**Blog Tour** The House by Simon Lelic @PenguinUKBooks #BookReview

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Today I am delighted to be hosting The House blog tour. The House is written by Simon Lelic and will be published by Viking Books in paperback on 3rd November 2017. If you can’t wait until then, the eBook version is available now.

 

Book description

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

My review

Moving into your dream home should be the happiest of times right? Wrong!, take Jack and Syd ,their dream home turns into there worse nightmare. This is going to be one of those reviews that may seem vague but in truth it’s a difficult book to review without giving away major spoilers. The one thing I will say is the book description very much leads the reader in the wrong direction, of course the house is pinnacle to the plot, but this novel has far much more to offer. Although the descriptions of the house provide the reader with a creepy and atmospheric setting, it’s the undertone of malevolence that made this novel such a compelling and disturbing read.

The story is narrated in the alternating perspectives of Syd and Jack, the author chooses to narrate The House in a very distinctive style concentrating on the perspectives of Jack and Syd told in the style of a journal. To begin with I found this style of writing difficult to follow at first it appears to be a hotchpotch of memories, thoughts and events. As I got use to the style of writing I found it was actually a very effective ploy as we learn about the backgrounds and personalities of the couple, as well as the progressively mysterious and creepy events that start to take place in their home. It’s only when you reach the second half of the book you realise just how cleverly Simon Lelic has misdirected the reader.

The House has a very gothic feel to it which certainly puts the reader on edge, the sounds, the smells and the secrets hidden within the house add to the anxiety I felt as a reader. I would never have guessed where this novel was heading as the author always manages to keep one step ahead, which I find always heightens my enjoyment of a book. I do love the unexpected and this book certainly has plenty of those “OMG” moments, there were so many twist and turns my head was spinning. This is the first book I have read by Simon Lelic and I’m impressed, The House is complex, creepy full of surprises and definitely a book I would recommend if you like a twisted thriller.

Print Length: 342 pages

Publisher: Penguin (17 Aug. 2017)

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

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I was born in Brighton in 1976 and, after a decade or so living in London and trying to convince myself that the tube was fine, really, because it gave me a chance to read, my wife and I moved back to Brighton with our three young children. That Barnaby, Joseph and Anja’s grandparents happened to live close enough by to be able to offer their babysitting services was, of course, entirely coincidental.

As well as writing, I run an import/export business. I say this, when people ask, with a wink but I fool no one: I am more Del Trotter than Howard Marks. My hobbies (when I have time for them) include reading (for which I make time, because I can just about get away with claiming this is also work), golf, tennis, snowboarding and karate. My weekends belong to my family (or so my wife tells me), as does my heart.

I studied history at the University of Exeter. After graduating I was qualified, I discovered . . . to do an MA. After that I figured I had better learn something useful, so took a post-grad course in journalism. I know, I know: so much for learning something useful. After working freelance and then in business-to-business publishing, I now write novels. Not useful either, necessarily, but fun and, in its own way, important.

Links to the author: Website     Twitter

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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/

 

**Blog Tour** Unforgivable by Mike Thomas #Review & #GuestPost @ItDaFiveOh @BonnierZaffre

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Today I’m thrilled to be the next stop on the Unforgivable by Mike Thomas blog tour. Not only do I get to share my review for this thrilling book, but I also have a fabulous guest post from the author about the places that inspired the locations in Unforgivable. Interestingly enough my son and his wife had their wedding photographs taken in Roath Park one of the settings the author mentions.

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My Cardiff: the places that inspired locations in ‘Unforgivable’

It’s safe to say I know Cardiff like the back of my hand.
The nice regions and the dodgy areas, the best route to take to avoid rush hour traffic, the lanes and parks and alleys where gangs from rival estates used to meet for a rumble on a Friday night (Birdies Lane, if you must know). Where you can get stolen electrical equipment for a very low price. Where you can get a good kicking just for walking into the wrong pub.

I worked the city for twenty years, first as a uniformed officer then with stints on CID before moving on to drugs teams and other plain clothes work where I’d follow heroin dealers to Bristol and not see my own bed for three days. Finally – when my first novel was published and I knew I was on my way out of The Job and the hierarchy didn’t really know what to do with me – I found myself in the Operations Room working as an – haha – Intelligence Officer.

If you want a guided tour – warts and all – of the Welsh capital, I’m your man. And that knowledge was one of the reasons I decided to set the MacReady novels in the city. Also, London has its fair share of fictional cops and I felt Cardiff, bar a few novels, wasn’t really getting a look in. I wanted to redress the balance a little.
So what are the locations that appear in ‘Unforgivable’?

St. David’s – huge, sprawling and full of Shiny Things You Will Want, this shopping centre – or mall, if you must – has grown and been added to and modified extensively over the decades, and has become a colossal ode to commerce. Everything you want – and quite a lot you don’t – can be found under its roofs, and its food court is where things take a sudden, nasty turn in the book. I used to work here as a late-teenager at John Menzies (remember those stores?) where I would lump myself behind the counter of the music section, rolling my eyes at customers’ terrible purchases – Duran Duran, heaven forfend! – and making sure Depeche Mode’s output was at the forefront of every display. They are the greatest band in the world, after all.

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Fairwater – tucked just west of the city centre is this sprawling, leafy suburb where MacReady and the team carry out a property search after they’ve arrested their bad guy. In real life I worked in the building adjacent to the police station – that aforementioned Intel Officer role – until I quit for good. A busy ‘nick’, Fairwater Police Station is also uglier than ugly, and I describe it in the novel as ‘a mixed orange-brick and prefab square lump that resembled a hideous layer cake, and which MacReady assumed had cut the value of the surrounding properties by at least half when it was built.’ This is entirely correct and I refuse to describe it otherwise. So there.

Park Place – when I were a lad, and when Cardiff’ had pretty limited places to go of an evening, Park Place just off the main pedestrianised shopping drag was the epicentre of all the fun for a few good years. ‘Brannigans’ bar (now ‘Jongleurs’ comedy club), and around the corner the superclub ‘Zeus’ attracted thousands of punters from all around South Wales, where we revelled in this new-fangled tunesmithery of ‘Britpop’ (and, of course, ‘Cool Cymru’). ‘Zeus’ is replicated in ‘Unforgivable’ for an important scene, and it was lovely to dredge up all those memories. Apart from the time I accidentally set fire to a girl’s leggings while I was trying to impress her with my cigarette lighter-wielding skills. Turns out polyester is really flammable. Who knew?

City Hall – the heart of the capital’s bureaucratic and judicial area, a place of ornate gardens and Portland Stone edifices and the imposing Crown Court, and a prime choice for weddings and University graduation ceremonies. It’s also the scene of several foot chases in my career, one of which ended up with me falling in a very nice pond. My protagonist, MacReady, has a similar chase at one point in ‘Unforgivable’ but manages to avoid the watery mishap…

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Roath Park – locally famous, this pretty sliver of water and greenery just north of the city centre has a boating lake, clock tower, enormo-conservatory and ornamental gardens, and is something of a rite of passage for children who descend here en masse in school holidays to slide down its notoriously bumpy slide and get chased by irate swans. It features briefly in ‘Unforgivable’ during a vehicle pursuit. It is also where, as a five year old bored of her whining, I threw my infant sister into the water while we were out in a rowing boat. Fun times!

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The UHW – the University Hospital of Wales, or ‘The Heath’ to Cardiffians. As a copper you spend an inordinate amount of time in hospitals – sitting with injured prisoners, dealing with sudden deaths, removing brawling drunks from A&E – and the UHW was my home from home at certain points in my career. MacReady and his colleagues have to deal with the terrible aftermath of the bombings at the market and mosque in The Heath – but it is a nameless, injured young woman who leads him to discover there is more going on in the city than the police first realised. Woo, excitement!

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Book description

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

IMG_2357 I didn’t realise Unforgettable was the second book in the MacReady series, if I’m honest I’m not one for jumping ahead in a series as I fear I might have missed something, and although it’s obvious that DC Will MacReady has issues that pertain to the previous book I still think Unforgettable made for an extremely gripping standalone. It’s pretty standard to have a detective in a crime thriller with issues and MacReady is no different, his personal life is one huge disaster but I still found him to be an interesting character. The commaradie amongst his fellow work colleagues added just the right amount of “gallows” humour to add.

Unforgettable begins with a “bang” literally when a bomb detonated in a busy Souk in the middle of Cardiff causes massive devastation as you can well imagine. We only have to pick up a newspaper or turn on the news to see events like this are very sadly part of our times, so the opening chapters were terrifyingly credible and shocking. What at first appears to be a racially motivated attack soon becomes something much more complex and Unforgettable made for a gritty fast paced read.

There are numerous strands to Unforgettable the bombings, a vicious knife attack, a group of Asians on trial for the vicious assault and murder of a young white male, all these events appear to be unrelated but are they? Well here’s where the author deftly leads the reader through the police investigation, revealing clues and red herrings aplenty.

Mike Thomas own career as a policeman adds authenticity to Unforgettable, the investigation, the dynamics within the team all give the reader insight into the workers of an investigation. You can help but feel the same frustrations that MacReady and his team have to endure on a daily basis. Fast paced and fraught with tension I found Unforgivable to be a “white knuckle” read, covering a very frighteningly credible topic. Action packed and filled with intrigue Unforgivable combines police procedure with a powerful and thrilling plot making for a throughly gripping read.

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧Print Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Zaffre (27 July 2017)

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Mike Thomas was born in 1971 in the Welsh town of Caerphilly, famed for being the birthplace of comedian Tommy Cooper, its ‘deliciously’ salty cheese, and its castle with a tower which allegedly leans at a sharper angle than the more celebrated one in Pisa.

His teenage years were spent breakdancing, spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks and just about staying on the right side of the law, until his early twenties when, inexplicably, he joined the local constabulary and began locking people up for spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks.

“…inexplicably, he joined the local constabulary and began locking people up for spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks…”

While working as a plod in Wales’ capital city of Cardiff, Thomas continued with his childhood passion: writing. As a freelance he produced articles for local newspapers, various websites and national travel magazines, while in 2007 he was one of the winners in the annual Rhys Davies Short Story Competition organised by Literature Wales. After completing a Master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Wales between 2007 and 2009, Thomas published his debut novel, Pocket Notebook, in 2010 with William Heinemann/Penguin Random House.

The author was on the prestigious list of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for that year, while Pocket Notebook was longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year and optioned for television by Carnival Films, the producers of Downton Abbey. His second novel, Ugly Bus, was released by Heinemann in 2014 and is currently in development as a six part television series with the BBC. Both novels deal with the uglier side of policing.

“…He currently lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and children…”

Thomas left the police in the spring of 2015 and grew his hair and a pathetic attempt at a beard. He currently lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and children. Alongside chopping wood, cementing crumbling house walls and trying to find somewhere that sells his beloved Marmite, he continues to write articles and web pieces for a variety of sites and publications, and is contracted to London’s Bonnier Publishing for three new novels, the first of which – Ash and Bones – was released August 2016. The second in the series, Unforgivable, is due for publication in the summer of 2017.

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Links to author: Website Twitter Facebook

Follow the Unforgivable blog tour ………..

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Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel #Bookreview @HALeuschel

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Book description

Five stories – Five Lives.

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

There are five short stories:
The Narcissist
Tess and Tattoos
The Spell
Runaway Girl
My Perfect Child

img_1258Manipulated Lives is a very different read to my usual crime/thriller reads but never the less I was intrigued by the book description. Here’s the thing after spending years working in mental health I’ve always been intrigued by the human psyche and behaviour so the concept for Manipulated Lies fascinated me . What makes someone become a manipulator and more importantly how does someone find themselves caught up and damaged by a Manipulative individual?

In this collection of five short stories we meet the masters of manipulators, we also meet the victims ordinary people trying to lead normal life’s, there’s no specific gender, (although interestingly a high percentage of men are classed as manipulators) or age group, or characteristics that sets these victims apart. It literally could happen to anyone.

The five stories are all very different, each one gives a troubling insight into the workings of a manipulator, their ability to lack compassion and the devastating impact their behaviour has on their victims. Although each story is fairly short they certainly don’t lack depth, each one will stay with me for very different reasons. The Characters were an intriguing bunch and they were really well developed which took my by surprise as sometimes a short story doesn’t  give the author time to develop the characters.

The story that stands out for me is the third in the book The Spell, it features Sophie who unwittingly becomes entangled in the lives of a young boy and his father, both running from something or someone…it shows how a perfectly normal relationship between a couple can turn into something much darker and sinister. I’m not sure where or how but H A Leuschel manages to give such an incredible insight into the subject of manipulative behaviour, I couldn’t help but wonder was she writing from experience or has she researched the subject throughly?

Each story very much highlight the fact that anyone has the ability to be a manipulator, just like everyone has the potential to become a victim so Manipulative Lies not only made for a disconcerting read but a thought provoking one too. I’m not sure this book gave me all the answers I was looking for, but it certainly gave me a better understanding of the subject and made for a very compelling read.

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (28 Jun. 2016)

 

#Giveaway The Friend by Dorothy Koomson

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Today I have a very special Giveaway I’m offering one lucky reader the chance to win a hardback copy of The Friend by Dorothy Koomson and a very special letter from the author herself written on seeded paper, you basically put the paper in compost, water it and watch the seeds from the paper grow into a bunch of flowers 🌸🌼🌻💐how brilliant is that? Before  I give you details on how to enter here’s the book description for you

Book description

What secret would you kill to keep?
After her husband’s big promotion, Cece Solarin arrives in Brighton with their three children, ready to start afresh. But their new neighbourhood has a deadly secret. Three weeks earlier, Yvonne, a very popular parent, was almost murdered in the grounds of the local school – the same school where Cece has unwittingly enrolled her children.
Already anxious about making friends when the parents seem so cliquey, Cece is now also worried about her children’s safety. By chance she meets Maxie, Anaya and Hazel, three very different school mothers who make her feel welcome and reassure her about her new life. That is until Cece discovers the police believe one of her new friends tried to kill Yvonne. Reluctant to spy on her friends but determined to discover the truth, Cece must uncover the potential murderer before they strike again . . .

Hardcover: 480 pages

Publisher: Century (1 Jun. 2017)

Link to buy: Amazon UK 🇬🇧
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Unfortunately this competition is open to UK residents only due to postage costs. The winner of this giveaway will be notified within 24 hours of competition ending. Competition ends midnight 29th June 2017 

Enter to win a beautifully wrapped hardback copy of The Friend and the seeded paper here………. http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/86b4d40512/?

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My thanks to the publishers Century and Dorothy Koomson for sending me this fabulous #Giveaway

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne #BookReview @KarenDionne

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Book description

‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

img_1258What a year 2017 is turning out to be, there have been some truly outstanding thrillers published this year and I was convinced I had read the best in this genre and then along came The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne. Oh my oh my what a book, this one is definitely going to be one of the top books of summer 2017 and it’s one that’s immediately gone on my top reads of 2017.

Helena had the best time and the most horrifying time growing up, daughter of a child abductor she spent the first twelve years of her life in captivity, raised to be a hunter everything her father teaches her has a disturbing purpose. Fast forward a few years and Helena is married with children living a fairly normal life, that is until her father the aptly named Marsh King escapes from prison and what follows is a heart pounding and throughly compelling read.

From the opening chapter the author grabbed my attention, this novel is beautifully written with breath taking descriptions of the marsh lands, a place that despite the wilderness felt claustrophobic. Poor Helena what a wonderful and complex character she is, The Marsh King is not purely a figure of evil, to Helene he’s a father, the man who taught her to fish and to hunt, but there is always an undertone of darkness and something very sinister about The Marsh King’s parental skills. The story alternates between the present as Helena hunts for her escaped father, and the past when they lived alone in the marshlands. The author moves deftly between the two time lines and I found myself equally fascinated by both.

Each chapter starts with a part of the The Marsh King’s Daughter fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson, as we all know some of the best fairy tales are also the scariest and as the story relates to Helena’s own life it adds to the overwhelming sense of foreboding that radiates from the pages of this novel.
Expertly plotted and wonderfully written this novel made for haunting and compelling read, it’s one of those books that just begs to be read in one satisfying sitting. This is one book I will be recommending to anyone and everybody.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to hear I’m giving The Marsh King’s Daughter the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a good read, fantastic 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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Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 322 pages

Publisher: Sphere (13 Jun. 2017)

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**Blog Tour** Exquisite by Sarah Stovell @Orendabooks @Sarahlovescrime #BookReview

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Today I’m absolutely thrilled to be on the blog tour for Exquisite by Sarah Stovall which is published by one of my favourite publisher on the planet Orenda Books. I seem to have been waiting forever to share my review of this throughly gripping novel which I read a few months back. My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books and Anne Cater for allowing me to be part of this awesome book blog tour.

Book description

Bo Luxton has it all—a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops. Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page

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Oh my goodness I’ve thought long and hard about my review for this book and I’m not convinced I can do this book justice, it’s just one of those books that takes your breath away, it’s such an unique psychological thriller that I’m positive this book will haunt me for weeks to come. After I read Exquisite by Sarah Stovell I looked up the definition Exquisite: of special beauty or charm, or rare and appealing excellence, as a face, a flower, colouring, music, or poetry, or in this case a book because the definition actually sums up this book perfectly, beautifully written, superb characterisation, twisted but compelling, without a shadow of doubt this book has gone straight onto my top reads of 2017.

Bo Luxton is a successful mature author, married with a two young daughters and appears to have the perfect life. Alice Dark is a young aspiring writer who is the polar opposite to Bo she’s young, with no direction and her life appears to be a mess. When the two women meet on a Creative Writing course a sinister relationship develops between the pair. As the plot develops It soon becomes apparent that both characters are very troubled souls, what follows is one of the most perfectly twisted and intense books I’ve read in a long time.

Exquisite is the perfect example of a psychological thriller, the author deftly draws the reader in, but throughout you are trying to work out which of the two characters are the more reliable narrator and even when I had finished this book, I still wasn’t sure who was telling the truth, but it certainly made for a gripping read. This book is very much character led and the author has done a superb job, so much so the characters come to life, they may not be the most likeable characters I’ve come across but I won’t be forgetting either of them in a hurry that’s for sure.

Throughout the book there is an undercurrent of rage, manipulation and madness which add layer upon layer of trepidation, you just can’t help wondering where the plot is heading, leaving the reader with a constant sense of foreboding. There is no doubt in my mind that Sarah Stovell has written a very accomplished psychological thriller its deliciously dark, highly addictive and it’s definitely one of those books you will struggle to put down.

Links to buy:      Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell was published by Orenda Books in paperback on 15 June 2017.

About the author

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Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

 

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