Tag Archives: Book review

**Making a dent in my bookshelf** #MiniReviews #BookChallenge part 2

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Like every book blogger in the country I have numerous books sat on my book shelves I’ve been meaning to read for ages. So I decided to set myself a mini challenge and read as many books as I can from my own personal collection between now and the end of December (which December? I’m not sure yet😂🙈).

I have read six books in total from my own bookshelves (Mind you it helped that I had two weeks holiday this month)…whohoo go me, and the months not over yet only 1,56789 books to go😂📚📚📚📚📚

The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

 

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In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. 

Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building. 

When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.

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Every now and then I do like to mix things up a bit and read something that’s different to my normal crime reads.   Victoria Hislop is one of the author’s I turn to I do enjoy historical fiction especially when it’s blended with true events.  The Island centres on the clashes between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots which came to a head in 1974, resulting in a Greek coup and Turkey invading Cyprus, and Famagusta.

Although I knew little about the civil war I wasn’t aware of the Famagusta, which  is now a deserted town surrounded by barbed wire, within its walls  there must lie stories of devastation and heartbreak caused by a war where the citizens of the town were forced to flee, never to return. The author manages to capture the tone, atmosphere and the fear of a civil war perfectly, but then I would expect nothing less from an author’s whose research is impeccable.

I really enjoyed learning more about the history of Cyprus and the events that led up to the invasion. Victoria Hislop blends fact and fiction to create a compelling read, and her descriptions are so vivid it took look little imagination to conjure up images of Famagusta, before the days of cheap package tours, a town which was wealthy, visited by the most affluent, on the flip side it was horrifying to imagine the city devastated by war, a resort left barren. Although I enjoyed The Sunrise I can’t say I loved it, for me the book felt contrived in parts, and only partly fitting to the history of the people who lived there. I must admit I struggled to feel any connection to the characters, many of them appeared to superficial and  lacking in emotion. Although I read The Sunrise in a couple of sitting. I must admit  It’s not my favourite book by the author, but there again I think I compared it to The Island a very different story, but one I loved.

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (4 Jun. 2015)

I Found You by Lisa Jewell 

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Everyone has secrets. What if you can’t remember yours?

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’

‘I got here yesterday.’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘I have no idea.’

Lily has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night, she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one.

Alice finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement, she invites him into her home.

But who is he, and how can she trust a man who has lost his memory?

  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (14 July 2016)

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I have read a couple of books by Lisa Jewell now and I’m impressed by her ability to produce a compelling plot, that drags you in from the first page and before you know it you are halfway through the book, not even stopping for a coffee break (unheard of!) I Found You made for a riveting read, full of misdirection, suspense. At first I Found You looked as if it would be a simple and straightforward story. A new husband disappears on his way home from work,  a man turns up on a Yorkshire beach and has lost his memory, man gets his memory back and all sorted! But that’s not the case here the story twists, turns, and intertwines creating a throughly nail biting read.

The characters all spring to life especially Alice, I do find a character far more likeable if they have credible flaws, no ones perfect after all! Alice is adorable, always looking to rescue people, animals and friends, and despite her tops turvy life style she still manages to be the best parent she can.  The plotting is incredibly complex with the author drip feeding  little details slowly and tantalisingly the reader. At one point, I thought I knew where it was all heading, but epic fail! When the author finally revealed all I couldn’t help but gasp, Lisa Jewell well and truly left me stunned. I Found You is my perfect kind of psychological thriller, fast paced, fascinating characters and misdirection at every turn.  

The Chain by Adam McKinty

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You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim’s parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don’t kidnap a child, or if the next parents don’t kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain. 

  • Print Length: 369 page
  • Publisher: Orion (9 July 2019)

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The Chain by Adam McKinty is one of the most talked about books on social media this year, bloggers, authors, publishers are raving about it, and then there’s me! The plots definitely an original one, based on Chain letters, the author takes this one step further,  your child gets kidnapped, so in turn you have to kidnap a child, if you break the chain your child will be murdered. I throughly enjoyed the first part of The Chain it’s fast paced, riveting and as the reader you live and breathe events as they unfold through the characters eyes. The chapters are short, and precise adding tension to the overall plot. 

The second part of the book is more about the beginning of The Chain , and it’s creators I didn’t enjoy this part as much, the pace slowed, the tension ramped down a couple of notches, and the plot became far more predictable. Don’t get me wrong this book has much to offer the thriller lover and I can see why readers are raving about The Chain. Personally I think because I made the mistake of reading some of the reviews for The Chain before reading the book so I may have set my expectations too high for this book, which left me more than a little disappointed.

I must admit as a mother I felt for the victims, but not enough to care about the outcome, for me the victims were to quick to pick out a victim, without thinking about the consequences, this made them appear cold hearted and not particularly likeable.  The Chain was a great first half, with plenty of promise but the second half was a let down, at this point I found I felt no sympathy for any of the characters or the predicament they found themselves in, and my interested waned to the point where I wasn’t particularly interested in the outcome.

This Little Dark Place by A. S. Hatch #BookReview #BlogTour #GripLit @andrewshatch @serpentstail #ThisLittleDarkPlace

Today I’m thrilled to be closing the blog tour for This Little Dark Place by A. S. Hatch. I’m a huge lover of psychological thrillers, but after reading so many it’s difficult to find a book in this genre that stands out, did this one hit the mark? Read on for my thoughts. 

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How well do you know your girlfriend?

How well do you know your lover?

How well do you know yourself?

Daniel and Victoria are together. They’re trying for a baby. Ruby is in prison, convicted of assault on an abusive partner.

But when Daniel joins a pen pal program for prisoners, he and Ruby make contact. At first the messages are polite, neutral – but soon they find themselves revealing more and more about themselves. Their deepest fears, their darkest desires.

And then, one day, Ruby comes to find Daniel. And now he must decide who to choose – and who to trust.

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If you decide to read This Little Dark Place by A.S. go in blind, Don’t read any reviews (apart from mine and other book bloggers on the blog tour of course, as they contain no spoilers!). I knew nothing about this book and it made the reading experience far more enjoyable as I had no idea, where the author was leading the story. It’s a story that twist and turns, with its tale of obsessive love and betrayal. This Little Dark Place is narrated by a compelling voice, it’s original, and made for a dark read.

Daniels story is narrated through a series of letters which I felt worked really well, it gives an ominous feel to the book, a feeling that grows as Daniel reveals more about his life, we learn about his closest relationships, with his mother, wife Victoria and Ruby a prison pen pal.  The letters are written to Lucy, who is the mysterious Lucy? it’s a question that is central to the plot, and will put your head in a spin as you try to fathom out her connection to Daniel. This book held so many questions, but thankfully the author slowly and deftly reveals all the answers. 

At first Daniel appears to be your ‘average’ bloke living a fairly predictable life, that some would consider to be boring, he doesn’t appear to have any dreams, or inspirations to better himself. It’s only as A. S. Hatch peels away the layers of Daniels life that you realise that here’s a character whose not without flaws. Through the letters you can’t help but feel a degree of sympathy for Daniel, your privy to his every thought and emotion, as the reader you feel Daniel is writing the letters to you, pulling you into the tangled web that his life has become, but is Daniel a reliable narrator? That’s for you to read the book to find out! When we meet Ruby I found myself constantly questioning her motives wondering just how trustworthy she was, her introduction feels ominous, and gradually builds until I found myself holding my breath in anticipation. 

This Little Dark Place is a relatively short read at 283 pages, but sometimes the ‘best reads come in small packages’ and this book proves that. Like many psychological thrillers the story is very much character led, so at times the pace is much slower, not that it matters as the author slowly draws you into a well drawn, captivating read. I loved the fact that every time I thought I knew where the story was heading A. S. Hatch misled me at every turn. The author has written an exciting psychological thriller, it’s original in its writing, with an  unreliable narrator and more than enough surprises to keep the most avid psychological thriller lover entertained. Highly recommended by me of course! 

  • Print Length: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent’s Tail; Main edition (10 Sept. 2019)

Buying link:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to Serpent’s Tail and the author for my ARC in exchange for a honest and unbiased review. 

About the author

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A.S. Hatch grew up in Thornton-Cleveleys, a small town near Blackpool. After graduating in 2007 with a degree in journalism he moved to Taipei, Taiwan where he taught English as a foreign language for two years before moving to Melbourne, Australia. Andrew returned to the UK in 2013 and now lives in London where he works in political communications.

He began writing fiction at university. His novel Los Gigantes was shortlisted for the Luke Bitmead Prize in 2013 and his short story Flies was chosen by WyrdBooks Ltd as their short story of the month in October 2012.

Catch up with the blog tour…….

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Morecambe & Vice Crime writing festival Adam Croft in the #Spotlight #BookReview #AuthorInterview @adamcroft @MorecambeVice @BOTBSPublicity

 

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Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for the Morecambe & Vice Crime writing festival which is running from Saturday 28th  until Sunday 29th September, there are some stellar authors attending.  Unfortunately due to the distance it’s not an event I will be attending but it does sound amazing. Adam Croft is one of the author’s appearing at the festival, and as part of the blog tour I have my review For Tell Me I’m Wrong, as well as an interview with the author himself, but first………. 

Here are some details about the event……….

In September 2017, Morecambe & Vice made its sparkling debut at the glorious Morecambe Winter Gardens. Described as a weekend ‘full of warmth, wit and wisdom’, authors, speakers and guests from across the globe flocked to the sunny seaside for a weekend filled with criminal shenanigans.

Now, in 2019 they are back for the third year running! This year the North West’s quirkiest crime-writing festival will be bigger and better than ever before! 

bring me some crime..

This year, the theme for Morecambe & Vice is (rather fittingly!) :

‘Bring Me Sunshine’ 

The festival will be shining a bright positive light on the world of crime fiction, filling our festival with tales of inspiration, overcoming hardships and that warm fuzzy feeling you get when good things happen!

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If you want to learn more about the event, which authors are appearing or book tickets for this event you can find out more here…  https://www.morecambecrimefest.co.uk

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You self-published your 9th book Her Last Tomorrow with great success. What made you decide to move from self publishing at this point to a publisher? 
I didn’t move to a publisher at this point — it was the year after. In short, they offered me a very good sum of money for a book which had already been out for months and had mostly saturated its market, plus they wanted my next book, which I was only half-sure about releasing as I wasn’t massively keen on it. It was a no-brainer for me to take the money and run. As expected, it didn’t work out particularly well and the sales they achieved for the books was far lower than I was doing on my own, so I took back control of my rights and re-published the books under my own imprint.
 
What are the advantages/disadvantages of having a publisher?
In terms of advantages, it’s great for people who aren’t interested in learning how to publish and market effectively and don’t mind giving up 90% of their royalties for the small chance their publisher might give them that support. For anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit and who wants to take advantage of the massive shift in the industry and to have a direct relationship with their readers and the people who carry their books, going indie is ideal.
 
What are the advantages/disadvantages of being self published?
I think this is mostly covered above, as it’s more or less the same question. But the disadvantages would be that it’s a huge amount of work and a steep learning curve. I enjoy that challenge, though, and relish it.
 
What’s your biggest achievement since you began writing?
That’s a really difficult one and I’m going to sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet! I’ve been very fortunate to have multiple worldwide number 1 bestsellers, to hit the USA Today bestseller list twice, to be ranked by Amazon as the most widely-read author in the world for a brief period in 2017 (J.K. Rowling was in second place!) and to be made a Doctor of Arts by the University of Bedfordshire last year — the highest academic award in the UK — in recognition of my ‘services to literature’. The inverted commas are mine, as I’m not entirely sure what I do could be considered ‘literature’ but still, it looks nice framed in my downstairs bathroom.
 
What advice would you give to other indie authors?
Get going, keep going, carry on.
 
Quick five questions
Favourite drink?
Beer or red wine, depending on my mood and whether we’re talking evening meal or breakfast.
Favourite book? 
I get asked this a lot and it’s impossible to pick one, but I tend to plump for To Kill A Mockingbird because it makes me sound intelligent.
Favourite film? 
I’m not a great film watcher, but I like anything that makes me think long after I’ve watched or read it. A rather bizarre film called Swimming Pool (I think) did that a few years back. It’s not exactly a blockbuster, but it still makes me think about it years on.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
I’m definitely a plotter, but I give myself the freedom to pants it if I need to. I find it vital to have some form of structure or skeleton, otherwise it’s pure anarchy.
Describe yourself in five words? 
Far too old for this.

Tell Me I’m Wrong by Adam Croft

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What if you discovered your husband was a serial killer?

Megan Miller is an ordinary woman with a young family — until a shocking discovery shatters her perfect world.

When two young boys are brutally murdered in their tight-knit village community, Megan slowly begins to realise the signs all point to the lovable local primary school teacher — her husband.

But when she begins to delve deeper into her husband’s secret life, she makes discoveries that will make her question everything she knows — and make her fear for her young daughter’s life.

Facing an impossible decision, she is desperate to uncover the truth. But once you know something, it can’t be unknown. And the more she learns, the more she wishes she never knew anything at all…

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There is nothing more satisfying than picking up a book that misleads the reader, one that constantly has you questioning each characters narrative, and Tell Me I’m Wrong by Adam Croft does exactly that! With an array of psychological thrillers on the market and one of my most read genres I find it difficult to find a book that stands out from the crowd. For me a psychological thriller has to mess with my head, keep me gripped and most importantly hit me with that “OMG I never saw that coming” moment and yes this book managed to do just that!

Like most psychological thriller Tell Me I’m wrong could not be considered to be fast paced, but like any really good psychological thriller the author builds on the suspense and mystery the whole time leading the “reader down the rabbit hole” into the world of Megan and Chris, where nothing is as it seems. On the surface Megan and Chris seem to be a “perfectly normal couple”, when two young boys are brutally murdered in their tight-knit village community, Megan slowly begins to realise the signs all point to the lovable local primary school teacher, her husband, Chris.

Fuelled by lies and mistrust the story is told in alternating chapters from the POV of Megan and Chris. As I got to the 60% I can honestly say I had no idea where this book was heading, yes I had numerous theories but I found myself so caught up in where the author was leading me I really couldn’t turn the pages of my kindle fast enough. The sense of foreboding radiates from the pages of this well told tale, at times I find myself holding my breath as the tension and mistrust between Megan and Chris grew.

Adam Croft certainly surprised me with a couple of those “OMG I never saw that coming” moments, so I applaud the author for being so devious. Well written, this is a book that I will definitely be recommending to anyone who loves a gripping psychological thriller with some very devious plot twists. Tell Me I’m Wrong is the first book I’ve read by Adam Croft but it certainly won’t be my last!

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

Paperback: 274 pages

Publisher: Circlehouse (18 Jan. 2018)

My thanks to author Adam Croft for my ARC in exchanged for an unbiased review, and for taking the time to answer my questions.

My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Book On The Bright Side Publicity for giving me the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.

Follow the blog tour for author interviews and reviews…….

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Gone by Leona Deakin #BookReview #Gone @LeonaDeakin1 @HJ_Barnes @PenguinUKBooks #MustReads

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Gone, a debut Psychological  thriller from Leona Deakin.

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Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.

DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear? 

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I was sent a card in the post wishing me a “happy first birthday’ which immediately had me intrigued, but then reading the greeting inside YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.DARE TO PLAY? I must admit intrigue turned to excitement, like a fool I’m always the first to volunteer for a ‘dare’ but as they normally end in tears, I had my reservations about this one! That’s not the case for the four missing strangers in Gone by Leona Deakin, they jump in feet first with no thought of the consequences of playing a game they know nothing about! Despite my initial reservations Gone turned out to be a dark, psychological thriller, with lashings of intrigue and suspense.   

I must admit to begin with I wasn’t certain that Gone was a book I would enjoy as there are two simultaneous stories that run alongside each other, the first focuses on the missing persons, the other on a disturbed child called Seraphine. There are also several characters that are introduced to the reader fairly early on in the book, but once I had them sorted in my head, I found it a difficult book to put down as curiosity got the better of me. This isn’t your ‘typical’ missing person case, no one’s  been kidnapped or taken against their will, in fact the people who have disappeared seem to have gone voluntarily, leaving behind families, friends and family, without a backward glance. Why? How are they connected? How are they singled out? Are they victims or are they something far more sinister? What are the rules of the sick, twisted game? Are all questions Dr. Augusta Bloom a Psychologist who frequently works with the police and Marcus Jameson who worked for MI6 are intent on finding the answers too. 

I did feel the author barely scratched the surface of the main protagonists characters, but to be honest it didn’t matter one iota as my interest very much lay with the missing people and their story’s. Although in main the story is a hunt for the missing people, I found the most intriguing part revolved around the people who were invited to play.  It came as no surprise to find out the author is a psychologist, her knowledge shines through as she explains the psychological aspects of the game, and gets inside the heads of those playing. These are the characters I found this most intriguing, the most disturbing, and yet the most fascinating. 

With an imaginative plot and a fascinating psychologist-cum-private detective Gone made a refreshing change from most books in the genre, and although some may not enjoy the slower pace of this book, I would urge you to give it a go especially if you enjoy books featuring psychopaths that involve profiling (I found these bits a fascinating read). Although I guessed the ‘twist’ by the halfway mark, I still enjoyed how the author brought all the threads together.  A word of advice to those who fill out those inconsequential social media questionaries, Gone will definitely make you think twice about filling them out in the future, however harmless they may seem! Despite the slow start Gone turns into an accomplished first novel, and I’m looking forward to reading further books by Leona Deakin. 

  • Print Length: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (9 Aug. 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to Penguin publishing for my Arc of a Gone in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone @MichaelJMalone @OrendaBooks #BookReview #MustReads #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for In The Absence Of Miracles by M J Malone, a potential contender for my book of the year read on for my thoughts…

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A young man discovers a family secret that turns his world upside down in this dark, emotive, shocking psychological thriller by number-one bestselling author Michael J. Malone

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

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There are books that are shocking and twisted, and then there’s In The Absence Of Miracles by Michael Malone! Shocking, doesn’t even come close to describing this remarkable book. This isn’t a book I feel fits into one particular genre, it’s part domestic noir, suspense, and crime thriller all rolled into one to create one of the most compelling, powerful and emotive reads I’ve had the pleasure to come across in the last few years.  This book reminds me of one of the author’s earlier books A Suitable Lie   that still remains one of my favourite reads. In The Absence Of Miracles is the heartbreaking story of one dysfunctional family, it’s a story that pulls no punches and one that will rip your heart out.

John Docherty’s mother suffered a massive stroke and is now receiving around the clock care in a nursing home. It’s left to John to clear the family home, buried among boxes he finds evidence that he has a brother, John has no memory of the brother and what follows is the story of John’s journey to discovering the truth. The truth will cause John heartbreak, pain, bewilderment and shame, as repressed memories from his childhood begin to emerge, he finds the truth is far more shocking than anything he could ever had imagined. Each page of this book crackles with emotion, it’s intense, dark, gritty and yet hidden amongst the pages are the fragile threads of hope.  

The author has showed great sensitivity and understanding and in creating an all too believable character, John Docherty is one of those rare characters who consumed my every waking moment, he’s a man in turmoil, determined to self destruct, he’s  a man drowning in guilt, resentment and disgust. His story will grab at your heart and squeeze it so tight it might just explode. The author has created such an incredible character it’s impossible not to become consumed by his story, add to that the author’s extraordinary prose which describe John’s emotions perfectly I found my heart shattering into a million tiny pieces. I’m sure I felt every emotion John felt whilst reading this book. As John’s repressed memories began to surface and you see a man teetering on the brink, I wanted to tell him ‘everything would be alright’ but because of the nature of the book I wasn’t convinced there could be a ‘happy ending’.

I think the author has taken a brave decision, in writing a book that explores a taboo subject matter, that’s seldom discussed so fixed is the stigma attached to this subject. In some author’s hands this would have just made for a shocking read, but Malone strikes the right balance and has produced a masterpiece, it’s subtle, sensitivity written, wrought with emotion and has to be one of my most captivating, heartbreaking reads EVER! Michael Malone is one of those rare author who appears to be able to write in any genre and turn what could be an interesting read, into something extra special, definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time to come. In The Absence Of Miracles is certainly a contender for my book of the year and one I will be recommending to anybody and everybody

  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (19 July 2019)

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

And yes in case you hadn’t already guessed I’m giving In The Absence Of Miracles my shiny Book hangover award, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for giving me the opportunity to read this fabulous book. I received this ARC in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.

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Torment by Mark Tilbury #BookReview #Torment #BlogTour @MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the Torment by Mark Tilbury blog tour. Torment is a stand-alone Psychological thriller published by Bloodhound Books.

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Who can you really trust?

Beth Cruikshank couldn’t be happier. She is eight weeks pregnant and married to the man of her dreams. But after returning home from a celebratory meal, she finds a wreath from her sister’s grave hanging above the bed and a kitchen knife embedded in her pillow. There are no signs of a forced entry. Nothing is stolen. And no one other than the cleaner has a key to the house. 

And then a campaign of terror begins. Beth becomes increasingly paranoid as it becomes clear that someone close to the family is behind these disturbing events. 

But who would want Beth dead?

Can Beth find the answer before it’s too late?

Torment is a story of misplaced loyalty, revenge and sacrifice.

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When I pick up a book by Mark Tilbury I’m never certain what to expect, and that’s why I love this author’s books I always think ‘expect the unexpected’ and the author normally delivers. Torment is the author’s latest stand-alone psychological thriller, it’s not as dark or gritty as some of his previous books but it still made for a heart stopping read. 

When someone wants you dead is there anywhere to hide? For Beth Cruikshank it appears not, unless she moved to a desert Island, but then where would be the fun In that? It appears eight week pregnant Beth has a stalker, an unbalanced one at that! First she finds a wreath from her sister’s grave hanging above the bed and a kitchen knife lodged in her pillow (enough to freak out even the most fearless amongst us) but that’s just the start. So begins a campaign of terror, that will push Beth to the edge, its obvious someone wants Beth dead, but to the who? and why? you will just have to read Torment to find out.  

Mark Tilbury is a master in creating the most loathsome characters, their complex, calculated, and unlikable, they are the type of characters that make your skin crawl, their auras are surrounded by malevolence.  Beth’s stalker is such a character and although you have no idea who it is, it’s obvious they are one sick and troubled individual. You can’t help but have some sympathy for Beth’s predicament, and sense her growing panic and fear, as the stalkers psychological torment towards Beth escalates the sense of foreboding increases. Mark Tilbury keeps the reader engaged throughout as you are never sure what the stalker has planned next for poor Beth. 

I have to admit I guessed the offender, and worked out the ‘why’ quite early on in the book, but I must apologise to the author as I thought he had gone for a much-used plot that’s been done to death (no pun intended). I really thought that meant the book would hold no surprises for me, but guess what? The author still managed to combine an element of surprise, with a deliciously deceptive twist in its tail. 

Torment is the type of book where paranoia flourishes, each character raises suspicion, which added tension to the overall plot. I read a lot of psychological thrillers, plenty can produce the suspense but very few give the element of surprise that I crave in a book of this genre, but Mark Tilbury managed to accomplish both. For me personally I enjoyed the second half of the book the most, it’s here the author’s vivid imagination really comes into play. I read Torment literally in two sittings (always a sign of a good read) so absorbed was I in this tale of escalating terror. Highly recommended to those who enjoy a fast-paced narrative with a good deal of tension.

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Bloodhound Books (29 July 2019)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

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Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have had six novels published by Bloodhound Books, including his most recent release, You Belong To Me.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar, and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

Social Media Links:

Author website: http://www.marktilbury.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Tilbury/e/B00X7R10I4/

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/marktilburyauthor/

Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/MTilburyAuthor@MTilburyAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marktilburyauthor/@marktilburyauthor

My thanks to the author and Bloodhound books for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

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THE JULY GIRLS BY PHOEBE LOCKE @PHOEBE_LOCKE @WILDFIREBKS #REVIEW #TheJulyGirls #SummerMustReads #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The July Girls by Phoebe Locke, I have a feeling this book is going to be one of this summers top reads. You can read on for my thoughts……….

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Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost. 

Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.

Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives . . .

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I’m not going to beat about the bush here, I absolutely loved The July Girls by Phoebe Locke, this is the first book I’ve read by the author, although I have since bought her debut novel The Tall Man. If from the book description you thought this was a run of the mill ‘serial killer thriller’ you couldn’t be more wrong. This book has so much more to offer the crime thriller lover, it’s a book that’s superbly written, an extraordinary and highly original tale, told through the eyes of a brilliantly drawn character, ten-year-old Addie.

Set in London, The July Girls tells the story of two sisters, Jessie and Addie, whose lives become unintentionally entangled with a serial killer. Every year, on the 7th of July, a young girl is snatched from the streets of London by the killer, leaving behind no clues or forensic evidence. The story begins with The devastating event of 07/07 terrorist attacks, for many, lives will never be the same, and unfortunately for Jessica and Addie so begins their worse nightmare, as on the same night their dad comes home covered in blood and when they find items in their home belonging to a missing woman believed to one of the victims of the ‘Magpie’ killer. Addie’s sense of confusion, distress and loss are palatable throughout The July Girls, making for a disquieting read.

The reason I enjoyed this book is very much down to the innocent narrative of Addie, which compliments the sinister undertone that runs through the book’s pages.  The relationship between the two sisters is superbly depicted, by the author it’s impossible not to become involved in the lives of her characters. Jessica is thrown into the position of surrogate mother, she adores Addie and will do anything to protect her, even if that means lying to hide the shocking truths hidden beneath the surface of their dysfunctional family. You can’t help but admire Addie from a young age through to her teens she retains Addies her integrity, her sense of ‘right from wrong’ even though this will cause her stress and upset. Addie is a troubled ten-year-old, there are things she has seen that she can’t forget, they keep her awake at night, they are things that niggle at her conscious and force her to question the very person who she should be able to trust, her own father. Is everything at it seems? or does Addie have a over active imagination like many a ten-year-old? I’m not saying as you really need to read the book to find out! 

Phoebe Locke shows that you don’t need to write graphic crime scenes to capture the reader’s imagination, it’s a disturbing story but subtle, leaving the reader to summon up their own vivid scenarios! Although I wouldn’t consider this to be a fast paced read, the beauty of The July Girls is the author’s incredible ability to build on the tension and suspense, whilst giving the reader an incredible insight into the life of her characters. The author takes familiar subjects such as family dynamics, relationships and turns them into a compelling, extraordinary read, and one that’s impossible to put down even for a few minutes. I’m still not sure I have conveyed just how good this book is, but it’s definitely one of my top read this summer. So on that note if you only buy one book this summer, you should definitely consider The July Girls,  it’s a book I will be happily  recommending to anyone and everyone.

And yes I’m giving The July Girls my shiny Book hangover award, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wildfire (27 Jun. 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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