One GLORIOUS Louise Jensen post (@fab_fiction) @1stMondayCrime @bookouture @TheCrimeVault

Some of you lovely folk may be aware that I am one of the ‘First Monday Crime’ blogger team.  First Monday Crime is a brilliant event held for crime fiction fans on the first Monday of the month in London.  To find out more, visit their website by clicking HERE.  One day I hope to make it along myself so I’ll hopefully see you there 🙄.

When I heard that Louise Jensen is appearing at the event in December, well, I squealed with glee.  You see, I am a MAHOOSIVE fan of Louise’s work.  She is a superb writer and I want other readers to discover her incredible books (my mum thinks I’m on commission, I can assure you I’m not!).  So I came up with the idea of sharing all three of my Louise Jensen reviews in one glorious post.  Three stupendous books, three enthusiastic damppebbles reviews…

the sisterGrace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s words the last time she saw her, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear that there was a lot she

didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie . . . Or was there?

This is a psychological thriller and a half!  Huge congratulations to the author, Louise Jensen, as this is her debut novel, what an achievement!  No pressure Louise but you’ve set the bar incredibly high for yourself!

Grace and Charlie are childhood best friends.  On her first day at her new school, Grace encounters a classroom bully who is immediately put in his place by the forthright Charlie.  From there builds an unbreakable friendship, BFF together forever.  But, six years after burying their precious memory box, Charlie is dead.  Grace finds it impossible to cope with the grief, pushing everyone away and gradually falling to pieces. In a bid to help her accept Charlie’s death she decides to find Charlie’s wayward father. It’s something Charlie always wanted to do herself and it feels the right thing for Grace to do.  That’s when the mysterious Anna walks into Grace’s life.  Anna claims to be Charlie’s half-sister but before long she has ensconced herself firmly in Grace’s life.  Grace is overjoyed, she finally has a link to Charlie again.  Or does she…?

Wowsers!  This is a stonking, heart-stopping read and I loved it.  I couldn’t put it down (I refused to put it down more like!).  I loved Louise’s style and I wanted to keep reading, no matter what else was happening around me.  The story was so engaging that I became transfixed with Grace’s tale, wanting to discover what strange occurrence was going to happen next.

I didn’t really warm to any of the characters, except for Grace’s grandfather who was just lovely.  Grace was a little too needy for me.  Charlie would probably be my favourite but she’s only present for a small percentage of the novel so I’m not sure she counts.  As for Dan, Grace’s boyfriend, he needs to man up, grr!  Anna is just sinister with a capital S and thinking about her makes me shudder.  I didn’t want to like any of this lot though, that’s part of the appeal of a psychological thriller.  What’s the point in having likeable characters?

The plot moves at an enjoyable pace.  There are twists and turns along the way which keep you on the edge of your seat.  It’s pretty darn perfect, in my opinion.

Would I recommend this book?  Oh yes, without a doubt.  It’s a creepy tale of when good intentions turn bad.  It had my heart racing and I didn’t want to stop reading for anything.  A fabulous debut and I cannot wait to see what Louise Jensen has in store for us next.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Sister.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Sister by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Sphere on 24th August 2017 and is available in paperback format.  Previously published in eBook and audio formats by Bookouture| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

51ssdz2lgl-_sy346_Jenna is given another shot at life when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. Eternally grateful to Callie and her family, Jenna gets closer to them, but she soon discovers that Callie’s perfect family is hiding some very dark secrets…

Callie’s parents are grieving, yet Jenna knows they’re only telling her half the story. Where is Callie’s sister Sophie? She’s been ‘abroad’ since her sister’s death but something about her absence doesn’t add up. And when Jenna meets Callie’s boyfriend Nathan, she makes a shocking discovery.

Jenna knows that Callie didn’t die in an accident. But how did she die? Jenna is determined to discover the truth but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

Jenna is critically ill and needs heart replacement surgery.  The worst possible news at a time when donor organs are scarce.  Luckily for Jenna, a heart becomes available and the transplant goes well.  But Jenna can’t stop thinking about whose heart now beats inside her chest.  She is desperate to meet with the family and they don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting after she gets in touch.  Against the advice of her therapist, Jenna goes to meet Tom and Amanda.  It’s an uncomfortable start but Jenna feels she owes this couple and refuses to walk away.  Then the dreams start, along with other strange feelings and what appear to be memories…things Jenna herself never experienced. Jenna knows that something isn’t right.  The way she is told Callie, her donor, died doesn’t tally with what she’s seeing in frightening visions.  Jenna decides that Tom and Amanda need closure to stop the hurt they’re suffering, and Jenna is the right person to deliver that closure.  So she starts to investigate; attempting to tie the feelings, the dreams and what little evidence she has together.  But the deeper she digs, the more secrets she uncovers. What really happened to Callie?  And how far is Jenna willing to go to find out…?

First off, I want to say that I find it very hard to believe in some of the theories affecting Jenna in this book.  I seem to have a scientific head on my shoulders and try as I might, sometimes (most times!) I can’t submerge myself in unproven theories.  But I want to put that side of things away for now and comment on other aspects of this novel.  I absolutely ADORE Louise Jensen’s writing.  Jensen has a way of pulling you in, the way her words flow is sublime and that is exactly what she has achieved once again.  She is such a gifted storyteller and one of my very favourite writers.  Full stop.  I had highly anticipated the release of this book after falling head over heels in love with The Sister and I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed, despite the scientific noggin!

I absolutely adored Jenna, the lead protagonist.  That drive and determination for her cause gave me goosebumps at times.  I love a strong, spirited female lead in my books and Jenna fits the bill nicely.  Strangely, that same determination did also annoy me a little.  Particularly when she was pushing away ex-boyfriend, Sam and best mate, Rachel in her bid to give Callie’s parents closure.

As I have come to expect from Louise Jensen’s writing, you never really have a hold on exactly who the bad guy/gal is or his/her reasons for being the bad guy/gal until the reveal.  The Gift is full to the brim of twists and turns.  There was an audible gasp from me at one point; I was so shocked by what I was reading!  Brilliantly crafted twists which send your brain into overdrive as you try and guess what will happen next.  But I bet you can’t…

Would I recommend this book?  I most definitely would (and grab yourself a copy of ‘The Sister’ whilst you’re at it!).  Sleek, assured writing that pulls the reader into the story from the opening pages until the shocking conclusion.  Superb!

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Gift.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Gift by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Sphere on 16th November 2017 and is available in paperback format.  The Gift was originally published in eBook and audio formats by Bookouture | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | WaterstonesGoodreads |

And last but by NO MEANS least….

the surrogate coverShe can give you everything you want… But can you trust her?

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents. All they want is a child to love but they are beginning to lose hope. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives them one last chance.

Kat and Lisa were once as close as sisters. The secrets they share mean their trust is for life… Or is it?

Just when the couple’s dream seems within reach, Kat begins to suspect she’s being watched and Nick is telling her lies.

Are the cracks appearing in Kat’s perfect picture of the future all in her head, or should she be scared for the lives of herself and her family?

How far would you go, to protect everything you love?

Dare I say this is Jensen’s best book to date?  Y’know what, I think I dare!  The Surrogate has become my very favourite of Louise Jensen’s books knocking the incredible The Sister from the top spot.  If this one doesn’t end up on my list of top ten books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me.

Kat is desperate for a baby.  Unable to have her own child she turns to adoption to fill the baby-sized hole in her heart.  But when it all falls through she is devastated.  After all, she has decorated the nursery for Dewei and is a familiar (rather too well-known) face in Mothercare.  The second attempt to adopt Mai also falls through leaving Kat at her wit’s end.  And then Lisa miraculously appears in her life.  Unsure of her intentions to start with, Kat is wary of her ex-best friend.  The women have a murky past which Kat fears has not been forgotten.  Before long, Lisa is entertaining Kat with tales of how she acted as a surrogate for a friend, how she gave birth to baby Gabrielle and then willingly handed her over.  How she feels more of an aunt towards the baby than the infant’s birth mother.  Kat can see a way out of her predicament, a way in which she can finally have the baby she so craves.  All she has to do is convince husband Nick and make sure she keeps Lisa happy and relaxed, totally stress-free.  But exactly how far is Kat prepared to go for that little bundle of joy…

There are so many surprises in The Surrogate that I became dizzy with joy while reading.  You think you know what’s going on, where the story will lead you but in reality, you know nothing!  Jensen has created a wonderfully intricate web of lies and half-truths with bucketfuls of creeping paranoia.  I loved it! (I may have said that already…)

The thread of malice woven through many of the character’s relationships was sublime.  The reader is frequently given glimpses into Kat’s teenage years at school and her interaction with the younger Lisa.  We also get to see how Nick, Kat’s husband was raised by his parents and how, due to injury and the inability to work, Nick’s father begins to mistreat his son.  Both episodes are unsettling and add so much emotion to the story.  I found myself becoming more and more invested in Kat and Nick, knowing something awful was heading their way but not knowing exactly what.

And WOAH, that ending.  Hugely satisfying, totally unexpected and I can guarantee it will stay me for some time to come.  I had my own ideas of how I wanted the story to end but what Jensen has given the reader blows everything else out of the water.  Absolutely superb!

Would I recommend this book?  Without a shadow of a doubt, I would.  If you are a fan of the psychological thriller then you MUST get yourself a copy of The Surrogate.  Louise Jensen just keeps getting better and better and I am so excited about what she has in store for us in the future.  You’ve set the bar even higher now, Louise.  No pressure!  A superb, twisty read that I wish I could give more than five stars to.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Bookouture on 27th September 2017 and is available in eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

So there you go, a plethora of Louise Jensen loveliness.  Three cracking books, three reviews.  I think it’s fair to say I’m a fan, Louise!

Louise Jensen will be appearing at December’s First Monday Crime event alongside Chris Whitaker, Susi Holliday and Mel McGrath.  All expertly moderated by Claire McGowan.  The event takes place on Monday 4th December, 6.30pm at City University, College Building, A130.  Click HERE to book your FREE ticket.  Plus, because it’s December and we’re all starting to feel jolly festive, there will be extra fun and frivolities in store!  Check out the First Monday Crime website for more information.

about the author3

Louise Jensen author pic - no creditLouise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.

Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.

Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a dog and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Blog | Facebook |

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#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne @Abigail_Author @BloodhoundBook

Abigail Osborne - The Puppet Master_cover_high res.jpg“Billie is hiding from the world in fear of a man who nearly destroyed her. But a chance meeting with budding journalist, Adam, sparks a relationship that could free her from her life of isolation and fear.

Unbeknown to Billie, Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives he believes she has ruined.

But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him. As an unwanted attraction blossoms between them, Adam comes to realise that all is not as it seems.

Who is really pulling the strings? And are Adam and Billie both being played?

One thing is for sure, The Master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on The Puppet Master blog blitz which I share with six other awesome bloggers.  The Puppet Master is author Abigail Osborne’s debut novel and was published in eBook by Bloodhound Books on 13th November 2017, having previously been self-published last year.

The Puppet Master is a rather twisted love story which I enjoyed but found hard going at times due to the disturbing themes within.  Billie’s tormentor is by far the nastiest piece of work in this book.  I was, however, flooded with emotion at points thanks to Billie’s hideous mother and her negligent treatment of her tween-age daughter.  Regular readers of the blog will know that deeply flawed and negligent parents really get my goat and Billie’s mother is a prime example of the type of character who makes my blood boil.

We first meet grown-up Billie as she lives out her isolated existence in Worcester.  Billie hides.  That’s it.  She hides from everyone, from everything, she hides from life which happens around her and to other people.  A chance encounter in the local bookshop cafe sends her spinning when she unwittingly meets journalist Adam.  Adam shows a keen interest in Billie when others easily ignore her.  Billie struggles to understand why he would want to talk her so she does the only thing she knows how to do in that situation and that’s run.  But Adam appears to be her knight in shining armour.  When she is set upon by a group of teenagers, Adam strides to the rescue (minus one shoe!).  From there, their relationship slowly blossoms.  But both Billie and Adam have secrets.  Billie has a traumatic past which she wants to keep hidden, but Adam has the biggest secret of all….

I was both fascinated and appalled watching Billie and Adam’s relationship grow.  The levels of manipulation within this book are something else altogether!  I wanted desperately to like Billie but found it really hard to do so.  I felt sympathy for her, I wanted her to be safe and free from fear but I couldn’t warm to her in the way I wanted to.  Adam was probably my preferred character in the novel but it is quite normal for me to like the darker characters, the more mysterious personalities, often the bad guys.

The story starts in the present, moves back in time to the late ’90s/early ’00s for part two and returns to the present day for the final section.  Part two, which features the flashback scenes, was hard to read with some disturbing scenes and acts alluded to.  I loved the menace in part three; the simmering danger imposed by one particular character.  I enjoyed the third section purely because the threat was more violent than anything else and that (weirdly) sits better with me than any other threat.  Part three (the conclusion, the reveal) was my favourite part of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I take my hat off to Abigail Osborne as this must have been a really tough book to write.  Plus, it’s her debut which makes it even more astounding as it’s a subject many would steer clear of, even after writing for many, many years.  Osborne is an intriguing new voice in the psychological thriller world and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read an eARC of The Puppet Master.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Sarah Hardy and Bloodhound Books for asking me to join the tour and for providing me with a review copy.

The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 13th November 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

BLOG BLITZ (3)

about the author3

downloadAbigail is originally from the Lake District but moved to the West Midlands for University where she completed an English Literature & History degree and also met her husband. She is a passionate reader and has an unsustainable collection of books. This obsession with books has led to her creating her own Dewey decimal system and she has been known to issue fines to family and friends if her book is not returned on time. ‘The Puppet Master’ is Abigail’s debut novel and has unleashed a passion for writing. When not writing or reading Abigail is usually playing her violin or hiding from her much too energetic cats. She also works as a Needs Assessor for disabled university students in the West Midlands.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BookReview: Kill The Next One by Federico Axat (@text_publishing) @sophieglorita

kill the next one cover.jpg“Ted McKay had it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger.

Then the doorbell rings.

A stranger makes him a proposition: why not kill two deserving men before dying? The first target is a criminal, and the second is a man with terminal cancer who, like Ted, wants to die. After executing these kills, Ted will become someone else’s next target, like a kind of suicidal daisy chain.

Ted understands the stranger’s logic: it’s easier for a victim’s family to deal with a murder than with a suicide. However, after killing his targets, Ted’s reality begins to unravel.”

When I read the blurb of Kill The Next One it’s fair to say that I was hooked.  I just HAD to read this book.  The plot sounded totally different to other books I’ve read and I loved the idea of everything that was being presented to me.  So being totally smitten with the idea of Kill The Next One, I decided to make a start on it as soon as it arrived.

It’s also fair to say that I was quite surprised to be thrown straight into the action on page one, chapter one.  It’s a book of over 400 pages, I thought to myself, how is the author going to eek this out?  The answer to that question is by making his story, quite possibly one of the strangest, most convoluted and…well, I’m afraid I have to say it, peculiar tales I have ever read.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes, I did.  But there were moments where I was just plain confused.  And there were moments when I had to force myself to carry on rather then give up.  But I’m glad I did continue.  I know I would have always wondered what became of Ted McKay.

I’m afraid that this is going to be one of my more bite-sized reviews as this is a book where, as soon as you start talking about the characters or the plot, you end up giving the entire book away (and I don’t want to do that).

Would I recommend this book?  I would, but I can promise you it’s like nothing you’ve read before.  So twisty I was dizzy.  I guess, thinking about it, I was a little disappointed; that blurb had me buzzing, but that part of the story is over and done with in under 100 pages. I wanted more of the ‘suicidal daisy chain’ that’s mentioned in the blurb and less…of the rest (I can’t tell you what the rest is!).

However, what I will say is that I did enjoy this book.  Part one is a thrilling read.  I also really enjoyed the closing chapters which were just as gripping and intense, and I would actively seek out other books by Federico Axat.  Particularly if he wrote one that continued the ‘suicidal daisy chain’ theme!

Three and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Kill The Next One. Many thanks to Sophie Goodfellow at FMcM for providing me with a copy.  The above is my own unbiased review.

Kill The Next One by Federico Axat was published in the UK by Text Publishing on 26th January 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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federico axat.jpgFederico Axat was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1975. His first novel, Benjamin, was published in Spain by Suma de Letras and translated into Italian. His second novel, El pantano de las mariposas was published in 2013. La última salida (Kill The Next One) has 33 international publishers and has been optioned by a major Hollywood production company.

Author Links:Twitter |

#BookReview: Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson (@PeterSwanson3) @FaberBooks

her every fear cover.jpg“Following a brutal attack by her ex-boyfriend, Kate Priddy makes an uncharacteristically bold decision after her cousin, Corbin Dell, suggests a temporary apartment swap – and she moves from London to Boston.

But soon after her arrival Kate makes a shocking discovery: Corbin’s next-door neighbour, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police begin asking questions about Corbin’s relationship with Audrey, and his neighbours come forward with their own suspicions, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own.

Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination playing out her every fear, Kate can barely trust herself. so how can she trust any of the strangers she’s just met?”

So the first thing you need to know is that I love (and I mean LOVE) Peter Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing.  (No, really, I LOVE it!)  It’s a book I will always recommend.  It’s the book that I felt deserved all the hype Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train received (The Kind Worth Killing is, in my opinion, far superior).  So if, in the future, you read another of my reviews (no matter what the book) and I say, ‘this book had a lot to live up to’ then please think about Her Every Fear.  Because of all the books in all the world, this is the one I have been anticipating the most.  This is the one that has the most to live up to.

I guess the question is, how did it fare in comparison?  It’s a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed it…but it didn’t move me in the way A Kind Worth Killing did.  I think it’s time for me to shut up about A Kind Worth Killing (if you haven’t read it, BUY IT – here’s a helpful link) and tell you more about my Her Every Fear experience.

I immediately liked the main protagonist, Kate Priddy.  Kate, because of a traumatic experience several years earlier, sees the worst situation in absolutely everything.  She’s nervy, anxious and scared.  As you can imagine, this stops her from living her life to the full.  So when her American cousin suggests a 6 month house exchange so he can work in London, Kate is shocked to find herself accepting and on a plane to Boston.  Her new apartment is a the opposite of what she has left behind and she finds herself starting to relax.  That is until her new next door neighbour’s mutilated body is discovered, mere hours after Kate’s arrival.  Meanwhile, Kate’s handsome cousin Corbin is settling into London life.  London holds some dear memories for him; particularly his love affair with mysterious Claire.  Before long the police are asking Kate questions she can’t answer and Corbin’s flat is searched, time and time again.  Were Corbin and the neighbour involved? He’s denied it, but is he telling the truth?  And what other secrets is Corbin hiding…?

There were moments whilst reading Her Every Fear that I had goosebumps.  Peter Swanson’s ability to build the suspense in his novels is breathtaking.  And for me, he is a master of his craft.  As I mentioned before, I loved Kate and saw a little of myself in her. She’s such a likeable character.  I know Her Every Fear is a psychological thriller, but I really didn’t want anything bad to happen to her (normally I’m desperate for the bad stuff to happen)!  It was however interesting to see how this somewhat neurotic character coped with the reality of being in these awful situations.

Peter Swanson shows at times an incredible ability to make you dislike one of his characters, only to reveal their shocking backstory and make you completely change your mind.  There were several occurrences where I had made my mind up about a character, only for Swanson to throw a twist into the story and for me to question my original verdict.

The story was fascinating and I enjoyed seeing how the loose ends tied together.  I particularly loved the closing chapters which were intense and shocking.  I want to say so much more at this point but by doing so I’d be giving spoilers away, which I try to avoid doing at all costs.  So I will say that I finished reading this book last week but I can still picture that final scene as if it were real.

Would I recommend this book?  Of course I would!  Peter Swanson is officially one of my favourite authors and although this isn’t quite up to A Kind Worth Killing it is still a superbly written, dark tale which I enjoyed and would recommend without hesitation.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Her Every Fear.  Many thanks to Faber & Faber and NetGalley for providing me with a copy.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Her Ever Fear by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 10th January 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow later this year) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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peter swanson.jpgPeter Swanson’s debut novel, The Girl With a Clock for a Heart (2014), was described by Dennis Lehane as ‘a twisty, sexy, electric thrill ride’ and was nominated for the LA Times book award. His follow up The Kind Worth Killing (2015), a Richard and Judy pick, was shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Silver Dagger, was named the iBook stores Thriller of the Year and was a top ten paperback bestseller. He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts. His third novel, Her Every Fear, will be published in early 2016.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent (@lizzienugent) @PenguinUKBooks

lying-in-wait-blog-tour-card

lying-in-wait-pb‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’

“Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son.

There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder.

However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants …”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my stop on Liz Nugent’s Lying in Wait paperback blog tour.  I was a very lucky mummy when my two very clever little people (aged 5 and 2 but with impeccable taste!) decided to buy me a copy of Lying in Wait for my birthday last year.  I was absolutely desperate to read this book after the storming reviews doing the rounds following it’s release in eBook format.  DESPERATE!  But as fellow bloggers will confirm, as a book blogger you don’t get to read your own books as often as you would like.  I couldn’t believe my eyes (nor my luck) when I received an email asking me to join the paperback blog tour.  It was meant to be and there was no way I could refuse!

This is a fantastic, well written tale of manipulation, secrets and lies.  Lydia is a woman determined to maintain the status quo; living in a secluded mansion with her adoring husband at her beck and call and spending her days doting on her 17 year old son, Laurence.  But there’s something Lydia needs to make her life even more perfect and it’s something she can only get from Annie Doyle.  How far are Lydia and her husband willing to go?  Annie knows who she is dealing with, she knows Lydia’s husband is a judge and she knows their weaknesses.  Lydia is used to getting her own way though and will do whatever is necessary to protect herself and her son…

When I first started reading this book I really liked Lydia.  Yes, she came across as a bit of a snob but also as someone who cared deeply for her son (and you can’t fault someone for loving their child).  My initial feelings of warmth towards her didn’t last very long.  As the story starts to unfold you realise that Lydia is a very damaged, manipulative woman. Events in her childhood caused deep emotional and psychological scars that can never be healed properly.  By the end of the book I was aghast, full of loathing toward this one character who I had initially liked.  Such superb writing from Liz Nugent.  To go from one emotion to the absolute opposite in 303 pages, now that’s a skill.

Young Laurence soon becomes infatuated with Annie Doyle.  Writing stories about her, keeping newspaper clippings about her disappearance and becoming generally obsessed in a rather unhealthy way.  That obsession is reignited when Annie’s father turns up at Laurence’s place of work.  Laurence recognises him immediately and begins to follow Mr Doyle home, helping him gain extra unemployment benefit and buying him the odd pint in the pub.  And that’s when he meets Karen, Annie’s beautiful model-like sister.  Karen becomes friends with Laurence’s girlfriend but Laurence only has eyes for one lady…

As Laurence blossomed from an obese awkward teenager to a dashing, hard-working young man I began to warm to him (despite the creepy stalker thing!).  The budding relationship between Laurence and Karen made me feel a little uncomfortable at times but strangely, I also wanted them to get together!  I felt he had moved on so much from his strange teenage days that he was almost like a new character, one I was prepared to forgive for his past indiscretions.  Yup, I was a muddle of emotions reading this book!

You get a sense of foreboding, a feeling of impending doom whilst reading Lying in Wait. There’s something about these characters that makes you feel uneasy and gives you a chill.  You expect the very worst to happen and oh my gosh, it does…but never when you expect it to.  An expertly crafted novel that keeps you wondering what will happen next.  I couldn’t see where the story was going and what a shock the conclusion was.  Thoroughly enjoyable reading!

Would I recommend this book?  I definitely would.  Reading Lying in Wait is an experience that I wish all readers could enjoy at least once.  Brilliantly written creepy characters with twists and turns along the way that will keep you guessing.  I can’t wait to read more from Liz Nugent (Unravelling Oliver is waiting for me on my Kindle!).

Four and a half stars out of five.

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent was published in the UK on 26th December 2016 by Penguin UK and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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liz-nugent-2-c-beta-bajgartovaBefore becoming a full-time writer Liz Nugent worked in Irish film, theatre and television. In 2014 her first novel, Unravelling Oliver, was a No.1 bestseller and won the Crime Fiction prize in the 2014 Irish Book Awards. Her second novel, Lying in Wait, went straight to No 1 in the Irish bestseller charts, remained there for nearly two months and won her a second IBA. She lives in Dublin with her husband.

Author Links: Twitter | Website | Goodreads |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Gift by Louise Jensen (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture

51ssdz2lgl-_sy346_“The perfect daughter. The perfect girlfriend. The perfect murder?

Jenna is given another shot at life when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. Eternally grateful to Callie and her family, Jenna gets closer to them, but she soon discovers that Callie’s perfect family is hiding some very dark secrets …

Callie’s parents are grieving, yet Jenna knows they’re only telling her half the story. Where is Callie’s sister Sophie? She’s been ‘abroad’ since her sister’s death but something about her absence doesn’t add up. And when Jenna meets Callie’s boyfriend Nathan, she makes a shocking discovery.

Jenna knows that Callie didn’t die in an accident. But how did she die? Jenna is determined to discover the truth but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

A compelling, gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist from the author of the Number One bestseller The Sister.”

I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off The Gift blog tour today alongside Emma the Little Book Worm.  I am such a huge fan of Louise Jensen’s writing after reading her debut novel, The Sister earlier this year.  If you missed that review or would just like a quick recap, please click here.  To say I loved The Sister is a bit of an understatement really!  Which meant I was over the moon to be asked to join Louise’s tour for her second psychological thriller, The Gift published by the wonderful folk at Bookouture today!  A very happy book birthday Louise and Bookouture.

Jenna is critically ill and needs heart replacement surgery.  The worst possible news at a time when donor organs are scarce.  Luckily for Jenna a heart becomes available and the transplant goes well.  But Jenna can’t stop thinking about whose heart now beats inside her chest.  She is desperate to meet with the family and they don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting after she gets in touch.  Against the advice of her therapist, Jenna goes to meet Tom and Amanda.  It’s an uncomfortable start but Jenna feels she owes this couple and refuses to walk away.  Then the dreams start, along with other strange feelings and what appear to be memories…things Jenna herself never experienced.  Jenna knows that something isn’t right.  The way she is told Callie, her donor, died doesn’t tally with what she’s seeing in frightening visions.  Jenna decides that Tom and Amanda need closure to stop the hurt they’re suffering, and Jenna is the right person to deliver that closure.  So she starts to investigate; attempting to tie the feelings, the dreams and what little evidence she has together.  But the deeper she digs, the more secrets she uncovers.  What really happened to Callie?  And how far is Jenna willing to go to find out…?

First off, I want to say that I find it very hard to believe in some of the theories affecting Jenna in this book.  I seem to have a scientific head on my shoulders and try as I might, sometimes (most times!) I can’t submerge myself in unproven theories.  But I want to put that side of things away for now and comment on other aspects of this novel.  I absolutely ADORE Louise Jensen’s writing.  Jensen has a way of pulling you in, the way her words flow is sublime and that is exactly what she has achieved once again.  She is such a gifted storyteller and one of my very favourite writers.  Full stop.  I had highly anticipated the release of this book after falling head over heels in love with The Sister and I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed, despite the scientific noggin!

I absolutely adored Jenna, the lead protagonist.  That drive and determination for her cause gave me goosebumps at times.  I love a strong, spirited female lead in my books and Jenna fits the bill nicely.  Strangely, that same determination did also annoy me a little.  Particularly when she was pushing away ex-boyfriend, Sam and best mate, Rachel in her bid to give Callie’s parents closure.

As I have come to expect from Louise Jensen’s writing, you never really have a hold on exactly who the bad guy/gal is or his/her reasons for being the bad guy/gal until the reveal.  The Gift is full to the brim of twists and turns.  There was an audible gasp from me at one point; I was so shocked by what I was reading!  Brilliantly crafted twists which send your brain into overdrive as you try and guess what will happen next.  But I bet you can’t..

Would I recommend this book?  I most definitely would (and grab yourself a copy of The Sister whilst you’re at it!).  Sleek, assured writing that pulls the reader into the story from the opening pages until the shocking conclusion.  Superb!

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Gift.

The Gift by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Bookouture on 16th December 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Bookouture |

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Louise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.

Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.

Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a madcap spaniel and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Blog | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington (@sam_carrington1) @CrimeFix

samc“A teenage girl is missing. Is your daughter involved, or is she next?
Your daughter is in danger. But can you trust her?
When Karen Finch’s seventeen-year-old daughter Sophie arrives home after a night out, drunk and accompanied by police officers, no one is smiling the morning after. But Sophie remembers nothing about how she got into such a state.
Twelve hours later, Sophie’s friend Amy has still not returned home. Then the body of a young woman is found.
Karen is sure that Sophie knows more than she is letting on. But Karen has her own demons to fight. She struggles to go beyond her own door without a panic attack.
As she becomes convinced that Sophie is not only involved but also in danger, Karen must confront her own anxieties to stop whoever killed one young girl moving on to another – Sophie.”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Saving Sophie blog tour. You may be feeling a strange sense of deja vu about now, but don’t worry, this is Saving Sophie’s second time on the blog tour circuit and today we celebrate the release of this fabulous book in paperback format!  I was thrilled to be asked to join this tour by Kaisha at The Writing Garnet as I have been rather desperate to read Saving Sophie for some time now.

First up today I have treat for you; an extract from the book for you to read and enjoy. So without further ado…

Extract from SAVING SOPHIE

The picture was of her. Her, wearing the clothes she’d worn last night. And it was no selfie. Sophie threw the phone on her bed, as if it had sent an electric shock through her fingertips. She stared at it, then shook her head a few times, screwing up her eyes, trying to remember. But there was nothing. Who had taken this, and where? What were they intending to do with it, and what ones were to follow?
Standing, feet planted, paralysed in the centre of her messy room, Sophie clenched and unclenched her fists, then clicked her knuckles: pulling down one finger at a time with the thumb of each hand until they cracked.
What should she do? Forcing herself to move forwards, she reached to pick up the phone. Her hands trembled. The picture was still visible. She had to face this, figure it out. Zooming in, she navigated the background in an attempt to see if anything was familiar. It seemed she was in a chair of some sort, legs splayed, slouched back. She guessed from the angle of her body that her head was thrown back; her hair was out of sight. Sophie turned the phone sideways to see it from a different perspective. Apart from the black dress and the blurry dark image on the ankle, which she’d assumed to be her snake tattoo, this photo could be of anyone.
A warm sensation flushed through her. Perhaps it wasn’t her. Any amount of girls had tattoos these days, you couldn’t even see if it was a snake or not. And black dresses weren’t exactly rare. This was someone’s idea of a sick joke. Probably one of the boys taking the piss; could’ve even been Photoshopped. With new-found optimism that it was a prank, Sophie sat down on her rumpled bed and searched the original email for clues as to which of her so-called friends she could thank for frightening her half to death.
It didn’t take long to realise she couldn’t identify the sender. The email address wasn’t a standard one. It looked ridiculously made up, certainly not one she recognised. It’d soon become obvious which of the boys had done it, though, they were incapable of keeping their mouths shut; they must be itching to send a text, Facebook message or tweet so everyone knew about their clever stunt. Oh, how funny they thought they were. Immature arseholes. It wasn’t funny at all, given the fact that Amy still hadn’t rocked up. It was getting worrying now; five thirty and still no sign. Even Amy would’ve slept off a hangover by now.
Sophie reluctantly accessed her Facebook page. Streams of status updates, but none from Amy; none from her friends saying ‘Amy’s back’. For Christ’s sake, Amy, where the hell are you? Sophie got up, her legs leaden with fatigue, and ventured slowly downstairs. Perhaps her mother knew something by now.

‘Have you heard?’ Her mum’s head snapped up the second she entered the room. Sophie’s mouth dried in an instant.
‘No, what?’ Her voice cracked. Something bad has happened. ‘I meant, have you heard anything from Amy yet?’
‘Crikey, Mum.’ Sophie’s hand pressed into her chest as she let out a sharp hiss of air. ‘I thought you meant . . .’
‘Oh, no. Sorry. I spoke to Rachel just now, and she said Erin had been staying at her dad’s a lot at weekends – you didn’t tell me about Erin’s dad moving in with that woman by the way – how come?’
‘Mum. Get to the point.’ Sophie transferred her weight on to one leg and crossed her arms.
‘Right, well, I’m assuming they’re probably together – Erin and Amy – because Rachel said she hadn’t heard from Erin.’
‘Actually, that does make sense. Dan said everyone got to the club except Erin and Amy. Good. That will be it then.’ But saying the words didn’t reassure her. There seemed no logical reason why Amy would bother to walk to Erin’s dad’s when her own house was nearer to town. She wasn’t even convinced they would go home together. They weren’t the best of friends – Amy, being older, had come on to the scene later, after school, and had kind of replaced Erin; becoming Sophie’s new best friend. That had never sat well with Erin. But for now, it was a theory which Sophie was willing to believe.
‘That’s what I’m hoping, Sophie, yes. Although it doesn’t let you off the hook.’
No. She guessed as much. Her mother would be at her every day now, trying to get to the bottom of why she had no memory of the night, why she had ended up wandering the streets alone, what the taxi driver had done to her. It was going to be a nightmare. But, as long as they were all safe – her girls – she could take whatever hassle was headed her way. It could’ve been worse.
Bailey’s deep growl at the window diverted their attention. His ear-grating bark filled the room. Sophie followed her mum to see what had upset him. For the second time in as many nights, there was a police car parked outside the house.
Now what?

Good, huh?  I really hope that’s piqued your interest as it’s a cracking book and definitely worth a read.

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I’ve been wanting to read Saving Sophie for some time now.  Well, since it appeared on NetGalley earlier this year.  But you know how life goes; sometimes things just don’t happen for one reason or another.  So imagine my joy when I was asked to feature on the blog tour in celebration of the paperback release with Avon Books.  Well, I couldn’t say no!  And I’m very glad I did because this is such an enjoyable read and exactly the book I needed to reignite my dwindling reading mojo.

The Finch family are slowly falling apart.  The relationship between parents Karen and Mike is becoming more strained by the day and 17 year old Sophie would rather keep herself to herself.  But after a night out with friends, Sophie is brought home by the police.  She’s dazed, confused and acting drunk.  But it’s only a couple of hours later, how has Sophie managed to consume that much alcohol in such a short space of time?!  Her parents are unable to make sense out of what she’s saying so she’s bundled off to bed, with her concerned parents planning a confrontation for the following morning.  Sophie wakes feeling worse for wear but is immediately distracted by a news that her friend, Amy is missing.  Then the body of a young woman matching Amy’s description is found.  What really happened on their night out?  And will the inappropriate photographs Sophie receives of herself help her remember?  Exactly what secrets have the Finch family been keeping…?

When I select a book to read, I want to feel ‘something’ and if that feeling is frustration or exasperation, then that’s as good as liking a character in my opinion.  I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to like characters to enjoy a book.  Heck, I read crime and psychological thrillers.  Sometimes I don’t want that warm fuzzy glow!  With that in mind, I instantly disliked husband Mike who came across as a bully and at times, a uninterested negligent father.  Mum Karen was a little whiney and played the part of the victim to perfection.  You find out more about Karen’s back story as you move through the book and I have to say, by the end of the novel, I had really warmed to her.  And as for Sophie, well…she’s 17, more interested in her friends than her family and suffering the hangover from hell.  There’s not a lot to like!

But somehow, somewhere along the line…I started to really like both Sophie and Karen (no change on the Mike front I’m afraid, still don’t like him!).  Karen suffers from agoraphobia which plays a huge part in the storyline.  When her condition was first revealed I thought, ‘how is Sam Carrington going to write this and make it interesting?’.  I’ll tell you, she writes it incredibly well.  At first I was dubious, but the whole story revolves around Karen.  Her dealings with her condition make for interesting reading.  There is a point when Karen’s best friend, Rachel really needs her.  I was in turmoil myself as on one hand I was thinking ‘go to your best friend, she needs you’ but on the other, I was fully understanding of how she was feeling.  Now, if that’s not good writing, I don’t know what is!

There are some rather large twists and turns thrown in to keep you on your toes.  The final showdown was an ‘edge of your seat’ moment for me.  I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading!  And that epilogue, oh it broke my heart.  I sort of saw it coming but that certainly didn’t lessen the impact.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  I loved the twists and turns, the way the characters morph from being really quite irritating to becoming firm favourites of mine and I absolutely loved that this book made me feel something.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Saving Sophie.

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington was published in the UK by Avon Books on 15th December 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Avon Books |


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author-pic-sam-carringtonSam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she worked for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. Before beginning her first novel, Sam wrote a number of short stories, several of which were published in popular women’s magazines. Other short stories were included in two charity anthologies.
Sam moved quickly on to novel writing and completed her first project within six months. Although this novel attracted attention from agents, it was her next that opened up opportunities. She entered this novel, with the working title Portrayal, into the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award in 2015 and was delighted when it was longlisted.
Being placed in such a prestigious competition was instrumental in her success securing a literary agent. When completed, this novel became SAVING SOPHIE, a psychological thriller which was published by Maze, HarperCollins as an ebook in August. The paperback and audio editions are publishing on 15th December.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Frailty by Betsy Reavley (@BetsyReavley) @BloodhoundBook

51uuj5m9qcl-_sx358_bo1204203200_How far would you go to protect your family?

Danny and Libby are about to face every parent’s worst nightmare.

When eight-year-old Hope Bird disappears without a trace, from the idyllic village where she lives, life for her family will never be the same again. Her parents know she would never have gone off alone and the police have no idea where she is. Then a child’s shoe is discovered and the case takes an unexpected turn. Soon a suspect is identified but this is only the beginning.

Will they ever find Hope?”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on Betsy Reavley’s Frailty blog tour.  I was thrilled to be one of the first readers to experience Betsy’s phenomenal last book, The Optician’s Wife in it’s early days.  You can read my review of TOW by clicking here.  Easily one of my books of the year!  Like The Optician’s Wife, Frailty is a standalone psychological thriller and the fifth novel from the pen of Ms Reavley.  I am over the moon to have both Carrion and The Quiet Ones on the #terrifyingTBR which I can’t wait to read as I am such a fan of Betsy’s writing (Frailty has only increased my level of ‘fangirling’).

The Bird family are your average, everyday, normal family.  That is until 8 year old Hope is kidnapped on her way back from the shops one summer’s day.  Her parents, Libby and Danny, are devastated, their lives turned upside down and younger sister, Gracie is left heartbroken and confused.  There are no ransom demands, no clues, nothing for the police to investigate.  That is until one of Hope’s shoes turns up in a bin.  The shoe leads the police to a suspect, someone they’ve had on their radar but no concrete evidence to go on before now.  But is he Hope’s kidnapper?  Danny certainly thinks so and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his family and get his daughter home…

Betsy Reavley says in the acknowledgements of Frailty that it was the hardest book to write.  I can understand what she means.  As a mother of two, this for me was a difficult book to read.  The subject matter is a tough one.  You can’t help but think, no matter how fleetingly, how you would feel if it was your child that had gone missing.  It’s heartbreaking stuff, particularly as every so often you reach a chapter written from Hope’s point of view.  It will pull on your heartstrings and turn you to mush!  You have been warned.

I found it hard to warm to Danny but I liked and could easily relate to Libby.  Libby and Danny’s search for their daughter was a difficult read and I felt a little bogged down by the emotionally intense chapters.  Had the book only been about their search for Hope then I’m not sure I would have made it to the end.  But I knew with Betsy Reavley at the helm, there would be an almighty twist coming.  And there was!

The last half of this book made it for me.  The decision Danny makes, the completely unexpected outcome….absolutely brilliant.  The book picked up a great pace and I was completely absorbed.  I will say, however, by the time I was two thirds through, I had worked out who had taken Hope (I’m putting this down to my overly suspicious nature and the fact that I live and breathe crime novels; Frailty is not an obvious story and the reveal is quite astounding).

Would I recommend this book?  I would but prepare yourself for a tough read.  My heart ached for Hope. But I felt particularly sad and sorry for her sister Gracie, who seemed to be pushed to one side throughout (I have a Gracie myself, that may be the reason!).  Great twists and I loved the way the story built to that massive ‘Reavley twist’.  Looking forward to reading more from this author soon.

Four out of five stars.

Frailty by Betsy Reavley was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 15th November 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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7730760Author of  The Quiet Ones, The Optician’s WifeCarrionBeneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle. Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London.

As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.

She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”

Betsy Reavley currently lives in London, with her husband, 2 children, dog, cat and chickens.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Her Last Breath by J.A. Schneider (@JoyceSchneider1)

unnamed“A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men…

Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can’t remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help.

Can she trust either of them – or even her friends?

Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent…but is she?”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to one of my most eagerly anticipated blog tours of the year, Her Last Breath by the incredibly lovely J.A. Schneider (or Joyce to her friends!).  Joyce has very kindly written a guest post to share with you today but before we dive in with that, I wanted to share again the post Joyce wrote for my #damppebblestakeover series which ran earlier this year.  Joyce wrote a wonderful piece asking whether writing is really just self-analysis in disguise; you can read the post by clicking here.

Today though, I have a new post to share with you and it’s another corker.  Over to you, Joyce…

What, really, is the best escape?
by J.A. Schneider

Too often, we all feel stress – and if it’s not stress it’s boredom, the everyday mundane jail cell. Stress or boredom are the bookends that squeeze much of our lives, but what to do? Dream of a more perfect love or help with financial problems or escape to exotic locations?

We flail, but what to do when immediate help is needed to feel better? What beats anything that comes out of bottles and lasts only briefly?

Books. The best sanity savers.

Reading will lift you from the mundane or troubling to the marvelous. Reading will transport you to other worlds, to characters you’ll either love or loathe or who will terrify you – but they’re really all your friends, see – because they’re the magic carpet ride to “outta here.”

Once, on a Paris sidewalk, I saw a family: wife, husband, and two pre-adolescent kids. The husband was yelling at his kids, who were sulking/sassing back, and the wife who was getting ignored was crying, “But this was our dream trip! We saved for this! Why are you all ruining it?”

The inevitable shrinking. It happens a lot.

I walked on, hoping that poor woman had a book to run and hide inside to help her calm, lose herself in a favorite romance, or a thriller whose heroine was in much worse straits than she was. I pictured that woman hopefully getting under a pillow with a flashlight and her favorite old paperback, telling the world to just go away, re-losing herself in that wonderful story she’d been reading.

So much for “dream trips,” or dream this or that. Mundane reality lurks everywhere.

Some people reading this know that I’ve traveled a lot, studied in other countries, gotten into some pretty wild-sounding situations (got arrested in the Soviet Union for spreading anti-Soviet propaganda – ha! I have a gift for getting into situations). And okay, many have asked about that, it’s in my Goodreads profile. And what I hear, mostly, is “Oh, that sounds so amazing, so interesting and fascinating.”

Well yes, it was…interesting to see those places, have those experiences, if only to tell you later about them.

But honestly, a field in Russia looks no different from a field in Connecticut, where I live.

And that castle in France so gorgeous on a poster, in reality is freezing eight months of the year and has lousy plumbing.

Reality, what a concept – it really, really often translates into ‘’the inevitable shrinking.”

Just give me a room, a quiet corner on a cozy couch and a wonderful book; that is where I’m happiest.

Because the best adventures take place between the ears.

That’s really your happy place. Your best place to grow, too.

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This is such a good read!  I haven’t had the pleasure of reading a J.A. Schneider novel before (Fear Dreams is on my wishlist) but I will definitely be making a beeline for her books in future.  There’s something about this book and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but, gosh….it sucked me in!

Mari Gill wakes to a bloodbath.  Thankfully it’s not her blood but that of a naked man lying next to her on the bed with a knife in his chest!  Maybe she shouldn’t be so thankful after all.  Did she kill him?  Surely not!  Mari, in a panic, spirals into a chronic asthma attack.  Unable to breathe, she crawls through broken glass trying to escape the horror before her, before being taken into the strong arms of her saviour and given resuscitative breaths. With no memory of the night before, confused and scared, Mari is arrested for murder.  Her soon to be ex-husband is a top attorney and is determined to clear his wife’s name.  But Mari is torn, two men competing for her attention whilst all she wants to do is try and remember what happened that night.  Kerri Blasco is on her side and firmly believes in Mari’s innocence.  But who else can Mari trust?  And I mean, really trust…?

Blasco and Brand are brilliant characters.  I particularly loved Kerri Blasco with her strong determination but gentle approach.  I’m not normally one for romance in my thrillers but the relationship between Blasco and Brand is so well done that you don’t really notice that they’re a couple.  I also loved Mari Gill.  She’s so suspicious of everyone around her.  I didn’t need to spend time working out who the killer was as Mari did all of the detective work for me.  So often, when reading a crime thriller, you want to shout at the characters and say ‘for goodness sake, are you REALLY going to do that..?’ (similar to a horror movie, ‘now why have you locked all the doors when you know the killer is inside the house with you’…) but there was no need with Mari.  She was more suspicious than me!

The plot was intriguing and drew my attention throughout the book.  I was on the edge of my seat for a large proportion, particularly for the closing chapters.  There is a cracking twist which I certainly didn’t see coming.  Joyce’s writing is punchy and without faff, just the way I like my books.

Would I recommend this book?  I most definitely would.  I’m excited to read Fear Dreams now, which is the first book in the Detective Kerri Blasco series.  It’s a compelling read driven by intriguing, interesting characters.  A brilliant plot with a fabulous twist to knock your socks off!  Brilliant!

Four and a half stars out of five.

Many thanks to J.A. Schneider for providing me with a copy of Her Last Breath in exchange for an honest review.

Her Last Breath by J.A. Schneider was published in the UK by RGS Media on 21st October 2016 and is available in eBook format | To buy from amazon click here | Goodreads |

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J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature – wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means there’ll often be medical angles even in “regular” thrillers that she writes. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | amazon.com | Website | Goodreads |

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn trs. @rosie_hedger @OrendaBooks

the-bird-tribunal-a_w-v4“Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape… 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.”

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on the The Bird Tribunal blog tour.  The Bird Tribunal is written by Agnes Ravatn,  translated from it’s original Norwegian by Rosie Hedger and is published by the inimitable Orenda Books.  I have to say, I have never read a book quite like this before.  Strangely unsettling but a completely riveting read!

Allis Hagtorn is running away.  Something happened which has made her ‘up sticks’ and leave everything she knows behind, including her husband and her influential job.  The only way forward for Allis is to withdraw from everyday life as much as she can, submitting herself to voluntary exile.  Sigurd Bagge offers her a new job as his housekeeper and gardener, whilst his wife is away.  The job suits Allis down to the ground as Bagge’s home is remote and Bagge himself is secretive and uncommunicative.  But what secrets is Allis hiding?  And is she the only one…?

I found this a gripping read.  I had a strong feeling of impending doom from early on which stayed with me and grew stronger as I moved through the book.  It’s certainly an unsettling read and I found it oddly uncomfortable in places (not the subject matter so much as the feeling that I was intruding on the characters most private moments). That certainly didn’t put me off though!  It’s a fairly quick read and so easy to devour in the space of a few hours.  I thoroughly enjoyed it! 

Allis’ neediness towards Bagge added to that uncomfortable feeling at times.  There were several points when I wanted her to walk away from the house and never look back.  I was torn in two; wanting her to leave but knowing there was something big on the way.  That delicious build up of friction between the two characters was so utterly compelling!  Not forgetting of course, that fabulous, unexpected ending.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, especially if you’re looking for a character driven, somewhat intoxicating, slow-build of a read to a surprising, yet stunning conclusion.   Packed full of secrets and shed loads of atmosphere.  It’s a great read!

Four and a half stars out of five.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of The Bird Tribunal in exchange for an honest review.

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn trs. Rosie Hedger was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th September 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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agnes-ravatn-ashxAgnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is an author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections:Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works Ravatn shows her unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility. Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), 2013, is a strange and captivating story about shame, guilt and atonement. Ravatn received The cultural radio P2’s listener’s prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway, in addition to The Youth’s Critic’s Prize. The Bird Tribunalwas also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. It is published by Orenda Books in September 2016.

405704_10100129059101931_425159055_n-300x222Rosie Hedger was born in Scotland and completed her MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She has lived and worked in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and now lives in York where she works as a freelance translator. Rosie was a candidate in the British Centre for Literary Translation’s mentoring scheme for Norwegian in 2012, mentored by Don Bartlett.