Review: Love Me Not by M.J. Arlidge.

 

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Love Me Not by M.J. Arlidge

 

My review:

I am a huge fan of DI Helen Grace and have read all of the series, if you haven’t read any then I’d really recommend that you start at the beginning with Eeeny Meeny and go from there as I am sure that you would enjoy the books more in order.

Following the shocking storyline in Hide and Seek I was looking forward to reading what MJ Arlidge would do next with Helen Grace. Love Me Not is a little bit different in that it takes place over 24 hours and is told in real time, this makes for a really fast pace with short chapters increasing the tension and keeping the reader hanging. I read it in two days which is really quick for me, it was one of those books where you ignore the pile of dirty washing and the million and one other things that you have to do, just so that you can keep reading.

I don’t want to give too much away but of course, the 24 hours during which the book is set are a very crazy, with lots happening and DI Helen Grace and her team struggling to keep up with it all. It’s a fast-paced and fun read and I look forward to the next book!

Thank you to the publishers, Michael Joseph, for the opportunity to read Love Me Not. I was under no obligation to review and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

She Loves Me
A woman’s body lies in the road. At first it looks like a tragic accident. But when Helen Grace arrives on the scene it’s clear she’s looking at a coldblooded killing. But why would anyone target a much loved wife and mother?

She Loves Me Not
Across town, a shopkeeper is killed while his customers are left unharmed. But what lies behind the killer’s choices?

She Loves Me
Who lives? Who dies? Who’s next? The clock is ticking.

She Loves Me Not
If Helen can’t solve this deadly puzzle then more blood will be shed. But any mistake and it might be her own …

About the author:

MJarlidge

M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last 15 years, specialising in high end drama production. Arlidge has produced a number of prime-time crime serials for ITV In the last five years, and is currently working on a major adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans for the BBC.

 

Love Me Not by M.J. Arlidge is released on 18th May 2017 and is available to pre-order from Amazon UK. It will be released on audiobook in America and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon US.

You can read my reviews for other DI Helen Grace books; The Doll’s HouseLiar LiarLittle Boy BlueNo Way Back and Hide and Seek on this blog. I read the previous books in the series before starting the blog

Review: Dead Souls by Angela Marsons @WriteAngie @bookouture

 

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Dead Souls by Angela Marsons.

Regular readers of this blog will know how much I love Angela Marsons and her DI Kim Stone novels. I’ve read them from the beginning before they became super popular and earned Marsons’ numerous bestsellers in many languages across the world. All of the books are written so that they can be read as a standalone but I strongly suggest that if you have yet to read any Kim Stone books, that you start with Silent Scream, the first book in the series.

 

My Review:

As a huge fan of Angela Marsons and DI Kim Stone, the bar was set very high for this, the sixth book in the series. I’m always excited to read a new Kim Stone book, but a little bit worried that I might not like it.

I certainly didn’t need to worry about Dead Souls. Right from the start, it sucked me in and I absolutely loved reading it. The book talks a lot about hate crimes, something that is not always easy to read but feels so very topical in a post-Brexit world. Marsons had clearly researched the subject at length and this shone through in the writing and storyline and giving the reader plenty to think about.

I loved how Stone was given new challenges and taken away from the comfort of her team and especially her sidekick Bryant. But we also got to know more about the rest of her team which was great, especially Stacey who until now has been a small but important character in the books, this time she got to do a lot more than sitting at her desk searching the computer, it reminded the rest of the team, and the readers, that she is a police officer and not just a computer geek.

Of course, things for Stone and her team don’t go smoothly and the finale is a tense and shocking read. I really don’t know how Marsons manages to keep the standard of writing so high, so many times you start a new series and love it but as time goes on they start to become a bit old and predictable, not so with this series, each one has been a brilliant read and this one, I think, might just be the best yet.

Thank you to the publishers, Bookouture, and the author for a copy of Dead Souls.

Blurb:

The truth was dead and buried…until now.
When a collection of human bones is unearthed during a routine archaeological dig, a Black Country field suddenly becomes a complex crime scene for Detective Kim Stone.

As the bones are sorted, it becomes clear that the grave contains more than one victim. The bodies hint at unimaginable horror, bearing the markings of bullet holes and animal traps.

Forced to work alongside Detective Travis, with whom she shares a troubled past, Kim begins to uncover a dark secretive relationship between the families who own the land in which the bodies were found.

But while Kim is immersed in one of the most complicated investigations she’s ever led, her team are caught up in a spate of sickening hate crimes. Kim is close to revealing the truth behind the murders, yet soon finds one of her own is in jeopardy – and the clock is ticking. Can she solve the case and save them from grave danger – before it’s too late?

About the Author:

angiemarsons

Angela is the author of the Kim Stone Crime series. She discovered a love of writing at Primary School when a short piece on the rocks and the sea gained her the only merit point she ever got.
Angela wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.
After much urging from her partner she began to enter short story competitions in Writer’s News resulting in a win and three short listed entries.
She used the Amazon KDP program to publish two of her earlier works before concentrating on her true passion – Crime.
Angela is now signed to write a total of 16 Kim Stone books for http://bookouture.com and has secured a print deal with Bonnier Zaffre Publishing.

Dead Souls is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

You can read more of my reviews of Angela Marsons’ Kim Stone books here and here and a review of one of her non-crime books here, I also did a Q&A with the author which you can read here.

Review & Q&A: Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson @TammyRobinson76

 

 

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Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson.

 

My Review:

If you have yet to read any books by Tammy Robinson then you really are missing out. Tammy writes incredibly emotive stories, with great characters that you can’t help but care about.

Differently Normal tells the story of Maddy, a teenager living with her mum and her sister Bee. Bee has autism and requires 24/7 care and it’s down to Maddy and her mum to provide it. For Maddy, juggling working and caring for her much loved sister leaves her little time for much else, she has been forced to grow up too quickly, but she’s happy with her life and knows that Bee needs her.

And then she meets Albert. Albert is instantly attracted to Maddy, and gradually she comes to realise that there’s something very special about Albert and that he respects her responsibilities at home.

I don’t want to give too much away but I just loved reading about Maddy and Albert, it was a heartwarming story that at times was incredibly sad, yet it also managed to make me laugh out loud a number of times.

Tammy Robinson has excelled herself with this book, her portrayal of Bee is just wonderful, the book shows the reader how difficult it can be to love and care for a child with autism, but also how wonderful and rewarding it can be. Bee such a lovely character who brought real love and humour to the story.

I don’t do spoilers in my reviews but I will say that the ending of Different Normal was not what I had been expecting, the author skillfully handled the events in the book and I have to say, it took my heart some time to recover. I suggest that you don’t read the end of this book in public!

An easy 5* read for me, and one that will appeal to a wide range of readers, both young and old.

Q&A with Tammy Robinson.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi Rebecca, thank you for this opportunity. I live in Rotorua, New Zealand and I write contemporary books. I just turned 40 (eek!) and I have three children under the age of five, so I’m pretty tired right now! I’m currently a stay at home mum, but in the past I’ve done everything from sell shoes, to work on cruise ships, to HR manager on a tropical island resort.

2. What would your English teacher say if she knew that you were an author now? 

Honestly? I can’t even remember my English teacher! But I can remember my Journalism teacher, and she’d be super proud. An eccentric woman, she’d bring her puppy into class with her and my best friend Brian and I would take it outside to do it’s ‘business’ and spend our lessons lying on the grass in the sun talking about life. But I’d hazard a guess and say any English teacher I ever had wouldn’t be too surprised, given that I’ve always known I’d be an author one day.

3. Can you tell us something that we, your readers, don’t know about you?

I am a twin. I have a sister, Kerrie, who is six minutes younger than I am. We’re not identical, but when we were little our mother dressed us the same and people thought we were.

Also I had depression from the age of seventeen and battled with it for many years. I went through some very dark times. After a stint in a psychiatric hospital I was treated with ECT (Electric Convulsive therapy) and I have been symptom free for the past decade. With my history, I was worried about developing Post natal depression, but thankfully, apart from the usual parent struggles, that has not been the case.

4. You have a young family, how do you juggle writing and parenting?

At the moment it’s tough. My children are so young they require my attention most of the time, especially Leo who is only eight months and still breastfed. I used to get very frustrated that I couldn’t write during the day, but then I realised I was being a half arsed mother because I was stewing on those feelings of frustration instead of giving them my full attention. I had to let it go and just remind myself that I would get ten or twenty minutes that night between dinner and the bed time routine, and that would be ‘my time’. Fortunately I have a very understanding husband, who takes on the childcare duties most weekends so I can get some serious writing done then.

5. You have a real skill at describing scenery in your books, making it so real that the reader can really picture the settings. And as they’re set in New Zealand you certainly have a lot of stunning scenery to describe. Have you always been really aware of your surroundings or is this something that you have learnt for focus on for your books?

Good question! I wasn’t really aware of doing it until I thought about your question, but yes, I do tend to focus on my surroundings and absorb them. I love nature, especially the ocean (which is why it features in most of my books). When I am writing a scene I picture it in my head and then set about describing that so the reader can see what I’m seeing. I have learnt which details to focus on and which ones to let go. There can be too much description in some books, so I try and only describe what’s necessary.

6. You recently changed the name and covers for some of your books, can you tell us a little bit about why you did that and what impact it has had on your sales?

When I first started writing (and naming my books) I wasn’t really thinking about what worked best commercially. With A Roast on Sunday (now titled The Peculiar Smell of Secrets) I decided the title wasn’t appealing enough, and gave no hints as to the genre. I like to think the new title is more intriguing.

With Pohutukawa Highway (now titled MY SUMMER OF YOU) I asked for feedback and found out that a lot of people were turned off from buying the book because they were unable to pronounce the title. Pohutukawa is a tree native to New Zealand. At Christmas time is comes out in big red bristle flowers, and is known as New Zealand’s native Christmas tree. As sad as I was about doing it, I decided to change the title to something that hopefully would also appeal to more international readers.

7. What tip would you give to someone writing their first book? 

When you sit down and open up your document, DON’T read back over what you’ve already written. You’ll get sucked into editing and changing sentences and won’t get any new writing done. Just scroll straight to the end and keep writing. The time for editing is when the book is finished. Trust me, you’ll get it written a lot faster if you just write it all down first and go back over it later.

8. If you were stuck on a desert island and had three people with you who would you choose? You can have:
a. a character from one of your books

Ooh I’m torn between Charlie (Charlie and Pearl) because he’s such a lovable sweetheart and Hunter (My Summer of You) because he’s more mysterious and sexy.

b. a character from a book that you haven’t written

Erma Bombeck. Not so much a character as a real person, but someone who I think would be handy to have around!

c. someone famous who you don’t know in person or on social media.

I’d need someone who would make me laugh daily, so I’m going to say Sean Condon.
9. You can also take one book to take with you
Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazaretti.

And finally
10. Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?
I’d love to say yes but no, I’m fairly boring in that regard. I am evolving as a writer. When I first started writing I would write with no idea where the story was going or how it would end. Now I like to plan in advance, it’s much easier (and faster) to write that way. I am also starting to challenge myself more and more with subject matter, dealing with subjects that require research.

(I apologise for the formatting of the questions in that, I’ve no idea what WordPress was doing and despite repeatedly copying and pasting and changing I could not get all the questions to be in the same font size!)

About The Author:

tammyrobinson

Tammy Robinson is writer from New Zealand. She has four books available for purchase on amazon and is currently at work on her fifth.

After years spent working her way round the world on cruise ships and at Club Med resorts (and yes, the rumours are all true) Tammy now lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty with her husband, their two beautiful girls, a scatty black Labrador and a grumpy black cat who occasionally requires a two week course of anti-anxiety medication to stop him from pulling his own fur out. Seriously.

When not being drooled/vomited/pooped on, Tammy manages to squeeze in some writing, assisted by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate. (Ok and the odd wine)

Find Tammy on Facebook here and Twitter here and more about her and her books here.

Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Review: The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir @YrsaSig

 

 

thelegacy

The Legacy

 

My Review:

This is the first book that I’ve read that could be classed Scandi Noir. I know that I’m a bit late to the party with this but better late than never is definitely the case!

I heard the author of The Legacy talking about her latest book on the radio, she read an exert from this book and I did not want her to stop, I wanted to know what happened next so as soon as I could get to my computer I looked the book up and I was delighted to get a copy via Netgalley.

What I hadn’t realised was quite how long this book was. At 464 pages this is not a short book, and as a slow reader, it’s quite a commitment for me to read and it took me a week to read. However, often when I read a long book I get almost resentful of the book and the amount of time that it is taking for me to read, I have so many other books waiting! But that did not happen with The Legacy, although aware that it was loooong I never felt that it should hurry up or get to the point, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from start to finish.

While the language was a little different and perhaps slightly simplistic due to the translation from Icelandic to English, I actually quite liked it, it made the book easy to read and a little bit different.

I really liked the main characters in the book, Hulder, the main detective was great and I look forward to getting to know him better in future books in the series, and the same with Freyja who works in The Children’s House, so is involved with a young girl who witnessed her mother being murdered but understandably does not want to talk about what she saw.

The deaths in The Legacy were really quite gruesome but the author skillfully avoided giving us too much detail and let us imagine what happened to the victim, something that I was very grateful for.

I am definitely converted and will be reading more from this author, and hopefully other Icelandic crime authors.

Blurb:

The first in an exciting new series from the author of THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel.

The murder was meant as a punishment – but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim’s seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she’s not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children’s House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased. But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He’s telling a dark and secret story – but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?

About the author:

Yrsa Sigurdardottir is an award-winning, best-selling author from Iceland. She began her career writing humorous novels for children but got sick of being funny and found being horrible is much easier. She made her crime fiction debut in 2005 with Last Rituals, the first installment in the Thóra Guðmundsdóttir series and has since been translated into 35 languages. Yrsa has also written several stand-alone thrillers and has a new series coming out in 2017 in the UK. Her work stands “comparison with the finest contemporary crime writing anywhere in the world” according to the Times Literary Supplement. Her standalone horror novel, I Remember You will be in theaters in 2017, while adaptation of the Thóra series for English language television is underway.

The latest book to be published in the UK is Why Did You Lie, described by the Sunday Times as “a tour de force”. This was preceded by the 2015 Petrona Award winning Silence of the Sea and Someone to Watch Over Me, chosen by the Sunday Times as the best crime novel published in the UK in 2013.

Yrsa is also a civil engineer and still works as such on geothermal and hydro power plant projects in her native Iceland. She is not in agreement with her co-workers regarding her actual participation in the workplace lately, she states she works 50% but they say 30%. This issue is presently unresolved.

Follow Yrsa on Twitter: @YrsaSig (See what she did there? Saved you a whole lot of confusion while typing her last name)

The Legacy is out now and availble from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Review: The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.

 

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The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson.

 

My 5* Review:

I’m not sure that there is a parent or child in the world that doesn’t love at least one Julia Donaldson book. I have six year old twins and her books are often read at bedtime in my house, The Highway Rat being the favourite. Another favourite book is We’re Going On a Bear Hunt which is illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. So when I saw that The Giant Jumperee was written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury I knew that I had to read this book to my children.

We read it on my paperwhite kindle which worked fine but I’m sure that we didn’t get to fully appreciate the wonderful drawings. My children didn’t seem in the least bit bothered as they snuggled close to get a look at the pictures, there were lots of giggles as we read and a few squeals of excitement as they tried to work out what the jumperee might be.

The book is short, it is a very quick read and I think aimed at the younger end of Julia Donaldson fans. My children were probably at the upper end of the target audience and I think that it would be perfect for those who were not quite ready for the scary Gruffalo. It would also be a good book for a young reader to read to an adult.

Overall, this is a wonderful book that I’m sure will be very popular with young children and their parents.

Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Random House, for the opportunity to read The Giant Jumperee.

Blurb:

Rabbit was hopping home one day when he heard a loud voice coming from inside his burrow. “I’M THE GIANT JUMPEREE AND I’M SCARY AS CAN BE!” When Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear and Elephant come to help they are each scared away in turn by the mysterious voice.

He can squash you like a flee

He will sting you like a bee

And he’s taller than a tree!

But who is the Giant Jumperee?

A new read-aloud classic from internationally bestselling author Julia Donaldson, beautifully brought to life by award-winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury.

About the author:

Julia Donaldson is the outrageously talented, prize-winning author of the world’s best-loved picture books, and was the 2011-2013 UK Children’s Laureate. Her books include Room on the Broom, Stick Man, What the Ladybird Heard and the modern classics The Gruffalo, the The Gruffalo’s Child which have sold 17 million copies worldwide and has been translated into seventy languages. Julia also writes fiction as well as poems, plays and songs and her brilliant live children’s shows are always in demand. Julia and her husband Malcolm divide their time between Sussex and Edinburgh.

About the illustrator:

As a child

Growing up in Ipswich, England, Helen Oxenbury loved nothing more than drawing. As a teenager, she entered art school and basked in the pleasure of drawing, and nothing but drawing, all day. During vacations she helped out at the Ipswich Repertory Theatre workshop, mixing paints for set designers. It was there that she decided her future lay in theatre design. While studying costume design, however, Helen was told by a teacher, “This is hopeless, you know. You ought to go and do illustrations – you’re much more interested in the character, and we don’t know who’s going to play the part!”

As an adult

Sets and scenery, not books, remained Helen’s preoccupation for her early adult life as she embarked on careers in theatre, film, and TV. After marrying John Burningham, another of the world’s most eminent children’s book illustrators, and giving birth to their first child, at last she turned to illustrating children’s books. “When I had babies,” Helen says, “I wanted to be home with them and look for something to do there.” Helen and her husband make their home in London, where the she works in a nearby studio. She is also an avid tennis player.

As an artist

Today, Helen is among the most popular and critically acclaimed illustrators of her time. Her numerous books for children include the Kate Greenaway Medal-winning Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll; Smarties Book Prize-winning Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell; We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen; Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, written by Mem Fox, as well as her classic board books for babies. And what does she love most about her work? Thinking up new ideas? Seeing the finished book? Not at all. For Helen, “The best part is when I think I know what I’m doing and I’ve completed a few drawings. In fact, when I get about a third of the way through, and I feel I’m on my way, then I’m happy. It’s like reading a good book – you don’t want it to end.”

The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury is published in the UK on April 2nd 2017 and is available to pre-order from Amazon UK. It will be published in America on April 18th 2017 and is available to pre-order from Amazon US now.

Blog Tour & review: An Impossible Dilemma by Netta Newbound.

 

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An Impossible Dilemma by Netta Newbound.

 

I first read this book almost two years ago. I don’t know about you but I suspect that if you showed me a list of books that I read two years ago I’d have a hard time remembering much about most of them, but I would definitely be able to tell you a good deal about An Impossible Dilemma by Netta Newbound as it is a book that has stayed with me. I’m a big fan of the author and I’m delighted that publishers, Bloodhound Books, have decided to publish this previously self-published book, so when I was asked whether I wanted to take part in the blog tour and post my review I jumped at the chance. However, reading the review now I am going to change it, it seems that two years of writing reviews have, hopefully, improved my review writing somewhat, and because I remember the book so well I feel confident that I can give a review that it deserves.

My 5* review:

How far would you go to save your daughter? Would you sacrifice another person in order to save her? That is the question posed by An Impossible Dilemma.

I am a big fan of Netta Newbound, she has a way with writing that sucks the reader in, her characters are believable and although the situation that Victoria finds herself in is anything but normal, I could always understand her actions, even if I don’t think that I could have done the same.

I actually read this book two years ago, but it has stayed with me and despite that and reading many other books in that time, I still remember clearly how I felt reading this book. Newbound once again crafts a gruesome tale, she really does have a way with words and an imagination that is, I think, unrivalled within the crime writing scene. There are a few scenes in An Impossible Dilemma that stay with me to this day.

The book is easy to read and will definitely grip you and suck you in, and it is bound to give you a lot to think about. If you’re a thriller fan then you are sure to enjoy this and if you have yet to read any books by Netta Newbound then this book is sure to convert you. I’m also sure that you will never look at pigs in the same way again!

Blurb:

An Utterly Compelling Psychological Thriller From a Best-selling Author

Would you choose to save your child if it meant someone else had to die?

Victoria and Jonathan Lyons seem to have everything—a perfect marriage, a beautiful daughter, Emily, and a successful business. Until they discover Emily, aged five, has a rare and fatal illness.

Medical trials show that a temporary fix would be to transplant a hormone from a living donor. However in the trials the donors die within twenty four hours. Victoria and Jonathan are forced to accept that their daughter is going to die.

In an unfortunate twist of fate Jonathan is suddenly killed in a farming accident and Victoria turns to her sick father-in-law, Frank, for help.  Then a series of events present Victoria and Frank with a situation that, although illegal, could save Emily.

Will they take their one chance and should they?

A Sinister and Darkly Compelling Psychological Thriller Novel, this book is intended for mature audiences and contains graphic and disturbing imagery.

Netta Newfound is the best-selling author of The Watcher.

An Impossible Dilemma is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

You can read my review of The Watcher, also by Netta Newbound, here.

 

Review: The One by John Marrs.

 

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The One by John Marrs.

 

I was super excited to read The One by John Marrs, I had responded to a request on social media by John for someone to help him with some research for this book. I wanted to see what had ended up in the book but also to see my name in the acknowledgements. Very exciting. I had also heard loads of good things about The One from everyone who had read it. It was quickly bumped up my tbr pile, and boy I’m so glad that it was as I absolutely loved it.

My 5* review:

It isn’t often that I want to give a book more than 5 stars, but this book is one of them! I just loved reading this book, from the very start to finish it was enjoyable to read and interesting and thought provoking.

The story is told from the point of view of a decent number of characters, alternating with each chapter. At first, I found it difficult as I’m not very good at remembering character names when there are so many being introduced but I soon got into it and sucked into the story.

The premise is great, a quick and simple DNA test that will tell you, assuming that they have also been tested, The One, your soulmate and the person that sparks will fly when you meet. It sounds good, doesn’t it? But of course nothing is that simple.

Often when a book follows different people like this some of the stories are better than others, but in this case I found every character and storyline enjoyable, interesting and intriguing. Sure, I had my favourite, but they were all good and well told.

The author has done a great job weaving the story together and it really was a joy to read. I started off pretty sure that I would take the DNA test, but now I’m not so sure! And who knows, maybe one day such a test will exist. Actually, that is really quite a scary thought.

I received a copy of The One by John Marrs from Netgalley but was under no obligation to provide a review. All thoughts are my own.

The Blurb:

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

How far would you go to find THE ONE?
One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.
A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

(Note: Previously published as A Thousand Small Explosions)

The One by John Marrs is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.