Review: The Cosy Canal Boat Dream by Christie Barlow @ChristieJBarlow @HarperImpulse


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Release date: August 22, 2017

Publisher: Harper Impulse 

Genre: Romatic Comedy

Blurb: 

Welcome to the Little Rock marina – where hearts are healed and dreams are made…


For the last two years Nell Andrews has been struggling to stay afloat. As her life tumbled down around her, the only safety net has been her cosy canal boat, The Nollie. Tucked away inside, Nell has found a place to heal her broken heart. And now she’s ready to move on and follow her dream…


Gorgeous Guy Cornish, with his easy Irish charm, makes him an instant hit with everyone at the marina, and the perfect person to help Nell with her project. But Guy has his own reasons for being at the marina, and a past that threatens to sink Nell’s dream…

Review: 

When I pick up a Christie Barlow book I feel like I’m getting a warm hug from an old friend. They’re always warm and cozy, this one even has cozy in the title! So I already knew I was in for a treat when I started this one but I wasn’t aware that I was about to read my new favorite Barlow book. 

Nell was the type of character that I liked right away, she has an incredibly painful past, somehow I was teary eyed in the first chapter?! But she was a woman who I immediately felt a connection with, I was invested in her from the first page. She has a best friend named Bea and their friendship was so sweet and genuine. Bea’s family was also adorable and so supportive of Nell which she desperately needed. The entire cast of characters were lovely and had their own distinctive personalities that made up a great community, I would love to live in a place like Little Rock Marina! 

Guy is Nell’s love interest and there was a bit of a mystery surrounding his past and there was also an additional mystery that threw me for a loop. You basically get a little bit of everything here, there’s romance, humor, warmth, family secrets and a lovely setting that serves as a backdrop. This was such a delightful read, I enjoyed every single page and it reminded me why Barlow is one of my favorite women’s fiction writers.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Review: The Other Girl by Erica Spindler


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Release date: August 22, 2017

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press 

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: 

From the NYT bestselling author comes a chilling new thriller about a ritualistic murder of a college professor that sends a small town cop back into the trauma she thought she’d put behind her.


Officer Miranda Rader of the Hammond PD in Louisiana is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis—but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from Jasper, just south of Hammond, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to leave the girl she used to be behind and earn respect in her position as an officer.


However, when Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the gruesomeness of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about a terrible night from her long-buried past. Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop, and not just any cop—Clint Wheeler, the cop who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common—except Miranda. 14 years ago.


And when her fingerprints turn up at the scene of the first murder, Miranda once again finds herself under the microscope, her honesty and integrity doubted, her motivations questioned. Alone again, the trust of her colleagues shattered, Miranda must try to trust the instincts she’s pushed down for so long, and decide what’s right—before it’s too late. 

Review: 

Somehow Erica Spindler has stayed off my radar before now and looking at her back catalogue I’m not quite sure how?! She writes the exact type of books that pull me in and the premise of The Other Girl has many of the elements I love, I’ll definitely be reading more of her work in the future. 

I totally devoured this book, I would’ve easily read it in one sitting but had to force myself to put it down because it was so late when I started it. It was one of those effortless reads where the pages just keep flying by and before you know it you’ve finished! There are some flashbacks to 2002 and a night where Miranda had a terrible ordeal but the bulk is told in the present. The pacing was spot on, things move quickly and I was so eager to find out what had happened previously and what would happen next. Here’s what’s weird, at least for me. I predicted like ninety nine percent of the twists and instead of being annoyed and disappointed like I usually would be I wasn’t bothered in the slightest. This was so entertaining that I just kind of brushed it off and patted myself on the back and kept reading. So bizarre but I think it just speaks to what a fantastic storyteller Spindler is. 

This was a tense, addictive and suspenseful read that kept my attention, I was pretty glued to my Kindle throughout.  Miranda had an interesting and heartbreaking backstory and I was rooting for her the whole time. She was a well drawn character and the secondary characters were also multidimensional, I especially liked her partner Jake. I didn’t totally predict the ending and I was satisfied by how things came together, again Spindler has a new fan in me and I’ll be adding some of her earlier work to my TBT list! 

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Blog Tour: Buried Secrets by T. J. Brearton @BreartonTJ @bookouture


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK
Release date: August 18, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture 

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: 

What if your dream home became your worst nightmare?


Newlyweds Brett and Emily Larson have just moved into a new home deep in the countryside, and are overjoyed when Emily finds out she’s pregnant. 


Then they discover human bones in their garden.


As the police start to investigate, three things become clear:


The bones are recent.

They are not here by accident.

They are a message.


When the police put three photographs of known criminals on the Larsons’ kitchen table, the couple realize the danger may be closer to home than they think. 


As the situation escalates, can Brett and Emily keep one step ahead to protect themselves – and their unborn child?


Fast-paced, compelling and full of twists, this heart-pounding thriller will keep you turning the pages until the very end. Perfect for fans of Rachel Abbott, Robert Dugoni and Linwood Barclay.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Buried Secrets!


Review: 

Oohh this book ended up being different than what I had expected but I mean that in a good way. I had assumed it would focus on either a cop narrating the story or have a killer as the focus but it was actually told in two separate narratives and not from a cop OR a killer. The first is Brett and Emily a young, newlywed couple who have just moved into a new home. When they decide to start a garden they find human bones and their lives take an unexpected turn. The second follows Jimmy Russo, a man who finds himself in jail when his portion begins due to a past transgression he thought he escaped. I kept trying to figure out how these storylines would merge and I definitely didn’t predict exactly how, or when they would. 

The first half of Buried Secrets starts out on the slower side as Russo tries to figure out how to get himself out of jail and back with his wife and baby daughter while Emily and Brett deal with the aftermath of the bones being unearthed. While I found both storylines interesting and engaging, I was more drawn to Russo, both his character and his specific story. There was just something endearing about this rough around the edges man that got under my skin and captured my attention. 

By the last quarter of this book I was well and truly hooked as the storylines converged in unexpected ways. It became tense and very action packed as crazy things started to happen and they didn’t stop until the very end. It’s so strange how the discovery of human bones set off a series of events that I never saw coming, this one kept me on my toes. If you’re looking for a different type of thriller told from a unusual perspective, you may like this one.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

About the Author: 



 

 

 

 

 

T.J. Brearton is the author of eight published novels of crime fiction, including detective thrillers, police procedurals, psychological suspense, and one paranormal crime story. His eBooks have been best-sellers on the Amazon kindle fiction Top 100 list. He lives in the Adirondacks with his wife and three children where he writes full time.

Website

#ThrowbackThursday Dark Matter by Blake Crouch


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Release date: July 26, 2016

Publisher: Crown

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Blurb:

“Are you happy with your life?” 


Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. 


Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. 


Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” 


In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.


Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.


From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

Review: 

I’m joining in again with Throwback Thursday which was created by my good friend Renee at It’s Book Talk. She started this weekly feature as a way to highlight old favorites and read books that have already been published. I have so many older books on my TBR that get ignored in favor of review copies and I figure participating in Throwback Thursday will help me to read at a least one older title a week!

Dark Matter is a book way outside of my usual preference and one that I’ve had sitting on my Netgalley shelf for far too long. I originally requested it last year because everyone I knew was raving about it and I have a serious case of fear of missing out. I finally decided to grab it this week and I’m completely blown away. I am SO glad that I took a chance on a book that’s outside of my comfort zone, it paid off in a big way. 

This book was like nothing I’ve ever read before and that may be because it’s not my go to genre but I don’t think so. I still firmly believe that DM is highly original and insanely creative even within it’s genre. It defied all of my expectations and then some and has such an insane premise that I’m not even going to attempt to speak to it because I know I wouldn’t be able to discuss it in the manner that it deserves. Just think mind bending matrix/inception type of stuff, it’s actually best not to think too hard about the details anyway. 

The biggest surprise for me here was how deeply and intricately complex this book was. Yes, it’s highly intelligent and deals with topics that are beyond my normal level of comprehension but Crouch details scientific methods in a way that even a dummy like me could understand. This was a surprisingly emotional read for me, no one warned me that it would make me cry! It was so thought provoking and touched something right at my core, I’m just mind blown by how much I loved this book. 

If you’re like me and have been on the fence about this one, give it a try. I don’t think anyone will be disappointed, it’s intense, profound, smart and extremely well written. I can’t say enough good things about how this book made me feel and that’s one of the main reasons I love to read in the first place, to feel something outside of my everyday life. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Review: The Goddesses by Swan Huntley


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Release date: July 25, 2017

Publisher: Doubleday Books 

Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Blurb:

The Descendants meets Single White Female in this captivating novel about a woman who moves her family to Hawaii, only to find herself wrapped up in a dangerous friendship, from the celebrated author of We Could Be Beautiful.


When Nancy and her family arrive in Kona, Hawaii, they are desperate for a fresh start. Nancy’s husband has cheated on her; they sleep in separate bedrooms and their twin sons have been acting out, setting off illegal fireworks. But Hawaii is paradise: they plant an orange tree in the yard; they share a bed once again and Nancy resolves to make a happy life for herself. She starts taking a yoga class and there she meets Ana, the charismatic teacher. Ana has short, black hair, a warm smile, and a hard-won wisdom that resonates deeply within Nancy. They are soon spending all their time together, sharing dinners, relaxing in Ana’s hot tub, driving around Kona in the cute little car Ana helps Nancy buy. As Nancy grows closer and closer to Ana skipping family dinners and leaving the twins to their own devices she feels a happiness and understanding unlike anything she’s ever experienced, and she knows that she will do anything Ana asks of her. 


A mesmerizing story of friendship and manipulation set against the idyllic tropical world of the Big Island, The Goddesses is a stunning psychological novel by one of our most exciting young writers. 

Review: 

I’m pretty conflicted trying to decide exactly how I feel about this one, there were many things that I really liked and then there were also many things that bothered me. Middle of the road reviews are my least favorite kind, I have the hardest time writing them, but I think I’ll stick to the format that’s worked best for me in the past. I’ll share what I liked, then what didn’t work for me with the hope that I’ll give you guys enough information to decide for yourselves if you want to try this one or not. 

The premise of this is great, I loved the mention of Single White Female and there is definitely a SWF vibe here. Huntley is a really strong writer and I loved her prose, there was something really delicate and pretty about it that was uniquely her own. It’s set in Kona and she also did a fantastic job of bringing the setting to life, it felt like a secondary character and the imagery was great. There are several scenes where Nancy and Ana are in Ana’s jacuzzi that overlooks the ocean and I could imagine these scenes easily. 

The basic bones of the plot were solid and I was really curious to see where things were headed but unfortunately in the end, everything fell flat for me. I feel like it could’ve been executed better, again everything was set up for something SO great but then I was really underwhelmed by the conclusion. I knew Nancy was on a downward spiral the whole book, that’s part of what made this a compulsive read, but then it sort of just…ends with no resolution and it was anticlimactic at best. 

Classifying this as a suspense/thriller is a mistake, I think readers expecting a story filled with tension and twists will be disappointed, any twists were predictable, especially if you’re a reader of the genre. If you are looking for a book that focuses more on characterization and female relationships with a side of intrigue, this could work for you. Or, if you don’t read many thrillers but want to dip your toe into the water, this would be a good place to start. Bottom line? A well written book with strong writing and interesting characters but was lacking in terms of the overall plot and sense of closure. 

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to Booksparks for my review copy. 

Blog Tour: The Queen of New Beginnings by Therese Loreskar @loreskar @bombshellpub


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK
Release date: August 10, 2017

Publisher: Bombshell Books

Genre: Women’s Fiction 

Blurb: 

Kajsa lives in a large house in Stockholm along with her three children and their dog. Since coming clean about lying on her popular blog she no longer has any work. Not only that but she has kicked her husband out because of his sex addiction.


 


While her husband is in rehab trying to fix his little problem, Kajsa’s mother in law is thrown out of her retirement home and comes to live with her daughter in law.


 


Then Kajsa receives an unexpected offer to move to a fashionable part of London. But having to look after her mother in law makes life complicated.  


 


Can Kajsa rid herself of her baggage and make a fresh start with her children in England?


 


This laugh-out-loud comedy looks at the daily struggles we all face with our families and asks if starting again is ever really possible. 


Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Queen of New Beginnings.


Review:

This is the second book in a series, I read the first, The Queen of Blogging right before this one and since I didn’t post a full review, I’ll quickly share my thoughts on that book before this one. 

Queen of Blogging

Kajsa is a hilarious and quirky character, she made the book for me personally, she was just so much fun in an over the type kind of way. She was kind of a mash up of Bridget Jones and Becky Bloomwood, she finds herself in these outrageous situations, mostly due to the fact that her whole blog is a total lie. She’s supposed to be this fitness guru and she hates to exercise and she posts pics of her meals that she finds using Google. It’s told through diary entries and was a quick, light read. The ending did feel a bit rushed and there wasn’t a lot of resolution, so I was happy I had the next one to start immediately!

Queen of New Beginnings 

This one picks up three months after the first book ends and Kajsa is separated from her sex addict husband and struggling as a single mom. It’s told in a similar structure as the first book was and once again, it made it really easy to just keep turning the pages. She’s as funny as ever in this installment and finds herself in several awkward and embarrassing scenarios. I especially liked the relationship between her and her mother in law, they’re at odds most of the time and they both say and think the funniest things!

Kajsa has definitely shown growth and development throughout both books but she’s still a lovable hot mess underneath. This was such an easy read that made me giggle, a super fun book to read in an afternoon. The ending was a bit abrupt again but I’m hoping this means there’s a third book in the works?! 

Overall rating: 4/5

About the Author: 


Therese Loreskär started her carrier in 2010 as a Swedish author. She self-published her first novel which was very well received and quickly sold out!


 


In 2014 she signed up to a publishing house. Her novel called “The Queen of Blogging” was released and the feedback was overwhelming! People referred to the book as a modern “Bridget Jones” and couldn’t get enough of the main character, Kajsa. The next book “The Queen of Blogging 2” was released shortly after to all the reader’s delight.


 


Therese has since then published 4 bestselling children’s books as well. She often does tours at different schools and talks about her books. The children love her visits and Therese always enjoys talking to her little readers.


 


“The Queen of Blogging 1 & 2” have also been recorded and launched as audiobooks in addition to paper backs in Sweden. Her biggest dream is to have “The Queen of Blogging series” made into films, and she secretly keeps a list in an old drawer of presumptive actors that would do the characters in her books justice.


 


Her never-ending energy for writing and entertaining people with her characters is her biggest trait.


 


Therese lives in the countryside along the west coast of Sweden. She has a rather big and busy household, with (one) husband, two children, one deaf cat, five hamsters and a grandmother.


 


When she’s not busy making up stories and writing silly things, she enjoys the nature, people, history, redecorating the house without asking anyone for permission, and all other kinds of creativity.

Facebook|Website

Review: Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent @lizzienugent


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Release date: August 22, 2017

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

Genre: Psychological Thriller 

Blurb: 

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”


So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.


Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.


In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation. 

Review: 

In terms of opening lines, Unraveling Oliver has one of the best I’ve ever read. “I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.” Its chilling and really sets the tone for the book, it sure grabbed my attention and held onto it. This is definitely a one sitting type of read, not only because it’s under 300 pages, but because it’s compelling and even if it had been much longer I still think I would’ve been just as hooked. 

What makes this such a standout, for me at least, is the narrative style combined with excellent characterization. This is told from multiple perspectives and each chapter switches POV. While Oliver himself does narrate, the rest of the cast really made this a memorable read for me. They’re a mix of friends, family and acquaintances of Oliver’s, people whose lives has intersected with his in some way. Nugent switches narratives seamlessly which can be very difficult to pull off as it can sometimes feel a little jarring and abrupt. Each character has a very distinct voice and the entire thing reads like they’re giving an interview giving the whole book an intimate feel. 

I don’t want to discuss any plot points because I feel it’s best to go into this as blindly as possible, but I will say that it’s heavily character driven with a focus on human psyche and behavior, but not in a clinical manner. It’s more of a nature versus nurture type of thing, a deep character study of one complex man that’s very well written and super smart. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

What I Read Last Week: 


Are You Sleeping was a really cool thriller.

The Address was a gorgeous historical fiction.

Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove was an adorable read.

You was my throwback Thursday pick and was such a unique read.

The Room by the Lake was a good read about a cult.

The Silent Girls was a creepy, atmospheric thriller.

Blind Side was a different type of thriller. 
Currently Reading: 


Up Next: 


I’m not sure what else, my TT will be either Find Her or Dark Matter. 

How was your week? 

Blog Tour: The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky by Summer Heacock @Fizzygrrl


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Release date: July 25, 2017

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Women’s Fiction 

Blurb:

In thirty-four days, it will have been exactly two years to the day since I’ve had sex.  


Having sex wasn’t exactly high on Kat Carmichael’s priority list while her successful bakery was taking off, especially since things hadn’t been working very well in that department. And the last time she and her boyfriend, Ryan, even attempted the act, they found it to be physically impossible—resulting in pain and disappointment for Kat instead of sunshine and orgasms.


With just over a month until their four-year anniversary, Kat calls for a break in her relationship with Ryan, encouraging him to see other people while she throws herself into physical therapy. Yet even with the well-intentioned (but wildly inappropriate) attempts at help from her best friends, Kat quickly discovers that a solo mission may not be the best approach.


Fortunately, physical therapist Ben Cleary, the shop’s best (looking) customer, volunteers to help out—strictly as a friend, of course. But as the line between love and friendship begins to blur, Kat stands to lose much more than a functioning set of lady bits if she can’t figure out what to hang on to…and what to let go.

Review: 

From the blurb I had assumed this would be a typical, lighthearted read with a focus on vaginas, a dash of romance and a pretty predictable plot. I couldn’t have been more wrong, this is anything but formulaic, it’s a refreshing read that’s SO much more than your average women’s fiction/chick lit read, I LOVED it!

Kat has a broken vagina. Yes, that’s a thing but it’s actually called vaginismus and it sounds completely and totally awful. After two long years with the condition she decides it’s finally time to get it fixed with the help of her three best friends and coworkers, Shannon, Butter and Liz. I want Kat to be my new BFF and I want a job at the bakery, this group of women are amazing and Heacock created the most relatable, realistic characters I’ve come across in quite awhile. When they were together and just chatting I felt like I was eavesdropping on an awesome group of friends, the dialogue and structure was perfect. 

While there is romance here that isn’t the central focus, instead it’s about this group of badass women who handle life’s awkward moments with humor and as much grace as they can. There are so many hilarious scenes that had me cracking up, I’m talking tears streaming down my face type of funny. On top of all of that fun, there is a swoon worthy romance AND cupcakes, it doesn’t get much better than that! Except it does because some of the delicious sounding recipes are included at the end of the book.

If you’re looking for a fresh, modern read with sassy characters, snarky, witty humor and a wickedly funny storyline, look no further. I’m sort of bummed that this is Heacock’s debut because I have to wait another year to read more of her work and I’ve never read anything else quite like this book. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


Summer Heacock is an author of contemporary women’s fiction and prances through life like a Disney cartoon that says the “F” word a lot. She lives in a teeny Indiana town, where she’s a stay-at-home-mom to two scampy tots, wife to an amazingly understanding husband, herder of a rescue critter menagerie and collector of life-size celebrity cardboard cutouts. When not writing or hoarding jellybeans, she’s a member of the Midwest Writers planning committee and a cohost of PubTalkTV. She can be found at http://www.Fizzygrrl.com and on Twitter as @Fizzygrrl. The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky is her debut novel.

Website|Facebook|Twitter

Review: Blind Side by Jennie Ensor @jennie_ensor


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Release date: July 22, 2016

Publisher: Unbound

Genre: Thriller 

Blurb:

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable? 


London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time. 


But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her. 


Then London is attacked… 


Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears. 

Review: 

This book ended up being a very different read than what I was expecting it to be, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It was deeper and more profound than your average psychological thriller and if pushed I would say it was more of romantic suspense with political tones than a straightforward psychological thriller. 

Georgie, Nikolai and Julian are the three main characters and all of them are well drawn and complex. They were very realistic and their fears and motivations were also easy to identify with. This is set in London in 2005 right before and during the 7/7 bombings and Ensor did a fantastic job of depicting the sense of fear and paranoia that I can only imagine was the general feeling during that time. 

There are some heavy themes explored here, but not the same type of themes that you usually find in a psychological thriller. Generally they are dark maybe even graphic in terms of violence but this time the themes are dark in a different way. Ensor explorers racism, terrorism, immigration and obsession all in a smart and profound way. There is the same sense of uneasiness and not knowing exactly who to trust, but Blind Side is a wholly unique read, one I think that leaves an impact on the reader in the end.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.