A Window Breaks – C.M. Ewan

50230789._SY475_Tom, Rachel, and their daughter Holly have been through some tough times. First, their son, Michael, was killed in a joyriding accident, then they were attacked and mugged leaving Holly badly scarred. Seeking an opportunity to reconnect and attempt to put their family back together, they go to stay in a secluded lodge in Scotland. But, once they’re all settled in bed, they hear the sound of glass breaking and are launched into a night of absolute terror.

This book was full of tension and excitement, in the perfect remote setting for a truly terrifying plot to unfold. It’s a gripping read, which I would not recommend reading at bedtime.

I loved the concept of a novel following a home invasion. It was exciting, scary and really gets you thinking: What would you do? However, I personally think this book would have been much better if it was based on a random break-in. Instead, there’s a whole load of background and sub-plot which I found a little bit ridiculous and didn’t really care about.

A Window Breaks was mostly a very good, exciting book, but was let down by the over complicated and far-fetched subplot.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Magic For Liars – Sarah Gailey

34594037._SY475_When Ivy Gamble is hired to investigate a suspicious death at the magic school her sister teaches at, she gets drawn in by much more than the case. The longer she spends at the academy, the more she begins to lose herself in a life she’d convinced herself she never wanted. All the while, a killer is on campus and it’s up to her to find out who it is.

Magic for Liars is a good book, but a teeny bit too “YA” for me. The detective aspect of the novel felt really unrealistic (yes, I realise this is a fantasy novel and therefore not super realistic generally, but the crime/detective element could definitely have been based more on reality). It seemed very unlikely that a real detective would have gone about the investigation the way that Ivy did, and it felt like a very “teen” mystery, despite the main character being a grown woman and the murder itself being pretty grisly.

That being said, I did find Ivy kind of juvenile (so maybe it made sense for her to carry out her investigation in the way that she did) and irritating. She was there to investigate a serious crime, but spent most of her time over-analysing her relationship with her sister, starting up a romance with a teacher at the academy (also, a potential suspect) and carrying around a massive chip on her shoulder re not having magical abilities. She was unprofessional and kind of tedious.

Other than that, I actually really enjoyed the story and the way it was written. The writing style was very easy to follow and the plot wasn’t particularly complex, but was quite gripping nonetheless.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Starve Acre – Andrew Michael Hurley

51121450._SX318_SY475_After their son, Ewan, died suddenly at the age of five, Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s home is a sad, haunted place. Juliette is convinced that her son is still present in some form, while Richard distracts himself by digging for a legendary oak tree which used to stand in the field opposite the house.

Starve Acre is a very atmospheric, menacing book. Hurley sets the scene very well and the general vagueness and consistent sense of intrigue throughout the story was very effective… for the first quarter. Every time a mysterious reference was dropped, it was explored and explained a few pages later, just before the next one was mentioned. This systematic style of storytelling really detracted from the mystery after a while, because it became very plain that any questions were going to be answered as soon as you had them.

That being said, the overarching mystery of the field and what happened to Ewan took forever to be answered, with all the minor developments taking priority and slowing the plot right down. I got bored before the halfway point, and this isn’t even a long book.

Also, although I was pretty happy that the book wasn’t very long, the ending was way too abrupt for me. I’m sure the intention was for the ending to be the kind that keeps you thinking, because everything couldn’t be fully explained, but to me it just felt like the book wasn’t finished.

Starve Acre has a lot of potential, but fell a bit flat for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Are You Watching? – Vincent Ralph

49756844._SY475_*Teeny tiny spoiler alert*

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man. She was his first victim, with many more to follow and he still hasn’t been caught. Determined to get justice for her mother and catch the killer, Jess enters a YouTube reality series in an attempt to draw him out. Is he watching?

I didn’t find the premise of this book very believable. Social media and vlogging is a huge part of everyday life nowadays, so it makes sense to incorporate this into the story, but I honestly don’t know anyone who watches YouTube TV like the kind featured in this book. So, I chose to just accept and embrace this element of the story, but still came up with significant flaws to the plot. Firstly, it’s incredibly convenient that the Magpie Man was indeed watching Jess’s show, despite the fact that it wasn’t in the news or anything to begin with. And maybe it’s not all that surprising that he was, but Jess’s confidence that he would was kind of weird. Secondly (sorry, small spoiler here), the killer could have been literally anyone. He murdered women in different locations and was never caught by the police. What are the chances that he turns out to be someone Jess knows? I mean, COME ON.

Anyway, if you can get past these frankly lazy plot features, Are You Watching? is a decent murder mystery for the modern era. It’s fast-paced and thrilling, while also managing to deal quite effectively with grief and internet fame.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Then She Vanishes – Claire Douglas

44428372Jess and Heather used to be best friends, until Heather’s sister disappeared and Jess started to pull away from her. Years later, Heather is the prime suspect in a brutal double murder, but no one can understand why she did it. With Heather in a coma having attempted to kill herself, Jess – now a reporter – returns to her childhood town to get the inside scoop on Heather and the inexplicable shootings.

I didn’t love this story as much as I loved some of Claire Douglas’ other books. Then She Vanishes is well-written throughout, but it’s a bit predictable and I didn’t like the characters, particularly Jess. I think it’s important that the main character in this genre of book be likeable, and I simply couldn’t get on board with Jess. I found her quite self-involved, and her personality didn’t seem to match up with the outwardly playful character that the author was trying to make her, based on her fashion choices.

Then She Vanishes was a thrilling and easy read, but it isn’t anything special. The predictability was a shame, and there was just something about this book that makes it very easy to forget.

That being said, the opening chapter is truly excellent. It’s a shame the rest of the book couldn’t match up.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

46131509._SY475_Determined to improve life for her son, Christopher, Kate Reese flees an abusive relationship and starts over in the town of Mill Grove. It seems like a safe and idyllic town, until Christopher vanishes for six days. When he emerges from the woods at the edge of town, he is unharmed but different. Before, he struggled at school, now he’s one of the brightest kids there. Now, he speaks to an imaginary friend who gives him a mission he must complete by Christmas. Now, Christopher is wrapped up in a war between good and evil where he has a vital role to play.

This book is much more than just a horror. It covers family, friendship, community and good and evil. It is chilling and full of twists, as well as being surprisingly heartwarming. Honestly, how Stephen Chbosky went from Perks of Being a Wallflower to this is beyond me. Imaginary Friend is truly creepy and haunting, with an exciting and atmospheric plot – a far cry from the emotional angst of Perks.

My biggest piece of criticism would be that it is quite a bit longer than it needed to be. Some aspects of the story are very repetitive (Christopher seemed to spend an awful lot of time actively seeking out the Hissing Lady, finding her, and then running away. Like, why are you looking for her if you’re just going to run away?) Although I did love this book, I definitely think it could have benefited from having a few chapters cut. The unnecessary length and repetitiveness unfortunately got in to way of this being a five (or even four) star book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour: Sanctuary – V.V. James

I’m very excited to be part of the tour for Sanctuary by V.V. James today! This is a fun detective/fantasy crossover, featuring murder and witches, which I very much enjoyed. Thanks for reading my review, and please remember to go and visit the other stops on the tour (tour schedule is available at the bottom of this post).

Every town has its secrets. Sanctuary is built on them.

46189758._SY475_.jpgDaniel’s death looked like an accident: An alcohol-fuelled tragedy with no one to blame. But his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch, and they’d been fighting before he died. When someone accuses her of murder by witchcraft, the investigation into Daniel’s death takes a much more sinister turn. Was it really an accident? Was it revenge? Or – in this town of secrets – something much darker?

I really loved the general theme of this book: a detective novel involving witches, and the plot is very good. Sanctuary is proper detective mystery with a fun supernatural element. I enjoyed the way that witchcraft was a built-in feature of this world, without needed any other supernatural features to enforce it. Witches are a known and (somewhat) accepted people in this book, living openly alongside regular people, but they do suffer from discrimination just the same as any minority group does in the real world. I thought it was very effective to include discrimination in this way.

There are quite a mixed bag of characters. Because the plot is reasonably complex, we don’t get to see too deeply into most of the characters. The ones that we do get to know in more depth are quite different from one another. I liked Maggie, the detective. She was a compassionate character who was determined to do her job and get fair results. I also quite liked Sarah, Sanctuary’s resident witch, because it was easy to understand why she made the decisions she made, to protect her daughter. Abigail, however, I didn’t like at all. It felt like I was supposed to be able to sympathise with her, having just lost her son, but I couldn’t. She came across as nasty and vindictive, even outside of the events that followed the death of her son. On the whole, I think Abigail was the only part of this book that I didn’t much like.

Last, but not least, I absolutely adore that cover.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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No One Home – Tim Weaver

42960047On Halloween night, the nine residents of Black Gale get together for a dinner party. The next morning, the whole village has vanished. There are no bodies, no clues and no evidence, so the families of the disappeared residents hire an investigator, David Raker, to find out what happened. But is Raker looking for nine missing people, or nine dead bodies?

No One Home is the tenth David Raker book, but it works perfectly well as a standalone novel.

The premise of this book was so intriguing, I was really excited to start reading it, but I lost interest very quickly. I actually almost DNF’d this book a couple of times, but I don’t like not finishing books so I stuck with it in the hopes that it would grow on me. Unfortunately, it didn’t. I can’t pinpoint the exact reasons why I didn’t enjoy this story. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the writing, and the plot was sound and should have been exciting. But I just wasn’t drawn in. I didn’t feel any kind of connection at all with Raker or any of the other characters. After a certain point, I even stopped being interested in finding out what happened to the residents of Black Gale.

It’s probably worth a shot – it has very high ratings from other readers. This one just wasn’t for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Have You Seen Her – Lisa Hall

42701375.jpgOn Bonfire Night, Anna takes her eyes off Laurel for one second. That’s all it takes for her to disappear. Hours pass, and then days, and Laurel still hasn’t been found. Her parents, Fran and Dominic, are frantic and cannot stop the cracks in their relationship from growing, while Anna has her own secrets to hide. Someone knows what happened to Laurel, and they’re not telling.

This is one of the most believable thrillers I’ve read. The characters and the plot (including all the twists) were completely logical and plausible. Mystery and thriller novels usually have some inevitable eye-roll moments, but Have You Seen Her manages to avoid that.

It is very well written. The story is gripping and easy to read, making it hard to put down. It’s told from Anna’s perspective (the nanny), who has a really strong narrative voice. She’s likeable enough to generate empathy, but is still mysterious and suspicious enough to stay interesting. And the ending is so satisfying.

I thought the characters were pretty good. Everyone seems guilty in some way, so it was difficult to guess who was actually responsible for Laurel’s disappearance. Fran and Dominic were awful in their own ways but entirely realistic, while Anna was an interesting main character. My only criticism is that Dominic was arguably too hateable. I wanted him to be guilty.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

A Question of Trust – Jonathan Pinnock

44562832.jpgTom’s girlfriend, Dorothy, has vanished, along with all the money and equipment of the company she ran with her friend, Ali. Tom and Ali’s investigations into where Dorothy and their things have gone lead them into some unexpected and dangerous situations, while Tom simultaneously tries to untangle his father from a cryptocurrency scam, locate a missing python, and work out who is messaging him from a dead man’s LinkedIn account.

So, it turns out A Question of Trust is Book #2 in a series. I didn’t realise this, but events from the first book (The Truth About Archie and Pye) were mentioned for context and it became clear very quickly that I’d missed quite a lot. However, although I would say it might be helpful to have read Book #1 first, I think this one also works as a standalone (once you get past the first few chapters).

I wasn’t fully sold on the plot, although I couldn’t tell you why. It’s very fast-paced and there’s a lot going on, but I found myself skimming a fair bit and therefore (my own fault) I wasn’t always entirely sure what was happening. However, I LOVED Tom. He was inept enough to be sweet and funny, but not so much that the whole thing was completely implausible – which is a very difficult line to draw.

Overall, it’s a good read, with a bonkers story-line and some great characters.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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