blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Home – Sarah Stovell*

When the body of pregnant, fifteen-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised.

For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away. As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also a heartbreaking and insightful portrayal of the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all.

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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, was called ‘the book of the summer’ by Sunday Times.

My thoughts:

This is a clever thriller, centred on two young women living in care and the complex relationship between them.

Both have secrets, some darker than others and those secrets are closing in.

Atmospheric and sinister, the lives of Hope and Annie are revealed in flashbacks as violent, tragic and damaging.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Backlash – Marnie Riches*

 

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When Private Investigator Beverley Saunders is tasked with going undercover, she relishes the chance to disguise herself as a cleaner in order to get close to Manchester bad boy Anthony Anthony, aka 2Tone. Anthony’s neighbours are suspicious of his wealth and sick of his anti-social behaviour, and Bev’s just the woman they need to find out what’s going on behind closed doors.

As Bev begins to infiltrate Anthony’s world, she soon realises she’s in danger – and this time, she might be too far in to get out. Alongside her sidekick Doc, Bev must fight to discover the truth – but when people begin to die, she has to ask herself – is exposing Anthony worth risking her own life?

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this, Bev’s an engaging character and her sidekick Doc reminds me of some of the men I’ve met, who struggle to function away from their computers and game consoles. Bev makes mistakes as she investigates, rendering her all the more fallible and realistic; she’s definitely no flawless super cop as in some crime fiction.

I hadn’t read the previous book in this series but I don’t think it really matters as the overriding story of Bev’s personal life isn’t essential to the plot and enough back story is given so as not to need to worry if you haven’t read it either.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Critical Incidents – Lucie Whitehouse*

Detective Inspector Robin Lyons is going home.

Dismissed for misconduct from the Met’s Homicide Command after refusing to follow orders, unable to pay her bills (or hold down a relationship), she has no choice but to take her teenage daughter Lennie and move back in with her parents in the city she thought she’d escaped forever at 18.

In Birmingham, sharing a bunkbed with Lennie and navigating the stormy relationship with her mother, Robin works as a benefit-fraud investigator – to the delight of those wanting to see her cut down to size.

Only Corinna, her best friend of 20 years seems happy to have Robin back. But when Corinna’s family is engulfed by violence and her missing husband becomes a murder suspect, Robin can’t bear to stand idly by as the police investigate. Can she trust them to find the truth of what happened? And why does it bother her so much that the officer in charge is her ex-boyfriend – the love of her teenage life?

As Robin launches her own unofficial investigation and realises there may be a link to the disappearance of a young woman, she starts to wonder how well we can really know the people we love – and how far any of us will go to protect our own.

My thoughts:

What starts off as “former cop who should know better sticks her nose in” becomes something much darker and more shocking as you read it.

Lennie is a sympathetic character and the supporting cast flesh out the story of missing women and dubious deeds.

I am definitely looking forward to more books in this series as I think the character could go a lot further, I enjoyed the balancing of her career/involvement in the case and her home life, messy as it is.

Well written and intelligent, this is definitely one for the crime thriller fans like me. But I think a new reader in the genre would equally enjoy this book.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The God Game – Danny Tobey*

Five best friends in a high school computer club get sucked into an underground hacker’s game run by a mysterious A.I. that thinks it is God. It’s all fun and games until people start to get hurt.

And the stakes keep getting higher. As the Game pits them against each other and turns their high school upside down, it offers the ultimate promise – win and learn the meaning of life; die in the game, and die for real.

My thoughts:

There seems to be a little trend for books about sinister tech recently and I am here for it. This book takes the teens at its centre to some extremely dark places, manipulated at every turn by the AI at the core of the game.

It’s a twisted tale of how dangerous things can get when you’re playing against something with no morality, and when you feel you have no escape.

The writing is compelling and the plot engaging. You find yourself rooting for Charlie and his friends, but at the same time wondering about the consequences for their actions – or whether they’ll walk away from any of it.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: When The Dead Come Calling – Helen Sedgwick*

A murder investigation unearths the brutal history of a village where long buried secrets threaten a small community. When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in the playground of the sleepy northern village of Burrowhead, the local police force set out to investigate. It’s not long before they uncover a maelstrom of racism, misogyny and homophobia. But there’s worse to come. Shaken by the revelations and beginning to doubt her relationship with her husband Fergus, DI Georgie Strachan soon realizes that something very bad is lurking just below the surface. Meanwhile someone – or something – is hiding in the strange, haunted cave beneath the cliffs. When The Dead Come Calling is a tense, atmospheric thriller which grips to the very last page.

 

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this because I’m fascinated with places like Burrowhead, where the ancient world meets the modern and small town drama. I live in the North London suburbs and it’s quite diverse and part of the city in a way, which small towns and villages aren’t, so life in a place where everyone knows you feels alien to me.

I imagine it makes it harder to solve crime too, it can’t possibly be someone you know, it must be an outsider, a stranger. But of course, anyone of us could be living alongside a murderer and never know.

This book feels very timely, with its themes of racism, homophobia and misogyny, we are living in dark times where these awful types of thinking are resurgent and seem more common than ever, fuelling crime and fear; and it is this environment that Helen Sedgwick taps into.

The writing is tight and clever, the plot realistic to how a small police force would have to work, solving multiple crimes at the same time, often very disparate victims and suspects to round up and interview. The murder can’t always take precedent and so the reader, much like the investigators, must be patient in solving it.

 

HELEN SEDGWICK is the author of The Comet Seekers, selected as a best book of 2016 by the Herald, and The Growing Season, shortlisted for the Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year in 2018. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University and won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Before she became an author, she was a research physicist with a PhD in Physics from Edinburgh University. She now lives and writes in the Scottish Highlands. http://www.helensedgwick.com/ @helensedgwick @PtBlankBks

 

Helen Sedgwick on the writing of WHEN THE DEAD COME CALLING ‘When the Dead Come Calling was inspired by a visit to St Ninian’s Cave in the Scottish borders – it’s a cave on a wild beach that became a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Even today, the cave is filled with crosses made out of twigs and ribbons, prayers scratched onto stones and offerings left in the crevices of the rock. It’s a creepy place. I also wanted to write about rural life, having recently moved from Glasgow to the Highlands. It is a very different world. I absolutely love living in the country (a bit like Georgie loves it in the book) but that doesn’t mean I can’t see there are some pretty big issues. The lack of diversity, lack of opportunities, and the isolation are very real problems. And you do come across casual racism and homophobia, and often it has been left unchallenged because of the limits of the community itself and the lack of new experiences. So, I wanted to write about how people in small rural communities turn a blind eye to these problems, about the urban/rural class divide that leads to people in the city dismissing those in the country, and how history and inaction make us all complicit… But at the same time I wanted to write about how people in small communities can be exceptionally kind and warm and how living in a remote place can make you feel more connected to the past and to the landscape. It’s easy for people to judge the country without having lived there, but there’s a lot more to it than people think. I’ve also had an interest in false memory syndrome for years. I wrote two unpublished novels before writing my debut The Comet Seekers, and one of them was a literary thriller about false memory syndrome. The book remains unpublished for a reason (I was still learning to write and it wasn’t good enough!) but the research I did all those years ago fed into the plot for When the Dead Come Calling. Memory is fascinating and also poorly understood, and I keep being drawn back to how our minds create and recreate ‘memories’ that can end up being very different to the lived experience that they relate to. Our brains actually rewrite our own memories over time. That idea kept calling to me, wanting to be written about. It was at a crime writing event at Wigtown Book Festival that I got the idea for the main character of Georgie Strachan. There was a discussion about how fictional detectives always need to be broken or damaged in some way, and I wanted to turn that on its head. Is it possible to write a crime book in which the detective is just a good person who wants to see the best in everyone, despite evidence to the contrary? I started thinking about what would happen to a good, almost naive detective working in a broken world, and that world became Burrowhead.’

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Three Hours – Rosamund Lupton*

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. From the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

My thoughts:

Reader I wept. This book has some heart-wrenching moments. Thankfully school shootings are basically non-existent in the UK, although this set in Somerset. Getting hold of guns in the UK is very, very difficult, although some rural households have rifles for dealing with pests.

There were also moments of my heart in my throat, honestly the whole book is so gripping and so powerfully written. It really captures the sentiment of a rather unpleasant section of society and what lengths they might be willing to go to in order to advance their revolting agenda.

The ending is however heartwarming as you unravel the stories of the children hidden in the school and the bond that builds as they protect each other.

As long as you have a massive box of tissues to hand, this is an incredibly moving read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Lady of the Ravens – Joanna Hickson*

My baptismal name may be Giovanna but here in my mother’s adopted country I have become plain Joan; I am not pink-cheeked and golden-haired like the beauties they admire.

I have olive skin and dark features – black brows over ebony eyes and hair the colour of a raven’s wing…

When Joan Vaux is sent to live in the shadow of the Tower of London, she must learn to navigate the treacherous waters of this new England under the Tudors. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, if Henry and his new dynasty are to prosper and thrive …

Joanna Hickson spent twenty-five years presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for the BBC. Her first published book was a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle but more recently she has turned to adult fiction, concentrating on bringing fifteenth century English history and some of its fascinating principal characters to life. She is married with a large family and gets inspiration from her Wiltshire farmhouse home, which dates back to her chosen period.

My thoughts:

I love reading about women in periods of history where they’re often erased or only listed as “wife of” and I also love the Plantagenet/Tudor period, aka The War of the Roses.

So this, set during the reign of Henry VII was perfect for me.

Telling the tale of a very minor character of the period, lady-in-waiting Joan Vaux, who lives in the Tower of London, as did quite a lot of people (some still do) when it was a working fortress and garrison.

The ravens at the Tower are world famous and of the current flock I know 2 facts – there’s one called Matilda who likes to play dead to freak out her keepers, and another pair who team up to raid dustbins. I used to work with the former Keeper of the Crown Jewels who was married to a Beefeater and they lived in the Tower, which has it’s own pub!

When Joan lived there it was very different, there were soldiers stationed there (as opposed to today’s retired forces personnel who serve as the Tower’s guards) and the ravens were not well loved.

Fiercely intelligent birds, the legend says that should they ever leave the Tower England will fall.

Joan becomes the protector of these funny birds, and develops a relationship with them that displeases her husband and various other Tower dwellers.

While political intrigue roils around her and the first Tudor monarch fights to retain his throne, Joan takes on her own battle, to keep the ravens in the Tower.

I loved Joan, smart, independent, and quietly powerful. Most of the men around her are stuffy and ignorant. Which feels pretty apt, considering clever women were frowned on for much of history.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.