A Version of the Truth by B.P. Walter @BarnabyWalter @AvonBooksUK

Today I’m sharing my review of A Version of The Truth by B.P. Walter. Many thanks to Sabah Khan for the blog tour invite.

About this book…

We all see what we want to see…

2019: Julianne is preparing a family dinner when her son comes to her and says he’s found something on his iPad. Something so terrible, it will turn Julianne’s world into a nightmare and make her question everything about her marriage and what type of man her husband is or is pretending to be.

1990: Holly is a fresher student at Oxford University. Out of her depth and nervous about her surroundings, she falls into an uneasy friendship with a group of older students from the upper echelons of society and begins to develop feelings for one in particular. He’s confident, quiet, attractive and seems to like her too. But as the year progresses, her friends’ behaviour grows steadily more disconcerting and Holly begins to realise she might just be a disposable pawn in a very sinister game.

A devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over twenty-five years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find?

My review…

As I’m sure your mother has always told you, there are three sides to every story-your version, their version and the truth! And here we have two women, two different periods of time and two very differing views about a group of university students both in the past and the present. The beautiful, supportive wife and the young, naive fresher seem to have very little in common but as the narrative develops it becomes clear that first impressions aren’t to be trusted.

Now I’m no fan of “trigger warnings” as I think most of us can make up our own minds when we pick up a book as we usually have a pretty good idea of what it contains. But I do feel I should say that this book is graphically descriptive in places and that it makes for some very uncomfortable reading at times. It’s utterly shocking in it’s plausibility as well and that’s what makes it so tough to read at times. But now that I’ve got that out of the way, I do have to say that this is a BRILLIANT read that gripped me between its hot, sticky hands and squeezed until I could barely breathe. From the first few pages I knew that this would be a difficult book to put down and it was, even though I desperately wanted to at times, when things came to a head and I found myself not really mentally prepared to know how those depths of depravity were truly being plumbed.

There were so many deeply unlikeable characters in this book-with one in particular making me feel physically sick with hatred of him and his actions! I’m not going into details as I want the shocks to hit you as hard as they did me in this disturbing and unsettling debut novel but be prepared to hate with a passion!! The ending was satisfying without being totally 100% resolved and I was left thinking about what was happening once the pages were no longer there to turn.

Gripping and harrowing but completely addictive from start to finish.

Meet the author…

Barnaby Walter works as a social media co-ordinator for Waterstones, based at their HQ in Piccadilly. A Version of the Truth is his debut novel.

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Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce #blogtour #randomthingstours @annecater @harriet_tyce @Wildfirebks

Today I’ve got a review of Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce, a debut novel that’s going to be huge in 2019! Many thanks to the wonderful Anne Cater for my invite onto the tour.

About this book…

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems… 

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it. 

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up. 

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

My review…

This book cover has been EVERYWHERE recently and has been a hugely anticipated read for lots of people, myself included! So when Blood Orange managed to work its way to the top of my TBR pile, I wanted to make the most of that feeling of nervous expectation you get when it’s a book you’re really been looking forward to. So I waited for a child free day (harder than it sounds!!!) and then cuddled up on the sofa with it (plus the leftover Christmas chocolates) and dived in! And I have to say that this book has now catapulted itself onto my best books of 2019 list…IT IS BLOODY BRILLIANT! It’s shocking, addictive and breathtakingly clever-a debut worthy of all the accolades that should be heaped upon it!

Now I’ve seen a few reviews so far saying that they didn’t like the main character, Alison. Yes, she’s not a very easy character to take to especially at first. She drinks heavily, she lies, she’s cheating on her husband but she’s a fantastic barrister and she adores her daughter Matilda even if she’s rarely at home to spend time with her. Handling her first murder case means spending more time away from the family home and even when she’s able to get back to her family, she still chooses to spend time away from them with her lover. But I absolutely loved her from the very beginning due to her strength of character, even if it wasn’t always aimed in an “appropriate” direction. She reminded me of a friend of mine (especially the karaoke scene!) who changed my life forever when she took me under her wing and because of her I understood exactly why Alison acted the way she did. The use of alcohol masked some very dark and controlling behaviour that had more in common with the woman accused of murdering her husband than either of them expected. And those slowly revealed plot developments worked perfectly because of Alison’s personality flaws even though it was often “car crash” fiction at its best.

This is a compelling story of control and addiction, of obsession and lust, all wrapped up in a twisty bundle of deceit. And as I turned the pages faster and faster towards the ending, the shocks just kept on coming until I thought I couldn’t be surprised anymore…I WAS WRONG! When I finally closed Blood Orange, it was with a hugely satisfying sigh and a desire to read more books by Harriet Tyce as soon as humanly possible. This book has been compared to two of my favourite books of recent years, Anatomy of a Scandal and Apple Tree Yard, and I do have to say it’s a worthy comparison. I absolutely adored this book and I hope you do too.

Blood Orange was published by Wildfire on 21st February 2019.

Meet the author…

Harriet Tyce grew up in Edinburgh and studied English at Oxford University before doing a law conversion course at City University. She practised as a criminal barrister in London for nearly a decade, and recently completed an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia. She lives in north London. Blood Orange is her debut novel.

Happiness for Beginners by Carole Matthews is out today! Happy publication day @carolematthews @littlebookcafe

It’s publication day for Happiness for Beginners! I’m so looking forward to reading this within the coming weeks but here is a little bit about what to expect from her newest release!

About this book…

Molly Baker is living her best life.

Thirty-eight years old, she lives on the twenty-five-acre Hope Farm in Buckinghamshire, surrounded by (mostly) four-legged friends and rolling hills. There’s Anthony the anti-social sheep, Tina Turner the alpaca with attitude, and the definitely-not-miniature pig, Teacup.

Molly runs the farm as an alternative school for kids who haven’t thrived in mainstream education. It’s full on, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. So when the well-groomed Shelby Dacre turns up at Hope Farm asking to enrol his son Lucas, Molly isn’t fazed. 

But Lucas is distant and soon Molly realises he might be more of a handful than she anticipated. And then there’s the added problem that his dad is distractingly handsome. Molly has her beloved farm to think of – could letting Lucas and Shelby in be a terrible mistake, or the start of something wonderful?

Feel-good, funny and an absolute must-read from the queen of romance Carole Matthews, Molly’s story will make your heart sing. New starts and second chances abound in Happiness for Beginners.

Happiness for Beginners is out today and can be purchased HERE from Amazon or HERE from Waterstones

Meet the author…

Carole Matthews is the Sunday Timesbestselling author of over thirty novels, including the top ten bestsellers The Cake Shop in the Garden, A Cottage by the Sea,Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses, The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas and Calling Mrs Christmas. In 2015, Carole was awarded the RNA Outstanding Achievement Award. Her novels dazzle and delight readers all over the world and she is published in more than thirty countries.

For all the latest news from Carole, visit http://www.carolematthews.com, follow Carole on Twitter (@carolematthews) and Instagram (matthews.carole) or join the thousands of readers who have become Carole’s friend on Facebook (carolematthewsbooks).

The Secretary by Renee Knight #secretarybook #randomthingstours #blogtour @annecater

Welcome to my spot on the blog tour for The Secretary by Renee Knight-one that I have been really looking forward to! Huge thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me onboard.

About this book…

Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .

My review…

This was another book that I had been really looking forward to after reading Disclaimer some time ago. And it was one that I seemed to read a lot slower than I normally would with a book I was desperate to devour. That probably had a lot to do with the way in which The Secretary was written, with a slowly built storyline that spent time developing the character and mindset of Christine Butcher in her role as personal secretary to Mina Appleton, a well known “celebrity”. I found that I wanted to really take my time so that I didn’t miss any of the pointers that lead me towards understanding the decisions that she made and how those decisions evolved over the years until a very different Christine stands before us. Plus it was so chilling, I just couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages-“car crash” fiction at its best!!

Renee Knight writes such beautifully expressive prose that I became completely and utterly involved in the life and character of Christine. I found her journey, from being discovered and interviewed by her future employer to being Nina’s trusted but not completely involved confidant, a fascinating one from start to finish. It’s a very detailed narrative, developing over a number of years as we watch Christine gain confidence in her role, until we realise that this job has now become her entire life so she needs to do whatever it takes to keep it that way. I’ve always been fascinated by what attracts an employer to certain applicants and here I do think that the Christine who starts her job has a certain quality that is spotted by her future boss. She seems easily flattered and her eagerness to please is often exploited but even though she’s not the most likeable of characters, I did find myself sympathetic towards her plight. I think the method in which the author gradually explored and developed the relationship between boss/employee, as the power shifted from one to the other, was very clever indeed as was the ending which formed the perfect conclusion to the misshapen circle of loyalty that surrounded them.

Dark, complex and devious , I was gripped throughout this book, with my own loyalties barely balancing on the high wire of trust, unable to decide which way to descent. Christine wasn’t always likeable due to her actions but that didn’t spoil my utter pleasure in my own voyeuristic examination of her innermost self.

Fabulous book and well worth the wait!

About the author…

Renée Knight worked for the BBC directing arts documentaries before turning to writing. She has had TV and film scripts commissioned by the BBC, Channel Four, and Capital Films. In April 2013, she graduated from the Faber Academy “Writing a Novel” course, whose alumni include S. J. Watson. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

My Last Lie by Ella Drummond #blogtour @HeraBooks @drummondella1 @BOTBSPublicity

Today I have a review for a debut novel by Ella Drummond called My Last Lie. Many thanks to Sarah Hardy at Book On The Bright Side Publicity for me invite.

About this book…

New beginnings. Old secrets.
Theo and Pilar. The perfect couple.

Successful, beautiful and very much in love
Until a year ago – and the tragedy that nearly tore them apart.
When their baby died, a part of them died with him. 
Now they’re trying to rebuild themselves, moving to a stunning house in rural Cornwall. 
But someone knows all their secrets – and will stop at nothing to disturb their fragile peace. 

Theo and Pilar are about to learn that you can try to hide – but you can never outrun your past

My review…

When the front cover of a book promises me a completely gripping psychological thriller then it really does need to impress me! But thankfully within the first few pages of My Last Lie I was entirely engrossed in this compelling storyline and knew that I would have to keep reading it until the very end! And a couple of hours later, I had! It frustrated me, it thrilled me but most importantly of all, it kept all its secrets from me until the very last unexpected moment.

Theo and Pilar are the sort of couple we all love to hate! So there was no surprise that they seemed to have attracted some negativity from others. Gorgeous, wealthy and devoted to each other but behind closed doors they are mourning the loss of their baby son and that devastating bereavement has caused cracks to appear in their relationship. In search of a fresh start, they move to Cornwall and a beautiful Art Deco mansion where Pilar can start painting again. But as they settle into village life, strange things start to happen that make Pilar realise that someone knows more about their past than they should and is out to ruin their second chance at happiness.

This book had me hopping backwards and forwards with my theories so much that I had no idea where I was going to end up! There was a large cast of strangely intriguing characters who all seemed to be hiding something behind their outwardly friendly exteriors so it could have been any one of them behind the campaign of intimidation against Pilar and Theo. And to be honest, not even the people who were supposed to be their most supportive allies were above suspicion! This poor couple had been through such a terrible ordeal but it looked like someone thought that they hadn’t suffered quite enough yet! And I honestly had no idea who or why as I rode the rollercoaster of reasoning to try and work it out!

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut by Ella Drummond and it did exactly what it said on the tin! Gripping with a nice little sting in its tail!

My Last Lie by Ella Drummond is published by Hera Books and is out on 20th February.

Meet the author…

Ella Drummond recently signed a two-book deal with Hera Books. Her first psychological thriller, My Last Lie will be published in February 2019 and is available for pre-order now.

She lives with her husband on the island of Jersey and you can follow her on Twitter @drummondella1

The Shape of Lies by Rachel Abbott #blogtour @MauraWilding

I am over the moon to be taking part in the blog tour today for the 8th Tom Douglas book by Rachel Abbott. The Shape of Lies was released on 12th February. Thank you so much to Maura Wilding for the invite.

And make sure you check out the other blog on the tour Novel Deelights today for The Shape of Truth or Lies!

About this book…

Yesterday, Scott was dead. Today, he’s back.
And Anna doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Scott was Anna’s boyfriend. She loved him, but he ruined her life. When he died, she should have been free, but today Scott is on the radio, threatening to spill her secrets.

Anna is a mother, a wife, and head teacher of a primary school.
And she’s a good liar.

She made one mistake, and now she is having to pay for it. Scott is the only person who knows the truth about her past, but how can he be alive?

Soon, DCI Tom Douglas is going to knock on her door looking for answers. But Anna is already running scared: from the man she loved; the man she watched die; the man who has come back to life.

She has one week to find him. One week to stop him. 

My review…

After a little break from Tom Douglas with her last book, Rachel Abbott has brought him back to us with a brilliant (almost a stand-alone!) addition to one of my very favourite series. Don’t worry if you’re thinking “DCI Tom Douglas number 8?!?! I will never be able to catch up and I certainly couldn’t start a series on the eighth book!!” You will and YOU CAN! Although Tom is the detective assigned to solving some rather puzzling murders that seem to have a connection, the story is all Anna’s.

The Anna we first meet here is an upstanding member of the community. A headteacher, wife and mother living a normal life and respected by all. But Anna is hiding something from her past that is about to come back to haunt her. When she hears the voice of an ex boyfriend on one of her favourite radio shows, her reaction is very extreme but once she expands on her shock it’s easy to understand why. Scott was the love of her life, fellow keeper of secrets and “partner in crime” but unfortunately (or should that read FORTUNATELY?) Scott is dead…

The way in which Rachel Abbott slowly uncovered the world that Anna inhabited made The Shape of Lies a breathtakingly tense thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. That sounds like a real contradiction doesn’t it but it just works! I love a book where there is a big secret-one that someone is desperately trying to keep whilst I try even more desperately to uncover it! What happened between Anna and Scott? And why would he come back now after all these years? As Anna attempts to find the answers to these questions, we also start to see a very different Anna to the respectable woman on show to the rest of the world.

I found the flashbacks to Anna’s past the most intriguing part of her moral dilemma. Her university days and the connections she made there were obviously the root of her problems but I found it hard to reconcile that young woman with the tougher, harder faced Anna that we start to meet in the present. Don’t get me wrong, what she got herself into wasn’t her fault but the way things progressed from there really wound me up and I really wanted to shout at her at times to stop and think before she acted! But there were characters throughout that I could cheerfully have swung for myself so I did have lots of sympathy for her situation. That still left me with more questions than answers and boy, are there some shocking twists ahead for both her and the reader. This book blew my mind with the plot developments and THAT ENDING!! Bravo, Rachel Abbott for leaving me with my jaw well and truly dropped on the floor!

I think I can add The Shape of Lies to my list of favourite Tom Douglas books. Although he plays much more of a background role here, we still have a good insight into his personal life and his professional relationships too. His sidekick DI Becky Robinson is back from maternity leave (with a few changes that made me chuckle in places!) to lend a hand with the complexities of some rather gruesome crime scenes and I loved that they were back to their easygoing camaraderie but without ever crossing the lines. Toms personal life wasn’t quite as untroubled but no spoilers here!!

I don’t know how Rachel Abbott consistently comes up with such gripping and unexpected storylines. Her characters are intriguing and relatable meaning that her Manchester based thrillers always seem to hit the mark. Tom Douglas has evolved over the series into a character full of vitality who projects off every page he appears on so I’m VERY surprised that he hasn’t been brought to life in a tv drama yet!

Another fantastic page turner from Rachel Abbott!

Meet the author…

Rachel Abbott is the author of the DCI Tom Douglas series of psychological crime thrillers. Set in and around her native Manchester, they are gritty and compelling reads which deal with her central theme: What would it take for an ordinary person to commit murder. Her self-published debut, Only the Innocent, became an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and the US. This was followed by bestselling novels The Back Road, Sleep Tight, Stranger Child, its sequel Nowhere Child, The Sixth Window, Kill Me Again and Come A Little Closer. Her last book – And So It Begins – was launched in October 2018. The book was the subject of a bidding war between publishers before it was bought by Headline. It has since been nominated by The Times as one of the best crime novels of the year and was lauded as “a dark, extremely readable, well-plotted psychological thriller”. It introduces her feisty new female police officer, Sergeant Stephanie King and is set in Cornwall. Rachel lives in Alderney in the Channel Islands and writes in a Victorian gunpowder store she just happens to have in her back garden.

Apple of My Eye by Claire Allen #blogtour @AvonBooks @ClaireAllan

Another of my most anticipated books of the year is the focus of my blog post today as part of the blog tour. Many thanks as always to the lovely Sabah at Avon Books for my invite to review as part of the tour.

About this book…

Just how far is a mother willing to go?

When a mysterious note arrives for seven months pregnant nurse Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.

As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.

Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother…

My review…

I have been looking forward to Apple of My Eye since I read My Name is Rose on my holiday to Italy last year. It was one of those books that I was glad to have the time to read in one session-a real page turner that took my attention from page one-so I knew that Apple of My Eye was high on my list of 2019 “wannareads” and it certainly didn’t disappoint!

Eli is expecting her first baby with husband Martin but having a difficult pregnancy. Her problems increase when she starts to receive anonymous messages suggesting that Martin isn’t the faithful husband she assumes him to be. Told mainly by Eli as she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life and marriage, we also have the viewpoints of a woman called Louise who I felt an enormous amount of sympathy for but unfortunately that sympathy was rather misplaced as Louise is about to do something terrible in her quest to become a mother.

Once again I very quickly became involved in this domestic drama as it followed a wonderful cast of characters who have been brilliantly conceived by Claire Allan. I found my loyalties divided much sooner than expected though as I discovered more about each of them through their slowly revealed narratives. As someone who also suffered terribly from Hyperemisis Gravidarum from being 6 weeks pregnant until point of birth I was able to totally relate to the thoughts and fears of a pregnancy that wasn’t the glowing experience that it should or could have been. Eli was struggling to bond with her unborn child as the permanent sickness, plus the worry about medication for her condition, made her so stressed and tired that it was no wonder her marriage was suffering. But who was sending these messages designed to further alienate this previously unbreakable couple and more importantly why?

As we switched POVs and had short (but far from sweet!) insights into how Louise fitted into this puzzle, I also became empathetic to her plight as well. The losses she had suffered where truly horrific but as she distanced herself from everything and everyone involved, she became unrecognisable. Grief affects people in different ways and it’s impossible to predict which way it will push you. Louise messed with my emotions more so than Eli as I felt so incredibly sorry for her but struggled to reconcile her actions with my own personal experiences.

Reading this was like walking along a high wire far above the ground! The concentration needed combined with the emotional responses evoked meant that I was constantly on edge whilst reading. It’s a twisty mystery that I, unfortunately, guessed the ending to very early on but at no point did that affect my enjoyment of it. Claire Allen goes from strength to strength with her tense psychological thrillers and I for one can’t wait to read her next book.

Meet the author…

Claire Allan is an Irish author who has previously written women’s fiction. Apple of My Eye is her second psychological thriller following 2018’s Her Name Was Rose.