Review | The Girl You Lost

Title | The Girl You Lost 

Author | Kathryn Croft 

Publisher | Bookouture 

Publication Date | 5th February 2016 

Purchase | Amazon 

Source | Review Copy 

Rating | 4/5 

Eighteen years ago your baby daughter was snatched. Today, she came back. 

A sinister and darkly compelling psychological thriller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Girl With No Past. 

Eighteen years ago, Simone Porter’s six-month-old daughter, Helena, was abducted. Simone and husband, Matt, have slowly rebuilt their shattered lives, but the pain at losing their child has never left them. 

Then a young woman, Grace, appears out of the blue and tells Simone she has information about her stolen baby. But just who is Grace – and can Simone trust her? 

When Grace herself disappears, Simone becomes embroiled in a desperate search for her daughter and the woman who has vital clues about her whereabouts. 

Simone is inching closer to the truth but it’ll take her into dangerous and disturbing territory. 

Simone lost her baby. Will she lose her life trying to find her?
This was one of those books that I almost put down and didn't complete. For me the start didn't grip me enough, I can't say what it was, perhaps it was just a different style of psychological thriller than I've read before (and I haven't read many of those!) or maybe it was just that my mind was pre-occupied. In fact I am sure it was because I am so grateful that I did continue reading it and pushing through my urges to just stop because I would have missed out on such an emotive and compelling read had I not finished reading it. It really would have been my loss.

The plot is gripping, so much it made me hold my breath at several points throughout. Once I got around half way into the book I simply could not put it down. I read from 63% to the end in one sitting because I was so hooked I felt that if I left the book, something might happen and I could miss it! I was so drawn into the plot by then, that there was no going back. I feel like I've been through the ordeal myself, with the key character Simone (more about her soon) and I had that weird "did that really happen" sensation this morning when I awoke.

Simone and Matt are parents who had their daughter Helena abducted when she was 6 months old. The police never found her and they had to just get on with life without her. As I'm sure any parent will agree, how they managed to do that, I do not know, but they appeared stronger together and 16 years later a girl called Grace turns up with Helena's precious toy that was not disclosed to the media and has never been in the public domain of knowledge. Grace claims to Simone to know about Helena - or at least have information, but first she needs Simone's help. Simone is cautious, rightly so, but something about this girl Grace intrigued her and she found herself helping her.

What then begins as trying to help Grace, becomes the explosive unravelling of secrets from decades of hidden connections and secrets so dark that I was left sitting in tears, shocked by the revelation. I can't say the story ends happily ever after, but there is a somewhat degree of closure. Of course there will always be unanswered questions, but for the large part, the truth finally is out. And that truth will make you question whether or not you can ever truly know someone...

Kathyrn Croft is an utterly brilliant author, whom I've not have the pleasure of reading before, but if The Girl Who You Lost is anything to go by, then she is going to be around a long time yet, with some explosive storylines that will literally shock you to your core. 

Book News | Bookouture Cover Reveals!

This week one of my favourite publishers Bookouture have revealed some pretty amazingly gruesome covers!

They are by authors that I am in no doubt are going to have us gripped from the very first word until we turn the last page all bleary eyed in the middle of the night. Only when we have put down the book/kindle will we register the impact that these authors and these books have had upon us. If you're anything like me then you'll be wanting to sleep with a night light on and the duvet pulled just that extra inch around your neck!

Let's see what's coming up for us!

First up is the second installment of an author I discovered this year when he published, The Girl In The Ice and I loved it! Like really loved it! Robert Bryndza brings us The Night Stalker 

If the Night Stalker is watching, you’re already dead… 
In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head. 
A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike. 
The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer? 
As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line. 
The global bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice is back with a heart-racing, electrifying thriller. If you love Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter, you’ll be hooked on Robert Bryndza. 
Watch out for more from DCI Erika Foster. 
She’s fearless. Respected. Unstoppable. Detective Erika Foster will catch a killer, whatever it takes. 

Next up is another of my favourite authors, actually the lady who got me hooked on crime fiction in the first place, Angela Marsons! She's back with D.I. Kim Stone thank heavens!!! It feels like eternity since we had an adventure with Kim and solved a crime! So I am so glad that she is back with Play Dead! Let's look at why.... 

The dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen.
The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess. 
Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘body farm’ investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime. 
Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It’s clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work – but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next? 
As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer’s secrets – but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim …? 
The latest utterly addictive thriller from the No.1 bestseller Angela Marsons.

Last but by no means least, we have a new author that I am eager to read - Tom Bale with See How They Run The cover looks amazingly gruesome and I can't wait until I am able to wear my kindle out reading this! It's sitting there waiting for me right now! 

How far would you go to save your family? 
In the dead of night, new parents Alice and Harry French are plunged into their worst nightmare when they wake to find masked men in their bedroom. Men ruthless enough to threaten their baby daughter, Evie
This is no burglary gone wrong. The intruders know who they’re looking for – a man called Edward Renshaw. And they are prepared to kill to get to him. 
When the men leave empty handed, little do Alice and Harry realise that their nightmare is just beginning. Is it a case of mistaken identity? Who is Renshaw? And what is he hiding? 
One thing is clear – they already know too much. 
As Alice and Harry are separated in the run for their lives, there is no time for breathe in their fight to be reunited. And with their attackers closing in, there is only a choice: 
Terrifying, unputdownable and full of twists and turns, this stunning thriller will have you on the edge of your seat right to the very last page. 

As you can tell, there are three amazing psychological thrillers full of gruesome crime that is going to have you hooked - I promise you!

As someone who never dreamed of ever reading a crime fiction or psychological thriller book I can hand on heart say that I really enjoy these types of books now, and it has been such a shock, so if this isn't usually your genre, why not give them a go - you might surprise yourself! 

Come back soon for my reviews! 

Review | Happy Habits

Title | Happy Habits 

Author | Vicky Morris

Publisher | InspiredWork

Publication Date | November 19th 2015

Purchase | Amazon

Source | Review Copy

Rating | 3/5 

Learn to be Happier in Just 4 Minutes a Day Are you unhappy with your work? Disappointed with your life? Have you been looking for a something new like a new job, city or house to make you happier and still feel the same a few months after you get it? If so, then maybe it’s time to try a new approach. 

Author and Career Happiness Coach, Vicki Morris, is here to show us that we have the power to be happy now –within ourselves in the present moment. All we have to do is change our mindset and a few daily habits. The key to success is to build energy-raising habits into our day so that we can become happier – no matter what our situation is. Happy Habits provides a fast, easy and effective way to deliver the needed energy and happiness boosts in just 4 minutes a day. 

The Happy Habit Method™ works because it combines proven happiness practices with a scientific habit creation method, which has been tested in the real world. Inside this book you will discover: Why Happy Habits are the fastest and easiest way to be happier 40 ways to energize your career and life.

The proven science behind Happy Habits How to create your own Happy Habits An eight-week guide to building permanent Happy Habits And Much More Imagine waking up each day excited about the possibilities instead of struggling to find the energy to get out of bed. Think about having a coworker ask you why you are smiling more. These can happen to you, if you adopt the Happy Habits in this book. Life is too short to feel like every day you are just getting by. The sooner you get Happy Habits, the sooner you will be able to transform the quality of your career and life and start feeling happier.

I am always up for finding new methods in order to improve my life and my career which is why this book was of particular interest to me. Its a really simple approach to life, and one that is pure common sense. But sometimes, all we need if we're feeling a little tired, lost or burnt out is reboot and this book really does help you kickstart that.

Based on the Happy Habits of previous founders, Vicky, adapts the use of it to help you create a change in your life by only taking 4 minutes of your day. The idea is that you take 3 new habits each week to practice, such as waking and stretching, or waking and feeling gratitude. But you have to do that practice for a whole minute of your entire day... yes just 60 seconds spent on each habit every day (totalling 3 minutes of your day) leaving you 1 minute a day to reflect on your practices of the day. The following week you keep 1 habit and add new ones. And so it continues for 8 weeks.

It's a really simple way of changing your life and your day. It does take time and practice, but each day it does get easier and you do develop happier habits. You just need to remain motivated and dedicated to doing it every day and not letting yourself give up. 

Review | Song of the Skylark

Title | Song of the Skylark 

Author | Erica James 

Publisher | Orion Publishing 

Publication Date | 10th March 2016 

Purchase | Amazon 

Source | Review Copy (Netgalley) 

Rating | 5/5 

Lizzie has always had an unfortunate knack of attracting bad luck, but this time she's hit the jackpot. Losing her heart to her boss leads to her losing her job, and with no money in the bank, Lizzie finds herself forced to move back home with her parents. When she reluctantly takes another job, she meets Mrs Dallimore, a seemingly ordinary elderly woman with an astonishing past . . .
Now in her nineties, Mrs Dallimore is also coming to terms with her situation. Old age is finally catching up with her. As she and Lizzie form the bond of unexpected friendship, Mrs Dallimore tells the story of a young girl who left America before the outbreak of World War Two and, in crossing an ocean, found herself embarking on a new life she couldn't have imagined.
As Lizzie listens to Mrs Dallimore, she begins to realise that she's not the only person to attract bad luck, and that sometimes life has a way of surprising you . . .

I have never read a book by Erica James before, and from what I've encountered through the reading of Song of the Skylark, I can only attest that it has been my loss. Erica is an extraordinary writer who has this ability to wrap you up not only in the storyline but into the characters themselves, place you in a time capsule and transport you there - right into the story.

Upon finishing this book, I found myself sat there with no words, only tears. The emotions brought to the forefront when reading this book is those of heartfelt understanding, compassion and a sadness that is respectfully joined with joy.

The characters Erica has created in this story are charming, and you can't help but find yourself rooting for the leading character, Lizzie even though her actions are far from what you would support. Having cheated on her long-term partner simply for a quick fumble with what I can only describe as a feckless cheating scoundrel with no remorse for what he's done to his wife and child, Lizzie finds herself amidst her world that has blown apart.

With no job, no home and no friends, she does what any girl with a broken heart would do - she goes home to her parents and finds herself volunteering in a retirement home where she meets the absolutely charming Mrs Clarissa Dallimore. I love Mrs Dallimore (Clarissa), I could easily see myself enjoying her company just as much as Lizzie did, and in fact I was so transfixed by her story that I found myself a tad disappointed when the story returned to Lizzie's point of view. Clarissa's life story is one that I can understand from knowing a little about my own grandmother's life at the time of the Second World War.

My heart broke for Clarissa, who is one of the most resilient, warming, honest and lovable characters I have ever met. Her struggles in life are ones that I know many people faced, and her strength was nothing but admirable.

Thank you Erica for writing such a beautiful, honest and memorable book. Mrs Clarissa Dallimore would be proud, and her story and those of families like hers will be back in the forefront of people's minds, ensuring that we surely do not forget the price and sacrifices so many people paid during the Second World War. 

I give with huge recommendation, Song of the Skylark by Erica James 5 out of 5 stars! Well deserved for a thoroughly enjoyable book.