Sunday 29 July 2018

Seven Bridges (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 8) - LJ Ross

Ryan's most explosive case yet…

It's been five months since a killer walked free and DCI Ryan is preparing to leave Newcastle to hunt him down - this time, for good. 

But Ryan's plans are scuppered when events take a dramatic turn and he is forced to stay and face his past one last time, or watch a friend suffer the consequences. 

Amid the chaos, another killer is preparing to strike. When the Tyne Bridge explodes, Ryan's team are faced with a frantic race to uncover a deadly foe who won't stop until every bridge is burned, along with everybody on it...

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape. 

What did I think?

I have started and abandoned this review more times than I care to remember and the reason for this is that nothing I write will even come close to how absolutely brilliant this book is.  I'm already a fan of the DCI Ryan series but OH MY GOD Seven Bridges took my breath away, almost stopped my heart, made me gasp out loud, brought tears to my eyes, gave me goosebumps and left me completely thunderstruck.  

I'm not going to write too much about the plot, other than what is mentioned in the blurb, but I have to share the moment I read the scene where the Tyne Bridge explodes.  I was reading at my desk on my lunchbreak when I emitted an almighty gasp that made my colleague ask what the matter was.  With tears in my eyes and a shaky voice I said 'the Tyne Bridge has just blown up'.  For a heartstopping second, my colleague thought that I'd read a breaking news alert!  You can't get more realistic than that in fiction!  I can see this becoming the question you ask people at parties instead of (age dependent) where they were when Kennedy was shot or when Princess Diana died.  Do you remember where you were when you were reading LJ Ross' book about the Tyne Bridge blowing up?  

LJ Ross definitely found the golden ticket when she created DCI Ryan and his team; the storylines are outstanding but LJ Ross goes one better than 3D by creating four-dimensional characters that feel as real as you or me.  I mean it goes without saying that everyone loves Ryan, but we also love Ryan's strong and sensible wife Anna, down to earth DS Frank Phillips who is always thinking of his stomach, DI Denise MacKenzie who has been through a lot and has finally found happiness and DC Jack Lowerson who is so lovely and just wants to find love (but he's clueless where ladies are concerned).  I love meeting up with my old friends in Northumbria CID.

LJ Ross takes not just a step but a massive jump out of the 'cozy mysteries' genre into 'crime thriller' with this explosive instalment in the DCI Ryan series.  Seven Bridges is darker, more dangerous and so very realistic that it is a Thriller with a capital T.  I am absolutely certain that this will be the best book I read this do I know this already, you ask...because it is THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ!!!!  There are simply not enough stars in the sky to award this book so I have to make do with giving it five stars.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday 28 July 2018

Open Your Eyes - Paula Daly

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she'd prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

What did I think?

I noticed on Twitter a while ago that Paula Daly had a new book coming out this summer, so when it came up as a serialisation on The Pigeonhole I put my name straight down.  Thankfully, I was chosen to read Open Your Eyes over ten days and, although I would normally read a book in no more than three days, reading this way builds up the tension and suspense to feverish levels.  So much so in my case that I woke up two hours before my alarm and the first thought that popped into my head was to read the final stave!

I've read Paula Daly books before so I knew to expect the unexpected and boy does Open Your Eyes have the shock factor!  The book starts with a bang (literally) as Jane's husband Leon is attacked in their driveway.  I can't say any more without spoiling the gasp out loud moment for others, but this is guaranteed to have readers reaching for their virtual running shoes in order to race through the book.  It's easy to take the book title as an instruction as you will not want to blink for fear of slowing down your reading of this fast-paced book.

I'm being careful to say very little about the plot, other than what's in the blurb, but Jane has to start digging into Leon's life to find out who could possibly have hurt her husband.  With Leon in a coma, Jane feels vulnerable in her home alone with two small children.  What if whoever hurt Leon comes back for her?  Jane must look at everything and everyone as a threat, especially when somebody seems to know exactly what she's up to.

I loved that some of the characters are authors so there are some fabulous references to the publishing world that give book lovers some idea as to the anatomy of a book from conception to publication.  I really felt as if I was peeping behind the curtain into Oz as the wizards of the publishing industry worked their magic.  It is because I love books so much (no? really?), that the final sentence gave me goosebumps and just shows how much Open Your Eyes had got under my skin.  

Gripping, compelling and so very clever, Open Your Eyes firmly establishes Paula Daly at the top of the domestic noir genre - long may she reign!

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Thursday 26 July 2018

BLOG BLITZ: Barnabas Tew and The Case Of The Missing Scarab - Columbkill Noonan

The mysteriously mystical cover of Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab, along with its Egyptian setting, made this a must read book for me.  I didn't fully appreciate what I was letting myself in for but I was most definitely not disappointed.  I am delighted to release my review as part of the Rachel's Random Resources Book Birthday Blitz. 

Barnabas Tew, a detective in Victorian London, is having a hard time making a name for himself, probably because most of his clients end up dead before he can solve their cases. His luck is about to change, though, for better or worse: Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, notices him and calls him to the Egyptian underworld. A terrible kidnapping has occurred; one that promises to put an end to the status quo and could perhaps even put an end to the entire world.

It is up to Barnabas (along with his trusty assistant, Wilfred) to discover the culprit and set things to right.

Can he turn his luck around and solve the most important case of his life?

What did I think?

I love Egyptian history so I was really excited to read Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab.  This unique and unusual book completely exceeded my expectations and, although it won’t be to everyone’s taste, I have already recommended it to one of my colleagues who enjoys reading about mythology.

I found Barnabas both exasperating and hilarious; I certainly wouldn’t have had the patience that his sidekick Wilfred has.  I couldn't help but imagine Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer playing Barnabas and Wilfred; if Reeves & Mortimer did Sherlock Holmes it would probably look something like this. Barnabas is a completely incompetent private detective and it is just his luck that the one case he did solve gets him recommended to Anubis, the jackal headed Egyptian God of the Dead.  Anubis wants Barnabas and Wilfred to solve the mystery of the missing scarab beetle, Khepre, who is responsible for rolling the sun across the sky each day.  With Khepre missing, the sun is stuck in the sky and the unbearable heat threatens to bring drought and starvation to the people of the underworld.

What follows is a veritable who’s who of the Egyptian underworld as we meet several gods and goddesses, some I had heard of and some I hadn’t.  I don’t know a great deal about Egyptian mythology, but I certainly know a little more now.  I loved how the characteristics of each deity were described; it brought the whole book to life as I visualised the snapping snout of crocodile headed Sobek and the cow headed goddess Hathor, who reminded me of Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts, with Barnabas trying to be careful not to ignite her wrath.

The whole book actually does have a feel of Alice in Wonderland about it; rather than Alice falling down the rabbit hole, Barnabas and Wilfred fall into the underworld.  Although the Egyptian gods are based on real myth, Columbkill Noonan has given them a cartoon like quirkiness that had me half expecting the Mad Hatter to appear and announce that it was time for tea.  I think this book will definitely appeal to fans of Alice in Wonderland because of the almost dreamlike quality of the writing; like Alice did, I expected Barnabas to wake up at any moment and realise it was all a dream...or was it?  It’s certainly a book that readers off all ages will enjoy as I didn’t spot any naughty bits or swearing.

Quirky, original and completely enthralling; my only disappointment was that I reached the end too quickly.  I enjoyed Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab so much that I am already looking forward to the next book.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology.  Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.

In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. To learn more about Columbkill please feel free to visit her website (, on Facebook ( or on Twitter (@ColumbkillNoon1).

Tuesday 24 July 2018

BLOG TOUR: Oh Crumbs - Kathryn Freeman

I am a huge fan of Kathryn Freeman so I am thrilled to open the Rachel's Random Resources blog tour for Oh Crumbs, along with my fellow bloggers Rae Reads and LibriAmoriMiei.  You can read my review below and if you scroll down to the end of the post there is an amazing giveaway to win a paperback of one of Kathryn's other books: Too Damn Nice.

Sometimes life just takes the biscuit …

Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag. 

Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her. 

But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is. 

What did I think?

I don't read a lot of chick lit these days but I can always find time in my busy reading schedule for Kathryn Freeman.  It is only through my love of Formula 1 that I discovered Kathryn Freeman's books when I spotted Monaco's Fairmont Hairpin on the cover of her book set in the world of motor racing: Before You.  Needless to say, I absolutely loved Before You but I have to say that Oh Crumbs has just overtaken on the straight and has become my new favourite chick lit book.

My heart was squeezed to breaking point as we are introduced to the Spencer family on what is probably the worst day of their lives at Abby's mum's funeral.  Abby gave up going to university to look after her four younger sisters and has learnt to curb her expletives by saying 'oh crumbs' instead of something stronger, so when a job comes up at prestigious biscuit company, Crumbs, it seems like fate.  It is fate indeed when Managing Director Douglas Faulkner's piercing blue eyes meet Abby's pools of molten chocolate.  Doug hires Abby on the spot as his PA and there's an attraction there that neither of them can deny but Doug never lets anyone get close to him.  Thankfully, Abby isn't just anyone!

Abby and the whole Spencer clan are THE most colourful set of characters I have ever come across.  They each have individual traits that had me smiling from ear to ear when I wasn't laughing out loud at their antics.  Abby is so scatty sometimes but she has an amazing business brain and, with a houseful of children, knows a thing or two about biscuits.  Abby often engages her mouth before her brain but I found myself admiring her ability to tell Delectable Doug or his frightful father just what she thinks.

Doug is such a tortured soul, doing a job he hates for a father he despises and I have never felt such an attraction to a literary character since Mr Darcy.  Doug's dark and brooding manner coupled with underlying insecurities does make him similar to Darcy so it's no wonder I felt my heart defrosting when Doug was around.  Doug is carrying a secret around like a weight around his neck and he can't risk destroying his family if it gets out, so he continually pushes Abby away, however, Abby thinks he's worth fighting for.  Will he ever let his guard down?  More like will he still have a guard to let down once Abby takes a battering ram to it!

Oh Crumbs really is a ray of sunshine; although it starts off in a very sad place, I felt my heart repairing bit by bit as I watched the Spencer family grow up.  Each and every one of them staked a claim on my heart so I read most of the book with a smile on my face and I simply could not contain my tears of happiness at the end.  Tremendously heartwarming, poignant and often hilarious, Oh Crumbs is most definitely a book you will want to read this year.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon UK
Buy it from Amazon US

About the author:

A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes come in many disguises.

Social Media Links –


Win a paperback copy of Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Monday 23 July 2018

BLOG BLITZ: Forgive Me Not - Samantha Tonge

I'm sure you will join me in wishing Samantha Tonge a very happy publication day as her latest novel, Forgive Me Not, is released into the wild.  I am delighted to release my review as part of the Rachel's Random Resources publication day blog blitz.

Forgiveness can be hard to come by… An unputdownable new novel from bestseller Samantha Tonge

How far would you go to make amends?
When Emma fled her home at Foxglove Farm, she’d let down and hurt those who cared for her most. But now, two years later, she’s ready to face up to her past; she’s ready to go back.
But Emma’s unannounced return causes more problems than she could have foreseen. The people she knew and loved aren’t ready to forget, let alone forgive. And the one person she wants to reconnect with the most, her mother, can’t remember who she is.
Just as Emma starts to rebuild trust, an uncovered family secret and a shocking past crime threaten her newly forged future...
Sometimes simply saying sorry isn’t enough.

Perfect for readers of Ruth Hogan or Amanda Prowse, this is an extraordinary and unforgettable novel about running away from yourself – and finding a way back.

What did I think?

I have been meaning to read a Samantha Tonge book for a while now and what a superb book to start with.  I have to say that the cover is stunning; it's very hard to tear your eyes away from it but, believe me, it's even better inside.

You would be forgiven (despite the book title) for thinking that you are about to read some lighthearted, hearts and flowers chick lit from looking at the cover of Forgive Me Not, however, that couldn't be further from the truth.  Absolutely filled to the brim with heartrending emotion, I was surprised to find myself caring about every single character in the book and these feelings remained even after I had turned the last page.  Samantha Tonge writes with such intense feelings that you can't help but become emotionally invested in the story and, with such high quality writing, I was more than happy to invest my emotions in the bank of Samantha Tonge.

Emma is our intriguing and complex main character.  After leaving home under a cloud she returns to make amends, but the only welcome she receives is from the family's 3-legged dog, Dash.  The reader is immediately drawn into the web of intrigue about Emma's past as you wonder what she did that was so bad that her family, friends and even the whole village don't want to know her.  As the present day story plays out, the reader jumps on an emotional rollercoaster as we glimpse into Emma's past to fill in the blanks between then and now.  When a family secret emerges that threatens Emma's recovery, she learns that forgiveness is a lot harder to give than she first thought, especially when you must also forgive yourself.

Forgive Me Not is a tremendously engaging, emotional and uplifting book.  Emma's strength in adversity is both inspiring and heartbreaking as she carries so much weight on her shoulders and in her heart.  It would be easy to turn away at the first hurdle but Emma shows great sense of character when she perseveres to show everyone that she has changed.  They might not be able to forget what Emma has done but can they forgive her?

A deep and meaningful book that will definitely stay with you long after turning the final page.  In fact, the final page just took the wind out of my sails and I can certainly say that I was completely blown away by Forgive Me Not.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Google
Buy from iBooks

About the author:

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK and her passion, second to spending time with her husband and children, is writing. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.

When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.

In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.


Saturday 21 July 2018

BLOG BLITZ: The Second Cup - Sarah Marie Graye

I am delighted to be taking part in the Rachel's Random Resources Blog Blitz for The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye.  I am sharing my review on this final day of the blitz and there's also an amazing giveaway at the end of the post where you can win your very own signed copy.

Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.

Faye knows her heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She also knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he's taken his own life.

Faye is left wondering how to move forward - and whether or not Jack's best friend Ethan will let her down again. And the news of Jack's death ripples through the lives of her friends too.

Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and wondering if she was right to leave her first love behind. Poor Olivia is juggling her job and her boyfriend and trying to deal with a death of her own. And Jack's death has hit Beth the hardest, even though she never knew him.

Is Beth about to take her own life too?

What did I think?

I love it when you stumble across a book that is so completely unique and unusual that you would struggle to place it in any one genre.  That’s precisely what happened when I picked up and tried to categorise Sarah Marie Graye’s wonderful debut, The Second Cup.

The story follows a group of four friends who have kind of drifted together and don’t seem to have much in common.  Or at least I thought so at first.  As we learn about each girl, I really felt as if I got to know them and their insecurities.  Faye seems to be the main character, although they all have equal parts to play, but the story and the whole ‘butterfly effect’ starts with Faye.  After a heart-stopping moment when she thinks she sees him in the street, Faye is reminded of her university boyfriend, Jack, and decides to trace him but unfortunately, Faye is too late as Jack has taken his own life.  As Faye recounts this story to the girls, the ‘butterfly effect’ takes hold to varying degrees as they each look at unhappiness in their own lives. 

There are so many topical issues discussed in The Second Cup, that it will resonate with so many people.  In addition to the difficult subject of suicide, I found the adult bullying of Olivia very thought-provoking.  When you think of bullying, you automatically think of schoolchildren but as we are now gradually becoming more aware of mental health we are learning to look for bullying in our adult life.  People can be cruel and unaware of the effect of their actions, but one thing they should be aware of is that karma really is a b*tch sometimes.

As a huge fan of our national drink, I loved the references to tea that are sprinkled throughout the story along with little anecdotes about tea-related things such as tea moths, teacup rides, and Alice in Wonderland's Mad Hatter's Tea Party.  I thoroughly enjoyed finding these little snippets hidden between chapters and even learned some things about tea along the way!  Sarah Marie Graye is spot on about one thing: you never need to answer the question about a second cup because the answer is always yes!

The Second Cup is an intensely thought-provoking, genre-defying book; what a wonderful, hauntingly beautiful debut.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester in 1975, to English Catholic parents. To the outside world Sarah Marie’s childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing, until aged nine, when she was diagnosed with depression.

It’s a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision, including the one to write a novel.

Sarah Marie wrote The Second Cup as part of an MA Creative Writing practice as research degree at London South Bank University – where she was the vice-chancellor’s scholarship holder.

Sarah Marie was diagnosed with ADHD in November 2017 and published an extended edition of The Second Cup in February 2018 that included character interviews so she could diagnose one of her characters with the same condition.

Amazon author page:


Win 3 x Signed copies of The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Friday 20 July 2018

BLOG TOUR: No Further Questions - Gillian McAllister

The compulsive thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author. You'd trust your sister with your life. But should you?
The police say she's guilty.
She insists she's innocent.

She's your sister.
You loved her.
You trusted her.
But they say she killed your child.

Who do you believe?

Original, devilishly clever and impossible to forget, this is a thriller with a difference. You won't be able to tear yourself away from the trial that will determine both sisters' fates.

What did I think?

As if I don't get excited enough about books, it's a whole new level of excitement when a new Gillian McAllister book comes out.  Gillian McAllister is so super-talented that she has the amazing ability to write books that are brilliantly unique and pretty darn unputdownable.

No Further Questions is an outstanding courtroom drama with a thrilling twist and many thought-provoking moments, as I asked myself who I believed and what I would have done in the same situation.  It's Martha's worst nightmare when she receives a call that no mother should ever have to take: her 8 week old daughter, Layla, has died whilst in the care of her sister, Becky.  What at first appears to be a cot death turns into something more sinister when a post mortem is carried out and the results show that Layla has been smothered.  At the time of Layla's death, only Becky was in the house but Becky continues to profess her innocence.  Did she do it?

What an outstanding piece of fiction; I absolutely loved the courtroom setting and the flashbacks to the night Layla died.  I was like a bloodhound hunting for clues and sniffing through the evidence laid out before me, but I have to admit that I was a little too good at spotting the clues so I did work out some of the story way before the end.  It didn't spoil the story at all for me though, as I enjoyed it from start to finish, and rather enjoyed my little Hercule Poirot 'Aha!' moment at the end.

I love the relationship that Martha and Becky have and Martha's conflicting emotions; she so wants to believe that Becky is innocent but all the evidence points to her being guilty.  As we step back into the past though, we realise that there is a little too much 'take' and not enough 'give' in the sisters' relationship.  

The storyline of a baby's death is quite upsetting but I felt that Gillian McAllister wrote with a perfect mix of respect for the life lost and unequivocal clinical detail, which is precisely how it would take place in a real courtroom.  Not that I've ever been in court but I do love what you think are cold hard facts being proven to mean different things, depending on an expert's interpretation.

A gripping, compulsive and totally addictive page-turner, I guarantee that you will be riveted by No Further Questions.  It's one of those 'hooked from the start' books that you simply can't put down and Gillian McAllister continues to amaze with the depth of her talent.  Superb!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:
Gillian McAllister has been writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated with an English degree and lives in Birmingham where she now works as a lawyer. Her debut novel Everything But The Truth was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Anything You Do Say followed in January 2018 and was both a kindle and paperback bestseller. No Further Questions will be published in autumn 2018. 

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @gillianmauthor. 

She also blogs at

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Wednesday 18 July 2018

BLOG BLITZ: Pretty Ugly Lies - Pamela Crane

What causes a woman to murder her whole family?

Jo's idyllic life would make most people jealous. Until one day her daughter is abducted and the only way to find her is to unravel her dark past.

Ellie is a devoted wife... until she discovers the pain of betrayal. Now vengeance is all she can think about.

Party-girl Shayla knows how to hide her demons. But when she's confronted with a life-shattering choice, it will cost her everything.

June knows suffering intimately, though the smile she wears keeps it hidden.

Soon the lives of these four women intersect and one of them is about to snap…

From USA TODAY best-selling author Pamela Crane comes "a thought-provoking domestic noir novel perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and B.A. Paris ... A chilling look at the secrets mothers will hide for the sake of their families, and the gruesome reality of what can break an everyday woman."

What did I think?

If I could only write two words for this book it would be: ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT.  Talk about hooked from the start!  Once I'd read the opening page, I simply couldn't put the book down until I found out whose family had been killed and why.

What an absolutely jaw dropping start to a book: a woman holding her dead husband's hand whilst her other hand holds a knife covered with the blood of her children.  WHAT!?!?  Who is this?  Who lives at 15 Oleander Way?  Well I couldn't read fast enough to find out and as we peep through the curtains into the lives of four women we realise that any one of them could be our killer.

Jo Trubeau is hiding a secret from her past that comes back to haunt her when her youngest daughter is abducted from the playground.  It soon becomes clear that Amelia was chosen because she's Jo's daughter and Jo must decide exactly how much her secret is worth keeping.  As tension mounts between Jo and her husband, Jo is very close to breaking point and if Amelia is not found, who knows what she might do.

Ellie Harper has given up everything to be a wife and mother but her family treat her like dirt.  Her 11 year old daughter, Darla, acts like an insolent teenager and her 9 year old son, Logan, has been expelled from school for biting.  Both children treat Ellie like a slave and when Ellie finds lipstick on her husband's collar, it really could be the straw the broke the camel's back.

Shayla Kensington is suffering from bipolar disorder and has an affair in her manic state which she soon regrets, but by then it's too late.  When her son, Arion, finds Shayla with her fancy-man he transforms from a 'wet noodle' (as Shayla calls him) to a stick of dynamite.  If Shayla wants to stop Arion from telling her husband, she has to take matters into her own hands.

Our final suspect is June Merrigan.  We are introduced to June as she is hiding in a closet (a wardrobe to those of us this side of the Atlantic), desperate to escape her autistic son, Austin.  Also in the closet is a shoebox with a gun inside and June has very vivid fantasies of putting that gun to her head and pulling the trigger.  What secret is she hiding that would make blowing her brains out preferable to it being revealed?

Each woman became my prime suspect at one time or another and because of their juicy stories, any single one of them could have killed their family.  The way the whole story is put together is simply sublime; it's like doing a jigsaw with a missing piece and only when that piece is slotted in, can the whole picture be revealed.

The gripping, gruesome opening scene reminded me of the TV show Damages and Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, where you see the end of the story and can't watch or read fast enough to find out how the characters got there.  I loved how the woman in Chapter 1 could easily be any one of the four women we are introduced to.  Their stories are quite heartbreaking when you delve into them despite each of them having the appearance of a Stepford Wife.  One of these women is a murderer...will you guess which one? 

Pretty Ugly Lies is what domestic noir is all about; gripping, shocking, surprising and absolutely brilliant.  If you like Liane Moriarty, you will LOVE Pamela Crane.  Take my word for it: Pretty Ugly Lies is pretty freaking great!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Pamela Crane is a professional juggler. Not the type of juggler who can toss flaming torches in the air, but a juggler of four kids, a writing addiction, a horse rescuer, and a book editor by trade. She lives on the edge (ask her Arabian horse about that—he’ll tell you all about their wild adventures while trying to train him) and she writes on the edge. Writing murder mysteries is her escape from the real world of dirty diapers and cleaning horse stalls, and she bases her characters on real people, so be warned! She is a USA Today best-selling author of several award-winning thrillers, which you can find on her website at 

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