blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Mine – Clare Empson*

Who am I? Why am I here? Why did my mother give me away?’

On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He’s an A&R man, she’s an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their new-born son Samuel.

But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. So when he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.

When Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice – fuelled with grief from when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago – starts to fall in love with Samuel. And Luke won’t settle for his mother pushing him aside once again…

My thoughts:

The blurb (above) is a tiny bit off in terms of what happens in the novel – flipping back and forth between Luke as a baby with Alice and now, slowly the truth of what happened 27 years ago is revealed, and Alice’s tragic story is told.

However sometimes people become a little unhinged with grief and do things they know aren’t quite right, as happens here.

My mum is partly adopted (my Grandad isn’t her biological dad but in all other regards, including legally, is) so I sort of understand that adoption can be very painful for some people – both those who have been adopted and the parents, biological and adoptive.

And it is that pain that this story centres around, Luke’s joy at finding his birth mother, coupled with the fact he’s never felt close to the mother who raised him, means he perhaps embraces Alice too quickly and too deeply into his own small family; asking her to look after his infant son when his partner goes back to work.

Luckily it all more or less works out and it not quite as sinister as perhaps suggested by the cover and blurb.

*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 Other Mrs – Mary Kubica*

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbour, Morgan Baines, is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie, who is terrified by the thought of a killer in her very own backyard.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. It’s their eerie old home, with its decrepit decor and creepy attic, which they inherited from Will’s sister after she died unexpectedly. It’s Will’s disturbed teenage niece Imogen, with her dark and threatening presence. And it’s the troubling past that continues to wear at the seams of their family.

As the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of Morgan’s death. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

My thoughts:

This is a clever, clever book. Without spoiling it or giving too much away, nothing is quite what it seems in this story. People cannot be trusted, narrators are avoiding things and there’s some heavy duty gaslighting going on.

I want to discuss the only issue I had with this book, but I worry it would spoil it for readers, so if you’ve read it, come to Twitter and DM me so we can discuss please.

Other than that this is a well written, twisty thriller that shocks when the real killer is revealed.

*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 Wreckage – Robin Morgan-Bentley*

wreckage

Ben is driving on the motorway, on his usual commute to the school where he works.

A day like any other, except for Adam, who in a last despairing act jumps in front of Ben’s car, and in killing himself, turns the teacher’s world upside down.

Wracked with guilt and desperate to clear his conscience, Ben develops a friendship with Alice, Adam’s widow, and her 7-year-old son Max.

But as he tries to escape the trauma of the wreckage, could Ben go too far in trying to make amends?

Gripping and sinister, The Wreckage is guaranteed to keep you up all night…

 

My thoughts:

This started as a rather shocking crime procedural, but then it turned into something a bit darker, more twisted, and the ending, my goodness, flips the whole thing on its head.

The strange relationship that develops between Ben and Alice, the mess and devastation that both of their lives begin to revolve around, the power dynamics, it’s a whole heap of NOOOO!!!!

Honestly, I’ve not read a book quite like it, both such damaged souls drawn into a whirlpool of mess basically.

Clever, compelling and compulsive, this is definitely a must-read.

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

 

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Ctrl+S – Andy Briggs*


LOG IN > LOAD WORLD > SAVE HER.

Life in the near future’s NOT ALL BAD. We’ve reversed global warming, and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire.

But ALMOST ANYTHING isn’t enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested – and lives traded – to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted.

NOW THEO’S MOTHER HAS DISAPPEARED. And as he follows her breadcrumb trail of clues, he’ll come up against the most dangerous SPACE has to offer: vPolice, AI Bots and anarchists – as well as a criminal empire that will KILL TO STOP HIM finding her . . .

My thoughts:

This was really interesting, exploring the juxtaposition of reality and the virtual. SPACE overlaps real world places and Theo and his friends have to work through these layered locations in order to unravel what has happened to his mum and find out who it is that’s out to get him.

As technology weaves itself into our lives this concept comes closer to reality. Criminals are already exploiting this while the police play catch up.

This was a clever, well written thriller, in a similar vein to Ready Player One but British.

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

books, reviews

Book Review: The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer – Joel Dicker

In the summer of 1994, the quiet seaside town of Orphea reels from the discovery of two brutal murders.

Confounding their superiors, two young police officers, Jesse Rosenberg and Derek Scott crack the case and arrest the murderer, earning themselves handsome promotions and the lasting respect of their colleagues.

But twenty years later, just as he is on the point of taking early retirement, Rosenberg is approached by Stephanie Mailer, a journalist who believes he made a mistake back in 1994 and that the real murderer is still out there, perhaps ready to strike again. Before she can give any more details however, Stephanie Mailer mysteriously disappears without trace, and Rosenberg and Scott are forced to confront the awful possibility that her suspicions might have been proved horribly true.

What happened to Stephanie Mailer?

What did she know?

And what really happened in Orphea all those years ago?

My thoughts:

I got an advance copy of this book at Capital Crime, which is due to be published by Quercus translated into English in May next year.

This is a doorstop of a crime thriller, but one that cracks along at quite a pace. Fantastic characterisation, strong, tense plotting, an abundance of strange suspects, and a clever, knotty plot.

I raced through this book, desperate to know what was about to happen, to solve the various crimes – Stephanie Mailer’s disappearance and the murders from 1994. I’m often pretty good at solving the crimes in most thrillers but this one was so smartly done that I got completely tangled up in the various threads and could empathise with Rosenberg, who struggled to unravel it himself.

I’ve not read any of Dicker’s other books, but I did watch some of the TV adaptation of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, which I gave up on as too long and meandering. Hopefully that was just the adaptation and not the book, as if this is anything to go by Dicker’s books are definitely worth reading.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Don’t Get Involved – Fiona Curlew*

A missing shipment of cocaine

Three street-kids fighting for their lives

A Mafia hitman intent on killing them

A naïve expat who gets in their way

Who would you bet on?

Ukraine, 2001. A time of lawlessness and corruption. Three street-kids stumble upon a holdall full of cocaine, belonging to the Mafia. Mafia hitman, Leonid, is given the job of retrieving the cocaine and disposing of the street-kids. To do so he is forced to step back into his old life and he doesn’t like it. The children run on their wits. Leonid hunts them down. Nadia, a young woman with her own dark past, arrives in Ukraine looking for a fresh start. She wasn’t expecting this!

“She had no idea of what, or who, she was supposed to be running from. Right now everything was a threat. Definitely militsiya, but who else? Everyone. Right now it felt like everyone.”

Amazon 

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Fiona spent fifteen years working as an international school teacher, predominantly in Eastern Europe. Much of her inspiration comes from her travels. Her writing has been described as, “Human experience impacted upon by political situation, interwoven with a love of nature.”

She now lives on the East Coast of Scotland with Brockie the Springer, and Fingal the rescued Portuguese street-cat. Her days are divided between dog-walking in beautiful places and working on her stories. Not a bad life!

Don’t Get Involved is her third book.

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My thoughts:

This was a really interesting read, I am always interested to read books set in other countries, and see the contrast between the UK and abroad. I also happen to have a specific interest in Ukraine (and Russia) following several years studying their history. So this was very specific to my interests.

A clever, pacy thriller, I was definitely rooting for the kids involved. Well written, with exactly enough attention to detail to really place you in the action, and the plot grips hold tight, dragging you into a world you would probably manage to ignore otherwise.

*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: In The Absence of Miracles – Michael J. Malone*

In this powerful new thriller, Michael J Malone returns to A Suitable Lie territory, movingly and perceptively addressing a shocking social issue.

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

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home. Following a massive stroke, she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again. With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

In a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about.

A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash.

And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence…

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.

Other published work includes Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight.

His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit.

A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

My thoughts: this book goes to some dark places, twisted and cruel people emerge as John Docherty tries to uncover the truth about his unknown brother and his own past.

It’s a gripping, rollercoaster of a thriller, something that at first seems fairly formulaic that then opens up in a much larger, shocking series of terrible crimes and cruelties. What John and his younger brother Chris uncover goes far beyond a missing child.

I think there must be something in Scottish air that creates crime writers; some of the very best in British crime fiction are Scots. And Michael Malone’s writing is up there with Ian Rankin and Val McDermid.

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