Review: Meditation for Children by Shelley Wilson | @ShelleyWilson72 @BHCPressBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Meditation For Children Cover

About the Book

Author and meditation tutor Shelley Wilson takes you on a magical journey to a calm and happy place that you and your child will love.

Children of all ages can learn and enjoy the benefits of meditation.

Designed to help access creative abilities through relaxation and imagination, these stories help develop the necessary tools needed at a young age for lifelong healthy habits of managing stress and anxiety while also improving learning skills.

Meditation for Children is a simple way to introduce children to mindfulness through guided visualization. Includes a handy reference guide and instructions.

 

My Thoughts

Meditation for Children is a wonderful book that parents can share with their children to help them relax and come to enjoy meditation as part of their everyday lives.

I don’t have children but I am someone who very much enjoys mindfulness and mediation so I was fascinated to read this book.

I very much enjoyed reading Meditation for Children, it’s a lovely book and I loved the way Shelley Wilson has made it a wonderful story book that can be enjoyed as such but has left space to imagine and to take some breaths to relax and to slow down. I can absolutely see how this is the perfect way to introduce a younger child to the idea of meditating, which as they grow can be such a great tool to help them cope with the stresses that go with growing up, going through school etc.

The book opens with a how to guide that explains how meditation can be helpful and also suggests ways to use the book and how to incorporate meditating into your and your child’s lives. There are then ten very short stories (that each take under 5 minutes to read aloud) that are fabulous and really help you visualise the world being described. Each story is accompanied with gorgeous illustrations that are vivid and bright and really give a sense of the world you’re about to travel in to. They all follow a similar idea of closing your eyes, slowly breathing in and out and then imagining the story that is being read to you. This is great as it will help a child know that this is a special story and as they grow older they will understand how to use the tools that meditation gives us – being able to relax and unwind.

I very much enjoyed this book and love how it makes coming to meditation easy for children but it’s clearly been properly researched and will definitely create a helpful skill that a child can use throughout their life. I can see echoes of how I was taught to meditate as an adult, and how I use it in my life now so it’s absolutely going to be a fantastic resource for children and their parents. Meditation for Children is a book that I wish I had when I was a child. Knowing how much meditation helps me in my every day life now I feel sure it would have been just as beneficial when I was younger. I highly recommend this book if you have young children in your life, it really is an invaluable book for helping your child to relax and find inner calm.

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and my invitation to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Meditation for Children is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Shelley Wilson Author Picture

 

Shelley Wilson is an award-winning motivational blogger, speaker, meditation tutor, Reiki master, and author. Her multi-award winning motivational and personal development blog has received several awards and has been named a Top 10 UK Personal Development Blog. She resides in Solihull, West Midlands, UK, where she lives with her three teenagers.

 

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Review: Head Shot Victoria Nixon | @VictoriaNixon_ @annecater @Unbounders #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

A girl from a Yorkshire mining town is barely thirteen when her father kills himself – her brother finds him dying. At sixteen she’s spotted by a rock star and becomes an international Vogue model. Seven years later her brother kills himself in her New York apartment and her mother dies too. With no family left, her life is now one of extreme choices. Fifty years later, Victoria confronts her past and takes her readers on an unflinching voyage through her experiences as a model and beyond. Speaking frankly about loss, love, friendship and ambition, Head Shot is a book of inspiration and purpose. Packed with astonishing images by the photographers Victoria worked with, and the defiant fashions she wore throughout her career, it also bears witness to a time of unparalleled cultural energy and invention; it’s a story in which bags and shoes can, and do, sit right next to life and death.

 

My Thoughts

Head Shot is an incredible memoir; Victoria Nixon so honestly and openly looks back on her life and career. I finished reading this book a few days ago now and am still trying to find the words for this review.

My main reason for wanting to read this book was because the Victoria Nixon lost her mum at a similar age that I was when I lost my mum and I find myself drawn to books where people explore how they cope with losing their mother whilst in their 20s. The book that I got gave me what I was expecting but so much more besides.

Victoria Nixon takes us through how she came to be a model, you get to hear of the photographers she has worked with and other models she has got to know. I loved hearing about the stars of the day that she came into contact with – such as Brian Eno! There is no name-dropping in this book, all the stories Victoria shares feel a real part of her life story and so come up in an organic way. She never seemed to be affected by the showbiz life but seemed to just be enjoying her life and working hard to be a success.

It was heartbreaking to read of her father’s death when she was only a young teenager. I can’t imagine the pain of that and how it affects a person. Victoria shares her emotions and how it led to her life becoming what it did. I very much appreciated how sensitively and honestly she looks back at her father’s death, you can see how much she loved him. Sadly for Victoria she also lost her brother to suicide when she was in her 20s. This was an incredibly moving part of the book to read. The struggles Nick had had and the way his family had tried so hard to help him were very moving to read about. Victoria doesn’t shy away from discussing mental health in her book, she clearly cares very deeply about the subject.

The loss of her mother also when she was in her 20s was a shock for her and it changed how she felt about her life. I can really identify with this. I think when you’re very close to a parent and you lose them when you’re at a stage in life of being independent but also knowing that you can always go home if you need to, it’s very hard. I have such admiration for how Victoria dealt with her grief, and how she coped with all the pain life has thrown at her. She doesn’t dwell, she reflects on things but she always knew she had to pick herself up and keep going. I found her such an inspiring person to read about.

I very much enjoyed learning about the modelling industry in the 60s and 70s. I’m not really into fashion but it was fascinating to read about what it was like to be a model, and to hear about the not-so-glamourous side of things. Nixon is clearly a very driven and determined woman and she continued to push through during the difficult times. There are lighter moments throughout the book too, moments that will make you giggle and some stories that might make you raise an eyebrow.

There are photos throughout this book and I loved seeing them. They relate to stories Nixon has shared and it really brought the book to life. I love hearing the back story to an image and so this was a joy to have in this book.

Head Shot is such an incredible memoir! It’s a stunning and candid look back at a life that will leave you feeling inspired. Victoria Nixon’s passion and determination shines through and I’m so glad I got to read about her life. I loved this book so much, it’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read! I very highly recommend this!

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and the blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Head Shot is out now in hardback and available here. The ebook is due for release on 15 August and can be pre-ordered at the same link.

 

About the Author

Victoria-Nixon-Author-pic

Victoria Nixon was eighteen when she was discovered by Helmut Newton, who photographed her for Vogue . This launched her international modelling career, which led to her being named the Daily Mail ’s ‘Face of 1968’.

After modelling, she went on to become an award-winning advertising copywriter, television producer and magazine editor. In the 1990s she opened the first deli in the UK to ban plastic packaging, and in 2002 her first book, ‘Supermodels’ Beauty Secrets‘ , was published, followed by ‘Supermodels’ Diet Secrets‘ in 2004. She is cofounder and managing director of a company which designs and manufactures humanitarian aid products used worldwide

Links-http://www.victorianixon.com/

Twitter @VictoriaNixon_

 

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Review: Gone by Leona Deakin | @LeonaDeakin1 @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?

 

My Thoughts

I couldn’t resist this book when I read the blurb, it sounded so intriguing and I’m so glad I picked it up! Gone is a novel about four strangers who have all disappeared after receiving a card asking them if they dare to play. Psychologist Dr Augusta Bloom and ex detective Marcus Jameson are tasked with looking into one of the missing people and find that things are more serious and involved than they ever could have imagined!

Gone is such a good psychological thriller and is something a bit different. I loved following Augusta and getting her psychological insights into what might be going on. I was also really intrigued as we meet some of the families of the missing people. I couldn’t work out what they could possibly have in common so felt like I was tailing the investigation and trying to figure it all out.

I loved how prescient this novel is with the way it looks at how the game these strangers were invited to play might have been set up. It explores the idea of how people can use quizzes on social media that people fill in to find out what cartoon character they’d be (for example) can be put together with other easily discovered info on the same sites to see who would be a perfect target for this game. I’ve always been really suspicious of quizzes on FB and this book proves I’m right to be! I’m definitely not going near them now!

I loved the exploration of who the type of person behind the game might be, and also who the people who were invited to play the game were underneath. I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and this book is so much about what makes a person tick, what makes someone do the things they do. It was brilliant to see psychological ideas applied to the missing people and then as the book went on to wonder about those traits in other characters. It made for such a good read!

It turns out that nothing is quite as it seems in this novel and there is so much more underneath the surface than you see at first. I found it quite a slow-burn to begin with but this was perfect because it allowed me to be curious about what was going on before I was pulled right in to a novel that becomes an unputdownable rollercoaster of a read!

This was such a fascinating psychological thriller and I very much enjoyed it! I’m already looking forward to reading more from Leona Deakin (and also hoping we might get more about Dr Augusta Bloom in the future…!). I recommend this one!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and Anne of Random Things Tours for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Gone is out now in ebook here and also available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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Review: Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland | @22_ireland @PolygonBooks #LoveBooksTours

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About the Book

What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?

The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly.

Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. It is a dual narrative, told in alternative chapters by Mac, a woman bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose own past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.

 

My Thoughts

Bone Deep is a stunning novel that explores the relationship between siblings, and the betrayals in romantic relationships. The novel is narrated by two characters – Mac who is determined to keep her secrets buried whilst writing a short story collection about sibling rivalry; and Lucie who arrives to be Mac’s Girl Friday and has secrets of her own.

The audio book is wonderful, I found myself engrossed in this novel from the opening chapter and it had me spellbound. I was so intrigued by both Mac and Lucie and felt equally invested in both their stories. I was also so drawn to the setting with the abandoned mill and the way it looms large over the characters in this book. Mac and Lucie are each voiced by a different narrater (Una Mcdade and Emma Hartley-Miller) which made it easy to keep track of whose story I was listening to, which I always appreciate in an audio book.

Bone Deep takes two women who are in different stages of life and also on opposite sides of the coin that is affairs of the heart. Mac is becoming confused and her past and present are beginning to get mixed in her mind, she is also obsessively writing and then withdrawing from her story about two sisters. This all melds together as the novel moves towards its final stunning conclusion. Lucie is looking for an escape after she’s done wrong by her sister and is somewhat ousted by their mother who knows what she’s done. Mac is initially kind towards Lucie, although she doesn’t feel she needs her help, but as the past pulls on her more and more she starts to see Lucie in a different light.

The pain that runs through this novel is palpable and even though Lucie has done wrong I could only feel sympathy for her. She has made a terrible mistake but she’s not the only one and yet she is paying the biggest price for it. I was willing her to face up to things and to try and make it right but she can’t help but retreat further into herself. I could see echoes of her in Mac to start with and worried that she may end up like Mac but in the end Mac’s secrets go way darker and deeper than Lucie’s ever could.

There is something indefinable about this novel – it’s heart-wrenching and yet also magical. There is so much beauty amongst all the pain and the darkness. Sandra Ireland beautifully weaves together the strands of Mac and Lucie’s stories along with the story that Mac is writing and it’s simply breathtaking – the mysteries, the connections and the ultimate conclusion! Bone Deep is a book that grabs hold of you and it doesn’t let go, even after you’ve finished listening to it. I feel haunted by it, it’s still going around in my mind and I already want to read it again! I highly recommend this book, it really is a stunning novel!

Many thanks to the Kelly at Love Books Tours for my copy of the audio book and my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Bone Deep is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Sandra Ireland

Sandra Ireland was born in Yorkshire, lived for many years in Limerick, and is now based in Carnoustie. She began her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper but quickly realised that fiction is much more intriguing than fact. In 2013 Sandra was awarded a Carnegie- Cameron scholarship to study for an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study at the University of Dundee, graduating with a distinction in 2014. Her work has appeared in various publications and women’s magazines. She is the author of Beneath the Skin (2016) and Bone Deep (2018), and her third novel, The Unmaking of Ellie Rook will be published in July 2019.

 

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Review: Someone We Know by Shari Lapena | @sharilapena @TransworldBooks @ThomasssHill @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Someone We Should Know Cover

About the Book

It can be hard keeping secrets in a tight-knit neighbourhood.

In a tranquil, leafy suburb of ordinary streets – one where everyone is polite and friendly – an anonymous note has been left at some of the houses.

I’m so sorry. My son has been getting into people’s houses. He’s broken into yours.

Who is this boy, and what might he have uncovered? As whispers start to circulate, suspicion mounts.

And when a missing local woman is found murdered, the tension reaches breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their secrets?

Maybe you don’t know your neighbour as well as you thought you did . . .

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Shari Lapena’s writing so I was thrilled to receive a copy of her new novel Someone We Know and I’m really happy to say that it more than lived up to my expectations!

Someone We Know is set in a small community so when a neighbour goes missing everyone is talking about her and wondering what could have happened. Alongside this Olivia discovers that her teenage son Raleigh has broken into a couple of their neighbour’s houses and she is mortified and furious.

This book feels claustrophobic from the start, the idea of a small community is uncomfortable to me anyway (I grew up in a small town and now hate the idea of living somewhere like that) but with the break-ins and the missing woman, and the subsequent gossip about it all really made it feel like I was trapped in the neighbourhood with these people. I loved that about it though, it made me lose where I really was and I became so absorbed in the novel that I lost a whole afternoon to it!

I loved how it turns out that quite a few people in the novel have something to hide – some smaller things, some huge things and you’re constantly wondering if any of them have anything to do with the missing woman.

Shari Lapena writes red herrings so well – she misleads you and takes you down a path and then points you in a totally different direction and it’s always so brilliantly done! I had my suspicions and my thoughts about what was going on throughout the novel but I only partly clicked whodunnit right before it was revealed and I didn’t work out all of it so it was brilliant to be kept guessing throughout!

This is a novel about the secrets people hide, and how well you really know the people you think you’re closest too. It makes you question the truth that people tell and whether it’s the actual truth or their perceived truth. This is a perfect summer thriller – it’s gripping from the opening pages, it’s thrilling from start to finish and it’s a book to get lost in. I read it all in one sitting and loved it!

Many thanks to Transworld for my copy of this book and to Anne of Random Things Tours for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Someone We Know is out now and available here.

 

I’ve previously reviewed The Couple Next Door and An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena.

 

About the Author

Shari Lapena Author pic

 

Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before writing fiction. Her debut thriller, The Couple Next Door, was a global bestseller, the bestselling fiction title in the UK in 2017 and has been optioned for television. Her second thriller, A Stranger in the House and third, An Unwanted Guest, were both Sunday Times and New York Times bestsellers.

 

 

 

 

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Review: The Closer I Get by Paul Burston | @OrendaBooks @PaulBurston @annecater

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About the Book

Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.

Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.

When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.

But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

 

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness, this book! I knew I was going to love The Closer I Get as soon as I read the blurb but it was even better than I was expecting it to be!

Tom Hunter is a successful author but he’s struggling with the mounting pressure of writing his next novel in large part due to the stress of a woman who just won’t leave him alone. Evie is a huge fan of Tom’s work, she got to meet him once at a book signing and felt they had a real connection. It’s a thrill when he follows her back on social media and she believes this means something. Evie doesn’t have an easy life, she’s back living with her dad who isn’t well so when she’s hit with a restraining order her life begins to unravel.

This book is brilliant! It’s such a prescient novel – definitely one for our times! Most of us use social media and we’re used to people following us on these networks and often we follow people back but we don’t pay a whole lot of attention to who any of these people are. We assume they’re just like us. I mainly use twitter to share posts but I also use it to chat to friends and connect with people. I even met my husband on twitter so it is possible to make genuine mutual connections on there.

However, I also know what it is to have a stalker and it is utterly terrifying. My experience was pre-social media so it’s different to what happens in this book but the feeling of having someone turn up everywhere you go, someone who sits outside your house is so frightening. The feeling that you might be being watched never fully leaves you even when the situation is completely over. This has made me much more wary of social media, and forming friendships, even though I’ve used it for over ten years now.  Paul Burston has shared his experiences of being stalked in an article in The Guardian recently and how this inspired him to write this novel, I recommend reading that when you have a few minutes to spare.

Anyway, back to The Closer I get... This novel is told in alternating chapters from Tom and Evie and I loved that. It meant that I would read one chapter and think one thing and then read the other person’s perspective and could see their side too. The novel blurs the lines somewhat so that although Evie is clearly stalking Tom, the background to this leaves you with much to question and think about. This isn’t always a black and white story, it really shows the shades of grey.  It was fascinating, and unnerving, to be in Evie’s mind and to see how she viewed things along the way.

We also get to meet Tom’s best friend Emma, and their relationship was also fascinating to read about. Emma seems devoted to Tom, she is always there for him and it seemed that she might be in love with him. It is just friendship to Tom though but as the novel progresses it becomes apparent that he takes advantage of her good nature more than is fair. These parts of the book make Tom a much more rounded character but a whole lot less likeable!

I have to say that neither Tom nor Evie are particularly likeable in this novel but there are moments in each of their stories where you feel absolute sympathy for them, and moments where you question what it is you previously thought. It’s such a compelling novel with so many fascinating elements to it, this really is an incredible read!

The Closer I Get has tension right from the start, and it gets more and more tense as you read each chapter. You know it’s building to something but I defy you to predict what’s coming because every time I thought I had it worked out the rug was pulled from under me yet again! By the final pages of this novel I was literally on the edge of my seat. The denouement when it comes is shocking, and one I won’t ever forget!

The Closer I Get is such a clever thriller; it’s a true psychological thriller and it really makes you think. It’s a novel that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it. I already can’t wait to read more by Paul Burston, I’ll definitely be first in line to buy whatever he writes next!

PS. I will add a quick warning here – don’t start this book late at night if you have to be up early the next day because once you start reading you won’t be able to put this down until you’ve turned the final page! It’s a real sleep stealer (but totally worth it!)!

Many thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my digital copy of this book and the invitation to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

The Closer I Get is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Paul Burston Author Photo

Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel ‘The Black Path’, was longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2016 and was a bestseller at WH Smith. His first novel, ‘Shameless’, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, ‘Lovers & Losers’ was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, ‘The Gay Divorcee’, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including The GuardianThe IndependentTime OutThe Times and The Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world”. He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair of The Polari First Book Prize for new writing.

 

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Review: Looker by Laura Sims | @ljsims50 @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan left her when she couldn’t have a baby. All she has now is her dead-end teaching job, her ramshackle apartment, and Nathan’s old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn’t even like.

The Actress lives a few doors down. She’s famous and beautiful, with auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She’s got children – a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves her windows open, even at night.

There’s no harm, the Professor thinks, in looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family, fantasizing about them, drawing ever closer to the actress herself. Or is there?

 

My Thoughts

Looker is an incisive portrayal of a woman who becomes fixated on an actress who lives across the street from her. She sees in her everything she needs to make herself happy and she wants to be closer to that life!

I loved this book from the very beginning. I really enjoy books where we’re in the protagonist’s head for the duration of the novel. The Professor was successful at work, she was married to a man she loved and they were trying for a baby. She was on the cusp of having everything she wanted but then she miscarries and her fertility journey becomes fraught and heartbreaking. She closes herself off and then her husband leaves her. The book begins at this point but we get bits of her back story as we start to fill in the pieces to really get who this person is.

She obsesses over the actress. She watches her, she watches her home and she sometimes drifts off into fantasies about what might happen if she met her or her husband. The actress leaves unwanted things outside her house and the Professor squirrels these things away into the empty spare room of her apartment.

I began to feel that perhaps the Professor’s obsession with filling up her spare room was really her trying to fill her very empty life, and perhaps her empty uterus. She clearly has psychological problems, and really who wouldn’t after all the pain and heartbreak she has endured. The obsession with the actress is taking things to another level though and yet I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She’s clearly lonely and has fixated on the actress as she believes she has a perfect, happy life. The Professor isn’t a particularly likeable character but she’s sympathetic at the same time. I very much appreciated that Laura Sims doesn’t go down a predictable route of the bitter woman who can’t get pregnant, instead it’s an incredible exploration of what happens when everything you wanted is slowly stripped from you and you’re left with no one and nothing left to lose.

Looker is a novel that creeps up on you. I was enthralled from the start but I gradually felt more and more uneasy about how the protagonist was behaving to the point that I was completely on edge because you just know something is going to happen. You can’t work out what or when or where but you know it’s coming. I thought when I picked up this book that it was going to go a particular way and I was so glad that it didn’t, instead Laura Sims keeps you wondering and that makes it so much more unnerving than if the Professor behaved in the way you believed she would!

This isn’t a full-on fast-paced psychological thriller and yet it’s a book that’s to be devoured in one sitting. It’s a psychological study of a character and the thriller element is knowing that she may only have developed her obsessive nature because of what she’s been through, and that means she could easily be you or someone you know!

I have to mention how perfect the title of this book is. It obviously refers to the protagonist and her obsessive watching of the actress, but the more of the novel I read the most I began to get a sense that I was the looker, that I was also intruding into the professor’s life and wanting to know more and more about her. It’s an uncomfortable realisation to suddenly feel for a moment that you might just understand the obsession, the wanting and needing to know about someone else’s life!

Looker is a brilliant, incisive and disturbing psychological novel and I loved it! I couldn’t put it down, and even now I’ve finished reading I keep thinking about it. I already want to go back and read it all again. I highly recommend this one!

Many thanks to the Tinder Press for my copy of this book and to Anne of Random Things Tours for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Looker is out now in ebook and available here. It’s due to be published in paperback on 25th July and can be pre-ordered at the same link.

 

About the Author

Laura Sims Author Picture

Laura Sims is the author of four books of poetry, and LOOKER is her debut novel. She lives in Brooklyn.

 

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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Review: The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond | @drummondella1 @HeraBooks @BOTBSPublicity

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About the Book

One hot summer, Dee disappeared. Now she’s back…but she’s not the girl you knew.

Sera and Dee were the best of friends.

Until the day that Dee and her brother Leo vanished from Sera’s life, during a long hot summer fifteen years ago.

Now Sera is an adult, with her own child, five-year-old Katie, and has returned to her childhood home after her husband’s death.

While she grieves, the past haunts Sera at every turn … and then Dee and Leo return to their small Hampshire village, along with Dee’s young daughter.

But Dee is silent and haunted by her demons; no longer the fun-loving girl that Sera loved. And when Sera uncovers the shocking secret that Dee is hiding, it’s clear that the girl she knew is long gone – and that the adult she has grown into might put all of them in danger…

 

My Thoughts

I have to start by saying that I loved Ella Drummond’s previous novel My Last Lie and The Darkest Summer is even better! I could not put it down!

The Darkest Summer follows Sera as she’s trying to rebuild her life after her husband’s death. She’s living with her mother and five-year-old daughter in her childhood home and can’t help but think back to years gone by and her best friend Dee whose family disappeared suddenly one summer day. Then one day she thinks she spots Dee’s brother in the street and her life is about to be turned upside down all over again.

I was gripped from the very start of this book and I just didn’t want to put it down for a second. It’s one of those books where you say just one more chapter, then one more, and one more and before you know it you’re turning the last page and it’s way past your bedtime!

The Darkest Summer is mainly set in the present day but it also flashes back to fifteen years ago in the lead up to when Dee and her family disappear. We also get a few chapters from the early 1980s following Sera’s mum, Mimi. I loved this way of telling the story as I was equally invested in all three timelines and this kept me flying through the pages as I wanted to know how the past fitted with the present and where Dee’s family had gone, and why they left without trace!

I love books that explore female friendship, it’s endlessly fascinating for me to read books like this. I really enjoyed seeing Dee and Sera as girls on the cusp of being teenagers where they still loved running wild and swimming in the lake, but were also becoming aware of their own bodies and the power they might possess. It was really interesting to see how they related to each other on meeting up again years later, and how different it can be to how you imagined it might. It was the same seeing Sera’s mum when she was a young adult finding her feet in London and trying to make it as an actress. Her friendship back then gave her an unbreakable bond to someone because of what happened but still life pulled them apart, and yet not quite! The women were so believable in this book and I keep thinking of them all, especially Sera, and wondering how she is.

I loved the setting of this book, and the way the heat of the summer emanated from the pages. I could envision it all so clearly as if I’d been there. Ella Drummond really is a great writer who writes such beautiful, evocative paragraphs. She brings her books to life and it makes them so memorable.

I was curious by what might have happened to Dee and her family, and was shocked when we finally find out. I had worked out elements of it but I couldn’t put it all together to figure it out fully. I was also intrigued by what Mimi’s story from years earlier had to do with the present day and didn’t figure that out either. I love when a novel keeps me guessing, it’s a rare thing for a book to do that but this one did!

The Darkest Summer is the perfect summer thriller read! It’s gripping, mysterious and it will keep you up way past your bedtime! I loved it and highly recommend it!

Many thanks to the Hera Books for my copy of this book and to Sarah of Books on the Bright Side Publicity for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

The Darkest Summer is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Ella Drummond recently signed a two-book deal with Hera Books. Her first psychological thriller, My Last Lie will be published in February 2019 and is available for pre-order now.
She lives with her husband on the island of Jersey and you can follow her on Twitter @drummondella1 and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EllaDrummondWrites/

 

 

 

 

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BLOG TOUR (1)

Review: The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds | @AmandaReynoldsJ @Wildfirebks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Every marriage has its problems.
But would Julia Blake really have just walked out of hers, leaving no trace?

Max Blake knows more about his wife’s disappearance than he’s letting on.
That’s what the police think anyway. But with no body, the case is growing cold…

One young journalist thinks she can find out the truth.
But the more time she spends with Max at the couple’s remote estate, the higher the risk to her own safety. And whatever happened to Julia Blake may be her fate next…

 

My Thoughts

The Hidden Wife is such a good book! Seren is a junior reporter for a local newspaper and she’s just been given her first big story. She’s been tasked to interview famous novelist Max Blake, who’s wife Julia has been missing for months. So far he’s refused all interview requests by the media so this is a big deal for Seren and could make her career!

I was intrigued from the very beginning of this book as it opens just a few hours after Julia has been reported missing and we don’t know what’s happened to her. The novel then moves forward a few months and Seren is given the assignment to interview Julia’s husband Max. Max is a famous author and has so far resisted talking about Julia in the media so Seren is thrilled, and a little apprehensive, to be given such a job! There is something of a connection between Max and Seren as she knows what it’s like to lose a loved one and not have all the answers. I was curious as to whether Max knew this and would play on it for his own advantage as he seemed a very clever man.

The Hidden Wife kept me on my toes throughout. There are moments where I thought I had the mystery cracked but then something else would happen and I would be questioning everything all over again. The novel is a slow-burn to begin with. You really get to know Seren, which I loved as it meant I was with her all the way as she gradually starts to try to learn more about Max. There is a point in the novel though where it becomes utterly compelling and from there on I just couldn’t put it down!

The further I got into this novel the more it became apparent how everyone has a face they wear for others. It’s easy to think Max is slick and clearly hiding something but we don’t know for sure that he harmed his wife, we just presume he has. Seren has some real sadness in her life and she seems to keep people at something of a distance, even the people she’s closer to. Even the housekeeper seems besotted with Max and suspicious, even a little antagonistic towards Seren but there is more to her and I enjoyed finding out what was behind her facade.

I got Rebecca vibes from some elements of this book – the missing wife Julia, who we only really see through her husband’s, and occasionally the housekeeper’s, eyes. The somewhat naive junior reporter Seren who feels a little anxious around Max but is drawn to him at the same time. And Max, the enigmatic husband – did he harm his wife? Does he know where she is? I loved that there was a sense of Rebecca in the novel whilst at the same time it is absolutely its own story.

I very much enjoyed The Hidden Wife and have found since I finished reading it that I keep thinking about it. I definitely recommend putting it on your summer holiday reading plans if you like gripping, thrilling and hard to put down novels!

Many thanks to Wildfire for my copy of this book and to Anne of Random Things Tours for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

The Hidden Wife is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Amanda Reynolds Author Pic

Photo credit: David Churchill Photography

Amanda Reynolds lives in the Cotswolds with her family where she writes full-time. Her debut novel, Close To Me, is a #1 e-book best- seller. The Hidden Wife is her third book.

Follow Amanda on Twitter: @AmandaReynoldsJ

amandareynoldsauthor.com

 

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Review: The Last Stage by Louise Voss | @LouiseVoss1 @OrendaBooks @annecater

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About the Book

A violent and horrific incident forces a young woman to go into hiding, at the peak of her career as lead singer of an indie pop band. Years later, strange things start to happen and it becomes clear that some know who she is…

At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now living a quiet existence in a cottage on the grounds of an old stately home, she has put her past behind her and come to terms with her new life.

When a body is found in the manicured gardens of her home, and a series of inexplicable and unsettling events begins to occur, it becomes clear that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is … Someone who wants vengeance.

And this is only the beginning…

 

My Thoughts

The Last Stage follows Meredith. In the late 1980s she was a hugely successful indie star but something happened which led to her quitting her band at the height of their fame and she made sure to become unrecognisable by starting a new life working at a stately home. One night someone she works with goes missing in strange circumstances and Meredith starts to fear that the past is coming back to get her.

I’m a huge fan of Louise Voss (and have been ever since I bought her first novel To Be Someone, which is still one of my favourite and most read books!) and I’m so happy to say that this book more than lived up to my high expectations. The prologue is so creepy that it gave me chills and I knew then I was going to be hooked all the way through this book (and I was right!). The idea of waking up in the middle of the night to hear footsteps on the stairs and then your bedroom door handle starting to turn is terrifying!

The Last Stage is set in the present but we get chapters from the past from when a 17 year old Meredith goes off to Greenham Common and meets a girl there. I felt equally invested in both timelines and I was desperate to know how the past and present fit together to explain why Meredith was so scared by the thought of things from the past catching up with her.

Louise Voss has created such an interesting and intriguing protagonist in Meredith and I wanted to know more about her from the start. She does make some bad decisions in this book and at times I wanted to reach into the pages and make her do things differently but I could see why she chose to keep quiet about the unnerving things that were happening to her and around her. I think fear affects people in all kinds of ways and while some people would immediately beg for help and support, other people almost shut it down and believe that if they don’t acknowledge it out loud then it can’t possibly be really happening. I really felt for Meredith and was rooting for her to be okay.

I love the title of this book and how over the course of the novel you sense a different meaning in it. I initially thought it was about the last stage Meredith might have performed on as a rock star before she quit, then I thought it might be the last stage of her life but then I wondered if it might not be about Meredith but rather a reference to the last stage of a campaign to ruin her life.  Or maybe it’s more to do with the way Meredith has to confront her fears from her past (last as in previous stage) before she can move on. I love when a title gives me lots of possibilities to ponder over!

This book kept me guessing right to the end! I didn’t trust anyone in this novel, they all seemed like they might have something to hide and this made for such a thrilling read. The tension in The Last Stage is there from the start and it slowly builds and builds until you’re literally on the edge of your seat. I even found myself holding my breath during the more tense moments! I loved this novel so much, it was a perfect psychological thriller and one that I’ll be thinking about for a while. It’s tense, thrilling and will keep you up way past your bedtime (and by this point you’ll be nervously wondering if you can hear footsteps on the stairs and if the bedroom door handle is moving!!). An utterly brilliant read!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Last Stage is out now in ebook and is available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

About the Author

Louise Voss Author Picture

 

Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had 13 novels published – seven solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards: a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books. Her most recent book, The Old You, was a number-one bestseller in ebook. Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at http://www.thewritingcoach.co.uk. She lives in Salisbury and is a proud member of two female crime-writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.

 

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Review: Something To Live For by Richard Roper

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About the Book

Sometimes you have to risk everything to find your something…

Andrew works with death for a living. Searching for people’s next of kin and attending the funerals if they don’t have anyone, he’s desperate to avoid the same fate for himself. Which is fine, because he has the perfect wife and 2.4 children waiting at home for him after a long day. At least, that’s what he’s told people.

The truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think and the little white lie he once told is about to catch up with him.

Because in all Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s about time for him to start.

 

My Thoughts

Something To Live For is the story of Andrew. He works for the council and his job is to deal with the aftermath of death – he has to find if the deceased person has a next of kin. Andrew is lonely but he’s accidentally told his boss that he’s got a happy family life and now he can’t u-turn on this lie he’s living.

Something To Live For is a stunning book and I adored it. Andrew has told his boss right before he got his job that he has a wife and two children at home but this isn’t true. Andrew lives in a grotty flat on his own and he’s lonely. All day at work he’s dealing with what happens when people die without a next of kin, without family and he takes it upon himself to go to the funerals of people who would otherwise have no one present. I felt so sad for Andrew, it’s such a lonely life he leads and you realise that his job must impact on his loneliness.

Andrew loves Ella Fitzgerald’s music and spends a lot of his spare time listening to her but he has an overwhelming visceral response that he can’t control to one of her songs. I immediately realised what was wrong with Andrew  but over the course of the novel we gradually find out about his past and learn more about how he has ended up the way he has.

Things begin to come unstuck for Andrew when his boss decides that his team needs to bond a bit more and suggests a Come Dine With Me idea whereby the whole team goes to a different team member’s house for dinner once a month. Andrew’s blood runs cold as he realises he has to get out of this or he’s going to be found out. The thought of just explaining how he got into living a lie isn’t something he can comprehend so his stress levels are rising. He then gets a new teammate, Peggy, and life begins to open up for Andrew in ways he couldn’t have imagined and the burden of his fictional family begins to overwhelm him.

Something To Live For also captures how much of our lives are now lived online. Andrew is part of an online community of train fans and he logs on every night to catch up, and yet he is so vulnerable and alone in reality. Social media can help make us feel less lonely but we still need people in our real lives in order to thrive. The book really shows how we can appear to have happy life but the reality can be so very different. More importantly though this book shows how if we take a step towards inviting people into our lives, asking for help when we need it, that the world can suddenly become a much bigger, brighter place and I loved this aspect of the novel.

This book is such a charming read; it’s very moving but also heart-warming and funny. I found Andrew to be such a believable character and I was rooting for him all the way through this book. It’s such an honest and sensitive portrayal of loneliness but it’s also a novel that is full of hope. The idea that if we can just be honest about our own lives, about the failures we perceive in ourselves that things really might get better. It left me with an overwhelming feeling that there is always hope, there is always a chance to change things. Life might not turn out as we planned but it’s still possible to find happiness down other avenues.

I adored Something To Live For, it’s one that will stay with me. It’s a wonderful thing for an author to make a reader feel real emotion at a character’s pain but in the next chapter have you laughing out loud at something. This is how life is and this gorgeous novel captures that in all its glory! I highly recommend this book!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Something To Live For is out now and available here.

 

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

 

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Review: The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe | @WmCollinsBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

What if you could tell the truth about who you are, without risking losing the one you love? This is a book about love affairs and why we choose to have them; a book for anyone who has ever loved and wondered what it is all about.

This is a book about the things we hide from other people. Love affairs, grief, domestic strife and the mess at the bottom of your handbag. Part memoir, part imagined history, in The Lost Properties of Love, Sophie Ratcliffe combines her own experience of childhood bereavement, a past lover, the reality about motherhood and marriage, with undiscovered stories about Tolstoy and trains, handbags and honeymoons to muse on the messiness of everyday life.

An extended train journey frames the action – and the author turns not to self-help manuals but to the fictions that have shaped our emotional and romantic landscape. Readers will find themselves propelled into Anna Karenina’s world of steam, commuting down the Northern Line, and checking out a New York El-train with Anthony Trollope’s forgotten muse, Kate Field.

As scenes in her own life collide with the stories of real and imaginary heroines, The Lost Properties of Love asks how we might find new ways of thinking about love and intimacy in the twenty-first century. Frank and painfully funny, this contemporary take on Brief Encounter – told to a backing track of classic 80s songs- is a compelling look at the workings of the human heart.

 

My Thoughts

The Lost Properties of Love is a beautiful book that is part fiction and part memoir. Each chapter takes place during a different train journey and it’s a stunning look at life and love.

The book is set out in chapters that are headed with a train journey’s departure and end point and a date. It roughly follows a chapter of the author’s reminisces about her own life followed by a chapter about Trollope and his muse, Kate Field, or of thoughts on the fictional Anna Karenina.

You soon get a sense that Sophie Ratcliffe is exploring the pivotal moments in her life that have made her who she is. The loss of her father when she was just a young teenager, the affair she had with an older married man a few years later are the main events and she ruminates on these from different angles, and from different stages in her life. She compares her emotions to how Anna Karenina might have felt, and she considers the affair Trollope possibly had with his muse Kate Field and how she may have felt.

There are different textures of loss. The lost hope we find again, and the lost that we think is gone for ever. The loss of an object in the silt of mud, the loss of a smell or sound. People are lost to us, or make themselves lost.

The author’s thoughts on the loss of her beloved father were what I most identified with. The loss of a parent changes you in ways you can’t imagine until you’ve experienced it. The quote below, for all its simplicity, took all the air out of my lungs for a few moments because this is exactly how it is. You have belongings and people and one day you may well lose them, and they may well be lost forever.

The thing about having stuff, like handbags, or mementos, or fathers, is that you might lose them.

The book also explores our relationship to objects, and to the way we all lead our lives. The protagonist in this book struggles to organise the mess in her home, and at one stage ruminates that the mess is now condensed in her handbag. I could really identify with this. I finally got on top of all of my mess last year but I still feel the pull to gather stuff around me when I’m feeling down. Sophie Ratcliffe’s description of Anna Karenina’s red handbag and the things inside it brought a lump to my throat.

There are some gorgeous references to books in this book too, which I adored and so identified with. Also The Lost Properties of Love has really made me want to re-read Anna Karenina very soon, and it’s always good to be reminded of a book that you loved many years ago and have yet to revisit.

There’s a reason one of the greatest novels in English begins with it heroine’s delight that there was no possibility of taking a walk that day. There’s a reason Jane Eyre appeals to teenagers. There are no window seats on family walks. You cannot read a book while walking with your family.

This whole book is a meander through a life, in the way a train journey meanders through landscapes; it’s a gorgeous way to reflect on life. The time on a train gives us a chance to ponder and to think and this book is such a wonderful reading experience; it also made me think about events in my own life and to ponder them from different angles.

The Lost Properties of Love is such a beautiful book, and one that has been lingering in my mind ever since I finished reading it. I already feel that it’s a book I want to re-read, that it’s a book that will reward me for re-reading it and I don’t often get that feeling about a book. I recommend this one!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Lost Properties of Love is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Sophie Ratcliffe Author Pic

Sophie Ratcliffe is an academic, writer, and literary critic. 

She teaches English at the University of Oxford, where she is an Associate Professor and Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall. 

She is the author of On Sympathy (Oxford University Press), and edited the authorised edition of P. G. Wodehouse’s letters. 

In her academic work, she is interested in ideas of emotion and the history of how we feel. 

She reviews regularly for the national press, and has served as a judge of a number of literary prizes, including the Baillie Gifford and Wellcome Book Prize.

Twitter @soratcli

 

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Review: The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North | @Lauren_C_North @TransworldBooks @damppebbles

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About the Book

After the sudden death of her husband, Tess is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope.

When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is understanding and kind, and promises she can help Tess through the hardest time of her life.

But when a string of unsettling events happens and questions arise over her husband’s death, Tess starts to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but she’s at her most vulnerable, and that’s a dangerous place to be.

 

My Thoughts

The Perfect Betrayal is a psychological thriller that follows Tess. She is grief-stricken at the death of her husband Mark. She’s now alone with her young son Jamie and doesn’t see how she’s ever going to get through it. Then Shelley, a grief counsellor, arrives on her doorstep and shows Tess real kindness and she wants to help.

The Perfect Betrayal opens with Tess in hospital having sustained a stab wound and her son is missing! The novel then goes back in time to 55 days previously and the novel is then predominantly told in the weeks after Mark’s death leading up to Jamie’s 8th birthday party a few weeks later. It counts down the weeks in each chapter. Interspersed with this are snippets of Tess in hospital, and an interview with the police. This makes for a gripping and fast-paced read because I just wanted to know what on earth had happened! The tension builds slowly at first but then becomes so heightened that I felt like I was holding my breath at what I thought might happen next.

Oh my goodness, this book was brilliant! I was drawn into Tess’ story from the start, I really felt for her as she struggles to keep going after her husband’s sudden and shocking death. Her son Jamie is also devastated and Tess knows she has to keep going for him but she doesn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other. The depiction of grief in this book is so well done, so believable and I couldn’t see how Tess was ever going to get through it.

To make things worse for Tess her husband’s brother, Ian, is putting pressure on her to start Probate so that Mark’s finances can be put in order. He seems too aggressive and pushy with Tess at a time when she’s so vulnerable and she starts to feel quite threatened by him, which I completely understood.

I was suspicious of Shelley, the grief counsellor, as the way she comes into Tess’ life seemed strange at first and she seems to cross the boundaries of how a counsellor would behave. At the same time I could see she was offering friendship to Tess at a time when Tess was feeling so vulnerable and alone. I was never sure if I could trust Tess and had a feeling that she might have ulterior motives.

I’m keeping this review fairly vague because I want future readers to get the same experience as I did reading this book. So I will just end by saying that the characters in The Perfect Betrayal are so perfectly drawn and the storyline is breathtakingly brilliant. I had so many suspicions about everyone in this book and genuinely had no real idea of what might happen. This book is flawless; it really is the perfect psychological thriller! This is a book that I won’t ever forget and I already can’t wait to read more by Lauren North!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Perfect Betrayal is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Lauren North writes psychological suspense novels that delve into the darker side of relationships and families. She has a lifelong passion for writing, reading, and all things books. Lauren’s love of psychological suspense has grown since childhood and her dark imagination of always wondering what’s the worst thing that could happen in every situation.

Lauren studied psychology before moving to London where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside. 

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lauren_C_North

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenNorthAuthor/

 

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Review: Horizontal Collaboration by Carole Maurel and Navie | @rolcamaurel @KoreroPress #GraphicNovel @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

“Horizontal Collaboration” is a term used to describe the sexual and romantic relationships that some French women had with members of the occupying German forces during World War II. In this poignant, female-centered graphic novel created by writer/artist duo Carole Maurel and Mademoiselle Navie, the taboo of “sleeping with the enemy” is explored through the story of a passionate, and forbidden, affair. In June 1942, married Rose (whose husband is a prisoner of war) intervenes in the detainment of her Jewish friend and then accidentally embarks on a secret relationship with the investigating German officer, Mark. There is only one step between heroism and treason, and it’s often a dangerous one. Inside an apartment building on Paris’s 11th arrondissement, little escapes the notice of the blind husband of the concierge. Through his sightless but all-knowing eyes, we learn of Rose and Mark’s hidden relationship, and also of the intertwined stories and problems of the other tenants, largely women and children, who face such complex issues as domestic violence, incest, and prostitution. This fascinating graphic novel tackles the still-sensitive topic of who it is acceptable to love, and how, and the story’s drama is brought vividly to life by intimate and atmospheric illustrations.

 

My Thoughts

Horizontal Collaboration is a stunning graphic novel telling the story of women in World War 2. The book opens with Virginie and her grandmother Rose in the present day talking about love, and this leads to Rose reflecting back on the man she truly loved (not the man she married). We then discover the stories of three women whose lives overlap during the war, and get to understand things from each of their perspectives.

The novel is set in an apartment building and we get to see inside each of the inhabitants’ lives and how they all intertwine.

Rose is married to Raymond, who is away at war, and she is raising their young son Lucien. Over the course of the memoir we see her relationship with a German soldier, which she desperately needs to be kept secret but she has fallen in love with him and can’t stop seeing him. This is such a dangerous situation for Rose, but I couldn’t help but feel for her.

Josephine is another young woman who works at a cabaret club but is also working as an escort as its the only way she can make ends meet. I really liked her and felt so anxious that things weren’t going to work out for her. She seemed so lonely and sad, never giving her full self to anyone.

Then there is Madam Flament. She was something of an enigma to begin with. She seems to be quite scatty; she’s obsessed with her cats in the basement and seems to care more about them than the people living in her building. But there’s something that made me think she was watching and taking in everything that was happening, and this made me nervous about what this might lead to.

I will say that when I initially started reading this book I found it a little confusing as the story does jump from character to character. I soon realised that I needed to take my time with this novel and read it slowly, to properly appreciate the story being told and to enjoy the beautiful illustrations. Once I did this I became fully immersed in this book and I was captivated by what I was reading and seeing.

The illustrations throughout this novel are stunning. The colour palette is predominantly sepia toned but there is colour, and the way things like the way candles light up a room are captured so beautifully. The images capture the mood; the happy and the heartbreaking in such a way that I so many times had to pause for a few moments just to take in an image before moving on to the next part.

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Camile is one of the only men in this book and I found that his story was the thread that pulled the others together. He is a kindly, older man that the other people in the building seem to gravitate towards. Camile is blind and it’s fascinating that for all the atmosphere of the time made people suspicious of each other and jump to conclusions; it is the one who is blind that really saw the full picture. He heard all the things that weren’t been said, he put the pieces together but he also keeps his counsel.

It felt to me all the way through this book that it was going to have a tragic ending. I think it’s partly the time the book is set in but also there is a feeling of pressure building inside the individual characters in this book and you can feeling it simmering but you know some part of it is going to give way. The tension is palpable at times, and I spent a lot of the time I was reading this book holding my breath.

This novel really captures the fear of living through a war, and also the way that people had to find happiness where they could and to survive however they could. I really felt that this book showed how nothing is ever black and white, and that in war there are so many more shades of grey than you could ever imagine.

Horizontal Collaborations is a beautiful novel is every way. The story is incredibly written and so moving, and the illustrations are stunning. I’d recommend this book to everyone, and if you’ve never read a graphic novel before I urge you to give this one a try. This is such a poignant book that has imprinted itself on my heart and I won’t forget it!

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Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and Anne of Random Things Tours for my invitation to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Horizontal Collaboration is out now and available here.

 

About the Authors

Navie and Carol Maurel Author pic

Carole Maurel cut her teeth on animated films before devoting herself to illustration, in particular, graphic novels. Her 2017 book The Apocalypse According to Magda was awarded the Artémisia Avenir award, which celebrates women in comics.

Navie is a screenwriter for press, cinema and television. She has a degree in history from The Sorbonne in Paris, where she specialized in the history of fascism – making Horizontal Collaboration an excellent fit for her first graphic novel.

Twitter @rolcamaurel

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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Book Review: The Sea Refuses No River by Bethany Rivers | @bethanyrivers77 @fly_press @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

The journey of grief is a strange one

and one not often talked about in our everyday reality of this society,

but I know what it’s like to dive deep,

down to the bottom of the wreck,

feel the ribs of the wreck,

after losing a parent so young in life

In this collection, the sea refuses no river, there is an acceptance of the pain and an acceptance of the healing moments; the healing journeys. To quote Adrienne Rich: I came to explore the wreck’, and in this collection, Bethany discovers how, ‘The words are purposes. The words are maps.’

 

My Thoughts

The Sea Refuses No River is a poetry collection that explores the different facets of grief. I was drawn to this book because ever since my mum died ten years ago I’ve felt a need to read other people’s experience of the same, or a similar, loss as it’s helped me process my own emotions.

This poetry collection is stunning! Bethany Rivers explores grief in a very honest and moving way. Some of the poems felt very emotional to me, and others felt very empowering in the way she looks grief right in the eye in such an unflinching way.

The third poem in the collection, At My Father’s Grave, brought a lump to my throat. It’s an easy poem to understand but there is real emotion and poignancy in the idea of looking beyond a loved one’s grave and seeing the flowers that are still thriving in the midst of the sadness. Life continues.

Look behind the stone.

I shuffle forwards and look down.

Snowdrops peeping

above the frosted ground.

I loved how the penultimate poem in this collection, I turn to the daffodils, looks at their brightness, and it felt like the two poems are the bookends of grief – you go from the depths of a dark winter to finally seeing the sunshine in the emerging spring. The poem before this is Every garden is a gift. This is the poem I’ve re-read most often so far. It initially made me think of the last hours of my mum’s life but the more I read it the more I felt that it’s more about allowing grief to be there in your life, finding a way to feel okay with it being there, whilst also allowing yourself to be happy again.

It’s Not About the Broccoli is similarly moving and is a poem that anyone who’s lost someone will connect with. We all have those thoughts of wondering how someone would have done something, and now we’ll never know. Also, how it’s so often the little things that bring up the biggest emotions once a parent has died.

I read this collection in one sitting to start with, I wanted to immerse myself in the whole book. I’ve since gone back at different times and read each poem on its own to get a sense of the individual works. There is a real sense of coming to terms with loss in this collection as a whole. There are poems that feel more raw but the further into the collection you get there is a sense of exploring how to live without your loved one, a sense of finding your place in a world that doesn’t have them in it anymore. It felt to me that the poems become about acceptance, about keeping a memory of your loved one alive while accepting that they are gone. I felt a whole gamut of emotions as I read this collection and by the end I felt a sense of peace.

The Sea Refuses No River is a stunning poetry collection. It’s an honest and personal journey through grief that many people will be able to connect with. I found real solace in this collection and it’s a book that I will return to time and again. I highly recommend this book.

Many thanks to Bethany, and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and the invitation to be on the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

The Sea Refuses No River is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Bethany Rivers Author Pic

Bethany Rivers (M.A. in Creative Writing from Cardiff University) is a poet and author based in Shrewsbury, who has taught creative writing for over eleven years and mentored and coached many writers from the start of their writing project through to publication.

Website : http://www.writingyourvoice.org.uk/

Twitter : @bethanyrivers77

Author page on Facebook 

 

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Book Review: Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor | @melaniecantor @TransworldBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Jennifer Cole has just been told that she has a terminal blood disease. She has three months to live — ninety days to say goodbye to friends and family and put her affairs in order. Trying to focus on the positives (at least she’ll never lose her teeth) Jennifer realises she has one overriding regret: the words she’s left unsaid.
Rather than pursuing a frantic bucket list, she chooses to stay put, and write letters to three significant people in her life: her overbearing, selfish sister, her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend finally telling them the things she’s always wanted to say but never dared.
At first, Jennifer feels cleansed by her catharsis. Liberated, even. But once you start telling the truth, it’s hard to stop. And, as she soon discovers, the truth isn’t always as straightforward as it seems, and death has a way of surprising you ..

 

My Thoughts

Death and Other Happy Endings follows Jennifer who has been feeling exhausted recently and after undergoing blood tests at the doctors is told she has a terminal illness and has three months left to live. She buys a calendar and starts counting the days, trying to work out what she should do with her final days. She decides to write letters to her sister, her ex-husband and her ex-boyfriend telling them all the things she wanted to say but never dared to!

I have to start by saying that the way I’ve described this book may make it seem a bit depressing but I swear to you that it’s absolutely not! It’s funny and moving, and it has you cheering Jennifer on. On hearing that she’s going to die soon she goes off for a walk and ends up doing something she never, ever would have done before she got the news. I knew then that this novel was going to be life-affirming and it was.

I loved that Jennifer wrote the letters that she did to her self-centred sister, her horrible ex-husband and her smarmy ex-boyfriend. She found it so cathartic, and it made me think of the kind of letters I might have written at points in my life to people who have treated me badly. It was satisfying to see her get it all out of her system. When my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer she got an urge to shred her wedding dress (she was long divorced but had kept her dress), I told her to just do it if it helped so she did. She felt so much better afterwards and wished she’d done it long ago. So I was thinking of her at times as I was reading Jennifer’s story and how she reacted to the diagnosis she received.

I also lost my best friend to cancer when I was in my early 20s and the last weeks I spent with her were full of laughter, and at times there were tears, but we were both so focused on wanting to live and have fun while we could. So I found it very moving when Jennifer and her best friend were talking about the wedding that Jennifer would likely not live to attend. It brought a lump to my throat but also happiness that at least Jennifer knew about the wedding and could help with the plans and choosing the dress.

This isn’t in any way a heavy-going book despite the subject matter but by the same token there is a believability in how Jennifer deals with the news she’s been given, and the way she grieves for the life she won’t get to have and the things she won’t get to do. Melanie Cantor has such a deft touch in the way she has written this book, it’s remarkable to deal with such a hard topic and never down play it whilst also retaining humour and lightness. It’s an utterly incredible novel.

Death and Other Happy Endings is a book that reminds you to live your life, to make time for the people that matter and to walk away from those that don’t. We all need a reminder of this from time to time and this book was the reminder I needed. I also felt like this novel gave me my best friend back for a little while as after I finished reading this I my mind was flooded with memories of her and that’s been wonderful for me.

There is so much life and joy in this book, it really is life-affirming. It’s a novel about friendships, about coming to terms with the past and finding a way forward when life has other plans for us. I adored this book – it made me cry, it made me laugh and I just felt a sense of the joy that can be found during even the hardest times. This book was solace for me and I will treasure it, it’s definitely going to be on my books of the year list! I highly recommend grabbing a copy of this book and reading it as soon as you possibly can!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Death and Other Happy Endings is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Melanie Cantor Author Picture

Melanie Cantor was a celebrity agent and publicist for over thirty years. Her clients included Ulrika Jonsson, Melinda Messenger and Melanie Sykes.

In 2004, she hosted a makeover show on Channel 4 called Making Space and in 2017 having just turned 60 she was scouted on Kings Cross station, subsequently appearing as a ‘real model’ in the most recent Dove campaign.

She turned her hand to writing in 2008. Death and other Happy Endings is her first published novel.

Twitter @melaniecantor

 

 

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Book Review: Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou | @lauriepetrou @noexitpress @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Two sisters. One fire. A secret that won’t burn out.

The Grayson sisters are trouble. Everyone in their small town knows it. But noone can know of the secret that binds them together.

Hattie is the light. Penny is the darkness. Together, they have balance.

But one night the balance is toppled. A match is struck. A fire is started. A cruel husband is killed. The potential for a new life flickers in the fire’s embers, but resentment, guilt, and jealousy suffocate like smoke.

Their lives have been engulfed in flames will they ever be able to put them out?

 

My Thoughts

Sisters of Mine is about the two Grayson sisters. They live in a small town and everyone knows who they are. The people in the town don’t know all of the secrets the two women hold though. One night the two sisters set a fire and the repercussions of that night will be long lasting in their lives!

On the cover of my copy of Sisters of Mine it has a sticker warning that readers will burn through the novel in one sitting and I have to say that this was absolutely true for me. I started reading this novel and it had me under its spell from the opening chapter and I didn’t move from where I was sitting until after I turned the last page!

This is a really suspenseful and mysterious novel. There is a really strong bond between Hattie and Penny, one that isn’t necessarily based on them liking each other. There is a strange dynamic at play in their relationship and for a long time it seems like one of them is pulling all the strings but then the power shifts somewhat. Ultimately, they’re both complicit in making their lives turn out the way they did, and a lot of it has to do with jealousy and perceived wrong-doings between them. The title of this book is so perfect. Going into the book it seemed like it was a reference to two sisters who are close but once I started reading the book I could see its more a reference to the power play between them and ownership over each other.

This isn’t a black and white novel; the two sisters each have good and bad in them and it’s impossible to point at one of them and say that what they did was worse. They involve each other in everything and so the lines become very blurred about who is ultimately responsible and who did the worst thing.

Sister of Mine has a really claustrophobic atmosphere to it. I felt like I was right there with Penny and Hattie and it was stifling at times seeing their lives up close. The writing is brilliant to make me feel that way though, it really is a beautifully written book.

Sister of Mine is a compelling, claustrophobic and stunning look at two sisters and what each is prepared to do for the other. I loved this book, it is still lingering in my mind now and it’s a few weeks since I finished reading it. I recommend this one!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Sister of Mine is due to be published on 20 June and can be pre-ordered here.

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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Book Review: The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett | @RachelAmphlett @BOTBSPublicity #TheFriendWhoLied

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About the Book

What she doesn’t know might kill her…Lisa Ashton receives a last-minute reprieve from death two weeks before her birthday. Regaining consciousness, she is horrified to learn one of her friends has been killed – and saved her life.

As she recovers, she uncovers a trail of carefully guarded reputations, disturbing rumours, and lies. Soon, Lisa begins to wonder if one of her friends is hiding a terrible secret.

Because five of them entered the escape room that day, and only four got out alive.

And someone is determined to cover their tracks before she can find out the truth.

Can Lisa find the killer before someone else dies?

 

My Thoughts

The Friend Who Lied follows Lisa, who as the book opens is just regaining consciousness and she has no idea what has happened. The novel then opens out as we follow the four friends as the secrets and lies that bound their group together may be about to break them apart!

The opening to this book is brilliant because we see things through Lisa’s eyes as she begins to come round, and for a moment I wasn’t sure what was happening! I wondered if she was being held somewhere but it quickly becomes clear that she is in hospital recovering from surgery that saved her life. We soon learn that five friends have been to an escape room but something has gone horribly wrong and one of them died.

Lisa’s friends are behaving oddly, they’re not visiting her as often as she would have expected and when she does see them she feels they’re keeping things from her. Then the police turn up asking questions about what happened in the escape room but Lisa can’t remember anything.

Lisa is the main character in this novel but we get the different perspectives of all four friends, and this made for a fascinating read. They have been friends since university, and I’m always intrigued by groups of people that remain friends long after they leave school/university as I never maintained my group of friends from that time because our lives moved in different directions. I’m in touch with some of them but not as a group. It seems this group of friends have things in common that will always bond them and I wanted to know more! The novel is mainly set in the present but there are chapters from their university days and that really ramps up the tension in this book as you start to understand who they are.

I didn’t trust anyone in this book – Hayley, David and Bec all seemed like they were out for themselves and very focused on how things would reflect on them. They all I loved how the focus shifted from one to another though because just as I thought I’d got to grips with what might be going on I got another viewpoint and my thoughts shifted again.

As you get further into the book you do feel the claustrophobia of the police closing in on this group as the investigation goes along. I thought it was really clever how these friends had done an escape room – a game where they were locked in and have to try and escape – and what happened there has led to them being in a real life escape room where their actual freedom is at stake!

I did have a growing suspicion about one of the characters as I got further into the book and I was proved right about them but there is more than one reveal as this book reaches its climax and I was stunned by most of them!

The Friend Who Lied is such a gripping thriller that had me hooked from start to finish! It was my first Rachel Amphlett novel but it absolutely won’t be my last, I can’t wait to read more from her! The Friend Who Lied is fast-paced, suspenseful and unputdownable; an all-round brilliant thriller!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Friend Who Lied is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Rachel Amphlett author photo

Before turning to writing, USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor and English Spy Mysteries espionage novels and theDetective Kay Hunter British police procedural series.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

 

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Book Review: The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean | @FelicityMcLean @PtBlankBks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #VanApfelGirls

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About the Book

‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

Tikka Molloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long hot summer of 1992, growing up in a distant suburb in Australia surrounded by encroaching bushland. That summer, the hottest on record, was when the Van Apfel sisters – Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – mysteriously disappeared during the school’s Showstopper concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river.

Did they run away? Were they taken?  While the search for the sisters unites the small community, the mystery of their disappearance has never been solved.   Now, years later, Tikka has returned home, to try to make sense of that strange moment in time. The summer that shaped her.  The girls that she never forgot.

 

My Thoughts

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is about Tikka Molloy, aged 11, and her friendship with the three Van Apfel sisters: Hannah, Cordelia and Ruth. The novel begins with Tikka in the present day where she’s living in Baltimore but she has to travel back to Australia to visit her family and she wants to know more about what happened to the Van Apfel girls.

This book is absolutely stunning. I started reading it in the garden on a beautiful sunny day and I just got lost in its pages. I was intrigued from the opening chapter and I just loved everything about this book.

Tikka is an interesting character and I like the way the book is framed both from her viewpoint as an adult reflecting on her childhood with the Van Apfel sisters but also from her viewpoint when she was an 11 year old. It really highlighted the way we remember things differently from the way they perhaps really were, and also how we just don’t fully understand things when we’re children and looking back through adult’s eyes puts a whole different spin on things.

The writing in this novel is mesmerising. I could feel the heat, I could feel the oppressive atmosphere of the Van Apfel family home when their parents were there. I had such a knot in my stomach reading parts of this book as I could see the things that 11 year old Tikka couldn’t quite grasp.

We know from the start of the novel that the Van Apfel girls all went missing but we don’t know then whether they ran away or were kidnapped, or if they came to harm so there is a mystery running through this book but it’s much more a coming of age novel. The Van Apfel girls felt almost ghostly to me throughout this book, even when we were there with them as young girls before they disappeared – it was as if they were right there but you could never got too close, you could never really get to know them fully. It wasn’t so much they had secrets as much as they were just set slightly apart from everyone else, even their best friends.

There was so much I could relate to in this book, I so remember that time when you’re wanting independence and feeling so grown up. You begin to feel you have a power but you don’t yet fully understand consequences. I felt such fear for Cordelia as she is so aware of her own body and the affect she’s having on boys (and grown men who should know better) and reading that as an adult was unnerving. I was willing her, and her sisters, to all be okay but it felt like this book was always leading towards something sad. There is a feeling of melancholy in the three sisters, and in the book as a whole, which I couldn’t look away from.

Running through this novel is the news story big in 1992 about Lindy Chamberlain who was cleared of killing her baby. She is the woman whose baby was taken by a dingo and never found. This gave another level to this novel as it did more than just reinforce when it was set but also the way that sometimes a child does just disappear. The thinking  when it happened was that the mother must have killed her baby, but her appeal in 1992 found that actually what the mother said happened was more likely to be true. This in relation to the Van Apfel girls has haunted me in the parallels and what it’s perhaps telling us about what really happened to them.

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is ultimately Tikka’s story; it’s about her trying to come to terms to what happened the summer she was eleven. It’s haunted her whole life to date and she seems to be at a place where she needs some resolution that she just can’t find. This was so relatable, we might not have had the same experience as her but we all have things in our lives that haunt us, we all have those ‘what ifs’, and so often we believe if we’d just done something differently then things might have turned out better. It’s life though, and not everything works out.

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is a captivating, mesmerising and haunting novel that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s such a beautifully written novel and I’m so glad that I got the chance to read it. I already know that this will be one of my top books of this year and I highly recommend it.

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Felicity McLean was born in Sydney Australia. She graduated at Sydney University with a BA in English and Australian literature and worked as a book publicist before embarking on a freelance career. Her journalism has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Courier Mail and the Big Issue, among others, and she has ghost-written celebrity autobiographies. THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE is her first novel. She lives with her English husband and two young children in Australia.

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw | @claidlawauthor @AccentPress @annecater #RandomThingsTours

The Space FRONT COVER

About the Book

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

 

My Thoughts

The Space Between Time follows Emma from being a young girl to her becoming an adult. Her father is a really famous actor, and her grandfather is an obscure astrophysicist. As her father’s fame grows, her mother’s mental health seems to decline and Emma struggles to understand what is happening, while at the same time being deeply affected by it.

I really connected with Emma throughout this novel, there are so many things that she experiences that I could identify with. She goes through loss in different ways and her pain really radiated off the page. The way she feels grief was so palpable; the quote below is exactly how grief is.

Once, at a party, I smelled her perfume and came close to tears. I still feel that she’s close to by, almost within touching distance, her hand not quite on my shoulder, her lips not quite about to kiss the top of my head: not quite, and just out of sight. It’s as if she’s in another room, close by: her cremated particles reaching out, decaying on the breeze, becoming smaller, and smaller, and smaller.

I loved the parts of the book where Emma describes a photo of herself with her mum and dad at a film premiere but later we get another perspective on the photo as she works through her feelings about her father as he gets older. This made me cry, it so resonated with my own life and I felt I was right there with Emma. It captured grief and the slow acceptance of loss, but also the way we come to see things differently as we age. We perhaps understand more of our parents that we couldn’t possibly have grasped when we were younger and hadn’t got the reference points that being an adult ourselves brings. It’s also the acceptance that comes with getting older of taking people as they are, and that perhaps we expected more of them than they could give to us.

I came to love the fact that this book didn’t feel grounded in a particular time. There are references to things so you do know when it’s set but there is a real timeless feel to the novel. This is where the astrophysics comes into play – the idea of what is here now, and what was here before and what might be in the future. The whole novel seems to play with these ideas and Emma becomes interested in her grandfather’s work as she seeks solace from the loss in her life and it brings her comfort.

We all live in permanent chaos, however ordered our lives seem, with every innocuous action having lots of little consequences that are completely unpredictable.

There are some brilliant moments of humour sprinkled throughout too that made me properly laugh. The part of the book where Emma ends up at protest march with a man she slept with once is so perfectly written. Their argument ends up echoing the different banners around them and it’s utterly brilliant!

This is a novel that requires concentration and time so it took me a little while to get into it but there was a moment where this book just clicked for me and from then on I just couldn’t put it down. I fell in love with this story, it’s stunning!

The Space Between Time is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read and I’m so happy that I got the chance to read it.  This is a book to savour – I recommend reading it slowly and taking your time with it. There is so much of life – the beauty and the pain – contained within its pages and it’s a book where you won’t want to miss a thing. I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Accent Press for my copy of this book and to Anne of Random Things Tours for my invitation to be on this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

The Space Between Time is due out on 20 June and can be pre-ordered here.

 

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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Book Review: A Modern Family by Helga Flatland | @HelgaFlatland @rosie_hedger @OrendaBooks @annecater

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About the Book

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

 

My Thoughts

A Modern Family follows three siblings – Liv, Ellen and Hakon, their partners, and children as they travel to Rome to celebrate their father’s 70th birthday. During the celebrations they find out that their parents have decided to divorce and this sends shockwaves through the family.

The novel is told from the perspectives of the three siblings and the way it unfolds is so well done. First we follow Liv, the eldest child, and she is someone who likes to feel in control who thinks she can keep everything together so the news from her parents knocks her world off its axis. When it moves to Ellen, the middle sibling, we see an overlap of the revelation of their parents announcement and her reaction to it before we then learn more about her life. She keeps herself to herself a lot more than her brother and sister. The novel then goes back to Liv, and then to Ellen again before we hear from Hakon, the younger brother and the baby of the family.

I’ve found it so hard to get my thoughts in any kind of order to write this review because I just connected with the novel so much. I’m one of three (and we have similar age gaps between us as the siblings in this novel) so the different perspectives all had something in them that I either recognised in myself or in one of my siblings, or in how we interacted with each other. I adored that the love the members of the family all have for each other is really clear, they have their conflicts but ultimately they do all care how the others are doing. But within that you see how the things that are small to one sibling can cause another to be crumbling inside and they just don’t get how or why they are reacting in the way they are. This is so heart-wrenchingly true that I wanted to cry at these moments.

Helga Flatland’s writing has a delicate poignancy that also really gets you in the gut at times. It’s insightful and it makes you think about situations you’ve been in with your own family.  I’m the eldest child in my family and I could understand how Liv felt a lot of the time. There is a pressure on being the oldest, right from childhood you’re expected to be more grown up and to look after, and be a good example for, the younger children. It stays with you into adulthood and it does shape who you become. I did find that I identified more with Ellen, the middle child in this novel, as the story progressed though. I felt for her as she struggled silently, privately and didn’t feel she could share what she was going through with her family. I could totally see why she didn’t say anything but I was willing her to. Sometimes the people we’re meant to have the closest relationships with are the very ones that it’s so hard to open up to. Hakon’s was the section that surprised me the most. Throughout the book, through his sisters’ eyes he’s someone who doesn’t want to conform to society’s stereotypes. He doesn’t believe in monogamy or marriage. I thought I knew the kind of person he was but when I got to see his perspective it was really lovely to see who he is behind all the big statements.

A Modern Family is a stunning novel – I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that so captured what it is to be a sibling, that captured the complicated dynamics of a family so perfectly and with such brilliant insight. At times this book made me cry, and at other times I was smiling to myself as I recognised a silly misunderstanding. I haven’t stopped thinking about these characters since I finished reading the book and I already want to read it all over again. I have to commend Rosie Hedger, the translator of A Modern Family, too because this felt like a novel that had been written in English. The way she has worked with Helga Flatland’s words is wonderful. I am certain that this will be one of my books of 2019, it’s incredible! I love it so much that I’m definitely going to buy a print copy (I read it on Kindle) to have with my favourite books on my bookcase! I can’t find all the words to do justice to A Modern Family but please just take my word for how beautiful it is and add it to your summer reading stacks now!

Many thanks to Orenda Books for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

A Modern Family is due out on 13 June and can be pre-ordered here.

 

About the Author

Helga Author Pic

 

Helga Flatland ( born 16 September 1984) is a Norwegian novelist and children’s writer. She was born in Notodden and grew up in Flatdal. She made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Bli hvis du kan. Reis hvis du må, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ debutantpris . The novel was the first in a trilogy, and was followed by Alle vil hjem. Ingen vil tilbake (2012) and Det finnes ingen helhet (2013). In 2015 she published the novel Vingebelastning, as well as the children’s book Eline får besøk. In 2015 Flatland was awarded the Amalie Skram Prize and Mads Wiel Nygaard’s Endowment.

 

 

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Book Review: We Never Said Goodbye by Helene Fermont | @HeleneFermont @BOTBSPublicity

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About the Book

Is it ever too late for love?

When Mike dumps Louise on their 20th Wedding Anniversary, her entire world comes to an end.

Devastated and confused, she attempts to make sense of what happened and returns to a city she’s avoided for two decades.

Will she be able to move on with the man she left behind or will Mike’s increasingly violent and unhinged behaviour continue to haunt and ruin her life? When the reason Mike left her at long last is revealed Louise’s life is in serious danger.

 

My Thoughts

We Never Said Goodbye is the story of Louise. The novel opens with her waiting for her husband to come home so that they can go out and celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Instead he phones her to tell her that their marriage is over!

This is the second novel I’ve read by Helene Fermont and she writes character driven plots that also have gripping storylines. She takes time to let us get to know all of her characters and to get to grips with their motivations.

We predominantly follow Louise in this novel and I felt that I really got to know her. She’s understandably devastated by her husband leaving her, and it’s made worse by the way he did it. She has really good friends in her life who take care of her as she grieves the loss of her marriage and she eventually starts to feel more herself again.

In the meantime her estranged husband Mike is becoming increasingly self-centred and vicious with everyone in his life. He treats his friend and business partner with no respect and in his new relationship with Abby he likes to show who’s boss.

The central thread in this novel is about Louise and Mike but the off-shoots off this story are also riveting. I felt completely invested in finding out what was going to happen to everyone in this novel and this kept me turning the pages!

The novel is set in both London and Malmo in Sweden. I really enjoyed exploring Malmo through this novel as Helene Fermont really brings the place to life and I could really envision everywhere she described. I loved the way the storyline went in Malmo, as we get to know more of Louise’s family and more about her background.

I really enjoyed We Never Said Goodbye and recommend it if you like domestic thrillers with great character exploration!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

We Never Said Goodbye is out now and available here.

 

 

About the Author

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Hélene Fermont writes character-driven psychological crime fiction with a Scandi Noir flavour. Known for her explosive, pacy narrative and storylines, she has published three novels – Because of YouWe Never Said Goodbye and His Guilty Secret – and two short story collections – The Love of Her Life and Who’s Sorry Now? Her fourth novel is due for release in the summer of 2019. After 20 years in London, Hélene recently returned to her native Sweden where she finds the unspoiled scenery and tranquillity a therapeutic boost for creativity. Enjoying a successful career as a Psychologist, when she’s not working her ‘day job’, Hélene spends her time writing, with friends and family, or playing with her beloved cat, Teddy. All three novels can be purchased via her website helenefermont.com/books/
Social Media Links:
 

 

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

BLOG TOUR (5)

#BookReview: Dead Inside by Noelle Holten | @nholten40 @KillerReads @BOTBSPublicity

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About the Book

The killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?

 

My Thoughts

Dead Inside was one of my most anticipated books for 2019 and I’m so happy to say that it more than lived up to my expectations. The novel is about domestic abuse. Three wife beaters are found dead and police believe there is a connection between the deaths. We see a newly formed unit, the Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit investigating the crimes and looking into the backgrounds of the men and the people connected to them. The novel follows quite a few characters and this allows us to see the story from multiple points of view and gives such a real insight into domestic abuse.

I was gripped by Dead Inside from the opening few pages and I read it in just two sittings. I loved Noelle Holten’s writing style, it’s incredibly readable. And the cast of characters all made me want to keep reading just one more chapter (and one more, and one more etc!).

I loved how there was real depth to this novel, the characters are all rounded and feel real and it shows how domestic abuse happens. The way it creeps into a relationship and catches a person off-guard, how initially you make excuses for the abuse and then you find you’re tiptoeing around the home to try not to trigger another assault. The main character, Lucy, that we follow in this novel is one such woman. She has a good career, she has good friends and yet her husband is beating her. It’s not just the physical violence, it’s the psychological abuse – the being watched, the lack of freedom and autonomy, that Patrick has done to Lucy. I very much appreciated the way this was shown because this is how it often is in real life. A person is trapped in the situation slowly and then it seems there is no way out. It’s not as easy as just leaving, it’s incredibly complex and difficult. Noelle Holten shows this so astutely.

Dead Inside is the first book in the DCI Maggie Jameson police procedural series and I already can’t wait for the next one. I found it interesting how Maggie isn’t the central focus of Dead Inside, although she is a prominent character, so there is still so much to learn about her in future books. I also liked that followed all sides of a story, it made for such an interesting novel.

This book kept me guessing all the way to the end. The reveal of the killer was a surprise to me, but it did all make sense. It’s not often that I don’t work out whodunnit so kudos to this book for keeping me on my toes!

This is a really gripping, fast-paced book that will keep you turning the pages long into the night. There is a real sensitivity to the story but at the same time Noelle never shies away from the reality of domestic abuse. It’s a really accomplished debut and I’m so looking forward to reading more by Noelle Holten!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Dead Inside is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside is her debut novel with Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

 

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#DeadInside B L O G T O U R

#BookReview: The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner | @marriner_p @annecater @audibleuk #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Margate 1920. The Great War is over but Britain mourns and its spirit is not yet mended.

Edward and William have returned from the front as changed men. Together they have survived grotesque horrors and remain haunted by memories of comrades who did not come home. The summer season in Margate is a chance for them to rebuild their lives and reconcile the past.

Evelyn and Catherine are young women ready to live life to the full. Their independence has been hard won and, with little knowledge of the cost of their freedom, they are ready to face new challenges side by side.

Can they define their own future and open their hearts to the prospect of finding love? Will the summer of 1920 be a turning point for these new friends? As the body of the Unknown Warrior is returned, can the nation find a way forward?

 

My Thoughts

The Blue Bench is a novel following four characters in the aftermath of the first world war. Edward and William have returned from the front but they are forever changed by what they have been through. Catherine and Evelyn are two young women keen to get on with their lives. The book is about their journeys as they each try to look to the future. The novel is predominantly told from the perspectives of Edward and Evelyn but all four of these characters feature all the way through.

The Blue Bench opens with a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which for the people concerned is an annual pilgrimage. The book then goes back in time to 1920 when we meet Edward, William, Catherine and Evelyn. It is such a beautiful and moving novel. It is a melancholy book but there are moments of lightness to balance the dark. It’s a meandering story that follows these four characters as they each try to build a life for themselves in the new world they find themselves in post war.

Edward was the character I was most fascinated by. He has suffered an horrendous facial injury in the war and has to wear an uncomfortable tin mask. He suffers great pain and requires more and more painkillers to get any kind of relief and this leads to him procuring these medications by whatever means necessary. I felt such sympathy for him as he struggles. I have no idea what it is to go to war but I do know what it’s like to have an obvious disability and to suffer with chronic pain, Paul Marriner captures this so well. Edward is a wonderful pianist, he enjoys playing piano and it seems to take him out of his real life for a while. People really enjoy his playing but it still is shocking to some of his audiences when they see his face; it’s as if the beauty of his playing is somehow cancelled out for people by the injury to his face. There is always something of a distance around Edward, even when his closest friend William is with him, it’s as if he can no longer allow himself to fully engage with people and life. I could feel his loneliness even when he was with people. I was rooting for him all the way through the novel and was hoping that he would beat the odds and find some happiness and calm in his life.

William is different to Edward, he’s more outgoing and a bit of a ladies’ man but he does have a caring side to him. He looks out for Edward, and tries to keep his mood buoyed up. Catherine and Evelyn are great characters too. I loved their friendship and the way they supported and encouraged each other. It’s so wonderful to find a novel where there are female characters who have each other’s backs, I really enjoyed reading about their growing friendship and seeing where life took them.

I very much appreciated how real events and people were interwoven into this novel, particularly the way the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be. I found these parts of the novel incredibly moving. I knew about the unknown soldier but to see the story of this brought to life in this story gave me goosebumps. It’s a real gift to write a work of fiction but to bring in real elements of history and make you feel as if you were there, to give you a new understanding of just how much something mattered.

I listened to The Blue Bench on audio book and the narrater, Colleen MacMahon, is wonderful. The pacing of the book was just right and she struck the right tone for the nature of the novel. She really made this book a joy to listen to and I will definitely be looking out for more audio books narrated by her. The audio is nineteen and a half hours long but it was one of those books that I was loving so much that I just didn’t want it to end.

I felt really quite bereft on finishing this novel. I loved every minute that I spent listening to it and I miss the characters. I still find myself wondering about them, they became so real to me. The Blue Bench is an incredible novel and one I won’t forget. It is a melancholy read, there is pain and sadness running through it but there is also fun and laughter and love – the novel may be set just after the Great War but the themes are universal and timeless in many respects. It’s a true reflection on how life is and I adored it beyond words. This will be one of those rare books that I will re-read in the future because I loved it so very much. I recommend this to everyone, it really is a stunning novel!

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Paul Marriner for my copy of this audio book. All thoughts are my own.

The Blue Bench is out now in audio book and available here. It is also

 

About the Author

Paul Marriner Author picture

Paul grew up in a west London suburb and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two children. He is passionate about music, sport and, most of all, writing, on which he now concentrates full-time. Paul has written four novels and his primary literary ambition is that you enjoy reading them while he is hard at work on the next one (but still finding time to play drums with Redlands and Rags 2 Riches).

 

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The Blue Bench 2 BT Poster

#BookReview: Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor | @Jennie_Ensor @BombshellPub

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About the Book

Neuroscientist Bea Hudson fears she is a bad mother and that her career will be thwarted by family life. When her husband suspects Bea of having an affair with her best friend, a chain of events is triggered, leading to a crisis in Bea’s life.

Bea Hudson, a neuropsychologist living in Godalming, is struggling to cope with the challenging behaviour of her obsessive husband Kurt and their disruptive four-year-old daughter Fran. On top of this, her boss is pressuring her to get results from her research. Bea has her work cut out.

Things come to a head when Kurt goes away on an extended business assignment. While sacking staff and drinking heavily, Kurt’s insecurities run amok and he becomes convinced that Bea’s close friend Madeleine is seducing his wife and unduly influencing his daughter.

Meanwhile, childless artist Madeleine sees her friend torn between the demands of work and offers to help with Fran. But when she reveals a startling desire to her unsympathetic therapist Mr Rowley, he advises her to focus on the attention of Colin, a man she met in a lift.

Can Bea survive the demands of her career and the turmoil in her marriage without having a breakdown? Can Madeleine survive Kurt’s anger and find happiness with Colin? And can love survive marriage, middle-age, alcohol and ambition?

 

My Thoughts

Not Having it All is a novel predominantly about Bea. We follow her as she tries to keep some semblance of order in her hectic life. She has a big research project on at work, an absent husband and a demanding daughter. The pressure is building from all sides and Bea is increasingly fraught.

I love the title of this book, particularly the way it’s used on the front cover. The ‘Having it All’ and with the ‘Not’ slapped in front of it because this sums up the novel so perfectly. On face value most of the characters in this book, from an outsider’s point of view looking in, do have it all. Great careers, lovely homes etc but the grass always seems greener. Bea is a very successful neuropsychologist but the demands of her research, her young daughter and her husband, not to mention the nanny, are leaving her frazzled. She’s not got enough hours in the day. She looks at her best friend Maddie and sees a single, indendant woman with no children or commitments and she can’t help but be wistful. But we also get to see Maddie’s life and she’s not happy either. She longs for a child, a family of her own and wishes she had a lot of what Bea has. This takes a darkly comedic turn when Maddie starts seeing a Freudian therapist!

Then there’s Bea’s husband Kurt. He has to work away a lot and this leads to him becoming fixated on how much time Bea either has alone or with Maddie. He wonders if an affair could be happening. He takes desperate measures to try and find out. This all went way too far and I wanted to slap him but there was also something very amusing about where his obsession led him, like him involving his nosey neighbour in his plotting.

Bea and Kurt’s nanny, Katie, is a funny character. The scene with the dog in the park made me laugh out loud, I could picture it so vividly. She’s quite a demanding nanny but she also has to put up with a lot as the daughter Fran, aka Little Fiend, comes across as a brat. As a reader I felt sorry for Fran because of how the adults around her behaved and it obviously affects her. The nanny doesn’t have the all-seeing eye that the reader has though so I felt bad for her too as she deals with all the fall-out.

Not Having It All is predominantly told through journal entries, emails, letters and text messages, which really adds depth to the book, and to the characters. We get to find out their innermost thoughts and frustrations, which I loved. It keeps the novel moving at such a pace that you just don’t want to put it down!

I very much enjoyed this novel and I felt like I knew all of the characters really well as they’re all so fully rounded and well written. I keep wondering how Bea and Maddie are getting on! Not Having It All really does show that the grass isn’t always greener, and that asking for help or putting a bit more effort into what you already have might just bring you the happiness and calm you crave. This is a light-hearted read but also a book that made me think, and I loved every minute that I spent reading it.

Not Having It All is witty and fun, and makes you appreciate the life you have all the more! I recommend it!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Not Having It All is out now and available here.

 

I’ve previously reviewed Jennie Ensor’s The Girl in his Eyes.

 

About the Author

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Jennie Ensor lives in London and has Irish roots. During a long trip overseas she obtained a Masters in Journalism and began her writing career as a journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to accidents in the mining industry. Her debut novel BLIND SIDE was published by Unbound in 2016. In January 2018 her short story ‘The Gift’ was placed in the Top 40 of the Words and Women national prose competition. Her poetry has appeared in many UK and overseas publications, most recently Ink Sweat and Tears. She sings in a chamber choir.

 

 

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#BookReview: Because of You by Helene Fermont | @HeleneFermont @BOTBSPublicity #BecauseOfYou

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About the Book

When Hannah and Ben meet at a friend’s party, he knows she’s The One. But Hannah’s in an intense relationship with Mark and planning to return to her native Sweden to embark on a teaching career.

Desperate to make Ben fall in love with her, rich spoilt heiress Vanessa sets in motion a devious string of events that ultimately changes the course of four people’s lives indefinitely.

Hannah is the love of Ben’s life, yet Vanessa will stop at nothing to claim the man she is convinced is her destiny.

 

My Thoughts

Because of You spans 36 years of Hannah Stein’s life – from being a teenager on a gap year in London through until her middle years. It was wonderful to read a book with a long timeline, it was refreshing to get to stay with these characters and see how their lives changed over the years.

I very much enjoyed reading about the older members of Hannah’s family – particularly her grandmother Zipporah, and the older lady, Ella, that Hannah stays with when she first moves to London. I loved how they guided Hannah through her early adulthood and tried to keep her secure without crowding her. I loved Hannah’s relationship with her parents and brother too, it was nice to read about such close bonds within a family and to explore how roles change as everyone gets older. I don’t think this is often covered in novels as the usual short time span doesn’t allow for seeing how everyone ages and changes so it was refreshing and enjoyable to follow all the characters lives in this book. It was moving to see Hannah’s parents age to read about how that then changed the relationship – it comes to us all in life but it’s not often in  contemporary fiction that we get to see people go from still quite young and full of vitality through to old age and all that comes with it. Seeing Hannah become the age her parents must have been at the start of the novel brings it all around full circle.

There is a darker side to this novel – mainly from Hannah’s boyfriend Mark when she first arrived in London and after a while we see that he’s becoming quite controlling and then obsessed with her. Later in the novel Hannah suffers at the hands of an obsessive colleague who won’t take no for an answer. Because of You doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and, although at times the storylines were hard to read, it was actually good to see these issues covered in contemporary fiction because these things do happen to people in real life.

Because of You is a great mix of contemporary fiction and noir. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who loves long novels that are cross genre. I’ll certainly be looking out for more books by Helene Fermont in the future, I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Because of You is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Born into a bilingual family (Swedish/ English) Hélene Fermont enjoyed an idylic childhood on the outskirts of Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city and major cultural hub. Growing up in the 1970s she had a brief musical career on Swedish TV and radio. Hélene lived in London for over 20 years but has recently returned to Sweden. Hélene is a former teacher, a practising psychologist, and currently the author of three novels, all of which are psychological suspense with a nordic noir flavour. Her fourth novel is coming soon!

You can find Helene Fermont at the following sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helenefermontauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/helenefermont

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/helenefermont/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/helenefermontwriter/

 

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BLOG TOUR (2)

#BookReview: Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald | @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #WorstCaseScenario

Worst Case Scenario Cover

About the Book

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line.
Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.

Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.

 

My Thoughts

Mary is a probation officer and she works hard but she’s fed up and moody at dealing with all she has to put up with. Liam is a man who was put in prison for the murder of his wife but he’s about to be released and Mary is to be his probation officer. Liam becomes something of a fascination for Mary and this leads to trouble!

I’m going to start this review at the beginning… the opening line to Worst Case Scenario is this:

Every time Mary tried to relax in the bath, a paedophile ruined it.

and I was hooked from this very moment on! How can you not be intrigued? And how can you not want to know more? It’s one of the best openings to a book that I’ve ever read and I just knew this was going to be a riot of a novel!

I love Mary Shields! She’s moody and annoyed and she’s dealing with the menopause and all that comes with that; her patience is at rock bottom and on top of that she barely even cares that it’s so! I’m at the very beginning of this menopause journey but I could so identify with Mary and the short fuse that she seemed to be permanently on. I know that I care less and less what people think these days and Mary is that to the Nth degree!

Worst Case Scenario is a dark book but it’s also hilariously funny. One minute I was horrified at what I was reading and the next I was properly laughing out loud. Helen Fitzgerald really captures how hard I imagine it must be working in the probation service when people are expected to take on more and more work but do it in less and less time whilst making sure that no one is re-offending. We see the seriousness of this and it’s never belittled but Mary goes down a dark path in her growing obsession with Liam and this is where the dark humour comes in!

Mary finds herself growing attracted to Liam as she reads sections of his book of letters but at the same time she’s infuriated at him, and the other men she is dealing with at work, and their inability to just do what is asked of them. She just wants to quit her job and be done with it. Her husband is an artist and has been discovered so it seems that she may be able to afford to give it all up soon. This leads to her caring even less about what people think of her professionally. Mary’s life increasingly spirals as the novel goes on. She drinks more and smokes more joints, she’s careless with her webcam and she just isn’t bothered.

I loved Worst Case Scenario! It’s so different to what I was expecting but it’s the most brilliant, messed up and hilarious book I’ve read in ages. It’s such a perfect book, it’s very funny but also moving at times. It does take things to another level in some ways but in others it’s a book that you can identify with or you find you know someone a bit like a person in the book. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable (rather like the menopause!) but it really will really make you laugh out loud too. It’s impossible to do this book justice, I simply adored it! Please just go buy a copy and read it, you absolutely won’t regret it!

Many thanks to Orenda for my copy of this book, and Anne for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Worst Case Scenario is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Helen FitzGerald is one of thirteen children and grew up in country Victoria. After graduating with honours in English and History she left Australia to go travelling, meeting and marrying Scots-Italian journalist, Sergio Casci, along the way. They live in Glasgow and have two children.

 

 

 

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#BookReview: 10 Things to do Before You leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe | @BernardOKeeffe1 @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Ruby has had a difficult year to say the least. Just before she started Sixth Form, her father died from a heart attack. In the difficult months that followed Ruby became so depressed that she attempted suicide. She missed a lot of school, but now she’s about to go back and she’s worried. Is she well enough to get through her final year? Will the depression return? Should she apply to university? The night before term begins, Ruby finds something that makes the prospect even more daunting: an envelope addressed to her in her father’s handwriting. Inside is a list: ‘Ten Things I Hope You Do Before You Leave School’. It makes no sense. She can’t understand why he’d want her to do these things, let alone whether she’ll be able to do them.As Ruby navigates her way through UCAS, parties, boyfriends and A-Levels, she decides to give the list her best shot, but her efforts lead her into strange situations and to surprising discoveries. Will Ruby survive her last year at school? Can she do the ten things on The List? Will doing them make any difference?

 

My Thoughts

10 Things To Do Before You Leave School is the story of Ruby. She has had a really awful year – her dad died suddenly, which led to her becoming increasingly depressed and she attempted suicide. The novel opens with her making her return to school and we see all the anxiety that goes with that. Right before she goes back to school she finds an envelope with her name on and it’s written in her dad’s handwriting. Inside is a note of ten things he hopes she’ll do before she leaves school.

This is such an incredible novel and one I’m so glad that I read. Ruby is such a believable, real character and I could feel her pain throughout this book. She carries so much guilt about her father’s death and she’s still grieving his loss. Then she’s dealing with her recovery from depression and trying to come to terms with her suicide attempt. Not to mention all the normal teenage stuff that all teens deal with – boyfriends, school and exam pressures,  wanting to fit in. She has such a great attitude considering all she’s been through, or perhaps even because of it, and I was rooting for her to find her way through it all. It’s many years since I was Ruby’s age but I can remember what it felt like to be a teenager. I also had a very hard time during my A-Levels and really empathised with Ruby as a result.

I still haven’t got that study habit back, that feeling that I’m reading properly and that everything’s going in the way it used to. Maybe it’s the drugs. Or maybe (and this is a more frightening thought) what’s happened has changed me for good and I’ll never be the same again.

I know the pain of losing a parent, albeit I was in my 20s when my mum died. It changes you in so many ways to lose someone who you believed would somehow always be there. Facing life knowing your parent won’t be there makes everything different and Bernard O’Keeffe really captures the sense of loss.

I loved the relationship that Ruby has with her younger brother. They are typical siblings who argue and wind each other up but they also absolutely have each other’s backs. They are there for each other when they need to be and I adored that.

I found it interesting that we don’t get to see what’s on the list Ruby finds right away. We see her thinking about it and wondering how on earth she’s going to ever be able to do all of these things. We then see her going about her life and at certain points in the novel we see one of the things on the list as she ticks it off. At first I was frustrated because I wanted to know what was on it but actually I really appreciated seeing Ruby achieve each item and to have the satisfaction along with her that she’d accomplished something. I did wonder if the list would come to be something else that added pressure to her when she’s already quite fragile but it really does help her. It made me wish I’d had a list when I was her age and that something outside of myself had propelled me to the things that scared me, or that I didn’t have the confidence to do. I won’t spoil what’s on the list or whether Ruby manages to complete it but there are difficulties along the way, which made this book all the more real for me.

I recommend this book to everyone but particularly to teenagers – it’s a book that I wish I could have read when I was that age. It’s raw and honest and moving but it also gives you hope. I loved it!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

10 Things to do Before You leave School is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Bernard O Keeffe Author Picture

After graduating from Oxford, Bernard O’Keeffe worked in advertising before training as a teacher. He taught for many years, first in a North London comprehensive, then at Radley College, where he was Head of English, and most recently at St Paul’s School in London, where he was Head of Sixth Form.

He has reviewed fiction for Literary Review and The Oxford Times and, as an editor of The English Review, has written over a hundred articles for A Level students on subjects ranging from Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle to Jane Austen and Shakespeare. In 2013 he published his first novel, ‘No Regrets’.

 

Website: http://www.bernardokeeffe.com/

Twitter : @BernardOKeeffe1

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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#BookReview: Take Me To The Edge by Katya Boirand | @Katyahazel @Unbounders @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Take Me To The Edge Cover

About the Book

FIVE WORDS IS ALL IT TAKES TO PROVOKE A CHAIN OF CREATION. That is what Katya Boirand discovered the first time she asked a friend for five words and then turned them into a poem, using the words and the subject as her inspiration. This spark started a movement, and soon Katya was asking friends and strangers alike for their five words of choice. Take Me to the Edge is a selection of these poems, sitting alongside a portrait of each subject, in this stunning and joyous celebration of language, connection and art.

 

My Thoughts

Take Me To The Edge is a collection of poems which all stem from just five words that different people in Katya Boirand’s life had given her. The words are random and often seemingly completely unconnected but Boirand has taken these words and written some gorgeous poems that are collected together in this beautiful book.

The book itself is a lovely hardback and it felt like a real treat to sit down and read. Each poem is on a double page spread with one side being the poem and the other a stunning photograph of the person who gave her the five words. It really is a delight to read the poem and to take time to appreciate the fabulous photography too.

I adored the interconnectedness throughout this book in that the poems each come from five words a friend has given her. Then the photo of her friend is taken in such a way to encapsulate  the poem that came from those words. It was such a special experience to notice this and it really made me slow down to take each page in.

There are poems, like the one taken from Matt McCabe’s five words, that had a greater effect on me when combined with the fabulous photo of him on Westminster Bridge in London – it really made me stop and ponder the poem a little longer, and to think of the importance of the words ‘Fold fear beneath love / Feel peace in its prime‘. There are poems like the one created from Trish Campbell’s words that captivated me. This poem is one I read quite a few times and really sat and thought about. The photo of Trish in the sea is so perfect in combination with the poem that it brought a lump to my throat. Then there are the poems that feel really intimate, such as the poem that gave the collection its title, using words from Naurija Ziukaite – ‘Ah love, my one / I implore you / Take me to the edge‘. All so different and showing so many aspects of what makes us human.

The poems cover a wide scope but there is such a connection to the ones that went before and the ones that came after because of how they came to be. They are a snapshot of each person’s life but also of life in general and I certainly found there were a few poems that really spoke to me.

I love that at the back of the book there is a brief biography of each person who contributed five words, along with the five words they had given Boirand. When I discovered this I immediately went back and read each poem again, whilst referencing against the words they had picked. This was such a lovely thing to be able to do and I really appreciated that on getting to the end of the collection there was more for me to learn.

The thing I loved most about this book was the pure joy that I found in reading it. It’s a beautiful object, with stunning photographs and gorgeous poems. It’s a celebration of life and it was a welcome escape from all the trials and tribulations of the world we’re living in at the moment. I definitely recommend this book, I know I’ll be buying copies as gifts for people that I know will love this every bit as much as I did.

Take Me To The Edge is beautiful, captivating and a wonderful escapism!

Many thanks to the Unbound and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Take Me To The Edge is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Katya Boirand Author Pic

Katya Boirand is an actress, dancer, writer and poet. She has travelled the world but now has roots in London. Take Me to the Edge is her first poetry collection.

 

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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#BookReview: Song of the Robin by R. V. Biggs | @RVBiggs @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

The whispered voices and unsettling dreams were puzzling enough, but when the visions began, disquiet crept into Sarah Richards’ heart.

Living a joyless and unfulfilled existence, Sarah’s life, however, is ordered and routine. But one autumn morning she sees a figure waving to her, the figure of a man more ghostly than real
Several times he appears, but is the spectre harmless, or are his intentions malevolent?

Disturbed and intrigued, Sarah endeavours to understand the mystery, to identify her unknown stalker.

But with each visitation, she becomes ever more bewildered, and as her ordered life begins to unravel, she questions the reality of all that she knows, and with mounting horror, even her own sanity.

My Thoughts

Song of the Robin is a novel about Sarah who starts having unsettling visions and losing track of time. Her life seems very unhappy and unfulfilling, and she becomes increasingly focused on the person in her visions rather than her real life.

I found I sympathised with Sarah from the start as she’s stuck in an unhappy marriage with a man who doesn’t seem to have much respect for her. She’s increasingly on her own and feeling frustrated with how much she has to do around the house. The visions she has are creepy and unsettling to read about as it’s not clear what’s going on initially – is it a ghost, is Sarah hallucinating, is she ill? As the book progresses I became frightened for her as her life seems to descend out of control. Her friend tries to get her to see a doctor but Sarah is too lost in trying to work out who she is seeing and hearing in her visions to be able to help herself. I suffered with PTSD for many years and one of my symptoms was absences where time would pass and I would literally have no concept of it. This isn’t what is wrong with Sarah but it gave me a real connection to her as I know how frightening it is to one minute be in one place and another to realise you’re somewhere else with no memory of getting there. This aspect of the novel is very well written and I was absorbed in it.

I gradually began to work out what might be happening to Sarah but I didn’t really get it right. It was so unsettling as flashes of her visions began to make some sense to me but I could never fully put my finger on what was going on. I loved that it kept me guessing until all was revealed.

Alongside the storyline with Sarah’s visions we learn more about Sarah’s life. She lost her mum a while ago and she misses her terribly. There is a moment in the book when she goes to visit her mum’s grave and something happens that brings her immense comfort. I admit I cried at this point in the novel. My mum died a decade ago and I still miss her – sometimes I can still smell her perfume and I find it so comforting. I highlighted the section in the book and I will re-read it on the days when I feel in need of some solace. There is a real exploration of the strong bond we have with loved ones, even when they’re no longer with us, throughout this novel. There is a sense that we will always find our way back to the people we love in one way or another and I adored the way these parts of the book were written.

The writing in this novel is beautifully descriptive. Some of it is set in Scotland and I could visualise the landscape as if I was right there with the characters. I do love when setting in a book is done well, and it’s wonderful to feel like I’ve experienced a place that I’ve never been to before.

This book was so different to anything that I’ve read before and I’m so glad I took a chance and read it. This is one of those books that’s hard to define but it has something in it for everyone – it’s a mystery, it’s creepy at times but it’s also really comforting and beautiful. Song of the Robin is a book that I loved and I’ll be recommending it to everyone I can!

Song of the Robin is a captivating, mysterious and brilliant debut novel. I will certainly be looking out for more of R. V. Biggs’ work!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Song of the Robin is out now in ebook and paperback and is available here.

 

About the Author

R V Biggs Author Photo

R V Biggs lives in a small ex-mining village near Wolverhampton, England, with his wife Julie, and Mags the black lab. He has four grown up children and six grandchildren.

Walking with the dog is a favorite pastime and much of the story line for his first novel was developed during these lengthy outings.

Robert worked for 35 years in telecommunications but changed career paths to a managerial supporting role within a local Mental Health NHS trust. It was during the period between these roles that the concept for Song of the Robin was born.

Robert is a firm believer that destiny and co-incidence exist hand in hand and this conviction extends to his writing. He has a passion for holistic well-being and after first-hand experience of the potential healing powers of Reiki, a form of energy therapy, took a Reiki level 1 training course to heighten his spiritual awareness. Robert’s experiences in these areas helped conceive the ideas that led to Song of the Robin and its sequel Reunion, novels with central themes of fate, love and the strength of family. His writing however is not fantasy but is set in modern times involving real people living real lives.

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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#BookReview: The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond | @Bond2Caroline @CorvusBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

To lose your family is heart-breaking.

To be forgotten by them is unforgiveable.

Cassie and Erin are sisters. They are close – in age, looks and personality – but there is one crucial difference: Cassie is adopted.

At seventeen, Cassie sets out to find her birth mother. She is hungry for the truth, but she discovers her adoption was far more complicated than even she could have imagined. In uncovering her birth identity Cassie learns that her adoptive parents have kept a terrible secret from her her whole life, a secret that now threatens to destroy everything she has ever held dear.

 

My Thoughts

The Forgotten Sister is the story of Cassie, who was adopted by her parents when she was two. She’s had a happy, safe life with them but she is beginning to wonder about her birth mother. This leads to secrets and lies being uncovered and life as Cassie knew it could be about to be destroyed.

This novel is told predominantly in the present day, with some flashbacks to a few years previously. It opens with Cassie’s parents getting a phone call that she’s been hurt and then goes back to four months previously. I was gripped by this novel right from the beginning. The characters are all so real and believable and I was intrigued by how they got to where they were.

Cassie is such a great character. She has a normal relationship with her parents, and a close relationship with her younger sister Erin. She has a boyfriend who her parents don’t fully approve of so there is some normal teenage sneaking around but on the whole she’s honest with her family. Then one day she realises she wants to know more about her birth mother but when she asks her parents she senses that they’re not telling her the whole truth. Her parents do go down the route of trying social services to see if her mother can be found but in the meantime Cassie takes things into her own hands. Cassie now has secrets and she becomes very determined to do what she has to to find her birth mother. She develops quite an attitude at times, but whilst I could see how reckless and naive she was at times I never stopped sympathising with her.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be adopted and to not know anything about your birth parents. The moment Cassie has the realisation that she doesn’t know if there are any illnesses in her family was startling to me, and I really felt for her as she reacted with shock at all the things she doesn’t know, and might never get to know.

I did feel for Cassie’s parents too. They made a decision when they adopted Cassie and have had to live with that ever since. I was shocked at the way they behaved at times but over the course of the novel I could see that they had done the best they could with the place they were in. What initially seemed like a cut and dry situation actually had many degrees to it, and this is what gave this novel its strength.

Ultimately, this is a novel that explores what makes a family, and how keeping secrets – even with the best of intentions – will always have consequences down the line. I felt that this novel was a very real, and emotional look at adoption from many angles and I really appreciated the insight it gave me.

The Forgotten Sister is a powerful and emotional novel that is very readable; it will linger in your head long after you’ve finished reading. I recommend it!

Many thanks to Corvus Books and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Forgotten Sister is out now in ebook and paperback and is available here.

 

About the Author

Caroline Bond Author Picture

Caroline Bondwas born in Scarborough and studied English at Oxford University before working as a market researcher for 25 years. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Leeds Trinity University, and lives in Leeds with her husband and three children. Her first novel, The Second Child, was published in 2018.

 

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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#BookReview: Breakers by Doug Johnstone | @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #TartanNoir #Breakers @annecater

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About the Book

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.

On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.

With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.

 

My Thoughts

Breakers follows Tyler, a seventeen year old boy, who is living in a really deprived area. His mum is a drug addict and incapable of looking after her family so Tyler is take care of his little sister Bean. He also has two older siblings, Barry and Kelly, who drag Tyler into their life of stealing from rich people’s homes. One night a burglary goes wrong and Tyler doesn’t know how to cope with what’s happened.

Early on in the novel Tyler is along with his brother and sister scoping out a home to burgle and Tyler had a bad feeling as soon as he starts going through the family’s belongings. Something isn’t quite right. Then the worst happens and the homeowner arrives home and Barry stabs the woman and leaves her for dead. At this point I was so angry with what they’d done but very quickly we see that Tyler has a conscience. He was forced to go along on the robbery and he tries to make right what has happened in the small way he can without implicating anyone. Tyler knows that if anything happens to him that his little sister will be taken into care and he refuses to let that happen to her.

This is a novel that shows the level of deprivation that people are living in, it was hard to read at times as Tyler has clearly taken on all responsibility for a sister that is only ten years younger than him. He hasn’t had much of a childhood and now at the point when he should be out with his friends and finding his feet in the world he’s having to be a parent to his sibling. He never begrudges anything that he does for Bean though, and she clearly trusts him to look after her so their bond is a beautiful thing in that shone through all the darkness in their lives. I never expected to feel so attached to Tyler. I soon had him weighed up and I was rooting for him all the way through this novel. There were moments when I could have cried for him, and moments when I wanted to swoop in and help. Mostly I was in awe of his ability to take care of his sister and his mum, and to never let his own fears and worries fall on their shoulders. He never loses compassion for his mum either, in spite of the mess she’s in and I found that incredibly moving. He gets frustrated with the situation she’s in but he never punishes her for it, he knows he might lose her to the drugs but part of him never lets go of the hope that she might one day find her way out.

Sometimes Tyler needs some time and space away from the weight of his family dramas and he breaks into houses for some peace, and to experience a short time of seeing what someone else’s family might be like. On one of these break-ins he meets Flick and they form a friendship. The contrast between Tyler and Flick’s lives was stark to begin with. Her family have money and Flick seemingly has everything she could possibly want. As the book goes on it’s apparent that they have more in common than it first appeared as both are looking for someone who understands them and accepts them for who they are. It seems like each may have found the person they need and I was willing for them to find a way to be together.

This is such a hard-hitting and devastating novel but it has such heart, which gives it a beauty that I wasn’t expecting. I knew I was going to like this book before I even started reading it but I didn’t expect that I was going to love it quite as much as I did. I finished reading this a few days ago and I feel like my love for it is just grown stronger. I keep thinking about Tyler and hoping he’s okay. It’s a book that gave me so much more than I was expecting and it’s left its mark on my heart. I now want to read everything that Doug Johnstone has ever written!

Breakers is fast-paced, gritty and dark but there is hope at its centre. I found this novel impossible to put down and I’m in awe of how good it is. I highly recommend it, it’s absolutely brilliant!

Many thanks to Orenda for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Breakers is out now in ebook and available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

 

About the Author

Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His ninth novel, Fault Lines, was published by Orenda Books in May 2018. His previous books include The Jump, shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Novel, Gone Again, an Amazon bestseller, and Hit & Run (2012) which was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.

Doug was recently Writer in Residence with William Purves Funeral Directors. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow, and was RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh 2014-2016. Doug was also Writer in Residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. He is also a mentor and manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy and Emergents in the Scottish Highlands.

Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield as player-manager. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released three solo EPs. He currently plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a crime writing supergroup featuring Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste.

Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars. He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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#BookReview: The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir (Narrated by Penny Scott-Andrews) | @SussexMysteries @penandrews @rararesources #TheTapestryBag

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About the Book

In the quiet seaside town of Tamarisk Bay,the police appear to be doing little to find Zara.  Her friend Janie decides to make it her mission to track her down.   It’s the ‘swinging sixties’ and Janie fears that Zara may be mixed up with drugs, alcohol, or worse.  As Janie explores the strange circumstances of Zara’s disappearance, she starts to question the truth about Joel’s death.

Janie runs the mobile library and has a passion for crime fiction, especially Agatha Christie.  Can Poirot help Janie solve the mystery of Zara’s disappearance?

As she looks for clues Janie comes across some unsavoury characters who each have a reason for wanting Joel dead.  Can she untangle the web of lies and find out the truth?

 

My Thoughts

Janie is a young woman who reconnects with her old friend Zara but then soon after something terrible happens and Zara disappears. Janie then makes it her mission to discover what happened to her. Janie is passionate about crime and mystery novels, in particular Agatha Christie, so she uses her knowledge gleaned from these books to help her solve Zara’s disappearance!

I listened to this book on audio (from Audible) and I was very quickly drawn into the story. I felt like the narrator, Penny Scott-Andrews, really captured Janie’s spirit and personality and brought her to life. Janie is young, and a little naive, but she’s also enthusiastic and wants to be a part of things. Early in the novel we learn that Janie has recently re-connected with her old school friend Zara and the two women begin having fun getting to know each other again. I felt like Janie really was in awe of Zara and it brought out the younger side of her as she was back looking up to Zara and wanting to be confident like her. Janie is happily married and Zara has a boyfriend Jamie and all seems great until something terrible happens and Zara retreats into herself. Janie immediately goes to Zara’s aid and helps her through the heartache but then one day Zara disappears, and leaves no trace of herself behind.

Janie quickly becomes frustrated with how little the police appear to be doing to find Zara and so she starts to follow her own leads, inspired by her beloved Poirot! I loved this part of the book because Janie is the kind of amateur detective that I think I would likely be. She finds clues and pieces together elements of what might have happened but she struggles to put it all together. I think in part due to her naivety over what some people are actually capable of. She is such an endearing young woman though and I loved reading about her.

There is a real sense of time and place in The Tapestry Bag, which I also adored. It’s set in the 60s, which I hadn’t been aware of when I started listening but I soon felt like I was immersed in that time period. The location is a small seaside town called Tamerisk Bay and I felt the novel captured what it is to live in a small town. It really worked as Janie tries to uncover what happened to Zara whilst also not wanting all and sundry to know she is playing amateur detective! This all added to my love of this novel.

As I was coming to the end of this book I was delighted to realise that there is another book featuring Janie and I already cannot wait to read, or listen, to it. It’s wonderful to discover a new (to me) author whose writing was exactly what I needed when I read it, and who now is going to be a must-buy author!

The Tapestry Bag is a brilliant and gripping mystery novel, which I utterly adored and I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Tapestry Bag is out now on audio book and is available here.

 

About the Author

The Tapestry Bag - Author Photo

Isabella Muir is the author of a popular Agatha Christie style crime series – the Sussex Crime Mysteries. These Agatha Christie style stories are set in in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke, who has a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.

Her latest novel – The Forgotten Children – takes her writing into another genre.  Still focusing on events in the 1960s The Forgotten Children tells the story of the injustices experienced by thousands as a result of the British child migrant policy.

Isabella has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.

Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMuirAuthor/

https://twitter.com/SussexMysteries

https://isabellamuir.com/

 

About the Narrator

Penny Scott-Andrews trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama. For many years she performed in The West End, as well as on the fringes of London, Brighton and Edinburgh. She also has plenty of touring experience playing leading roles, such as Gwendoline in The Importance of Being Earnest, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Olivia in Twelfth Night. However, she is at her happiest in the recording studio and has had the pleasure of recording dozens of audiobooks and radio dramas.

Twitter: @penandrews

 

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Giveaway to Win 1 x Audiobook of The Tapestry Bag (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494221/?

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Samantha Henthorn! Author of #CurmudgeonAvenue | @SamanthaHfinds @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Today I’m delighted to welcome Samantha Henthorn, author of Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue, to my blog to share with us ten things about herself!

 

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Me

One: I used to be a psychiatric nurse. There is a long, boring story here… After twenty year’s service, the NHS decided to retire me because I have MS. However, nursing has gifted me with the skill of observation. I am a ‘people person’ one who knows a lot about people – even ‘nincompoops’ like the ones who live in my romantic-comedy-drama series Curmudgeon Avenue.

Two: I have only been to France twice during my life, even though most of Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenueis set in France. I went to Brittany when I was eleven years old on a family holiday. And Rocamadour – another family holiday this time with my husband’s family. Plenty of wine was required on the latter holiday, and this is reflected in the book.

Three: Staying with the French theme, I cannot speak French. My high school French was lurking inside me, willing me to be one of those clever bilingual folk. So when I retired, I attended a two hour per week French course at my local library. This was a wonderful experience, the teacher was amazing. Despite this I am still unable to speak French and as time goes on, I am forgetting even more. I do remember the teacher talking about how, in France, bread is bought twice a day. I missed an hour following this statement, imagining my life as a French woman, dragging myself on my mobility scooter to the shop and back – twice! If you do happen to read Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue, you would find *slight spoiler alert* that French speaking skills were not required. And anyway, one of my proof readers lived in France for a year (with full command of the language).

Four: I had a great Auntie Edna when I was little, and she was nothing like the character Edna in my book. Auntie Edna was actually my dad’s auntie. Sadly no longer with us, but memories of her are. Dad tells me that she ‘married beneath herself’ (admit it- you love archaic phrases like this), to his mother’s brother. Whenever she opened her handbag, the room would fill with perfume – even to this day I have tried to recreate this glamour. Auntie Edna taught me how to put lipstick on when I was seven years old, by ‘smacking my lips together’. I chose the name Edna for my character because she is an absolute horror and do not know any living person with this name – (I once accidentally called a horrid character Elaine, I know an Elaine in real life, she’s lovely).

Five: Auntie Edna taught me how to make Radcliffe h’ors doevres. Or rather, mini cheddars with a squirt of Primula cheese dotted on each one (Primula with ham if you can get it) and presented on a serving plate. Perfect for impromptu parties, camping, or simply coming home tipsy and hungry. Radcliffe h’ors doevres feature heavily in the Curmudgeon Avenue series. Other brands of cheese crackers and spread are available.

Six: I’m very happily married, I really am. Although many of the characters in my series are either unhappily married or in an on/off entanglement, this is not based on anything that is happening to me. *Had to put this in because Mr Henthorn is always really concerned that ‘people will think it’s about him’ – it isn’t. (Rolls eyes).

Seven: I hardly ever say ‘well fancy’ and if I do, I’m joking or writing it in dialogue. Ahh vernacular within prose, a punishing mistress. I do sometimes have a feeling of self doubt; do people think I’m stupid? Do I sound stupid? I cannot help, and wouldn’t want to change where I’m from. I love Manchester, in particular the northern parts, Whitefield and Radcliffe (where the Curmudgeon Avenue series is set) and Bury, where I’m from. I enjoy our quirky way of saying things, our sense of humour. I have aimed to breathe Manchester life into my characters.

Eight: I’m studying a creative writing degree with the Open University and this helped me to decide that the Curmudgeon Avenue series should be witness narrated. ‘Walls have ears’ so this four storey terrace witnesses what goes on with the intertwined lives of its residents and narrates the series. The example of witness narration that the Open University quoted was The Great Gatsby… hark at me stylizing myself on a modern classic!

Nine: One of my books, 1962 is about cycling and I don’t even own a bicycle. This novel was inspired by my dad’s love and obsession with cycling. He seemed to have a special language dedicated bicycles and in turn, that inspired me.

Ten: I am covered in tattoos. The final fun factoid about me is that I have been ‘collecting artwork’ … Covered is perhaps an exaggeration, but I am inked! Usually only visible during the summer months, when jumpers and socks can be discarded my skin boasts a strawberry plant and butterflies on my foot and ankle. A large cherry blossom on my back and a pin-up-girl nurse on my arm (tasteful in full Gabardine cape). None on my face.

 

About the Book

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When Genevieve Dubois returned to Curmudgeon Avenue, this opened up the opportunity for Edna to realise her long held dream of escaping to France. But as Edna embraces all things European, Genevieve appears to be shying away from her French roots.
Meanwhile, returning to Curmudgeon Avenue for the third time, the wind had blown in the truth about the tall, handsome stranger and although Harold and Edith had been relieved to discover that he is neither an elephant detective, nor a fraud investigator, Toonan had been a little disappointed that he was not interested in her either. Matteo Dubois was looking for his mother, Genevieve Dubois, and although he did not find her on Curmudgeon Avenue, you have probably guessed that he is about to cause a disturbance- FINALLY! There is hope that the set of nincompoops that live here currently will move out, and leave me in peace! Edna had already escaped with Genevieve to France, which was a real shame for me, because Edna was one of the less annoying ones. This delightful third off-beat comedy romance book in the Curmudgeon Avenue series will make you smile.

 

About the Author

Samantha Henthorn Author Pic

Samantha Henthorn was born in 1970something in Bury, England. She has had short stories and poetry published in magazines. Her books include the Curmudgeon Avenue series (The Terraced House Diaries and The Harold and Edith adventures). ‘1962’, ‘Quirky Tales to Make Your Day’ and ‘Piccalilly’

She has two cats, one dog, one gorgeous grown up daughter and one husband. When not reading or writing, she is listening to heavy metal and would be thrilled to bits if someone read her books.

Blog : samanthahenthornfindstherightwords.WordPress.com

 Twitter: @SamanthaHfinds

 

You can find the rest of the stops on this tour at the following blogs:

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Book Review: Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly |@JollyAlice @Unbounders @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Coventry, 1941. The morning after one of the worst nights of the Blitz. Twenty-two-year-old Rose enters the remains of a bombed house to find her best friend dead. Shocked and confused, she makes a split-second decision that will reverberate for generations to come.

More than fifty years later, in modern-day Brighton, Rose’s granddaughter Lara waits for the return of her eighteen-year-old son Jay. Reckless and idealistic, he has gone to Iraq to stand on a conflict line as an unarmed witness to peace.

Lara holds her parents, Mollie and Rufus, partly responsible for Jay’s departure. But in her attempts to explain their thwarted passions, she finds all her assumptions about her own life are called into question.

Then into this damaged family come two strangers – Oliver, a former faith healer, and Jemmy, a young woman devastated by the loss of a baby. Together they help to establish a partial peace – but at what cost?

 

My Thoughts

Between the Regions of Kindness is a novel that follows several characters, and is set in two timelines – 1941 during the Blitz and 2003 in the run up to the beginning of the Iraq war. The novel opens in Coventry in 1941 and in the aftermath of a bombing Rose goes to her friend’s house and shockingly finds her dead. Here Rose makes a decision that has ramifications throughout the years that follow. In 2003 we follow Lara, Rose’s Grand-daughter as she tries to come to terms with her son’s decision to go to Iraq on a peace mission.

The novel really explores the experience of being a mother – some of the women to their grown children and another woman to her unborn baby. Jay is a troubled young man and we first know of him through his mother Lara’s perspective and as she goes into his bedroom it becomes increasingly clear that she is at a loss. She doesn’t understand why her son has gone off on a peace mission, and she didn’t have any idea that he was even planning to do this. She is stunned and gradually, over the course of the novel, she comes to know more about why her son was doing what he was doing. She only really gets to know her son in his absence and through very sporadic communications with him while he’s away. This contrasts so stunningly with the young Rose and the decision she made in 1941 when her and her daughter Mollie were living through the Blitz.

I was most affected by Jemmy, a young woman who has recently lost a baby and is now pregnant again. The loss of her first baby was heart-breaking to read about – I know what this loss feels like and the way it is explored in this novel was so honest and real. Soon after we meet Jemmy we learn that she’s pregnant again but she’s unable to feel the joy she felt before, there is just so much fear eating away at her. Her increasing desperation to keep this baby safe was palpable and I was hoping along with her that she would get a happy ending this time.

There is also an exploration of the stories that run through a family and how each generation hears parts of them and tries to understand how they came to be. Rose’s daughter Mollie (Lara’s mother) had a troubled youth and it impacted who she came to be as grew older. There are many tales that she tells such as the time she fell off a roof and throughout the novel it seems to Lara that these are embellished or possibly not even true. We do get to find out the truth of the stories, but also about what made Mollie who she is.

Then there is Oliver, a man who used to be a faith healer but after life has dealt him some blows he’s not sure he has any power to heal anymore. There are things that happen around him that made me wonder if he could heal but for me his real power came in the muddling along of his budding friendship with Lara. Sometimes it’s not in an actual healing that someone begins to be mended but it’s the having someone who will listen and be there, no matter what you throw at them that starts to heal someone.

Between the Regions of Kindness is ultimately a novel about resilience, about how we have to find a way to pick ourselves back up when the worst has happened. It’s about how people have to be vulnerable, have to let others in so that they can help us find the way through our pain, and conversely people have to let us see the person underneath the brave face so that we can help them. The exploration of grief is palpable at times but Alice Jolly’s writing is so beautiful that you just have to keep reading.

I adore the cover of Between the Regions of Kindness, it just immediately shows that even in the darkest moments new things will grow. Flowers will appear, and kindness will be shown (sometimes from the most unlikely sources but it will be there). It really is a wonderful cover and is so perfect for this stunning novel.

I loved Between the Regions of Kindness! It’s quite a chunky book but I still read it over the course of two afternoons, it just pulls you in from the opening chapter and keeps you under its spell until long after you’ve finished reading. It’s impossible for me to do any kind of justice to this novel in my review but if you take away one thing from reading my rambling thoughts it’s that this is a book not to be missed. I would recommend this to everyone. It’s rare to find a book that has so much depth and beauty while at the same time never shying away from the really harrowing parts of life. It’s a stunning book, one I am so glad I had the chance to read.

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Unbound for my copy of this book and my invitation to be on the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Between the Regions of Kindness is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Alice Jolly is a novelist and playwright. She has published two novels with Simon and Schuster and has been commissioned four times by the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. She has also written for Paines Plough and her work has been performed at The Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden and The Space, East London. In 2014 one of her short stories won The Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize. Her memoir Dead Babies and Seaside Towns was published by Unbound in July 2015, and won the PEN Ackerley Prize 2016. She teaches creative writing on the Mst at Oxford University.

 

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Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow | @mattthewcrow @CorsairBooks #BaxtersRequiem @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.

Baxter is many things – raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur; but ‘good patient’ he is not. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare. Then he meets Gregory.

Greg is just nineteen years old, but he has already suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going. Seeing the boy’s pain, Baxter decides to take him under his wing.

Together they embark on a spirited journey to the war graves of Northern France, for Baxter to pay tribute to the love of his life; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned.

As Baxter shares his memories, Gregory starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live every last second we have while we’re here.

 

My Thoughts

Mr Baxter is 94 years old and not happy to be a resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home. Greg is 19 and ends up working at the care home where he meets Baxter. Initially it doesn’t seem possible that a directionless young adult and forthright Baxter would get along but somehow they forge a connection.

I started reading this after lunch one day and I literally didn’t put it down until I’d turned the last page later on that afternoon. I was pulled into this story from the opening pages and I just had to keep reading.

I had a soft spot for Baxter from the start, he gives off a grumpy vibe but you can see very quickly that he has a great sense of humour. There is a moment very early on in the book when Baxter has a chat with his doctor about music and I properly laughed when I read it. My husband loves jazz and I can’t bear it so me and Baxter were like kindred spirits from the off!

‘”Are you fond of music?”

“I like jazz.”

“So that’s a no then […] If you can’t carry a tune then learn a f*cking trade”.

Baxter also has a real caring side for those who are struggling, he doesn’t show it all the time but you can sense it’s there. Greg made my heart ache; it’s so awful to read about a young person who is carrying so much on his shoulders. He has been through the most awful loss and he has no one in his life that he can talk to. His dad has shut down and won’t face up to things and so Greg is on his own with his grief. He ends up working at the retirement home and Baxter immediately realises that Greg isn’t just a sullen young man but is actually in such pain and torment.

‘[Greg] felt like there was a lifetime of conversation inside him, somewhere, and hoped that one day he’d find a companion who would encourage it to emerge.’

The friendship that grows between Greg and Baxter is heartwarming, I absolutely adored seeing them getting to know each other. It’s never mawkish despite the heartbreak that each of them has gone through – Matthew Crow hits the most perfect tone in the way these two men get to know more about each other. Baxter begins to bring Greg out of himself a bit more, and Greg seems to brighten Baxter’s days without even realising he’s doing it. Alongside this present day story we get to hear Baxter’s back story and I was enthralled. He found the great love of his life as quite a young man and for a while they lived in a cocoon in Baxter’s house. They were hopeful that one day they could go out as a couple but for that moment in time they were just so happy to have found each other. But then the war broke out and Thomas is called up. I shed tears when this happened, and again when he actually left. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like to see your soul mate go off to war not knowing if you’ll ever get them back home with you again.

“When she passed […] it blew through me like a f*cking hurricane. Nobody understood, you see. Nobody had lost what I had lost. We’d all suffered, granted. But grief, it’s a different shape for everyone”.

“It’s a different size, too.”

Over the course of the novel we learn more about Greg’s story and, for me, it just began to feel like Greg and Baxter were destined to meet. Their paths crossed at a time when they both had a growing need for closure, for someone who would make time for them and they forged a beautiful friendship. I loved how Baxter helped Greg gain a bit more confidence to make friends with people around the home. It was wonderful to meet Winnifred – I want to be her when I grow up!

I almost didn’t sign up to read this book for the blog tour because I find it really upsetting to read about men lost in the war. My late Nan lost her first husband in the Second World War and finding the ‘missing presumed dead’ telegram about him after she died was one of the most heartbreaking moments in my life. It still makes me want to weep when I think about it all these years later. I’m so glad that I did pick Baxter’s Requiem up though because the tears I cried whilst reading it were cathartic and healing, and ultimately this book has a lot of joy radiating from its pages too.

I read this book a few weeks ago now and I still keep thinking about Baxter and Greg. They are two wonderful characters that I won’t ever forget! Baxter’s Requiem is one of those really special books that steal a piece of your heart, it’s now firmly on my favourites shelf and it will be a book that I re-read. It’s beautiful and moving, heartbreaking but also life-affirming… there just aren’t enough superlatives to do it justice, I just urge you to please go read it!

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Corsair for my copy of this book and the invitation to be on the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Baxter’s Requiem is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Matthew was born and raised in Newcastle and began freelancing for newspapers and magazines whilst still at school, writing about the arts and pop culture.

He has written four novels, Ashes and My Dearest Jonah – the second of which was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize for Literature – and one book for young adults, In Bloom, which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and the North East Teen Book Award, and listed in the Telegraph’s Best YA of 2014 List.

His fourth book, Another Place, is also be for young adults and was published by Atom in August 2017.

Matthew’s most recent novel, Baxter’s Requiem, was published in September 2018 by Corsair.

 

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#BookReview: The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon | @VandaSymon @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #TheRingmaster #SamShephard

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About the Book

Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

 

My Thoughts

I adored getting to know Sam Shephard in Overkill and I’m thrilled to have the chance to share my thoughts on the brilliant second book in the series featuring her, The Ringmaster!

The Ringmaster follows Sam as she investigates the murder of a university student. In the course of the investigation Sam ends up looking in to the circus that’s in town as it seems possible that there is a link. Sam has recently been promoted and has moved to Dunedin but her superior officer isn’t happy with this and makes Sam’s work life difficult but she is determined to prove herself.

Throughout The Ringmaster I loved seeing Sam build a working relationship with her fellow Officer Smithy and hope to see more of him in future novels. I also enjoyed seeing her tentatively embarking on a new romantic relationship. Sam is such a down to earth woman – she isn’t perfect but she’s very likeable and works really hard – so that seeing her go about her day having the sort of mishaps that happen to me at inopportune moments just really endears her to me. I feel like I could be friends with her. I said in my review of Overkill that I thought I might have found a new detective to fill the Kinsey Millhone-shaped hole in my life and now I can absolutely confirm that I absolutely have! Sam Shephard is such a brilliant character!

The opening of The Ringmaster is shocking, perhaps not quite as shocking as the opening chapter of Overkill, but very nearly! It seems a young woman may have been lured to her death and there’s something so terrifying and devastating about the idea of someone being killed like that by someone they trusted and cared about.

The Ringmaster is a novel that really explores at how it is to be other, to feel on the outside, to be marginalised. Sam is new to the Dunedin and made to feel like an outsider at work, she’s also having to stay with her friend Maggie’s family so doesn’t have a home of her own at the moment. The circus workers that get questioned over the murder are of various nationalities and this seems to heighten suspicion around them regarding the murder. I know what it is to other and it’s so hard when you feel that people have pre-judged you on something you can do nothing about. My circumstances are very different to the workers from the circus but I still felt an empathy for them as they tried very hard to fit in.

I struggle with understanding circuses that use animals, it doesn’t sit right with me at all. I was felt particularly sad reading about Cassie the elephant in her enclosure. In one part of the novel something really awful happens at the circus, which leads to heartbreaking scenes and I found myself in tears at this part of the book. Vanda Symon has such a brilliant way of writing scenes such as this though – she doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of the situation but at the same time there is a real sensitivity to her writing that makes me want to keep reading.

The Ringmaster has an underlying tension running through it as you look with suspicion at quite a few characters wondering if they might be the murderer. I enjoyed the psychology aspect of the investigation as Sam, with help from Maggie, tries to profile the murderer in order to try and get a lead in the case. This is definitely a whodunnit crime mystery but it’s also very much a whydunnit so even if you think you know who the murderer is you’ll still have to work out the why. I loved that there was more than one element and it certainly kept me on my toes as I was reading. The why was more of a shock to me than the who but I was still left utterly reeling by the end!

Vanda Symon is such a brilliant writer who brings something really fresh to crime fiction, a genre that I read a lot of but Vanda’s books really do stand out in the crowd.  The Ringmaster is an emotional, powerful and gripping novel. I loved it and highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Orenda for my copy of the book and to Anne for the blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

The Ringmaster is out now and available here.

 

I’ve previously reviewed Overkill, the first book in this series, here.

 

About the Author

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Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

 

 

You can follow the rest of the tour at the following blogs:

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Book Review: Amazing Grace by Kim Nash | @KimTheBookworm @HeraBooks @rararesources

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About the Book

She’s taking her life back, one step at a time…

Grace thought she had it all. Living in the beautiful village of Little Ollington, along with head teacher husband Mark and gorgeous son, Archie, she devoted herself to being the perfect mum and the perfect wife, her little family giving her everything she ever wanted.

Until that fateful day when she walked in on Mark kissing his secretary – and her perfect life fell apart.

Now she’s a single mum to Archie, trying to find her way in life and keep things together for his sake. Saturday nights consist of a Chinese takeaway eaten in front of the TV clad in greying pyjamas, and she can’t remember the last time she had a kiss from anyone aside from her dog, Becks

Grace’s life needs a shake up – fast. So when gorgeous gardener Vinnie turns up on her doorstep, his twinkling eyes suggesting that he might be interested in more than just her conifers, she might just have found the answer to her prayers. But as Grace falls deeper for Vinnie, ten-year-old Archie fears that his mum finding love means she’ll never reconcile with the dad he loves.

So when ex-husband Mark begs her for another chance, telling her he’s changed from the man that broke her heart, Grace finds herself with an impossible dilemma. Should she take back Mark and reunite the family that Archie loves? Or risk it all for a new chance of happiness?

 

My Thoughts

Amazing Grace is the story of Grace who is separated from her husband and is trying to re-build her life along with her ten-year-old son Archie and dog Becks. She’s ambling along in life – she has a nice house and a job she enjoys but she’s not feeling very fulfilled and her life is lacking some sparkle. Then one day Vinnie arrives and it might just be that Grace is going to get a chance at happiness.

I loved Grace from the minute I started reading this book. She’s so easy to identify with and I was rooting for her to get her happy ending from the start. She’s such a warm person and someone who wants to do right by the people she loves but she ends up spreading herself a little thin at times. I also adored her friend Monica who decides to help Grace makeover her life with a new wardrobe and some matchmaking!

Grace’s ex-husband Mark is such an arrogant, smarmy man and Grace is left agonising over whether she should forgive his affair and give him another chance because in doing so she’d no longer have to share custody of their son and she could be with Archie all the time. I was hoping she would give herself time to think about this became Grace is clearly way too good for Mark. I’m not a violent person but he really made me want to slap him at times in this book!

Vinnie on the other hand is a wonderful man who seems to just want the best for Grace.  I have to admit that I was a little suspicious of him for a while as he seemed almost too good to be true. I soon decided that he was genuine and I was rooting for him and Grace to get together. I loved seeing Grace getting to know him though and finding her feet on the dating scene again. It’s not easy putting yourself out there after a long-term relationship and Monica’s ‘help’ wasn’t always the most useful (although some of the dates did make me giggle!).

Amazing Grace has some really moving, heartfelt moments throughout as Grace is still very much missing her mum who died a few years previously. I really felt for her as she so badly wanted to hear her mum’s voice or to ask for some advice. There is one moment in particular with Grace and her mum that made me sob when I read it but it was healing, happy tears. I really could identify with Grace, I still miss my mum so much and Kim Nash captures the loss of a mother so beautifully and poignantly. Amazing Grace retains its lightness throughout – Kim has such a deft way of writing heartache that shows the reality of it without it ever feeling heavy.

Kim has a huge talent for writing characters that feel so real – everyone in this book feels like someone I might bump in to. It takes real care to make even the more peripheral characters memorable but Kim does it brilliantly! The older couple that she met in the park for example are so vivid in my mind even now, and they were only in the book for a few pages.

Amazing Grace is one of those really special books that I will treasure. It made me snort with laughter, and it made me shed a few tears but most of all it made me feel happy, smiley and comforted – I adored every single second that I spent reading it. It’s an amazing book, one I would recommend to absolutely everyone. Amazing Grace is one of my favourite books of the year and I now can’t wait to read whatever Kim writes next!

Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and Hera Books for my copy of the book and the invitation to be on the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Amazing Grace is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger at www.kimthebookworm.co.uk.

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association’s Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can’t quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.

When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.

Amazing Grace is her debut novel with Hera Books and will be out on 10th April 2019

Connect with Kim on Social Media here:
Twitter: (@KimTheBookworm) https://twitter.com/KimTheBookworm
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimTheBookWorm/
Instagram: @Kim_the_bookworm

 

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55 by James Delargy | @JDelargyAuthor @simonschusteruk @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.

He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.

Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.

Gabriel is the serial killer.

Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

 

My Thoughts

55 is a novel about a quiet town in the middle of nowhere in Australia that has not one but two men turn up at the small police station on the same day each claiming that the other one kidnapped and planned to murder him, and that they would have been victim number 55! Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins has a huge job on his hands as he listens to each story and tries to work out what on earth is going on!

Gabriel walks into the station first and he’s believed to be the victim he says he is and dealt with accordingly as his statement is taken. A short while later Heath turns up at the same police station and tells an almost identical story, and this leaves the police with a serious problem on their hands. Who is the killer and who is the victim? Or are they both killers? Or could they possibly both be victims?

Chandler is really frustrated when a more senior police officer arrives to take charge of the case. We soon find out that Chandler and Mitch used to be really close when they were younger but their friendship ended badly. This novel is told in two timelines – the present day and a few years earlier when Chandler and Mitch were helping search for a man missing in the wilderness. This was a great way to tell the story as we get to find out how close they were and how things went wrong alongside where they are now. It also felt at times like things in their friendship were mirroring elements of the story in the present day which had my brain ticking over even faster trying to see if there were any connections.

I really liked Chandler and never stopped wanting things to work out for him throughout the novel. It felt like he was always trying to do the right thing and to be fair with his staff and his family but was torn in so many directions. I think his story had me almost as tense as the main one about Gabriel and Heath because I so wanted him to be okay.

I spent the whole novel swapping and changing my mind about who I thought the guilty man was. The reveal about whodunnit is shocking – the mystery twists and turns at great pace throughout the novel but when we find out it’s almost like slow-motion as your brain takes in what happened! I’d worked out a small element of the story but nowhere near enough to fit it all together. The final pages of this novel were gobsmacking! This book has one of the best endings to a thriller that I’ve read in a really long time, it’s one of those endings that made me sit in silence for a few minutes after I put the book down trying to process it. And even now, weeks later, I still keep thinking about it!

I was drawn to this book as soon as I read the blurb, it was irresistible to me. I’m so happy to say that this novel totally lives up to the blurb and is such a unique take on a serial killer thriller novel! This is a perfect book for readers who think they can always work out whodunnit as this one will keep you guessing until all is revealed! I don’t think I’ll ever forget this book and I’m sure it will be on my best books of the year list – I highly recommend it! It’s fast-paced, addictive and utterly brilliant!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for my invitation to take part on this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

55 is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland but lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives.

He incorporates this diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. He would like to complete a round-the-world series of novels (if only for the chance to indulge in more on-the-ground research).

His debut thriller, 55, will be published in June 2019 by Simon & Schuster and 17 other international publishers.

 

You can find the rest of the stops on this tour at the following blogs:

55 Blog Tour Poster

Audio Book Review: Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick (narrated by Colleen MacMahon) | @ClarePedrick @matadorbooks @audibleuk @rararesources

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About the Book

Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all… love.

Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy.

“Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.”

Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does.

Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.

 

My Thoughts

Chickens Eat Pasta is the memoir of Clare Pedrick detailing her life as she came out of a relationship break up and on something of a whim bought a run-down house in Italy. She fell in love with the place after seeing a video of chickens eating pasta in a hall in Italy and she immediately makes plans to go there!

I was drawn to this audio book as soon as I saw the gorgeous cover, and once I read the blurb I started listening immediately! This is a gorgeous book that really draws you in to Clare’s story from the very start. I could see how she decided to move to Umbria without a huge amount of thought and planning – it can feel irresistible to make changes after life has turned out different than you expected.

You know from the blurb that things work out for Clare in Italy but whilst I was listening I was so caught up in her life as it was being recounted that I felt I didn’t know how her story would end. I was enthralled by her relationships with the locals, and her romantic interest. There are also some mouth-watering descriptions of food throughout this book that made me want to seek out some recipes!

The narrator of this audio book is Colleen MacMahon and she does a wonderful job. The brilliant writing by Clare combined with the excellent narration by Colleen really give this memoir life. All the characters, and the description of the place were so vivid and I adored it. As a side note I discovered on twitter that Colleen also painted the stunning picture that is the cover image on this book!

If you don’t often read non-fiction, this would be a perfect place to start because it reads with the ease of fiction and you do get completely absorbed in the Clare’s story.

Chickens Eat Pasta made me feel like I was right there with Clare in Umbria, it gave me such a vivid and evocative depiction of the place and the people. I loved listening to this book and I miss it now I’ve finished it. I can’t travel anymore but listening to this book gave me some wonderful escapism and I adored it. I definitely recommend this book.

Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invitation and my audio copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Chickens Eat Pasta is available as an audiobook from here.

 

About the Author

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Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.​

You can follow Clare on her Facebook Book Page, her own Facebook page and on Twitter.

Read her blog about life in Umbria here

 

Giveaway to Win an audiobook copy of Chickens Eat Pasta (Open Internationally)

  • Winner gets to pick between audible and ibooks audio code

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494211/?

 

You can find the rest of the tour at the following blogs:

Chickens Eat Pasta Full Tour

Book Review: Sleep by C. L. Taylor | @CallyTaylor @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K #sleep

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About the Book

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

 

My Thoughts

Anna was involved in a fatal road accident, she was the driver and ever since then she is struggling to sleep. She has nightmares, and is struggling to get back to any kind of normal. She decides that she needs a fresh start and takes a job at a hotel on a remote Scottish Island. The novel then becomes something of a locked room mystery as seven guests check in and they are all at the mercy of the weather and somewhat trapped there. Anna is convinced that one of guests wants to harm her but she doesn’t know which one!

The seven guests that arrive on the island soon after Anna began working at the hotel all have their own secrets and all appear shifty at one time or another. I had my suspicions early on but I was completely wrong (which I loved, it’s great to be surprised in a thriller). I really enjoyed seeing the back stories of the characters unfold alongside the tension and drama of the storyline ramp up. It’s definitely a book that has you on the edge of your seat!

Anna is a sympathetic character, it’s hard not to feel for her after everything that she’s been through. I didn’t feel that she was always a reliable narrator though as there is that fine line between paranoia and someone actually being out to get you and I wasn’t sure of her thought processes. I was always on her side though and was hoping she’d come through this and find happiness again.

This novel keeps coming back tot he issue of guilt. Anna is burdened with guilt even though the accident wasn’t her fault, she knows she should have been more aware and it’s haunting her. Then there are the people who feel like they’re doing the right thing but they’re not and should feel guilty. And then there are the people who have done us a perceived wrong and we think they should be consumed with guilt but they appear not all that affected. I think most people fall on a scale of guilt for things they’ve done – whether it’s things they meant to do or not. Sleep really makes you think about guilt and it’s handled so brilliantly!

I loved that this novel had layers to it and every time I found out a new bit of information I was re-thinking what I’d previously thought. There is one central story that the novel focuses on but you get to see how that leads to other things happening, there are consequences that are unexpected when people are trapped together and they all have their burdens. The end of this novel was gobsmacking and left me reeling but it was the perfect ending.

Sleep is absolutely brilliant, I just couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. I’ve loved all of C. L. Taylor’s books so far but I have to say that this is her best one yet, I highly recommend it! It’s tense, gripping and so hard to put down!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and the invitation to be on the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Sleep is out now and available here.

 

Links to my reviews of C. L. Taylor’s previous novels:

The Escape

The Missing

The Fear

 

About the Author

Cally Taylor is an award-winning English author of romantic comedies published by Orion Publishing Group, and more recently, a Sunday Times Bestselling author. As C.L. Taylor, she publishes psychological thrillers through HarperCollins.

 

 

You can find the rest of the tour at the following blogs:

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Book Review: Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech | @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #CallMeStarGirl

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About the Book

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

 

My Thoughts

I’m a massive fan of Louise Beech’s writing so I was thrilled beyond words to read Call Me Star Girl for this tour.

Call Me Star Girl is the story of Stella who is about to do her last ever late night radio show and she wants her listeners to share their secrets so that she can share hers. We get her story told in two timelines – the time around the murder and the present day. Stella was left by her mother as a young teenager and it’s something that she’s struggled with all of her life since then. Her mother Elizabeth is the other narrator of this book – it’s told alternately between them so we gradually get to fill in the back story of Stella’s life and to see what made her who she is.

Stella is in a fairly new relationship with Tom and she is very insecure about it. She’s convinced that one day he’ll realise that she’s boring and she’ll be left alone again. I felt so sorry for her as I learnt this about her. She clearly just wants to feel happy and secure with someone and will do anything to try and have that. Her relationship with Tom escalates and I worried about how it was all going to work out for Stella.

Stella works on a late night radio show and always feels okay about walking home alone. But then one night a book is left for her in reception with an intriguing note that doesn’t make sense to her, and later she finds that that same night a young woman was murdered in an alley nearby.

This novel is haunting! From the very beginning there is an uneasiness that settles around you as you read and yet you just can’t put the book down. This is Louise’s first crime thriller and she brings to it her incredible way of writing characters that are so real and believable. No one writes characters like her.

I felt really unsettled as Stella’s last show progresses. It’s clear that Stella is feeling on edge about being in the studio alone and she’s never felt that before. The murder is playing on her mind, it having happened so close to where she works and it feels like an element of paranoia is working its way into her thoughts. The writing is so evocative – I felt like it was me in that studio, I could feel the darkness encroaching and felt as if someone were right there waiting to attack.

Louise always works in an element of coincidence that often seems incidental but causes a huge shift for the characters it affects. In this novel there is more than one coincidence and the way these are threaded through the novel and how the strands interweave and separate again is so incredibly done. Throughout this novel there are stars – Stella is the first and her mother’s perfume in the bottle with the beautiful star top is the second and also a lot of of this novel is set at night and Stella likes to open a window to let the cold in. It is so emotive then that at its heart this is a novel about fate (things being set in the stars). As you get further into the novel it seems like Stella is on a collision course with fate – the way her mother abandoned her and came back and then Tom comes into her life and it seems like things might get better. Fate has her plan and things often happen outside of us, outside of our control but it’s like it was destined for certain things to converge.

The thing I love most about Louise’s writing is the way she always makes me feel such strong emotions as I read. I wondered whether it would be the same with Call Me Star Girl, which being a thriller doesn’t seem like it would but it absolutely does! I cried, I felt uneasy and tense; I also laughed at the idea of news being reheated (and as an avid listener of late night radio I shall forever think of the repeat news bulletins as reheated!).  Oh, and it made me so happy to find Bob Fracklehurst in this book! I just fell in love with this novel, and with Stella.

Call Me Star Girl is my top book of the year so far, it deserves all of the stars! It’s stunningly beautiful at the same time as being satisfyingly dark and gripping; it’s impossible to put down (and I really do mean impossible because even though it’s a couple of weeks since I read it, I still keep thinking about it). It’s stolen a piece of me. I can’t do it justice in this review but please just go read it for yourselves, I promise that you won’t regret it!

Many thanks to Anne at Orenda Books for my copy of this book and the blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Call Me Star Girl is out now in ebook and is available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

I’ve previously reviewed these books by Louise Beech:

How to be Brave

Maria in the Moon

The Lion Tamer Who Lost

 

About the Author

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a GuardianReaders’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

 

You can follow the rest of the tour at the following stops:

call me star girl blog poster 2019

Book Review: The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby | @novelcarolyn @noexitpress @annecater #randomthingstours

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About the Book

Cora was born in a prison. But is this where she belongs?

Birmingham, 1885.

Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her.

Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood.

Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?

 

My Thoughts

The Conviction of Cora Burns follows Cora in late 1800s Birmingham as she tries to find her place in the world. She’s just been let out of prison and has been offered a position as a housemaid in the home of Thomas Jerwood but she is haunted by memories of her past, and is desperately seeking answers.

Cora is born in prison, then raised in the workhouse. She has a forceful personality and struggles to reign herself in. While at the workhouse Alice Salt comes into her life and this friendship greatly impacts Cora. Later the girls become separated and something happens that leads to Cora being imprisoned.  The novel begins with Cora being released but then goes back and forth in time between then and a few years earlier when she was a child. Interspersed with those chapters are journal entries from Jerwood about his scientific studies, and occasional reports from a doctor who is using hypnosis to try and get a mute woman to speak again.

This novel was set in the late 1800s and this comes through so vividly. The sense of time and place was so richly drawn, I could envisage the streets and the prison, the homes of the wealthy and the slums. It’s all so beautifully described and woven through the rest of the plot.

This is very much a novel looking at nature versus nurture and I found this fascinating.  I really enjoyed the scientific excerpts throughout this novel. I did a sociology module at college years ago and read about Lombroso’s work on how to identify criminals  by their facial features so it was interesting to see this being referred to in this novel. I often wonder about how people come to do evil things – are they born that way or made that way? Looking at this through Cora’s life was brilliant because she’s such an interesting character and while she has done awful things, and she’s not always likeable, there is something about her that made me want her to find answers and to get her life together. I couldn’t help but have sympathy for her, even though I couldn’t condone all of her actions.

I don’t read many historical novels as I always think I don’t enjoy them but this book was an incredible read! I was engrossed from the opening chapter and I got completely lost in the novel. I loved the way it was written in two timelines and with scientific documents interspersed – I was engrossed in every aspect of the story and I just couldn’t stop reading once I started! I adored this book and keep finding myself thinking about it ever since I finished reading it. I feel sure that this will be one of my favourite books of the year so I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to No Exit Press for my copy of this book and to Anne of Random Things Tours for the blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

The Conviction of Cora Burns is out now and available here.

About the Author

Originally from Sunderland, Carolyn Kirby studied history at St Hilda’s College, Oxford before working in social housing and then as a teacher of English as a foreign language.

Her debut novel, The Conviction of Cora Burns, (previously titled Half of You) was begun in 2013 on a writing course at Faber Academy in London. The novel has achieved success in several competitions including as finalist in the 2017 Mslexia Novel Competition and as winner of the inaugural Bluepencilagency Award.

Carolyn has two grown-up daughters and lives with her husband in rural Oxfordshire.

 

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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Book Review: Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross | @dfr10 @orendabooks #HeadyHeights

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About the Book

Welcome to the Heady Heights

It’s the year punk rock was born, Concorde entered commercial service and a tiny Romanian gymnast changed the sport forever.

Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. He just needs a break for them to be realised. In a bizarre brush with the light-entertainment business, Archie unwittingly saves the life of the UK’s top showbiz star, Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks’, and now dreams of hitting the big-time as a Popular Music Impresario. Seizing the initiative, he creates a new singing group with five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End. Together, they make the finals of a televised Saturday-night talent show, and before they know it, fame and fortune beckon for Archie and The High Five. But there’s a complication; a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC known as The Tank are all on his tail…

 

My Thoughts

I’ll be honest in starting this review and say that I don’t really know where to start with describing Welcome to the Heady Heights as it was so unlike anything I’ve read before but I can say that I absolutely loved it!

The novel follows Archie Blunt as he seems to go from one lot of trouble to another. He’s trying to look after his dad but he loses his job as a bus conductor and gets on the wrong side of people that he really shouldn’t have annoyed. The only thing that keeps him from being in serious trouble with some people is that he knows where the metaphorical bodies are buried. He’s not always the most likeable character and yet you can’t help rooting for him to succeed in life.

Archie finds a new job and discovers he’s to be a driver to Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks. This leads to him unwittingly saving his life and finding himself in the position of being able to ask a favour. This then leads to Archie trying to put a band together to perform on Heady’s TV talent show and chaos ensues! I loved the process of Archie finding the members of his band and trying his struggle to get them to behave. The group trying to chose a name was so funny, it had me properly laughing to myself as I was reading it!

Glasgow is like a character in its own right throughout this novel. I’ve never been there but I could visualise it all so clearly and now feel like I know it so well. The use of Scottish dialect throughout the novel is also brilliant. I found myself reading the whole novel (not just speech) in a Scottish accent.

Welcome to the Heady Heights really does capture a point in time – when life was hard, people were struggling and women were still second-class citizens. The beauty in the novel is how it shows all sides of life. I felt so sorry for Barbara, the WPC, who is treated like a scivvy by her male colleagues, even the ones of similar rank but she is determined that she will achieve things within her career. No one makes it easy for her but she keeps going.

I loved how this book was set in the 70s and yet it felt like it was also gently mocking the modern era of reality TV and how it’s ended up being so fake and staged. It also made for uncomfortable reading at times as we see a group of men who all have their seedy secrets, some of those secrets being very disturbing and way worse than just seedy. These men aren’t named but the descriptions of the ones who aren’t main players in the novel are definitely recognisable. This is so much more of a commentary on how society has ended up where it is now than I was expecting but it made for such a fascinating read.

This is a novel that feels impossible to define but it’s utterly brilliant. It’s gritty and disturbing, it’s funny and poignant and just so readable! I found this hard to put down because I just couldn’t see how it was all going to turn out for Archie and I was desperate to find out! This is definitely an author I want to read more of and I’ve already bought a couple of his other books and I can’t wait to read them! I highly recommend Welcome to the Heady Heights!

Many thanks to Orenda Books for my copy of this book and the invitation to be on this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Welcome to the Heady Heights is due to be published on 21 March and available to pre-order here.

 

About the Author

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David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas and The Man Who Loved Islands. David lives in Ayrshire.

 

You can find the rest of the stops on this tour at the following blogs:

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Book Review: Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie | @alisonbailliex @Bloodhoundbook

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About the Book

More than thirty years after thirteen-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.

When modern DNA evidence reveals that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona?

Soon Sarah and Tom find themselves caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and everyone is a suspect.

The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears.

 

My Thoughts

Sewing the Shadows Together is about Tom, whose younger sister Shona was raped and murdered when they were teenagers. He still carries the guilt of not being there to protect her and it haunts him in the present day many years later. Sarah was Shona’s best friend and she is also still haunted by the loss. Tom and Shona meet again at a school reunion and while Tom is back in Edinburgh they find out the man convicted of killing Shona has been cleared with modern DNA techniques.

This novel is set in the present day but those chapters are interspersed with recollections from the past in the lead up to, and aftermath of, Shona’s murder. I loved the story being told in this way as I wanted to see how everything would connect up. I had my suspicions about who had really killed Shona, and while I can sort of claim that I guessed right I would really be fibbing a little bit as I suspected a lot of the people in this book!

Tom is such a great character. His life has clearly been hugely affected by the death of his sister. He’s lost his ambition to achieve big things in life and instead has been floating along aimlessly seeing what happens. It definitely felt like his life would have been so different had his sister not died. I really felt for him because losing someone young, when you’re also still young, is profoundly affecting and it changes you. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to lose someone in such a horrific and traumatic way though.

I also really liked Sarah. I did feel that she is something of a doormat within her family – she puts up with a distracted husband, a domineering mother, and is somehow not up to speed with what is happening in her (grown up) children’s lives. She is always doing her best though and she really does care. I can see how she ended up as she is, it’s that juggling act of trying to keep everyone happy and it so often being at the expense of yourself. I was rooting for her and hoping that she would find some happiness for herself.

Apart from Tom and Sarah I didn’t particularly like anyone in this novel but I do so enjoy reading about unlikeable characters. It worked so well in this book as it gave a lot of potential suspects. Everyone in the novel is well-rounded and there is a complexity to the characters – no one seemed all bad or all good and so it made it harder to figure out whodunnit.

Ultimately, Sewing the Shadows Together is a brilliant crime novel. It has a depth to it and while the solving the crime is the central plot there are other things going on that add interest and make this book near impossible to put down! I bought this book when it was first published but didn’t read it until recently and I’m really kicking myself for leaving it so long. It is such a brilliant debut and I’ll definitely be looking out for more of Alison Baillie’s novels in the future!

Sewing the Shadows Together is gripping, engrossing and an all-round brilliant read! I highly recommend it!

I purchased my copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.

Sewing the Shadows Together is out on 12 March and available here.

 

About the Author

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Alison Baillie was born in Scarborough of Scottish parents and lived in County Durham, Somerset and the Yorkshire Dales before going to university in Scotland. She then taught English in several Edinburgh secondary schools before moving to Switzerland where she still lives now. She’s taught English as a Foreign Language in Finland and Switzerland.

When she stopped teaching full-time, she fulfilled a life-time ambition and wrote Sewing the Shadows Together, a psychological suspense novel inspired in part by events when she was teaching in Scotland. She is fascinated by the way we are influenced by the events of our past and has now written a second novel, A Fractured Winter, set in Switzerland, Scotland and Yorkshire.

She has two sons and three grandchildren and is proud of their international roots, having a mixture of Scottish, Swiss, Polish and Finnish heritage. As well as spending time with them, she loves travelling, walking in the mountains and by the sea, reading and writing.

 

You can find the rest of the stops on this tour at the following blogs:

Sewing the Shadows Blog Blitz

Book Review: Past Life by Dominic Nolan | @NolanDom @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #PastLife

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About the Book

Waking up beside the dead girl, she couldn’t remember anything.
Who she was. Who had taken her. How to escape.

Detective Abigail Boone has been missing for four days when she is finally found, confused and broken. Suffering retrograde amnesia, she is a stranger to her despairing husband and bewildered son.

Hopelessly lost in her own life, with no leads on her abduction, Boone’s only instinct is to revisit the case she was investigating when she vanished: the baffling disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still.

Defying her family and the police, Boone obsessively follows a deadly trail to the darkest edges of human cruelty. But even if she finds Sarah, will Boone ever be the same again?

 

My Thoughts

Past Life is about Abigail Boone who is suffering from amnesia following a traumatic incident where she was abducted and held for days before being found. Doctors haven’t been able to treat her memory loss so now she’s just trying to pick up the pieces of her life and to move on as best she can. She’s lost her career in the police, and her relationship with her husband and son is floundering as she has no memories of either of them. Boone decides that the best thing she can do to find herself is to get back to trying to find the young woman she was searching for at the time she herself went missing.

Abigail Boone is such a brilliant character. She has her flaws – she’s stubborn, she doesn’t listen to advice and she throws herself into situations without really considering the consequences but I loved her fierce determination! She tries so hard but can’t seem to find a way through to her past and so focuses on the here and now and what she can do. I really admired this trait.

‘Identity can be proved with papers, but how do you prove self? How do you measure a person, seek evidence of what they might be? Only in the past, Boone concluded, and in that thing constructed by the past that we call a mind.’

Boone is trying to find Sarah Still, who has been missing for a long time now but Boone feels sure that she was on the right track to finding Sarah before she was attacked. This leads Boone to meet Roo, the woman she was held with, and I adored the relationship that grew between these two women. They are so different to each other and there is something of a language barrier at times but the way they overcame this and developed a respect for each other was so great to read about. The friendship they have, along with Boone’s friendship with Tess (a woman Boone helped while still in the police force and has kept in touch with), were the anchors that Boone needed in a time where she no longer connected with the people she was close to before.

I felt that Boone’s stubborn need to find Sarah, rather than being home and trying to connect with her family, perhaps came from the fact she now knows what it is to be missing. Boone is there but she’s not there; she doesn’t know who she was before and the only reference points she has are what other people have told her. Sarah is physically missing from her life but the person she left behind wants her back as much as Boone’s husband Jack and son Quin want Boone back.

This is a gritty novel, and it’s very dark in places but it’s so believable and it’s very well written. There is an air of melancholy that runs through the novel but it never feels depressing. The brilliant Boone, along with Tess and Roo, keep you hooked and I felt like I was right along with them throughout this story. I so badly wanted all of them to come out of it and be okay.

Past Life is such a brilliant and gripping crime thriller but it’s also an excellent exploration into what makes a person who they are. What is left to cling to when you’ve lost who you are, or when you’ve lost the person you love. There is so much depth in this book, and there were moments that felt so profound to me that I had to put it down for a few moments just to process what I was reading. My disability took my physical abilities from me so while I still know who I am, I can’t be who I was before so I felt something of an affinity with Boone. This book came to mean such a lot to me and I know it’s one that will stay with me. It’s very rare for me to connect so much to a crime thriller but Past Life is something special.

This is one of those really compelling books that you just can’t put down – I simply had to know how it was all going to turn out for Boone! She’s such a real, authentic character that I felt bereft when I turned the last page of this book. I still keep thinking about her and wondering how she’s getting on. This is a book that I won’t forget and I think Past Life may well make my best books of the year come the end of December! It’s gritty and gripping, thrilling and very difficult to put down… plus Boone will steal your heart! I highly recommend this book!

Many thanks to the publisher and Anne from Random Things Tours for my copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.

Past Life is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Dominic Nolan Author Picture

Dominic Nolan was born and raised in north London. PAST LIFE is his first novel.

 

You can find the rest of the stops on this tour at the following blogs:

Past Life Blog Tour Poster

Book Review: Are You The F**king Doctor? by Dr. Liam Farrell | @drlfarrell @annecater #RandomThingsTours #IrishMed

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About the Book

‘General practice is the great unknown. We stand on the cusp of the beyond. Science takes us only so far, then the maps stop in the grey areas of intuition, imagination and feelings: here be dragons. Lurching from heart-breaking tragedy to high farce, we are the Renaissance men and women of medicine; our art is intangible. Anything can walk through our door…’

Family doctor, Irishman, musician, award-winning author, anarchist and recovering morphine addict, Liam became a columnist for the BMJ in 1994. He went on to write for many major publications, winning a series of prestigious awards; in 2005, he was the first doctor to win Columnist of the Year in the Periodical Publishers Association awards.

The book contains a selection of Liam’s best work, from his columns, blogs and short stories.Brilliantly funny, glittering with literary allusion and darkly wicked humour, this book is much more than a collection of stand-alone anecdotes and whimsical reflections, rather a compelling chronicle of the daily struggles – and personal costs – of a doctor at the coalface.

 

My Thoughts

Are You The F**king Doctor? is a collection of Dr Liam Farrell’s columns and blog posts from over a period of many years. The collection is comprised of the humorous and the moving, along with some short stories inspired by his experiences as a GP.

The opening of this book was unexpected as Farrell writes very openly and honestly about his becoming addicted to morphine, and his subsequent journey to getting off it. It initially seemed a little odd to me to open the book with this story but actually it was great to see such honesty right from the beginning and to have a real insight into the man behind the following chapters. As I got further into the book it felt that knowing the author’s own medical struggles meant I warmed to him as he wrote about his patients, especially the ones that somewhat tried his patience at times!

I loved the way that this book was full of humour and the way that Farrell uses humour to get his point across to his readers. The repeated references to the over-use of antibiotics, and to patients who seek antibiotics for every ailment they suffer from made a strong point, but it’s done in such a tongue-in-cheek way that it didn’t feel like being lectured to.

The pressures of being a GP are apparent throughout this book. It must be so frustrating to have such a short time for consultations and then to have that compounded by some worried well patients bringing a long list with them, while there are other patients that really do need more time and it just isn’t there. There is a piece that shows just how hard it is being a junior doctor in a hospital when Farrell was on duty in one department and called for a consult from another department. In a roundabout way he was told that he was doing both of those roles and to get on with it. The piece is written in a humorous way but it really did bring me up short to think of working under those pressures.

One of my favourite recollections in the book was the reference to his elderly aunt, who was rather difficult, and the Wii! I completely agree with the idea of putting Wiis in all old people’s homes – they are wonderful for giving people a fun way to gain better balance and strength. There is also an amusing moment when a patient reveals her new baby daughter’s name. It seems she’s unknowingly named her after a medication (although her husband may well have known)! This whole post made me giggle to myself!

I wasn’t expecting so many literary references when I started this book but I very much appreciated them. Many of the references I knew of but others I didn’t and it sent me off looking into them – it’s always brilliant when a book leads you to seek out further learning and insight.

Dr Liam Farrell really shows the other side of medicine – it gives such an insight for patients into what doctors have to deal with on a daily basis. This is such an engaging read and has something in it for everyone to enjoy and get something out of. It’s so honest, very amusing and downright brilliant! I definitely recommend it!

Many thanks to the publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and the invitation to be on the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Are You The F**king Doctor? is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Dr-Liam-Farrell

Dr Liam Farrell is from Rostrevor, Co Down, Ireland. He was a family doctor in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, for 20 years, and is an award-winning writer and a seasoned broadcaster. He is married to Brid, and has three children Jack, Katie, and Grace.

He was a columnist for the British Medical Journal for 20 years and currently writes for GP, the leading newspaper for general practitioners in the UK. He has also been a columnist for the Lancet, the Journal of General Practice, the Belfast Telegraph and the Irish News. He wrote the entry on ‘Sex’ for The Oxford Companion to the Body.

On Twitter he curates #Irishmed, a weekly tweetchat on all things medical, which has a global following. He also co-curates #WritersWise, a regular tweetchat for writers, with novelist Sharon Thompson.
He was the medical columnist for the BBC Radio Ulster Evening Extra 1996-98; presented the series Health-Check for Ulster TV in 2002, and was medical consultant for both series of Country Practice in 2000 and 2002 for BBC Northern Ireland.

His awards include Columnist of the Year at Irish Medical Media Awards 2003, Periodical Publishers Association of Great Britain 2006 and Medical Journalist’s Society, London 2011, and Advancing Health through Media at the Zenith Global Healthcare Awards 2018.He was shortlisted for the Michael McLaverty Short Story Competition in 2008.

 

You can find the rest of the stops on this tour at the following blogs:

Doctor Blog Tour Poster

Book Review: Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff | @SarahDavisGoff @TinderPress @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Raised by her mother and Maeve on Slanbeg, an island off the west coast of Ireland, Orpen has a childhood of love and stories by the fireside. But the stories grow darker, and the training begins. Ireland has been devoured by a ravening menace known as the skrake, and though Slanbeg is safe for now, the women must always be ready to run, or to fight.

When Maeve is bitten, Orpen is faced with a dilemma: kill Maeve before her transformation is complete, or try to get help. So Orpen sets off, with Maeve in a wheelbarrow and her dog at her side, in the hope of finding other survivors, and a cure. It is a journey that will test Orpen to her limits, on which she will learn who she really is, who she really loves, and how to imagine a future in a world that ended before she was born.

 

My Thoughts

Last Ones Left Alive is the story of Orpen as she seeks to find a way to survive in the dystopian world she now lives in. She had been somewhat sheltered and protected from the skrake by her mother. Maeve made sure that Orpen knows how to fight, how to survive but Orpen has never had a need to put what she’s learnt into practice until now. Maeve has been bitten and Orpen has had to leave the safety of the only home she’s ever known and risk what is out there in the wider world.

This isn’t my usual kind of read but I absolutely loved it. Orpen is such a great character – she is so feisty and tenacious and I was rooting for her all the way through the book. She is so determined to survive and to find a way to thrive in this new world.

This novel is really bleak a lot of the time but never depressing because of Orpen’s strength. The dystopian landscape of Slanbeg is devastating, nothing is as it was before, and the fear of the mysterious skrake is ever present. I found the monstrous creatures terrifying, it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat whenever Orpen had to stop and rest for a while. Orpen has learnt how to kill though and she is fearless in her fight to survive, she will do whatever it takes to save herself.

Orpen is ultimately trying to find Phoenix City; she has heard her mum and Maeve whispering about it, and she’s read about it in snippets of papers she’s found when looking for food. This takes on an almost mythical feel in the book as Orpen struggles to find any reference on the road to this place.  The sense of isolation and loneliness, and also the frustration she feels at seemingly being so close and yet so far from her where she wants to get to is tangible.

I really connected with Orpen over the loss of her mother; it’s an awful thing to lose your mum, especially when you’re young. I did feel like there were parallels to the grieving process in the battle with the very real skrake. The way you can never feel okay when grief is still so raw because the moment you relax it hits you again with full force. Eventually you have to find peace with the loss and accept that you can’t have the person back, you have to learn to live without them. It felt as if Orpen’s journey was mirroring this experience and she was growing stronger and coping better as time moved on.

I loved the exploration of humanity throughout Last Ones Left Alive. Maeve has done what she can to teach Orpen how to survive – she’s taught her how to kill the Skrake and made sure she has skills in finding food and shelter but no one has taught Orpen about what it is to be truly alone, and how to hold on to who she is in the midst of being on her own. She becomes quite brittle and fierce in her approach to potentially meeting other survivors, it’s as if she’s forgotten how to build relationships. Some of it is the all-consuming focus on the basic need to survive but I think part of it is that she has learnt how to protect herself so well that she no longer knows how to let people in. I was rooting for her to survive but also to get to a place where she could find some happiness and peace.

Last Ones Left Alive is a book about the inherent desire to survive, but also to thrive in the environment we find ourselves in. It’s brutal and heartbreaking at times but it’s also beautiful and impossible to put down! I highly recommend this one!

Many thanks to Tinder Press for my copy of the book and to Anne of Random Things Tours for my invitation to be on this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Last Ones Left Alive is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Sarah Davis Goff

Sarah Davis-Goff was born and raised in Ireland. After going to college in the US and UK, she eventually returned, and now lives in Dublin. Last Ones Left Alive is her debut novel.

 

 

You can find the rest of the tour at the following blogs:

Last Ones Left Alive BT Poster

#BookReview: Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce | @Harriet_Tyce @Wildfirebks @PublicityBooks @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

 

My Thoughts

I literally squealed with delight when a surprise copy of Blood Orange arrived at my house a couple of months ago. It was one of my most anticipated books for 2019 and I’m so thrilled to say that it was even better than I expected it to be (and I was expecting it to be amazing!).

Blood Orange is about Alison, a barrister who is rising through the ranks of her profession and has just been given her first murder case. She is married with a daughter and it seems she has it all. Alison isn’t happy though – she’s involved in a messy affair and she drinks too much. She wants to have it all but she can’t seem to get it all together.

I went into this novel expecting to dislike Alison but I actually found myself feeling sympathy for her from very early on in the book. She’s a complex character and I could see how she got herself into the situation she was in. She wanted to be ‘one of the boys’ at work so regularly goes out drinking with colleagues to try and further her career but somewhere along the line she lost her ability to say no to one more drink. Her affair is complicated, she doesn’t have control of the situation and the man she’s involved with is very aggressive in his treatment of her and she thinks she likes it.  Alison does have a toughness to her, along with a vulnerable side and I think this is why I felt for her. She’s not a victim, she has a voice and while she doesn’t always speak out when she might, you always know she’s capable of it. All of the characters in this book, Alison included, have traits that are really unlikeable but they’re all flawed in very human, and very believable ways, it made it all the more chilling to read about them.

Alison is working on defending a client for murder and this is her biggest case to date. I found it fascinating to read about Madeleine, the woman accused of murder, and to see the gradual unfolding of what happened and why. There are some parallels between Madeleine and Alison and it left me feeling increasingly unsettled about how easy it is to one day be one person in one situation and the next to have crossed a line that you can’t come back from. The scary thing about this book was the way it all happens in such a way that you can see how it could happen to anyone.

Blood Orange is a prescient novel for the #metoo era. It looks at issues around consent and where the line is between rough sex and rape. Whilst not the main storyline it’s something that does run through the novel and it’s so well done – it makes you think without it taking over the novel. It’s not just within the affair Alison is having, but also who that man is also seeing and within Alison’s marriage. There is a subtle line whereby her husband wants to help and support her but then sometimes he seems really quite cold towards her, it’s clearly complicated and something of a mess.

The novel opens with someone engaging in auto-erotic asphyxiation but we don’t know who the person is. As I was reading I would forget about the prologue and then certain things happened that had my brain ticking over wondering who it was. The ending of this novel was utterly shocking and I genuinely didn’t see it coming. I felt like I was watching a car crash in slow motion and was powerless to look away. It was such a perfect ending and was so fitting for this brilliant novel!

Blood Orange is such a compelling read – I found that I just couldn’t put it down once I started reading. It made me uncomfortable at times but in the way all the best books do, it unsettled me but I couldn’t stop reading for a second (and nor did I want to!). It’s a novel about toxic relationships, and people, and the tangled webs we weave and the way we become so entangled in them that eventually there may well be no way out. There is no doubt in my mind that Blood Orange will be in my best books of 2019, it’s a phenomenal debut and I already can’t wait to read whatever Harriet Tyce writes next! Go buy a copy of this book now, you won’t regret it!

Many thanks to the publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and the invitation to take part in the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Blood Orange is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Harriet Tyce Author Picture

Harriet Tyce is the author of Blood Orange, a psychological thriller due to be published by Wildfire in the UK and Grand Central Publishing in the US in February 2019.  It will also be published in a further eleven countries, including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Spain.

She grew up in Edinburgh and studied English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University before practising as a criminal barrister for the next decade.  After having children she left the Bar and has recently completed with distinction an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia. Blood Orange is her first novel.

 

You can find the rest of the stops on this tour at the following stops:

Blood Orange Blog Tour Poster

 

#BookReview: My Last Lie by Ella Drummond | @drummondella1 @HeraBooks @BOTBSPublicity #MyLastLie

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About the Book

New beginnings. Old secrets.
Theo and Pilar. The perfect couple.

Successful, beautiful and very much in love.
Until a year ago – and the tragedy that nearly tore them apart.
When their baby died, a part of them died with him.
Now they’re trying to rebuild themselves, moving to a stunning house in rural Cornwall.
But someone knows all their secrets – and will stop at nothing to disturb their fragile peace.

Theo and Pilar are about to learn that you can try to hide – but you can never outrun your past.

 

My Thoughts

My Last Lie is a novel about Theo and Pilar, told from Pilar’s perspective. They’ve been through a terrible tragedy that led to Pilar having a breakdown and now they’ve moved to a new house in a new area and are trying to re-build their lives. There’s something unsettling about the house though, and Pilar begins to feel rattled by the situation.

My Last Lie opens with a car accident that leads to Pilar’s baby being stillborn. The novel then moves forward a year with Theo and Pilar moving in to their new home in Cornwall. They’re both clearly still trying to find a way through their grief, and Theo is protective over Pilar. I did find him a bit contradictory at times and couldn’t quite weigh him up – he seems a devoted husband but then he buys a house for his wife that she has never seen before and immediately tells her he has to be away over night once a week while his business gets sorted out and fully moved more locally. This is at a time when she’s still finding her feet and feeling vulnerable and alone so it seemed a bit unfair of him.

Pilar is clearly still very affected by the loss of their baby, and the time she spent in hospital recovering from the initial grief and trauma that she’s been through. I felt like I was right there with her in this big new house, it sounds like such a stunning house and yet it felt a bit unsettling. When odd little things begin to happen I wasn’t sure whether Pilar was an unreliable narrator due to everything she’s been through, whether Theo somehow secretly blamed her for losing their baby and was trying to gaslight her and make her think she was losing her mind, or whether someone had taken against this couple and wanted to scare them off. This made for a great, thrilling read as I could never quite make my mind up. The unease is there from the beginning but it slowly creeps up until the point when you feel like you’re holding your breath wondering how it’s all going to turn out!

My Last Lie is a novel that keeps you on your toes. The people in the village all have their own secrets and dramas, which made me wonder if any of them has a connection to Pilar and Theo and could wish them ill. There are also a few red herrings thrown in throughout the novel which keeps you guessing about what’s going on and I loved that.

I very much enjoyed this book, it kept me hooked all the way through. It’s a gripping, intriguing and thrilling read – I recommend it! I’m really looking forward to seeing what Ella Drummond writes next, I’ll definitely be first in the queue to buy it.

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

My Last Lie is out today and available here.

 

About the Author

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Ella Drummond recently signed a two-book deal with Hera Books. Her first psychological thriller, My Last Lie will be published in February 2019 and is available for pre-order now.

She lives with her husband on the island of Jersey and you can follow her on Twitter @drummondella1 and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EllaDrummondWrites/

 

 

You can find the rest of the stops on this tour at the following blogs:

20th FEB_ Nicki's Book Blog My Chestnut Reading Tree Nemesis Blog Rather Too Fond of Books 21st FEB_ Cheekypee Reads And Reviews Hooked From Page One Ginger Book Geek Novel Deelights 22nd FEB_ Jennifer - Tar Heel Re