Adult Fiction, Bookish Post, Coming Soon, Crime, Debut, Fiction, Review, Suspense, Thriller

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

A Tales Before Bedtime Sunday Review

Sometimes you discover an author and there is an instant connection.  You soak up their words and disappear into their worlds.  Whenever you hear there is a new offering on the horizon your ears prick up, damn it your whole damn head up – somewhat like a meerkat – and wait eagerly for it to arrive.  It’s a truly wonderful feeling.  One such author that holds that magic over me is Louise Beech. Her writing never fails to leave me entranced.  Her novels are all so different and yet all so wonderful.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to receive a proof copy of her latest novel, Call Me Star Girl.  

There were three things that sold this novel to me.  

The author. The publisher. The synopsis.  

Although the fact that it was quoted as being ‘reminiscent of Play Misty For Me, surely one of Clint Eastwood finest and most chilling of films, did catch my attention too.  I watched the film again not too long ago and there is still so much I love about it, not least the 70’s music, style and cinematography, but it gives you the feeling that you’re watching a series of events spiralling helplessly out of control. All these factors put together had me feeling this novel was going to be GOOOOD.  And Oh my, I wasn’t wrong.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

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Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show.

The theme is secrets.  You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.  Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years.  She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father…

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station, who says he knows who killed the pregnant Victoria Valbon, found brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago. 

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything.

In her writing Louise delves deep into the mind. She looks at cause and effect, how events and trauma shape our personalities and actions. We can never really know what goes on in another’s mind and she shows the dark maze winding deep within each of us; holding endless fears, desires, doubts and secrets. It is truly powerful. Call Me Star Girl also looks at the darker side of love. The all-consuming love that can rarely end well. The story is dark, creepy and utterly engrossing as Stella’s past and present collide with shattering consequences.

Louise’s characters have this wonderful ability to get inside your head, leading you on with the story, sharing their story, so you are standing right beside them in that dark, god forsaken alley. Atmospheric to say the least, the setting of a radio station through the night provides the perfect backdrop for events to unfold.

Her plotting is superb, the twists and turns leaving you fearful for the outcome but unable to tear yourself away. This is one story that will stay with you; like a whisper it will creep into your thoughts long after you turn the final page.

Absolutely brilliant and thoroughly recommended.

Here is a wee snippet taken from the first few pages…

‘The lights buzzed and flickered. I held my breath. Exhaled when they settled. I would not be spooked by a trickster.

Stella, this will tell you everything.

How did they know what I wanted to know?

What was everything?

I opened the main door, book held tight to my hammering chest. The car park was empty, a weed-logged expanse edged with dying trees. It’s always quiet at this hour of the night. I waited, not sure what I expected to happen – maybe some stranger loitering, hunched over and menacing. They would not scare me.

“I’m not afraid,’ I said it aloud.

Who was I trying to convince?

I set off for home. I usually walk, enjoying the night air after a stuffy studio. I’m not sure why – though now it seems profound – but I paused at the alley that separates the allotment from the Fortune Bingo hall. Bramble bushes tangle there like sweet barbed wire. It’s a long but narrow cut-through that kids ride their bikes too fast along and drunks stagger down when the pub shuts. I rarely walk down there, even though it would make my journey home quicker. The place disturbs me, so I always hurry past, take the long way around, without glancing into the shadows.

I did that night too.

But I looked back. Just once, the strange book pressed against my chest.

It was two weeks before they found the girl there.

Two weeks before I started getting phone calls.

I didn’t know any of that then. If I had, I might have walked a little faster.’

About the Author

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015.  the follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize.  Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed and critically acclaimed.  All four have been #1 kindle bestsellers.  Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetics Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.  Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

You can follow Louise on Twitter: @LouiseWriter and visit her website here.

Call Me Star Girl is published by Orenda Books on April 18th 2019 which still gives you plenty of time to discover Louise’s previous work if you haven’t yet done so.

Thank you so much to the lovely team at Orenda Books for sending me the proof copy to read and review for an honest opinion.

 

 

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Thriller

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb and oh my, is it a cracking good read.  Published on January 10th this novel has quite literally started my new year off with a bang.  It was an absolute treat to read.  Fast paced, brutal and a total adrenaline ride, I consumed it in a weekend.  Every possible minute this beauty  was in my hands.  It was a deliciously guilty pleasure and I overindulged with glee.

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Yes, I know, my fluffy slippers and comfy pj’s don’t exactly say ‘girl kicking ass’ but in my head I was right there, living it. 🙂

Here’s the synopsis:

A price on her head.  A secret worth dying for.

Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead.  Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them.  If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed.  If she fails, they die.

With North due back in court in 48 hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family.  Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined.

In this race only the winner gets out alive…

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Deep Dirty Truth  is book three in the series and I have to be honest and say that this is my first encounter with Lori Anderson.  It didn’t hinder my reading in any way.  The story is so sharp, so well written that I felt like I’d been following all along.  The novel has been described as ‘Brimming with tension, high-voltage action & high-stakes jeopardy’ and I completely agree.  I just could not put it down.  I loved it.  It was a thrilling ride and I instantly fell in love with Lori.  Man, can she kick ass and yet there is something vulnerable about her, something that makes her incredibly likeable.  From the very outset I was invested in her and her feisty, courageous daughter, Dakota.

The story starts off with a perfectly normal school run but within pages the action hits as Lori is abducted right outside the school gates.  From that moment on it doesn’t let up and the death toll steadily rises as she fights against all odds to keep her family – and herself – alive.   We hear the story mostly through Lori’s voice so we can feel her fear, pain, courage, anger, and her sheer determination to find a way out of this seemingly hopeless situation.

Apparently film rights are under negotiation and that is nothing but a good thing.  Its just crying out for the big screen.  Thoroughly recommended.

More about the author

1-2Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most
of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego –
Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging
at crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest
releases. She is also a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University
London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California, which inspired her Lori
Anderson thrillers. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and
chickens.

Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.

Thank you so much to the wonderful Anne Cater and superb publisher, Orenda Books for my review copy.  I shall definitely look to catch up on the previous two Lori Anderson novels and very much look forward to book four.

Find out more about author Steph Broadribb here.

Find out more about Orenda Books here.

For more reviews on this awesome novel check out #DeepDirtyTruth on Twitter and follow the #BlogTour

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Adult Fiction, Christmas 2018

Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech

This next title is for adults. Louise is a wonderful, wonderful writer. Her stories are incredible and she has the most beautiful way with words. Her first novel was only published in 2015 and already she has an impressive collection of titles under her belt. I urge you to try any one of them but today I’d like to recommend the one that introduced me to this fantastic author and in which I fell in love, Maria In The Moon.

Like a cold spider, the memory stirred in my head and spun an icy web about my brain. Someone else crawled in. I remembered

Thirty-one-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.

With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything.

Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

Adult Fiction, Christmas 2018, Ghost Stories

The Lingering by SJI Holliday

And so my first recommended read is an adult ghost story. I reviewed this on my blog quite recently and I absolutely loved it.

Adult Fiction – A Christmas Eve Book Love Recommendation

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Debut

Attend by West Camel

1-2Every now and then a novel comes along that is something particularly extraordinary and unusual.  Attend is one such novel.  A tapestry in novel form, West has built a story that brings together the threads of three very different lives.  Characters who have suffered, are suffering, who feel broken and cut off. Failures, unable to fit in and yet when it comes down to it, as we weave our way through the story we can see that those around them are just the same, if not worse.  Perhaps these broken souls can actually save themselves and those around them after all.

Deborah is this strange, almost ghost like figure.  She is old, very old.  A lonely, invisible soul who believes she can never die.  She also believes that people can’t see her yet Sam and Anne both stumble across her at a time when each are consumed with a sense of despair and sadness.  Sam has moved to Deptford in the hope to finding his way and to escape the cycle of self hate and one night stands with strange men.  Anne is a recovering addict, ostracised from her family, daughter and grandson.  She’s now clean but those closest to her are set in their belief that she’ll never change, that she’ll always be a disappointment.

For both Sam and Anne, their encounters with Deborah are confusing and almost unbelievable and yet somehow she begins to make them see things a little more clearly with her strange stories and adventures. She seems to lurk in the background and yet is a central character leading the story; the thread that brings them together if you like.

This is a brilliantly written and impressive debut from West.  Words at times can be crass and harsh, making me wince and at other times beautiful and lyrical, perfectly capturing all at once the heartbreak and the brutality, as well as the beauty and wonder of the lives we are visiting.  There is a magical mystery that is held beneath the streets of Deptford, in tunnels where secrets lie still within the dank darkness. Yet these secrets begin to surface as dangerous events threaten those dear to both Sam and Anne. Action must be taken and so both face their own demons head on for the sake of those they love.

This is a tale that shows us the impact our actions can have… they seep out into the world, affecting people and events far more than we realise. No matter how small we feel our lives are, they matter.  Even for Deborah, who felt invisible and forgotten for so long.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and to Orenda Books for a copy of the eBook.  Attend is a wonderful, rich atmospheric novel and I thoroughly recommend it.

Synopsis

‘A highly anticipated debut, blending the magical realism of Angela Carter and the gritty authenticity of Eastenders’

When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah. Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne
and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises. With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters and set against the unmistakable backdrop of Deptford and South London.

 

About the Author

1Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda Books with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost- writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short
scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Fiction, Thriller

Good Samaritans by Will Carver

Two women have been murdered. Some time apart but it’s undoubtedly the same killer, yet nothing ties them together.

Seth is an insomniac. He feels frustrated, lonely and spends his nights drinking coffee and talking to strangers on the phone.

Maeve is his wife. She drinks too much and spends her nights alone in the marital bed listening to the murmurs of her husband as he talks and waiting for him to make yet another mistake so that he’ll need her again.

Hadley is depressed. She’s tried killing herself and still thinks about it constantly until one night she decides to call the Samaritans. Finally she finds someone she can talk to, someone who understands. At least that what she thinks…

Wowser, this is one that will stay with me for some time. Brutal, thrilling with no holds barred, this is an extraordinary novel; gradually building pace so you’re literally unable to put the book down until you arrive breathlessly at the end. It is somewhat disturbing right from the start but I found myself unable to look away. The characters are brilliantly constructed and each view point gradually adds to the story until the puzzle is complete.

This is the first novel I have read by Will Carver and I absolutely love his writing style. His short, punchy chapters are brilliant, each told from a different viewpoint. Great characterisation and a knack for picking up on the minute details of ordinary life, make this an extraordinary piece of crime fiction. He highlights society, the use of social media, the monotony of life when lived through technology; the things we miss and the sheer loneliness that we feel despite being surrounded by people, either in reality or virtually. The way we constantly suffer an overflow of information; it messes with our minds causing insomnia, depression and pushes us to spend our lives judging people, shutting out those ones that are close and yet never really knowing what is going on beneath the surface. Always comparing and never satisfied with our own reality.

‘….And he was sick of the way social media had made people less sociable and how the great art of conversation had seemingly been lost somewhere between your latest faux-bragging status and your next hashtag.’

I’m not sure that I particularly warmed to any of the characters but each one held me spellbound as I tried to work out how the dead women fitted in to their stories… and if another was about to join them. Who was the killer? There are clues dropped along the way but my mind kept changing as I explored every possibility. The end didn’t disappoint and already I’m flicking back through to look over the clues.

Good Samaritans is quite hard hitting. There are elements that we can all relate to – some of the references to Facebook certainly made me think and there were many parts that I found quite shocking and yet unable to stop reading. This is not a read for the easily shocked so be aware there are some hard-hitting scenes but oh my it’s good. I, for one, could not put it down.

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his
phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps
upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans. But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…

And someone is watching…

Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the
scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.

About the author

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Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the JanuaryDavid series (Arrow). He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and
television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company.

He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

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Thank you so much to Anne Cater for my review copy and for inviting me to take part in this blog tour with #RandomThingsTours This is another awesome novel from the good people at Orenda Books.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Ghost Stories, Thriller

The Lingering by S.J.I Holliday – Blog Tour

51pwBO4B-VL._SY346_Jack and Ali are looking for a fresh start and a new home at Rosalind House, a self-sufficient commune established in a former psychiatric hospital.  But the couple are clearly not all they seem, and their arrival sparks a chain of unexpected and unexplained incidents.

As the disturbing history of Rosalind House and the nearby village come to light, events from the past return to haunt the residents, and someone is seeking retribution…

Atmospheric, chilling, the tension masterfully built as the true horror of the story is revealed.  Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Lingering by SJI Holliday and this one, dear reader, is a cracker of a novel.

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Something lingers at Rosalind House. The place has a reputation with the locals and certainly the commune that is currently based there is only adding kindling to the flames. Yet all they seek is to live in peace and remove themselves from the excess of modern life. They simply seek an escape.

Jack and Ali arrive in what appears to be a last ditch attempt to save their marriage, their sanity and themselves.  They have left everything behind and yet there is the sense they are running away from something, something that isn’t quite ready to let them go.  Their circumstances are revealed gradually through the story and I have to say that parts of their backstory gave me more chills than the events at Rosalind House. Not everyone is suited to the life of a commune and Ali struggles to adapt. Strange things start to happen and it’s not long before she begins to doubt her decision to go there. Their past however, doesn’t seem to want to leave them and it creeps slowly into the day to day life of the commune.  Their arrival causes Rosalind House to stir.  It’s dark history leaving them unable to find any peace until the icy, chill of its touch reaches out and grabs them. Evil has been lingering in the shadows of Rosalind House and it seems that Jack and Ali’s arrival only helps bring it out into the light.

A fantastic mix of psychological thriller, murder mystery and ghost story, The Lingering is simply wonderful.  It pulls you in right from the get-go and consumes your thoughts long after the final page is turned.  Even now, several weeks later, it still send shivers down my spine and creeps into my dreams.  I do love a creepy, story but just one word of advice… perhaps don’t read this in the bath.

The Lingering by S J I Holliday is another fantastic offering from the wonderful Orenda Books

You can follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday or visit her website: sjiholliday.com.

Thank you so much to Anne at and Orenda Books for my review copy and for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.  This is a book I will definitely be recommending and I now look forward to reading more from S J I Holliday.

There is a fantastic promotional video on Facebook which I very much urge you to take a peek at here.