A Suitable Lie by Michael Malone – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving psychological thriller which marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s top crime writers.

My Review

Well, another book that I have read this year that is incredibly hard hitting. Andy was left devastated by the death of his first wife and was over the moon when he met Anna and she agreed to become his wife and a mother to his young son. The joy was very short lived though and he soon realized how little he knew her.
The abuse that he received from his wife was horrific and at times I found it very difficult to read. I fluctuated between wanting to carry on reading to see what happened next and needing to put it down to relax. But alongside the abuse was the love shown to him by his family and friends. The relationship with his sons was something special to read. I didn’t find anything likeable about Anna, even before the abuse started there was something about her that made me uneasy.
It is difficult to accept that domestic abuse against a man was not taken seriously. Even though the book is set a few years ago I found myself questioning whether attitudes have changed. It’s a fascinating book to read, chilling, difficult to put down and at times difficult to read.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received.

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The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn- Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough.

Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless

My Review

The Bird Tribunal is a beautifully written novel that concerns Allis a former reporter who goes into hiding after a very public embarrassing incident and the man who she goes to work for.
The level of claustrophobia builds rapidly. The house where they live is very isolated and for the majority of the novel they are the only two characters. The only other character of any significance is a hostile shopkeeper who gives the impression of knowing more about the pair of them without revealing exactly what.
The blurb states that the book is all about an obsessive relationship and my feeling the further I read that three of the characters were equally obsessed with each other. But Allis is also aware and wary that she never really knows what Sigurd is up to. Birds play a part, Allis’s care of them but there are also more sinister events concerning them. Norse Mythology is also discussed, something that I know nothing about but found fascinating.
For much of the novel nothing appears to happen but it is all written in preparation for the finale when the truth is finally revealed in a shocking but poetic way.
A slightly different novel for me, it is a slow building novel but being short it works well. Therefore, it is another book published by Orenda that I would not  hesitate to recommend.

With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received and the opportunity to participate in the blog tour.

Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay – Guest Review.

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Today, it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog Liz from lizlovesbooks reviewing the brilliant novel Bone by Bone.

About the Book

Laura loves her daughter more than anything in the world.

But nine-year-old Autumn is being bullied. Laura feels helpless.

When Autumn fails to return home from school one day, Laura goes looking for her. She finds a crowd of older children taunting her little girl.

In the heat of the moment, Laura makes a terrible choice. A choice that will have devastating consequences for her and her daughter…

 

Review

Bone By Bone is both a top psychological thriller and an emotional and hard hitting look at the insidious nature of bullying – it is a bit of a page turner I read 3/4 of this in one sitting and it is scary and realistic – the realism making it more scary than if it were complete fantasy or even read as being slightly unlikely.

Autumn is being bullied at school, her mother tries to put a stop to it and ends up making it worse after one definitive and far reaching decision made in the spur of the moment.

The nature of this novel, in that it shows the slow downward spiral of a mother and daughter whom the system lets down, is extremely topical and very haunting. As they struggle to deal with knock after knock, you will be absolutely glued to the pages, in disbelief and horror at how quickly one seemingly small incident can escalate into a targeted campaign of fear. The actions of the school, of the bully, of his Dad, of the other parents, all cleverly interwoven into the underlying sense of unease will really hit home and Sanjida Kay has a keen eye for the small details that really matter when it comes to telling a story.

One of the things I thought was particularly intriguing about Bone By Bone was the way it looked at many facets, the ending may be unexpected but feels absolutely right and whilst bullying is, by its very nature, a most horrific thing, there are often multiple layers at play and this novel speaks to that very well.

Excellent. Highly Recommended.

Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra- Blog Tour Review.

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Today I am delighted to take part in the blog tour for Only Daughter that was released yesterday.

About the Book

In this chilling psychological thriller, one woman’s dark past becomes another’s deadly future.

In 2003, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Winter disappeared.

She’d been enjoying her teenage summer break: working at a fast food restaurant, crushing on an older boy and shoplifting with her best friend. Mysteriously ominous things began to happen―blood in the bed, periods of blackouts, a feeling of being watched―though Bec remained oblivious of what was to come.

Eleven years later she is replaced.

A young woman, desperate after being arrested, claims to be the decade-missing Bec.

Soon the imposter is living Bec’s life. Sleeping in her bed. Hugging her mother and father. Learning her best friends’ names. Playing with her twin brothers.

But Bec’s welcoming family and enthusiastic friends are not quite as they seem. As the imposter dodges the detective investigating her case, she begins to delve into the life of the real Bec Winter―and soon realizes that whoever took Bec is still at large, and that she is in imminent danger.

My Review

Only Daughter was a much more sinister novel than I expected
The story takes place in two different times, when Bec disappears in 2003 and in 2014 when a woman claiming to be her is arrested for shoplifting. Each chapter shows a little more from each woman’s story and the danger that they are in.
The story concerning the younger Bec is particularly intriguing. She has a good relationship with her best friend but often feels invisible at home. She is excited about her coming birthday, hoping that Luke her work colleague will ask her to go out on a date. But she is also unsettled by certain things, a feeling of being watched and a fear that the bush fires are too close.
You have no idea of the woman who is impersonating Bec’s real identity, not even her name or the reasons why she is hiding. She refuses to help the police with their enquiries about the abduction or see hypnotists etc, knowing that she won’t be able to fool them.
I enjoyed this novel. As with a lot of books that are set over a couple of different times or individual’s accounts it always switched at a crucial point. There was a threat present through all of the novel especially when the shocking truth about what happened in 2003 was revealed. Definitely a chilling storyline that I did find quite upsetting.
I did like both Becs. The younger one was a mixed up teen who wanted to keep everybody happy, especially her younger brothers. The older one knew that what she was doing was wrong but she wanted to be a good daughter/ sister to the family she claimed was hers. I thought the ending was great, especially after what was revealed towards the end.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received and for the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

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Pushing up Daisies by M.C. Beaton

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About the Book

Lord Bellington has enraged locals by saying he is going to sell off their allotments to make way for a new housing development. So when he turns up dead, poisoned by antifreeze, nobody mourns his passing.

On another fine summer’s day, Agatha visits Carsley’s allotments where everything looks peaceful and perfect: people of all ages digging in the soil and working hard to grow their own fruit and veg. Agatha feels almost tempted to take on a strip herself . . . but common sense soon prevails. She doesn’t really like getting her hands dirty.

She is introduced to three keen gardeners; Harry Perry, Bunty Daventry and Josephine Merriweather are lamenting the neglected condition of a patch that has become available. But as Harry starts to shovel through the weeds and grass his spade comes across something hard so he bends down and tries to move the object. And he starts to yell . . .

The body is that of Peta Currie, a newcomer to the village – but who would want to murder her? Blonde and beautiful, she’s every local male’s favourite. And then Lord Bellington’s son engages Agatha to do some digging of her own and very soon Agatha is thrown into a world of petty feuds, jealousies and disputes over land. It would seem that far from being tiny gardens of Eden, Carsley’s allotments are local battlefields where passions – and the body count – run high!

My Review

Pushing up Daisies is number 27 in the Agatha Raisin series and the first that I have read. It is a series that I knew nothing about apart from once being told that Agatha is like a Miss Marple who liked a drink and had plenty of boyfriends.
It is very much ‘cosy crime’. There were quite a few murders, all with different methods but no gory details, no forensics or evidence gathering. Most of the investigation involved Agatha shouting at everybody and the police shouting at Agatha.
With not knowing the series I did struggle slightly, not being familiar with the characters or their relationships. There appeared to be an ex-husband and an on/off boyfriend amongst Agatha’s employees.
A very much lighter novel to what I usually read but it is a series that I can dip in and out of in the future when I fancy something a little lighter.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

Standstill by J. A.Marley – Guest post and Review

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Today, it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog John Marley, author of Standstill that is published tomorrow. 

 Creativity…with an emphasis on the Tea

Since I started to tell people that I was writing my book, Standstill, one question I have been continually asked is “How do you even start to write a book?”
Good question. How do you write a book? For years I, like most people, didn’t have the first clue.
And now I do. What happens is you sit down and you write. Now I am not being glib or patronizing here, but this is the truth for me. I literally sat down and started to write. And before I knew it I was creating a crime thriller about a master thief, crooked coppers, a determined detective and a huge robbery that would shake London to the core.
That’s how I started to write a book.
There are whole industries dedicated to answering this question. Books, courses, techniques, disciplines and yes, now, there are even apps that you can download on your phone or tablet to help you write your book.
Every author, when asked, will give you a different answer. They can only ever tell you what worked for them. I am always intrigued and amazed by the myriad discussions at author events about technique, tips on how to create character, some writers even using Excel spreadsheets to track the machinations of their protagonists and their personal quirks and interactions.
I just had an idea and I started to splurge it out.
It was for me that straightforward. Now, I’m not claiming I wrote one draft and handed it in. God, no. By splurging, writing in an emergent manner, I created all sorts of cul de sacs for myself. But after several different versions, I got there. The book as you can now read and enjoy evolved through 5 distinct manuscripts but the basic plot, hook and main characters pretty much stayed the same.
But the most amazing part of the process for me was also the most inconvenient one. It was largely written in bursts between the hours of about 4am and 8am.
And there was a simple reason for this.
My characters would wake me up.
I’m not kidding. They would start rummaging around in my head just at that point that the rest of the world was snug as a bug in a rug in their deepest sleeps. Not for me…oh no. I had to be suddenly awake having had a lightning thought about how to pull off the robbery at the centre of the plot. I was being cajoled out of my bed by Danny Felix, my master thief, demanding that I further the plot, help him become a fully rounded character. It was no use just keeping a notepad by my bed, as I could never decipher my sleep addled handwriting the next day, plus my Mrs didn’t particularly like the light going on and me mumbling to myself in the wee small hours when it developed into an almost regular thing.
Ideas on how to get me out of plot problems or secondary characters who have key roles to play in how the story works would feel it was okay to waltz around behind my eyelids, tugging them open and leaving me restless and unable to nod back off until they had their wicked way and got themselves out of my head and onto my laptop screen.
And this is where the tea in creativity of my blog post title comes in. If it hadn’t been for the restorative powers of a mug of tea, Standstill might never have made it to being listed on Amazon here: here
So I’d be prodded awake at some ungodly hour and my habit was to pull on some jimjams, go downstairs, put the kettle on and make tea. After the first few sips I would then start to type. I am fairly sure that I will never make any money from my books because by the time I have paid for all the tea bags needed to fuel my creative endeavours, there will be no dosh left over! If only authors could get commercial sponsorship deals! PG Tips would be first on my hit list.
So there you have it. That is how I wrote my debut novel. It was a right royal pain in the ass…and I have to say I’m very proud of it all. Because I got there. I wrote a crime thriller.
I hope you will enjoy reading it. And may I suggest you do so with a nice cup of tea.
Standstill by J.A. Marley is published 15th September by Avocado Books, price £6.99 in paperback original. Pre-order Standstill in eBook now, for just £1.99.

About the Book

One man’s chaos is another man’s comfort zone…
When young, ambitious thief, Danny Felix, is dragged out of bed by a psychotic cop in an early morning raid, he could hardly imagine he was about to be plunged into the robbery of a lifetime.
Corruption and coercion follow the very bent Detective Inspector Harkness everywhere he goes and now he has Danny by the proverbial balls.
But even the deadliest criminals leave a trail, one that dedicated Flying Squad officer Christine Chance is getting closer to, while trying her best to be mother to a seriously ill daughter.
Can Danny escape Harkness with his life intact? Can he avoid detection by Chance?
And most importantly does he have what it takes to use the teeming streets of modern day London to pull off the theft of the 21st Century?
Danny thinks he can…but there will be bloodshed..

My Review

The first thing that stood out about Standstill was how refreshing it was. Danny Felix is a thief who is forced by a crooked police officer into carrying out a very large robbery. One that will bring London to a standstill. Harkness, the corrupt cop is a nasty piece of work. He is violent and a bully who won’t take no for an answer. Christine Chance is a member of the flying squad, her team have recently solved a series of cases and she is starting to get suspicious about their luck. She also has a seriously ill daughter.
I liked Danny, he constantly tried to show Harkness that he would do things his way and he was the boss but Harkness always seemed to be one step ahead and knew exactly how to show Danny how things really were. I struggled slightly with Christine, the part that involved her work I was fine with but I found the storyline concerning her daughter difficult to read.
The way that London was brought to a standstill was unexpected. It only covered a couple of chapters but it was a part of the novel that had a lingering effect on me.
A great debut novel, with some laughs, some shocks and a unique storyline.
With thanks to John Marley for the guest post and Sophie for the novel received for review.

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The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah.

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About the Book

The new Hercule Poirot novel – another brilliant murder mystery that can only be solved by the eponymous Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.

Since the publication of her first book in 1920, Agatha Christie wrote 33 novels, two plays and more than 50 short stories featuring Hercule Poirot. Now, for the first time ever, the guardians of her legacy have approved a brand new novel featuring Dame Agatha’s most beloved creation.

Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at the fashionable Bloxham Hotel have been murdered, a cufflink placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…

In the hands of internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London – a diabolically clever puzzle that can only be solved by the talented Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.

My Review

I was a huge Hercule Poirot fan years ago and loved getting my hands on one that I hadn’t read from the library. However, when I had read them all countless times they were replaced by more modern crime novels. I was really interested though when I heard that Sophie Hannah was continuing the series. I was advised that the hardback edition was preferable to the e-book, mainly because of the cover. I’m glad that I did buy that version, its stunning.
Monsieur Poirot was just like I remembered him although if it was possible to meet characters from books I would have to apologize to him for forgetting that he was Belgian and not French. It was like the gap of thirty years plus didn’t exist. He was still the clever, vain, mildly insulting but loyal character that Agatha Christie created.
I thought his relationship with Edward Catchpool worked very well. Catchpool is the narrator throughout the novel and he took all the put downs from Poirot in his stride just appreciating him using his ‘little grey cells’ to help in the investigation. Parts of the novel were slightly intimidating, the way that Catchpool was made very unwelcome in the village where the victims lived was one of them.
The case itself was complicated. I never had a clue who the murderer was or how the murders were carried out. Neither did Catchpool but Poirot solved it as only he could. There are a couple of characters apart from the main two who I really liked and I hope that they will appear again in the future.
I was lucky enough to buy a signed edition of Closed Casket the next book in this series, I hope to read it soon. Recommended for all Hercule Poirot fans.