Friday, 24 August 2018

BOOK REVIEW | The Cold Cold Sea by Linda Huber

Genre: Suspense Thriller

Publication Date: 1st August 2014

My Rating: ★★

Goodreads Page

Link to Buy: Amazon

'They stared at each other, and Maggie felt the tightness in her middle expand as it shifted, burning its way up . . . Painful sobs rose in her throat as Colin, his face expressionless now, reached for his mobile and tapped 999'.

When three-year-old Olivia disappears from the beach, a happy family holiday comes to an abrupt end. Maggie is plunged into the darkest nightmare imaginable – what happened to her little girl? Further along the coast, another mother is having problems too. Jennifer's daughter, Hailey, is starting school, and it should be such a happy time, but the child is increasingly moody and silent. Family life has never seemed so awkward, and Jennifer struggles to maintain control. The tide ebbs and flows, and summer dies, but there is no comfort for Maggie, alone now at the cottage, or for Jennifer, still swamped by doubts.

'A psychologically astute, edge-of-the-seat story.' Hilary Johnson

'Unsettling and disturbing . . . I couldn't put it down.' Rebecca Muddiman

'Breathtaking and utterly compelling.' Debi Alper

**No Spoilers**

Once again, I am thrilled to be on the blog tour with Love Books Group, this time for The Cold Cold Sea by Linda Huber, for which I have a spoiler-free review of the book to share. Thanks so much to the lovely Kelly from Love Books Group for sending me a copy of this book to review!

Thrillers, especially suspense and psychological ones, are one of my favourite genres of all time, and this book reminded me of why that is. The Cold Cold Sea is wonderfully written; it is a combination of beautiful and stunning descriptions, whilst also equally conveying the emotional intensity and suspense that surrounds the characters. The first chapter alone was so beautifully done that I knew I was going to love the writing style of this book. It is so emotive and follows the very difficult topic of losing a child and the effect this can have on different families.

I enjoyed reading from the perspective of every single character in the book. Huber has a skill for writing realistic characters that are interesting and understandable, whilst also being frustrating and making choices you know they'll regret. Every choice the characters make is completely understandable yet I still found myself shouting at them to change their minds. I really loved the teacher and child dynamic in this book, as well as the relationship between the two couples. They just felt so real to me that I could imagine them vividly.

I will say that if you're looking for a thriller with a dramatic twist, then this book doesn't really have that. I does have a twist that made me re-read a chapter just so I could see the hints I missed earlier, but it does mostly deal with the suspense of the situation, and I loved that. This book was so fast paced that I would have read it in one sitting if I'd had the time. Every chapter hooked me and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen. The ending was also beautifully done and it just felt so right.

Overall, this book was riveting, suspenseful and filled with some of the best written characters that I've ever seen in a thriller. I will 100% be picking up more of Linda Huber's books and I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys this genre, or even to people who want to experience the genre for the first time!

About Linda Huber

Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Currently she teaches one day a week, and writes psychological suspense novels and feel-good novellas with (most of) the rest of her time. 

Her writing career began in the nineties, when she had over fifty short stories published in women's magazines. Several years later, she turned to psychological suspense fiction, and her seventh novel, Death Wish, was published by Bloodhound Books in August 2017.

Linda's latest project is a series of feel-good novellas, set on the banks of Lake Constance and just minutes from her home in north-east Switzerland. She really appreciates having the views enjoyed by her characters right on her own doorstep!


Check out the rest of the blog tour below!

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Book Extract Blog Tour | Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland

Today, I'm very excited to be part of the blog tour with Love Books Group for Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland and I have a great extract to share with you all. Bone Deep is a Psychological Thriller/Suspense novel and is available to buy in paperback or ebook format! Here is a little bit more about the book before I share my extract. 


What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?
The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. It is a dual narrative, told in alternative chapters by Mac, a woman bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose own past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.


You started it.

You're to blame.

You have to end it before the guilt destroys you.

A bird sets up an agitated calling on the far bank, making me jump. End it . . . end it . . .  end it . . . What sort of bird sings at night? One who can't sleep. Fuck it, I shouldn't be out here.

I stuff the pad back into my pocket and get to my feet. Floss appears like magic, and as I bend to pat her head, a heavy splash startles me. The noise reverberates through my system, but when I spin towards it, there is nothing to be seen but the water spreading slowly in neat circles. What the hell was that? What size fish would you need to make that kind of noise? Floss whines. I hold my breath and wait, all my senses straining. I'm never at my most comfortable near water, but the added dimension of something unknown lurking beneath the surface makes me want to run screaming for home. There's nothing to see but faint circles in the water, the gentle slop against the bank.

I search for a rational explanation. Maybe there are pike in there? You read about people netting monster pike all the time. I have an image in my head of some weird prehistoric-looking fish, lurking in the muddy deep. The moon slinks behind a cloud and everything is swallowed up. Only sparkles remain  glints and droplets and the paleness of leaves. My eyes are fixed on the spot where the thing disappeared. That splash, such a heavy weight . . . 

My vision blooms in the dark; my eyes grow wide. Out there, something surfaces. A glimmer of yellow. Something yellow, floating just beneath the surface. Then it sinks slowly out of sight. Not everyone can float.

I run.

I run all the way back to the cottage, skidding on the mud, tripping over the thorny snakes of brambles, with Floss galloping at my heels. I have no idea what I've just seen in the pond – that heavy splash, the glimmer of yellow – but all I can think of is Jane and that stupid yellow cardigan. I run straight to her bedroom, wilt outside the door, my breath coming in short gasps and my heart thudding with terror. I know it's not her. Didn't I say goodnight to her just an hour ago? But I'm afraid to open the door. I am so afraid to see an absence of Jane, when for all these months I've been praying for just that. All those times I've wanted my sister to disappear off the scene . . . My head is filled with that yellow cardigan, imagining it saturated with pond water, weighing her down . . . I burst into the room. Jane is asleep, as I knew she would be, breathing deeply and evenly. Relief washes through me until I feel weak from it. I retreat silently and close her door.

About the Author

Sandra Ireland was born in Yorkshire, lived for many years in Limerick, and is now based in Edinburgh. She began her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper but quickly realised that fiction is much more intriguing than fact. In 2013 Sandra was awarded a Carnegie-Cameron scholarship to study for an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study at the University of Dundee, graduating with a distinction in 2014. Her work has appeared in various publications and women's magazines. Her debut novel was Beneath the Skin (Polygon, 2016).

Check out the rest of the Blog Tour below!

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Top Five Wednesday | Books You Want to Read Before the End of 2018

This week's Top Five Wednesday is a 'Freebie', which means we can pick any archived topic from Top Five Wednesday to talk about. I've decided to go with the Top Five Books I Want to Read Before the End of the Year. As always, my TBR pile is huge (which is how I like it), but that means I need to prioritise those books I've been meaning to get to this year and haven't got around to yet. So, here are the five books I need to get to the most!

1. And I Darken Trilogy by Kiersten White
I finally have all three books in this trilogy and I've been really excited to get to this ever since I heard what I was about. A female Vlad the Impaler? Yes please.

2. Three Dark Crowns Trilogy by Kendare Blake
This is another one where I heard the synopsis and immediately bought the first book. It seems to be full of tropes that I almost always auto-buy: elemental magic; trials; interesting sibling relationships. The final book comes out this September so once I have that I plan on binge reading this trilogy.

3. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
Yes, I know. I can't believe I've not read this yet either. I bought this not long after it came out but when I didn't read it straight away, I decided to wait and re-read the whole series before the 7th and final book comes out in October (so excited!!). So I plan on re-reading them all soon and finally getting around to Tower of Dawn.

4. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
Embarrassingly, this has been on a few TBR's on my blog and I've still not read it. I just keep getting distracted with other books (ahh first world problems). But, I at least want to read the first book in the series this year even if I don't continue them immediately.

5. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
This book has only been on my TBR for a couple of months but, after hearing so many brilliant reviews of this grim-dark fantasy, I need to get to it soon. Nun-Assassins with strong female friendships has me so interested in this series.

So, those are my top five! Let me know what your Top Five are below, or if you have a blog post then link it. Just in case anyone is new to this, Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey (Gingerreadslainey on YouTube) and is now run my Sam (ThoughtsonTomes on Youtube), so that people can share more of their favourite (or sometimes least favourite) books in an interesting way. Sam creates weekly topics for each month so Bloggers and YouTubers alike to discuss books. The group which lists the monthly topics can be found here. And if you want to see more of my previous Top Five Wednesday Blog posts, you can click here!

Friday, 3 August 2018

Let's Talk | Underrated Books

Today I wanted to talk about some of my favourite books that I feel like don't get enough love. There are so many books out there that receive so much hype (and deserve it!), but there are other gems that seem to remain hidden. So today I'm going to mention ten of my favourite books that I feel are underrated. Let me know if you've read any of these in the comments, or what your favourite underrated books are.

1. Dr Franklin's Island by Ann Halam

I read this when I was 11 or 12-years-old and it was one of my first forays into YA fiction. This was before YA became as big as it is today and well before the dystopian outbreak happened. I think I read this book at a perfect time for me. It has always stuck with me and I love re-reading it. This book follows three students who are getting on a plane with their class to go on a school trip. Halfway through the flight, the plane crashes and the three students end up washed up on island. They have to survive the island but they soon discover they are not the only ones there, and the people on the island might not want them to leave. In fact, they may be perfect for Dr Franklin's experiments.

2. The Doomspell Trilogy by Cliff McNish

This is another book that I read when I was younger and it's stayed with me ever since. This is a trilogy that I feel should just be read as one long book (although that might be because I own the bind-up version). It is very dark for a children's book but so full of magic and fantasy that it's always left its mark on me. This book follows two children who are captured by a witch and end up in her world like many children before them. They soon discover that they both have powers of their own and might be able to bring magic back with them.

3.  The Bartimeaus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud

I first read this book because my brother bought me the first two books in the (then) trilogy in 2004, and they soon became a favourite of both mine and my sister. The first book is called The Amulet of Samarkand and it is an alternate history/fantasy. A magician's apprentice, Nathaniel, summons a 5000-year-old djinni called Bartimeaus to do his bidding and steal an amulet, but soon discovers they are both out of their depth. I can't even describe how wonderful this series is. The characters are so realistic and they are all very much anti-heroes rather than actual heroes. Bartimaeus is one of the funniest character perspectives I have ever read from and his footnotes are always so witty. I'm definitely going to be giving this a re-read very soon because it's been too long. 

4. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

My sister convinced me to read this book a few years ago and I am so glad she did. In this book, our main character is exploring her father’s library and finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to "My dear and unfortunate successor". Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of. This book is a fascinating read that traverses so many European countries in beautiful detail. I don't want to give too much away but if you're a fan of Dracula or Frankenstein then I would highly recommend this book.

5. The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

I found this book in a bookshop a few years ago and my husband very kindly bought this for me. This book appealed to me so much because it explores the horrifying reality of child abduction, but through the eyes of the child that wasn't abducted. This book follows Faith, and she was the only witness to her older sister, Laurel, being abducted. Faith has grown up in constant media attention and her parents fighting. Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans' old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. It follows the family and their readjustment to life after this. I love books like this. It was very, very deep for a YA book and I will say there is a trigger warning for abuse and rape (although nothing explicit is discussed, it's a very prominent theme).
          The book was heart-wrenching and beautiful, and although I partly guessed the ending, it went it a direction I didn't quite expect at the very end. This book is unique as a YA as, although there is a very slight hint of romance in it, it is mostly about families and the bond between siblings. It was powerfully written and never before has the final paragraph of a book affected me so much. That final section made this book for me.

6. The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

Similar to the last book, this also follows children who have gone missing, but in a very different way. Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to. Until today, when only five of those kids return. They're sixteen, and not one of them remembers what happened to them. This book dragged me out of a reading slump instantly. I read it in one day; the writing was great and the mystery aspect kept me hooked throughout. I feel like this YA book should be far more well-known than it is.

7. The Time Master Trilogy by Louise Cooper
This trilogy by Louise Cooper is one of the most unique fantasy trilogies I have ever read. It's quite an old series and I've never heard anyone else talk about it in the blogging/booktube community. To be honest,I only picked it up at my sister's recommendation, and I'm so glad I did. This book is filled with the most complex characters I have ever read and it makes the storyline so realistic. It follows Tarod from when he was just a small child, to him discovering his powers, and growing up in the incredible world Cooper creates. It blurs good and evil like no story I've read before and, in my opinion, has one of the best anti-heroes I've ever read. If you're a lover of fantasy and want to read something unique then definitely pick this up. 

8. In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

This is a non-fiction book that follows the life of Yeonmi Park as she grew up and later escaped North Korea. I was very interested in reading this as I know very little about North Korea and was very interested in learning more about the country. Park details so much history of the country and how communities live/lived in North Korea, which was fascinating. I really loved finding out about how she grew up because it was so different to how I imagined. I had absolutely no idea. Her story of how she escaped the country and what happened to her family is just incredibly moving and heartbreaking. I definitely teared up a few times when I read this book because it's so hard to believe these atrocities are actually happening in the world. Her strength, not only to go through what she did, but also to write this book is amazing an I admire her for that. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about North Korea, or anyone who enjoys autobiographies.

9. The Summoner Series by Taran Matharu
This trilogy is relatively well known and I first heard about it on Booktube a few years ago. However, since then I've not heard anything about it. I recently finished the trilogy and absolutely loved it. This follows a boy named Fletcher who discovers he has the power to summon demons and has to go to magical academy. This contains everything I love in a fantasy: familiars (that are battled like pokemon), magic, politics, different races (elves, dwarves, etc) and huge battles. Would 100% recommend this trilogy to any lover of fantasy. If you want to see a spoiler free review of the first book, The Novice, then you can also click here!

10. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

So The Inheritance Cycle isn't exactly 'underrated' as I know it used to be quite popular. However, I've only ever known one other person who have read these books. I first read Eragon when I was ten years old and it became my favourite fantasy series for so long. This book is full of tropes but it was filled with everything I love in a fantasy. When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. They travel together on a perilous journey learning magic, with only the help of a storyteller and an ancient sword. I adore the relationships with the dragons and the different races in the Empire. This book series will always hold a special place in my heart and I want to re-read it soon.