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One Year Later by Sanjida Kay

A year ago, Amy lost her daughter Ruby-May in a terrible accident. With the anniversary of her death looming, the family decide to go on holiday, away from the scene of the incident, to a place where, they hope, they can begin to heal the rifts that have happened since their loss. It soon becomes apparent, however, that all is not quite what it seems and there is at least one person hiding something that could change their perception of what exactly happened one year ago. Just exactly who caused Ruby-May’s death and what other secrets have been concealed over the years?

The tone is set from the very start when what seems to be the body of a woman is discovered. For the majority of the book, this is not mentioned, leaving me wondering who is was and how it fit in with the tragic death of Ruby-May one year earlier. By the time this is, again, referenced, we are aware that there is, indeed, a lot more to Ruby-May’s death than we realised and there has been a huge cover up to stop the real guilty party from coming to light.

We read the story from the perspectives of Amy, Ruby-May’s mum, and Nick, the dead girl’s uncle. Their grief is portrayed in different ways and was definitely one of the strengths of the book. In Amy, we see real visceral grief, struggling to come to terms with the death of her youngest child while trying to keep going for the sake of her two other children. The scene where she realises how much she neglected them in the weeks following the death was truly heartbreaking, more so because of the way the children dealt with the terrible situation.

Nick displayed his grief in a different way as he has been carrying around the guilt of not being there when Ruby-May died. His head full of ‘what ifs’, it is understandable why he is intent on trying to heal his family’s rifts, even if his good intentions often result in more unrest.

While it is obvious that the official version of the accident is not correct, and that there has definitely been a conspiracy of silence, I did not predict the ending. This is one of those books where you realise that you have been drip fed information throughout the plot, and the ending is completely in-keeping with what you have read. The several references to Dante’s The Divine Comedy are also very apt, with salvation and repentance being running themes in both texts.

I really enjoyed One Year Later and I thank Readers First and Corvus Books for my copy.

Take a look at my review of My Mother’s Secret, one of Sanjida Kay’s earlier books.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin

Jenny and Kath were childhood friends, always together. When Jenny moved to Australia to further her swimming career, she not only lost touch with Kath but also Tom, the love of her life. Now eight years later, Jenny has made the journey to France where Kath is now living, keen to catch up on all of their lost years. After a pleasant start, things soon begin to change and Jenny starts to suspect that Kath has not been the friend she thought she was. Just how manipulative has she been and what exactly does she have in store for Jenny?

The Good Friend has a plot that many people could relate to. In the days before social media, it was easy to lose touch with people you had spent your school years with, only to wonder what had become of them. For Jenny, with her successful swimming career taking her to the other side of the world, she has not had contact with her childhood friends for many years. Now, after becoming tired of spending all her waking hours in the pool, she has decided to rekindle past friendships. From the outset, we see her wondering if she has made the right decision, her father’s words making her think that Kath is not the friend she thought she was.

We soon see how controlling Kath is, and it is apparent that all is definitely not right with her. As much as I liked Jenny, I was desperate for her to get away from the house as there was a definite sense of foreboding. Kath, I found, a very complex character, although we are not fully aware of how duplicitous she has actually been. I enjoyed the slow-moving plot as it gave me a chance to build my own suspicions and try to determine what the outcome would be. Although some of my theories did prove to be correct, I did not predict the shocking ending at all, and was totally taken aback by what happened!

The French setting helped to create a very claustrophobic atmosphere for Jenny who found herself drawn in to the locality. Jo Baldwin’s description painted a vivid picture of the Languedoc lavender fields, their beauty a stark contrast to the tension and uneasiness of all of the main characters.

It is hard to say too much about The Good Friend without giving too much of the plot away, but what I will say is that I thoroughly enjoyed it and, towards then end in particular, found it increasingly difficult to put down. A great debut!

With thanks to Anna at Red Door for my copy of The Good Friend.

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

 

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Remember Me by D. E. White

Returning to the village of her youth when she discovers that her ex, and father of her child, is dying, Detective Ava Cole soon finds herself reminded of a dark time from her past. Fifteen years ago, Ava’s best friend, Ellen, disappeared from the woods, never to be seen again. Somebody knows the truth and now, with the reappearance of Ava, questions are being asked: just what did happen to Ellen on that fateful night?

Told from two perspectives – the present and fifteen years ago – it soon becomes apparent that the whereabouts of Ellen is not the mystery; the circumstances behind her disappearance is. We meet a group of friends who each have their own secrets to hide, but who exactly is responsible for what happened to Ellen? The young characters are, on the whole, not a likeable bunch, their drug experimentation and promiscuity helping to muddy the waters as to what happened on that fateful night.

From the messages that Ava is receiving, we know that there is at least one untrustworthy character amongst the two friends, but who? I enjoyed the chapters written by the unknown person, and liked how clues were dropped in slowly until you knew who it was. By this point, I had already worked this out, but I was still taken aback when the truth was finally revealed. The book definitely took a sinister turn at this point and helped me to see some of the characters in a different light.

I found Remember Me quite a slow-paced read until I reached the halfway point and then I could not put it down. The tension definitely ramped up as all of the sub-plots tied together, the story ending with a satisfying and plausible conclusion.

Remember Me is a lesson in how we often don’t always know what those closest to us are doing and is certainly worth a read.

With thanks to Isabel Smith, HQ Digital and Net Galley for my ARC. Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Lisa is protective of her daughter, Ava. Maybe over-protective. That’s what Ava thinks anyway. All Ava wants to do is spend time with her friends doing the sort of things other teenage girls do. She has a secret, though, and it is one that spells danger. Lisa, on the other hand, prefers to keep herself to herself, classing Marilyn, a work colleague, as her only friend. Both of these women also have secrets but which of them has a secret so dark that its discovery could change the life of everyone forever?

Sarah Pinborough’s previous book, Behind Her Eyes, was one of last year’s most talked about books, partly due to the #WTFthatending hashtag that was all over social media. It was a book that certainly divided opinion but as someone who really enjoyed it, I was excited to see what Sarah would come up with next.

Lisa and Marilyn are all incredibly flawed characters and it was easy to see how they found themselves drawn towards each other. While Marilyn’s secret is not too difficult to figure out, Lisa’s is truly shocking and not one I saw coming at all. This reveal turned the book on its head and made me question everything I had read. It is hard to say too much without giving away the plot but it is very clever writing from Sarah Pinborough to make you like and loathe a character at the same time.

Ava’s story was probably the one that disturbed me the most as, from the start, there was a sense of foreboding as she communicated with an unknown ‘friend’ on Facebook. Although it was inevitable that this liaison would come to no good, it was not in the way I expected. Another clever piece of writing that, once again, highlights the dangers of social media.

While Cross Her Heart does not make you gasp in the same way as Behind Her Eyes, there are definitely enough twists and turns to keep you guessing due to all of the secrets being kept by the three main protagonists. I loved how the author dropped in a bit of information almost in a blasé fashion, making me wonder if I’d somehow missed a bit of the plot, only for it to be addressed later.

Cross Her Heart is a great read. With thanks to Harper Collins UK and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

If He Wakes by Zoe Lea

51zNl-mP6eLWhen Rachel discovers a message on Twitter arranging an assignation, she comes to the conclusion that her husband is having an affair. Deciding to follow him, what she witnesses is something much worse: her husband’s car involved in a hit and run. Meanwhile, Suzie,  Rachel’s business partner and friend, has problems of her own. She has not heard from her fiance in days and on discovering that huge debts have been racked up in her name, she assumes that he has left her, taking the money with him. Her view changes, though, when threatening calls begin to arrive. Has something terrible happened to him? With both friends not knowing if they can trust their partners, will they also be able to trust each other?

How well do you really know your partner? This is a question that both of the main characters ask themselves as their lives slowly crumble around them. Rachel appears to have the perfect life with a loving husband and children and a business about to take off, All of this is turned on its head, however, when she reads the Twitter message and witnesses the hit and run. Her husband denies all knowledge, but is he telling the truth? I could really sympathize with Rachel as she struggled to come to terms with what she was discovering, and felt that Zoe Lea’s writing conveyed her trauma perfectly.

With regards to Suzie, the alarm bells were ringing right from the start. Her fiance, Adam, had apparently disappeared, taking all of their money with him. As soon as we realise that he’d managed to avoid any meetings with Suzie’s friend, Rachel, and worked away from home frequently, it was obvious that he was not the man she thought he was. Unlike Rachel, Suzie was prepared to give Adam the benefit of the doubt even though the evidence was screaming her in the face.

It was inevitable that the two stories would eventually collide and that there would be a connection. Whereas part of it was pretty easy to figure out, when I realised the full extent of one of the character’s wrongdoings, it was a huge shock. This was a great twist and not something I saw coming. I could also now understand the actions of another of the characters and my perception of them changed completely. I felt that the ending was realistic and very fitting to the plot.

If He Wakes definitely kept me entertained and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a quick, mysterious read.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

 

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