Hush Hush by Mel Sherratt #BlogTour @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K @writermels

Today I’m absolutely thrilled to be sharing my review of Hush Hush as part of the blog tour. Many thanks to Sabah Khan for the invite and my review copy of the book.

About this book…

A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders, and prove herself to her new team.

All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.

To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?

My review…

Ok full disclosure here, I am a HUGE fan of…oatcakes and any book that features them is always going to be high on my wishlist! But if you don’t know this local delicacy then prepare yourself, because after reading Hush Hush you are going to be taking a road trip to Stoke on Trent to fill your belly! But that’s enough about the cities cuisine because there is SO much more to this book than hot oatcakes stuffed with melted cheese and crispy, salty bacon!! Mel Sherratt knows her city well and it comes alive perfectly here in this fantastically dark and gritty crime thriller, featuring her new detective DS Grace Allendale.

When Grace returns to her home city of Stoke on Trent, she returns with a secret not known by many-her connection to a local crime family. Having escaped with her mother from an violent father, Grace now has to face his other family when they become connected to a series of murders. Grace was a bit of a closed book to begin with but gradually her life away from Stoke on Trent, plus those 12 years spent there, is revealed so that we understand the decisions she makes whilst investigating her first case. It’s a disturbing crime scene that she is called to but the fact that the premises had a connection to her family makes this a difficult situation for her to cope with. But Grace was a surprisingly strong character with hidden depths and I loved following her as she sought the truth.

There was a great cast of supporting characters here, mostly new but with some familiar names popping up as well. But I felt that the city itself played a major part in my enjoyment of this shocking thriller. Mel Sherratts love and pride in her home town consistently shines throughout her narratives even when she is visiting the underbelly of her beloved Stoke. And I have to agree about Hanley being the heart of the city! But it’s a VERY long walk from the train station (especially in the dark-as I know from a rather stressful personal experience!!)

Mel Sherratt has delivered across the board here. Her first crime thriller for Avon is dark, gripping but also surprisingly touching. There’s such a strong loyalty to her setting and characters, whilst her trademark authenticity brings this book to life. I loved every single page!

Highly recommended by me!

About the author…

Mel Sherratt is the author of ten novels, all of which have become bestsellers. In 2017, she was named as one of her home town of Stoke-on-Trent’s top 100 influential people.

She lives in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with her husband and terrier, Dexter.

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Die Cold by Graham Smith #BlogBlitz @Bloodhoundbook

Today I’m delighted to be sharing my review of Die Cold which is the 4th Jake Boulder book by Graham Smith. Thank you to Emma Welton for my copy of the book and inviting me onto the blog tour.

About this book…

Boulder is back.

Jake Boulder is working as a bartender, at an exclusive Vermont ski resort on New  Year’s Eve, when armed terrorists hold up the lodge and take the guests hostage.

Trapped with the other hostages, Boulder watches in horror as the female terrorist leader disfigures a singer to make her point. He wants to fight back, but is unarmed and being held at gunpoint.

When Boulder finds a way to escape from the terrorists he searches for a way to raise the alarm. After he discovers the terrorists plan to leave no witnesses to their crime, he knows he has a race against time to save as many innocent people as he can…

But will Boulder be the reluctant hero and save the day?

My review…

Well, the clue may well be in the title but Jake Boulder has gone all John McClane on us in Graham Smiths fourth book in his much admired series! There was certainly a different vibe here as Jake is taken out of his natural environment following the emotional developments in book 3. Out of the series so far, I do think this is probably the best one to be read as a standalone book as you really don’t need to know too much background detail to be able to enjoy this stonking good read!

While Jake may be the “have a go” hero of Die Cold, he’s not alone as there are some fabulous characters keeping him company at the exclusive Vermont ski resort where he is working as a barman. One of the most intriguing was Sharon, a fellow Glaswegian who made a great sidekick. And my heart went out to Daniel, one of the hostages taken when terrorists take over the resort on New Years Eve as he was an incredibly strong young man who commanded my admiration with whatever he did. I didn’t miss the usual supporting crowd either as there was a brief insight into their lives without Jake. I have a real affinity with Ivy and I would certainly miss her if she didn’t have a recurring role in this series!

Die Cold may have had a different feel but it breathed an icy blast of fresh air into Jakes character that worked perfectly. He may do “bad” things but everything he delivers is always for the right reason. I was worried he would become too cold and detached from society after previous events but I think the opposite has happened instead! This may have been a high octane, fast paced “thrill a minute” instalment in the life of Jake Boulder but that doesn’t mean that the action packed narrative lacked an intensity of feeling! I probably came to care about what happened to everyone more than usual which definitely makes this my favourite of the Jake Boulder books so far.

Top marks from me!

Meet the author…

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has six books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and four novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Social Media Links:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor

Twitter https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972 @GrahamSmith1972

Website www.grahamsmithauthor.com

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley #BookReview

About this book…

EVERYONE’S INVITED.

EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT.

Bristling with tension, bitter rivalries, and toxic friendships, get ready for the most hotly-anticipated thriller of 2019.

In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one

The golden couple

The volatile one

The new parents

The quiet one

The city boy

The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

My review…

This book!!! As soon as I finished it I messaged a friend to say “You have GOT to order this book NOW!” Isn’t it wonderful when you read a book and know exactly who to recommend it to! If you love character driven, Agatha Christie-esque mysteries set in atmospheric, eerie locations then The Hunting Party is going to knock your socks off. It reminded me in a way of Ruth Wares debut “In A Dark Dark Wood” but with champagne and drugs! You really must put aside a few hours to read this book because once you join The Hunting Party you won’t be leaving until after the kill!

As with all the best psychological thrillers, there is a slow build up whilst we are introduced to this rather unappealing and self absorbed group of university friends as they make their way to Scotland to celebrate New Year together. When you throw together a bunch of the most unlikeable characters then sparks are guaranteed to fly and that’s even before they find “the body”. It did take me a while to establish who was who and their connections to each other (Mark and Nick I got confused with to begin with but that’s probably just me!) but once they were settled into their isolated cabins at the lodge where they were staying, it was much easier to recognise the different personalities. Miranda was a particularly unlikeable member of the group and I found her attitude towards her oldest friends completely baffling!

Told in multiple POVs and different timelines it isn’t until quite near the end that we find out who has been murdered, why and by whom. But I have to say that the twists and turns really did pull me in so many different directions that, although I thought I knew what was happening and why, I was much further off the mark than I usually am! So that’s another reason why I absolutely loved this book! It’s a fascinating look at how the toxic relationships we make can’t be easily escaped as they have become a habit that’s much too hard to break. But the breakup here when it comes is VERY extreme indeed!

If you’re after a gripping, character based and darkly atmospheric storyline then The Hunting Party is a must for your TBR pile. This one is going to be HUGE!

Highly recommended by me!

Meet the author…

Lucy Foley writes bestselling escapist, epic fiction that has been compared to Victoria Hislop, Santa Montefiore, Kate Morton and Lucinda Riley and is perfect for summer reading or as a bookclub choice. Lucy’s books have been translated into 16 languages. She worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry – during which time she wrote her first novel. Lucy now writes full-time, and is busy travelling the world (for research, naturally!) and working on her next book. LAST LETTER FROM ISTANBUL is her latest novel.

Her first thriller, THE HUNTING PARTY, publishes in January 2019 and is a Scottish-highlands-set murder mystery which has been compared to Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE and Donna Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY.

In Honour Bound by Christine Webber @1chriswebber #BookReview #Giveaway

About this book…

Set in 1980’s London, Helen Bartlett, a popular TV news presenter and Sam Aziz, a glamorous middle-eastern cardiac surgeon, meet on a live programme. They dislike each other on sight, and the interview is a disaster. But that is not the end of their story because later that evening, they find themselves at the same dinner party.

Over the weeks, hostility morphs into passion, and soon they fall desperately in love.

Both are looking for the right partner with whom to settle down and produce a family. They seem made for each other; they delight in the joy that they have found, and plan to marry. But then, the differences in their cultural backgrounds start to manifest themselves. And a debt of honour that Sam cannot ignore returns to haunt him.

Struggling with their torment, while she is so much in the public eye and he is performing life-saving surgery on a daily basis, places them under intolerable strain.

Must they relinquish the most magical relationship either of them has ever known? Can they find a way out of their dilemmas? Or do they have to accept that no matter how modern we are, we cannot fly in the face of the traditions that served, and shaped us, for centuries?

My review…

I really enjoyed Its Who We Are by Christine Webber so was intrigued to be able to read her first piece of fiction that she has recently reissued. It’s very different from her other books as it’s set in the 1980s and Christine has kept the period as it was instead of updating it to modern day. I love that the 1980s have now become practically historical fiction nowadays but it’s fascinating to see “the decade that fashion forgot” brought back to life here!

They say write what you know, so I suppose it’s no surprise that TV presenter Christine has written a book with a tv presenter at its heart! But Helen Bartlett has little in common with the author thankfully apart from being in front of the camera. When Helen interviews a distinguished but standoffish cardiac surgeon sparks fly but not of the good kind! Later on they discover each other again at a dinner party and get to know each other away from the camera. What follows is an intensely emotional love affair. But will they be able to overcome their cultural differences when they threaten to destroy all that is dear to them?

It was fascinating watching this blossoming romance take place in a different century! Yes I know that makes this story sound very old fashioned but to see lovers interact in the days before mobile phones, dating apps and emails was quite charming in a way! No Facebook pages to stalk ex boyfriends/girlfriends, no Google and having to stay by the home phone incase your loved one phoned you! Simpler times maybe but this was also a time before safe sex due to the AIDS epidemic and that brought its own set of problems. Christine Webber certainly brought the era of the shoulder pads and power dressing to life here with her accurate portrayal of a strong and independent woman who has met the love of her life and is prepared to give up everything to settle down and have a family. It may be difficult for us to understand the cultural dilemmas that they have to face but they are probably as relevant now as they were then. Sam had his British persona within his career and social life but at the end of the day he came from a different background where family honour and principles come above everything else.

This was an involving and touching love story that became very intense very quickly. I took a while to take to Helen, I’m not sure why but I did feel like she was a little standoffish to begin with and that put me off her! But gradually as she opened up to Sam, she also revealed herself to the reader and I warmed to her more and more as the narrative developed.

This is a thought provoking storyline explored with careful consideration by some captivating writing. And I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Christine Webber in the near future!

Giveaway…

I have a paperback copy of In Honour Bound to giveaway on my blog today! If you’d like to win it then please share this review over on Twitter and then comment “Shared” below. That’s all you need to do!

Competition is open to U.K. entrants only and will close on Friday 16th November. Winner will be randomly selected from all eligible entries and be contacted on Twitter.

Meet the author…

After a break of 29 years to write over a dozen non-fiction titles, Christine Webber returned to writing fiction in 2016. The result was a novel called ‘Who’d Have Thought It?’ which is a romantic comedy about the change and challenges we encounter in mid life.

‘Who’d Have Thought It?’ is also available as an audio book – both in digital and CD format.

Her subsequent novel, ‘It’s Who We Are’, further explores the theme of the turbulence of mid-life. But it is also about the importance of friendships, particularly as we get older, and concerns the secrets in families that can force us to look at our own identities.

‘In Honour Bound’ is a different book altogether. Set in the mid-’80s, it is a story of passion between two people who come from completely different backgrounds – and how the pull of the past can threaten the present. Publication date: 6.11.18

Christine is a former singer, TV presenter, agony aunt, columnist and Harley Street psychotherapist.

Nowadays she is focusing on fiction – though she still broadcasts regularly.

The Hunted by Kerry Barnes #BlogTour @KerryBarnes1 @HQStories

I’m delighted to be sharing my review today of The Hunted by Kerry Barnes as part of the blog tour. And many thanks to Belinda Toor for the invite!

About this book…

Kerry Barnes is back with an explosive new series!

Having spent her life watching her father run his East London firm, Zara Ezra has learnt a thing or two about being a gangster, and she’s ready to take over when the time comes.

Mike Regan, a blast from Zara’s past, is the head of his own firm, but when his son is kidnapped in the middle of a gangland feud, Mike has no choice but to accept help from the Ezras to get his little boy back alive.

With a rival firm playing increasingly dirty, murder moves to the top of the agenda and Zara has some big choices to make. It seems that the only way to come out on top is to play them at their own game…

But will she become The Hunter or The Hunted?

A gripping gangland crime thriller, perfect for fans of Martina Cole and Kimberley Chambers.

My review…

I have to admit that although this is a genre I really enjoy reading, it’s actually the first Kerry Barnes book that I’ve ever read! But I will be rectifying that as soon as possible as I really loved this book and can’t wait to read more! I love the fact that I’ve come to discover a new author right at the beginning of a new series, it means that I’ve already been able to add book #2 The Rules to my wishlist!

I didn’t think it was possible to get so emotionally caught up in such a hard hitting gangland drama but the family connections at the core of this action packed drama really tugged at my heartstrings. Mike Regan had his hands full with the despicable Jackie but absolutely adores his son Ricky. So when they disappear he will do whatever it takes to get his child returned to him.

The twists and turns that rocked this book really took my breathe away! I became totally invested in the characters and their interconnected lives which felt authentic from the start. But just when I thought this book couldn’t get any better, along came the last quarter of The Hunted and it totally blew me away! I ran a whole gauntlet of emotions during those last few chapters and cried some very bittersweet tears which was an unexpected surprise for me! Kerry Barnes really grabs the attention of her readers and this unrelenting thriller was compulsive reading from start to finish.

I’m delighted to have discovered Kerry Barnes and can highly recommend her as an author if you’re a reader of Martina Cole. Be prepared for strong language and violent scenes throughout but that authenticity is what takes this book from good to GREAT!

Highly recommended by me!

Meet the author…

Kerry Barnes, born in 1964, grew up on a council estate in South East London. Pushed by her parents to become a doctor, she entered the world of science and became a microbiologist. After studying law and pharmaceuticals, her career turned to medicine.

Having dyslexia didn’t deter her from her passion for writing. She began writing when her daughter was born thirty years ago. Once her children had grown up she moved to the Kent coast and now writes full time.

The Long Shadow by Celia Fremlin #BlogTour

It’s my turn today on the blog tour for The Long Shadow by Celia Fremlin. Huge thank you to Joanna Lee at Faber and Faber for inviting me.

About this book…

Jolted from sleep by the ringing of the telephone, Imogen stumbles through the dark, empty house to answer it. At first, she can’t quite understand the man on the other end of the line. Surely he can’t honestly be accusing her of killing her husband, Ivor, who died in a car crash barely two months ago.

As the nights draw in, Imogen finds her home filling up with unexpected Christmas guests, who may be looking for more than simple festive cheer. Has someone been rifling through Ivor’s papers? Who left the half-drunk whiskey bottle beside his favourite chair? And why won’t that man stop phoning, insisting he can prove Imogen’s guilt?

My review…

I feel a little (okay a lot!) behind the times at the moment as I hadn’t actually heard of Celia Fremlin before I read this book! But as soon as I finished The Long Shadow, I immediately bought The Hours Before Dawn to educate myself a little further about the woman called the British Patricia Highsmith. The Long Shadow is a dark and creepy psychological thriller that feels just as relevant today as it did the day it was published (possibly more so!) and has aged better than most books written around the same time.

Poor Imogen is a widow and struggling not just with her husbands death but with the social aftermath as well. So when she receives a call in the night from someone who says that they can prove she killed her husband, she is visibly shocked! But then strange things start to happen. Her grandchildren saying they have seen their grandfather and his chair has been used with a book and drink beside them which are set out exactly as he would have had them. And the papers that Imogen is trying to sort out have been tampered with. Is Imogen imagining things in her grief or is there there something much darker going on in her home?

I had a flashback to a book that I used to always read my children at Christmas whilst reading this. It was called Christmas on Exeter Street and had a family who kept getting unexpected houseguests and had to put them up in a variety of strange places within the house! Imogen’s stepchildren have both descended on the house after their fathers death alongside an entire cast of other dodgy characters so I really wanted Imogen to grow a backbone and just tell them all to sling their hooks!! Her charismatic stepson wound me up especially when he demanded Imogen give up own bedroom for him as it was “too big and full of memories” for her!!

This is a domestic Noir conceived and written before the term was even coined! It’s use of a slowly built plot line, full of clues that you don’t really see until the final denouement, meant that this beautifully atmospheric thriller was a pleasure to read. I become completely involved in Imogen’s life, engrossed in the mystery of her husbands death whilst never quite trusting my own instincts.

This is the perfect book to curl up with by the Christmas fire with the lights turned down low. I loved it!

About the author…

Celia Fremlin (1914-2009) was born in Kent. Her first published novel of suspense was The Hours Before Dawn (1958), which went on to win the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1960. Over the next thirty-five years Fremlin published a further eighteen titles.

‘Britain’s equivalent to Patricia Highsmith, Celia Fremlin wrote psychological thrillers that changed the landscape of crime fiction for ever: her novels are domestic, subtle, penetrating – and quite horribly chilling.’ Andrew Taylor, Celia Fremlin (1914-2009) was born in Kent and educated at Berkhamsted School for Girls and Somerville College, Oxford, where she read classics and philosophy. During the Second World War she worked for the Mass Observation project, an experience that resulted in her first published book, War Factory (1943, available in Faber Finds), which recorded the experiences and attitudes of women war workers in a radar equipment factory outside Malmesbury, Wiltshire. Her first published novel of suspense was The Hours Before Dawn (1958), which went on to win the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe award for best crime novel in 1960. Over the next 35 years Fremlin published a further eighteen titles, including three collections of stories. Faber Finds is proud to be reissuing Celia Fremlin’s complete oeuvre in paperback and ebook.

Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey #BlogTour @Tr4cyF3nt0n @orbitbooks

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey as part of the blog tour. Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for including me!

About this book…

From the author of the million-copy bestseller The Girl With All the Gifts comes a heart-stopping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming and a heroine you can’t trust . . .

THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY.

Liz Kendall wouldn’t hurt a fly. Even when times get tough, she’s devoted to bringing up her kids in a loving home.

But there’s another side to Liz, one that’s dark and malicious. She will do anything to get her way – no matter how extreme.

And when her alter-ego takes control, the consequences are devastating.

Someone Like Me is the intoxicating new thriller from the phenomenal M. R. Carey. A modern take on the Jekyll and Hyde tale, think Gone Girl meets Stephen King – but you won’t have read anything quite like this before . . .

My review…

I loved The Girl With All The Gifts so jumped at the chance to read Someone Like Me but I had no idea how much this book would completely blow me away!! You won’t have read anything like this before and I have to say that it’s given me the biggest book hangover that I’ve had this year so far. Plus it’s a very strong contender for my book of the year which has shocked me almost as much as it’s probably shocked you! I would say that I’m surprised that a book of this genre would be topping my top reads of 2018 list but that in itself leads me to a dilemma, as I have absolutely NO IDEA how to categorise this book because it could fit into a multitude of genres! But as I don’t want to add a single spoiler to this review, I really can’t explain any more than that!

As with all the best psychological thrillers, there is a slowly built tension and a plot reveal that took me a little time to get used to so I would actually advise readers not to read any reviews of this book before they pick it up (apart from this one ofcourse!!) That way you can have no preconceived notions about what is about to happen and can just go with the flow! There was a “what the actual…??” moment near the start where I started to wonder just what I was getting into but that moment marked the start of my love affair with this book and with one character in particular!

I always become very involved with storylines that feature strong female protagonists and Liz and Fran both felt authentically created with convincing backstories. It was frighteningly easy to become engrossed with their believable lives and I became emotionally attached to them both. But I really don’t want to say anymore than that because I want this book to shock and surprise you as much as it did me! All I will say is that I sobbed my heart out towards the end and got to a point where I really, REALLY didn’t want this book to end.

M.R. Carey has produced a beautifully crafted masterpiece here that deserves to be a HUGE bestseller. It’s an intriguing idea, intelligently constructed but most of all it’s utterly addictive from beginning to end!! You will be thinking about this book for weeks to come and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll leave a little piece of your heart between its pages.

An absolutely brilliant book that I now want to read all over again. Loved it, loved it, LOVED IT!

Meet the author…

M. R. Carey has been making up stories for most of his life. His novel The Girl With All the Gifts was a USA Today bestseller and is a major motion picture based on his BAFTA-nominated screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs on X-Men and Fantastic Four, Marvel’s flagship superhero titles. His creator-owned books regularly appear in the New York Times bestseller list. He also has several previous novels, two radio plays, and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit.