Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain | Review

Book Synopsis

FROM THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE CONFESSION AND CO-WRITER OF RTE ONE’S TAKEN DOWN

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

The new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of The Confession, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty.

Advance Praise

See what everyone is saying about Jo Spain, the hottest new name in psychological thrillers:

‘Enthralling’ JP Delaney

‘Chilling’ Sunday Times

‘Arresting’ Sunday Express

‘Brilliant’ BA Paris

‘Gripping’ Best

‘Compulsive’ Sunday Mirror

‘Addictive’ Michelle Frances

‘Refreshing’ Express

My Thoughts

I was very keen to read “Dirty Little Secrets” by Jo Spain as I have never read anything by this author before, despite having heard about some of her work and thought I would take this opportunity to do just that. As someone who enjoys a great thriller, I’m always on the lookout for new authors, to me anyway, in this genre!

This fascinating psychological thriller takes the notion of a country manor house style mystery with a closed setting and therefore few potential perpetrators and moves it to a present-day Irish gated community. I felt, from a nostalgic point of view, that it was reminiscent of a Midsomer Murders scenario.

In the novel, there was no lack of possible motive such as perversion, intrigue or, of course, adultery. Jo Spain has written this novel with chapters alternating between each of the characters who are suspected of being involved in Olive’s passing, and of Olive herself who showed her true colours as the story continued. I absolutely delighted in this dark, conversational insight into living within a gated community. 

This is a fast-paced, well-written book with some very intriguing, though not particularly likeable characters that I would expect to find in a good thriller. I don’t think I liked any of the characters at all, apart from the police double act, Frank and Emma and their humorous rapport, but that took nothing away from my enjoyment of reading “Dirty Little Secrets.”

It was easy to read with an absorbing plot that kept my interest throughout, with a fulfilling conclusion that I didn’t predict. It was a thoroughly entertaining novel and well worth reading. I enjoyed “Dirty Little Secrets” so much and I’m hoping to read Jo Spain’s ‘Inspector Tom Reynolds’ series soon. 

For me, this is a highly recommended and well deserved 2019 winner for Jo Spain!

Thanks to NetGalley, Quercus Books and the author, Jo Spain, for my free ARC of Dirty Little Secrets in exchange for an honest review.

[#NetGalley #DirtyLittleSecrets]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

Happy Reading!

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The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth | Review

Book Synopsis

A twisty, compelling new novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in death…

From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.

It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.

Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?

Fractured relationships and deep family secrets grow more compelling with every page in this twisty, captivating new novel from Sally Hepworth.

Praise for Sally Hepworth: 

“With jaw-dropping discoveries, and realistic consequences, this novel is not to be missed. Perfect for lovers of Big Little Lies.” —Library Journal, starred review

“Hepworth deftly keeps the reader turning pages and looking for clues, all the while building multilayered characters and carefully doling out bits of their motivations.” —Booklist

My Thoughts

If you enjoy a good family saga then you might want to read Sally Hepworth’s latest novel. This is my first time of reading a book by this author and I was not disappointed! “The Mother-in-Law” brings to life an incredible family account of greed and betrayal.

This book, set in Australia, has many of the components that make a really good story: from the mood and undercurrents to the very clever writing and the experience of deep family secrets and fractured relationships, not forgetting the feelings of hope, the fear, the utter desperation and failure.

“The Mother-in-Law” focuses on Lucy’s fractious relationship with her husband’s mother, Diana. Lucy has married Ollie, who is from a wealthy family, dominated by the matriarch.

From the very first chapter, I found myself immediately drawn in, following the grave news of Diana’s death, the circumstances of which were being treated as suspicious by the police. Her death had the appearance of suicide due to the presence of a note, but then became a matter slightly more deceiving. Diana, inclined to be rather aloof, left behind her husband Tom, son Ollie and daughter Nettie, not to mention her impressive estate…

This story is told from dual perspectives – Lucy’s and Diana’s – in the present with flashbacks to the past. Sally Hepworth has drawn a great character in Lucy, the outsider, trying hard to please her mother-in-law, to be accepted into her husband’s family, only to repeatedly fall short of the mark.

Sally Hepworth has also done a brilliant job with her portrayal of Diana and this really complements the story for me. Diana was not simply a typical mother-in-law mischief-maker; she was a person with many attributes – mother, wife, friend, daughter and do-gooder. Some of her drive was quite understandable which made it difficult for me to completely scorn her. As past and present merged it  became clear that nobody in the family really knew or understood each other.

One of my favourite aspects of this novel was the fluidity of Sally Hepworth’s writing. She managed to provide the details and twists of the plot without messing with the tone of the storyline. Each brilliantly executed chapter left me with a compelling need to read on.

For me, “The Mother-in-Law” was a tale of dramatic suspense but also one of deep reflection. At times, it made me dwell on my own family relationships and dynamics, especially those of the past. This novel definitely leaves you in a reflective mood, both during and after the story ended.

The book definitely has a strong mystery element, culminating in a thrilling and fulfilling ending. I really enjoyed it and I would certainly recommend it. This novel has left an impression on me and I will be reading more from Sally Hepworth. She has now become an author to watch out for!

Thanks to NetGalley, St Martin’s Press and the author, Sally Hepworth, for my free ARC of The Mother-in-Law in exchange for an honest review.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Tales From Nature: Ladybug by Magali Attiogbé | Review

Book Synopsis

Join ladybug as she helps gardeners with their aphids and camouflages herself from a swooping bird. But where should she hide her little eggs? Introducing nature to little ones, Tales From Nature provides simple, entertaining story-lines with an animal character as the focus. Bright and colourful illustrations are sure to engage young children as they learn about each animal’s day, from a cute description, to what it eats, and where it lives. Simple, engaging text explains nature in a playful way for little ones. Each page includes a window or a flap to encourage children to read on and discover more.

My Thoughts

This colourful and delightful, little book introduces very young readers to the life-cycle, appearance and eating of a ladybird. The text is straight-forward and easy to understand for small ones and it is nicely complemented by modern, strong artwork. It is sweet, pleasing and positively told with its bright and eye-catching colours and smiling, happy creatures. This book would be a great addition to a family library.

{Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group for the free ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.}

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

Happy Reading!