The Man She Married by Alison James


EXCERPT: I approach the open coffin, balanced on trestles at the centre of the silent room. Heavy velvet drapes are drawn discreetly over the window, and in the corner a lamp is lit, next to an arrangement of silk flowers on a tall stand.

As I draw closer, I glimpse the tip of his nose against the pleated white satin of the coffin lining. The sight is so odd and other-worldly, it makes my head swim and the carpeted floor feel unsteady under my feet. My heart is pounding as I get close enough to see him; all of him.

I have no idea who gave the undertaker the suit and tie he’s wearing; I only know it wasn’t me. I take in the curve of his mouth, the sweep of his hair from his forehead, the angles of his profile. On his left hand is a wedding ring. I remove my own wedding ring and drop it into the coffin.

The only thought in my mind is that this is like one of those riddles you find inside a Christmas cracker. Because the man lying inside my husband’s coffin is not my husband. He’s a total stranger.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Since Alice’s fiancé walked out on her, she never thought she’d meet ‘The One’. But all that changes when she meets Dominic. Handsome, charming and kind, Alice can’t believe her luck when he proposes a few months later and moves into her West London home.

Three years on, Alice’s catering business is thriving and she is married to a man she adores. So when she sees that little blue line, it should be the happiest moment of her life: they’re going to have a baby. But then the police knock on her door and Alice’s whole world is turned upside down… Dominic is dead.

Distraught, Alice goes to identify the body. There’s no doubt that it’s her husband. Yet when his estranged brother comes to view the coffin, he insists the man lying there is not Dominic. Alice refuses to believe it at first, but when confronted with irrefutable proof, she finally has to face the truth:

The man she married is not the person he said he was. And if he lied about that, what else was he hiding from her?

MY THOUGHTS: The Man She Married by Alison James is the second book I have read and enjoyed by this author. It is told from two perspectives – that of Alice, and that of Dominic – over two timelines, now and then. This works well and is not at all confusing. It is interesting to see how the perspectives of the same events differ.

James has portrayed her characters well. Alice is a successful businesswoman whose personal life is a disaster. She is an orphan, has been jilted almost at the altar, and just wants to be loved. Dominic is charming – good looking and charming. He is polished and plausible. He is dangerous. Very dangerous. And Alice is his perfect cover.

This is one of those books that just sneaks up on you….I was reading along, thinking ‘Yeah, this is okay.’ when suddenly I realized that I was totally immersed in the story, and I read the second half in one sitting.


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THE AUTHOR: Alison James. I was born in the Cotswolds but spent most of my formative years abroad. I studied languages at Oxford, then became a journalist and author, returning to university after my two children to take a law degree.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Man She Married by Alison James for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore


EXCERPT: Mary was a little lamb,
Her soul as white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went
Death was sure to go.

He tracked her to the brook one day,
Which was against the rule.
He tempted her quite far astray
And made the lamb a fool.

She tried, she tried to turn him out
But still he lingered near
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did not fear.

What made the lamb trust him so
Most any would descry?
Oh! He loved Mary too, you know.
Tis pity she must die.

1855, New Hampshire. Lucy Blunt is set to hang for a double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows the truth.

In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her bitter downfall—from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work and a better life to the grisly murders themselves.

In a mysterious household of locked doors and forbidden affections, Lucy slips comfortably into the shadows, where she believes the indiscretions of her past will remain hidden. But when Lucy’s rising status becomes a threat to the mistress’s current companion, the delicate balance of power and loyalty begins to shift, setting into motion a brewing storm of betrayal, suspicion, and rage.

Now, with her execution looming closer, Lucy’s allies fight to have her sentence overturned as the tale she’s spinning nears its conclusion. But how much of her story can we trust? After all, Lucy’s been known to bend the truth…

MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed the first third of this book, but then my interest began to wane as it was just more of the same. My interest flared briefly in a couple of spots, but it was not sustained. I found myself, by the 60% mark, skimming the text, desperate to find something that I could get my teeth into. It seemed an awful lot longer than its 268 pages.

The story swings back and forth between Lucy’s prison as she awaits her execution, and her life in the Burton household. This can get a little confusing as it does so without warning many times in each chapter, sometimes for only a paragraph or two, and serves absolutely no purpose.

None of the characters are in any way likeable…and although this isn’t necessary for me to enjoy a good read, I found myself not caring at all what happened to any of them. Which is just as well, really, as I found the ending quite odd and inconclusive.

There is little to no atmosphere, and if the love scenes were meant to be sensuous then they have completely missed the mark.

Not a read that I will be recommending.


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Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. If you enjoyed the excerpt from The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. You may well enjoy it as have many other readers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

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For Reasons Unknown by Michael Wood


EXCERPT: She turned and went back into the room. Jonathon had drawn two adults, a child, and was currently on a second child: his family. Dr McCartney bent down next to him and watched him draw in all the details: the hair, the clothes, the eyes, the smiles. He then picked up a red felt-tip and with a forceful action that caused the doctor and the PC to jump, he scribbled all over the picture. He didn’t stop until his mother, father and brother were completely covered in blood.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Two murders. Twenty years. Now the killer is back for more…

DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a nine month absence. A shadow of her former self, she is tasked with re-opening a cold case: the terrifyingly brutal murders of Miranda and Stefan Harkness. The only witness was their eleven-year-old son, Jonathan, who was too deeply traumatized to speak a word.

Then a dead body is discovered, and the investigation leads back to Matilda’s case. Suddenly the past and present converge, and it seems a killer may have come back for more…

MY THOUGHTS: This is another series that I started mid-way through and liked so much that I have gone back to reading from the beginning. I started with #4, The Hangman’s Hold, and currently also have the fifth, The Murder House, on my shelf waiting to be read.

We have a police officer in crisis, a cold case, and a whole cast of very interesting characters. I was wavering right up to the end about who had actually killed Jonathon’s parents, and I was wrong, despite being right about a number of other things that occur during the book.

The plot is great….reminiscent of a locked room murder.

This is going to be an enjoyable series, and I will be devouring the lot.


THE AUTHOR: Before he became an author, Michael Wood used to serve as a journalist and a proofreader. Wood resides in Sheffield, Yorkshire. For Unknown Reasons was Michael Wood’s debut novel, which was published in the year 2015. HarperCollins published the second installment, Outside Looking In in 2016.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of For Reasons Unknown by Michael Wood, narrated by Stephanie Beattie, published by Killer Reads, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

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The Other You by J.S. Monroe


EXCERPT: ‘We’ve all got a double out there somewhere, watching, waiting. Shadowless.’ He looks around the cove, up at the clifftop behind them. The man with the binoculars has gone. ‘And I’ve already met mine, a long time ago.’

‘When?’ she asks. He doesn’t answer.

‘They say it’s bad enough to see your double once, but it’s meant to be much worse if you meet them a second time.’ He pauses. ‘The day I see him again will be my last. He’ll take over my life, me, you, the house, my company, all that I’ve achieved, everything that’s precious to me.’

He pauses, eyes welling as the Cornish sun disappears behind a solitary cloud, casting the beach into sudden shade. ‘He’ll steal my soul.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: You are waiting for your husband to join you on holiday. But when he arrives, you know it’s not him…

This clever, twisty psychological thriller explores identity and pretence, paranoia and the disturbing notion that we are all, at some level, impostors.

MY THOUGHTS: Clever. Twisty. Chilling. I won’t be sleeping any more tonight.

This is the second book I have read by this author, and he continues to stun me with his unusual plots and his ability to totally creep me out. I love to be creeped out. I can’t remember the last time I had a sleepless night because of it.

This book is edgy and tense, The. Whole. Way. Through. If you are looking for a relaxing read, this isn’t it. This is heart-pounding paranoia. This will have you looking twice at anyone acting a little out of character. This will have you doubting and questioning everything you know about everyone. This will give you sleepless nights…

A ‘couldn’t bear to put it down’ read.


#TheOtherYou #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: J.S.Monroe is the pseudonym of the British author Jon Stock. Jon is the author of five spy novels and a new standalone psychological thriller, Find Me, to be published in 2017 under the name of JS Monroe. He lives in Wiltshire with his wife and three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Head of Zeus via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Other You by J.S. Monroe for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

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The Other Woman by Jane Isaac


EXCERPT: The moments before death were not at all how she imagined them to be. No images, carved from the recesses of her memory, flashed before her. No celebrated successes or missed opportunities. Instead, an overwhelming fear beat a tune beneath her skin, faster and faster, picking up momentum, immobilising her organs, one by one.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Cameron Swift is shot and killed outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer. Her role is to support the family – and investigate them.

Monika, Cameron’s partner and mother of two sons, had to be prised off his lifeless body after she discovered him. She has no idea why anyone would target Cameron.

Beth can understand Monika’s confusion. To everyone in their affluent community, Monika and her family seemed just like any other. But then Beth gets a call.

Sara is on holiday with her daughters when she sees the news. She calls the police in the UK, outraged that no one has contacted her to let her know or offer support. After all, she and Cameron had been together for the last seven years.

Until Cameron died, Monika and Sara had no idea each other existed.

As the case unfolds, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. Especially the dead…

Previously published as After He’s Gone.

MY THOUGHTS: While I didn’t struggle with The Other Woman, nor was I engaged by it. I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters, and failed to feel excited at any point during the read. Having said that, there is nothing that I can really criticise, either. This is the first book in the DC Beth Chamberlain series.

The plot is good, with plenty of red herrings, and a twist at the end that lifted it from a 2.5 star read to 3. This is a good quick read, ideal if you don’t want to exercise the grey cells too vigorously.


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THE AUTHOR: Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire, UK with their daughter and dogs. Jane’s debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by and winner of ‘Noveltunity book club selection – May 2014′.

Jane’ s seventh novel, Presumed Guilty, is the second in the highly acclaimed DC Beth Chamberlain (Family Liaison Officer) series. The third DC Beth Chamberlain novel is scheduled for release in 2020.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Other Woman by Jane Isaac for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

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I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty


EXCERPT: ‘It was just out there where your Land Rover was parked. They must have been hiding behind the stone wall. Two of them, they said. Gave him both barrels of a shotgun and sped off on a motorbike. Point blank range. Dr McCreery said that he wouldn’t have known a thing about it.’

‘I’m sure that’s the case,’ I said and tried to let go, but still she held on.

‘He only joined for the money. This place doesn’t pay anything. We’ve forty sheep on twelve acres of bog.’

‘Yes, the–‘

She pulled me closer.

‘Aye, they say he didn’t know anything but he was still breathing when I got to him, trying to breathe anyway. His mouth was full of blood, he was drowning in it. Drowning on dry land in his own blood.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Sean Duffy knows there’s no such thing as a perfect crime. But a torso in a suitcase is pretty close.

Still, one tiny clue is all it takes, and there it is. A tattoo. So Duffy, fully fit and back at work after the severe trauma of his last case, is ready to follow the trail of blood-however faint-that always, always connects a body to its killer.

A legendarily stubborn man, Duffy becomes obsessed with this mystery as a distraction from the ruins of his love life, and to push down the seed of self-doubt that he seems to have traded for his youthful arrogance.

So from country lanes to city streets, Duffy works every angle. And wherever he goes, he smells a rat…

MY THOUGHTS: 1982 Northern Ireland. The Troubles. The Falklands war. The hope that the manufacturing plant for the De Lorean brings. This is the backdrop for the second book in the Sean Duffy series, I Hear The Sirens in the Streets’.

McKinty does a wonderful job of portraying the atmosphere…’the curling pigtails of smoke from hijacked cars, Army helicopters hovering above the city like mosquitoes over a water hole, heavily armed soldiers and policemen walking in single file on both sides of a residential street…’, the smell, the sound, the taste of a country at war with itself, the grinding poverty, the hopelessness and despair of both the people and the situation.

But overriding all this is the body in the suitcase and the brick walls he keeps hitting during his investigation.

I initially read the third book in this series, In the Morning I’ll be Gone, and fell in love with Sean Duffy, for all his faults, and so have gone back and am reading the series from the beginning. Loving it. McKinty has me reading late into the night, nails digging into palms, gasping, and laughing. Yes, laughing. Mr. McKinty has quite the sense of humour. Add to this his descriptive prowess and his brilliant ability to create characters far more human than I thought possible, and you have a winning combination.

I guess it helps that McKinty grew up in Carrickfergus, the setting for this series, but the whole time I am reading, I am also hearing the story in a lilting Irish brogue. Such is the strength of his writing.

If you haven’t yet read any of this author’s books, I urge you to give him a try. Highly recommended.


A few of my favourite lines from I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty:

‘….that tea’s too wet. I’ll get some biscuits.’

‘Even when you were completely wrong about something, the journey into your wrongness was always fucking interesting.’

‘…the coffee itself tasted like it had been percolated through a tube previously used for stealing petrol from parked cars.’

THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty, published by Serpent’s Tail, from Waitomo District Library. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

EXCERPT: The girl’s body dangles from the tall, iron gates guarding the school’s entrance. A closer examination shows the ends of a red silk tie peeking out like a cardinal on a winter branch, forcing her neck into a brutal angle. She wears her graduation robe and multicolored stole as if knowing she’ll never see the achievement. The last tendrils of dawn’s fog laze about her legs, which are five feet from the ground. It rained overnight and the thin robe clings to her body, dew sparkling on the edges.

There is no breeze, no birds singing or squirrels industriously gathering for the long winter ahead, no cars passing along the street, only the cool, misty morning air and the gentle metallic creaking of the gates under the weight of the dead girl. She is suspended in midair, her back to the street, her face hidden behind a curtain of dirty wet hair, dark from the rains.

Because of the damage to her face, it will take them some time to officially identify her. In the beginning, it isn’t even clear that she attends the school, despite wearing the Goode School robes. But she does. The fingerprints will prove it.

Of course there are a few people who know exactly who is dangling from the school gates. Know who,and know why. But they will never tell.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping.’ – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

And lies certainly do flow from everyone’s lips in J.T. Ellison’s latest thriller, Good Girls Lie. The opening chapters had my pulse pounding and I voraciously flicked over the pages until my Kindle went flat. The pace does settle for a time before the climactic ending.

Ellison has written an atmospheric and creepy novel with cutting edge characters. These teenage girls are rich and privileged, cliquey and bitchy. They can be cruel and manipulative. They are adept at hiding their true feelings, preferring to be seen as ‘cool’, to be admired and emulated.
The culture of their school almost encourages their behaviour… until it all backfires and popular students start dying. Is it a coincidence, or perhaps just plain bad luck, that there is a new girl at the school. One whose entire family is dead…

Highly recommended.


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THE AUTHOR: J.T. Ellison began her career as a presidential appointee in the White House, where a nuclear physicist taught her how to obsess over travel itineraries and make a seriously good pot of Earl Grey, spawning both her love of loose leaf and a desire for control of her own destiny. Jaded by the political climate in D.C., she made her way back to her first love, creative writing. More than 20 novels later, she is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with thrillers published in 27 countries and 15 languages. She is also the EMMY-award winning cohost of A WORD ON WORDS, a literary interview TV show. She lives in Nashville with her husband and two small gray minions, known as cats in some cultures. She thinks they’re furry aliens.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin MIRA for providing a digital ARC of Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon and