Book Review: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

What’s it about?

She can give you everything you want… But can you trust her?

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents. All they want is a child to love but they are beginning to lose hope. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives them one last chance. 

Kat and Lisa were once as close as sisters. The secrets they share mean their trust is for life… Or is it?

Just when the couple’s dream seems within reach, Kat begins to suspect she’s being watched and Nick is telling her lies. 

Are the cracks appearing in Kat’s perfect picture of the future all in her head, or should she be scared for the lives of herself and her family?

My thoughts

I was persuaded to give Louise Jensen’s books another try after not really getting along with The Gift so I bought this book when it was on a Kindle offer for 99p.

I had hoped that the soundtrack to The Gift had been a one-off thing, but no, it’s back here as well.  I like detail but I don’t really need to know the precise detail down to naming the songs listened to unless it’s relevant.  This wound me up with The Gift and it did here too.

I didn’t find the characters overly likeable and there were a lot of pages, repetitive pages, of how desperate Kat was for a child.  I got it quite quickly how she felt, but it just went on and on.  I also had issues with the plot, the whole surrogacy thing happened way too quick and conveniently so I did find myself eye-rolling (a lot!)…but then I guess that’s the story and without it there’d be no story, so suspension of disbelief is definitely required.

That said, I read this book in less than 48 hours and did find it to be a page-turner, despite what I said above, as I was taken in by the story and on more than one occasion thought I had it all summed up rather nicely only to discover that I didn’t and really was very wrong in my assumptions.  The epilogue is pretty decent but didn’t really save the rest of it for me.

I know this author is very popular within my blogging circle and she’ll not be short of readers but I think I’ll be leaving it there.

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Source: Purchased
No of pages: 322
Publisher: Sphere

Book Review: The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

What’s it about?

Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at the fashionable Bloxham Hotel have been murdered, a cufflink placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…

In the hands of internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London – a diabolically clever puzzle that can only be solved by the talented Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.

My thoughts

I’m a fan of Agatha Christie but have only ever read one Poirot, as I prefer the Marple stories.  I bought this signed copy from Greenway in Devon; Christie’s holiday home.  Coupled with the fact that my only experience of Sophie Hannah was The Carrier which I didn’t love, I wasn’t sure about this but I’d bought it for the Christie characters and because of where I’d visited so gave it a go.

This was Hannah’s first stab at a new Poirot, and as I said,  I’ve only read the one Poirot novel but have seen many TV and film adaptations, I thought that this was very in-keeping with the style and what we would expect from a regular Poirot story.   I suppose die-hard readers of Poirot might disagree but I rather enjoyed it and in fact, if I hadn’t have known it was written by Sophie Hannah, I wouldn’t have thought otherwise.

The setting, the murders, the back story, red herrings and twists are all as you would expect from the great Poirot and his ensemble.  The book comes with its usual cast of shady characters but I wasn’t really convinced by Poirot’s sidekick Catchpole; he was a bit of a wimp and not very authoritative, but then I guess he can’t be more intuitive or overshadow Poirot himself.

This book did have a darker feel to it than other Poirot’s I’ve experienced but I thought it worked and potentially makes it more appealing to a modern market.

However, I totally lost the plot with the ending which I found quite complicated and long-winded.  That said, I’d definitely read more of Hannah’s Poirot…but I also have a backlog of the originals too 😉

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

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Source: Purchased
No of pages: 374
Publisher: Harper

Book Review: The Fear Within by J.S Law

What’s it about?

A teenage sailor disappears on HMS Defiance, an infamous closed case reopens, and Lt. Danielle Lewis fights for truth and survival in this high-octane military thriller

After events on board the submarine HMS Tenacity, Lieutenant “Dan” Lewis of the Royal Navy’s Kill Team was warned not to pursue those responsible. She should walk away, stop investigating, but her thirst for justice means she can’t let it go.

But even as Dan defies the order, continuing to track a sailor on the run, her investigative skills are needed on a new case. A young naval Wren has gone missing from the warship HMS Defiance. Last seen going on board, but never seen leaving, there is no trace of the girl and Dan must work her way through a web of witness accounts to uncover what might motivate her to run, or what might motivate a predator to take her.

Following in the wake of the missing girl, Dan soon closes in on her quarry, but is forced to question whether she is the one who was being hunted all along.

My thoughts

I’d read the first book in the Lieutenant Dani Lewis series, originally known as Tenacity, now known as The Dark Beneath, why the change of name I don’t know but there’s another blog post altogether.  Anyway, I digress, I’d enjoyed that first book as the setting was so different and so was very appreciative to be approved for a request via Bookbridgr!

This is kind of a standalone novel but I think you’d be wise to read the first in the series as this does heavily reference the first book even though it’s a new case.

From the opening chapter I had an idea of how the main character, Dani, would play out, she simply cannot follow orders and it beggars belief that she’d be allowed to get away with what she does. Putting herself and her team in danger on more than one occasion, secret missions and insubordination….okay okay it adds to the drama and some poetic licence is needed but with an institution such as HM Royal Navy…mmmm not so sure on that!

This book has a lot of different crimes going, and I’m wondering now if all of what it involved was overkill; serial rape and murder, drug smuggling, torture, stalking, kidnapping and vigilantism so prepare yourself, I found this a lot more hard-hitting than the first.

I didn’t like the torture scenes, I know I know you’re not meant too but honestly if I’d have been watching this on tv I would have turned over.  There’s a couple of scenes where a character is subject to some pretty horrific treatment and whilst this character is not a very nice person at all, I still felt sorry for him – is that normal?!

Overall it was an okay read but I found that I just don’t gel with the main character, Dani, at all.  I should, because she is a confident strong lead but she just rubs me up the wrong way and for that reason I don’t think I’ll continue with the series.

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Source: ARC
No of pages: 432
Publisher: Headline

Book Review: Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre

What’s it about?

Sophie Duguet-young, successful, and happily married–thought at first she was becoming absentminded when she started misplacing her mail and forgetting where she’d parked her car the night before. But then, as her husband and colleagues pointed out with increasing frustration, she began forgetting things she’d said and done, too. And when she was detained by the police for shoplifting, a crime she didn’t remember committing, the confusion and blackouts that had begun to plague her took on a more sinister cast. Her marriage started to come apart at the seams.

Now Sophie is in much deeper water: the young boy she nannies is dead while in her care, a tragedy of which she has no memory. Afraid for her sanity and of what the police will do to her when the body is discovered, Sophie goes on the run, changing her identity and appearance to evade the law. Forced to lead a very different kind of life, one on the margins of society, Sophie wonders where everything went wrong.

Still, with a new name and a new life, she hopes that she’ll be able to put her demons to rest for good. It soon becomes clear, however, that the real nightmare has only just begun . . .

My thoughts

This was our latest book club.  We’d previously read Alex, by the same author, as a group read so we were all very pleased and excited to be reading another and it didn’t disappoint!

The first part of the book is told by Sophie, where we follow her on the run and everything she does to survive under the radar and hide her identity.  I had to persevere with it at the start as I really had no idea what was going on.  The second part goes onto Frantz, and it’s with his story more is unravelled and what is has to do with Sophie.  Part 3 is where it really gets interesting!!!  Neither of these characters are particularly likeable but the author still manages to make the story move at such a pace that you will keep reading!

There are some quite sexually orientated scenes which might not be your thing.  Whilst I was reading them, I just kept thinking my mum is reading this (she might actually be reading this, OMG, hi mum!!) which made me cringe! 😉

Whilst we all felt that 90% of the book was dark, twisted and cunning we all agreed that the ending felt rushed and very easy.  A bit of a shame after such an intense build-up.

I thought that the French to English translation was excellent.  There were certain phrases (I forget now though which) that made me wonder if the author had written them, or whether the translator had interpreted it that way for an English-speaking market.  Either way, it was great!

Any future novels by this author will instantly be added to my TBR!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author link: Goodreads

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Source: Purchased
No of pages: 320
Publisher: MacLehose Press

Book Review: The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst

What’s it about?

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.

Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she’s just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger…

 

 

My thoughts

Many thanks to the publishers for the ARC I received and my apologies for taking so flipping long to read it!

So what did I think about The Foster Child, it started off very well.  The first few chapters enticed me in very easily, I loved the short chapters as I thought that made everything more pacy and tense and of course…just one more chapter often turned in to five.

With the chapters being told in turn by mostly Imogen and Ellie you get a good all round view, well you think you do, but what I found more scarier than Ellie, who wasn’t really that scary, was the small town mentality depicted in the book.  The assumptions the characters make without real evidence was just scary because this shit happens in real life.  The bullying Ellie experiences is utterly heartbreaking and you can only feel immensely for Ellie and I was so pleased for her that at least she can find some sort of comfort with her foster-sister Mary.

Well, I don’t know if it’s just me or if this happens to you too, but I find it somewhat difficult and awkward to review books when I’ve met the author (in this case more than once) and they’re not just a faceless name on a page.  I didn’t love this book, I liked it though, but I’m not really into books with supernatural elements, however small a thread or misinterpreted, so this really is more about me and my preferences than Jenny’s skill as a writer, because I really really enjoyed Before I Let You In.  So unfortunately I did spend a good third of this book rolling my eyes 😦  That being said, I thought I had it sussed, and then discovered that I actually I didn’t but then I did a little…..the ending was a cracker!

I will still look out for Jenny’s books and will definitely read more of what she writes, in fact, I do have How I Lost You on the book shelf to be read.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

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Small print for info
Source: ARC
No of pages: 400
Publisher: Headline