but I’m so glad I did! I sat down with it one Friday bank holiday morning and I read and read and read and read. Several cups of tea and two coffees later I had read the whole darn thing!

Between You and Me tells you a story from two different perspectives, I found I very quickly had a ‘favourite’ out of these two and read the other person’s versions almost dismissively! Because the two different view points are both written in the first person I will admit that I found the first couple of chapters almost difficult to read. Not because of the story or because of the quality of writing, as they were both marvellous, it was more a case of my brain needing to re-train itself to read a certain way; which it did very quickly.

Later on in the book the reason for this is abundantly clear. The author will be gratified to know that I got to a certain point and then found myself thinking ‘oh god there are typos in here, she’s made a mistake’ and then page backwards through the story to see where it had gone wrong.

Of course, it hadn’t gone wrong and that is the beauty of this book. The subtle tricks that are played are quite brilliant; the glass of wine with the neighbour I think was probably the clincher for me, leading me cleverly down the wrong path.

As ever with this type of storyline, I do wonder how many people contact the author to discuss their own situation or to thank her for highlighting the issue. It is very sad that people live in such situations. If you are one of those people, here are some organisations that can help:

http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/

http://www.refuge.org.uk/what-we-do/our-services/helpline/

https://www.gov.uk/report-domestic-abuse

http://www.mensadviceline.org.uk/

http://www.thechange-project.org/

Synopsis: They say every marriage has its secrets. 

But no one sees what happens behind closed doors. 

And sometimes those doors should never be opened… 

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.

Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Into The Darkest Corner5 stars from me!

It’s no real wonder that I’m not sleeping very well at the moment given the last four books that I’ve read! I’ve no one to blame but myself that after finishing Into The Darkest Corner in the wee small hours last night I then found myself jumping at every noise outside and needing to put my bedside light on rather than just switch off the main light and walk to my bed in darkness. And let’s not even discuss the compulsion that I felt to check under then bed at 1.30am…

This is a gripping read with two stories flicking between 2004 and 2008 that you know are going to converge and with every page you read on knowing and dreading what is going to happen next.

The twists are clever and the manner in which suspense, tension (and fear!) are built up is nothing short of genius. A truly creepy book that gives a realistic insight into anxiety, ocd and genuine fear.

I can’t recommend this book enough if you enjoy having the pants scared off you but do be aware that you too might be waking up in the middle of the night paranoid that you’ve not shut the lounge windows properly…

~~~

Synopsis: When young, pretty Catherine Bailey meets Lee Brightman, she can’t believe her luck. Gorgeous, charismatic, and a bit mysterious, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. 

But what begins as flattering attention and spontaneous, passionate sex transforms into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon discovers that Lee’s dazzling blue eyes and blond good looks hide a dark, violent nature. Disturbed by his increasingly erratic, controlling behavior, she tries to break it off; turning to her friends for support, she’s stunned to find they don’t believe her. Increasingly isolated and driven into the darkest corner of her world, a desperate Catherine plans a meticulous escape. 

Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine—now Cathy—is trying to build a new life in a new city. Though her body has healed, the trauma of the past still haunts her. Then Stuart Richardson, her attractive new neighbor, moves in. Encouraging her to confront her fears, he sparks unexpected hope and the possibility of love and a normal life. 

Until the day the phone rings…

Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary

Someone Else's Skin

Oooh loving Sarah Hilary‘s writing! In fact I loved this book so much that I immediately read No Other Darkness straight afterwards!

Marnie Rome’s character is strong, she brings feistiness and inspiration to this sad tale centring around the lives of women in a refuge.

All of the women are in the refuge for different reasons and each have their own demons and secrets.

Someone Else’s Skin lifts the lid on this private world and offers many different view points while Marnie and her colleagues attempt to solve the case.

Loved the bit with the radio, very satisfying!

Synopsis: Winner of the Theakston’s 2015 Crime Novel of the Year, and a 2014 Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Devastating and brilliant, Sarah Hilary’s SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN has been acclaimed as ‘stunning’ by Mark Billingham and ‘superbly disturbing’ by the Observer.

Called to a woman’s refuge to take a routine witness statement, DI Marnie Rome instead walks in on an attempted murder.

Trying to uncover the truth from layers of secrets, Marnie finds herself confronting her own demons.

Because she, of all people, knows that it can be those closest to us we should fear the most…

Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott

Sleep Tight5 Stars from me!

What a creepy, creepy book! Ugh, I felt mostly paranoid while reading Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott as it utterly gets under your skin! Brilliant.

I was completely hooked all the way through this story, all the of characters were spot on and story and back story of Olivia was very well put together and very intriguing.

The police side of things was also great with the main police characters coming to life on the page with plausible and engaging stories of their own. Their conversations flowed naturally and were highly believable.

Overall I had a love/hate relationship with this book and I read the last half in one sitting (making me late for coffee with a friend!) as I simply had to see how it ended. The final, final twist was one step too far for me but it was clever how integral it was to the story.

A very good and very creepy read, loved it and definitely would recommend to others.

Synopsis: How far would you go to hold on to the people you love?
When Olivia Brookes calls the police to report that her husband and children are missing, she believes she will never see them again. She has reason to fear the worst; this isn’t the first tragedy that Olivia has experienced.

Now, two years later, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is called in to investigate this family again, but this time it’s Olivia who has disappeared. All the evidence suggests that she was here, in the family home, that morning. But her car is in the garage, and her purse is in her handbag – on the kitchen table.

The police want to issue a national appeal, but for some reason every single picture of this family has been removed from albums, from phones, from computers.

And then they find the blood…

Has the past caught up with Olivia?

Sleep Tight – if you can. You never know who’s watching. 

Beginnings by Debbie McGowan

Beginnings4 stars from me

Well, well, well, where do I start with reviewing this book?!

What a refreshing read it was, so different from anything that I’ve read for a long while and (as I currently work in a school) so very obviously written by a teacher as the observations of daily school life were absolutely spot on!

This is a short book, a novella, that can easily be read in an afternoon and is easy to dip in an out of as the chapters often signify a change of time or place.

It is quite hard hitting as a couple of the chapters do refer to child abuse, which I wasn’t expecting. I guess this is by way of background for the future books in the series but for me it came a little from the left field as the book up until that point had been startlingly realistic yet quite light.

Having said that, the subject was sensitively handled (in my opinion) and was suggested at rather than being horrifically graphic and it really is only touched upon in a couple of places, it isn’t the main focus of the book.

Moving on from that as I don’t want to put anyone off reading it, just wanted to nod to the fact that it’s there, the realism with the books is absolutely brilliant. The observations of school life and childrens’ behaviour touches on being amusing and I’m pretty sure anyone who has worked in a school would absolutely love it!

I have to offer a huge thank you to Nigel from Beaten Track Publishing for introducing me to this book and the Behind The Couch series and I look forward to reading book 2.

 

Synopsis: A prequel to the Hiding Behind The Couch books.

As the title suggests, this short story focuses on the early school days, long before the birth of the full ‘Circle’ – a series of sectors, if you will.

Contains no real spoilers, so can be read independently of the rest of the series and in any order.