Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Fiction, Thriller, Uncategorized

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

Synopsis

The victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Whose side would you take?

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a glittering career at the Bar. All before hanging up her barrister’s wig to help the victims who needed her most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

Jodie’s own best friend doesn’t even believe her claims that their classmates carried out such a crime. But Zara does. And Zara is determined to fight for her. Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?

Thrilling, brave and explosive, Take It Back is a masterclass in storytelling and will hold you in rapture until the final, breathtaking page.

My Review

This is a fantastically written taut drama that had me gripped right until the very end. Brilliantly plotted and structured throughout this is an absolute corker of a novel.

Zara Kaleel is a damaged character in herself. She fights against so many hurdles; her family honour, religion and ultimately her own guilt. She turned her back on a successful career as a barrister because she wanted to make a real difference and help people. Yet this latest victim may be the straw that broke the camel’s back. This is a very complex issue and is so much more than an accusation by a girl against four boys, this is an accusation of a white disabled girl against four muslim boys. In helping Jodie, Zara is seen as turning against her own but all she cares about it bringing justice for the victim.

Author Kia Abdullah highlights so many issues in the novel. Jodie is a disfigured young girl and so doubt is instantly placed on her claims – why would four, handsome young men attack her? Throughout the novel there is a shadow of doubt over both sides of the stories and it brilliantly highlights how difficult such cases are to take through the courts. This is a complex case that sends waves of conflict beyond the local community, including Zara’s own family. Kia manages to put in plenty of twists and turns, and I have to say the ending was rather superb.

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Many thanks to the lovely people at HQ Stories for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for sending me the review copy for an honest review. They have a fantastic selection of novels being published this year so do check out their website via the link above.

About the author

Kia Abdullah

Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer. She has contributed to The Guardian , BBC, and Channel 4 News, and most recently The New York Times commenting on a variety of issues affecting the Muslim community. Kia currently travels the world as one half of the travel blog Atlas & Boots, which receives over 200,000 views per month.

Visit Kia’s website at Kiaabdullah.com

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Fiction, Mystery, Summer Reads, Suspense, Thriller

The Last Stage by Louise Voss

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for the rather excellent The Last Stage by Louise Voss

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At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now she lives incognito in a cottage on the grounds of Minstead House, an old stately home, whilst working in the gift shop. Her past is behind her and she enjoys her new life.

But a series of inexplicable and unsettling incidents have started to happen around her – broken china, vandalised gardens… And when a body is found in the gardens of Minstead House, Meredith realises that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is and who wants to destroy her…

A dark, riveting and chilling psychological thriller, The Final Stage is a study of secrets and obsessions, where innocent acts can have the most terrifying consequences.

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There is such a wonderful amount of thrilling crime novels in out midst at the moment that you would be forgiven for feeling spoilt for choice, The Last Stage, however, is one you must not miss. There is an underlying sense of menace from the very start and Louise brilliantly builds the tension steadily as the novel moves on. At times she has the ability to create a kind of stillness that almost makes you feel as though you are holding your breath before the next devastating scene unfolds.

Meredith Vincent has a colourful past. After living in the public eye as the lead singer of a popular indie band back in the 80’s she is now enjoying a life of obscurity managing the gift shop in a historical house. No-one recognises her and that’s the way she is keen to keep things. Her past is not a place she wants to revisit and most certainly she doesn’t want to be found by the one person who nearly took her life one terror-stricken night over twenty years ago. Unfortunately Meredith soon discovers that the past has a way of catching up with you – especially when someone has vengeance on their mind.

The isolated setting of a stately honest time full to the brim with visitors and yet at others completely devoid of life provided an impressive and atmospheric backdrop for events to unfold. Strange happenings that couldn’t quite be explained and could initially be shrugged off but actually became much more sinister and unsettling as the story moved on.

The Last Stage is a brilliant murder-mystery come psychological thriller. The effect of events on Meredith kept me on edge throughout as her past came hurtling into her present. There was a sense of the inevitable upon finding the body but from there on the twists and turns kept me completely engrossed in this thrilling read. I whole-heartedly add this to my list of Summer Reads and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thank you so much to the lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Through My Letterbox, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the fabulous Orenda Books for sending me the review copy. As always the quality of their fiction is top notch!

The Last Stage was published on July 11th and is available in paperback, on eBook (currently 99p on Amazon) and on Audiobook (I would imagine this is fantastic to listen to!)

About the author

Louise Voss

img_0231Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had eleven novels published – five solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards: a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books. Her most recent book, The Old You, was a number one bestseller in eBook. Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at www.thewritingcoach.co.uk. She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crime- writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.

 

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Adult Fiction, Crime, Mystery, Summer Reads, Thriller

Summer Reads – About That Night

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

About That Night by Elaine Bedell

Adult Fiction

 

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Here’s the synopsis:

ELIZABETH PLACE IS THIRTY-FIVE AND SINGLE.

IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE LIKE THIS. 

Elizabeth Place might have been jilted on her wedding day one year ago, but at least she’s still got her brilliant job producing one of the biggest shows on TV!

But when larger-than-life TV host, Ricky Clough, dies live on air, her life is sent spinning out of control. And with foul play suspected, the spotlight is turned firmly on his colleagues – especially Hutch, the man desperate for Ricky’s job and whom Elizabeth is secretly dating.

As her world comes crashing down around her, Elizabeth realises that perhaps the only person she can really trust, is herself…

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I’m really looking forward to reading this one.  This is Elaine’s first novel but she has worked as a BAFTA award-winning TV producer, Controller at the BBC and Director of Entertainment at the BBC and Director of Entertainment & Comedy at ITV.  So she certainly has the insight behind the scenes of the TV industry.  :). I think this one is going to be a cracker.  Review to follow.

About That Night by Elaine Bedell is available now in paperback, eBook and Audiobook.  Visit the publishers (HQ, an imprint of HarperCollins) website here for more information on where you can buy this title (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.) 

Paperback ISBN: 9780008297688

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Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Suspense, Thriller

Razia by Abda Khan

Today I’m delighted to be the final spot on the Random Things Tours #BlogTour for Razia by Abda Khan.

From the exclusive residences of Knightsbridge to the filthy brick kilns of Lahore, Razia reveals the human cost behind a world of glamour and wealth. Written by the lawyer, domestic violence campaigner and novelist Abda Khan, it gives a unique insight into global power and corruption as they impact on one young woman’s life. Did you think that slavery is something that only happens to other people in faraway places and distant times? Read Razia, and think afresh.

Farah is a young lawyer living and working in London. She’s just ended a long relationship, and her parents are looking for a husband – whether Farah wants one or not. So far, so normal. But at a work dinner, hosted by a dangerously powerful man, she comes across a young woman called Razia, who Farah soon realises is being kept as a domestic slave.

The novel follows Farah’s daring investigations from the law courts of London to the brick kilns of Pakistan, uncovering the traps that keep generations enslaved. She encounters deep-rooted oppression and corruption everywhere she turns; when the authorities finally step in, their actions have tragic results.
Farah teams up with a human rights lawyer, Ali, and the two become close… but can she trust him; can they help Razia and others like her; will they ever discover the explosive secret behind these disastrous events?

Razia is a literary novel based on years of research, but with the pace and intrigue of the best kind of thriller. Abda writes with authority, sympathy and a heart-stopping plot that will have readers gasping until the very last page.

This is Britain’s darkest secret, made human. This is Razia’s story.

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‘The Home Office estimates that there are currently around 13,000 slaves in the UK, though other sources suggest this is a gross underestimate).’ – Can you even imagine it?  When you hear the word slave you think of the past before those oppressed and forced into servitude were made free.  I know that is naive and  that possibly, at times, I look at the world through rose-tinted glasses but I was shocked when I read this.  I mean this is in the UK! Really!  I was compelled to read more and so I embarked on Razia’s story.

Abda’s careful consideration and research is evident throughout the novel.  It is a thrilling yet disturbing read.  She shows us the stark contrast of the very rich, powerful and corrupt, to the victims who suffer at their hands; the victims who desperately need someone to fight their corner. Farah is a muslim women raised in the UK.  She is strong, independent and has a loving family behind her who are willing to let her live her life the way she sees fit… within reason.  She is supported and has been raised with empathy and kindness.  As she begins to uncover more and more about Razia and the suffering she has experienced it puts her own difficulties and concerns into perspective and she embarks on a dangerous journey from London to Pakistan as she seeks to bring justice and freedom for Razia and her family.

Abda brings the streets of Pakistan to life showing both great poverty and wealth.  For a young muslim woman there is danger around ever corner and as Farrah seeks to take on the rich and powerful she risks everything to help Razia.

It is an interesting journey, and at times chilling, as you see just how brutal human beings can be to one another.  I did enjoy this novel and it took me somewhere that I have never been before and made me question the things that are sometimes hidden away from view.  Corruption is an evil that can seep it’s way into the most powerful and it take bravery to take it on.

Published to coincide with World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July, Razia is a novel that reminds us that slavery is still very much a part of our present no matter how much we try to keep it buried in the past.

About the author

Abda Khan

1-8Abda Khan is an author and lawyer, and a passionate advocate for women’s rights. She won the Noor Inayat Khan Muslim Woman of the Year Award 2019 and was highly commended in the 2017 NatWest Asian Women of Achievement Awards in the Arts & Culture category.

Her first novel, Stained, was published in 2016. She writes fiction that deals with challenging and often taboo subjects, such as rape and ‘honour’ abuse (as featured in her novel Stained), and modern day slavery in Razia.
Abda also undertakes voluntary work as a Trustee with Birmingham & Solihull Womens Aid, as a mentor, and as a Lloyd’s Bank Women of the Future Ambassador. She is dedicated to bringing awareness to the issues she writes about, and to empowering others, as a speaker engaging with schools, youth groups, women’s organisations, community groups, prisons, and community radio and television. – excerpt taken from Unbound

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Thriller

One Way Out by A. A. Dhand

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the final day of the blog tour for the incredible One Way Out by A A Dhand.

The much-anticipated new Harry Virdee thriller from rising star A.A Dhand….

Bradford is Dhand’s city – he grew up there, studied there. He knows these streets as well as anyone. Tensely paced and characteristically meticulously plotted, One Way Out takes you into the dark heart of a city under siege..

A bomb detonates in Bradford’s City Park.

When the alert sounds, DC I Harry Virdee has just enough time to get his son and his mother to safety before the bomb blows. But this is merely a stunt.

The worst is yet to come.

A new and aggressive nationalist group, the Patriots, have hidden a second device under one of the city’s one hundred and five mosques. In exchange for the safe release of those at Friday prayers, the Patriots want custody of the leaders of radical Islamist group Almukhtareen – the chosen ones.

The government does not negotiate with terrorists. Even when thousands of lives are at risk.

There is only one way out.

But Harry’s wife is in one of those mosques. Left with no choice, Harry must find the Almukhtareen, to offer the Patriots his own deal.

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Oh. My. Goodness!  This book was amazing!  I read it on the train, couldn’t put it down and almost missed my stop!  It was completely absorbing and an absolutely thrilling read.   Right from the beginning the tension is there as we open on a bright, sunny day with families enjoying a film in the park.  Children are playing, there is laughter and fun being had, until that is, a security message flashes up on the screen just before all hell breaks lose.  Extremists are holding the city to ransom and Harry Virdee is drawn into a desperate hunt to find the leaders of a radical Islamist group.  There are of course many layers to this story and everything is not always as it seems.   A. A. Dhand brings a different perspective on racial relations, religious tensions and extremism to the streets of Bradford. It has you wondering who the bad guys actually are.

I absolutely loved Harry.  I loved him commitment and love for his family.  I was rooting for both him and his wife Saima.  And oh how I adored his mother.  Dhand shows us the conflict that often is faced both in and outside of family life and he made me really care about these characters.   Harry’s wife is in one of the mosques held under siege, the countdown is on and he suddenly needs his estranged family more than ever.  Life just became one big nightmare.  He needs to keep his head and more than anything he needs to find all four of the wanted men.  This is a complex, engaging thriller that I had be completely on the edge of my seat.  I completely lost track of time as I read on and on, each chapter drawing me further into the story.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and introducing me to this fantastic author.  I can’t wait to read his previous novels.

One Way Out by A. A. Dhand was published by Bantam Press on June 27th 2019 and is available in Hardback or eBook.

About the author

A A Dhand

1-9A.A. Dhand was raised in Bradford and spent his youth observing the city from behind the counter of a small convenience store. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he worked in London and travelled extensively before returning to Bradford to start his own business and begin writing. The history, diversity and darkness of the city have inspired his Harry Virdee novels.

 

 

You can follow A A Dhand on Twitter at @aadhand

Find out more on his website here.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Family Drama, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland

Today I’m delighted to take part in the blog tour for Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland.

 

Keep You Close is the heart-pounding, twisty follow up to Need to Know, one of 2018’s biggest thriller debuts.

‘A strange sensation runs through me, a feeling that I don’t know this person in front of me, even though he matters more to me than anyone ever has, than anyone ever will. ‘

You go into your son’s bedroom. It’s the usual mess. You tidy up some dirty plates,

pick up some clothes, open the wardrobe to put them away.
And that’s when you find it. Something so shocking it doesn’t seem real.

And you realise a horrifying truth…
Your own son might be dangerous…

Karen Cleveland brings her trademark themes of domesticity and deceit to bear in this gripping new stand-alone thriller that will make you question how much you really know about the child you raised.

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Goodness, this was super thriller with lots of twists and turns along the way.  Steph is an FBI agent woking Internal Affairs, picking up enemies along the way but driven by her pursuit to protect the innocent from the bad.  But what happens when the bad guy appears a little too close to home?  Suddenly she is filled with fear in the one place she should feel the safest, with the one person she knows the best… or she thinks she knows the best.  As her life begins to unravel Steph is forced to face the reality that her son might juts be a stranger to her and that the past always has a way of catching up with you.

This is a taught, highly charged thriller and one I thoroughly enjoyed.  As a mother I really felt for Steph.  We worry that our children will slip away from us but she faces a parents worst nightmare and some.  Karen carries the tension right the way through and has you wondering just what else Steph has to lose before this thing is finally over.  I have to say that after much consideration of ‘what would I do?’, I have to say I probably would have done exactly as Steph did in the end.  And I’m kind of hoping there might be more to come with this story…

A perfect summer read, it will keep you reading late into the night.

Thanks so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

Keep You Close is published by Bantam Press (a division of Penguin Books) on June 27th 2019 and is available in both print and eBook, and also on Audible.

About the author

Karen Cleveland

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Karen Cleveland spent eight years as a CIA analyst, focusing on counterterrorism and working briefly on rotation to the FBI. She has master’s degrees from Trinity College Dublin and Harvard University.  She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two young sons.

 

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Suspense, Thriller

The Body Lies by Jo Baker

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Body Lies by Jo Baker.

When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote countryside, it’s meant to be a fresh start, away from the big city and the scene of a violent assault she’s desperate to forget.  But despite the distractions of a new life and single motherhood, her nerves continue to jangle.  To make matters worse, a vicious debate about violence against women inflames the tensions and mounting rivalries in her creative writing group.

When a troubled student starts sending in chapters from his novel that blur the lines between fiction and reality, the professor recognises herself as the main character in his book – and he has written her a horrific fate.

Will she be able to stop life imitating art before it’s too late?

At once a breathless battle-of-wits and a disarming exploration of sexual politics, The Body Lies is an essential book for our times.

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I don’t think I’ve ever felt such fear for a character.  There is something deeply unsettling within this story.  From the very beginning there is a sense of menace deep rooted within and the tension gradually builds and builds until I could hardly bear it.  For the Friends fans amongst you, there was a point where I considered putting the book in the freezer!

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In all seriousness though this is a riveting read.  Afterwards I thought about how much it had got into my head, how much I actually felt as though I was living the story.  The story is written in a first person narrative.  We watch things unfold as our protagonist does.  We go through the first attack and then everything else that follows.  It was intense.  But it wasn’t just this that made it feel so intimate.  It was only afterwards that I realised that I never even knew what this characters name was.  I looked back through, perhaps I’ve missed it but even now she is nameless.  This is one of the things that made me feel so involved,  I couldn’t segmentize her in my mind as Paula or Emma or whoever.  This had an incredibly powerful effect at pulling me into the story and really living it with her.  Superb.  As I drew closer and closer towards the end it made me smile at the cleverness of this author and the way she writes.

The story itself is dark and delves into the effects of writing.  It is often wondered where writers come up with their stories and some consider that there must be an element of truth there and this story touches on the brilliantly.  Jo uses it as another form of harassment.  Yet of course writers are not actually always writing from experience but this novel just goes to show the power stories and words have.

As the synopsis says The Body Lies  is heavily influenced by sexual politics.  As I read I found myself watching the errors of judgement that our narrator took and wanting to say ‘no, no, no’, to stop the fallout I could see coming.  However, it’s easy to judge when looking in from the comfort of your safe, warm, home how we possibly should react in such circumstances.  Yet our narrator is kind, thoughtful and simply trying to do her best with whatever is thrown at her – she really is not deserving if what happens to her.   But I do think that Jo’s message here is important.  Quite often women are held at fault for things that are out of their control: a situation taken advantage of, the fear of reaction and how to deal with something that you want to just ignore and hope will fade away but feels like a ticking bomb.  This is what forces so many to remain silent. The reaction of how others perceive what is happening is key and can make circumstances even more difficult.   Of course what happens here is extreme but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t women suffering a similar fate.  I’d say that this novel is a lesson in speaking up and remembering that violence or abuse it is never okay.

All in all this is a thrilling, gripping read where there are moments that you may want to look away…but you won’t be able to, not until you turn the very final page.

The Body Lies has been published by Doubleday, an imprint of Penguin Books.

Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and for sharing with me this sleep-depriving read. :). I loved it.

About the author

Jo Baker

1-2JO BAKER is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling LONGBOURN and A COUNTRY ROAD, A TREE. Her new novel, THE BODY LIES, is a thrilling contemporary novel that explores violence against women in fiction but is also a disarming story of sexual politics.

Jo Baker lives with her family in Lancashire.

 

 

You can follow Jo on Twitter at @JoBakerWriter

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