#BookReview: The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd @TransworldBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheMemoryWood #damppebbles

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Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to my review of The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd. Now, had life been relatively normal (normalish) then tonight would have seen the first First Monday Crime Night of the year. But we’re all on lock down so it’s obviously not happening (#StayHomeSaveLives #StayHomeStaySafe). That doesn’t mean we can’t shout about the brilliant authors who were due to appear though, no siree! Sam Lloyd, author of the haunting The Memory Wood, was due to be taking part this evening so I, of course, leapt at the chance to read this INCREDIBLE book. I have to be completely honest with you here. As soon as I saw this book, before I’d even read the blurb, I knew I had to read it. The cover gave me chills. I received a free ARC of The Memory Wood but that has in no way influenced my review.

The Memory Wood had my attention as soon as I set eyes on it; that stunning cover, the intriguing blurb. You know when you get ‘that’ feeling about a book…? You just know that it’s going to be something special? You don’t know how you know, you just do? That’s the feeling I had about The Memory Wood. Expectations were high. Oh, the pressure! And I wasn’t disappointed one jot. What a mesmerising, creepy crime thriller. Full of tension and dread. I absolutely loved this book!

Elijah lives with his family at the Game Keeper’s Cottage in the grounds of Rufus Hall, near the Memory Wood. Elijah’s life is quiet and sedate. He doesn’t attend school but he has a love of words and likes to think that makes him cleverer than the average 12-year-old. One day, while exploring a crumbling cottage in the wood, Elijah makes a discovery. Thirteen year old, Elissa. Chained to the floor and desperate to escape, Elissa pleads with Elijah to help her. But Elijah knows he can’t help and he can’t really understand why she is so desperate to leave. After all, they’ve only just met! In Elissa he sees a friend, a confidant and someone to spend his time with. He’s enchanted by her. But Elissa isn’t the first girl Elijah has discovered chained up beneath the cottage. And Elijah knows what happened to the other children when they refused to play by their captor’s rules…

I thoroughly enjoyed The Memory Wood. It was everything I hoped it would be and maybe even a little bit more on top! The author has done a wonderful job of making his reader feel they are there, living in the wood with these strange characters. The story is told from three perspectives; Elijah, Elissa and the detective in charge of finding Elissa, Detective Superintendent Mairead MacCullagh. I loved DS MacCullagh and thought the author made her even more interesting with the addition of an issue you don’t see every day. I hope this isn’t the last we see of MacCullagh as I would gladly read an entire series with her as the lead character. Elissa, the kidnapped 13-year-old, is an incredible character. Wise beyond her years with an intelligence to match. I loved how emotionally strong she was in the face of adversity. How every action was considered in detail and how determined she was to escape the clutches of her captor. Astute and spirited, she’ll be difficult to forget – that’s for sure! And poor, troubled Elijah. My heart broke for him.

The plot moves along at a steady pace and I was keen to find out how Elijah and Elissa’s story was going to end. There are a couple of ‘gasp-out-loud’ moments which turn the book on its head for the reader and I loved them! Cat and mouse game? Yes, definitely. But it’s more intricate, more detailed, more involving than that. Game of chess anyone? (Chess features quite heavily in the story so it only seemed fair….)

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s a beautifully written, unsettling and atmospheric novel and I devoured it. With characters that will leave their mark on you, whether in a good way….or a not so good way, this book will be hard to forget. And if anyone ever utters the words ‘say you understand’ to me ever again then I may have a heart attack right there and then. Those three words will forever send chills down my spine. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Memory Wood. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd was published in the UK by Bantam Press on 20th February 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Sam Lloyd grew up in Hampshire, making up stories and building secret hideaways in his local woods. These days he lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and a dog that likes to howl. The Memory Wood is his debut thriller.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt (@writermels) @bookouture #helpme

girls-next-door-final“One warm spring evening, five teenagers meet in a local park. Only four will come out alive.

Six months after the stabbing of fifteen-year-old Deanna Miller, someone is coming after the teenagers of Stockleigh, as a spate of vicious assaults rocks this small community. Revenge for Deanna? Or something more?

Detective Eden Berrisford is locked into a race against time to catch the twisted individual behind the attacks – but when her own niece, Jess Mount, goes missing, the case gets personal.

With the kidnapper threatening Jess’ life, can Eden bring back her niece to safety? Or will the people of Stockleigh be forced to mourn another daughter…?

A terrifying, compelling police procedural which will thrill fans of Angela Marsons, The Teacher, and Rachel Abbott”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my stop (and the final stop) on the The Girls Next Door blog tour which I share with the very lovely Jo over at My Chestnut Reading Tree.  Pop over and say hi to Jo once you’ve finished here, as I bet she’s written a superb review of this fantastic book!

help-me-mel-sherrattHave you ever considered how different your life would be if you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?  Teenager Katie Trent ends up in the wrong place.  One moment life is normal, the next she’s witnessing her boyfriend stab another teen. Shock makes Katie react slowly but she manages to be with Deanna, the victim, as she takes her last breath.  Then she runs, runs home and hides from her family, hides her blood stained clothes.  But the attack has been captured on CCTV and Katie, the killer and another two boys are arrested.  Katie’s best friend, Jess is devastated; the girls being more like sisters than best friends.  Six months down the line and several local teens become the victims of savage and cruel attacks.  Are the attacks connected to the murder? Are the Barker family finally seeking revenge?  DS Eden Berrisford and her team are on the case.  Except things are about to get personal for Eden.  Her niece, Jess has gone missing.  Eden watches the CCTV footage as Jess is punched in the face and bundled into a van.  Can Eden crack the case and save Jess before it’s too late…?

This (I’m ashamed to say) is my first Mel Sherratt read and I can safely say that I was not disappointed.  The opening chapters immediately pull you into the story – they’re shocking and unexpected, your heart goes out to the characters involved.  It was very easy to like the teenage characters as they’re brilliantly written but I was surprised by how much I liked them.  The attacks on the female characters are all very humiliating and I really felt for them (maybe it’s that mothering instinct within me).

I really liked Eden Berrisford but found her a little too polished (with her 60s styled clothes and mini with the black and white checkered roof).  Eden’s history with her husband does provide that much needed ‘rough edge’ but I wanted something….more, something darker.  She wasn’t what I expected but, if you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I love a dark, grumpy detective.  The grumpier and more damaged, the better.  One thing’s for sure, I want to know more about her and eagerly wait for the next instalment.

The plot was interesting and kept my attention from start to finish.  I found the attacks on the teenagers quite harrowing, almost stomach churning but that was where the terror ended for me. Jess’s kidnap ordeal was well written but I never really felt she was in real danger. Saying that, I’ve read several fabulous reviews of this book and they all say the opposite to me; they felt really scared for Jess.  (Maybe that’s the result of too much crime fiction over the years, I’ve become numb to terror!  Uh oh..)

Would I recommend this book?  I certainly would.  I can’t remember the last crime thriller I read that had this much emotion in it.  Yes, it’s a gripping crime thriller but it’s got bags of heart too.  Very enjoyable, particularly the sections written from Katie and Jess’ standpoint.  Bring on the next Eden Berrisford novel please, Mel Sherratt.

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture, NetGalley and Mel Sherratt.  I chose to read and review an ARC of The Girls Next Door.

The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt was published in the UK by Bookouture on 27th October 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Bookouture |

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Smith & Sons (11)

mel-sherratt-photoMel Sherratt writes gritty crime dramas, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as she calls it. Shortlisted for the CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in the Library Award 2014, she finds inspiration from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante and Elizabeth Haynes. Since 2012, all nine of her crime novels have been bestsellers. Four of her books are published by Amazon Publishing’s crime and thriller imprint, Thomas & Mercer and she has a new series out with Bookouture.
Mel lives in Stoke-on-Trent, with her husband and terrier, Dexter, named after the TV serial killer, and makes liberal use of her hometown as a backdrop for some of her books.

Author Links:Twitter | Website | Facebook |

 

#BookReview: Blood For Blood by J M Smyth (@bwpublishing)

51iPbibcIaL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_“Care. There s a word if ever I heard one. I looked it up in a dictionary once. It had a lot of definitions but not one that applied to me and Sean…

WAITING DAY AFTER DAY

Red has survived the barbarity and abuse of the orphanage. His twin brother Sean has not been so lucky. With a sworn oath to avenge his brother s murder, Red kidnaps a policeman s daughter and leaves her to be brought up in care, to suffer like he and Sean did. But this is just the first part of Red s plan for revenge against all those who took their freedom.

UNTIL FINALLY IT’S TIME

Now, twenty years later, the time has come. The kidnapped girl has grown up and left the orphanage, never knowing who her real parents are or the part she’ll now play in Red’s shocking revenge. And for those who have been living their lives in peace, with faded memories of twin boys who were put into care years ago, life is about to descend into hell.

But with the criminal underworld, the police and an unexpected serial killer on the scene, sometimes even the best laid plans go awry…”

This is one seriously dark book which gets under your skin from the opening chapters.  Not an easy subject matter that some may find upsetting and hard to stomach.  For those who are life long crime fans, and for those with an iron constitution, I can guarantee that you will find this a riveting read.

Red (Robert) Dock and his twin brother, Sean are two of Ireland’s unwanted babies. Raised in an abuse riddled orphanage, Red is strong enough to survive the daily beatings and punishments.  His brother, Sean isn’t as strong and dies an unnecessary death.  Now a grown man and consumed by revenge, Red is hellbent on making others pay for the loss of his twin.  He puts into action his 20 year plan by kidnapping the baby daughter of a high ranking police officer.  He subjects her to the same torture and cruelty he suffered as a child by putting her into the exact same care system he suffered in.  This is only the beginning of an intricate scheme, with many interwoven threads, all aimed at destroying the lives of the people Red feels are responsible for Sean’s death.  Throw in a serial killer who just happens to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time and who knows who will survive.  Will Red be able to avenge Sean’s death and how many will die in the process…?

I found this novel eerily fascinating.  I don’t think you really know the full extent of the story (or the characters) until you reach the very last word of the very last paragraph.  I found myself pondering the story at quiet times during the day, almost like I was making sure it had sunk it and I had all the loose ends tied up in my mind. It certainly stayed with me afterwards.

Red’s scheme is brilliantly clever and his thirst for revenge quite nauseating.  His total lack of feeling towards his fellow man is beyond callous. With all that in mind, why did I find him strangely charming?

For those that aren’t aware (and have been asleep up until this point) this book is set in Ireland, about Irish characters and written by an Northern Irish author. It took me a little while to get my head around the sentence structure and the writer’s style. I think I was having a bad day.  Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to warm to the tone.

The closing chapters are superb. I loved the obscure ways of murdering characters (yes, I’m strange!). Very clever, almost genius in some cases. And I loved that there’s a serial killer in this book, but it not all about him (serial killers get ALL of the attention!).

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would, particularly if you’re after something a little different. Clever, intricate and full of dark wit. I almost hope to meet Red Dock at some point again, in the future. 

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to #TBConFB, Black & White Publishing and J M Smyth for providing me with a copy of Blood For Blood in exchange for an honest review.

Blood For Blood by J M Smyth was published in the UK by Black & White Publishing on 14th July 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Black & White Publishing |

J.M. Smyth was born in Belfast, and moved to London at the age of 15. He has worked as a landscape gardener, antiques restorer, furniture maker, equeastrian gear manufacturer, horse breeder and a tomato inspector… Smyth finally came to writing a long time ambition whilst in hospital following an accident involving an under-sized parachute, and has been at it intermittently ever since. His first novel Quinn was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger. Blood for Blood is his second novel, and has already been published in Japan, France and Germany. Smyth currently lives in County Louth, Ireland.