Follow You by Richard Parker #BlogTour @bookouture

Thank you to Kim Nash for inviting me into the blog tour for Richard Parkers Follow You. Make sure you follow the rest of the tour as there are some fabulous reviews coming in for this book!

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About this book…

Her eyelids were the only parts of her body she could move. The figure spoke, then retreated into the gloom. She couldn’t accept what they’d said. How could she have brought this on herself?

When an online prank goes viral and triggers a spate of gruesome murders, documentary maker Hazel Salter watches in horror. But then Hazel’s childhood friend, Meredith Hickman, is the next victim and Hazel knows she has to find out what happened to her.

Is it one killer or more? Random acts of violence, or part of a bigger, twisted plan?

The police have no leads, but Hazel has a theory – one she’ll stop at nothing to prove – and she also has a film crew. She’ll make a documentary, catch the killer, and give Meredith justice.

Her stage is the abandoned amusement park where Meredith was found.

Her cast are the family and friends the killer left behind.

And her crew? They keep disappearing, one by one…

My review…

I hate horror movies, always have and always will, so I find it rather bizarre that I love to read books that would make brilliant scary movies! And Follow You reads exactly like one of those films I end up watching from behind a cushion, behind the sofa and that sofa is usually in another room. But having read Scare Me last year, I knew that Follow You was one I had to read-I just have a compulsion to be scared “witless” sometimes!! And this book gave me goosebumps right from the off with that horrible cover! I mean come on….MOTHS??!! Have you been stalking my nightmares Mr Parker?! Everyone knows I have a huge fear of those horrible fluttery, winged nasties!! I couldn’t click off that cover fast enough!

Although to be fair once I got into Follow You there were a few nasties INSIDE the cover that made me forget all about those moths. This one is not for the faint hearted and please don’t make the rookie mistake of reading it whilst eating a Chinese takeaway like I did but, unfortunately for me, I couldn’t put this book down even to eat which just goes to show you what an unputdownable rollercoaster ride of a read it is! So not my fault really but don’t say you haven’t been warned!

When people start turning up dead after using #BeMyKiller on a newly set up Twitter account, it makes for a gruesome news story. Documentary maker Hazel was childhood friends with one of the victims so heads back home to investigate further. But like any horror film, she heads back to the scene of the crime-an abandoned theme park. WHY DO THEY DO THAT?! And as the interviewees start turning up dead and Hazels crew are disappearing one by one, it’s up to Hazel to find a killer.

The first few chapters needed a lot of my attention as I had to get my head around the vast number of characters who were being thrown at me but once established this became a fast paced, gore fest that kept me guessing right up until the end. The character who initially annoyed me the most, Rena, ended up being the one I connected with the most and I was praying that she wouldn’t come to any harm. I was yelling at her to NOT TRUST ANYONE and to NOT GO ANYWHERE ON HER OWN! But obviously it wouldn’t be a tension filled thriller if no one put themselves in the line of fire for our twisted serial killer and poor Rena followed the path of many a young woman from those teen fright nights, heading off innocently into dangerous territory.

I have to say I am now far too scared to used the hashtag #BeMyKiller on Twitter to promote my review. That’s how much this book has made me reconsider what I put on social media! And if it ever gets made into a film then I’m sure it will do very well with horror fans……just don’t expect me to watch it!!!

Thank you to the publisher Bookouture for my review via netgalley of Follow You which is available to buy now.

Meet the author…

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Parker is an ex TV script writer, script editor and producer who now writes dark, stand alone thrillers. His first novel, Stop Me, was nominated for a Dagger Award.  The movie rights to his second, Scare Me, have been bought by Hollywood studio Relativity Media with screenplay completed by Wentworth ‘PRISON BREAK’ Miller and his third, Stalk Me, rode high in the US and UK Amazon charts.

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James #BlogTour @Bloodhoundbook

Today I’m happy to be the last stop on the BlogTour for Guilty Innocence by Maggie James.

About this book…

When Natalie snoops through her boyfriend Mark’s possessions she finds more than she bargained for. Mark was once convicted of a brutal killing. Heartbroken by what she has discovered, Natalie’s dreams of a future with him collapse.

However, Mark was not the only person sentenced for the murder of two-year-old Abby Morgan. His former friend, the violent and twisted Adam Campbell, was also convicted and Adam knows more about the murder than he will admit.

When circumstances thrust Mark back in contact with Adam, the past comes back to haunt him. Can Mark ever break free from Adam? Will the truth ever come out?

My review…

I actually first read this book back in 2014 and found it quite a harrowing read. So how would I feel reading it again knowing what was going to happen? And the answer is that it was STILL a very difficult book to read due to the subject matter that the plot revolves around. Time hasn’t softened the direct and hard hitting narrative and I certainly haven’t become desensitised to the issues raised here even though I have read many books of a similar nature since.

When Natalie finds the letter in her boyfriend’s belongings it doesn’t take long for her to put two and two together and definitely get four! And as before half of me wondered whether or not he was hoping for her to discover the truth before they got too serious and he invested in a relationship that could come crashing down at any time. Unfortunately, Natalie is also about to have her own nightmares brought to the surface when she confronts Mark about his past.

But for me, I was on edge right from the start knowing that the murder of a small child was coming up. And although not graphically described, it is a violent and sustained attack on an innocent 2 year old girl. Of course people will raise comparisons with a very high profile murder case back in the Nineties and there is definitely a familiar feel to the circumstances. But Maggie James has given her crime a familiar starting point from which she has then layered her own story and possibilities surrounding such an abhorrent murder by two 11 year old boys.

The plot here is hard hitting with a few twists you won’t see coming. I did get frustrated with some of the characters especially Mark and Natalie as they could have made things so much easier for themselves but that’s life I suppose, hindsight is a wonderful thing! And I found myself questioning again what makes people evil enough to act in such a way? Are psychopaths born or does the way we are raised in our formative years mould our future behaviours and relationships? And can it ever be reversed and a murderer ever feel true remorse for what they have done? All this was going through my head as I watch the early relationship between Mark and Adam and compared it to the grown men they had become.

I read a similar book recently and have to say that I much preferred this book mainly due to the authors approach to the horrendous things that happen here. She doesn’t shy away from using terrifyingly realistic situations but in such a way for us to work through our own fears. Her use of other issues such as rape, self harm and body shaming could cause triggers in some readers but are once again used as an integral part of the plot. Although this book had a very dark and disturbing premise and I did find it very upsetting at times, it was never gratuitous in its exploration of human nature at its worst. A tough read but worth it.

Many thanks to the publisher Bloodhound Books for my advanced review copy of Guilty Innocence: a chilling psychological thriller which is available to purchase now.

Meet the author…

Maggie James

Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullins #BlogTour @Bloodhoundbook

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Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullen

About this book…

The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron was looking for. But it wasn’t a stranger. Ian Selkirk must have crossed some dangerous people. Because now he was dead. Stabbed through the heart and dumped in the loch. Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival as Charlie goes up against notorious gangster, Jimmy Rafferty, who has ruled the east end of the city with fear for over thirty years. Rafferty is ruthless. Even his own family are terrified of him. But Jimmy’s best days are behind him and in the Rafferty clan a power struggle is taking place between the sons. Finding what the thief stole is the old man’s last chance to protect what he has built and hold on to power just a little longer. He wants to use Charlie to get it for him. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants. The trail runs from the cold dark water of Loch Lomond to the golden beaches of southern Spain, from the terraces of Celtic Park to a thrilling climax on the battlements of Edinburgh Castle. Charlie must give Rafferty what he needs or die. Only one problem. Charlie doesn’t know where it is.

My review…

Having read and enjoyed Games People Play by Owen Mullen, I was keen to read Book two in the series. It can be read as a standalone though.There seems to have been a few books recently that have featured a PI as the central character, there to solve a mystery as an aside to a police investigation, but the charismatic Charlie Cameron is one of the better ones that I’ve come across.

I wasn’t as emotionally involved in the plot of this second book as I was the first but it was an interesting twist to have Charlie searching for a missing husband and viewing a body that was possibly his at the morgue but instead the deceased turns out to be an old friend! Surely just a coincidence but Owen is then drawn into an underground world of gangsters who believe that Charlie is the key to finding a very large amount of cash. I loved the softer side of Charlie that came out once his old friend Fiona appeared on the scene. He doesn’t give much away usually but I felt Fiona brought him out of himself a little more and that emotion fed through to his investigations. The usual sidekicks were back, Jackie at NYB and Pat which let us explore their back stories a little more. Although my favourite has to be the Big Issue seller who I hope has chance of a bigger role in future books.

Having lived in and around Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dunbartonshire for many years, I think a lot of my enjoyment came from recognising the local landmarks and I loved the authenticity of Charlie’s surroundings. The start and the ending really held my attention but there was a time in the middle that I kind of lost my way a bit. Thankfully, once back on track the finale raced along to the end with an unexpectedly chilling last few pages. Although set in recent years, many times I felt as if I were reading a vintage PI story set in the 1940s especially in the way it was told in those short sharp sentences and dialogue. But this just added to this rather atmospheric and dark thriller.

Thank you to the Bloodhound books for providing me with a review copy of Old Friends and New Enemies which was published on 21st February.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough #BlogTour #Extract #wtfthatending

I am so excited to be a stop on the blog tour for Behind Her Eyes today-this book was in my top reads for last year and I’m sure it will top many “Top 2017 Lists” this year. I’m sharing my review again plus an extract

About this book…

Don’t Trust This Book

Don’t Trust These People

Don’t Trust Yourself

And whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending…

‘Sarah Pinborough is about to become your new obsession’ Harlan Coben

Louise

Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets…

David

Young, successful and charming – Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife…

Adele

Beautiful, elegant and sweet – Louise’s new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her.

But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks… Is David really is the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears?
Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?

Extract…

“This will cheer you up.” She pulls a joint out of the top pocket of her red corduroy jacket. “Trust me, you’ll find every thing funnier once we’re baked.” She sees the reluctance on my face and grins. ” Come on, Lou. It’s a special occasion. You’ve excelled yourself. Snogged your new married boss. This is genius. I should get someone to write the film. I could play you.”

“Good.” I say. ” I’ll need the money when I’m fired.” I can’t fight Sophie, and I don’t want to, and soon we are sitting out in the small balcony of my  tiny flat, wine, crisps, and cigarettes at our feet, passing the weed between us, giggling.

Unlike Sophie, who somehow remains half-teenager, getting high is not in anyway part of my normal routine -there isn’t the time or the money when you are on your own-but laughter beats crying anytime, and I suck in a lungful of sweet, forbidden smoke.

“It could only happen to you.” she says. ” You hid? ”

I nod, smiling at the comedy of the memory imagined through someone else’s eyes. “I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I dived into the toilet and stayed there. When I came out, he’d gone. He doesn’t start until tomorrow. He was getting the full tour from Dr Sykes.”

” With his wife. ”

“Yep, with his wife.” I remember how good they looked together in that brief, awful moment of realisation. A beautiful couple.

“How long did you stay in the toilet for?”

” Twenty minutes. ”

“Oh, Lou”

There’s a pause, and then we both have the giggles, wine and weed buzzing our heads, and for a little while we can’t stop.

“I wish I could have seen your face.” Sophie says.

“Yeah, well I’m not looking forward to seeing his face when he sees my face.”

Sophie shrugs. “He’s the married one. It’s his shame. He can’t say anything to you.”

She absolves me of my guilt, but I can still feel it clinging, along with the shock. The gut punch of the woman I’d glimpsed by his side before I dashed into hiding. His beautiful wife. Elegant. Dark -haired and olive-skinned in an Angelina Jolie way. That kind of mystery about her. Exceptionally thin. The opposite of me. The snapshot of her is burned into my brain. I couldn’t imagine her ever panicking and hiding in a toilet from anyone. It stung in a way it shouldn’t have, not after one drunken afternoon, and not only because my confidence has reached rock bottom.

The thing is, I’d liked him-really liked him. I can’t tell Sophie about that. How I hadn’t talked to anyone like that in a long time. How happy I’d felt to be flirting with someone who was flirting back, and how I’d forgotten how great that excitement of something potentially new was. My life is, as a rule, a blur of endless routine. I get Adam up and take him to school. If I’m working and want to start early, he goes to breakfast club. If I’m not working, I may spend an hour or so browsing charity shops for designer cast-offs  that will fit the clinic’s subtly expensive look. Then its just cooking, cleaning, shopping, until Adam comes home, and then it’s homework, tea, bath, story, bed for him and wine and bad sleep for me. When he goes to his dad’s for a weekend I’m too tired to do anything much other than lie in and then watch crap TV. The idea that this could be my life until Adam’s at least fifteen or so quietly terrifies me, so I don’t think about it. But then meeting the man-in-the-bar made me realise how good it was to feel something. As a woman, it made me feel alive. I’d even thought about going back to that bar and seeing if he’d turned up to find me. But, of course, life isn’t a romcom. And he’s married. And I’ve been an idiot. I’m not bitter, merely sad. I can’t tell Sophie any of these things because then she’d feel sorry for me, and I don’t want that, and it’s easier to find it all funny. It is funny. And it’s not like I sit at home bemoaning my singledom every night, as if no-one could ever be complete without a man. In the main, I’m pretty happy. I’m a grown-up. I could have it way worse. This was one mistake. I have to deal with it.

I scoop up a handful of Doritos and Sophie does the same.

“Curves are the new thin,” we say in unison, before cramming the crisps into our mouths and nearly choking as we laugh again. I think about me hiding in the toilet from him, full of panic and disbelief. It is funny. Everything is funny. It might be less funny tomorrow morning when I have to face the music, but for now I laugh. If you can’t laugh at your own fuck-ups, what can you laugh at?

“Why do you do it?” I say later, when the bottle of wine is empty between us and the evening is drawing to a close. “Have affairs? Aren’t you happy with Jay?”

” Of course I am. ” Sophie says “I love him. It’s not like I’m out doing it all the time.”

This is probably true. She’s an actress; she exaggerates for the sake of a story sometimes.

“But why do it at all?” Strangely, it’s not something we’ve really talked about that much. She knows I’m uncomfortable with it, not because she does it-that’s her business -but because I know and like Jay. He’s good for her  Without him, she’d be screwed. As it were.

” I have a higher sex drive than he does, ” she says, eventually. “And sex isn’t what marriage is about anyway. It’s about being with your best friend. Jay’s my best friend. But we’ve been together fifteen years. Lust can’t maintain itself. I mean, we still do it, sometimes, but it’s not like it was, and having a child changes things. You spend so many years seeing each other as parents rather than lovers, its hard to get that passion back.”

I think of my own short-lived marriage. The lust didn’t die with us. But that didn’t stop him leaving after four years to be with someone else when our son was barely two years old. Maybe she has a point. I don’t think I ever saw my ex, Ian, as my best friend

“It just seems a bit sad to me.” And it does.

” That’s because you believe in true love and happy ever after in a fairy tale way. That’s not how life is. ”

“Do you think he’s ever cheated on you?” I ask.

” He’s definitely had his flirtations, ” she says “There was a singer he worked with a long time ago. I think maybe they had a thing for a while. But whatever it was, it didn’t affect us. Not really”

She makes it sound so reasonable. All I can think of is the pain of betrayal I felt when Ian left. How what he did affected how I saw myself. How worthless I felt in those early days. How ugly. The short-lived romance he left me for didn’t last either, but that didn’t make me feel any better.

“I don’t think I’ll ever understand it,” I say.

” Everyone has secrets , Lou, ” she says. “Everyone should be allowed their secrets. You can never know everything about a person. You’d go mad trying to.”

************************************

And you can read my 5* review of the amazing  Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough here!

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A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart #BlogTour @ClaraHDiaz @keefstuart

Today I am over the moon to share with you my review of A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart on the blog for organised by Clara Diaz.

About this book…

A father who rediscovers love

Alex loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. He needs a reason to grab his future with both hands.

A son who shows him how to live

Meet eight-year-old Sam: beautiful, surprising – and different. To him the world is a frightening mystery. But as his imagination comes to life, his family will be changed . . . for good.

My review…

I picked up a copy of this book as it was recommended for fans of The Rosie Project which I really enjoyed. But then it sat on my TBR pile as I wasn’t sure I would be grabbed by the storyline when I read the blurb. But you know that thing where you kick yourself because you’ve had a BRILLIANT books sat right next to you for weeks and you hadn’t realised how much you would love it and that it would take over your life? Yep, that!!! As soon as I started reading I knew that this book was going to be something very special indeed and it’s probably going onto the list of my most favourite books EVER!

I have a friend who’s son has been diagnosed on the autistic spectrum and I always have so much respect for  her. It is so demanding being a parent anyway but having a child with autism seems to need such a huge strength of character and organisation that exceeds anything I can imagine. So I could understand totally why, at the beginning of this story, Jody has asked Alex to leave the family home. To have your partner not give the same dedication day in day out that you do, no wonder she took the difficult decision to do it on her own, she practically was anyway. And I have to say I was backing her 100% as Alex seemed such a self absorbed loser that I thought she’d do a far better job of parenting Sam on her own. But then when Alex goes to live with bachelor mate Dan, we start to get a clearer picture of how the past has affected the Alex we see now. He adores Sam but hasn’t been able to share the same connection as Jody, he has always been holding back, that is until Sam discovers Minecraft. Now having a family full of girls, I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about video games therefore had to spend time familiarising myself with Minecraft so I could visualise what Sam saw. I was then able to get more out of those very poignant and heart wrenching scenes where father and son bonding brings on unexpected changes in both their lives.

I don’t think I have ever read a book before where I laughed out loud so much at a one sentence, then laughed even more at the next only to be fighting back the tears by the end of the chapter. I adored Sam, what an amazing little boy he was, showing a courage and determination any parent would be proud of. His relationship with his father and how it was developed was brilliantly brought to life by the sharply humorous style of writing. And I felt a great affinity with Alex once I realised what had happened in his past as I then understood why he reacted as he did in certain situations. His journey to reclaim the relationships in his life made for a bittersweet comedy drama filled with wonderful characters that I didn’t want to let go of.

So be prepared to run the whole gauntlet of emotions here with tears and laughter sometimes coming so close together you dont know which is which! Be prepared to meet the most amazing little boy who will leave a lasting imprint in your heart. And be prepared to leave this book feeling magically uplifted with a warm fuzzy glow that sees you smiling at complete strangers! I couldn’t put it down once I started and then I didn’t want it to end. I just adored every last word I managed to squeeze out of this amazing book and I cant recommend it highly enough.

I will end by saying that I hope someone snaps up the film rights to A Boy Made of Blocks as it would make one of those wonderful, feel good films that British cinema seems to do so perfectly. I already have it cast in my mind if anyone needs me to get the ball rolling!

A Boy Made of Blocks: The most uplifting novel of 2017 is available to buy now from Amazon UK

Meet the author…

Keith Stuart is an author and journalist. His heartwarming debut novel, A Boy Made of Blocks, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and a major bestseller, and was inspired by Keith’s real-life relationship with his autistic son. Keith has written for publications including Empire and Edge, and is games editor of the Guardian. He lives with his wife and two sons in Frome, Somerset.