Tag Archives: thriller

Forbidden by Feather Stone

I have received a free e-copy of the book Forbidden by Feather Stone to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Forbidden by Feather Stone

Here is the book blurb.

Year 2047, City of Samarra, capital of the Republic of Islamic Provinces & Territories

Fifteen American travelers have vanished. Surrendering to Mayor Aamir’s demands, a devout Muslim and police captain becomes the reluctant keeper of his city’s bloody secret – and the witness, Eliza MacKay. Captain Sharif is horrified to discover that if he exposes the cover-up, his family will suffer dire consequences.

The CIA has the lying Sharif in their cross hairs. Sharif’s only hope is to prove his country’s government is free of guilt. Secretly, he hunts forensic evidence. Cryptic messages, backstabbing informants, and corruption threaten Sharif’s resolve to see justice served. When he discovers the shocking truth, he and MacKay become the targets of a ruthless killer.

Sharif is tortured by his attraction to the impetuous Eliza MacKay. In spite of her struggle with PTSD, he’s drawn to her vivacious personality. Islam forbids the intimacy he craves. In desperation to save Eliza, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.

The book starts with a couple of flashbacks to 2013 and 2020 to set the scene. We then meet Canadian paramedic Eliza who has just arrived in the Middle East at Samarra airport in RIPT and is waiting for the rest of the volunteer team to arrive from the US. Eliza has suffered with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) for 4 years since being the sole survivor of her family when a tanker crashed into her car.

The team then set off in their bus with a police escort but it is a trap. There is a massacre. Somehow Eliza survives and is then under the police protection of Captain Hashim Sharif. When the Police Chief and Mayor arrive, they insist on a cover-up and Sharif, a devout Muslim, is forced against his will to keep Eliza hidden in his apartment. Over the days they begin to bond.

In his investigations, Sharif discovers that the killers were supposed to have killed him too. But things get worse. With the CIA on their way, Sharif is ordered to execute Eliza, else his family will be in danger. What will Sharif do and who are the killers?

When asked to review this book, I had been initially concerned that it wouldn’t be my kind of thing, as it is set in 2047 and in general, I’m not a huge fan of futuristic reads. But I was proved wrong. I really enjoyed this book.

Forbidden is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.56 in paperback or £2.40 in Kindle format. A gripping read which had me on the edge of my seat.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Remnants by Carolyn Arnold

I have received a free e-copy of the book Remnants by bestselling author Carolyn Arnold to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Remnants by Carolyn Arnold

Here is the book blurb.

All that remains are whispers of the past…

When multiple body parts are recovered from the Little Ogeechee River in Savannah, Georgia, local law enforcement calls in FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team to investigate. But with the remains pointing to three separate victims, this isn’t proving to be an open-and-shut case.

With no quick means of identifying the deceased, building a profile of this serial killer is more challenging than usual. How are these targets being selected? Why are their limbs being severed and their bodies mutilated? And what is it about them that is triggering this person to murder?

The questions compound as the body count continues to rise, and when a torso painted blue and missing its heart is found, the case takes an even darker turn. But this is only the beginning, and these new leads draw the FBI into a creepy psychological nightmare. One thing is clear, though: The killing isn’t going to stop until they figure it all out. And they are running out of time…

This is book 6 in the series featuring FBI agent Brandon Fisher. I had worried whether it would work as a stand-alone book, as a few of my recent reads have left me confused as to what happened in previous books. But no such problem this time, although there were hints like one of the agents having almost been killed last summer. I’m sure that must have featured in an earlier book.

The FBI agents leave loved ones behind on Valentine’s day to fly to Savannah to investigate where human limb remains have been discovered in the river from three victims. A phone is found nearby. DNA will take far too long, so they start by interviewing those who found the remains. First suspect on their list is ex-plantation employee Jesse Holt who was sacked for using an outbuilding for gutting fish. The phone is identified as belonging to Stanley Gilbert whose wife has reported him missing yesterday. Potential victim or suspect? And is there a link to old crimes in Michigan? More remains are found in the river, this time a torso painted blue and missing its heart and a skull. Very creepy.

Meanwhile we see the killer torturing his next victim, by cutting out his tongue. How are the FBI going to find out who is the killer? And that’s all I’m going to say.

Remnants is available on Amazon, currently priced at £13.04 in paperback or £4.45 in Kindle format. A very dark read but certainly gripping. And you may download a sample here.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne to review.

The Horse's Arse by Laura Gascoigne

Here is the book blurb.

Patrick Phelan is an ageing artist who has never made it big but who somehow manages to live on air in a North London suburb.

When not running art classes for amateurs, Patrick wrestles in the shed at the bottom of his garden with his life’s work: a series of visionary canvases of The Seven Seals.

When his wheeler-dealer son Marty turns up with a commission from a rich client for some copies of paintings by modern masters, Phelan reluctantly agrees; it means money for his ex-wife Moira. However the deal with Marty is, typically, not what it seems.

What follows is a complex chain of events involving fakery, fraud, kidnapping, murder, the Russian Mafia and a cast of dubious art world characters. A contemporary spin on Joyce Cary’s classic satire The Horse’s Mouth, The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne is a crime thriller-cum-comic-fable that poses the serious question: where does art go from here?

Although enjoyable, I found the first few chapters very disjointed as the scene gets set. The book starts with Pat in the shed at the bottom of his garden, painting a copy of a Degas. We then meet Pat’s son Martin with art dealer James Duval who is researching for a lost painting. Pat also teaches an amateur art class called the Blue Orangers in his shed. What a lovely name. Pat then earns another £3000 copying a Derain in between working on his own series The Seven Seals.

There were lots of other characters to come to grips with from the art world and I kept getting confused. Gallery directors, auctioneers, art journalists, art critics, even a police art expert, etc. But the story packs a lot in besides the fake paintings – burglary, murder, kidnapping, romance between Daniel and Yasmin who are on the trail to work out what is going on.

The Horse’s Arse is available for pre-order on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A nice story, but you do need to concentrate, as it is so busy.


An extract from Chapter XXXII of The Horse’s Arse, where art magazine editor Fay Lacey-Piggott has just discovered that her young intern Daniel Colvin has made a sensational scoop.  

“By 7pm the preview for RDV’s Boegemann sale would be in full swing, but Fay Lacey-Piggott – the woman known in the trade as Network Southeast for her dedication to social linkage – was still at her desk. The joke was unfair on Fay, who was a lot more punctual, although tonight she’d be missing the speeches and perhaps, in these times of austerity, even the champagne.

To be perfectly honest, she wasn’t that bothered. She’d seen it all where Boegemann was concerned – there were only so many shades of grey a girl could take – and any VIPs who turned up to this evening’s reception would have been at the State exhibition a few months before.

Been there, done that. So the little black dress she had collected from the dry cleaners that morning was still hanging on the back of her office door, its plastic cover bloating in the air from the fan heater she had switched on against the autumn chill.

Outside Fay’s office window it was spitting with rain. Inside, the editor’s mouse scurried over the face of her hot pink Marilyn mouse mat, whiskers twitching with unusual nervous excitement.

She’d been right about Daniel. This was dynamite. Suddenly it all made sense; the story held water. But could Marquette run it? That was the question.”


About Laura Gascoigne

Currently living in Hampstead, North London, Laura Gascoigne has worked as an art journalist for over twenty years, editing Artists & Illustrators (1994-1999) before going freelance. Laura was born in Cairo in 1950, the daughter of a bookseller and an Italian teacher, and grew up in Brussels and Cambridge before studying Classics at Oxford University. Her sister is the writer Marina Warner. Surrounded as a child by the paintings her father collected, she has always had a passion for art and when not writing about it, she paints.


I’m participating in the blog tour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

The Horse's Arse by Laura Gascoigne

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Head of State by Andrew Marr

Head of State written by Andrew Marr, the television presenter is another book I rescued from the box that my other half was getting rid of. I normally avoid anything political, but I thought I’d give this one a chance. I was attracted to it, as although published back in 2014, it is a Brexit storyline.

Head of State by Andrew Marr

This is what it says on the back cover.

A young reporter found dead on the streets of London.

A headless body washed up on the banks of the Thames.

A conspiracy so bold it would make Machiavelli wince.

There are three days to go until the referendum, and the future of the United Kingdom in Europe hangs in the balance. Behind the scenes a group of ruthlessly determined individuals will stop at nothing – including murder – to make sure the result tips in their favour…

Making full use of his unrivalled inside knowledge, Andrew Marr’s wickedly clever thriller is a gleefully twisted spin through the corridors of power.

The book starts with a dead body being discovered 3 days before the referendum vote regarding whether Britain should stay or leave the EU. How and why did he die? We are then introduced to some of the other characters before moving back in time to referendum day minus 5. We continue to move back and forth a couple of days or so throughout the book, meeting more new characters, including senior politicians and the king. There is certainly plenty for the reader to try to digest.

At the morgue, there is another unidentified dead body, this time headless and handless. Meanwhile about a third of the way through the book, the reader starts to find out what some of the characters don’t know. We continue to be fed information piecemeal, enough to keep me to the edge of my seat, with all the secrets, plots and intrigues. And that is all I’m going to say.

Head of State is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.99 in paperback and is also available in hardback or Kindle format. A great story which I highly recommend.

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Guest Post: Inspiration behind Porcelain

Guest post by Lee Cockburn, author of “Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents”.

Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

Porcelain was the name I had actually chosen for my first book, but I don’t think it would have been right for the theme of Devil’s Demise.

Re Porcelain, I’ve never liked porcelain dolls, they give me the creeps and I think they frighten adults far less children.

I wouldn’t say I was inspired to write Porcelain, I was more drawn to the unspoken topic it portrays, the silent suffering of many, the great unsaid.

So many people I have encountered, some friends and others acquaintances, and just folk you meet, have been touched by this evil brush, that scars you deep inside, but very few ever share their dark secret, a fear of releasing a truth that can never be untold, and the irreversible affect on everybody involved, and disbelief that somebody they love could be capable of things like this.

It is a harrowing topic, and as a mother if bores fear deep inside me, but creates a ferocious protector of those little ones that depend on you, they are so precious, and should be treated as such, so innocent and vulnerable.

It took me two weeks to write the beginning of the abduction scene, wondering how I could write this with minimum affect on the child, because even though this topic is hideous, I’m still a mother, and don’t want to harm children, even in writing, I don’t want to harm anyone for that matter.

My theme for all of my books will be good versus evil, harrowing topics that happen in the darkest recesses of evil minds, it may be a difficult to read some of the graphic horror, but hopefully right will defeat wrong before the end.

Enjoy the read.

Lee Cockburn

Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

And you may read my review of Lee’s new book Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents here.

Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

I have received a free e-copy of the book Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn to review.

Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

Here is the book blurb.

Detective Sergeant Taylor Nick is back and in charge of tracking down a sadistic vigilante, with a penchant for torturing paedophiles, in this unsettling crime thriller by a real-life police sergeant.

High-powered businessmen are turning up tortured, and traumatised, around the city of Edinburgh with one specific thing in common -a sinister double life involving pedophilia. Leaving his ‘victims’ in a disturbing state, the individual responsible calls the police and lays bare the evidence of their targets twisted misdemeanours to discover, along with a special memento of their own troubled past —a chilling calling card.

Once again heading the investigation team is Detective Sergeant Taylor Nicks, along with her partner Detective Constable Marcus Black, who are tasked not only with tracking the perpetrator down, but dealing with the unusual scenario of having to arrest the victims for their own barbarous crimes. But with the wounded piling up the predator’s thirst for revenge intensifies and Nicks soon discovers that she is no longer chasing down a sinister attacker but a deadly serial killer.

Inspired by her vast professional experience as a police officer both on the beat and in specialist riot squads in Edinburgh, Porcelain is the second in Lee Cockburn’s DS Taylor Nick’s series.

This book Is very dark. It starts 22 years ago with very young twins Amy and Nathan being abused by their mother and her boyfriend. We then fast forward to the current day to see the police investigating a series of crimes where paedophiles are tortured. And we also follow the investigating officers’ personal lives, which includes explicit lesbian sex scenes. We meet both Amy and Nathan again, who are still troubled by their past.

By chance Amy and Nathan find each other after being separated when they were taken into care. Then a paedophile is murdered rather than tortured. Next a young boy is abducted – it is the son of DC Marcus Black. Can he be found in time? And who is targeting the paedophiles?

Each time a porcelain doll is left at the crime scene. I found this really spooky as I was always scared as a child by the two china dolls that had belonged to my mum and now lived on the bottom shelf of my toy cupboard. I deliberately wouldn’t put any of my toys in there to avoid looking at them.

I won’t say any more about the storyline. but I did sometimes get confused as to whether I was reading about Nathan or Amy.

Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A dark story which is definitely worth a read if you can handle the subject matter.

This book is recommended for adult readers only, due to its graphic content.


About Lee Cockburn

Lee Cockburn has worked for Police Scotland for sixteen years including as a police sergeant in Edinburgh for seven years and also as a public order officer. Before joining the force, she played for Scotland Women’s rugby team for fifteen years, earning over eighty caps for the Scottish ladies and British Lionesses teams. She also swam competitively for twelve years, successfully representing Edinburgh at the age of fifteen in the youth Olympics in Denmark in 1984. Lee lives in Edinburgh with her civil partner Emily and their two young sons Jamie and Harry. Her first book Devil’s Demise was published by Clink Street Publishing November 2014.

Follow Lee Cockburn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lee_leecockburn


Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

I’m participating in the blogtour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

And you may see a guest post by Lee, detailing her Inspiration for the book on my blog here.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

My other half was clearing out some of his books and several of them including this one by Robert Goddard took my eye.

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

This is what it says on the back cover.

Paris 1919. The aftermath of the Great War.

With the fate of the world’s nations hanging in the balance, a secret affair ends with the death of a senior British diplomat.

As the authorities try to pass it off as a bizarre accident, ex-RFC flying ace, James ‘Max’ Maxted is convinced otherwise and throws himself headfirst into the dark heart of a seemingly impenetrable mystery – hellbent on uncovering the truth.

With the stakes impossibly high and friends indistinguishable from foes, the only way is to keep pushing … until you can see who’s pushing back!

The book starts with a phone call from Max’s mother announcing that his father has been killed. Henry had fallen from a roof-top in Paris and the police have declared it accidental. Lady Maxted requests Max and his brother Ashley go to Paris to bring Sir Henry’s body back home.

Max starts to get suspicious when identifying Sir Henry’s body and visiting the scene of his death and collecting his personal effects from the police. Things don’t quite add up for him. Then he meets Madame Dombreux who lived at the address where Sir Henry died. She was Sir Henry’s lover and also believes him to have been murdered. She shows Max a mysterious list that Sir Henry had written.

Whilst Ashley takes his father’s body home, Max remains in Paris, determined to discover the truth. Plenty of exciting twists to unfold. A real page turner.

The Ways of the World is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.49 in paperback and is also available in hardback or Kindle format. A great book which I highly recommend. It is book 1 in a trilogy and I shall certainly be adding the other two stories to my wishlist. Wondering why my other half never got round to purchasing the other two.

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Gilding the Lily by Justine John

I have received a free e-copy of the book Gilding the Lily by Justine John to review.

Gilding The Lily by Justine John

Here is the book blurb.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

Amelia and husband Jack travel from London to New York to attend a surprise 75th birthday party for her father Roger, organised by his new partner Evelyn. There they meet Evelyn’s step-granddaughter Laura for the first time. Amelia finds it very difficult to get on with Evelyn, but makes friends with Laura, who visits them in London, the next year when over in the UK.

They return to the US for Thanksgiving, but at the airport waiting to go home, they receive a phone call from Miriam, Roger’s housekeeper saying that Roger had been taken into hospital the previous day. They postpone their flight, but Evelyn is not pleased to see them return.

Roger recovers but when he next visits the UK, they are shocked to see how unwell he looks. Ex-cop Jack starts to get suspicious as to why and begins to develop a theory, although there are some red herrings.  I’ll stop at this point to avoid spoilers.

The book switches chapters between narrative by Amelia, Jack and Evelyn, which I enjoyed the different perspective. And the chapters for Evelyn let the reader build up a picture of her history.

Gilding the Lily is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A great story which I highly recommend.


Here is an extract from chapter 18 of the book for you to read.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But a strange dread ran through my veins, as I lay there in the dark. Jack was finally sleeping soundly – the odd snore and mumble emanated from his side of the bed. We’d talked for hours. And now, each thought linked to another in a never-ending chain. “She has enough money of her own so I know she’s not after mine” was what my father told me when they first met. Ironically, it comforted us both. Staring into the blackness, I began to get carried away with Jack’s theory. If it were true then we had to stop it. It would be murder. No, that couldn’t happen, surely, not to us. I tried to mentally rein in my thoughts, as they began to hurry away with me, like a runaway train. Who were we to interfere so belligerently when we could be so wrong? And then again, if we did nothing, and then something terrible happened… that was simply unthinkable.

I turned over to put my arms around my husband. He was warm and his breathing was soft and slow. I tried to relax into his body, and allowed his raising ribs to rock me.

I woke at 6a.m. with a feverish energy. A strange vitality or stamina had suddenly appeared in me – a drive to endure, a surge of power, like a battery charger. I wouldn’t let anyone hurt my dad. Something had to be done. Today.


About Justine John

After over thirty years of working in the corporate sector in London Justine John left the rat race for the stunning countryside of the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, horses and two dalmatians.

Website  – http://www.justinejohn.co.uk/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JustineCJohn
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/justinejohnauthor/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15985439.Justine_John


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Gilding The Lily by Justine John

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Mumsnet Book Club review – Himself by Jess Kidd

I have received another book from the Mumsnet Book Club free to review. It is Himself by Jess Kidd.

Himself by Jess Kidd

This is what it says inside the front cover.

When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland’s west coast, he brings only a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the lies of his past.

No one – living or dead – will tell Mahoney what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite his certainty that more than one of the villagers knows the sinister truth.

Between Mulderrig’s sly priest, its pitiless nurse and the caustic elderly actress throwing herself into her final village play, this beautiful and darkly comic debut novel creates an unforgettable world of mystery, bloody violence and buried secrets.

This book is really unusual as Mahoney, the central character can also see the dead. It starts with a prologue in 1950 when a girl is murdered in front of her baby. The main story is set in 1976 when Mahoney arrives in remote Mulderrig from Dublin, interspersed with historical flashbacks.

Mahoney was brought up in a Dublin orphanage and by the end of chapter 1, he has just found out that his mother was Orla Sweeney of Mulderrig. The reader is left to surmise that Orla was the girl murdered in the prologue. Mahoney finds out from old Mrs Cauley that nobody knows where Orla went and that his grandfather left when Orla was a child and his grandmother died 10 years ago and nobody admitted to being his father. But Mrs Cauley is also able to tell that Mahoney can see the dead. Neither of them believe Orla is alive, although Mahoney has never seen her amongst the dead either.

The book continues with Mahoney trying to discover the truth of what happened to Orla, both from the living and dead. He is sure that some of the villagers know the truth, particularly as some try to force him to leave, even attempting bribery. You’ll have to read it to find out more.

Himself is by Jess Kidd and is published by Canongate. The hardback edition is currently on sale on Amazon for £9.99 compared to an RRP of £12.99. It is also available in paperback and kindle format. I highly recommend this book. A really different great read.

I have previously read the following books from the Mumsnet Book Club.
The Fire Child by S. K. Tremayne
Noonday by Pat Barker
Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner
The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
The Forgotten Summer by Carol Drinkwater
The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Coming Home by Annabel Kantaria
Fallout by Sadie Jones
Falling by Emma Kavanagh
The Girl Who Just Appeared by Jonathan Harvey

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of a book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Missing Parts by Lucinda Berry

I have received a free e-copy of the book Missing Parts by Lucinda Berry to review.

Missing Parts by Lucinda Berry

Here is the book blurb.

Growing up abandoned by her father and raised by a single mother, Celeste was determined to create the perfect family, but even perfect families have secrets. Celeste’s days are filled with a rewarding career, a devoted husband, and her four-year-old daughter. Only Celeste knows the precarious house of cards her family is built upon until the day her daughter falls critically ill. Celeste’s world quickly spirals out of control as her secret threatens to destroy her marriage, family, reputation, and sanity. She’ll go to any lengths to protect her family—take any risk, break any law—anything except tell the truth.

Missing Parts carries readers to the darkest corners of the human psyche. It’s a book that must be discussed once it’s finished because of all the heart-wrenching questions it poses about the fierce bonds uniting families and the deceit that can rip them apart.

Straightaway in chapter 1 we get to know that Celeste has a long-time secret from her husband David which she refers to as “That Night”. Shortly afterwards her 4 year old daughter Rori gets critically ill as her kidneys start failing. The doctors diagnose a rare kidney disease which is inherited from both parents. But only Celeste carries the gene, not David. The doctors want to do a blood test on the biological father as a possible kidney match. Celeste’s world is caving in.

With everything out of control and unable to cope, Celeste goes on the run for many months. All she sees is images of blood and David’s hate. She has no idea whether her actions have also denied her daughter’s recovery. We get snippets relating to the secret, but it is not until towards the end of the book that we get to fully understand what happened on “That Night”. I’m not going to say anything else but there is plenty more to come in this gripping tale, which even revisits Celeste’s memories of her childhood.

Missing Parts is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback or £2.45 in Kindle format. A great gripping read with plenty of twists. Highly recommended. I’m now waiting for Lucinda’s next novel Phantom Limb to be published.

The author, Dr. Lucinda Berry’s background is as unique as her story. She has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, specializing in trauma. She is the Assistant Director of Evidence-based Practice at UCLA’s National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. She uses her experience to create compelling tales that blur the lines between fiction and nonfiction.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.