Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Debut, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Gone by Leona Deakin

Today is my final blog tour for 2019 and so close to Christmas I am certainly ending on an absolute cracker as I play host to Gone by Leona Deakin.

Synopsis

Four strangers are missing.

Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME
DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic, and psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom is persuaded to investigate. As she delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.
And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the puppeteer. But is she playing into their hands?

An addictive debut thriller with an ingenious hook that turns the missing person plot on its head

– what if the missing people are the dangerous ones?

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My thoughts

This was a very, very enjoyable read.  I have to say I am mightily impressed that this is a debut and rather excited that it kicks of the start of a series.

Right from the very first page this novel had a grip on me and I honestly found it hard to put down.  Daily life became frustrating as I was constantly on the lookout for my next opportunity to read, even waking up extra early to read.  The structure and plotting is superb and the twists and turns of the story executed with a expert hand.

The story begins with a crime scene.  A victim lies on the floor, life slowly ebbing away.  With him are two school girls.  At this stage we’re unsure what happened but the event leaves us with a feeling of unease. Something isn’t quite right and one of the young girls is sent to see Dr Bloom.  Alongside this runs what appears to be the main plotline of the disappearance of a young mother. Lana disappears without a trace on her birthday.  The only clue that remains is an unsigned birthday card simply stating ‘YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.  DARE TO PLAY’.  As Dr Augustus Bloom and her partner Marcus Jameson begin to investigate it becomes clear that there are more disappearances and that the danger doesn’t lie with the missing people but is closer to home.

Exciting, fast-paced and with an very engaging detective team this is definitely a series to watch.  I can’t wait to read more. There are also reading group questions at the back and a sneak peek at book 2.  Thankfully the second novel is not too far away, with Lost due to be published in 2020. 🙂

Gone was published by Black Swan (Transworld Books) in paperback on October 3rd. Also available in EBook.

Many thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

About the author

Unknown-1Leona Deakin

Leona draws inspiration for her writing from her own experiences having started her career as a psychologist with the West Yorkshire Police and her successful work in psychology since. She is now an occupational psychologist and lives with her family in Leeds.  Gone is her debut thriller.

You can follow Leona on Twitter at @LeonaDeakin1

You can follow Transworld Books on Twitter at @TransworldBooks

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Debut, Suspense, Thriller

Blind Witness by Vicki Goldie

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Blind Witness by Vicki Goldie, the first novel in The Charters’ Mysteries Series.

Synopsis

In 1922 a blind WWI veteran and former intelligence officer attends a weekend with his aristocratic wife and her family at a country house in the New Forest, Hampshire. Fourteen people sit down to dinner on the Friday night; by the end of the weekend there are tow murders, an attempted murder and a suicide.

This is book one in a series of humorous murder mysteries and introduces young sleuths The Hon Melissa Charters and her war veteran husband Major Alasdair Charters.

The pair collaborate using Melissa’s powers of observation and Alasdair’s old skills gained in the Secret Intelligence Service to investigate the events unfolding over the weekend. A murder mystery, with a spy plot told from many different points of view in the tradition of Simon Brett, M.C. Beaton and Kerry Greenwood.

My thoughts

Major Alasdair Charters returned from the First World War without his sight. What happened the night he sustained his injury is unknown but there is something about it that still doesn’t sit well with him. Relieved to be alive and yet feeling much less of a man, he has struggled to come to terms with being looked after by his young, long suffering wife, Melissa Charters. He wonders why she is still with him and fears it may be more duty and pity than love. Melissa, however, adores her husband and wants nothing more than to remain by his side. If only she could lift his war battered spirit. After much patience on her part, he finally relents and agrees to escape the safety of their London flat and accepts a weekend visit to her family house in the country. A house that has also seen it’s own loss during the war. Melissa’s family have been summoned by her uncle, Brigadier Ferguson and his wife, Lady Honor. At first it seems like an innocent reunion but before the first night is over a murder has been committed and everyone in the house is a suspect. Could there be evil lurking within the family or could the small number of other guests, strangely invited considering it is a family gathering, have something to do with it? Desperate to discover the killer and prevent further crimes Alasdair shakes off his sense of uselessness and with Melissa by his side the two delve deeper into family and war time secrets – secrets that someone will resort to anything to keep quiet. Alasdair may be blind but his mind (and hearing) is still sharp as a tack and with Melissa as his eyes the pair may just get to the bottom of the mystery.

I am a big fan of crime novels and in particular the style of Agatha Christie, the original Queen of the murder mystery. She was of course a master creator of character and could find evil in the most mundane of situations, creating a thrilling read along the way. Her novel always entertain and thrill/  Blind Witness provided me with a welcome return to this gentle, yet intriguing style of crime novel and an interesting debut. I found the central characters interesting and I feel there is still a great deal to be seen from them. This is an engaging read and I feel that it shows a promising start to the series. I hope that we discover more about Major Charters and his wife. They make a good team and I look forward to revisiting them again in the second novel of the series.

Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour and to Vicki Goldie for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review. I wish you all the very best with the series.

About the author

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Vicki Goldie

Vicki worked as a Chartered Librarian for the Royal National Institute of Blind People and then for the past 19 years in public libraries in Bournemouth and Poole. There she enjoyed arranging and attending writing courses and author events, including such luminaries as Fay Weldon and Peter James. With the Reading Agency and other librarians round the country she reviewed and selected books for The Radio Two Book Club. All the time writing away in her spare time.

Born in California but brought up in England she was introduced to the Golden Age of crime authors at an early age by her mother. She is married to a blind physiotherapist, and it is from his mother, born in a large country house in Devon (now a hotel), educated by governess and with a cut glass voice like the Queen, that she absorbed real life stories about the twenties and thirties.

She has always had a fascination with the Art Deco period and the Golden Age of crime writing. She has been filling her house with Art Deco inspired artefacts and clothing for 40 years. 

Blind Witness is her debut novel and is the beginning of the Charters Mysteries Series featuring Major Alasdair Charters and The Honourable Melissa Charters.

 

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Debut, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch

 

Synopsis

How well do you know your wife?

How well do you know your lover?

How well do you know yourself?

Daniel and Victoria are married. They’re trying for a baby. Ruby is in prison, convicted of assault on an abusive partner.

But when Daniel joins a pen pal program for prisoners, he and Ruby make contact. At first the messages are polite, neutral – but soon they find themselves revealing more and more about themselves. Their deepest fears, their darkest desires.

And then, one day, Ruby comes to find Daniel. And now he must decide who to choose – and who to trust.

My thoughts

I started reading This Little Dark Place first thing on a Sunday morning and was finished by lunchtime. I absolutely couldn’t put it down. There is an underlying sense of unease from the beginning. A story told from the viewpoint of Daniel, we see everything through his eyes from start to finish. Writing to the mysterious Lucy, he admits that he has, until now, been reluctant to tell his version of events and yet for her he is willing to divulge all. But what story is unfolding before us? Who is the victim here? Who the monster? Two women in his life. Victoria his wife, they’ve shared difficult times and yet he tried to be strong for her, tried to make her happy. Then Ruby, a women he reached out to when he was feeling lost, in an effort to support her during her time in prison by giving her hope via the pen pal programme. Reckless? Perhaps, but sometimes we make foolish choices to try and fill the void. Can our own vulnerabilities make us reveal too much ourselves? How well can we ever know anyone, especially someone we’ve only met via email.

A S Hatch has written a debut filled with suspense. We’re not quite sure who to trust and as Daniel shares his experience we begin to wonder where this will end. Ruby is always a shadowy character, her story shared by Daniel and when she finally arrives uninvited at his front door, he begins to doubt everything she has told him.

This is a super debut novel, chilling and wonderfully plotted I was completely drawn into the story. It was an intense ride and there was a moment where I had to pause to take a breathe. I knew that something terrible was on the horizon, I could feel it coming, gradually building to the crescendo and that moment when I thought “oh no! I didn’t see that coming.’

This novel explores the darker side of the psyche and makes us question how well we can ever really know even those closest to us and just what they might be capable of.

Thank you so much to the lovely people at Serpent’s Tail for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. This was a fantastic read and one I very much enjoyed. I look forward to reading more from A S Hatch in the future. Highly recommended.

About the author

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A.S. Hatch grew up in Lancashire in the 90s, and has lived in Taipei and Melbourne. Now he lives in London and writes fiction in his living room-slash-office-slash-gym in the early hours of the morning before going to work in political communications

You can follow him on Twitter at @andrewshatch

You can follow Serpent’s Tail on Twitter at @serpentstail

 

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Debut

Johnny Ruin by Dan Dalton

Today is a glorious day. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Johnny Ruin by Dan Dalton.

Synopsis

Depression can be hell.

Heartbroken and lonely, the narrator has made an attempt on his own life. Whether he meant to or not he can’t say. But now he’s stuck in his own head, and time is running out.

To save himself, he embarks on a journey across an imagined America, one haunted by his doomed relationship and the memory of a road trip that ended in tragedy.

Help arrives in the guise of Jon Bon Jovi, rock star and childhood hero. An unlikely spirit guide, perhaps, but he’s going to give it a shot…

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My thoughts…

Now to be honest there is a lot of strong language and sexual references in this book. The language is crude and raw at times but can I just say that it is oh so beautiful. Dan’s writing is eloquent and emotive. I was absorbed into the storytelling by the strange surreal, nightmarish quality. It is absolutely compelling, poetic and powerful. Dan shows such sensitivity that he moved me to tears on more than one occasion. Johnny Ruin is an absolutely stunning read that will grab you hard by the heart and soul.

One line that particularly stands out for me ‘I thought you’d be taller‘. Read the book and find it yourself. Perhaps you’ll see what I mean but to me this one sentence encapsulates depression perfectly. It looms over life filling it with shadow and sadness before attaching itself, heavy and suffocating. Dan has written depression in it’s very darkest moments, he gives it a form and in that is turning it into something that can be defeated. It can try to hide from the light but it will be found. Despair can feel overwhelming and Johnny Ruin shows this but it also shows that there is still life out there even in times when we feel there is no future. This is a story of broken hearts and broken dreams but most of all it’s a story about finding your way, even through the dark.

Johnny Ruin has been published by Unbound and is available in hardback, paperback, eBook and audiobook.

Many thanks to the wonderful Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. Many thanks also to Dan and the lovely people at Unbound for sending me a review copy.

About the author

Dan Dalton

1-3Dan Dalton is a writer and freelance journalist covering books and pop culture. He is a former Staff Writer at BuzzFeed.

A graduate of the University of Leeds, he was born in West Yorkshire, and lives in North London.

You can follow Dan on Twitter at @wordsbydan

 

 

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Debut, Love, Review, Summer Reads

Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls and even better than that it publishes TODAY!

Synopsis

Owen Nicholls’ Love, Unscripted is an uplifting love story, following film projectionist
Nick as he tries to understand the difference between love on the silver screen and love
in real life. Perfect for fans of David Nicholls, Nick Hornby and Laura Barnett.

For Nick, love should look like it does on the big screen. And when he meets Ellie on the
eve of the 2008 presidential election, it finally does. For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job as a film projectionist in his local cinema. Life seemed picture-
perfect. But now it’s 2012, Ellie has moved out and Nick’s trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

With Ellie gone and his life falling part, Nick wonders if their romance could ever be as perfect as the night they met.

Can love really be as it is in the movies?

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My thoughts…

Oh but this novel is a complete joy to read. A delicious love story that has sufficient angst and ‘will they won’t they’ moments that swept me away. As a film lover I adored the references scattered throughout and I loved the sections featuring Nick’s job as a film projectionist, especially at a time that covered the inevitable move from 35mm to digital. This novel is not only about Nick’s love for Ellie and his journey of discovery as to where it all went wrong but also a nod to historical changes happening in the world at this time (beginning with Obama becoming President of the United States). Can such changes mean an inevitable death or simply a chance for new beginnings?

Ellie and Nick are quite obviously made for each other but as we join there story she has moved out. The beginning if the end. We have Nick’s viewpoint on things and so often events aren’t quite as they seem but gradually he comes to realise what actually went wrong and where the fault lies. Relationships are never straightforward and Nick does at times seem hellbent on self destruction and had me shouting at the book ‘You Idiot!’ on more than one occasion. I have to say that it was only because I am a total believer in true love and I so wanted these too characters work it out and fall back into each other’s lives. Owen’s writing is a joy to read. His plot was faultless, funny and moving. My favourite moment is a toss up between the visit to the Cannes Film Festival or the bathroom window incident – both made me laugh out loud. I can so see this being adapted into a screenplay or film. Love, Unscripted is deserving of a permanent place on my bookshelf for a reread on many occasions and I wholeheartedly recommend inviting this wonderfully uplifting read into your lives.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the lovely people at Headline Review for sending me a copy. It was an absolute joy.

 

About the author

Owen Nicholls

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Owen Nicholls is a screenwriter with a Masters in Scriptwriting from the UEA. His work has appeared in Empire and NME, and earlier this year Love, Unscripted was selected for the Escalator Scheme run by Writers’ Centre in Norwich.

You can follow One on Twitter at @OwenNicholls

 

 

Love, Unscripted is published in hardback on August the 22nd by Headline Review.

It is also available on eBook and Audiobook.  the paperback is scheduled for publication in February 2020 but believe me you don’t want to have to wait until then to read this.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Coming Soon, Debut, Historical Fiction

The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

Today I am so thrilled to be able to chat about The Photographer of the Lost  as part of the Random Things Tours blog tour ahead of publication in October. The blog tour continues tomorrow with Jaffareadstoo (twitter: @jaffareadstoo ) where she will also be revealing the stunning cover so do take a look.  In the meantime here’s the synopsis and my thoughts on this wonderful novel.

Until she knows her husband’s fate, she cannot decide her own…
An epic novel of forbidden love, loss, and the shattered hearts left behind in the wake of World War I

1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she beings to search.

Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for evidence of his brother.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

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This is an absolutely stunning novel.  Beautifully written and heartbreaking it takes a very different approach to the subject of war and the ones who have been left behind.

Edie never really knows what happened to her husband Francis after he was reported missing in action in 1917.  Four years later and she is still no closer to the truth, that is until a photograph arrives in the post from France.  It is a picture of Francis and Edie is sure that it has been taken recently.  She must find answers and so reaches out to Francis’ surviving brother, Harry, for help.  Harry was the last person to see Francis alive and he too wants more than ever to find out what happened to him.

This is one of those novels that I feel I can never write a review good enough to give it justice.  It’s not just the subject matter that Caroline has captured so brilliantly but also that sense of hopelessness that must be felt when there is a lack of closure.  Never really knowing if a loved one is dead or alive.  Through Harry and Edie’s journey to France we see the reality of the post-war period.  Of course we are all familiar with the visions of war torn countries still appearing in the news today but the level of death and destruction during WWI was unprecedented. I recently visited the Imperial War Museum in London and some of the most moving exhibits were those concerning soldiers who lost their lives and the families they left behind.  One particular piece that I found most upsetting was a telegram informing a family of a soldiers death on Christmas Day, 1914.  The actual telegram.  I immediately thought of it arriving and being held in hands that had once held those of that soldier and the heartbreak the news must have brought.  These things make their loss relatable to us, they make it more real.

Yet it must have been equally if not more unbearable to receive a ‘Missing in Action’ telegram.  There is always that sliver of hope that they are still alive and yet how on earth do you move on from that? How do you ever find closure.  And the numbers of missing men.  It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Through The Photographer of the Lost Caroline has explored this through Harry and Edie’s search of Francis.  She moves back and forth through time giving us a deeper insight into what happened to Francis and the unknown fate of many others who went to fight for their country and never came back.  In my own lifetime I have seen countless images of people placing photographs of those missing in terrorist attacks and natural disasters.  The people that never came home and are unaccounted for.  I never knew that this is what people did a hundred years ago.  Pictures of the missing and pictures of the family that are missing them – all placed insight so that they might reunite them together in real life.  It invokes a very powerful image indeed.

Caroline has created a beautiful novel of love and loss.  Her writing is incredibly moving and her vast historical knowledge of this time evident throughout.  She brilliantly brings to life worn-torn France and these characters that are completely unforgettable.  Early on we see the beginning of their love ignite as Edie and Francis come together in a chance meeting at their local library and from that moment I was completely invested in their journey.

He was just a white-toothed grin, disembodied like the Cheshire Cat, and words with a scent of boiled sweets.  But then he was eyes that watched her through the Romantics and the Classics; a flicker of long lashes and clear bright blue-green eyes that creased at the corners, so that she knew he was smiling on the other side. He existed only in fragments and glimpses and elements, and a voice that linked them all.  But then he was a flash of profile, and finally a face that had looked directly down into her own as she had stepped out at the end of the row, as if he had always been there waiting for her.

This except is taken from the proof copy but I wanted to share it as an example of both the quality and beauty of Caroline’s writing. The Photographer of the Lost  is a novel that will stay with me for a long time and one that I thoroughly recommend.  When is comes to love we are not so different to how we were then.  Suffering comes in many packages and I feel that stories such as this are important for reminding us what was lost by so many.

The Photographer of the Lost is published by Simon & Schuster in October but you can pre-order it now.  Check out their website for further details.

Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and the lovely people at Simon & Schuster for my beautiful proof copy.

About the author

Caroline Scott

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Author photo by Johnny Ring

Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women’s history. The Photographer of the Lost is partially inspired by her family history.

You can follow Caroline on Twitter at @CScottBooks

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Adult Fiction, Debut, Giveaway, Literary, Review, Summer Reads

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd

Today I’m delighted to chat about the wonderful debut novel from Alyson Rudd, the First Time Lauren Pailing Died. AND there is a giveaway at the end so do keep reading. 🙂

I remember a time when if fate had allowed I could have died.  It was many years ago now but the details are still as clear as if it happened only yesterday. It was Mother’s Day and I was cycling over to my parents house. I fell off my bike. I can still see myself falling and feel how I seemed to tumble in slow motion as I lost control of my bike and it toppled over. It was pretty busy that day and I fell to my right, straight into the path of the cars travelling alongside me. I still realise how lucky I was that the driver of the car was not distracted at that very moment or driving too fast. If he had been then Mothers Day could have ended very differently indeed and many things that now exist in this world, including my rather wonderful son, would not be here.

The possibility leaves me with a chill every now and then when I think of it. We all have those moments when life stands at a very obvious crossroads and can veer off into different directions. Of course we may not always notice them but they are often there. I found this a very interesting aspect of The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd. It’s something that has always fascinated me. Sliding Doors, a 1998 film staring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah that looked at different choices or situations taking us on different paths leading to a very different or possibly ultimately the same outcome – questioning if our fate is set to be the same no matter what route we take. It is a question that has been explored many times on stage, screen and in the written form and always inspires pause for thought.

In The First Time Lauren Pailing Died Lauren Pailing is a girl with an ordinary childhood but there is also something quite unusual about her which we discover as we gradually get to know her.  I loved the historical details weaved into the story as we watch her grow up as a much adored only child.  It brought back memories from my own childhood.

Alyson explores the different realities of Lauren’s life and what happens after she dies as a thirteen year old girl. I found her technique fascinating and loved the way the story was built around the parallel timelines.  She portrayed reactions to grief and loss in an incredibly touching and, at times, heartbreaking way.  The only constant between each life was the disappearance of Peter Stanning and gradually as the story unfolds we begin to understand what happened to him.  There are so many comparisons I could equate this story to but Alyson has created something wonderful and unique.  Because although at times the story can be sad, dark and thought provoking,  there is always a sense of hope and that resounding feeling that we leave our mark on this earth, no matter how short or long our stay here.

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is published now by HQ and is available in Hardback, eBook and Audiobook, and would make a fantastic read this summer.

GIVEAWAY…

Now,  I have a hardback copy of this beautiful book to giveaway.  To be in with the chance to win please like AND comment on this post before Friday evening at 8pm UK time.  Your comment could just be to say hi but you need to do both to have your name put in the hat. 🙂  I’m afraid this giveaway is just for residents in the UK.

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The First Time Lauren failing Died by Alyson Rudd

Synopsis

Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties,

And a child of the seventies.

She is thirteen years old the first time she dies.

Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him.

And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to being found…

Perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson and Maggie O’Farrell, The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is a book about loss, grief – and how, despite it not always feeling that way, every ending marks the start of something new.

About the author

Alyson Rudd

Alyson Rudd was born in Liverpool, raised in West Lancashire and educated at the London School of Economics. She is a sports journalist at The Times and lives in South West London.

She has written two works of non-fiction. The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is her first novel.

Find out more by visiting the HQ Stories website here.

Thanks so much to the lovely HQ Stories team for my review copy and for inviting me to discover more about their amazing titles at Destination HQ.

Thanks so much for reading.