Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Thriller

In the Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for In the Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone.  This is an absolute must read for lovers of psychological thrillers.

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Synopsis

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…

My thoughts

‘Superb’ springs to mind when I think of how to describe this novel.  It’s an absolutely chilling read and right from the moment John discovered that single, mysterious shoe I was absolutely enthralled with the story.  Any parent will admit that a child disappearing is their worst fear.  never knowing what happened to them?  How can anyone deal with such a thing?  And yet there is so much more to this story then that.  The mystery surrounding the family is intriguing and throughout the novel a darkness is hinted at with whispers of memories hidden, memories that are bound to erupt above the surface leaving catastrophe in their wake.

John is an interesting character and you know that there is so much going on there, he is struggling with something but he doesn’t know what.  All he knows is that drink and avoidance keep him sane. He craves normality.  A good job and a woman to love but something is holding him back.  The self destruct button is never far away.   Life begins to spiral out of control as he begins to investigate a brother he has no memory of.  So what happens when the memories can no longer be avoided, what happens when they begin to return?

This was a fantastic page turner and one that I really didn’t want to put down.  Another fantastic novel from the team at Orenda Books and another author that I can add to my ‘must read!’ list.

Thank you so much to the lovely Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and to Orenda Books for my review copy.  Another absolute cracker you guys!

About the author

1-1Michael 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.

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Adult Fiction, Family Drama, Fiction, Netgalley, Review

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die by Shirshenda Muckhopadhyay

Synopsis

At eighteen, Somlata married into the Mitras: a once noble Bengali household whose descendants have taken to pawning off the family gold to keep up appearances.

When Pishima, the embittered matriarch, dies, Somlata is the first to discover her aunt-in-law’s body – and her sharp-tongued ghost.

First demanding that Somlata hide her gold from the family’s prying hands, Pishima’s ghost continues to wreak havoc on the Mitras. Secrets spilt, cooking spoilt, Somlata finds herself at the centre of the chaos. And as the family teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, it looks like it’s up to her to fix it.

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is a frenetic, funny and fresh novel about three generations of Mitra women, a jewellery box, and the rickety family they hold together.

My thoughts…

This was an interesting and engaging read. I was greatly intrigued by the title and the synopsis. This novel brings this Bengali family to life with colour and wit. The aunt of the title is cantankerous and difficult and leaves as much of a shadow on the family in death as in life. Young Somlata who has recently married into the Mitra family and after discovering her aunt-in-law’s body (and her lingering spirit) has more to deal with than an average young Bengali family. Her aunt-in-law seems hellbent on making life difficult and full of hatred and spite for her surviving family. Yet in many ways her choosing to reveal herself to young Somlata seems the obvious choice as the young girl proves that she can more than hold her own in this chaotic family.

A short but fascinating story that was highly enjoyable and a wonderful snapshot into a culture very different my own.

Thank you to the Netgalley and the publisher, John Murray for my review copy.

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is available in hardback, eBook and on Audiobook, with a paperback edition coming in 2020.

2+, 3+, 5+, 7+, Poetry, Review, Summer Reads

Dinosaur Poems: A selection of verses and rhymes with real bite! By John Foster and Korky Paul

If you thought dinosaurs were extinct, then think again! They live on in the stomping, chomping, growling, howling poem collection. So if you’re looking for poetry with a prehistoric twist, look no further than this sensational selection.

Poet John Foster was an English Teacher for twenty years but has been compiling poetry anthologies since 1979 and has written twelve of his own. He has a website crammed with poetry and inspiration and well worth a visit. Dinosaur Poems is an anthology of poems entirely about dinosaurs. It’s a fantastically funny and informative collection of rhyming poems that are perfect for reading aloud. I particularly loved ‘Ten Dancing Dinosaurs’ and ‘The Bookoceros or Ancient Thesaurus’.

The illustrations to accompany this fine collection of dino poems are provided by the rather wonderful Korky Paul (you may have enjoyed his work on the Winnie & Wilbur series). I adore his illustrations. They are filled with humour and interesting details that bring the words alive and adds another dimension to reading the poetry (I particularly love the bunny slippers for ‘Dinosaur Stomp’). There is always plenty to point at with Korky’s illustrations!

This is a brilliant little book of poetry. It is paperback and size wise is about the size of an A5 notebook. There are 21 poems to share and once you’ve finished reading them why not have a go at writing your own. 🙂

Dinosaur Poems is published by Oxford University Press Children’s Books. It was originally published in Hardback back in 1993 but is now available in paperback with Korky’s fabulous illustrations.

The paperback ISBN no is: 9780192767486 and should be available from all good book shops. For more information why not check out the publisher website.

Thank you so much to the lovely team at OUP for sending me a review copy. I absolutely loved it.

2+, 3+, Bedtime Stories, Picture Books

Moon River: There’s Such a Lot of World To See illustrated by Tim Hopgood

Based on the song by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini

Follow a little girl on a magical journey along the Moon River. It flows from her bedroom and out into the big wide world just waiting to be discovered. She’s soon to be joined by other children who are all excited to be exploring the beautiful world together. There is such a lot of world to see!

Moon River is a song composed by Henry Mancini with Lyrics by Johnny Mercer. It recieved an Academy Award for Best Original Song for its performance by Audrey Hepburn in the iconic movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

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This is a stunningly illustrated picture book inspired by the words of the classic song Moon River. As with all picture books the illustrations bring so much more to the story as we see a young girl’s dreams take her on a journey aboard her trusty rocking horse with Ted as her companion. Together they explore the world looking for the ‘same rainbow’s end…waiting round the bend’. Their journey is gentle and Tim has created beautiful, soft illustrations that are perfect to explore together as you unwind ready for a dream-filled sleep and your own adventures. There is also an accompanying CD which is perfect for those of us who still have a CD player at both home or in the car. Brilliant to avoid having to use yet another App or download. The CD has the original song sung by Andy Williams (rather lovely to put on after you’ve shared the story) and a audible version of the story with page-turn prompts (I find this can be useful as your children begin to explore books alone or again if you’re travelling in the car).

Overall a beautifully illustrated picture book that is perfect for sharing with little ones at bedtime and could well become an often returned to classic in itself.

Moon River by Tim Hopgood is available in hardback and paperback and should be available from all good book shops. For more information visit the Oxford University Press Website here.

You can follow Oxford University Press Kids on Twitter at @OUPChildrens

To find out more about illustrator Tim Hopgood and his fantastic selection of children’s books, please visit his website here.

You can also follow Tim on Twitter at @TimHopgood

Paperback ISBN: 9780192746405

Hardback ISBN: 9780192746399

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

Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou – blog tour 14th June

Today I am delighted to host the blog tour for Laurie Petrou’s debut novel, Sister of Mine.

TWO SISTERS.  ONE FIRE. A SECRET THAT WON’T BURN OUT.

The Grayson sisters are trouble.  Everyone in their small town. knows it.  But no-one can know of the secret that binds them together.  Hattie is the light.  Penny is the darkness.  Together they have balance.

But one night the balance is toppled.  A match struck.  A fire is started.  A cruel husband is killed. The potential for a new life flickers in the fire’s embers but resentment, guilt and jealousy suffocate like smoke.

Their lives have been engulfed in flames – will they ever be able to put them out?

Stepped in intrigue and suspense, Sister of Mine  is a powerhouse debut; a sharp, disquieting thriller written in stunning, elegant prose with a devastating twist.  And of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies  and Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door will be utterly absorbed by this compulsive novel.

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Well this is certainly an engrossing read and a gripping debut from Laurie Petrou who sets the scene with unwavering tension that continues throughout the entire novel.  You are constantly just waiting for the truth to be spilled, for some further tragedy to occur and everything to come tumbling down.  Our narrator is Penny, abused by her husband and one day she snaps and he dies in a fire.  She shares her secret with younger sister Hattie and it’s only through the course of the novel that we find out what really happened that night.  Their secret begins to eat a whole in their quiet life. Of course secrets always have a way of being found out and this one might just tear them apart.

To be honest I can’t say I liked either sister very much but I was compelled to follow their story, I knew there was more to the fire that killed Buddy, the abusive husband, and of course there was.  The relationship between the sisters is intense, toxic and seems to burn all those who come within reach.  Sister of Mine is a well written debut that has a sense of menace running throughout, an eerie tension that pulls you into the story right until the very end.

Thanks so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.

Sister of Mine is published by No Exit Press.

About the author

Laurie Petrou

1-5LAURIE PETROU has a PhD in Communication and Culture, and is an Associate
Professor at Ryerson’s RTA School of Media in Toronto, where she is also the Director
of the Masters of Media Production program. She has given several TEDx talks on
subjects including gender and rejection. Laurie was the inaugural winner of the Half
the World Global Literati Award in 2016, a prize that honours unpublished work
featuring female protagonists, for her novel Sister of Mine. She now lives in a small
town in Ontario wine country with her husband, a wine maker, and their two sons.

You can follow Laurie on Twitter at @lauriepetrou

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Fiction, Thriller

The Bridal Party by J G Murray

Today I am delighted to kick off the blog tour for The Bridal Party by J G Murray.  This is one chilling read!

WINNER OF THE DEVIANT MINDS CRIME THRILLER PRIZE 2018

Sometimes friendship can be murder…

It’s the weekend of Clarisse’s bridal party, a trip the girls have all been looking forward to.

Then, on the day of their flight, Tamsyn, the maid of honour, suddenly backs out. Upset and confused, they try to make the most of the stunning, isolated seaside house they find
themselves in.  But, there is a surprise in store – Tamsyn has organised a murder mystery, a sinister game in which they must discover a killer in their midst. As tensions quickly boil over, it becomes clear to them all that there are some secrets that won’t stay buried…

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From the very first page this novel grabs your attention with bloodstains and the creepy events.   Immediately the atmosphere is filled with tension but as you continue you are drip fed information leaving you on edge and unable to stop reading. We going a group of friends embarking on a hen weekend in Jersey.  A weekend of fun, drink and surprises all organised by maid of honour, Tamsyn.   However things begin to unravel when, at the last minute, Tamsyn in unable to make it.  Now it’s down to the rest of the hens to make sure the bride still has a weekend she’ll remember.

Things are looking up when they arrive at a luxurious, yet remote house with the promise of cosy, drink fuelled fun.  It’s not long before a series of events occur that leave the friends feeling uneasy and on edge, and what should be a fun filled girlie weekend becomes a fight for survival from an unknown predator. Desperate to keep their fearss from the bride, the hens try to keep the atmosphere light but there’s a growing sense of unease as small things start to chip away. It seems that events from the past are coming back to haunt them and being miles from nowhere, with no phone lines or internet connection, things begin to spiral out of control. This is quite a intense read and the end was brilliantly done, leaving me reeling with the after effects.

Allow yourself some me-time, this is a novel to curl up with and read in one sitting. Absolutely chilling. Sink into the atmosphere and be carried along on the ride.

About the author

J G Murray Author Picture

J G Murray grew up in Cornwall and, after a spell selling chocolates in Brussels, qualified as an
English teacher. Murray now lives, teaches and writes in London.

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for my review copy.

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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.