Book Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward | @_Annie_Ward @QuercusBooks #BeautifulBad

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About the Book

Maddie and Ian’s romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

 

My Thoughts

Beautiful Bad is the story of Maddie, a woman who met her husband when they both worked overseas and now they’re living in middle America with their young son Charlie. After an accident while camping Maddie seeks therapy and starts to explore her concerns about her husband. Slowly she reveals the story of their marriage.

This novel opens with a bang as a 911 call leads to detectives entering a house and finding blood and what looks like the aftermath of a struggle! The book then goes back and forth in time as we find out more about Maddie, Ian and Maddie’s best friend Jo; alongside short chapters showing what’s happening in the house as the police investigate.

From the moment I started reading this novel I just couldn’t put it down until I found out how it was all going to end. It grabs you from the beginning and the way it’s written moving back and forth in time means it’s near impossible to stop reading!

I didn’t really like any of the characters in this novel, they all have things about them that made me wonder if they had secrets or were as they appeared to be. I loved that about the novel though, it’s fascinating to read about people I don’t really like as I get an insight into what makes other people tick!

Beautiful Bad opens with a shocking scene and gradually fills in the back story until we’re back in the house and we find out what happened. I loved the reveals as they came, each one left me stunned and re-thinking what I’d previously thought was going on. Ultimately, I did have an idea how it might end and I was right… sort of! I say that because there was more to the reveal than I was ever expecting, and then the final chapter of the novel had me reeling, I didn’t see that part coming at all. I love when a book has shocks in store and this book definitely kept me on my toes! I highly recommend Beautiful Bad!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and for the invitation to be part of the social media splash. All thoughts are my own.

Beautiful Bad is out today and available here!

 

About the Author

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Annie Ward has a BA in English Lit from UCLA and a MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. Her first short screenplay, Strange Habit, starred Adam Scott and won awards at Aspen and Sundance Film Festivals. Ward lives in Kansas with her two sons and husband, who she met in the Balkans.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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

 

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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

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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Book Review: The Bridal Party by J. G. Murray | @JulianGylMurray @CorvusBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheBridalParty

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About the Book

Sometimes friendship can be murder…

It’s the weekend of Clarisse’s bridal party, a trip the girls have all been looking forward to. Then, on the day of their flight, Tamsyn, the maid of honour, suddenly backs out. Upset and confused, they try to make the most of the stunning, isolated seaside house they find themselves in.

But, there is a surprise in store – Tamsyn has organised a murder mystery, a sinister game in which they must discover a killer in their midst. As tensions quickly boil over, it becomes clear to them all that there are some secrets that won’t stay buried…

 

My Thoughts

The Bridal Party is a novel about a group of women going on a weekend away together for a hen party. The group seems quite typical of a hen party where everyone has a relationship with the bride but they don’t all know each other as well as they know Clarisse. One of the hens drops out at the very last minute and all the other women are then going into the unknown as the woman who dropped out is the one who made all the plans. This is such a great set up for the novel and I knew I was going to enjoy it!

The house the women stay in is very isolated and feels quite creepy and unnerving so already there is tension but then they each go their rooms to unpack and the tension really begins to ramp up from there!

The novel is told mainly in the present but there are flashbacks throughout that slowly let you see how these women became friends and what tensions there have been between them in the past. Secrets begin to be unravelled and it gradually catches up with the present. It was brilliant how the past came into play and how the women who’d known each other longest initially stuck together, causing the distrust and uneasiness to further grow. Female friendships can be very like this, although this book is more extreme in how things end up.

The setting of the house is remote and we soon find out that there it has links to a sinister past. It was a creepy enough idea that the house was surrounded by woodland and in the middle of nowhere but finding out its past had me really on edge. I love how the history of the house played a part in the mystery weekend that was planned, and the way this builds as the novel goes on was brilliant!

I loved that this book had genuine surprises. I was expecting this to be similar to other thrillers where a group are effectively trapped in a creepy house together but there was more to it. There is a real sinister feel running through this book, it had me on edge a lot of the time wondering how on earth it was all going work out for the group.

I thought I knew how this book was going to end, and while I worked out some elements, for the most part it took me down a completely different path and I loved that! It’s rare for a book to shock me but this one absolutely did.

The Bridal Party is twisty, tense and gripping… and most importantly it has genuine shocks in store! I definitely recommend this book!

Many thanks to 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 Bridal Party is due to be published on 7th March and can be pre-ordered here.

 

About the Author

J G Murray Author Picture

J G Murray grew up in Cornwall and, after a spell selling chocolates in Brussels, qualified as an English teacher. Murray now lives, teaches and writes in London.

 

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

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Mini Book Reviews: Love, Fate, Loss and Possession!

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Today I’m sharing some more of my mini book reviews! I seem to be reading way faster than I can review at the moment so this seems a good way to get a few reviews posted before the pile grows any higher!

 

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The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

I actually read this book late last year but I struggled to get my thoughts down into a coherent review. This is the first novel I’ve read by the author but it definitely won’t be the last. It follows Mona in two timelines: in the present she runs a business selling weighted dolls to help women deal with the loss of their babies, and in the past we see what made Mona the woman she is in the present. There is a lot of heartache in this novel but it’s the resilience that shone through for me. I’ve suffered a miscarriage myself and while I got over it as much as anyone can I still know how old my child would be now. I didn’t talk about it much at the time, I just picked myself up and got on with it. It feels like every woman going through such a loss needs a Mona in their lives. She knows pain too but she channels it into easing other women’s pain. I cried quite a lot reading this book but it was cathartic tears. This novel is such a special book, one I won’t ever forget. If you haven’t already read this novel then I urge you to, it’s beautiful and unforgettable!

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Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce

This is a gorgeous novel and I enjoyed every minute that I spent reading it. Emmy applies for a job on a newspaper but is shocked to find on her first day that she isn’t going to be a war correspondent but an assistant to the resident agony aunt. She overcomes her disappointment and finds that she wants to help the women who write in. The novel is set during WW2 so there are some sad moments but the novel on the whole is heartwarming and is such a comforting read. If you haven’t already read this then I recommend you grab a copy and read it asap!

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Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield

I completely and utterly fell in love with this book. I knew from the blurb that it was my kind of book as I have a fascination with the possibility of fate and whether there is a person that we’re destined to meet. Ivy and Abe follows the two protagonists throughout there lives but it’s presented in disconnected chapters where their meeting and the way things pan out for them has a different outcome. The wonderful thing though is that throughout the novel there is a thread that keeps coming up and you see in each story how it might have been different if only something had or hadn’t happened. It’s a beautiful novel and even though I read it right at the beginning of January, it’s still staying with me and I often find myself thinking about Ivy and Abe and wondering how they are, as if they were real people. I adored this novel and I highly recommend it!

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Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey

I have to start by saying that I don’t think describing this book as a thriller helped in my enjoyment of it as I was expecting a thriller – I hadn’t read anything by the author before so I believed I was getting what I told I was getting. However, this book is a thriller with supernatural, borderline-horror elements at times, which is not a genre I like to read. I will say that once I got to understand what I was reading I did come to enjoy it, it definitely had me gripped and it was hard to put down so on reflection I’m glad I (albeit somewhat unwittingly) gave this a go. Liz is struggling as she lives with her abusive husband and is trying to protect her children from seeing the worst of his behaviour. I did love the way Liz and Fran’s life became so entwined and blended, and the way one dominated the other’s personality was fascinating. I was engrossed and this kept me turning the pages as I just couldn’t see how the situation was going to be resolved. The ending was hugely satisfying and I would read more books by this author.

 

#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

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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

#BookReview: All the Little Lies by Chris Curran | @Christi_Curran @KillerReads

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About the Book

After a lifetime of secrets how far would you go for the truth?

An unputdownable new psychological thriller, full of twists you won’t see coming, from Chris Curran.

Your whole life has been a lie…

One email is all it takes to turn Eve’s world upside down. It contains a picture of her true birth mother, Stella, and proves that Eve’s entire life with her adoptive parents has been a lie.

Now she must unravel the mystery of Stella’s dark past. But what Eve finds will force her to take enormous risks, which put her – and her new-born baby – in immediate danger…

 

My Thoughts

All the Little Lies is a thriller about Eve. She is married and heavily pregnant when she sees a newspaper article about a woman that she knows must be her birth mother. She has been raised by her adoptive parents but has never been told anything much about the woman who gave birth to her. This leads Eve to start asking questions and the life she thought she knew begins to unravel!

I’ve read and enjoyed Chris Curran’s previous novels but All the Little Lies is definitely her best yet! I was gripped from the opening chapter and was under this book’s spell all the way to the end! The novel is told from two perspectives – Eve in the present and Stella in the past. Some of the other characters feature in both time lines, which is great because you see what they’re telling Eve in the present but you also hear what Stella was going through and how they made her feel.

This novel is a slow-burn but the pacing is exactly right because you need time to see all the threads of the story and to see how things begin to fit together. It also gives you the sense of what Eve is going through – the way it can be slow to find information about something that happened a long time ago. I really felt like I was right along with her in the search for answers.

I loved how Eve’s story alternates with Stella’s and so you get a picture slowly forming of what happened. I felt so sorry for Stella. She had a difficult upbringing and when she finds herself pregnant, alone and short of money she struggles to see how she will cope with a baby. David part owns the gallery that shows some of Stella’s paintings and he offers her help. I think he always meant well but the way Stella’s story unfolds from here is initially heart-breaking and ultimately shocking!

As this novel goes along I became more and more distrustful of just about every character! I was questioning everyone’s motives and trying to work out who had things to gain or lose if Eve were to find out certain things. I did think Eve was too trusting of people at times but I could understand why; she was vulnerable and hurt and was looking for someone who would be completely honest with her. She desperately wants to believe that when she asks questions that people are telling her the honest truth. I was so sympathetic towards her and was hoping there would somehow be a happy ending for her.

The title, All The Little Lies, is one of the most perfect I’ve seen! I loved the way that all the little lies add up in this novel to be much bigger, life-altering lies. You can see how someone does something and justifies it at the time by telling themselves they’re doing it for the best of everyone involved. But then it leads to more lies and then more, and it spirals out of control into a huge lie of which there is no way out!

All The Little Lies is such a great thriller! It’s a brilliant story with great characters and a plot with twists and turns that have you reading just one more chapter (and one more, and one more… until you look up and find it’s 2am!) because you just have to know how it’s all going to work out for Eve. It’s gripping, engrossing and so hard to put down! I definitely recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book from the author. All thoughts are my own.

All the Little Lies is due to be published on 15th February and can be pre-ordered from here now.

I’ve previously reviewed Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

A previous guest post from Chris Curran – Crime Series or Standalone

 

About the Author

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All the Little Lies is Chris Curran’s fourth psychological thriller for Harper Collins Killer Reads. She lives in East Sussex and writes, standing up, in a room with no view. When inspiration falters she finds tea (Earl Grey, hot) and a bout of ironing are very therapeutic. In breaks between books she dusts, cooks, walks by the sea and reads – but mostly reads.

Find her at https://chriscurranauthor.com/

Twitter @Christi_Curran

Instagram: chriscurranwriter

 

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

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#BookReview: East of England by Eamonn Griffin | @eamonngriffin @unbound_digital #randomthingstours @annecater #EastOfEngland

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About the Book

Dan Matlock is out of jail. He’s got a choice. Stay or leave. Go back to where it all went wrong, or simply get out of the county. Disappear. Start again as someone else.

But it’s not as simple as that.

There’s the matter of the man he killed. It wasn’t murder, but even so. You tell that to the family. Especially when that family is the Mintons, who own half that’s profitable and two-thirds of what’s crooked between the Wolds and the coast. And who could have got to Matlock as easy as you like in prison, but who haven’t touched him. Not yet.

And like Matlock found out in prison, there’s no getting away from yourself, so what would the point be in not facing up to other people?

It’s time to go home.

 

My Thoughts

East of England follows Dan Matlock as he gets out of prison after serving two years for causing the death of a man. He’s expecting his dad to meet him but no one is waiting for him. What follows is Dan trying to track down his dad whilst also laying a trail so that the family that caused him to be locked up can find him, and that past can be put to rest once and for all!

This isn’t my normal type of read but I very much enjoyed this book, it was so hard to put down and I read it in a couple of sittings! Dan Matlock is such a great character, one that will stay with me. He’s so much more complex than I thought he was going to be and I really appreciated that. I loved how he’s seeking to avenge himself by whatever means necessary and yet he always makes sure to look after people who need looking after. He takes time with people who he sees are lonely, even when he doesn’t have the time to give.

We follow Dan over the course of a week as he gradually gets closer to the day when things from the past will have to be put right. He immediately gets work as a debt collector with an old mate Chris, and starts scoping out the Minton and Corrigan families so he can lay a trail for them to find him. There is a great creeping undertone of menace as this novel goes on, it’s unsettling because you know the situation will come to a head and it’s just a matter of when and how. The reveals when they come are shocking, and at times violent, but it’s all in keeping with the build up.

The novel is set in the present but we also get flashes of the past and what led to Dan been put in prison, and also some really moving stories of Dan with his dad. Gradually you get a fuller picture of who Dan is and how he ended up in the situation he’s in.

The sense of place in this novel was spot on. Griffin makes Lincolnshire feel like another character in this novel – the feel of the county was done in such a way that I felt I could see everywhere he describes, I could smell the seaside and the fish and chips. It brought the book alive for me and I got so lost in it that it was like watching a film.

East of England is dark and gritty novel, that has some really moving moments in amongst the heavier stuff. I found this book near impossible to put down, and am so thrilled to discover that a second book featuring Dan Matlock is planned! I definitely recommend this one.

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

East of England is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Eamonn Griffin Author Pic

Eamonn Griffin was born and raised in Lincolnshire, though these days he lives in north-east Wales.

He’s worked as a stonemason, a strawberry picker, in plastics factories (everything from packing those little bags for loose change you get from banks to production planning via transport manager via fork-lift driving), in agricultural and industrial laboratories, in a computer games shop, and latterly in further and higher education.

He’s taught and lectured in subjects as diverse as leisure and tourism, uniformed public services, English Studies, creative writing, film studies, TV and film production, and media theory. He doesn’t do any of that anymore. Instead he writes fulltime, either as a freelancer, or else on fiction.

Eamonn has a PhD in creative writing with the University of Lancaster, specialising in historical fiction, having previously completed both an MA in popular film and a BSc in sociology and politics via the Open University. He really likes biltong, and has recently returned to learning to play piano, something he abandoned when he was about seven and has regretted since.

 

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

East of England Blog Tour Poster

#BookReview: Senseless by Anna Lickley | @annal_writes @unbound_digital #Senseless #RandomThingsTours @annecater

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About the Book

Beth’s partner, Dan, inexplicably vanishes from her life and nine years later she is still struggling. In the intervening years, she has learnt British Sign Language (BSL) and got what she thought would be her dream job, supporting deaf students in college. However, she finds she still feels dissatisfied with just about everything: from working life to sex life, domestic life to social life, it’s as if the traumas of her past will forever mar her future.

Through her work, Beth meets a group of strong-minded, pragmatists who show her how they’ve adapted to challenges of having a disability.

Is Dan’s disappearance the primary source of Beth’s sadness? Can her new friends help to shift her perspective on dealing with life? Will learning BSL prove to be significant after all? And what really happened to Dan? The answers may be quite unexpected.

 

My Thoughts

Senseless is a novel about Beth, who has been through a lot in her life and is struggling to find her place. She works supporting deaf / blind students in college using BSL (British Sign Language) but the job isn’t as satisfying as she hoped – she’s always been asked to do things that aren’t part of her job, or is expected to be able to sign things at short short notice for a student and is frustrated that the student is missing out. Beth also has difficulties in her personal life – her partner Dan walked out on her a few years ago and she still doesn’t know why or even where he went and if he’s okay.

Senseless is  a novel told through the viewpoint of two characters, Sam and Beth, although it is more about Beth as her story is told in the present and the past. She has had a really tough time when she was younger and it’s something that she’s never really dealt with. You gradually get to find out and understand why Beth is the way she is, she has had a lot to cope with. She self-medicates with alcohol and sex. Beth really struggles emotionally through this novel with what she wants in life. She thought her job would bring her joy but things aren’t what she hoped for. I felt really sad for her, and was really hoping she would find contentment in her life. She’s a really likeable character and easy to identify with. Sam is another interesting character, I very much liked him and his attitude to life. He is a firefighter but hasn’t been feeling well. He wants to confide in his girlfriend but she doesn’t seem to notice that he’s struggling. Eventually he finds out what is wrong and his life is changed.

There is such great representation of disability in this novel, particularly what it’s like to be deaf but also other forms of disability such as MS and needing to use a wheelchair. I loved how Anna Lickley seamlessly raises awareness of disability throughout her novel but in such a way that you don’t feel there is an agenda. I’m disabled and use a wheelchair, so I could really identify with Sam in particular and how he felt about his increasing reliance on other people and on aids such as his wheelchair. I very much appreciated how he is such a well-rounded character and the mentions of his disability are only there when relevant and are only one part of him. I really identified with how it feels to be in a wheelchair and forever having to shout to converse with your partner or a friend, who is always behind you as they push you. This is one of the things that upsets me the most about my condition – I never get to be alongside my husband when we’re out together anymore.

‘… spoke into he air : it was weird having the person you were speaking to walking behind you.’

Anna Lickley really shows in Senseless what it is to lose a sense, or a part of your physical self to disability but also, and perhaps more importantly, how every other part of you is still the same as it ever was. Disabled people have relationships, have sex, want to socialise and do all of the same things as everyone else. I also loved the exploration of how society often sees disabled people as victims but it is so often not how we see ourselves. I’m incredibly stubborn and refuse to give in for example, and in this book the character with MS says if he has to be known as anything in relation to his condition it would to be a struggler rather than a sufferer, and I can empathise with that. The novel really draws together the way we all have our difficulties – be they a physical disability or the real unhappiness that Beth feels.

Beth ends up going on a weekend break to a horse-riding school for the disabled to act as a support worker to Paula who is deaf blind. The horse riding part of the book was so brilliant. It shows how there are times when everyone, no matter what is going on in their lives can find common ground. I really enjoyed seeing how everyone adapted and how it helped Beth to open herself up to the possibility of what life might have to offer her if she gives herself a chance.

Senseless is a novel for everyone – it’s a well-written book filled with really well-rounded characters. The exploration of how everyone is dis-abled in a way by whatever difficulty they have in life is fascinating. It’s not always easy for anyone and we all need to take more time to really see other people.

Senseless is such a brilliant read – it’s got a great storyline, with believable characters and you get completely invested in their lives. I laughed and I cried while reading this book, it really is a special novel and one that will stay with me. I found this hard to put down and will definitely be looking out for more of Anna Lickley’s writing in the future! I urge everyone to go buy a copy of Senseless and to read it asap!

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

Senseless is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Anna Lickley’s adult life has been moulded by the challenges of adapting to disability. She was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) in the 1990s and went deaf soon after, while at university. She then began to learn British Sign Language to help with communication and loved it immediately, becoming fluent enough to teach it.
In the last seven years, Anna’s vision has deteriorated and she is now registered deaf–blind. That and other health complications led her to stop working. Although sad to leave a job she loved, she is now relishing having more time to write and much of her writing is greatly influenced by her desire to share the realities of living with disability.

 

 

 

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

Senseless Blog Tour Poster

#BookReview: The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden | @LumsdenRich @TinderPress #RandomThingsTours @annecater #BillyBinns

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About the Book

At well over a hundred years old, Billy Binns believes he’s the oldest man in Europe and knows his days are numbered. But Billy has a final wish: he wants to remember what love feels like one last time.

As he looks back at the relationships that have coloured his life – and the events that shaped the century – he recalls a lifetime of hope and heartbreak.

This is the story of an ordinary man’s life, an enchanting novel which takes you on an epic yet intimate journey that will make you laugh, cry, and reflect on the universal turmoil of love.

 

My Thoughts

The Six Loves of Billy Binns is the story of 117 year old Billy as he begins to look back over his life, and the people he’s loved over the years. His life is nearing its end and he wonders whether he can truly remember the feeling of being in love one more time.

This novel is beautiful! I was immediately taken from the opening of the novel when Billy lists who his loves have been and a little about them. I really wanted to know more about these people and from that moment on I barely put the book down!

I loved the way that major events are touched upon in this novel as we move throughout Billy’s Life, it really brings it home just how old he is and how much life he has lived.

The loves in Billy’s life are often fleeting, and some – one in particular was heartbreaking – I had to put the book down for a moment while I composed myself as it did make me cry. There’s a real delicateness to the writing at times that really makes you pause, it’s stunning. It’s apparent that some of the difficult times in Billy’s life are things he has brought on himself but at the same time there’s an awareness that we were all young once and did silly things. He never meant the pain he sometimes caused to others.

Billy’s memories are interspersed with his life now in the old people’s home, and you can see how muddled he gets. He’s not always sure what is now and what was then, and he remembers things differently at different times. I found it really emotional seeing how Billy had clearly imagined other outcomes to get himself through the really difficult periods in his life, and now as an old man he muddles his real memories with the imagined stories. It was heartbreaking when I found myself smiling at a happy memory and then later realising what had actually happened, but in the end there was real solace in the fact that Billy remembered the imagined happy outcome over the most tragic loss. It was as if his forgetfulness was protecting him in the end, I found that so comforting.

I read this novel around the anniversary of my mum’s death and was worried it might be too much for me but actually it was a really good book to read. My mum never got to be even half Billy’s age but she had her share of heartbreak, and it makes me so sad to think of the loneliness she suffered from being divorced in the last years of her life. There was solace in reading Billy’s story though and the sense that in the end there is peace with who we are and how we ended up where we are.

I was expecting this novel to be a love story and it was, just not the way I was expecting. It was a very real story of love – it shows true love in all its complicated and messy ways. The person Billy loved the most was part of the relationship he messed up the most but the love he had for that person never wavered over the years. That is so true of how life can be. Even when you find the one it’s not always smooth sailing. I loved Billy’s ability to keep going though – even when things go wrong and he’s on his own dealing with loss and heartbreak he isn’t afraid to try again, to look for someone new.

The Six Loves of Billy Binns is a story of resilience; of finding a way to go on after the worst has happened. It’s a wonderful look at a very human man – one who has made mistakes but has learnt lessons from the people he’s loved and lost along the way. There is real beauty in this book and I adored it!

Many thanks to Anne of RandomThingsTours and Tinder Press for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Six Loves of Billy Binns is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Richard Lumsden has worked as an actor, writer and composer in television, film and theatre for 30 years. As an actor his films include Downhill, Sightseers, Sense & Sensibilityand The Darkest Hour, as well as numerous television shows and theatre productions. THE SIX LOVES OF BILLY BINNS is his first novel.

 

 

 

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#BookReview: The Suspect by Fiona Barton | @figbarton @TransworldBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

‘The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.’

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

 

My Thoughts

The Suspect is the story of two teenage girls who go missing on a gap year in Thailand. Their parents are desperate for news of them, and the police soon launch an investigation. In the meantime journalist Kate Waters is on the case trying to track the girls down too. This case feels somewhat personal to Kate as her son has also been travelling in Thailand for the last couple of years and only calls home very infrequently.

Kate Waters is back in The Suspect – she is one of my favourite characters in all the series / linked books that I’ve ever read. She is a force to be reckoned with whilst also having a softer side to her. I love her determined nature and her approach to following leads in a story, she always feels like a real person to me. In The Suspect we see more of the pressures of her personal life as her eldest son Jake is off travelling and she worries about him but also knows he’s an adult and has to be allowed his freedom. However, when the two teenage girls go missing in the same part of the world she has a gradually nagging feeling about her son.

We also get the perspective of Alex’s mum, and through her we see how Rosie’s parents are coping too. The anxiety and distress that the parents are in was palpable at times, while at others we see one of the parents covering up things that he has done which made me want to slap him at times!  We also get to see the detectives on the case and see how the police investigation into the disappearance is going. I was happy to see Bob Sparkes back in this book, he’s also such a great character!

Interspersed between these chapters we get to hear from one of the missing girls in the time leading up to their disappearance. Alex is much more reserved than the girl she’s travelling with and over time the tensions build and their friendship begins to crack. Rosie was a last minute replacement on this trip when Alex’s best friend pulled out and it’s clear that these two girls didn’t have much in common from the start. This adds to the sense of foreboding that something bad is going to happen.

Fiona Barton opens The Suspect with the parents’ anguish over these girls and then gradually through the different perspectives the blanks get filled in about what happened to the girls, and how the investigation into their disappearance is going. I love how we are thrown into the middle of the story in many ways and then have to work our way outwards along with Kate and the police to figure out what has happened.

The Suspect can be read as a standalone but I definitely recommend reading the previous two books first because you get to know Kate really well that way. In this third novel featuring her the case becomes much more personal, and I loved that I already knew her and so was completely invested in wanting her to be okay.This was a much more emotional read at times than I was expecting but I felt so involved in what was going on in this story, it was so believable.

The Suspect is Fiona Barton’s best book yet! I was engrossed from the opening chapters and I didn’t want to put it down for a minute! It’s one of those brilliant novels that gives you the time to get to know the characters whilst at the same time moving the plot along at such a pace that you just want to keep reading to know what’s going to happen. The pacing was absolutely spot on and this is such a brilliant read!

The Suspect is a suspenseful, gripping and heart-rending read! I highly recommend it!

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

The Suspect is due to be published on 24th January and is available to pre-order here.

 

About the Author

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Fiona Barton’s debut, The Widow, was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and has been published in thirty-five countries and optioned for television. Her second novel, The Child, was a Sunday Times bestseller. Born in Cambridge, Fiona currently lives in south-west France. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. While working as a journalist, Fiona reported on many high-profile criminal cases and she developed a fascination with watching those involved, their body language and verbal tics. Fiona interviewed people at the heart of these crimes, from the guilty to their families, as well as those on the periphery, and found it was those just outside the spotlight who interested her most . . .

 

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#BookReview: Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe | @CMTStibbe @annecater #randomthingstours

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About the Book

Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.

When Clodagh Shepherd’s curiosity gives way to obsession, her thoughts turn to revenge.

In the wake of her husband’s affair and subsequent disappearance, Clo makes an impulsive decision to befriend the beautiful stranger who has stolen her life. Answering an ad for a home help, she moves into the home of her husband’s mistress and is immediately drawn into the chilling reality behind the idyllic façade of Hamptons Life. Central to her terrifying nightmare is a deadly secret–a secret someone will kill to keep.

 

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness, this thriller is non-stop! Clodagh and her husband Ryan split up after she discovered his affair, and in the wake of that Clo decides to apply for a housekeeper job at his mistress’ home!

At the very start of this novel it’s clear that Clo has been beaten by her husband and has been left feeling quite anxious about how he’s treated her and about his affair. She very quickly decides that she wants the upper hand and so begins her mission to find the woman he cheated with and to inveigle her way into her life. She also wants to know where her husband has gone and thinks this woman holds the answers she needs.

I did find the opening chapters a little difficult to get my head around as the pace of this novel ramps up really quickly and I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. But once Clo finds her husband’s mistress and decides to apply for a job in the same house I was utterly gripped!

Once Clo gets the job as home help the book really takes off. It’s clear right away that while Clo isn’t being honest about who she is that Marion is naturally wary of her. I felt like neither woman could be trusted and so begins something of a game of cat and mouse between them. It was fascinating to read how they were with each other because some female friendships start off with women being very distrustful of each other and in this novel that just seems to grow. There is an appearance of friendship but it doesn’t ever feel very real. I found myself utterly engrossed in the novel wanting to know how it could possibly end!

To heighten matters further Clo and Marion have a look of each other, and I could sense there would be increasing tensions around this – especially from Clo, who knows that Marion had an affair with her husband. It must be horrendous to be confronted with a younger version of yourself in that way. I did have some sympathy for Clo over this but I’ll be honest, it was short-lived!

There is also something very unsettling about the house Clo moves to, and it’s not just her relationship with Marion. The owner has a strict routine of when he’ll be there and what he expects of all of his staff. It felt very oppressive, even though it’s a beautiful house on the beach. There is an escalating claustrophobic feel to it and it really adds to the atmosphere.

There is a lot of paranoia throughout the book, and it unsettled me as I was reading – I couldn’t be sure of what was real. I loved this aspect of the book because it kept me on my toes, I could never get complacent about what I thought might happen. Clo seems to be in control at some moments but then not at others so I was never sure if she was to be trusted. There are twists and turns throughout this book and the end when it comes had me reeling!

Into the Silent Sea is a dark thriller and it definitely proves that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! It’s a real rollercoaster of a read – it’s unpredictable, gripping and thrilling! I recommend it!

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

Into the Silent Sea is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Claire Stibbe is the author of the Detective Temeke Crime series – The 9th Hour, Night Eyes, Past Rites, Dead Cold, Easy Prey. Winner of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards for crime mystery, silver medal winner of The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, her books have also been Amazon bestsellers, reaching the #1 spot in the top 100.

She is also a reporter for Stand True 4 Blue, which features a Nationwide Newsletter dedicated to law enforcement, a member and graduate of the Citizen Police & BSCO Sheriff’s Academy. A former journalist and magazine editor, she now lives in Utah with her husband and son.

These books provide donations towards the counseling of single mothers after suffering from domestic violence and post-traumatic stress.

Find out more about Claire at http://www.clairestibbe.com/

Twitter @CMTStibbe

Sign up to Claire Stibbe’s New Release Mailing List here: http://eepurl.com/bqCQhv

 

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#BookReview: Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn | @r_welbourn @unbound_digital @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Is it possible to keep secrets in the age of social media? When someone lives their entire life in the spotlight, what could they possibly hide from you? Ideal Angels explores just that. It s the story of one man, one woman, one week. They meet, fall in love, and never look back. Eloise s phone is never far away, furiously cataloguing their ups and downs. But there are always shadows, lurking just out of reach. The moments after the camera flashes, unseen, uncaptured. The threat of an inescapable doom. How much can one person change you? How much can one person be your downfall?

 

My Thoughts

Ideal Angels is about an unnamed protagonist who lives a normal, fairly underwhelming life going to work and coming home, spending a lot of his time alone. Then on a night out he meets Eloise and immediately feels a connection to her. They swap numbers and the next time they meet up things become intense very quickly. Eloise is obsessed with social media and records every little detail of their time together. He isn’t keen, he doesn’t use social media but he allows her to keep taking photos because he is infatuated with her.

I found myself swept up in Ideal Angels from the opening pages. It’s written in a stream of consciousness style a lot of the time so you very quickly get inside the narrator’s head and come to understand why he is the way he is. He maintains that he’s okay alone and doesn’t need anyone but he radiates loneliness. I worried for him when he met Eloise, it felt from the off that he was going to get his heart broken. She’s so vivacious and spontaneous and he just isn’t so I felt she would quickly pull away from him and he would be distraught. There is a sense of melancholy even in the happiness he has found, like he has the fear of it ending even as it’s just beginning. I think most of us can identify with that feeling – that moment when you know you’re in love with someone, and the realisation that you are so vulnerable now, so out there to be hurt.

I loved reading about these two falling in love over the week they spend together in this novel. There are moments of real joy and happiness, and I was rooting for it all to work out. The protagonist becomes more accepting of Eloise’s need to be sharing everything about their life online, yet is steadfast in his not wanting to be online himself. It’s as if he’s decided that as long as he’s not looking at her online profiles then it’s not like she’s really sharing every minute detail of their lives.

I can totally see how social media is an obsession for Eloise and why she needs to keep up her profile, and to play to her ‘friends’. We all want to be liked and these days having lots of twitter followers makes us feel part of things: validated. I first joined twitter almost ten years ago in the worst moments of my life, I was lonely and I had no one. There was always someone online to talk to, and it was such a friendly place back then. I still have friends now that I made back then, one of them became my husband! In the end twitter got too big, it was impossible to keep up and people were less and less chatty, it felt like shouting into a void. I tweeted less and less – I became much more like the protagonist in Ideal Angels, social media was something I was aware of but didn’t really participate in. It’s a double-edged sword – it can make you feel part of something, but it can also make you even more aware of how lonely and isolated you really are.

On a side note I loved the references to Hull in this book. I felt like I was right there with the protaganist and Eloise as he shows her where he grew up. I remember when the shopping centre stripped out all the interesting shops on the top floor and made into a cinema. And I spent many a night at the Welly back in the day. Perhaps it’s in part that I know those places but I really connected with how removed he felt that everything had changed. I guess we can all understand how sad it is to go back to a place from our past and find nothing is the same, we can’t keep things the same except in our memories. This seems like such a poignant moment for me, the realisation that the Eloises of this world are perhaps desperately trying to hold on to everything but it’s not possible to have that much control. Life moves on, things change. Social media isn’t always about people showing off to their followers, sometimes it’s trying to preserve something in order to feel like you have meaning.

In the end we come to see that both of these characters are struggling in their own ways. Eloise appears to be living a happy full life but really there’s no substance to the instagram side of her and she has insecurities underneath. As I came to see there were cracks under the surface I could see how these two people connected with each other so quickly and how they fell for each other.

From the very beginning of this novel I felt like I was going to get my heart broken by these characters, and this feeling lingered even in the happy moments. This novel is such a mirror of how life can be – it’s hard to live in the moment, and when you let yourself relax and be happy at the good life has brought you there can be such a sting in the tail.

This book is so prescient in the social media age we live in, and also with regards to its look at mental health. It’s a stunning novel and one that has really got under my skin, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished reading. I loved the wry humour that runs through it, and also the beautiful way with words that Robert Welbourn has in his writing. And even though this novel broke my heart in the end, I completely and utterly fell in love with it. I can already say for sure that Ideal Angels will be one of my favourite books of 2019 because it’s such an incredible novel.

Ideal Angels is prescient, stunning and unforgettable! I highly recommend it!

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

Ideal Angels is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

robert welbourn author pic

Robert Welbourn is Yorkshire born and bred – he’s lived there almost all his life, and now written a book set there. He’s had a passion for books as long as he can remember, and has been writing his whole life. His favourite authors are Bret Easton Ellis and Stephen King, and he cites Ellis as his number one influence.

He studied English Literature at Salford University, and this confirmed that he wanted to spend his life working with books. He currently works in marketing, but is hoping to spend his life telling stories.

Twitter@r_welbourn

 

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#BookReview: Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

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About the Book

We all went to school that Tuesday like normal. Not all of us came home.

When the unthinkable happens, six-year-old Zach is at school. Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, he is too young to understand that life will never be the same again.

Afterwards, the once close-knit community is left reeling. Zach’s dad retreats. His mum sets out to seek revenge. Zach, scared, lost and confused, disappears into his super-secret hideout to try to make sense of things. Nothing feels right – until he listens to his heart . . .

But can he remind the grown-ups how to love again?

 

My Thoughts

Only Child is about seven year old Zach and opens with him hiding in a cupboard at school with his teacher and classmates as gunshots ring out in the corridor. The police arrive and Zach is led to safety but we soon find out that his older brother was killed in the shooting. Zach is then left to try and make sense of what has happened and how to get through it.

Only Child has such a powerful opening chapter – the description, through a child’s eyes, of being huddled in a cupboard for safety was terrifying. It really made my heart race and I was hoping he would be okay. The book gradually moves towards being about how a family can ever begin to come to terms with losing a child in the way they did, but also how a young child can begin to get over such trauma.

It broke my heart when I, as an adult reader, could understand the minutiae of an argument but Zach had no concept other than that the adults around him were shouting and it was upsetting for him. It was horrible seeing him try to process his own grief while his parents were falling apart trying to work through their feelings. I can’t even imagine what it must be like but there were parts of this book that felt so visceral and real to me.

If I’m to be honest though I did struggle with this book having a child narrator at times as it did become repetitive in places – it was irritating how many times Zach tells us that someone ‘shook their head yes’. At other times it didn’t ring true that he was the age he was. We know he struggles with his reading and yet he can read the word sepulchre at the graveyard. These were small niggles though in a book that was otherwise very powerful and very moving.

Rhiannon Navin deals with this all-too-real subject with real sensitivity, and this is a powerful, gripping and very moving novel.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Only Child is out now and available here.

#BookReview: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

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About the Book

Everyone’s invited. Everyone’s a suspect.

Nine friends ring in the New Year in the remote Scottish Highlands.

As the curtain falls on another year, the celebrations begin.

The next 48 hours see the friends catching up, reminiscing over past stories, scratching old wounds. . . And guarding friendship-destroying secrets.

The clock has barely struck 12 when a broken body is found in the snow.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

When a thick blizzard descends, the group are trapped.

No-one can get in. And no-one can get out.

Not even the killer.

 

My Thoughts

The Hunting Party has such a great premise – the idea of a group of old friends from university days going on holiday together along with their partners, and ending up stuck in a remote Scottish location due to the heavy snowfall is irresistible to me!

The Hunting Party is a little different from other novels that I’ve read with a similar premise in that we know from the start that one of the party has been murdered but we don’t know who. The novel goes back and forth in time across the whole weekend and gradually you start to have your suspicions about who might have been killed and who might be the killer. Part of me would have preferred to know who was killed so I could enjoy trying to work out who was most likely to want that person dead, but another part of me enjoyed being kept guessing about all of it. It meant I was suspicious of everyone, and also judging each of their actions more harshly than I otherwise might because I knew one of them would turn out to be a killer!

There are multiple characters in this book but it’s easy to keep track of them as they all have their own characteristics. None of them are particularly likeable but I can’t help but enjoy novels where no one is my type of person. It really works in this book as you see the events unfold and slowly work out who is dead and who might have killed them.

It always fascinates me to read novels where people are still friends with people they knew from school or university. We change so much in the years from uni to our late 20s and lives become so different so when a group is clinging on to what they once had it’s only going to be a recipe for trouble in a novel. I think friendships only truly survive if you continue to have solid things in common rather than trying to force it. The group in this book for the most part are definitely trying to recreate their youth and to recapture a bond that they once had.

This is a great novel to read at this time of year as the sense of cold and snow and isolation is perfect for winter. This is a new take on the locked room mystery and I recommend it for curling up on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate and a blanket as the cold winter weather swirls around outside!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

The Hunting Party is out now in ebook and is due for release in hardback on 24th January. Buy Link.

#BookReview: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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About the Book

ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

 

My Thoughts

The Silent Patient is about Alicia who, seemingly out of nowhere, murders her husband, Gabriel. Before the murder they seemed like the perfect couple: she a successful artist and he a successful photographer. Now Gabriel is dead and Alicia is rendered mute, she’s held in a secure psychiatric unit and no one has been able to get through to her. The novel is narrated by Theo, a psychotherapist, who becomes convinced that he can treat Alicia and get her talking again.

The Silent Patient has been calling to me from my TBR ever since I was sent an ARC last year and I finally picked it up yesterday afternoon. I literally read it non-stop as it grabbed me from the opening chapter and kept me gripped right until the very end! Even after I finished reading I was still thinking about it!

This is a novel that is predominantly told from Theo’s perspective but it’s interspersed with Alicia’s journal entries. It’s a great way of telling this story as we find out more about Theo and then about Alicia, and you can see how he becomes fixated on helping her, you see that there are similarities between them. Theo speaks to a handful of people who knew Alicia before the murder and he begins to build up a picture of the person she was, and it gets you thinking about whether she really could have killed her husband and you also wonder about the why. Then you get Alicia’s perspective through her diary entries which has you second guessing what you’d previously thought.

I loved the different ways silence was looked at in this book – Alicia was literally silent in this novel but we see other ways in which people are sidelined in their own lives, who hide their history and who keep their pain locked away. There are many ways to be silenced and many ways of showing you are silenced and this runs through this novel. So many of us have things in our lives that we can’t or won’t talk about, and you see this all through The Silent Patient. If only people talked more then maybe damage wouldn’t be wrought upon damage throughout the years. But then it also made me think of how sometimes silence is the only thing left to someone who had been made a victim; how a person can find strength in their refusal to give others what they want – their story, their voice.

The Silent Patient kept me on my toes all the way through. Initially my brain was ticking away trying to work out what was going on as I was reading (and I had about four or five different theories but none of them quite fit) but I ended up so completely engrossed in the story that I was utterly stunned when the reveal happens! It’s not often that a novel grabs me to that degree and shocks me as much as this one so it deserves all of the praise!

There’s not a lot more I can say about The Silent Patient because it’s a book best read without knowing too much about it. I honestly can’t praise it highly enough though – it’s the perfect psychological thriller and I definitely recommend that you pre-order a copy now!

The Silent Patient is very clever, utterly twisted and downright brilliant!

 

Many thanks to Poppy at Orion for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Silent Patient is due to be published on 7th February in hardback and ebook and can be pre-ordered here.

BookReview: The Rumour by Lesley Kara #TheRumour

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About the Book

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

 

My Thoughts

The Rumour is a novel about the damage that gossip can do, and also about whether people who’ve done a terrible thing as a child can ever be allowed to make a new start as an adult. This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 and I finally got to read it this week and it was everything I hoped it would be, and more!

I was gripped by The Rumour from the opening pages! It was unsettling to be reading, and sitting in judgement, of the women at the school gates gossiping about a rumour one of them had heard that child killer Sally McGowan was living in their midst whilst at the same time immediately wanting to know whether this was true or not! At heart there is maybe something in all of us that can’t resist salacious gossip and this book really plays to that.

The novel also explores very cleverly the repercussions of the gossip in the town too. A woman is falsely believed to be the killer and her life is left damaged by the rumour. Other women who are of a similar age as Sally McGowan are looked at with suspicion. It must be horrible to feel in danger when you’re innocent. It also made me think about what it must be like to have done something so awful as a child and to have served your time and to be deemed to be rehabilitated but then it’s always there. Even with a new identity the media, and the gossips, will never quite leave it alone.

I really liked Joanna in this novel, although I did find her a little naive at times, she was clearly someone who wanted to do the best for her son and to make a life for herself in this town they’ve recently moved to. She tries to make friends with some other mums in order to help her son make friends, which is how she ends up fuelling the gossip with her own take on the rumour.

Lesley Kara captures small town mentality so perfectly. I grew up in a smallish town where everyone knew everyone else’s business. Gossip was right around the town before the subject of the gossip would even know about it. I found it so claustrophobic as I got a bit older and I’m glad not to live there anymore. The Rumour really captures how gossip spreads in small towns, and also the reasons why people gossip. Often no harm is meant but that doesn’t mean no harm is caused.

The Rumour is full of red herrings, and this makes for such a rollercoaster of a read. I loved that when I thought I had it all worked out there was a sting in the tail. The Rumour is a brilliant, fast-paced and unputdownable novel and I’m already thinking that it is highly likely to be on my best books of 2019! It was that good!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

The Rumour is out now and available here.

#BookReview: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton | @KJHAuthor @Wildfirebks @Bookish_Becky

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About the Book

Juliette loves Nate. She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

 

My Thoughts

I was very lucky to be sent an ARC of The Perfect Girlfriend last year but I didn’t manage to read it at the time. I finally picked it up yesterday and I read the whole novel in one sitting!

The Perfect Girlfriend is the story of Juliette. She has trained to be a flight attendant in order to keep a close eye on Nate, who is a pilot. Nate was Juliette’s boyfriend until he broke up with her six months ago but now Juliette is determined to prove to him that she is the perfect girlfriend and that he should be with her!

This novel has such a good premise and I was intrigued by it from the moment I first heard about it. The idea of someone going to such lengths as to train in a new career in order to try and get their ex back is worrying but a fantastic idea for a book! This is a real insight into the mind of a stalker, someone who is so obsessed by a previous lover that they simply can’t let go. They believe that what they want is what will make the other person happy and so pursue that life at all costs.

Juliette is a brilliant character. Initially I felt a little sorry for her, she’s clearly got issues but she’s had some really difficult times in her life so I was hoping she would get herself together. As the novel goes on she is harder and harder to like but impossible to stop reading about. She is increasingly unhinged as she steps up her campaign to get Nate back and there are moments when I was holding my breath hoping that all would be okay in the end. This is a novel that slowly builds the tension, it creeps up on you and before you know it you’re on the edge of your seat hoping that real life won’t interrupt your reading time!

The Perfect Girlfriend is fast-paced, creepy and impossible to put down – I recommend it! I’m already eagerly anticipating whatever Karen Hamilton writes next!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

The Perfect Girlfriend is out today in paperback and available here.

#BookReview: The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola | @Anna_Mazz @TinderPress @annecater

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About the Book

From the author of The Unseeing comes a sizzling period novel of folktales, disappearances and injustice set on the Isle of Skye, sure to appeal to readers of Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites or Beth Underdown’s The Witch Finder’s Sister.

Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the folk and fairy tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857, and the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty and a community riven by fear. The crofters are suspicious and hostile to a stranger, claiming they no longer know their fireside stories.

Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach, and the crofters reveal that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the restless dead: spirits who take the form of birds.

Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but as events accumulate she begins to wonder if something else is at work. Something which may be linked to the death of her own mother many years before.

 

My Thoughts

Audrey Hart is a young woman who has left London to travel to Skye to work collecting folk tales from the local area. Her late mother had also been interested in folklore and had traveled to areas nearby so she is also wanting to know more about her. She moves in with Mrs Buchanan, the lady who she’ll be collecting the tales for, and begins to settle in. Soon after her arrival she finds a body on the beach and from this point on real life begins to blur with the folklore for Audrey.

The Story Keeper is a fantastic novel. The writing is wonderful and so atmospheric. I felt the oppressive atmosphere in a small place where people are very insular and don’t want to share their lives and their stories with incomers.

Audrey is a great character. I was in awe of her travelling from London to Skye on her own in a time when this would have been a scary and courageous thing for a young woman to do alone. I felt for her at the lack of a mother in her life, I know what it’s like to lose your mum and could see how lost she was and how at the root of everything she was looking to find a sense of her mum somewhere. As Audrey began to get more and more drawn into the folklore and to see some of the happenings that the islanders spoke about I was really hoping that she was going to be okay. I was rooting for her to be able to make a home and a life, and to feel settled again.

There is so much mystery in this novel and I loved how it was possible to find yourself believing that there must be something in the folklore as the horrible things happening on the island were so similar to the stories, whilst at the same time the rational side of your brain is thinking that there must be another reason for the coincidences and odd happenings.

I got so absorbed in this novel and felt really jolted when real life brought me back to where I was. It’s not often that a novel captures me to that degree and it was wonderful to be so enthralled. The Story keeper is a brilliant, atmospheric and utterly gripping novel and I highly recommend it!

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

The Story Keeper is out now in hardback and ebook, and can be pre-ordered in paperback here.

 

About the Author

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Anna is a writer who, due to some fault of her parents, is drawn to peculiar and dark historical subjects. Her novels, which have been described as literary crime fiction or historical crime, explore the psychological and social impact of crime and injustice. Anna’s influences include Sarah Waters, Daphne Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood.

 

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#BookReview: The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard @cathryanhoward @CorvusBooks #TheLiarsGirl @annecater

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About the Book

Her first love confessed to five murders.

The truth was so much worse.

Will Hurley, Dublin’s notorious Canal Killer, is in prison, ten years into a life sentence.

His ex-girlfriend, Alison, has built a new life abroad, putting her shattered past behind her.

Then the copycat killings start. Will holds the key to unlocking these crimes, but he’ll only talk to Alison. Can the killer be stopped before there’s another senseless murder? And after all these years, can Alison face the past – and the man – she’s worked so hard to forget?

 

My Thoughts

The Liar’s Girl is the story of Alison, who meets the love of her life at university but then her life spirals when her best friend is murdered and her boyfriend Will is arrested for the killing. The novel is told predominantly from Alison’s perspective in a dual timeline: in the past when she’s at Uni and in the present ten years later as she’s trying to build a life for herself. Things begin to unravel when a copycat killer is on the loose and the police want Alison to come back to Dublin to speak to Will about what he might know.

The Liar’s Girl opens with a scene that was so unnerving. A young woman comes round in a house, obviously in the aftermath of a small party or gathering of other young people. She’s clearly had a drink but she’s aware that something’s really not right. Then she sees something which chills her to the bone and she runs. My adrenaline was racing as I read it and I just knew this was going to be a brilliant read (and I was so right!).

I liked Alison from the start of this novel and felt such sympathy for her at all she had been through. It’s clearly damaged her and affected her ability to form relationships with men, and she never feels like she can be honest about knowing Will or Liz. It must be so difficult to feel you have to keep such secrets. You can see from the start that Alison and Liz had a complicated friendship that is so common in the teenage years. One is often more of a leader than the other, and that leaves the other to feel like they’re just following along without really knowing who they are. When Liz and Alison get to Uni and Alison meets her flatmate and then Will she begins to grow in confidence, but then the murders happen. All through the novel I was hoping Alison would find the strength to come to terms with all the complex emotions she’d buried from the past.

I did work out some aspects of how this novel would end, although I had my doubts about a couple of the characters before I settled on a theory, but this never spoiled my enjoyment of the book as I wanted to know why and how.

The Liar’s Girl had perfect pacing for me – it’s quite a slow-burn, allowing the reader to get to know Alison and letting the tension build up, while at the same time being such a fast read because once you start reading you just don’t want to put it down! The novel is predominantly about Alison and about how the murders are investigated but it’s interspersed with creepy moments from the killer’s perspective that definitely get the adrenaline going!

The Liar’s Girl is gripping, thrilling and impossible to put down! I read this in one sitting and absolutely loved it! I definitely recommend this one!

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Corvus for my copy of The Liar’s Girl and my invitation to be on the blog tour.

The Liar’s Girl is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin. Her debut novel Distress Signalswas published by Corvus in 2016 and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger.

 

 

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

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