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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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!

Blog Tour: What Alice Knew by T.A Cotterell

Today I’m thrilled to be hosting the next stop on the What Alice Knew Blog Tour by T.A Cotterell. So, as part of the tour I have some exclusive content from the author interviewing Nell, Alice’s teenage daughter, along with my review. Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on the Blog Tour!

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Blurb:

How far would you go to protect someone you love? Would you lie to the police,
knowing your loved one is guilty as charged, or would you watch their life fall
apart because of a terrible accident?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.

Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.

Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?

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*Exclusive Author Content*

Interview with Nell:

  • What’s your earliest memory of your parents?

I have kind of a bad memory but the first thing I think I remember was when we went to visit granny at Highlands just before Arthur was born. I remember going on a walk with mum and dad and uncle Matt. It was so cold but I had a fluffy pink coat on and yellow duck wellies. Me and Uncle Matt were running so fast (or fast for a four-year old) holding hands and mum and dad were talking about adult things and dad waved but I don’t think mum saw us zoom past.

  • What’s your greatest fear?

I have a maybe irrational fear of being on my own. I know it’s weird, I’m not four anymore, but I just prefer it if I know someone’s in the house with me. Whether it be Arthur playing some mindless game or mum in her own world painting, I just feel much more at ease knowing there’s somebody there.

  • Do you get on better with mum, dad, or brother and why?

Probably my dad because although he’s always busy he tries to find time for us and if mum is ever away he always comes home early and makes whatever we want for supper. I love my mum. She loves to do girly things like shopping and taking my friends out for lunch. But when she’s on a painting she can be distant and get irritated easily. Arthur and I don’t always get on. Even before he starts to annoy me, he’s annoying me. It’s like, after all these years, I can anticipate what’s to come so I get ready to shout for mum or dad before he’s even started being annoying.

  • Have you ever kept a secret from your family?

I don’t tell them that much, especially not about my social life. Mum hears the odd thing, especially if something drastic happened at school. Sometimes she gets angry or takes something seriously and sometimes she doesn’t. Dad is more calm and predictable, so if I’m upset I probably would tell him. I don’t tell anything to Arthur ever since he ratted that it was me and my friend Eve who stole some wine before we went to Grace’s party. I got grounded for a week.

  • What did you think when your dad didn’t come home that night?

To begin with I wasn’t worried like he often comes back late if something’s gone wrong at work, but I was up on a group call with my friends till really late when suddenly I clocked it was almost midnight and neither he nor mum were home. I checked my texts and realised it was pretty weird they hadn’t let me know. It isn’t the kind of thing they’d forget (especially dad). I called him first but there was no answer, so I guessed he must be in an emergency. Then I called mum. I did get worried because there’s one thing about dad: he always does what he says he’s going to do.

  • Do you believe your mum when she says everything is fine?

I used to. But now I sometimes feel she says whatever is needed, like a white lie to keep us all happy, particularly if she’s painting and doesn’t want to be distracted. The night when dad didn’t come home I could hear some doubt or surprise in her voice even though she pretended there wasn’t. Maybe she thinks I’m too young to know. Which is ridiculous as I’m nearly 15. It might be true for Arthur though. That night she said it was all fine when it blatantly wasn’t so that’s when I got a bit worried.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this novel with its easy writing style, vivid descriptions and fully rounded characters who I were so unpredictable I wasn’t sure which direction the novel would take.

This novel takes you on Alice’s and Ed’s journey where a shocking secret bubbles to the surface threatening their lives which will alters their relationship and themselves.

I had no idea what to expect from this book but boy was I surprised! The author kept the truth hidden from the reader and also kept Alice’s true motives at bay until the very last moment which was very unexpected.

There are a number of themes in the novel including the question of morality and responsibility and the effect of living with a lie where much of the action in the novel centred around. I loved the change in Alice’s character as she slowly became more and more erratic which for me really showed the moral dilemma she was struggling to deal with.

I thought Ed was a very interesting character as he was someone who on the surface you thought you knew and trusted but underneath lay something else which I think was part of the charm of his character. By the end of the novel I found myself sympathising with him even though I knew it was wrong.

I won’t say too much more as I don’t want to spoil it for you but what I will say is this novel was full of tension and Alice’s claustrophobic world really made it feel like I was right there with her – I literally had no idea what she would do next and every time I thought I had her sussed out she turned round and surprised me again.

About the Author:

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T. A. Cotterell read History of Art at Cambridge University. He worked in the City before resigning to become a freelance writer. He is now a writer and editor at the research house Redburn. He is married with three children and lives in Bristol.

With thanks to Rebecca Hunter at Transworld Publishers, Penguin Random House for my advanced review copy.

This novel isn’t out until December 2016 as an E Book and Trade Paperback in April 2017 but the good news is you can preorder this book from Amazon just click here

To find out more about T.A Cotterell on Twitter at @TACotterell1.

Blog Tour A Suitable Lie By Michael J Malone

Today, I’m so excited to be hosting the next stop on the A Suitable Lie, by Michael J Malone, blog tour.

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Blurb:

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.

Andy Boyd is a widow, still coming to terms with the loss of his wife, Patricia, and facing the prospect of raising a young son alone. When a chance encounter throws him together with the beautiful Anna she seems to be his perfect match and cannot believe he has a second chance at love again. But underneath all the charm, beauty and ‘accidents,’ Anna is not what she seems and soon Andy comes to realise just how dangerous Anna is…

Harrowing!! I cannot begin to describe how amazing this book is. I was captivated from the very start especially with the opening chilling words ‘..And that was the first time I thought of murder.’

The novel is told from the point of view of Andy Boyd, a normal guy trying to raise his son, but when Anna’s actions at home escalates Andy just doesn’t know what to do. Andy needs to protect his son but at what cost? The narrative in this novel has a fresh, innocence to it which really lulled me into a false sense of security, making me sympathise with Andy’s plight.

The author did a fantastic job of tackling a very difficult topic with domestic abuse without it becoming too graphic as some other novels have done previously. I loved how the author was still able to show the raw emotion of the characters and portray the harrowing ordeal Andy faces daily.

This novel just took me on a rollercoaster of emotions, I spent much of my time screaming at Andy to take some action but actually sometimes doing nothing is just as harrowing as doing something. I couldn’t stop thinking about this book after turning the last page – it was so damn good and one I will remember.

This is a novel full of twists, tension and gut-wrenching emotion. It is one I would recommend to all crime fans!!

With thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy.

To buy this book from Amazon click here.

To buy this book from Waterstones click here.

About the author

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Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland
and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

To find out more about Michael J Malone follow him on Twitter @michaelJmalone1

Don’t forget to stop by the many stops on this blog tour! It’s one not to be missed.

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Chiller Review: Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst

Blurb: 

Karen is meant to be the one who fixes problems.

It’s her job, as a psychiatrist – and it’s always been her role as a friend.

But Jessica is different. She should be the patient, the one that Karen helps.

But she knows things about Karen. Her friends, her personal life. Things no patient should know.

And Karen is starting to wonder if she should have let her in . . .

Amazing! I cannot rave over this book enough.

This is a tale of three best friends who have been friends since nursery who are now in their thirties; Karen is a psychiatrist who has a need to help ‘fix’ people, Bea is a single woman and so-called party goer who is struggling with her past and Eleanor, a wife with two children struggling to adjust with the birth of her three month old baby – each with their own secrets and whose lives are rocked forever when Jessica Hamilton walks into their lives. That’s all I will say about this book as I don’t want to reveal any spoilers!

From the very beginning I was hooked; it was clear something truly bad had happened but it wasn’t until the last page did I truly find out what went wrong and boy was there fireworks!

I loved the characters and found it very easy to become sucked in to the lives of all of them, they were very relatable and I really cared about what happened to each of the characters even the villain which I found refreshing (although after the big twist it forced me to rethink what I thought I knew about each of them – which I loved).

Throughout the story Jenny slowly weaves each of the characters pasts into the main narrative without giving anything away which led up to the fantastic and explosive ending which I never saw coming. This novel really showcased Jenny’s brilliant writing and her clever but devious mind at work.

I loved this story which showed just how destructive relationships can be and how one day can change everything. This is a novel jam-packed full of shocking twists and turns, unreliable narrators, a claustrophobic atmosphere, a terrifying plot and fabulous fully-rounded characters.

It was heart-stopping, confusing, claustrophobic, amazing, terrifying! The author does a fantastic job of leading the reader on a roller coaster of emotions only to flip it all on its head and trust me its worth the read.

Big thanks to Millie Seaward and Headline for my copy of Before I Let You In.

To preorder this book from Amazon click here.

To find out more about Jenny Blackhurst follow her on Twitter @JennyBlackhurst.