Book Review: The Gift by Louise Jensen

the-giftWhat’s it about?

The perfect daughter is dead. And a secret is eating her family alive…

Jenna is given another shot at life when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. Eternally grateful to Callie and her family, Jenna gets closer to them, but she soon discovers that Callie’s perfect family is hiding some very dark secrets …

Callie’s parents are grieving, yet Jenna knows they’re only telling her half the story. Where is Callie’s sister Sophie? She’s been ‘abroad’ since her sister’s death but something about her absence doesn’t add up. And when Jenna meets Callie’s boyfriend Nathan, she makes a shocking discovery.

Jenna knows that Callie didn’t die in an accident. But how did she die? Jenna is determined to discover the truth but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

My thoughts

I’m afraid I jumped on that bandwagon to see what the fuss was all about with this book and I’m afraid I was left waiting for more.  I’m aware I’m in the minority as every other reader I know has loved this book and this is somewhat an unpopular opinion.

I found the whole cellular memory an interesting concept; although I felt I needed to suspend all disbelief for this premise to work.

My main problem was that I didn’t gel with Jenna, I found a number of her actions, decisions and conversations implausible that made me eye roll rather than fear for her.  I found myself getting irritated with the plot rather than absorbed in the intended thrill for example the number of times artists and songs were referred to; it felt more like name dropping than trying to evoke an atmosphere.  It’s just a cold…repeated over and over when it clearly isn’t just grated rather than added to my sympathies and concern for Jenna and what did happen to Nathan? Why did he not take this further?

Shame really as I’ve heard the author’s debut novel, The Sister, was exceptional.  Having said all that, the book had a good ending with great pace with a culprit I didn’t see coming. Sorry!

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author Links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source:  ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 354
Publisher: Bookouture

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Book Review: Dark Water by Robert Bryndza

dark-waterWhat’s it about?

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.

My thoughts

I finally got to the third in the series over the Christmas holiday and read it in about 24 hours – yes, it was so good! The opening chapters raised so many questions I just couldn’t put it down – I just find investigations surrounding missing or children to be highly emotive and far more intriguing.

Again this one can be read as a standalone as the author gives us sufficient information which is newly worded and not re-hashed from the previous, so that it can be read alone but honestly it’s so much better to read from the beginning.  I was really pleased that Erika had gotten rid of the bottle and is not quite the lush in her personal life.  I particularly enjoyed the “coffee scene” with the slight injection of humour; her being torn between her guilt and memories over Mark but it made me happy that she is trying to move her life forward.

As far as the police procedural is concerned, you can’t fault the author’s attention to detail.  Nothing is spared and because of this you feel totally wrapped up in the investigation and it all feels totally realistic.  Although I do find Erika somewhat manipulative so she gets what she wants and sees no issue with going over her initial superior’s head – is it just me or is she justified?

The pace of the book is relentless, you just have to keep reading until its gripping and satisfying conclusion.  This one was the best one so far for me and I’m looking forward to number 4!

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 366
Publisher: Bookouture

p.s as a side note which I didn’t want to include in main review as this may well have been corrected or I may have misunderstood, but I think there was a slight error in the ARC timeline.  Jessica was  initially reported as missing at 4.30pm when her parents go to the birthday party to collect her, but later in the book it says that the party host rang her parents at 3.30pm to ask where she was? I can’t be sure if it was an error or intentional to show how witnesses can have contrasting versions.


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Book Review: The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza

The Night Stalker What’s it about?

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.

My thoughts

Having read and really enjoyed The Girl in the Ice I was delighted to be auto approved for Bookouture on Netgalley so I could read and review the next DCI Erika Foster installment and it didn’t disappoint.  I’m pretty sure I can’t add anything to the existing praise and love for this series and its characters so I’m gonna be short and sweet.

I think the book can be read as a standalone as there is sufficient background to give you insight into the characters without going over old ground so existing readers aren’t bored, however I always think it’s better to start at the beginning as there’s always little things to be picked up from each one.  For example, it turns out Erika is from Slovakia which I don’t believe was mentioned in the first book which surprised me and also that Peterson is black;  not that this matters to me in any way but does have an impact in the story and these are the little things that you don’t necessarily get by reading one installment – do you get what I mean?

As in The Girl in the Ice, the book moves at a great pace, it never feels like there’s extra words for padding and again I raced through it in a couple of days.  It’s gruesome, dark and dramatic and will have you checking under your bed!!  A must read for crime drama fans!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter


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Book Review: See How They Run by Tom Bale

See How They RunWhat’s it about?

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:

STAY ALIVE. OR DON’T.

My thoughts

This review will be short, but only because I bloody loved it and there’s only so many ways to say I loved it, go read it!

From the opening chapter Tom Bale takes no prisoners in grabbing hold of the reader’s attention and then doesn’t let go until the very last page.

From the very beginning I got swept along in the thrill of the chase.  Page-turner is such a cliché way of describing a book but this is exactly what this is!  I love it when regular ordinary people get caught up in bad things and you just wonder, what the hell would I do??

I immediately bonded with Alice and Harry and was sympathetic to their extraordinary and horrifying situation.  Of course there’s this sense of implausibility but if there wasn’t, then there wouldn’t be a book!

I’m not gonna lie there are some grisly scenes but no worse than what you’d probably see in an episode of CSI but they made me wince all the same and only added to the gravity of the situation.

This book very much reminded me of the Will Smith movie Enemy of the State which is a movie I love too.  Both fast paced, gritty and with characters you care about from the outset that get swept along in illegal activities to try and guarantee their survival.

Loved everything about this book and will definitely read more from Tom Bale.

Many thanks to Bookouture for the ARC of this book.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Tom Bale

Website | Twitter


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Book Review: The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

The Girl in the Ice What’s it about?

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding? …

My thoughts

I must confess I requested this book from the publisher via Netgalley as I’d literally seen it everywhere and it’s the book of the moment that’s on every blogger’s radar, so yeah ok, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

So let’s cut to the chase, as there’s so many crime detective novels out there, the author has to set themselves apart from all those others with their characters. You’ve got to believe and invest in these characters otherwise it could be just any old easily forgotten crime story. And I’m pleased to say this book doesn’t disappoint!

From the first few opening pages I knew I was going to like ballsy DCI Erika Foster, and I knew this because she requested a phone with real buttons and not a touch screen. I really wanted to continue with my Blackberry and a proper keyboard but…sigh…’tis no longer! Yep…that’s all it took for me to connect with her and root for her all the way; a phone! Through all the old boy’s network crap, the injustice of office politics and police procedure I just wanted her to have a shot. Then of course, we learn her back story, which made me like her even more. She’s not just an icy bitch on the outside, she is hurting and protecting herself.

I really liked the secondary characters in Detective Moss and Isacc the forensic pathologist and look forward to seeing more of them in future novels.

One teeny weeny isty bitsy niggle, the post mortems were referred to as an autopsy; I thought they were post mortems in the UK but obviously I’m not an expert and stand to be corrected. It may be both terms are used here.  Other than that, everything else was totally believeable and lead me to believe throughly researched in terms of terminology or by someone in the know. Well written and not over-the-top or pretentious, just really good gritty drama culminating a dramatic cat and mouse ending!

Fans of a good crime drama and detective novels will like this, I enjoyed it as much as I have done the two Tony Parsons’ Max Wolfe books. If you’ve not heard of this book where have you been?

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Robert Bryndza

Website | Twitter