Tag Archives: Author Interviews

**Blog Tour** Lily Alone Author interview with Vivien Brown @VivBrownAuthor @HarperImpulse

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Today I’m thrilled to welcome Vivien Brown author of Lily Alone to the book review café as part of the blog tour for this very intriguing book.  You can buy the kindle edition today or it’s out in paperback on the 5th October 2017. Lily Alone is described as a gripping and emotional drama and is published by HarperImpulse. So without further ado here is my interview with Vivien Brown

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Hi Vivien and welcome to the book review café for those readers who haven’t yet heard of you or your book Lily Alone, can you provide us with an introduction? 

Lily Alone is published by Harper Impulse in paperback on 5 October. ebook also available.

Would you leave a very young child at home on their own – knowing that terrible things can happen in the blink of an eye? Lily, who is not yet three years old, wakes up alone with only her cuddly toy for company. She is hungry, afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers…

In the flat downstairs, a lonely and elderly woman keeps herself to herself but wonders at the cries coming from upstairs. Lily’s grandmother frets that she can no longer see her granddaughter since the child’s parents separated. Lily’s father hasn’t seen her for a while. He’s been abroad, absorbed in his new job and his new girlfriend…

A young woman lies in a coma in hospital – no one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent 
dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy…

And for Lily, time is running out.

Where did the idea for Lily Alone come from?

I worked with very young children for many years and loved spending time with them, especially seeing them develop and grow in independence and confidence. But how would a child manage to cope without an adult to love them, protect them, and keep them safe? And what if neighbours just turned a blind eye, not wanting to get involved? We so often hear stories about children being neglected, abused, or having to be taken into care. Lily Alone came out of a combination of all those things.

What was the hardest part of writing of Lily Alone? 

Getting the research right! Writing about relationships and emotions comes easily as I have been writing romance and family stories for women’s magazines for a very long time. But with this novel I had to go into much more detail – about what a three year old can and can’t do, and about medical and social services procedures. Having daughters working in those two professions was a great help.

Do you have any strange writing habits or rituals?

I do like to have exactly the right pen. Even though I write straight to a laptop these days, there are still notes to be made, and I just can’t do it well unless the pen looks and feels right. No fountain pens with messy ink cartridges, and definitely no cheap scratchy see-through biros!

Have you always wanted to be an author, and when did you first realise you wanted to write?

English was my favourite subject at school, and I had the encouragement of a very inspirational teacher called Mr Shearn. I started writing poetry when I was about fifteen, then slowly progressed into fiction, but it was always just a hobby, and I never considered it as a potential paying job. If universities had been offering creative writing degrees back then things might have been different, but I went to work in a bank, and writing stayed in the background for a long time – although it never went away!

Do you write an outline before you start writing? 

I struggle to plan. Editors tend to require a synopsis so I force myself to write one but the finished book looks nothing like that original concept. I know what kind of story I am trying to tell and have a vague notion of the ending I want to reach, but characters develop as I write about them, and things happen on the page that I did not see coming!

How long did it take to get your first book published?

My first novel, Losing Lucy, written under my former name of Vivien Hampshire, took a couple of years to write, and was the subject of my then monthly column in Writers Forum magazine called Book Deal or Bust. Readers followed my progress as I wrote and edited it and tried to get an agent or publisher. In the end, I self-published, and it did get some very good reviews, but I am so happy to have a traditional publishing deal this time around.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Lily Alone passed through the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writers Scheme, meaning I got a full critique from an anonymous published romance author. That was not a good experience for me as the reader clearly hated the book and everything about it. Her negativity could well have put me off completely and consigned the book to the bin, but I asked for a second opinion and the next critique could not have been more encouraging! The best compliment was having the book accepted by first an agent and then by Harper Impulse who wanted to publish it. It just shows that everyone has different opinions and tastes, and it has taught me to take the occasional poor review with a pinch of salt!

What’s the best bit about being an author? and what’s the worse bit?

Being my own boss is great! Working from home, not having to battle the traffic or beg for days off, and being able to write anywhere – by the fire in winter, in the garden on a sunny day, by the pool on holiday, in bed… There really are no worse bits.

And to finish off a couple of quick ones 

Favourite book?

I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh. Tense and surprising!

Favourite author?

Jane Austen, although I do cheat and watch the TV and film adaptations too!

Favourite holiday destination?

The Caribbean, or a nice English country cottage near the sea for shorter trips closer to home

And finally can you describe yourself in five words?

Creative. Solitary. Determined. Home-loving. Granny.

Thank you Vivien for answering my questions and lots of luck with Lily Alone

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today. I hope your readers will take a look at Lily Alone and let me know what they think!

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

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Vivien Brown lives in Uxbridge, Middlesex, with her husband and two cats. For most of her life she has immersed herself in words – as an avid reader, writer, poet, library outreach worker, storyteller, gifter of Bookstart packs to babies and toddlers, creative writing tutor and crossword fanatic.

She enjoys dipping into dictionaries and exploring the meaning of words, and watching and/or taking part in TV quiz shows. In the evenings she loves nothing more than losing herself in a good book, a compelling TV drama or her regular supply of women’s magazine short stories – which all help to provide inspiration and ideas for her own fiction. ‘Lily Alone’ is her debut novel.

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**Author Interview** with Ray Britain author of The Last Thread @ray_Britain

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Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Ray Britain to the book review café. Ray has just published his first crime book The Last Thread, unfortunately I’m unable to review this book at the moment due to work commitments and a humongous TBR pile, but I really hope it’s a book I will get to at some point as it certainly sounds my type of read. Ray himself is a very intriguing author so I invited him along to tell us more about himself and The Last Thread.

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Welcome to the Book Review Café Ray, I understand The Last Thread is your debut novel. Tell me a little about yourself first please?

Thank you for inviting me in Lorraine. As a ‘newbie’ author, it’s very much appreciated. My professional background is in policing. When I decided, finally, to write my book, the received wisdom seemed to be to stick with what you know so it should be no surprise that my novel is in the genre of crime fiction, police procedural.

Why have you adopted Ray Britain as your pen name?

Over the years I’ve locked up some very unpleasant people and as a hostage and suicide intervention negotiator I met some dangerous and disturbed people, so it’s sensible to shield my family.

That’s interesting. Tell us about your career?

I served in the Midlands region of the UK for some 30 years, gaining promotion to a high rank. I served in a range of uniform and detective roles, but the investigation of crime and the camaraderie of investigators remained my first love. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) I led many investigations, some of which engaged sensitive, national capabilities but as the Official Secrets Act still applies, I can’t discuss that side of things. Overall, I had a fantastically interesting and enjoyable career, travelled abroad as a representative of UK policing and got involved in things I could not have imagined as a young Constable walking the beat.

Two Britisih Policemen in Traditional Helmets on Crowd Control

It can’t have been all plain sailing, though. As a detective you must have seen some terrible things?

Sadly, yes. That’s the nature of policing, particularly as a detective. But it’s the same for each of the ‘blue light’ services, responding to society’s many and diverse problems so that the public can sleep easily in their beds at night. The UK remains an incredibly safe place to live and I hope we can keep an unarmed police service for many years to come yet, despite the serious challenges society now faces.

You mentioned you were a hostage negotiator as well?

Yes, for some fifteen years. In the UK, it’s a voluntary role in additional to one’s ‘day job’ which can place very heavy demands, both physically and emotionally on the very small number of specialists who are willing to carry it out. The training is incredibly intense with a pass or fail result and was the most challenging training programme I ever undertook. But it’s an endlessly fascinating role and when you have a successful outcome, hugely satisfying too.

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What sort of things do police negotiators respond to?

At the upper end of the scale, being part of national counter-terrorism contingency arrangements. But, more locally, it’s possible to find yourself attending hostage scenarios which usually involve people who are known to each other. But there are always complex factors in play such as psychological disorders, or drugs and other dependencies and fraught domestic circumstances. Frequently a cocktail of each, so with frightened hostages and high tension, you can never be complacent. Most deployments are to firearms incidents where armed officers have someone contained and require someone to surrender peaceably in a controlled manner to avoid being hurt. And then, the bulk of negotiator’s work is an incredibly varied range of suicide interventions. Although most end successfully, sadly, not all do.

Does all that experience form your book, ‘The Last Thread’?

My experiences give an authenticity to the technical and procedural aspects of the storyline but beyond that, as you would hope and expect, all the characters and events are completely fictional.

What makes this detective story different from the rest?

It’s authentic in describing the investigative processes with a professional’s experience and I’ve worked hard to create a story that’s interesting, immersing the reader in the welter of information available and keeping them guessing right to the end. It’s authentically grisly too in describing the murder, the crime scene and a post mortem. And, if that’s still not enough, there’s a complicated love interest too.

So, without spoiling it for our readers, what’s it about?

Perhaps the easiest way to do that is to give you the synopsis:

“Accused of pushing a boy to his death in a failed suicide intervention, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s enigmatic smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must watch as the incompetent CI Ballard who is intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald. Weeks later, an anonymous call leads the police to a remote location where they discover a burnt-out car containing the body of an unidentified man who has been savagely murdered. With a shortage of experienced senior investigators available, ACC Steph Tanner risks her own career and appoints Stirling as the SIO, throwing him the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation.

But, with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling has far too many “loose threads” as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Was the victim connected to the crime scene? Is the murder as complex as it appears? Or is there a simpler explanation? Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Doug Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?

Things were already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman who seems intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, connected to the murder somehow?”

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Is Doug Stirling yet another life worn, flawed detective like we see on TV so often?

I don’t believe readers will interpret him that way. Doug Stirling is a thoughtful, reflective character and a consummate professional. He expects his team to work hard but works harder himself. He’s a good-looking man, physically strong, highly principled and takes a pride in his appearance, but he’s impatient of vanity. But he has an intriguing, untold back story, is notoriously private and discreet in his relationships. Stirling is drawn to intelligent, interesting women and if they’re attractive, then even more so, which causes difficulties when his private and professional lives collide.

And the female characters in the story?

I’ve worked with many fantastic female colleagues over the years and The Last Thread’ has several strong female characters, on both sides of the law! My test readers were all women and it was fascinating how each of them interpreted the characters subtly differently, adding value in making suggestions. Hopefully, I’ve succeeded in making them interesting to your readers.

The story is marketed as having adult content. How adult are we talking?

That’s more to do with Amazon’s marketing guidance which I’m happy to observe. There are some sex scenes but much tamer than first drafted! People in relationships have sex, so why would Stirling be any different? A significant element of the plot has an adult theme but nothing too offensive, I hope. In short, it reflects real life and crime, and how complex relationships can have devastating effects on people’s lives.

The cover picture looks quite sinister?

I wanted something that looked sinister, moody, and intriguing enough to pick it up and learn more. It reflects an element of the storyline.

Do you have any other interests?

I’m a longstanding Francophile and gained a degree in French in my spare time. I like to keep fit and active and enjoy mountain walking -the Lake District is my favourite destination in the UK – supporting rugby, skiing, Dad dancing, reading and sailing.

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What is your inspiration to write?

Like many people, I’ve always wanted to write a book. After completing my career, I messed around with it for a while then put it away and tried to forget about it. Then, two winters ago, I sat down to write, and wrote, and wrote. Two winters later and after a lot of painful proof reading and editing, here it is, warts and all!

What do your family think of your writing?

To begin with, as I disappeared repeatedly into the study, it was a case of watch and see, shaking their heads at my erratic hours when the story would not let me sleep and I hammered away at the keyboard in the middle of the night! Now, they’re excited for me – and I’m anxious that it’s not a complete flop! Pride, of course.

Are you able to tell me anything about your next book?

Only that the Prologue is drafted and the storyline is almost fully mind mapped out on some software I use. Working through the devious twists and turns and red herrings is time consuming.

Final question then. Where can we get the book?

The Last Thread is available on Amazon

It is also available on all other main e-reader providers such as KOBO, iBook etc.

If you visit my website – below – you can download a free sample and click through to Amazon.

Thanks for dropping in Ray. I wish you every success with your book and look forward to the next one.

Thank you, Lorraine. I look forward to your readers’ views with great interest.

Website: http://www.raybritain.com/
Email: info@raybritain.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/raybritain.author/

 

The Cosy Canal Boat Dream by Christie Barlow #Review & Q & A @ChristieJBarlow @HarperImpulse

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Today I’m thrilled to share my review for the delightful The Cosy Canal Boat Dream by the super talented Christie Barlow. Anyone who follows my blog will know I’m a huge crime thriller reader, and there’s only a handful of authors who I’m happy to leave the “dark side” for and Christie Barlow’s one of them.

I got to read this highly entertaining book a few months back and I will say I think it’s Christie Barlow’s best book yet. To find out why you can read my review further down this post.  The Cosy Canal Boat Dream will be published by Harper Impulse on the 22nd of August 2017 and I’ve included pre-order links further down the page. 

But before I share my review with you all I have a fabulous Q & A with Christie Barlow. 

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Hi Christie, I’m so excited to have you on my blog so welcome to The Book Review Café. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you for having me Lorraine! Here’s a little intro! … I’m a 5ft 5in brunette born in the county of Cheshire and now at the ripe old age of 44, I lead nothing but a glamorous lifestyle: ironing, mucking out chickens and chasing after my mad cocker spaniel. I’m a mum to four, wife to one and my writing career came as somewhat of a surprise! Upon hitting my mid-life crisis (but dodging the tattoo and the sports car) after wholly dedicating my life to the care of my children, they asked me what I wanted to do in life while we were discussing their career options. ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book,’ I found myself answering, and so the notion was born. I self-published my first book, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother which became the talk of the town and hit the charts. Within 3 months I’d landed myself an agent, a book deal with Bookouture and recently signed to HarperCollins imprint HarperImpulse.
I’ve written six books to date, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances and The Cosy Canal Boat Dream. I’m currently working on book 7 to be published by HarperImpulse early 2018.

For those readers who haven’t heard of you and your book THE COSY CANAL BOAT DREAM can you provide us with an introduction?

The Cosy Canal Boat Dream is a roller-coaster of emotions, it begins with a powerful prologue that has already had numerous book bloggers and readers reaching for the tissues.

Here’s the blurb:
Welcome to the Little Rock marina – where hearts are healed and dreams are made…
For the last two years Nell Andrews has been struggling to stay afloat. As her life tumbled down around her, the only safety net has been her cosy canal boat, The Nollie. Tucked away inside, Nell has found a place to heal her broken heart. And now she’s ready to move on and follow her dream…
Gorgeous Guy Cornish, with his easy Irish charm, makes him an instant hit with everyone at the marina, and the perfect person to help Nell with her project. But Guy has his own reasons for being at the marina, and a past that threatens to sink Nell’s dream…

Where did the idea for THE COSY CANAL BOAT DREAM come from?

My new book ‘The Cosy Canal Boat Dream’ is a pretty special one as it will be my first published novel with Harper Impulse! How exciting! Well, and slightly nerve-wracking! That’s normal though, right? For this book, my inspiration was right under my nose – believe it or not! When I say under my nose, I also mean under Woody’s (my cocker-spaniel) nose! Every day prior to the book idea, my sidekick and I would go on a walk around Barton marina which has this beautiful, old picture house and a rather mouth-watering deli. And, if that wasn’t enough, the marina is even a home to multiple craft shops. It didn’t take me long to link Barton marina with the deli and old picture house in a storyline capacity. After all, with such beautiful views, stunning buildings, and wonderful smelling food to drool over; I would be doing the marina a disservice by NOT using it as my inspiration for my new book.

Do you have any strange writing habits or rituals?

I have a life size cut-out of Gary Barlow that keeps me company in my writing room and often I will run plot ideas past him!

What do your family think of your writing?

My family are so proud, they think it’s an amazing job to have and I have to agree with them!

My favourite character in THE COSY CANAL BOAT DREAM is of course Nell Andrews, who was your favourite character to write about?

I LOVED every character in this book, for five months they all became my new best friends but I too admire the wonderful Nell Andrews. Clearly I don’t want to give any parts of the storyline away, but, I can mention what inspired me to shape Nell’s character. You may have seen multiple posts online about women empowerment, yes? When I came to create Nell’s personality, I took my inspiration from women icons such as ‘Jane Eyre,’ the suffragette movement, and the inspirational women who are in my life. When you read the book, you’ll find out more about Nell, her backstory, and what shaped her as a person. Just like my other characters from my previous novels, I aim to build their lives with my own personal experiences in mind, and I feel that it’s important to be able to relate to who I am writing about.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author?

The past three years have been truly amazing in the land of books and that is down to all the lovely readers, bloggers, friends and family. Just by choosing my book to read makes my day, but then when they send me all the kind words, tweets and messages I really have to pinch myself. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing the job I love, so thank you!

On the other side, what would say is the most challenging part of writing?

Writing fiction can certainly be a lonely job and ninety-five percent of that time is spent on my own, tapping at the computer with only my mad cocker spaniel for company, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Which of the books you have written is your favourite?

I thought about this for a moment and realised each book I’ve written has shaped the writer I am today. I love each book and every character for many different reasons.

What’s been your biggest pinch me moment to date?

The first pinch me moment was when I was travelling on a train to Birmingham. I was sat in the carriage watching the scenery whiz by when the woman sitting opposite me took out a book from her bag to read. It was my book, Kitty’s Countryside Dream! The second moment was when the publishing editor Charlotte Ledger from Harper Collins knew of my wonderful books and offered me a contract, oh and not forgetting my first book knocked David Walliams off the top spot! And I got to have a chat with him recently about that very moment at the Harper Collins 200th birthday party celebrations. Every day I pinch myself, I really do have the best job in the world.

Are you able to tell me anything about your next book?

I’m just writing my second book for Harper which is due for release early 2018, and all I can divulge at this stage is it begins in New York, and ends in England. There are secrets, hideaways and romance, but always a happy ending!

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Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances and The Cosy Canal Boat Dream. She lives in Staffordshire with her husband, four kids, horses, chickens and a mad cocker spaniel. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA and Australia.

Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with poverish people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being as well as Literary Editor for www.mamalifemagazine.co.uk  bringing you all the latest news and reviews from the book world.

She loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via her website www.christiebarlow.com Twitter @ChristieJBarlow and Facebook page Christie Barlow author

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My review of The Cosy Canal Boat Dream

If you are looking for a book to read that’s not your usual run of the mill Rom Com then look no further, than The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, it’s a highly entertaining read, but it also has so much more to offer, it certainly made for an emotional read so a word of warning have the tissues at the ready! I’m going to say this is definitely Christie Barlow’s best book yet and made for a highly entertaining and emotional read.

Nell Andrew’s appears to have the perfect life she’s living the dream on a boat with the love of her life Ollie, but when he is killed in an accident all Nell’s hopes and dreams for the future are left in tatters. As she struggles to cope with her grief life takes an unexpected turn when an Irishman and a disused cinema come into her life. What follows is a heartwarming tale filled with bittersweet moments. My emotions were all over the place whilst reading this novel, there are so many sensitive and tear jerking scenes in this novel one minute I would find myself laughing uncontrollably and the next minute I would find myself sobbing into a tissue as I reached yet another poignant scene in this charming tale.

What I adore about Christie Barlow’s writing is that she has a knack of bringing her characters to life, friendship and humour play a big part in this novel and you can’t help but become attached to Nell, best friend Bea and the adorable Jacob who despite only being five has a big personality. The author’s characters are so credible and endearing, as usual I was left feeling bereft when I reached the last page of The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, as I’ve said in previous reviews for Christie Barlow’s books I always feel I’m saying “goodbye” to new found friends.

Christie Barlow is able to turn a Rom Com into something much more, yes there’s laughs aplenty, but she also draws on real life issues and writes about them with sensitivity, you can’t help but become involved in each characters story.  In my opinion Christie Barlow is one of the best writers in this genre her books are like a breath of fresh and yes they make me emotional, but ultimately they make for a heartwarming and “feel good” read. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a Rom Com with that extra special something.

Print Length: 272 pages

Publisher: HarperImpulse (22 Aug. 2017)
You can pre-order this fabulous book at : Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

A huge thank you to Christie Barlow for my ARC and for taking the time to answer my questions for the author interview.

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**Blog Tour** #TheGoodDaughter by Karin Slaughter #AuthorInterview #BookReview @HarperCollinsUK @SlaughterKarin

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter. I’ve always been a huge fan of this author so I literally jumped at the chance to take part in the blog tour. I never imagined when I started up my blog I would be helping to promote the book of one of the most famous crime thriller authors on the planet, so excuse me while I jump up and down with excitement!

Not only am I sharing my review for this gripping book, but I also have an author Q & A with Karin Slaughter, so without further ado………..

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You write about crimes, particularly those violent crimes against women, that are sadly all too common, but was The Good Daughter based on any specific incidents? If so, do you find that difficult to deal with?

I’m always conscious when I write about crime that this sort of thing is happening everywhere in the world, multiple times a day. Especially when you’re talking about crimes against women. The Centers for Disease control tracks the leading causes of death for all Americans and publishes their report annually. For female infants, the number one cause of death is homicide. For pregnant women, the number one cause of death is homicide. From the ages of zero to 45, you can scan the top five reasons for premature death of women and find the word “homicide” listed. So, statistically, it’s an inherently dangerous thing to be a woman. In fact, almost every act of violence that’s not gang-related generally victimizes a woman, either obliquely or directly. Even terrorist attacks like the horrible bombing in Manchester victimized women. When we have random shooters here in the US, they tend to be angry young men who generally target women, or their first victim in a shooting spree is an ex girlfriend, a mothers, or a woman they think has rejected them.

So, to answer the question, the crimes in the Good Daughter are crimes that are taking place every second of the day, and I don’t find it difficult to write about them so much as feel the weight of that responsibility to hold a mirror up to society and say, “this is happening. What are we going to do about it?”

What’s the first ever story you remember writing?

I have one of only two existing copies: The Boom Diddy Kitty. It’s about a cat who helps a kid who is not very popular.

Cats are amazing.

If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have wanted to do in life?

Being a writer is literally the only thing I’ve ever consistently wanted to do in life, from at least kindergarten. I always assumed you couldn’t make a living being a writer (and that’s true—I’m very aware of how fortunate I am) so I had back-up plans. I wanted to be a lawyer, I wanted to be a comic book illustrator, I wanted to be an astronaut…all the cool jobs. What I ended up doing was being an exterminator, then a house painter, then an employee at a sign shop, then a sign shop owner, then I got very lucky and the thing I had been toiling away at all along during my non-working-hours finally paid off and I got my first book deal. I am aware every single day that I am one of the luckiest folks on earth. Not many people do for a living exactly the job they have always wanted to do.

What’s the best thing about being a published author?

That’s honestly a hard question to answer. I get to work in my pajamas, but honestly, I wore my pajamas to work before and no one really noticed. I get to travel all over the world, which is nice because I’ve met all sorts of interesting people and that one mildy racist woman in Canberra. I love working with my editor because she really gets me. I love being able to write for a job. Maybe the coolest part is walking into a book store and seeing my books on the shelves, but not too many books because people have been reading them and the store needs to get more. That’s really one of the best things about being published—knowing my readers are out there and that they are happy with my books.

It’s certainly not being able to get an expired Nando’s card accepted for a free order of peri-peri chicken!

img_1639Karin Slaughter is the #1 internationally-bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestsellers Cop Town and Pretty Girls. She has sold over 35 million books, making her one of the most popular crime writers today. She is passionate, no-nonsense, provocative, and is one of suspense fiction’s most articulate ambassadors. Her Will Trent Series, Grant County Series, and stand-alone novel Cop Town are all in development for film & television. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. You can learn more about Karin Slaughter and her books over at…….www.karinslaughter.com

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IMG_2352Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville’s notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case which can’t help triggering the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried for ever …

IMG_2298I’ve always been a huge fan of Karin Slaughter’s writing and have pretty much read every book she has ever written, so to say I was excited to see she was publishing a new novel was an understatement! The Good Daughter is a standalone, no sign of Will Trent here (I love this series by the way) and once again the author has shown why she is considered to be one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. I was surprised to find The Good Daughter isn’t as fast paced or as graphic as the authors previous books, although some of the scenes and subject matter may not be to ever reader’s taste I must admit! After finishing The Good Daughter I definitely think this is the authors most ambitious and powerful book yet!

Like any book by this author there is plenty of mystery, terrible crimes are committed, but it also gives insight into family relationships when terrible things happen to them. Much of the book is about the horrifying events that happened to Charlie and her sister Samantha during their childhood , and how they are affecting their characters in the present and their relationships to each other and the people around them. I felt this novel was very much character led and the crimes almost felt secondary to the plot, that’s not a criticism by any means as The Good Daughter still made for a disturbing yet compelling read.

Karin Slaughter has created exceptionally complex characters, both sisters have their own demons that continue to haunt them, this novel is very much about the complexity of relationships and bad things happening to good people. Each character in The Good Daughter is garenteed to provoke a strong reactions, like anyone they have their strengths and weakness that make your own feelings towards each character sway constantly depending at what point you are in this throughly compelling read.

The author describes the small town of Pikeville so vividly it feels incredibly stifling, but also very typical, the kind of place where everyone knows you and your business, so it was intriguing to read how and why one sister choose to leave and the other one stayed, the reasons are complex but at the same time credible. Karen Slaughter never shies away from the darker side of life, in fact she hits it head on. The Good Daughter is dark, gritty and at times disturbing, with a superbly written plot, yet again the author has shown me why she continues to be one of my all time favourite authors on the planet.

Buying links:        Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 512 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins (13 July 2017)

Follow  the rest of the blog tour

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**Blog Tour** The Lighterman by Simon Michael #AuthorInterview @simonmichaeluk @urbanebooks #Giveaway

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I’m delighted to have been invited to take part in Simon Michael’s blog tour to celebrate the launch of The Lighterman, the third in his series of 1960s London thrillers featuring barrister antihero Charles Holborne. The Lighterman is published by Urbane Books and was released on the 8th June 2017. 

Matthew over at Urbane Books has kindly given me a paperback copy of The Lighterman as a giveaway, you will find the details on how to enter at the bottom of this post.

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imageThe first two novels in your series, The Brief and An Honest Man, both take place over the space of a few weeks in the early 1960s, but in The Lighterman you go back in time even further, to the 1940s. Why did you do that? Did you always intend to write historical thrillers?

As the series has progressed I have come to know Charles much better. Although when I wrote The Brief I knew he was an East End boy made good and he had been in a bit of trouble with the law in his past, as the series progressed what was a line drawing filled out to become a more three-dimensional portrait in my head. I began to understand his family dynamics better, his psychology, his hang-ups. There’s a major reveal coming in Book 4, and I wanted my readers to understand and believe in it. That entails revealing some of what happened to Charles as a teenager, which takes us back to 1940 and the Blitz. I also have a deeper understanding of how plot and character grow out of the fertile soil of place and history. People have commented that London has become an integral part of the stories; I would go further: I think London is a character in the series in its own right.
So, to answer your question simply, in one sense all stories are “historical” in that all characters have a background and past which dictate how they act in the present. If you want to create real characters, they can’t just arrive on the page in the present moment.

For someone who has his own particular moral code, Charles does a lot of lawbreaking in The Lighterman! Aren’t you worried that some of your readers will dislike him?

The reviews seem to suggest that the aspect of the series which appeals most to readers is Charles’s personality. My favourite, from one woman reviewer, is that she thinks she is “a little bit in love with Charles Holborne”. So I realise it’s very important not to make Charles dislikeable. At the same time, it’s his flaws that make him interesting. He went through the War, lived rough on the Blitzed streets, and grew up in an era when women with careers were oddities, men were expected to be the breadwinners and they weren’t supposed to speak about “feelings”. On top of that Charles has been damaged, and he carries that damage into his relationships with women. But as long as the reader sees that he is trying to overcome his deficiencies, that he’s essentially “a good guy” – even one who makes mistakes – I think (hope!) readers will see him as a complete person. As for his lawbreaking, he does it to save lives and to protect the innocent from the machinations of corrupt and venal men with power. I think most readers will forgive that.

You have mentioned Book 4. How many more are there to be in the series?

Charles is involved in a long-running battle with the Kray twins. They didn’t go to prison until 1968 and left a legacy that lasted some years after that. So I have at least a further five years to cover, and the undermining of The Establishment which occurred during the late 60s is a fascinating period in its own right. Books 4 and 5 are part-written. My guess is that there are at least another four books to come, but we shall see.

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About the author

Simon Michael is the author of the best-selling London 1960s noir gangster series featuring his antihero barrister, Charles Holborne. Simon writes from personal experience: he was a barrister for 37 years and worked in the Old Bailey and other criminal courts defending and prosecuting a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy during what was often considered the “Wild West” of British justice. The 1960s was a time when the Krays and the Richardsons and other violent gangs fought for control of London’s organised crime, and the corrupt Metropolitan Police beat up suspects, twisted the evidence and took their share of the criminal proceeds. Simon weaves into his thrillers genuine court documents from cases on which he worked and the big stories of the 1960s.

Simon was a successful author in the 1980s, published here and in the USA, and returned to writing when he retired from the Bar in 2016. The first two books in the Charles Holborne series, THE BRIEF published in September 2015 and AN HONEST MAN published in July 2016, have both garnered rave reviews for their authenticity and excitement. The theme of Simon’s books is alienation; Holborne, who dabbled in crime and in serious violence before becoming a barrister, is an outsider both in the East End where he grew up and in the Temples of the law where he now practices, where he faces daily class and religious prejudice. He has been compared to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, honourable men surrounded by corruption and violence, trying to steer an honest course.

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Links: Website   Blog     Facebook     Twitter    Goodreads    Amazon Author Page

Book Trailer Facebook 

 

Book description

The Lighterman is the third book in the bestselling series of legal thrillers starring barrister Charles Holborne. Simon Michael’s follow up to the bestselling The Brief and An Honest Man, continues the adventures of criminal barrister Charles Holborne.

When Charles Holborne’s cousin, Izzy, is accused of murder, Charles must dig up the secrets of the past to defend him. But brutal gangland leader Ronnie Kray will stop at nothing to get his revenge on Charles for the events of An Honest Man. Can Charles save his cousin…and his own life?

Simon Michael brings the past vividly back to life across a beautifully rendered 60s landscape, and delivers a gripping piece of thriller fiction that will excite any fan of the Britcrime genre.

Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

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I have one paperback copy of The Lighterman by Simon Michael, unfortunately this is open to UK residents only. Winner will be notified within 24 hours of winning. To enter just leave a comment in the post telling me which era you would loved to have been part of?

All entries will be put into a hat and I will get the ever suffering Mr book review cafe to pick a winner.

You can follow the rest of the tour…..

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**Blog Tour** Vile City by Jennifer Lee Thomson #AuthorQ&A @jenthom72 @caffeinenights @TAsTPublicity

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I do love a good twisty crime thriller and so I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for Vile City by Jennifer Lee Thomson.  I haven’t had the time to read this one yet,  but it definitely sounds like my kind of read, and it’s on my TBR pile of crime thrillers, in the meantime I’m thrilled to have Q & A with Jennifer Lee Thomson.  

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Where did the idea for Vile City come from?

For Vile City I was walking through Glasgow city centre with my partner when we took a short cut down an alleyway to avoid the crowds. It was the middle of the day yet so spooky that I thought imagine coming down this way at night alone. So I created Shelley Craig who goes down that very alleyway to find her boyfriend who was answering the call of nature. She gets worried when he hasn’t come back and discovers him unconscious on the pavement. That’s when she’s grabbed.

What was the hardest part of writing vile city?

My main character Shelley Craig makes a decision in Vile City that I really don’t agree with, but as an author of fiction the characters make the decisions not you as the author.

Do you have any strange writing habits or rituals?

I write in the early hours of the morning. I can sit for seven hours straight writing without taking a break. I read out my writing and act bits out. Crazy, but it works.

Have you always wanted to be an author, and when did you first realise you wanted to write?

I’ve been writing stories since I was a wee girl and used to keep a diary. My professional writing career started when I was 15 and wrote an article on superstitions for a girl’s magazine called Jackie.

Do you write an outline before you start writing?

I start with an idea and see where it goes. I ask myself what if this happened? I don’t plan – I find that boring. If I want readers not to see what’s coming next, I have to keep the same mystery for myself.
You have published books under three different names including Jennifer Thomson and Jenny Thomson why three names? 

I write under different names to distinguish between my different books. My self-help books on bullying, living cruelty free and dog care are written as Jennifer Thomson. My fiction is as Jenny Thomson. Vile City and the rest of the books in the Vile City series, as well as my subsequent fiction will be written under Jennifer Lee Thomson in tribute to my late dad who passed away after a long battle with cancer. He always wanted me to use my full birth name.

How did you come to get published by Caffeine nights?

They publish one of my favourite writers, horror writer Shaun Hutson and when I saw they published crime novels I thought I’d submit Vile City. The publisher liked the outline and asked to see some sample chapters. I was delighted when six weeks later they got in touch to say they liked the book and wanted to publish it.

What do you think makes a good story?

Great characters and a fast moving plot. I hate overlong description and think most readers do too. I always skip it.

Can you describe Vile City in five words? 

Gritty, entertaining, mysterious, page-turning, paranormal.

Can you describe yourself in five words?

Meticulous, funny, hardworking, determined, optimistic.

And just a few quick ones to end the interview 

Favourite food?

Anything vegetarian. I’ve been veggie for 31 years and it’s the thing I’m most proud of.

Favourite Drink?

Smoothies.

Favourite author?

Stephen King. I also love Craig Russell, Anna Smith, Stuart MacBride, Simon Kernick and Camilla Lackberg.

Kindle or book? 

Book. I love the new book smell. Kindles are great to use when travelling and on holiday.

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Book description

DI Duncan Waddell has big problems. He’s borderline diabetic, his boss thinks he’s in the Army and the paperwork is piling up faster than the underwear at a porn shoot. The last thing he needs is the country’s biggest case to land on his lap.
Three women have gone missing in the city he’s fast coming to despise, victims of the GLASGOW GRABBER as their assailant has been dubbed by local hack and all round pain in the backside, Catriona Hastie.

Shelley Craig’s the Grabber’s latest victim, snatched as she and her boyfriend took a shortcut through Glasgow city centre. And she’ll do anything to make it home.
Handling this baffling case is stressful enough without Waddell’s pal DC Stevie Campbell, who’s in a coma after being attacked by a suspect, starting to talk to him. Trouble is, only Waddell can hear him.

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img_1639Jennifer Lee Thomson is an award-winning crime writer who has been scribbling away all her life. She also writes non-fiction as Jennifer Thomson and fiction as Jenny Thomson.

This is her first book as Jennifer Lee Thomson in tribute to her late father who passed away after a long battle with cancer. Books 2 and 3 in the series are already written and she’s working on book 4.
Jennifer is an animal rights and human rights advocate and has a rescue dog.
She also writes the Crime File series of books as Jenny Thomson. Book 1, 2 and 3, are out now. They are in order, Hell to Pay, Throwaways and Don’t Come For Me and feature tough rape survivor Nancy Kerr and her ex-Special Forces boyfriend who fight crime together.
In her spare time, she plans how to survive the zombie apocalypse

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SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VileCitybyJenniferLeeThomson/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jenthom72
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1301634.Jennifer_Thomson
Blog: http://www.ramblingsofafrustratedcrimewriter.blogspot.co.uk
Website: http://www.jenniferthomson.co.uk

BUY LINKS
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vile-City-Jennifer-Lee-Thomson/dp/1910720739
Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Vile-City-Jennifer-Lee-Thomson/dp/1910720739
Amazon Canada https://www.amazon.ca/Vile-City-Jennifer-Lee-Thomson/dp/1910720739

If you want to follow the tour……..

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My thanks to the author Jennifer Lee Thomson, Kate Moloney and Noelle Holten for my ARC, questions & answers and allowing me to be part of the Vile City blog tour 

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**Blog Tour** The Escape by C.L. Taylor #Review #AuthorInterview @callytaylor @HelenaSheffield

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Today I’m thrilled to be the next stop on The Escape by C.L. Taylor blog tour, and my god I absolutely loved this psychological thriller, I’ve always enjoyed this authors books, but without doubt this is definitely her best book yet. The Escape was published by Avon in March so you don’t even have to wait to get yourselves a copy of this gripping book.

You can read my review further down this post, but first I have an exclusive Q & A with C.L. Taylor which I’m so excited to share with you all.

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Hi Cally I’m so excited to have you on my blog so welcome to The Book Review Café Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you for having me! My name is Cally Taylor and I live in Bristol with my partner and son. I started my writing career writing romantic comedies as Cally Taylor then, when I was on maternity leave with my son I had an idea for a psychological thriller. That book was The Accident and I have now written four psychological thrillers for Avon HarperCollins and I’m contracted to write three more. My second psychological thriller The Lie has been optioned for TV by The Forge who produced National Treasure featuring Robbie Coltrane. In addition to The Escape which was published in March I also have a young adult thriller The Treatment which will be published by HarperCollins HQ in September.

For those readers who haven’t yet heard of you or your book The Escape can you provide us with an introduction?
The Escape is about a woman called Jo Blackmore who lives in Bristol with her partner Max and their two year old daughter Elise. Jo suffers from agoraphobia and her life is filled with anxiety and fear. One day, when she’s about to get into her car, a stranger asks her for a lift. The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband and she got a glove belonging to Elise. Feeling threatened Jo turns to her husband for support but Max is dismissive. He’s seen Jo overreact to situations before. Jo tries to forget about what happened but the stranger has other ideas. She thinks that Max has something that belongs to her and she won’t stop hounding the Blackmore’s until she gets it back…

Where did the idea for The Escape come from?
I got the idea for The Escape from a local news story. I follow Avon and Somerset Constabulary on Facebook and noticed an update asking for help finding a woman who’d gone on the run with her young son instead of turning up at court to hand over residency of him. As members of the public commented that they’d look out for her the woman’s family told them not to. They said she wasn’t a danger to her son, she was actually protecting him by running away. That made me wonder how I’d feel if I had to go on the run to keep my child safe.

What made you decide to have all the titles of your book begin with “The”?

I didn’t! My title for my first psychological thriller was An End to Silence but my publisher felt that The Accident would be more impactful. The book sold so well that, when it came time to name my second book, my publisher suggested we stick with ‘The…’ title and that book became The Lie. Now all of my books have ‘The…’ titles!

How did you research material for The Escape?

The Escape is my most heavily researched book to date. It took me three months of research before I wrote a word. I talked to a GP, a social worker, a family lawyer, an IT specialist, a journalist and an expert in Irish policing. I also travelled across to Ireland to research locations for the second part of the book and went to dinner with two Irish blogger who answered my questions about life in Ireland now and in the 1980s.

Do you have any strange writing habits or rituals?

I have to have warm feet when I’m writing so I keep a pair of skiing socks close by. I also have a soundtrack to each novel I write. I can’t write to lyrics so will pick an instrumental or film soundtrack album that matches the mood of the novel then I’ll play it on a loop each time I sit down to write. I sometimes have a scented candle burning too (different for each book).

My favourite character in The Escape has to be Jo, Who was your favourite character to write about?

I loved Jo but she was exhausting to write because she’s so anxious all the time and you have to channel the emotions that your character is feeling. I really enjoyed writing Max as I wrote him in the third person and that’s the first time I’ve used that point of view in one of my novels.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author?

The emails from authors telling me that one of my novels made them fall in love with reading again, or even that one of my books has ignited a love of reading. When people tell me that they’ve never finished a book before or they normally struggle to read but they sped through one of my books it’s the biggest compliment I could ever be given. Reading those emails always makes me feel very emotional.

On the other side, what would you say is the most challenging part of writing?

Sitting down to write when you’re not in the mood or when you know you’ve got a difficult scene to tackle. At times like those I wish I could magic the words out of my head and onto the screen.

Who is/are your favourite author/authors? What is it that draws you, as a reader, to certain books?
My favourite author as a child was Enid Blyton. Her Magic Faraway Tree series so was so magical it fired my imagination. As an adult I’m a big fan of George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Maggie O’Farrell, Belinda Bauer, Mark Edwards and Tammy Cohen. I’m not sure what it is that draws me to certain books – it’s normally a writer’s style or voice that draws me in first, then it’s their storytelling ability (they have to write a page turner) and then there’s the subject matter. I’ve always been drawn to dystopian novels which explains George Orwell and Margaret Atwood and I enjoyed the Hunger Games series too.

Are you able to tell me anything about your next book?

My next book is actually my debut YA thriller THE TREATMENT. I recently completed the edits and it’s due to be published by HarperCollins HQ in September 2017. It’s about a young woman called Drew who tries to rescue her younger brother from being brainwashed at a remote residential reform school in Northumberland. In April I’m due to start my fifth psychological thriller for Avon but, as I haven’t written a word, I can’t tell you about that yet!

And lastly can you describe yourself in five words?
Tall, tired, creative, determined, introvert.

My Thanks to Cally Taylor for taking time out of her hectic schedule to answer my questions.

img_1639C.L. Taylor is the Sunday Times bestselling author of four gripping psychological thrillers: THE ACCIDENT, THE LIE, THE MISSING and THE ESCAPE. Her books have sold in excess of a million copies, been translated into over 20 languages and have been shortlisted for three Dead Good Books awards. THE LIE has been optioned for TV by The Forge who produced National Treasure featuring Robbie Coltrane.

Cally Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014.

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Links:

http://www.callytaylor.co.uk
http://writing-about-writing.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/CallyTaylorAuthor

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Book description

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t. The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her. No one believes that Elise is in danger.

img_1258It’s not very often it happens but The Escape by C L Taylor left me with a serious book hangover, I picked up this book thinking I would just read the first couple of chapters, BIG MISTAKE as three hours later I reached the final page in this addictive psychological thriller. There are a huge number of books in this genre so for me the difference between a good psychological thriller and an outstanding one is the authors ability to mess with my head, a plot that contains suspense and “edge of your seat moments” and C L Taylor manages this and so much more with this addictive novel.

The author presents the reader with an unreliable narrator in the shape of Jo Blackmore, a young mother whose behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, she’s neurotic, has panic attacks and she’s paranoid. Unreliable narrators are one of my favourite types of characters and so I was immediately drawn to her tale, unpredictable she also appears to be losing her grip on reality so you are never quite sure what to believe. When she is threatened by a young woman Jo’s life begins to unravel in the most spectacular fashion. You cannot help questioning is what Jo going through real?, is she really in danger? Or is she misinterpreting events? I found I became totally immersed in Jo’s tale, her sense of fear is palatable from the first chapter and this grows as the plot progresses. It’s a disturbing yet believable study of family, lies, and deception and the overwhelming need to “Escape” from the harsh realities of life.

The chapters told in the voice of an unknown narrator add a sense of malice and danger to the tale, and it was these chapters that completely threw me. In fact when I finished reading The Escape I went back and re-read them, a very clever and deceiving ploy by the author I have to say. Wickedly told and fast paced this is definitely one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read this year. C L Taylor delivers the most deliciously devious plot that will throw the reader at every twisted turn, even the most hardened psychological thrillers readers will struggle to put this one down. In my opinion C L Taylor’s writing goes from strength to strength, each of her books is worthy of high praise but The Escape is definitely my favourite so far and I’m already excited to see if her next book can beat this truly gripping read.

Print Length: 433 pages

Publisher: Avon (23 Mar. 2017)

Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

If you want to read further reviews on this gripping book, you may want to check out some of my fellow bloggers posts…..
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