Guest Review: The Way Back – Kylie Ladd

 

The Way Back

The Way Back

Kylie Ladd

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760297138

 

 

Description:

All she wanted was to escape. But why does she still feel trapped. A gripping psychological drama by the author of Mothers and Daughters and Into My Arms.

Charlie Johnson is 13 and in her first year of high school. She loves her family, netball and Liam, the cute guy who sits next to her in Science – but most of all she loves horses and horse-riding. Charlie’s parents have leased her a horse, Tic Tac, from the local pony club, but one day they go out for a ride in the national park and only Tic Tac returns…

Four months later, long after the police and the SES have called off the search, Charlie is found wandering injured and filthy, miles from where she was last seen. Her family rejoice in her return, but can anyone truly recover from what Charlie’s been through? When a life has been shattered, how do you put the pieces back together?

 

 

Brenda’s Review:

Thirteen year old Charlie Johnson had a happy and contented life – her mum Rachael worked full-time in a job she loved; dad Matt was a fireman and her older brother Dan was in high school and loved music. Charlie loved her horse Tic Tac – though technically he wasn’t her horse, having been leased from the pony club where Charlie spent a lot of her time, but Ticcy was hers. The Saturday that Charlie and her friend Ivy went for their usual ride through the National Park after pony club was the day everything changed.

When Ivy returned to say Tic Tac was lame and Charlie was walking him back, Hannah immediately mounted her horse and set out to meet Charlie. But neither of them could be found – and when Tic Tac returned days later, limping and dishevelled but without Charlie, they knew something was dreadfully wrong.

Matt and Dan searched with the SES and police for days and weeks on end – everything that could be done was done. But it was like Charlie had vanished off the face of the earth. The National Park near Melbourne was dense and vast – the search covered a huge area, but Charlie had disappeared. Rachael was beside herself, imagining the worst…

The day Charlie staggered from the bush, filthy, injured and incoherent, everyone was ecstatic – her family was over the moon, the police thrilled with the outcome. But could Charlie be the same girl she was four months prior? Would anything ever be the same again? And what had happened to Charlie in the time she was missing?

What a brilliant, breathtaking psychological thriller Aussie author Kylie Ladd has produced with her latest, The Way Back! Emotional, heartbreaking, tear-jerking and above all, outstanding, this novel ticks all the boxes. I have no hesitation in recommending The Way Back extremely highly! 5 stars!

With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my ARC to read and review.

Guest Review:The Six – Anni Taylor

The SixThe Six

Anni Taylor

Self published through Amazon

ASIN: B0744BM54M

 

Description:

“A dark, slow-burn serial killer story that dazzles, with an explosive ending.”

In the grip of a crushing gambling habit, young mother Evie is desperate for a way out. She’s stunned when she’s offered a lifeline: A place on a unique, addiction-healing program that includes a six-day stay, six challenges and a chance at sixty thousand dollars.

From all over the world, twenty-eight people travel to a monastery on a remote island in Greece to begin the program. There is just one clause – they must keep it secret.

The monastery holds secrets, too. There are those who peer through the walls and wait: people with the darkest of desires.

Far too late, Evie discovers the chilling truth. And the closer she gets to finding an escape, the closer the horror lurking in the depths of the monastery gets to her.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Evie’s life had spiralled out of control. Her husband Gray and two beautiful daughters, Willow and Lilly meant everything to her – but the gambling addiction had taken over and she had no idea what to do next. She was at the bottom…

When Evie arrived on the tiny Greek island where she had been accepted into a special program which would cure her addiction, she was bemused. The monastery was old; she was met by Brother Vito who explained about the six challenges – the end result (should she reach it) would give her $60,000 ($10,000 per challenge) and she would also have all her debts paid off.

As Evie met the other contestants, she realised there would be no friendships made – everyone wanted to win. But then she saw someone she knew from her “previous life”…

Gray was shattered to realise Evie had left him, and their daughters. He had no idea where she was; none of her friends knew either. Evie’s note which said she would be back in a week gave Gray a small kernel of hope. But as Gray searched for his wife, his journey put him in the path of Constance who was the mother of a young teenager also missing; together the two of them joined forces in their search for loved ones they had become increasingly concerned about. Would Evie and Kara be found – alive? Or were the police right?

Wow! Deep, incredibly dark and disturbing, The Six by Aussie author Anni Taylor (author of The Game You Played) is another intense psychological thriller that pounded through the pages. The main characters are resilient, tough but scarily vulnerable; the bad guys are horribly bad!! A fast-paced and thrilling plot, The Six is a breathtaking and intense ride, and is filled with twists and turns which kept my heart in my mouth! A highly recommended 5 stars.

With thanks to the author for my digital copy which I beta read, for my honest review.

Guest Review: Forgotten – Nicole Trope

Forgotten

Forgotten

Nicole Trope

Allen & Unwin AU

ISBN: 9781760296773

 

Description:

A gripping domestic noir thriller from the author of Blame

In a single day, a simple mistake will have life-altering consequences for everyone involved.

A moment of distraction, an unlocked car and a missing baby. How on earth could this happen?

All Malia needed was a single litre of milk and now she’s surrounded by police and Zach has disappeared.

Detective Ali Greenberg knows that this is not the best case for her, not with her history – but she of all people knows what Malia is going through and what is at stake.

Edna is worried about the new residents at the boarding house. She knows Mary would turn in her grave if she knew the kinds of people her son was letting in.

And then there is someone else. Someone whose heart is broken. Someone who feels she has been unfairly punished for her mistakes. Someone who wants what she can’t have.

What follows is a heart-stopping game of cat-and-mouse and a race against the clock. As the hours pass and the day heats up, all hope begins to fade.

A gripping, haunting family drama shot through with emotion and suspense.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Malia was completely stressed but trying not to show it – Aaron, her five year old son was demanding milk with his cereal, but they didn’t have any. Her three year old daughter, Rhiannon was echoing her brother. Finally in despair she bundled the children – five month old Zach still sleeping –into her car for the quick trip to the service station for the litre of milk. She was going to be late to work, the kids to childcare and school – but what could she do? And when she arrived, Zach was still sleeping; she knew she’d be quick – that decision was to change everything…

Detective Ali Greenberg had only been back at work a month, but she wanted this case. She and her partner Mike were at the service station, along with what seemed like every police team in Sydney. A missing child, especially a baby, tugged on the heartstrings of everyone and brought the police out in full force every time. Ali and Mike needed to move the investigation forward quickly – the weather was scorching; Zach had to be found soon.

With Malia’s parents rushing from Melbourne to be by her side, and everyone trying to help find Zach, Malia wondered if she’d ever feel “normal” again. She was desperately missing her little boy – he was overdue for a feed; was he hungry and thirsty? Was he crying for her? Would someone please just FIND HIM!

Forgotten by Aussie author Nicole Trope is an explosive, fast-paced and emotional race against time. The suspense is breathtaking, the narration is extremely well done – I needed to race through the pages to find out what happened. The author has written another dramatic psychological thriller which shows how one small mistake can have devastating consequences. I loved Hush, Little Bird and Forgotten is up there with it. Another 5 star read which I highly recommend.

 

 

Post Script: Everything You Told Me – Lucy Dawson

A great introductory hook and a narrative that cleverly plays into every mother’s sense of guilt – is she doing enough/coping/not coping…etc

Everything You Told me

Everything You Told Me

Lucy Dawson

Allen & Unwin Australia

Atlantic

Corvus

ISBN: 9781782396253

 

Description:

Sally wakes up in the middle of nowhere, with a suicide note in her pocket and no memory of the previous twenty four hours. When she discovers what happened to her, she is shocked to the core…

Saturday morning, dawn. Mother of two Sally finds herself on a cliff top, miles away from home. The place is familiar but the journey is a blank. She’s lost the last ten hours of her life.

To all appearances, Sally was there to jump. She had nothing on her apart from a suicide note when the local police took her in. But Sally knows she would never leave her children behind…

Which leaves the question: who has done this to her? And who would believe Sally if she told?

 

My View:

A great introductory hook and a narrative that cleverly plays into every mother’s sense of guilt – is she doing enough/coping/not coping…etc

 

A great read which has all the elements I like in a good  psychological thriller; an great opening hook – in this instance the protagonist wakes up alone and disoriented on a cliff top – not knowing how she got there and with what appears to be a suicide note in her pocket.

 

Then we have my favourite device – the unreliable narrator…Sally’s recollections, thoughts, are a little confused, she is sleep deprived, anxious… so much guilt, perhaps suffering post-natal depression?  What do we believe is happening here? Who is right?

 

Then there are the twists – so many – so good but just one little point that is essential to the outcome, the big piece of evidence that changes the whole direction of your thoughts… just seemed a little too convenient, just niggled at me – after I finished reading. At the time I was engrossed in this reveal, it changed everything. And I went with it, I followed this new clue, and was lead on another twisty path and the ending…would never ever have seen that coming. So all in all a really good read but just after I finished reading there was just that hint of bad taste in my mouth , the feeling that something was not quite right, a detail that was just a little too convenient and all too easily wrapped everything up (no spoilers here). Will it bother you? Who knows…you will have to read it to find out.

 

 

 

 

My View:

 

Guest Review: Bay Of Shadows – Samantha Wood

Brenda is very impressed with this debut novel.

the-bay-of-shadows

The Bay of Shadows

Samantha Wood

Smashwords/Amazon

ISBN: 9780995442108/ASIN: B01NCI60OZ

 

Description:

How far would you go for love?

In a rambling house in a small Australian beach town, Elena Jameson is recovering from her recent divorce. To her delight, she is given the opportunity to foster a little boy, Daniel, whose mother is dead and whose violent father is in rehab. As Elena and Daniel explore the beautiful bay and wild bushland, they form a profound bond that will change their lives forever.

Then Daniel’s father discovers his whereabouts and begins a campaign of terror – not to get his son back, but to prevent Elena giving Daniel a new life.

As the violence escalates, Elena finds that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect Daniel from the brutality of his past and an uncertain future. Sometimes the only way to get what you want is to pay the price in blood.

A gothic tale of love and loss, bravery and hope.

 

Brenda’s Review:

When Elena Jameson was granted the opportunity to foster six year old Tyson, she was thrilled. Her recent divorce had left her fragile – caring for this little boy would be therapy for them both. Learning that the name Tyson made the boy shudder with apprehension, Elena started calling him Daniel – his second name – which suited them both. Daniel had lost his mother to death and his father was a cruel, vindictive and abusive man, currently locked away. Elena chose not to think about the future and what would happen when he was released…

Living a quiet and secluded life in the small bay not far from Melbourne in Victoria, just Daniel, Rafi (their little dog) and Elena, she knew this was the life she wanted. Daniel was a different child, and Elena loved him in the devoted manner of any mother anywhere. Daniel was doing well at school – they explored the beautiful surrounding bush in their leisure time; and soccer brought Daniel joy. But with a terrifying suddenness, everything changed. Violence erupted around Elena and Daniel – the danger was crippling. What would Elena do? She knew she needed to do everything in her power to keep her son safe; but what…?

The Bay of Shadows is the debut novel by Aussie author Samantha Wood and in my opinion it’s exceptional! A gripping and intense plot with a fast pace and riveting emotions – The Bay of Shadows has everything I love in a psychological thriller (even a touch of the Dreamtime). I have no hesitation in recommending this novel highly, and will be eagerly watching for this author’s next book 🙂  I also love the cover! 5 stars!

 

 

Samantha Wood:

Samantha Wood is a fiction author drawn to mysteries, stories of the Dreamtime, and magic realism. Her first book, Culua: My Other Life in Mexico, was a love letter to Mexico, her mother’s country. The Bay of Shadows is her first novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: I See You – Clare Mackintosh

This one goes straight onto the ‘Best Reads of 2017’ list

i-see-you

I See You

Clare Mackintosh

Sphere

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780751554120

 

Description:

You do the same thing every day.

 

You know exactly where you’re going.

 

You’re not alone.

 

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

 

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

 

I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.

 

My View:

This one goes straight onto the ‘Best Reads of 2017’ list!

An amazing, thrilling, keep you guessing, relevant and just so credible, add this one to your must read list!

 

I loved Clare Macintosh’s debut I Let You Go – a great psychological thriller (see my review here  http://wp.me/p3aMo4-2ib), I thought this was a  fantastic read and was not expecting the new release to  match the thrills and nervous anticipation I experienced here – I was wrong! Clare Macintosh has exceeded all my expectations with this read- be prepared – this is a read on one sitting, unreliable narrator, red herrings galore with a huge surprise  for you at the very end kind of book. Don’t just take my word for it – check this one out soon- you will thank me J

 

PS  Clare –what will you come up with next? I can’t wait!

 

Best Crime Fiction/Mystery/Thrillers Reads of 2016

And what a task to try and narrow this field down – some exceptionally good reads in 2016.

And here they are in no particular order:

 

Like I Can Love

Like I Can Love  – Kim Lock

Ghost Girls

Ghost Girls – Cath Ferla

An Isolated Incident

An Isolated Incident – Emily Maguire

the-wrong-side-of-goodbye

The Wrong Side of Goodbye  – Michael Connelly

Find Her

Find Her – Lisa Gardner

The Kept Woman

The Kept Woman – Karin Slaughter

the-fallsThe Falls  – B Michael Radburn

the-crossing

The Crossing –  B Michael Radburn

face-value

Face Value – Ian Andrew

Saturday Requiem

Saturday Requiem – Nicci French

tell-the-truth-shame-the-devil

Tell The Truth Shame The Devil – Melina Marchetta

The Dry

The Dry – Jane Harper

Cover Angels Burning

Angels Burning – Tawni O’Dell

Girl Waits With Gun

Girl Waits With Gun – Amy Stewart

Darkest Place

Darkest Place – Jaye Ford

Death By Sugar

Death By Sugar  – Helen Goltz

Missing Presumed

Missing Presumed – Susie Steiner

under-the-harrow

Under the Harrow – Flynn Berry

a-great-reckoning

A Great Reckoning – Louise Penny

The Cleanskin

The Cleanskin – Laura Bloom