#BookReview | #Giveaway: If I Die Before I Wake by @EmilyKoch | @HarvillSecker @vintagebooks

if I die before i wake.jpg“HOW DO YOU SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. 

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.

A stunning edge-of-your-seat debut novel with an unforgettable narrator.”

I finished reading If I Die Before I Wake a few days ago and I’m still bereft, still heartbroken.  This haunting debut thriller will stay with me for some time, but do you know what? I nearly gave up on it! I’m not really one for discarding books part way through.  Actually, I can probably count the number of books I have ‘DNF’d’ on one hand.

Regular readers of the blog will know that I am a) a crime fiction fan, b) I like character driven fiction and c) I like excitement and action, thrills and spills.  When I started reading If I Die Before I Wake I suddenly started to question how the author was going to keep the story going for 320 pages.  Alex, our main character, is in a coma and has been for a significant amount of time (18 months-ish).  He has spells of being alert, able to see a little, able to smell, able to hear, able to taste the rubber of a gloved hand sponging out his mouth and able to feel.  But he can’t move, can’t communicate.  I didn’t instantly warm to Alex, or his girlfriend, Bea.  As you would expect, the first few chapters of this book paint Alex’s rather dire situation for the reader.  Alex is in a coma.  His girlfriend visits, his family visits, his best mate visits.  I was questioning whether it was worth continuing with Alex’s tale.  He’d been in a coma for so long I couldn’t see him waking up anytime soon.  What was going to happen?  WELL!  Let me tell you something.  I persevered and oh my gosh, I am so glad I did.

You see, I fell a little bit in love with Alex.  Koch has created some astonishingly good characters in If I Die Before I Wake.  I’m not an emotional reader normally. I want blood, guts and gore, shedloads of action and a killer hook (not much to ask for, is it?).  Since I started damppebbles I have cried twice whilst reading.  It was twice, make that three times now.  And I’m not ashamed to admit it was ugly crying.  Snotty, sobby, traumatised, hiccuppy, heartbroken crying.  Wow!  Just WOW!!  And to think I nearly put this book down.  By the time I turned the last page there was so much I loved about this novel.  It wasn’t just Alex I had fallen in love with.  His poor dad made my heart melt, and despite being a bit of a nightmare, I also warmed to his sister, Philippa.

I’m excited to see what author Emily Koch gives us readers next.  If this is the quality of her writing then us bookish types are in for a real treat!

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely! Yes, it’s a thrilling read which is incredibly clever as the main character never leaves his hospital bed (!) but it’s also a highly emotional tale which broke my heart.  The author has excelled at making her reader feel the frustration Alex suffers on a daily basis.  Absolutely flipping brilliant and a contender for my ‘books of 2018’ list!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of If I Die Before I Wake.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

I was very lucky to receive two copies of If I Die Before I Wake from the publisher.  Rather than have the spare sat on my bookshelf unread and unloved let’s have a giveaway!  To be in with a chance to win one hardback copy of If I Die Before I Wake all you have to do is retweet the pinned tweet on my twitter profile and tag a friend you think would like to read this book.  Retweet and tag, it’s that easy.  UK/IRE only I’m afraid as it’s a hardback copy and will cost too much to send overseas.  Giveaway closes on Saturday 20th January 2018 at midday (GMT).  The winner will need to provide me with their address and there is no cash or eBook alternative.  Good luck!

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch was published in the UK by Harvill Secker on 11th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (the following Amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.comWaterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

Emily Koch - pic by Barbara Evripidou

I am an author and journalist living in Bristol, UK, and am represented by Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge and White. My debut novel If I Die Before I Wake is out now, published by Harvill Secker, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Working with writer Alison Powell I am also a founding member of WriteClub – which runs regular creative writing events in Bristol. Check us out – whether you’re a published author or the last thing you wrote was a shopping list.

Email me at mail@emilykoch.co.uk with any queries.

You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Author image and bio © https://emilykoch.co.uk/

#BookReview: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney (@alicewriterland) @HQStories

sometimes I lie.jpgMy name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me: 
1. I’m in a coma. 
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore. 
3. Sometimes I lie. 

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?”

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney was such a huge book with an impossible to ignore buzz about it earlier this year.  I bit NetGalley’s hand off when I realised it was up for request.  Little did I know at the time that I would have to wait MONTHS before finding the time to read it.  My FOMO* really kicked in when, stood with a very good friend at Harrogate during the Dead Good Reader Awards I happened to mention my suspicion that the lady stood to my left was the author, Alice Feeney.  Well, my friend came over all giddy and went up to Alice immediately to introduce herself and commend her on Sometimes I Lie.  Yup, FOMO sucks.  I shall also mention that just behind Alice stood C. L. Taylor and to our right was the incredible Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books with one of my all-time favourite authors, Steph Broadribb!  This is the only time in my life I will ever get to namedrop so please let me have my moment, will you?

But I digress.  What I’m trying to get across (and probably failing) is that I was so very keen to read this book but time was against me.  That was until I was caught waiting for what seemed like hours at the dentist without a book.  And there, sat on my Kindle, was Sometimes I Lie.  The responsible book blogger would have opted for their next January blog tour read, but I couldn’t remember what was next so I went with what I wanted to read instead.  Plus I was at the dentist and it felt like I was being kind to myself ahead of the agonising filling which was coming my way!

I was immediately suspicious of the main protagonist, Amber Reynolds.  Before the reader turns to the first page they are made aware by the cover, by the blurb, that Amber sometimes lies.  Now, I am a naturally suspicious person – not helped by mostly reading books about people doing bad, underhand things in order to save their own skin or to enhance their own enjoyment of life.  So much so that when my husband was asked as a favour to take a couple of items of clothing to a meeting he was attending overseas for a colleague, I asked him if he’d checked the lining of the suit for any hidden drugs.  Am I weird?  Maybe.  So I was on high alert, trying to work out what, in Amber’s case, was true and what was not.  I totally failed.  All I did was over analyse everything instead of just relaxing and enjoying the book.  My advice to you if you intend on picking up a copy of Sometimes I Lie is don’t scrutinise every little thing – just enjoy it because it’s a corking story.

Amber Reynolds is in a coma.  She cannot move, cannot speak, cannot blink but she hears nearly everything that happens in her hospital room.  I really enjoyed the way the author has provided the reader with three different viewpoints; Amber’s as she lies uncommunicative in her hospital bed, a look at the events leading up to the accident and diary entries from a somewhat sinister, unknown child 20 years or so ago.  Amber cannot remember what happened to put her in the coma.  She overhears conversations which confirm she was in a car accident but she was the only victim.  So until Amber wakes up and remembers, the incident will remain a mystery.

Chock full of twists that seem to come out of nowhere and leave you wondering ‘how did that happen?’, or ‘gosh, I really didn’t see that coming!’, this is a complex psychological thriller which leaves the reader feeling both a little mystified but also fully satisfied.  I loved the character of Amber, even when she was doing odd, unexplainable things.  I was still rooting for her.  I did manage to work out one aspect of the book about half way through but until my suspicions were confirmed, I did frequently doubt myself.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  Fans of the unreliable narrator will adore this twisty, turny read.  I spent the entire time I was reading Sometimes I Lie wondering exactly how much I actually knew about Amber and her story.  The answer in hindsight, ‘not a lot!’.  Complex, intricate, highly original and difficult to put down.  I can’t wait to read more from Alice Feeney.

Four stars out of five.

*FOMO = Fear of Missing Out

I chose to read and review an eARC of Sometimes I Lie.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney was published in the UK by HQ on 23rd March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please be aware that the following Amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.comWaterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

alice feeney.jpgAlice Feeney is a writer and journalist. She spent 15 years at the BBC, where she worked as a Reporter, News Editor, Arts and Entertainment Producer and One O’clock News Producer.

Alice is has lived in London and Sydney and has now settled in the Surrey countryside, where she lives with her husband and dog.

Sometimes I Lie is her debut thriller and is being published around the world in 2017.

Author Bio © https://www.alicefeeney.com/

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |