Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

A Beautiful Spy by Rachel Hore [BOOK REVIEW]

★★★

A Beautiful Spy is a wonderful story about Minnie, a girl who becomes a spy for the British Government. Refusing to just settle down and marry, as she is expected to, Minnie wants excitement. Little does she know, with excitement, comes danger…

About The Author:

Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she taught publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia before becoming a full-time writer. She is married to the writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons. Her last novel, The Love Child, was a Sunday Times bestseller.

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Synopsis:

The year is 1928, and Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all. She is working as a secretary, but longs to make a difference.
 
Then, one day, she gets her chance. She is recruited by the British government as a spy. Under strict instructions not to tell anyone, not even her family, she moves to London and begins her mission – to infiltrate the Communist movement.
 
She soon gains the trust of important leaders. But as she grows more and more entangled in the workings of the movement, her job becomes increasingly dangerous. Leading a double life is starting to take its toll on her relationships and, feeling more isolated than ever, she starts to wonder how this is all going to end. The Russians are notorious for ruthlessly disposing of people given the slightest suspicion.

My Thoughts:

I have always loved stories about women that were spies in the time before and around the Second World War. There is something I always admire about these women. Their determination to make a difference, their bravery and their dedication, despite the big risks. The willingness to serve a cause, knowing well what the repercussions are.

Through Minnie’s life, we got to see the highs and lows of being a spy in a much emotional environment. It was refreshing to see all the emotions Minnie was going through. Being a spy and living a double life impacted her greatly, and we could see her struggling to keep up. This closeness to the character made Minnie much more loveable and relatable person to me as a reader.

I felt that at times, the story would go into one direction for a few pages, but with no apparent goal. Sometimes, this would keep me off track and confuse me. Most of the chapters told a story that achieved a certain goal by the end of a chapter, and in times when this didn’t happen, it really threw me off. It was as if I was waiting for something to happen, and when it didn’t, it left a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth.

However, I truly enjoyed the story, and I devoured it incredibly fast. I only received it a few days ago, and I was wondering if I’ll made it in time to finish it for my book tour stop, but reading it was not an issue. I am so glad that I saw a part of Minnie and her life story, and the fact that this book is inspired by an actual true story is even more fascinating to me.

If you love historical fiction, especially books about women spies, please pick up “A Beautiful Spy” by Rachel Hore. It’s a powerful and emotional adventure about a woman living two lives and wanting to make a difference in the world.

Purchase Links:
 Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor [BLOG TOUR]

I am delighted to be part of the huge blog tour for The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor. Huge thanks to Gaby from Michael J Books, for this amazing opportunity. If you have a chance, please go and check out the other participants as well!

★★

The Burning Girls was the first book I read from C. J. Tudor and it didn’t disappoint. I loved the horror elements, as well as the multi-layer mysteries over the years, and the many plot twists. It is definitely a thriller you will not want to miss this year, and I’ll certainly pick up more books by the author. I was only disappointed with the very end of the book, and I’ll elaborate more on the why’s below:

Synopsis:

500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide

Welcome to Chapel Croft.

For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.

And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.

Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.

Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?

Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.

But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest…

My Thoughts:

From the very first moments, The Burning Girls grips you and doesn’t let you go until you’re finished. I started this book very late, and was quite certain I’d miss my blog tour deadline as well. But I was so intrigued by it, that I couldn’t put it down and I finished it in a day.

I loved Jack and Flo, and their mother-daughter relationship.

It shows quite well that it doesn’t matter what profession the parent might be having, the children always treat you the same. The need for attention that they’ll never admit to, the secrets they will keep from you, and the mischievous ideas they are going to come up with.

When they move into the new village, they both feel both excited and sad. It’s never easy to leave behind a life you’ve created, especially for a teenager like Flo. Going into a new school, meeting new friends, being distant to the old friends – it’s all very scary at first. And through Jack, we can see how she feels about it all as well – not happy that she’s leaving, but also trying to make it the best experience at the time.

The horror and mystery elements come very early in the book, which is something I really enjoyed. I was very intrigued with not one, not two, but three mysteries that were going on, all in the same town, and all not quite resolved. Those parts, where more clues would come, or something supernatural would happen would be my favorite scenes in this book, and I was eagerly waiting for more. The atmosphere was spooky and very uncomfortable at times. I mean, you only need to imagine a chapel, burning girls and paganism, and you get the idea.

I also liked the town setting, and their behaviour.

Everyone in the small town seemed to be hiding their own secrets, and doing their best to protect them, and this part reminded me a bit of Tana French’s The Searcher. You could feel the townspeople’s animosity in every interaction, and you can’t help but get the chills.

To conclude, this book did satisfy my needs for horror, mystery and plot twists. I definitely did not expect all of those plot twists that came my way, and the book just kept surprising me in a spectacular way. I definitely recommend it to all fans of horror, mystery and thriller, it’s a book that you will devour!

The Disappointment:

My disappointment at the end of the book was huge, and it was the only reason this book went from 5-stars to 3-stars. I can’t share my full thoughts, because of obvious spoilers, but I will do my best to do this right. If you have read the book and want the full notes, please send me a message.

As soon as I read the last few chapters, we end up finding an answer to a mystery that was lingering from the very beginning of the book, and throughout. But knowing what we know now, it feels as if the whole book was a lie, and I cannot really trust a particular character because of it. The knowledge made me question my whole opinion of the book and left a bitter taste in my mouth, and that’s the only reason why I can’t give this book a higher rating. I feel that many things could have been written in a different way, and from other people’s perspectives.

Purchase Links:
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Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

We Played With Fire by Catherine Barter [BLOG TOUR]

I am so happy to be participating on this blog tour for We Played With Fire by Catherine Barter! Huge thank you to the team at Andersen Press and Kaleidoscopic Tours, for sending me a copy of the book. Please check out the other participants as well.

★★★

Inspired by a true story of the Fox sisters, the girls who made their fortune in 19th century America by speaking to ghosts, We Played With Fire is a story you won’t want to miss!

Synopsis:

Maggie has witnessed impossible things. But no one believes her, and now her family has taken her away to spend the winter upstate in a remote, freezing farmhouse.

Bored and angry, Maggie and her younger sister Kate start to play tricks: rapping on the floorboards above their parents’ bedroom, cracking their toes under the table, and telling tales about noises in the night. Then the house starts to make sounds of its own. Neither Maggie nor Kate can explain it, but it seems as though someone – or something – is trying to speak to them…

My Thoughts:

We Played With Fire takes a much more serious and realistic approach on the subject of ghosts and people being able to speak to them. What starts as a game begins to grow into something much more and gets out of hand very easily.

“Besides, it’s not wrong to deceive people if they want to be deceived.”

Maggie is quite a unique character; kind and thoughtful, yet strong-willed and not afraid to speak up for what she believes in. She is very observant, and through her eyes we can see things that many people would usually rather ignore. This was something I really admired about her! We can realise early on how affected she actually is from being banished from her town and being labelled of doing something she is sure she didn’t do.

I loved the spontaneous spookiness in the book and the uneasy atmosphere.

During their seances, we are aware that the girls love to pull pranks, and create the random knocks to make people believe there are ghosts in the room. But as readers, we don’t get to know whether something is a prank or a supernatural activity, which leaves us wondering. The mood fills with intensity and these scenes managed to make me shiver many times. It’s such a gripping and eerie novel and I think people would really enjoy reading it during Halloween.

“She remembered hearing somewhere once that when somebody died you should open a window to let their soul out.”

Aside from the spooky elements, this book covered many different topics that are very important, especially today! Activist against racism and slavery existed, but it was led by white people who didn’t let people of colour to speak at events on topics that concerned them directly. The corruption of the church and their propaganda against not only people like the Fox sisters, who talked to ghosts, but against anyone that disagrees with their agenda. And the fact that women weren’t treated as equals, and their opinion, knowledge, experience wasn’t even taken into consideration. I found myself so infuriated with these issues. But also glad that they were mentioned in the book, so we can highlight them, and start discussions.

“When a person is determined to see the world in one way, they won’t allow anybody to challenge it. I’m sure it’s a kind of illness.”

We Played With Fire is a magnificent book!

The perfect eerie book to give you the shivers and transport you to a 19th century. Imagine an old house full of candles and knocking sounds coming out of nowhere. If you love horror and ghost stories of the past, pick up We Played With Fire today!

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

Keeper by Jessica Moor [BLOG TOUR]

I am so happy to be the one starting this amazing blog tour for Keeper by Jessica Moor! Huge thank you to the team at Viking, for sending me a copy of the book, to read and provide an honest review. Please check out the other participants as well.

★★★

Keeper by Jessica Moor is one of the most gripping thrillers I have read this year!

Synopsis:

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut- case. A standard-issue female suicide.

But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.

Will you listen to them?

My Thoughts:

As soon as I started reading Keeper, I couldn’t put it down. The story is gripping from the very first moment, and the intensity keeps growing with each page.

Scenes from THEN and scenes from NOW give us a story of Katie’s life before, and the investigation of Katie’s death now. In the past, we get a detailed view of Katie’s life in her new relationship, and how it progresses from true love to something very unhealthy. In the current time, we meet a couple of refuge women, who all suffered domestic violence, as they are being interviewed by the detectives, in the hope to shine some light to Katie’s death.

There is no evidence to point out that Katie took her own life, but there is also no evidence to suggest that she has been killed. And the detectives now have to rely on small clues, to try and figure out what exactly happened that day. Some secrets that Katie kept also don’t help their investigation at all.

Even though this is Katie’s story, it is also the story of the refuge women. Even more so. Through their experiences, we can fully understand Katie’s perspective. And through their lives, we find out secrets hidden that should never have come to surface.

The main subject of the book is about domestic violence, both physical and psychological. This can be a trigger warning, as many scenes go into a lot of detail. We meet different characters that suffered in their relationships in different ways. And while they are in the refuge home, we see the aftermath that these relationships have on the women. Some women are unable to speak to men anymore. They are unable to trust people. Nothing is ever the same. And some decide to go back to that horrible environment, because it’s the only thing they know. On average, a woman tries to leave her partner seven times before she succeeds. This tells you all you need to know, of how hard it is to leave in the first place, and why it is so easy to also go back.

I loved the main mystery. The fact that we assume something happened to Katie, but we are not sure. It is not until the very end that we actually find out the truth. The plot twists in the end were very well done, and I really enjoyed that WOW factor. I have the urge to read the book again now, just to capture the secrets clues that were right in front of me, but I never saw them coming. I also loved the issue this book raises about domestic violence, the refuge centres, and how little help they are getting. Struggling for budgets and being ignored by large organisations is very a very common practice, and the women staying there can feel this, which results in them not feeling as safe as they should be, or not getting the help they really need.

Keeper is set in a very uncomfortable atmosphere. In each chapter, you can almost feel what these women are feeling, and even though I cannot relate to them, I could feel their pain and felt so anxious to help them. Jessica Moor was able to perfectly capture their fear, their anxiety, their struggle, and I could empathise with them.

Beautiful fast-paced thriller that you can’t put down, with amazing plot twists and topics so unfortunately common and infuriating! I definitely recommend it, you won’t be able to forget Keeper easily.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent [BLOG TOUR]

I am so glad to be part of the blog tour for Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent. Huge thank you to the team at Penguin Random House, for sending me a copy of the book, to read and provide an honest review. Please check out the other participants as well.

★★★

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent took me on a wild journey I never knew I needed. Be ready for a very intense family and many unpredictable secrets!

Synopsis:

This is a story about three brothers. One of them is dead, lying in a coffin.

Will, Brian and Luke grew up competing for their mother’s unequal love. As men, the competition continues – for status, money, fame, women… They each betray one another, over and over again. Until one of them is murdered.

But which one?

My Thoughts:

Our Little Cruelties is the first book I have read by Liz Nugent, and now I know why her books are so gripping. This book is very dark and brutal, but also raw and honest. It captured a troubled family so well and created a very uncomfortable and unpredictable atmosphere.

The book is split into four main parts; three parts from the perspective of each brother, and the last part that covers the conclusion scenes and culmination. There are also special parts throughout the book, where the two brothers are attending the funeral of the third brother. The full beauty of this setting is that we don’t know who the dead brother is until the very end, and the reason why he was murdered.

Throughout the book, we slowly get to know all three brothers, their parents, their loved ones , their hopes, dreams and fears. But most importantly, the rivalry between them, than only increases over the years. All the brothers are fighting their own battles. They all do horrible things and they are all mean to each other. Being three of them, there is always a two versus one game as well, and they keep changing their sides and alliances. It was very interesting to read about their thoughts and experiences, especially when they have different opinions on the same situations, and each opinion is valid and makes sense based on their personality. This was very cleverly written.

After the first part, I made my own opinions about the characters, but after reading the other parts, my opinions changed drastically. Because there are always more sides to one story. And people react in different ways. Also, small things trigger to bigger chain events.

I absolutely loved the psychological aspect. How three brothers can grow up with different childhood experiences while living in the same household. The power and responsibility that the mother has when raising her children. This has always fascinated me and I loved discussing it with my boyfriend and my friends.

The book itself is very dark and has a lot of plot twists. The last part of the book is very intense and was so fun to read. Sometimes it had too much drama for my taste, but considering that this is a family thriller, it was inevitable.

Our Little Cruelties is the perfect thriller to make you wonder how dysfunctional your family is. It is gripping and dark from the very first pages, and keeps this atmosphere until the very end. I loved it and I definitely suggest you pick it up.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

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