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The Last To Disappear By Jo Spain

The Last To Disappear‘The Last To Disappear’ is the latest book by Jo Spain.

When young London professional Alex Evans is informed that his sister’s body has been pulled from an icy lake in Northern Lapland, he assumes his irresponsible sister accidentally drowned. He travels to the wealthy winter resort where Vicky worked as a tour-guide and meets Agatha Koskinen, the detective in charge. Agatha is a no-nonsense single mother of three who already thinks there’s more to Vicky’s case than meets the eye. As the two form an unlikely alliance, Alex also begins to suspect the small town where his sister lived and died is harbouring secrets. It’s not long before he learns that three other women have gone missing from the area in the past and that his sister may have left him a message.

The latest book by Jo Spain is a dark and intense story set against the backdrop of the snowy slopes of Koppe, Lapland and this makes for atmospheric and chilling reading.

The story begins with the tragic death of Vicky Evans, a young woman who was found drowned. Detective Agatha Koskinen has been called in to solve the case. When Alex Evans finds out the sudden death of his sister, he lives England and finds himself becoming Agatha’s sidekick as he’s determined to find his sister’s killer. In doing this, Alex has to delve into his sister’s life and learn a side to her that as a brother, he never wanted to know. Whilst Agatha is trying to find Vicky’s killer, there’s still the unsolved disappearances of the three women who disappeared over the years.

The story is written in the past and present tense, the present tense is the investigation of Vicky’s death whilst the past tense is set in 1998, at the time of the first disappearance.

For fans of Nordic-Noir, this book ticks all the boxes. It’s gritty, claustrophobic and filled with suspicious characters. The story is beautifully descriptive from the chilling and eerie landscape that sets the tone perfectly in this thriller. What’s interesting about the story is the location which is Lapland, the homeland connected to Santa Claus and even though it’s described as a winter wonderland, this book is a far from a wonderland!

Agatha is an interesting detective determined to find the killer all whilst dealing with her own personal problems. Alex feels guilty about having an estranged relationship with Vicky and hopes finding the killer and bringing them to justice will ease his conscience.

Intense from the first page and wonderfully atmospheric, Jo has delivered a chilling thriller that made for gripping reading. Packed with drama, twists and turns ‘The Last To Disappear’ made for exciting reading.

You can buy ‘The Last To Disappear’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The No Show By Beth O’Leary

The No Show‘The No-Show’ is the latest book by Beth O’Leary.

Three women. Three dates. One missing man. 8.52 a.m. Siobhan is looking forward to her breakfast date with Joseph. She was surprised when he suggested it – she normally sees him late at night in her hotel room. Breakfast on Valentine’s Day surely means something … so where is he? 2.43 p.m. Miranda’s hoping that a Valentine’s Day lunch with Carter will be the perfect way to celebrate her new job. It’s a fresh start and a sign that her life is falling into place: she’s been dating Carter for five months now and things are getting serious. But why hasn’t he shown up? 6.30 p.m. Joseph Carter agreed to be Jane’s fake boyfriend at an engagement party. They’ve not known each other long but their friendship is fast becoming the brightest part of her new life in Winchester. Joseph promised to save Jane tonight. But he’s not here. Meet Joseph Carter. That is, if you can find him.

Beth is back with another thought provoking, warm and charming story that gripped my attention this weekend.

The story is seen from the narrative of three women, Jane, Siobhan and Miranda who all have one thing in common, they all know a man called Joseph Carter. All women are completely different in personalities and situations, Jane is a quiet, meek woman who volunteers at a charity shop, she keeps to herself, living a life of routine and living her messy past behind, Siobhan is a fiery Irish woman who’s a life coach and travels to London every month for work whilst Miranda is a tree surgeon, enjoys working amongst a team of men. All three women are all falling for Joseph with his charms and good looks, until one day he doesn’t show up and they all wonder what’s Joseph Carter’s story.

The story flows between the three women during a period of time and it really does make for fascinating reading as the three of them interact unaware of their connection with Joseph. I loved reading how each one of them were affected by Joseph and the huge differences he made to their lives.

The mixture of personalities and scenarios made this story a joy to curl up with. Beth has written another brilliant multi-layered story that is poignant, rich in humour and packed with relatable characters. The various narratives weave beautifully together, bringing the story to a tidy conclusion that really warmed my heart.

‘The No-Show’ is another beautifully written story. From the first page, Beth has delivered a story that will make you cry, swoon and your heart ache about love, friendship and new beginnings.

You can buy ‘The No-Show’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Anything Could Happen By Lucy Diamond

Anything Could Happen‘Anything Could Happen’ is the latest book by Lucy Diamond.

For Lara and her daughter Eliza, it has always been just the two of them. But when Eliza turns eighteen and wants to connect with her father, Lara is forced to admit a secret that she has been keeping from her daughter her whole life.

Eliza needs answers – and so does Lara. Their journey to the truth will take them on a road trip across England and eventually to New York, where it all began. Dreams might have been broken and opportunities missed, but there are still surprises in store…

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by Lucy, so it was lovely to kick off my first review of 2022 of new book.

The story is written through the perspectives of mother and daughter, Lara and Eliza and unknown father Ben and his equally surprised wife, Kirsten. Eliza has always wondered about her father and why he wasn’t part of her life and her journey leads her to Ben, who had a one night stand with Lara but if fate had not intervened, the three might have been a family unit instead of strangers. As the trio try to deal with this discovery, Kirsten who has always wanted children has to deal with becoming an outsider and puts her own needs first for a change.

I loved this story, its warm, lively with interesting and relatable characters that I was immediately able to sink into and enjoy.

The story is primarily written in the present moment, but there are scenes of Ben and Lara’s first meeting against the bright lights and vibrancy of New York. It’s evident that there is an attraction to each other with plans to meet up again only for it never to happen. As the story progresses, neither of their lives have turned out how they expected. Instead of being a fashion writer, Lara is a driving instructor and Ben is looking at maps of the world instead of travelling it. Their daughter Eliza is a brilliant character, full of spirit with a quick tongue and longs to have her parents together.

The story is one of adjustment and finding your path in life, whether it’s becoming a parent to a 19 year old, changing careers or simply putting your needs before others and I loved this about the book.

A stunning story filled with hope, new family and new beginnings, ‘Anything Could Happen’ is a beautifully written story that flowed at a lovely pace that was a joy to read.

You can buy ‘Anything Could Happen’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

My Best Friend’s Secret By Emily Freud

My Best Friend's Secret‘My Best Friend’s Secret’ is the debut book by Emily Freud.

Kate Sullivan has a beautiful home, a job she loves and a handsome fiancé: all she’d ever dreamed of since getting sober and painstakingly piecing her life back together. But a chance encounter with her old best friend Becky threatens Kate’s newfound and fragile happiness. Kate remembers nothing of their last drunken night out, the night Becky broke off their friendship without warning or explanation. With Becky back in her life, Kate is desperate to make amends for the past. For the closure she craves, Kate needs to know what she did that ruined everything. But what if the truth is worse than Kate could have imagined?

If you’re looking for an exhilarating thriller, then look no further as this book is everything a good thriller should be. Tense, intriguing and packed with dislikable characters that keeps the reader on their toes.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Kate, a recovering alcoholic who’s celebrating 6 years sober, looking forward to marrying her fiancée Ben and enjoying her rewarding job as an English teacher. Her life is great until her former best friend Becky comes back into her life and with that brings back uncertainty, insecurity and memories of a life that she’d like to leave behind.

Right from the first page, this book gripped my attention. Kate is a fascinating protagonist who’s flawed from her previous life and battles not to return to her old ways. Her sponsor Clare is always there to help her as well as is Ben who’s been her rock and helped her recover her confidence in herself. When Becky returns, Kate finds herself questioning her old life and Becky’s sudden return as they had parted on bad terms. But she takes Becky in as a housemate, she notices a shift in the dynamics of relationship including Ben’s.

From the first page, there’s an underlying sense of tension to the story that made me read the book faster. I’m surprised I didn’t give myself paper-cuts with the speed that I raced through the pages! The characters are fascinating mix of personalities, all damaged and flawed in their own ways, battling addictions and insecurity. Kate is a kind character who as a teacher finds herself connecting with Lily, a young girl who’s on a similar path as Kate was and Kate is determined for her life to be better and not to waste it like she did.

A cleverly crafted story that made for suspenseful and dark reading, ‘My Best Friend’s Secret’ is a twisted and sordid story about secrets and lies with a fascinating protagonist that leaves you hooked at every turn.

You can buy ‘My Best Friend’s Secret’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

All I Want For Christmas By Joanna Bolouri

All I Want For Christmas‘All I Want For Christmas’ is the latest book by Joanna Bolouri.

When Nick loses his job and is dumped by his glamorous but demanding girlfriend, he is forced to grudgingly accept work as a Santa at a local Christmas grotto. As his friends are getting married or promoted, Nick spends his days being terrorised by unfriendly elves and cried on by snotty, spoiled children. Then he meets 4-year-old Alfie. All Alfie wants for Christmas is for his mum, Sarah, to be happy again. Moved by the boy’s selfless wish, Nick arranges a date between Sarah and his best friend, Matt. But as Sarah and Alfie become part of all their lives, Nick realises that happiness for Sarah and Matt might mean heartbreak for himself.

When it comes to great comical writers with implacable timing and great dialogue, I wholeheartedly rank Joanna Bolouri in that category.

Having read her previous books such as ‘The List’ and ‘Relight My Fire’, I was keen to read her latest festive book called ‘All I Want For Christmas’, as I knew it would lift me out of my reading slump and I was delighted to be right.

The story is seen through the narrative of Nick, who loses his high powered job just on the mouth of Christmas. Unable to find a job, he decides to take on the role of Santa Claus at the local shopping centre. Not the greatest fan of children but proving to be a natural, Nick embraces the job promising the latest toys, but finds himself in a quandary when one of the children asks for his mother to be happy for his Christmas present.

Nick literally takes the task to hand even though, he finds himself attracted to Sarah, the mother of Alfie and decides that setting her up with his best friend Matt.

The story follows the course of the year as Matt and Sarah become a couple, whilst Nick watches on from the sidelines and realises that Sarah is the perfect woman for him and begins to see Alfie as a surrogate son.

Everything about this story is simply perfect, the characters, the plot line as well as the witty dialogue between the characters. I loved Nick, he’s kind, warmhearted and such a giving person putting other needs before his own. Even though, he feels drawn to Sarah, he still believes that Matt can offer her more and watches from the sidelines as he slowly falls in love with her. Also Alfie, Sarah’s little boy was adorable in his sweetness and his primary concern was his mother’s happiness, since his father had died.

The story is filled with hilarious moments with funny one liners as well as the crazy situations that Nick found himself in. But as well as the humour in the story, there’s also an element of poignancy and grief as both Nick and Sarah have to deal with losses and how grief is particularly hard at Christmas.

Witty and heartwarming from the first page, ‘All I Want For Christmas’ is a festive bundle of love and fun that will you creasing up with laughter throughout.