Blog Tour Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

Today I am part of the blog tour for Exquisite by Sarah Stovell, published by the wonderful Orenda Books, along with my counterpart Being Anne whose review you can check out here. Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this epic blog tour!

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Blurb:

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?

We are first introduced to Bo Luxton, a successful writer who is runs a writing course, is married to Gus, twenty-two years her senior with two daughters and lives in a beautiful house in the Lake District.

Alice Dark’s life seems to be at a standstill; she lives in a squalid bedsit in Brighton with a loser of a boyfriend who seems to drink and take drugs and works for cash in hand – she wants more from life.

When the two women meet at the writers retreat Bo is organising, they hit it off and end up staying in touch via email once the retreat is over. As their kinship develops and Bo invites Alice to stay with her a sinister relationship develops.

The novel is told from both women point of view, sometimes via email or telephone along with a characters view point from prison which immediately tells the reader that something bad will happen.

I adored the beautiful imagery and language the authors uses throughout this novel to draw the reader in and sets up a claustrophobic atmosphere which made the action even more chilling.

The author weaves an intricate plot with a brilliant ending I didn’t see coming and does a superb job of creating two such disturbing characters – even now I’m unsure who was telling the truth – or are they both liars?

This is a novel full of tension, toxic passion, breathless pace and disturbing characters – I loved it and cannot recommend this book enough! This is a psychological thriller at the top of its game.

Big thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour and for my ARC.

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.

This novel is out now and can be purchased on Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

To find out more about Sarah Stovell follow her on Twitter at @Sarahlovescrime

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Thriller Review: Yesterday by Felicia Yap

When I received a shiny package a couple of weeks ago which contained this novel I couldn’t wait to get started. It’s a novel I’ve heard a lot about and it didn’t disappoint!

Blurb:

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There are two types of people in the world. Those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?

 

Humans are divided into two categories, they are either a mono or a duo.

Monos: Can only remember the day before

Duos: Can not only remember yesterday but the day before as well

When a women turns up dead in the River Cam the police suspect foul play. How can you solve a murder when everyone can only remember what happened yesterday?

I can’t actually describe anymore of this book without giving anything else away. I thought this novel was just CAPTIVATING and I actually read this in two sittings! It is a high-concept dystopian thriller which plays on the memories of the characters and sweeps the reader along on a complex and exciting narrative.

The story is told from the point of view of Hans, the police officer who is investigating  the murder, Mark who is a duo and had been having an affair with the dead woman, his wife Claire who is a mono and Sophia. It is also features many of the characters’ diary entries which I found fascinating.

The author Felicia, does a brilliant job of creating a realistic world where humans have to rely on technology to capture their memories otherwise they will be lost forever. I found the world of the novel refreshing and was so different from other books I’ve read recently it just sucked me in and I can tell you I loved every second of it!

Weirdly, one of my favourite characters was Sophia – a character with a very strange world view and whose thoughts and actions were very catatonic, I just couldn’t wait to read the chapters where I was in her head.

This is a book full of pace, has a number of clever twists and turns and is fraught with emotions. I found this such a refreshing and different read it kept me glued to the page. I also felt the themes of memory loss were explicit and very realistic and made me question how I would cope if this ever happened to me.

I’m not sure which one I would want to be – a mono or a duo, I think they both have their problems. Is it better to know more than others in your society or live in blissful ignorance? What one would you be?

This is one of those novel I would recommend looking out for and would rate this as one of my tops reads so far this year!

I would like to say a massive thank you to Millie Seaward, WildFire Books and Headline Publishers for sending me an advanced review copy.

This novel isn’t out until 10th August but the good news is you can preorder this book from Amazon just click here

Or to preorder this book from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Felicia Yap follow her on Twitter at @FeliciaMYap.

Chiller Review: The One by John Marrs

As today marks the paperback publication of The One by John Marrs (hooray) I thought I would repost my original review. #MatchYourDNA

The Blurb:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

51sLGvpEYQL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_One simple mouth swab is all it takes. One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for. 

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Review:

Oh My – This was such a superb read which had me on the edge of my seat most of the time with all it’s twists and surprises I just didn’t see coming. It is definitely a psychological thriller with a difference.

The One tells the story of five characters who have all taken the Match Your DNA test, but what turns out as a simple DNA swab which millions of other have done previously, quickly turns into something more sinister. Something more shocking than they could ever have imagined.

  • Nick is content with his fiance Sally, or so he thinks, right up until the point she begs him to take the test. But what could possibly go wrong  when he is matched with a straight man?
  • Ellie is a successful businesswoman, closed off from the world but then she is matched. Can she open her heart? And what could go wrong when she does?
  • Jade is matched with a man halfway across the world, but does she have the guts to leave everything behind to meet the love of her life?
  • Mandy is ecstatic when she discovers she has been matched to the man of her dreams, after her past relationships but then she starts looking him up online…
  • Christopher is a psychopath who is so wrapped up in his own project that when he meets his match he is unaware of the effect she will truly have on him.

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I loved how the author superbly weaves each of the character’s story, giving equal weight to each one while ending each chapter with a smallish-cliffhanger, leaving me as the reader needing to read more. It was one of those books where because of the short chapters you could keep reading another and another, although because I did just that one morning it forced me to literally run to work.

It was a book which really built the tension up from the word go with the author trickling surprise after surprise until you thought you couldn’t take anymore, well until the author wacked me with yet another corker of a twist about halfway through – turning the story completely on it’s head.

I just loved every minute of this book which had me literally gasping out loud with the many surprises and twists I couldn’t keep up with! I’m still not sure whose story was the most disturbing which makes it all the better.

This was a novel so full of high drama which made for a fantastic read! I would recommend for all lovers of psychological crime.

Big thanks to Stephenie Naulls and Ebury Publishing for my ARC.

The One is out in paperback today and you can you get your hands on it from Amazon here

Or from Waterstones here.

To find out more about John Marrs follow him on Twitter at @johnmarrs1

I wonder, would you take the test? I’m not quite sure if I would anymore…

Chiller Review: Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister

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Do you ever check your partner’s phone? 
Should you?
Are you prepared for the consequences?

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

Wow! I adored this book and just devoured this.

Rachel (same name as me so what’s not to like ha-ha) has not known Jack that long but she knows he is something special and their relationship is something so bright she can’t begin to describe – she’s even pregnant with his child. But that all changes when one night an email pings onto Jack’s iPad, she didn’t mean to read it. It was an accident. But she can’t undo what she’s just seen, or let it go. As Rachel starts to wonder if Jack has been lying about his past and what he is hiding, she starts noticing small inconsistencies. But as Rachel digs deeper she realises there’s more to his story then he is telling her.

I liked both characters and found them very believable. Even though Rachel’s actions in particular can be somewhat questionable as she seeks to uncover the truth, I could also sympathise with her desperation to know. I also really weirdly liked the character of Jack and could totally understand what led him to do something inexcusable.

This story is told in both the present day and set one year ago which slowly unravels Rachel’s secret, a secret she’s terrified of anyone finding out and I think this is partly why she becomes so obsessed with Jack and his past.

I throughly enjoyed this book and found myself absorbed in Rachel’s and Jack’s world. I especially loved setting of Oban in Scotland was particularly creepy and isolated which created tension and kept me as the reader on my toes.

What I also loved about this book is that the author isn’t afraid to cross into uncomfortable territory and plays on the characters dark secrets to create a compelling story.

The heart of this story is about love and relationships and the depths people would go to uncover the truth. I think what really makes this novel is the ending, it really ties up the story of Rachel and Jack and in a way I wasn’t expecting.

I think this is another fabulous debut Domestic Noir novel which has a heart-breaking romance at the centre of the story but isn’t afraid to take a dark turn. I would definitely recommend this novel for anyone who likes a great psychological thriller.

I will be keeping an eye out for future novels by this author!

I would like to say a big thanks to Michael Joseph, part of Penguin Random House UK for my advanced review copy.

This novel is out now and can be purchased through Amazon here

Or Waterstones here

To find out more about Gillian McAllister follow her on Twitter at @GillianMAuthor.

Blog Tour: Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent

To kick off the New Year I am excited to be hosting the next stop on Liz Nugent’s Lying In Wait blog tour.

So, as part of the tour I have a fab Q&A with Liz, the author, along with my review.

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Welcome to the CKT blog, Liz.

To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your novel, Lying in Wait and what inspired the idea for this novel?

Lying in Wait details the story of the murder of a young woman in 1980 and the consequences for the family of the murderer as well as the family of the victim. At the centre of the story is a monumentally disturbed and obsessive maternal character, Lydia.

A man once told me that he strongly suspected his father had murdered a prostitute. He had no evidence or no way of proving it. He never had the courage to challenge his father and went to his grave wondering. He told me this story about 25 years ago and he is long dead now. I always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a house where you suspect your father is a murderer.

Lying in Wait is told from the view point of three different characters. My favourite character to read was Lydia’s view point as she was such an interesting and toxic character, but who was your favourite view-point character to write and why?

I really enjoyed writing Lydia because she says and thinks the most outrageous things and I find snobbery hilarious. But the challenge for me was to keep her real so that she is not a cartoon villain, so I had to explore her past to explain her current psychosis, but you know, when you are writing a character, you have to ‘become’ them a little so you do actually grow to like them no matter how monstrous they are.

I identified with Laurence the most because he is a coward like me who will do anything to avoid confrontation. Karen is the most decent character. She just wants the truth and is extremely tenacious about getting it.

Your novel features a number of time points, starting with 1980, and is full of many twists and turns which I loved! How did you keep track of everything that was going on? Did you plot the story out first or just dived right in? Or a mixture of the two?

I always start off with a half-baked notion but then I find tangents that lead me down more interesting paths as I go. I literally make it up as I go along. I do however, often start at the middle or the end and work my way backwards or forwards from there. Keeping track of things is difficult. It is like when you were a teenager and you lied to your mum about where you were going, but you have to remember the lie and remember all of the details of who knows what. It’s that multiplied by a thousand. Luckily, I lied to my mother A LOT when I was a teenager so I got a lot of practise!

Lying in Wait is actually your second novel. How did you find writing a novel the second time round after the success of your first one, Unravelling Oliver? Did you feel added pressure to write Lying in Wait?

The second novel is definitely harder than the first because you have the weight of expectation, a deadline, a genre into which you must fit, and a lot of readers who you don’t want to disappoint. The pressure is immense. I’m writing my third novel now, and it’s even worse.

The first draft of Lying in Wait was rejected. I rewrote about 75% of it in five months to meet the deadline. Funny thing is, the rewrite wasn’t half as tortuous as the first draft. I don’t mind rewrites. I know this is unusual and most writers hate them, but for me the wrenching of an initial story out of my head and on to the page is the most painful. I’d rather have root canal treatment.

Lying in Wait has an underlying theme of lies, hidden secrets and a mother’s suffocating love. Can you tell us a little bit about why you wanted to explore this in Lying in Wait and what fascinated you most about this darker side of your characters?

I have always been fascinated by the darker characters in literature. Think of Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff, for example, and imagine how his life (and Cathy’s) might have been so different if she had returned his love. She spurned him because of her own snobbery and consequently, they were both miserable for the rest of their lives. Another Bronte sister had Mr Rochester lock his mad wife in the attic while he entertained lavishly with balls and parties. On the outside, these people had money and servants and big houses, but inside, there was tragedy that ran through generations. I find that interesting.

Talking about the theme of secrets, do you have a secret which you would be willing to share with us?

I just ate the Curlywurly my husband thought he had hidden. I am going to plead ignorance and blame my nephew.

Apart from your own fabulous novels, what other crime novels have you read and would recommend as a must for die-hard crime fans, like myself?

The best I have read in recent times is The Dark Adapted Eye by Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine). It is so brilliantly structured as the truth is drip fed to the reader bit by bit. An absolute classic.

I really enjoy Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series. Her female detective and Neanderthal-but-strangely-attractive colleague Derwent are a wonderful team.

I’m also anxiously waiting for Sinéad Crowley’s third novel. She has a female detective, Claire Boyle, at the centre of her books too. I’m wondering if Claire’s fragile marriage will survive the next case.

And finally, are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

My third novel is called Skin Deep. It’s in the early stages so I’m afraid anything I say about it is subject to change. It’s about a woman who is scarred, but not just on the surface.

I would like to say a big thanks to Liz for letting me grill her!

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Now for the Blurb and my Review:

A Mother’s Love Can Be Murder

Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants …

Review: I adored this novel with its cast of compelling but damaged characters, whose toxic lives seem to leap of the page and draw me further into the story.

The story starts off with a bang. I loved it from the very first line where the chilling words ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it’ truly haunted me. The narrative immediately grabbed my attention, already making me question things like why did he kill her? Why is she a lying tramp? What happened? Is the Lydia telling the truth?

I think my favourite character by far has to be Lydia. Even though she is a serial manipulator and a truly ghastly person, I thought she was a truly fascinating character which kept me reading on. I wonder what this says about me?

In this novel, the author creates a dark and claustrophobic world with its twisted tale of deceit and hidden truths and suffocating love. What is there not to love?

I don’t want to say anything else as I may spoil it, but what I will say is this is a dark and compulsive read full of twists and turns.

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About the author:

Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theatre and television. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television dramas and has written short stories for children and adults. Her first novel, the No 1 bestselling Unravelling Oliver, won the 2014 IBA Crime Fiction Award. She lives in Dublin with her husband.

With thanks to Sara D’Arcy at Penguin Random House for my advanced review copy.

 

To buy this book from Amazon click here.

To buy this book from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Liz Nugent check her out on Twitter at @lizzienugent.

Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on the Blog Tour!

Killer Review: The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer

So last month Belinda Bauer featured on the November First Monday Crime Evening Panel, so when asked whether I would like to review this book I jumped at the chance.

Blurb:

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‘I give you the art,’ he said, as if he’d read her mind. ‘And you put on the show.’

Eve Singer needs death. With her career as a TV crime reporter flagging, and increasing pressures at home, she’ll do anything to satisfy her ghoulish audience. Her career is built on the bones of the dead; her one aim to secure that perfect shot of the body bag. And luckily for Eve, there is a serial killer at work in London…

The killer needs death too. He sees beauty in death and revels in watching his victims take their final breath. For the killer, the line between artist and executioner is irrevocably blurred. He even advertises his macabre public performances, inviting the public to see his ‘show.’

When he contacts Eve and offers her unpresented access to his plans, she welcomes the chance to be first with the news from every gory scene. Until she realizes that the killer has two obsessions.

One is public murder.

And the other one is her . . .

The story centres around Eve Singer, a TV crime reporter who is always looking for the next big exclusive to keep her at the top of her career and to satisfy her viewers. But the sight of blood and gore makes her sick, which in her line of her work makes her a target of her colleagues. So when the killer starts messaging her with hints at his next kill, Eve jumps at the chance to get the story first – but little does she know that the killer has set his sights on her.

I loved this story!

I have previously read Backlands by Belinda Bauer which I adored, so when I was recommended this novel I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this.

The story opened with an absolute corker – I won’t spoil it for you here but what I will say is it really sets the tone to this novel and hooked me into the story right away.

The story is told from the point of view of Eve and the killer, who I must say is such a fascinating character and not your average murderer. He had such a twisted mindset and acted in such a way that I couldn’t guess what he would do next! I was so engrossed in his crimes I just couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page.

Eve is such a strong character I couldn’t help but rooting for her and her determination to keep her job in order to care for her father comes through the narrative and makes her actions realistic if somewhat questionable.

I also loved the characters of Eve’s father Duncan, who suffers from dementia but has such a sweet soul, Mr Elias, Eve’s bumbling and lonely neighbour and Joe, Eve’s cameraman, who she has a lot of banter with. I was so absorbed in the lives of these characters I couldn’t get enough of this book.

I found myself sympathising with all the characters throughout – I know worryingly even with the killer. I thought Eve’s relationships with both her dad and Joe made this an emotive and pacey story.

The story is a slow burner where the pace really ratchets up towards the last third of the novel but this just kept me on my toes.

I thought this was a new twist on the classic serial killer thriller making this a refreshing and exciting criminal read. I would recommend this for any crime fan who loves a good psychological thriller with a difference.

With thank to Becky Short at Penguin Random House for my advanced review copy.

To buy this book on Amazon just click here

Or to order this book from Waterstones click here.
To find out more about Belinda Bauer follow her on Twitter at @BelindaBauer.

First Monday is a crime night devoted to readers, writers, hard core crime fans or industry professionals a chance to mingle and to hear about the latest crime books. First Monday happens on the first Monday of each month with a different panel of authors designed to cater to a wide-range of tastes. I love First Monday evenings which never fails to deliver!

For more information check out the Goldsboro Events page here or follow them on Twitter @1stMondayCrime.

 

 

*Blog Tour* My Sisters Bones

Today I’m on the final stop of My Sisters Bones blog tour by Nuala Ellwood. I was so excited as soon as received my review copy of this book and couldn’t wait to get my teeth into it.

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Blurb:

ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH TO GO BACK?

Kate Rafter is a successful war reporter. She’s the strong one. The one who escaped Herne Bay and the memories it holds. Her sister Sally didn’t. Instead, she drinks.

But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return to the old family home. And on her first night she is woken by a terrifying scream.

What secret has Kate stumbled upon?
And is she strong enough to uncover the truth . . . and make it out alive?

This is such a page-turner!

This is the story of Kate Rafter, a successful war reporter who spent much of her time reporting in war-torn countries. But when she receives news that her mum has passed away her life is torn apart. Struggling with PTSD Kate starts to hallucinate  a number of things or does she? Which forces her to question everything she ever knew about family and herself.

This novel is told through Kate’s point of view and follows her in the ‘present day’ as she is interviewed at Herne Bay police station and jumps back in time to a week earlier which slowly chronicles the events which led to her being detained by the police.

As the novel picks up pace Kate’s mindset becomes increasingly erratic as her nightmares blur into her waking life. Are her nightmares fact or fiction? And what is going on? I just couldn’t work out what was going on which I loved.

Her sister Sally is also a big part of this story who is struggling to cope with her alcoholism and whose love-hate relationship with Kate is at the very heart of this novel.

The author does such a wonderful job of hooking me in and then slowly revealed little nuggets of truth while raising more questions which just kept me glued to the book.

I absolutely loved this story and cannot believe this is a debut novel. I think this will be a stand-out novel for 2017 and will be looking out for more novels from this author.

I won’t say anymore but what I will say is this novel is such a page-turner full of pace which really packs a punch. I would definitely recommend this story for avid crime fans who love a haunting psychological thriller.

With thanks to Annie Hollands at Penguin Random House for my advanced review copy

The good news is you can buy this book from Amazon as an Ebook now just click here

To find out more about Nuala Ellwood on Twitter at @NualaWrites.

About the author:

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Nuala Ellwood moved to London in her twenties to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter, but ended up writing novels instead. She comes from a family of journalists, and they inspired her to get Arts Council funding to research and write a novel dealing with psychological trauma in the industry. My Sister’s Bones is her debut thriller.

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