All posts by Marnie Harrison

The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley #BookReview #TheWreckage #Thriller #NetGalley @rmorganbentley @TrapezeBooks #onceuponatimebookblog

Today I am reviewing The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley. This was released on the 2nd of February, published by Trapeze Books.

Book Blurb

One fatal crash. Two colliding worlds. Three wrecked lives.

School teacher Ben is driving on the motorway, on his usual commute to work.

A day like any other…

Except for one man who, in a final despairing act, jumps in front of Ben’s car, turning the teacher’s world upside down in a single horrifying instant…

Wracked with guilt and desperate to clear his conscience, he develops a friendship with Alice, the dead man’s wife, and her 7-year-old son Max.

But as he tries to escape the trauma of the wreckage, could he go too far in trying to make amends?

How would you cope, knowing you’d caused someone’s death?

Robin has created a plot that is straight out of your worst nightmare! Told via alternating chapters from the perspective of the two main protagonists Alice and Ben, we are taken on a journey into how the actions of Alice’s husband Adam, changes their lives forever. As I like to say in some of my reviews, less is more when discussing the plot, as I think the blurb gives the reader enough without going into any further detail. This is definitely the case for The Wreckage.

The characters in this story are very well developed, but I was not really able to connect with them. Having said that though, this did not hinder my enjoyment of the book and in some ways, I think they were supposed to get the reader to feel this way. Alice was the most interesting to me. Cold and detached and at times a downright you know what, she is the one that has the most growth throughout and as the story progresses the layers are peeled away and you understand why she is the way she is.

Ben, always had me feeling uneasy. I sympathised with him of course, but perhaps it was also the fact that I was questioning his intentions. Robin had me second guessing which way his character arc was going to go and it was his level of intensity and straightforwardness that made me most uncomfortable. With Adam, we don’t get a lot of insight into his character straight away. We know from bits and pieces from Alice’s perspective, that he was suffering and struggling with life, but it isn’t until we get his side of the story where everything then falls into place in a chilling account.

I enjoyed the ease of Robins writing, which was engaging, descriptive (though not overdone) and emotive. He gives a raw and honest insight into the sensitive issues of depression, mental illness and suicide and he handles these respectively and extremely well. I liked how he was able to get me comfortable into the story and keep my attention, but I do have to admit, that I was wondering where it was going to go and I was preparing myself for an ending that was not going to be satisfying. I am pleased though to report, I had nothing to worry about there…What a shocker!!

The Wreckage is a slow burn to start with, but as soon as Robin notched up the speed of it, this was when it really kicked into high gear and took off! With a clever twist interwoven that I did not see coming and a jaw-dropping ending that chills you to the bone, as a first-time novelist, Robin has done a great job with this book and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next. It was a pleasure to be able to read and review The Wreckage which I recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley, Trapeze and Robin Morgan-Bentley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of The Wreckage which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

This review will be added to, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon Australia & Amazon US. I will also add to NetGalley, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play and Barnes & Noble if available. As I am from Australia, I am unable to add to Amazon UK, but will post to Waterstones & Foyles if also available.

Kalopsia by Lucinda Lamont #BookReview #Kalopsia #Fiction #LucindaLamont #onceuponatimebookblog

Today I am reviewing Kalopsia by Lucinda Lamont. This was released on the 31st of July 2018, published by Creativa.

Book Blurb

Kalopsia – (n.) The delusion of things being more beautiful than they really are.

They say you never know what goes on behind closed doors, but do you really know what goes on outside your front door either?

Kate is a twenty-something, successful woman. Funny, attractive and independent, she seemingly has everything going for her. But when it comes to love, Kate wouldn’t know a good idea if she stopped at a zebra crossing and watched it pass by in front of her.

Suffering at the hands of her mentally abusive partner, she doesn’t quite have the gumption to leave. That is, until Greg shows an interest.

With Greg by her side and offering her everything she has ever wanted, Kate thinks she has finally met her prince. But will temporary feelings have permanent consequences?

Kalopsia drew my attention immediately, firstly because of the beautiful cover art, just stunning! But also because Kalopsia is a word I had never heard of before. After reading the definition and this book, I definitely now understand, not only it’s meaning, but it’s attraction. It can be really tempting for all of us to overlook or forgive the flaws we see in others, but where do you draw the line? What would you be willing to compromise for the love of another person?

Lucinda has created a plot that is real, raw and honest. Told from the perspective of Kate, we follow her story as she escapes the clutches of a mentally abusive partner, only to fall into the arms of one, that is in some ways a lot worse. Lucinda has done an amazing job of creating a situation, where we as the reader, can almost not just empathise, but sympathise with Kate’s lack of self esteem and self confidence. It is the way Kate tries to show the world that she has it all, but how underneath, it is her brokenness that leads her into these devastating personal relationships.

The character of Kate broke my heart. She is a good soul who has made some terrible choices in the love department. A familiar trap, I am sure, for those who want to see and believe the best in others. At times I wanted to hug and comfort her, while at others, I wanted to confront her, try to make her see sense and to believe that she deserves better. While I don’t condone some of her actions, the complexity of her character helped me understand why she did the things that she did. She is very relatable and is brought to life through the pages beautifully.

The characters of Tom and Greg on the other hand, although written well as the typical bad guy on the surface (well, let’s face it for Tom he is a bad guy through to the core!) the depth of their characters, highlights the ways in which Kate’s tendency towards Kalopsia reveals itself in her life and choices. The contradiction of what she wants to see and the human failings of who these men are, creates a complex backdrop in Kate’s quest to find love.

This is the first book I have read from Lucinda. I really enjoyed her writing style which is very engaging and emotive. At times I actually felt like I was Kate and I could feel her pain, her fear and her desperation to just be loved which is, apart from great wifi, all anyone ever wants, right? Perhaps her great writing style comes from her diverse background, I feel like she has been drawn back to the arts and writing for a reason and I look forward to reading more great work from her.

Kalopsia is a fast paced read that will draw you in and keep you hostage until the final page. From the striking cover to the believable plot, Lucinda captures the balance of Kate’s outwards strength and inner weakness beautifully. With an ending that invites you to question where Kate will go next, this has left me really hoping for more from Lucinda. I really hope she chooses to revisit Kate and share with us the next chapters of her story, (even if it is just in the form of a short story). It was an absolute pleasure to read and review Kalopsia which I highly recommend.

This review will be added to, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon Australia & Amazon US. I will also add to NetGalley, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play and Barnes & Noble if available. As I am from Australia, I am unable to add to Amazon UK, but will post to Waterstones & Foyles if also available.

Trap Door by Dreda Say Mitchell #BookReview #TrapDoor #PsychologicalSuspense @DredaMBE @Bloodhoundbook #onceuponatimebookblog

Today I am reviewing on its publication day Trap Door by Dreda Say Mitchell, published by Bloodhound Books.

Book Blurb

100 years ago young women were killed in this workplace. Is history about to repeat itself?

Rachel, a young woman in serious debt, needs to find a job fast before she’s made homeless. She gets a lucky break when she is offered a great position in a successful company. Then she discovers that the building was once a Victorian sweatshop with a tragic history. Is this why Rachel feels something increasingly sinister?

Soon her new job becomes a living nightmare. Rachel desperately wants out, but she has no other way of escaping her debts. She’s trapped. Then she makes a shocking discovery.

Haunted by the death of others and as the present and past begin to close in, Rachel needs to find answers before she finds herself in grave danger…

What is really going on in her workplace?

And can she ever escape her inner demons?

I have heard so many good things about Dreda’s books, that when I was offered an advance copy of Trap Door to read, I jumped at the chance. I was immediately drawn to the plot of this story and couldn’t wait to dive in and get underway. When I did, I was hooked right from the get-go and had trouble tearing myself away from it. Dreda wastes no time in kicking things off, which she does in spectacular fashion, with a chilling prologue that sets up the rest of the story extremely well. It is addictive, scary in some parts, downright terrifying in others and had me holding my breath and breaking out in a sweat multiple times.

There are a few characters in the book and interestingly Dreda has only used one to be the main voice of the whole story. A risky move, as I have read some books where the author has not been able to pull this off, but Dreda has created Rachel with so much depth, that she is able to carry the story on her shoulders well and keeps the readers attention for the duration. The supporting characters are well written and developed and each one has there own set of complexities and secrets to hide, which adds to the drama of the story.

This is the first book I have read from Dreda and I really enjoyed the ease of her writing that just flowed, making this is a quick and enjoyable read. She definitely knows how to get and keep the reader’s attention and she did a great job in making me feel everything that Rachel went through. Being claustrophobic, there were times when I had to take myself away from it to get my heart rate back in control, where I would then jump back into it flicking the pages on my kindle furiously as Dreda kept on building up the tension and suspense, which then lead me to the thrilling and satisfying conclusion.

Trap Door is everything and more in what I love from a psychological suspense book and even though this is only the first book I have read from Dreda, she absolutely nails this genre. With an intriguing plot and great characterisation that is all captured through engaging and visual writing, Trap Door has it all and I am really looking forward to seeing what Dreda will come up with next. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to read and review Trap Door which I highly recommend.

Thank-you to Heather Fitt from Bloodhound Books for inviting me to the publication day party and for providing me with a copy of the ebook of Trap Door which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

This review will be added to, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon Australia & Amazon US. I will also add to NetGalley, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play and Barnes & Noble if available. As I am from Australia, I am unable to add to Amazon UK, but will post to Waterstones & Foyles if also available.

She Said Three Said by David B Lyons #BookReview #SheSaidThreeSaid #CrimeThriller @TheOpenAuthor #onceuponatimebookblog

Today I am reviewing She Said Three Said by David B Lyons. This was released on the 31st of January, published by Amazon Publishing.

Book Blurb

Become a juror in the most high-profile court case of the decade

…all three men got her drunk, led her to a hotel room and took advantage of her.

…she was a willing participant and consented to sex with each of them.

But after five-weeks of listening to all of the evidence and all of the arguments in a celebrity rape trial that has gripped an entire nation, the jury sit down to begin their deliberations.

Only they don’t know who to believe…

…will you?

She Said, Three Said is one of the most provocative and thought-provoking novels of the modern era.

Some books get under your skin and stay with you long after you have read the final page. She Said Three Said, is definitely one of those books for me! The last two paragraphs to the ending of the story, are up there as the most chilling I have read and they have constantly been running through my mind in the weeks since I have finished the book! It is a first-class read that is raw, real, harrowing and thought-provoking. This one, like me, I’m sure will have you reading this in one sitting, unable to tear yourself away from it!

She Said Three Said is a powerful and compelling story that is very relevant in today’s society as the Me 2 movement has intensified. David starts off by taking the reader into the deliberations of the jury, as they examine the evidence and piece together the night in question to reach their verdict. The story then alternates from the perspectives of the four main protagonists, Sabrina, Jason, Zach and Li, as each gives us their version of what happened that night. There is also a secondary story attached that relates to an event from the past when the men were teenagers that compliments and ties into the main story well.

The main players in the story are all extremely well developed and we are given great insight into who they are, as they all take the reader hostage. It feels like you are in the story sitting in front of them as each is desperately trying to explain their version of events to get you on their side. I also enjoyed how throughout the chapters we also get to know each of the jurors and we are given an inside look at what takes place behind the scenes and how they reach their verdict.

A new author to me, David has done an outstanding job with this story and how it is structured. Although the themes used throughout are tough and are sometimes hard to read, David has handled them sensitively and extremely well. His writing is engaging and he is a master at building the intensity to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. It is a fast-paced story that had me gripped right from the start and racing through the pages, demanding that I continue to see how it was all going to unfold.

Make sure you also have a look at the video using the link provided at the end of the book where David answers readers questions and gives his thoughts on the story and the after-effects of how he thinks the outcome impacted each of the characters. It is an interesting take and well worth the watch. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to read and review She Said Three Said which is definitely a contender to be included in my top 20 books of 2020 and one that I highly recommend you add to your reading lists for this year!

This review will be added to, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon Australia & Amazon US. I will also add to NetGalley, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play and Barnes & Noble if available. As I am from Australia, I am unable to add to Amazon UK, but will post to Waterstones & Foyles if also available.

Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare Chase #BookReview #MysteryOnHiddenLane #CozyMystery #NewSeries @ClareChase_ @Bookouture #onceuponatimebookblog

Today I am reviewing Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare Chase. This was released on the 30th of January, published by Bookouture.

Book Blurb

Meet Eve Mallow: an American far from home, a professional busybody… and an amateur detective?

Seasoned obituary writer Eve Mallow has a new assignment: to tell the life story of famed musician Bernard Fitzpatrick. A chance to spend a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus and meeting new people sounds like a dream. But it turns out that Bernard’s life was much less interesting than his death. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the charismatic cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret?

As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled a few feathers. In fact, from the keepers of the Cross Keys Inn to his own staff at High House, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers a cold-blooded killer?

Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve becomes certain that one of the people she’s met must be the murderer. She has never done any detective work before… but is there something in her notes that can crack the case?

The first installment in the Eve Mallow series, Mystery on Hidden Lane is a fun read to lose yourself in, while curled up in bed with a nice cuppa and some digestive biscuits. This Aussie girl is fast becoming a Brit and that suits me just fine! I was lost in the moment, caught up in the goings-on in the village of Saxford St Peter and felt that I was there alongside Eve and her beautiful dachshund Gus and read this in one sitting.

Clare has crafted a plot that sees obituary writer Eve Mallow head to the village of Saxford St Peter to tell the life story of famed musician Bernard Fitzpatrick after his death. It appears to be straightforward, but when she arrives, the town is abuzz with the news that the cause of death of Bernard Fitzpatrick was not of natural causes but was indeed murder! As Eve learns more about Bernard and the villager’s dislike of him, it soon becomes apparent that one of the townsfolk may have something to do with his murder.

I really enjoyed the character of Eve Mallow. It was nice to read a story where the main protagonist did not have anything to do with the police. Don’t get me wrong, I love police procedurals, but this was a refreshing change. I look forward to reading more of her in future books. Being the fanatical dog lover that I am, it goes without saying that Gus stole my heart and was the perfect companion for Eve. The secondary characters that are made up of the villagers were all extremely well written and brought the town to life beautifully.

I love the ease of Clare’s writing style. I found it to be engaging, emotive and descriptive which for me was perfect as Clare laid the foundation for this new series. Mystery on Hidden Lane is a great cozy mystery with some fantastic twists that are all wrapped up in a satisfying conclusion.

It was an absolute pleasure to be able to read and review Mystery on Hidden Lane which I highly recommend and is definitely a contender for my best books of 2020 (If all you authors keep delivering such amazing material this year, my top 20 is going to look a lot more like a top 100!).

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture and Clare Chase for allowing me to read an advanced copy of Mystery on Hidden Lane, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

This review will be added to, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon Australia & Amazon US. I will also add to NetGalley, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play and Barnes & Noble if available. As I am from Australia, I am unable to add to Amazon UK, but will post to Waterstones & Foyles if also available.

Till Morning is Nigh by Rob Parker #BookReview #CrimeThriller #Series @robparkerauthor @lume_books #onceuponatimebookblog

Today I am reviewing Till Morning is Nigh by Rob Parker. This was released on the 14th of December 2020, published by Lume Books.

Book Blurb

Dragged half dead from a river, Ben Bracken, fugitive ex-soldier, is in a bad way.

But, too valuable to discard and too dangerous to set free, an old friend offers him a choice: abandon his identity and become a desk-bound advisor to the National Crime Agency, or go back to the prison he broke out of – a place where he is extremely unpopular.

Bracken is forced to accept – and he’s becoming a different man.

But all this changes when, days before Christmas, an undercover narcotics officer is murdered in horrific circumstances, and only Bracken has the inside track on the key suspect. Throwing himself into the fray, Bracken finds himself in a very present-day ideological conflict, uncovering a plot which has huge implications for both Manchester’s political, socio-economic landscape, and the nation at large – coming to an explosive conclusion amidst the twinkling fairy lights and frost-tipped boughs of Christmas Eve…

Step aside Jack Reacher, Ben Bracken is back and he is better than ever! Since being introduced to Ben in The Penny Black last year, I was eagerly and impatiently awaiting the next installment. I am happy to report that, Till Morning is Nigh was worth the wait and I was not disappointed. It is gripping, intense and is filled with so much action, it moves along quicker than Lewis Hamilton in a formula one race! Unfortunately though, I have yet to go back and read the first two installments, but if they are anything like the 3rd and 4th books, I am definitely missing out! I have now purchased these, so I do hope to rectify this mishap on my part ASAP.

When we last left off with Ben, things weren’t looking so great for him, but in true Ben Bracken form, nothing can keep him down for long. Faced with two options, either to change his identity, or return to the prison that he escaped from, Ben has no choice but to become someone else and he accepts a position as an advisor to the National Crime Agency. It isn’t long though before he is back in the thick of it when an undercover narcotics officer is murdered. This is when Ben is called upon for his help to solve the crime that takes him back to the epicenter of Manchester’s criminal underworld and where the story then really takes off!

It was so good to catch up with Ben again and I really enjoyed how this time around we see a more vulnerable side to him when he is faced with the unthinkable. I still enjoyed his edginess though which he doesn’t lose in this story and this just adds to his appeal. He is imperfectly perfect and as the lead of an action series, he is one of the best male characters that I have come across. I also enjoyed seeing him working as part of a team this time which is something new for him. For the other characters in the story, Rob has created a mix of likable and unlikeable ones that balance things out and each one plays the role that they have been given extremely well.

What I love most about Rob’s writing is how effortless it is. Everything flows as it should, which makes for an easier and more enjoyable read. There is nothing worse than when as a reader you just want to be immersed in the story, but the author makes it too complicated and hard to follow along. Not a problem here, Rob makes everything so clear and easy to follow the strands of the story. Being only the second book I have read from him, I am impressed with how he manages to build the tension and suspense while keeping you on the edge of your seat wondering how it is all going to come together.

Till Morning is Nigh is a great addition to the series and one that will have you hooked and held captive until the end. A tightly woven gripping plot set against the backdrop of the festive season and great characters that are all brought to life perfectly through flawless writing, this book has it all and I can’t wait to see what Rob has in store for my favourite leading man next! It was an absolute pleasure to be able to read and review Till Morning is Nigh, which I highly recommend.

This review will be added to, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon Australia & Amazon US. I will also add to NetGalley, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play and Barnes & Noble if available. As I am from Australia, I am unable to add to Amazon UK, but will post to Waterstones & Foyles if also available.