Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant #BlogTour Q&A @MulhollandUK

I am absolutely delighted to be on the blog tour for Lie With Me today especially as it has just been chosen for the Richard and Judy Book Club! To celebrate I have my review and a Q&A with author Sabine Durrant.

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Q&A with Sabine Durrant…

 Welcome Sabine!

Did you always plan to write novels or was it a natural progression for you as a journalist

I always wanted to write novels. But I loved being a journalist. I loved working in newspapers – the buzz, and being around clever people, and having to work fast and under pressure. I always had an idea that I would one day start writing in the evenings and on weekends, but newspapers demand long hours and often I had to work at the weekends, so the days and weeks and months went by…and weirdly that first novel never appeared. It was only when I had two small children that novel-writing became a serious option: I knew I would have to give up working in newspapers if I wanted to see the kids more and that was when I came up with the idea for my first novel. In a way, Having It And Eating It was my parachute out.

Do you have a writing routine or any writing superstitions? 

I have a rule, when I in the middle of a novel, that I have to write 1,000 words a day five days a week. I tell myself it doesn’t matter how good those words are; I just have to get them down on paper. I don’t show anyone the first draft until I have finished it. I would prefer not even to talk about it actually so the synopses that publishers quite reasonably ask for are almost the hardest part. In terms of routine, I am a bit like a cat. I like the place where I am writing, which might be my bed or the kitchen table, or by the fire (depending on the weather), to be very tidy and very comfortable. I always start writing with a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate – it’s like a bribe to myself, when I’ve done all the tidying, to make myself sit down.

 Which of your books are you the most proud of and why? 

Lie With Me is my favourite. It’s the first novel written in a voice that is completely not mine, a male voice for one thing, and one with assumptions and attitudes that are often anathema to me. I enjoyed writing this book the most – it came quite quickly and easily – and I am proud of the fact that the plot is so intricately bound up with character.

Was there a reason you chose Greece as the holiday setting here?

I wanted a location that was hot and bright and vivid to contrast with the wet and dreariness of London; the heat was important because I wanted the characters to literally, and metaphorically, take their clothes off while they were there – to reveal themselves if you like. A Greek island appealed because the few that I have visited have quite opposite types of tourism, clubs and pubs in one part, middle class families pottering in boats in another, and that was useful in terms of the plot, and also lots of different places where a body might lie undiscovered, rocky inlets, and secret beaches and wild interiors. An island, as Agatha Christie demonstrated so well, is a brilliant location for a thriller. 

What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m working on my fourth thriller. Do you mind if I don’t say anything more than that (see answer to question 2, above)?!

Congratulations on being chosen for the Richard and Judy Book Club. Which other authors or books would you like to see on that list in the future? 

Gosh, that’s a hard question to answer; it needs to be a book that isn’t yet in paperback and it should ideally be by someone who hasn’t had much exposure. The problem is that the book I’ve loved most in hardback this year is by a well-known author, but it’s so good I can’t not recommend it. So the book I’d like to see on the list this summer is Commonwealth by Ann Pat   

 Many thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for me and congratulations once again! 

About this book…

A few little lies never hurt anyone. Right?

Wrong.

Paul has a plan. He has a vision of a better future, and he’s going to make it happen.

If it means hiding or exaggerating a few things here and there, no harm done.

But when he charms his way on to a family holiday…
And finds himself trapped among tensions and emotions he doesn’t understand…
By the time he starts to realise that however painful the truth is, it’s the lies that cause the real dam

My review…

Oh my oh my! Looks like this is going to be another “Marmite” book that you will either love or dislike intensely. But I have to say that having read and liked Sabine Durrant’s previous books, this is my favourite by far-I absolutely bloody loved it!!!!!! It just had everything that I want in a book, horrible people, dysfunctional families, death, suspense and all set in my most favourite place in the world…Greece. If I’d been able to, I would have been laying on my sunlounger with a large Mythos and a plate of olives to get the full effect but a rainy day in Cheshire gave me just as much of an excuse to curl up and read this in one sitting.

Paul Morris is our narrator here and he isn’t a very nice person. Having had one major literary success in his early twenties, he is still dining out on it now aged 42. He is one of those men who makes women feel uncomfortable, the way he talks about women (and girls) is just creepy and some of the things he did or said just made my skin crawl! A chance meeting with an old friend from university leads him to meet Alice, a widow, who invites him to holiday with her and extended family and friends on a Greek Island. Paul seems to have no qualms about using people to satisfy his own needs (sex, money, a place to live) so this holiday seems heaven sent but it is far from the relaxing break he was expecting.

I love being surprised and this book did that from start to finish. I also love a dark and brooding hero but Paul was the most vile character and everything he did just wound me up. It was cringe worthy the way he acted around women especially. Although, truthfully, none of these people were the type I would normally warm to and so it takes a lot of skilful writing to make us care about what happens to them! I loved the theme of Lies used throughout, the quotes and the double entendres especially once the entire group move out to Greece. And I can’t think of anywhere better to have set this domestic noir than in the beautiful Greek countryside, I could almost feel the heat generated by the hot Greek sunshine and hear the sounds of donkeys and dogs and buzzing mosquitoes!

It took me quite a long time to work out where this was going  (I was having too much fun grimacing at Paul’s behaviour) but when the finale did roll around it was just so satisfying, perfectly handled and rounded off the plot nicely. I really did just love it from start to finish.

I received an advanced copy from Veronique at Hodder so thank you and this is my unbiased review.

Lie With Me: The Sunday Times bestseller is available to buy now!

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The Hidden Island by Angela Corner #BlogTour #BookReview @Bloodhoundbook

Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for a new book and author for Bloodhound Book and that is The Hidden Island by Angela Corner.

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About this book…

Sex. Drugs. Murder.

Hidden behind the crystal seas and beautiful beaches of a Greek Island dark and dangerous secrets lurk. Beckett has had his fill of adrenaline fuelled criminal investigation and with a broken body and damaged career goes to the Greek Island of Farou to head up the Criminal Investigation Bureau. Serious crime is rare, the weather is great and the beer is cold but his ‘retirement’ is cut short when a pagan cult resurrects and bodies start showing up.

With doubts about his mental and physical ability to do the job, a British police detective is sent to help with the investigation. DI Lee Harper is everything Beckett is not – young, ambitious and by the book.

As well as tackling the new case Beckett must overcome the demons from his past.

Family loyalty, power and money are at the source of the investigation where appearance is everything and nothing is what is seems.

Can Beckett and Harper work together to find justice for the victims?

Will the idyllic island ever be the same again?

Sometimes paradise can be hell.

My review…

I actually received a review copy of this book without having any idea about its setting or plot so it was a fantastic surprise to find that the hidden island of the title was actually in Greece my most favourite place in the world. This is a Greek set crime thriller with two of the most interesting and intriguing police characters I’ve come across for a while! They have to investigate the death of a young woman but does it have any connection to a past crime that shocked the island community?

When we first meet Greek based Beckett though it did take me a while to get into his character-he seemed very closed off and I would have liked more in the way of depth to him much earlier on. Harper, the UK based detective I actually took to straight away. I found the way he interacted with his father, while they are watching the proceedings outside court on tv after he has helped put away a serial killer, very interesting and wanted to find out more of his backstory.   And once Harper is in Greece and there are further revelations that makes that scene becomes much more understandable. His character came as a surprise to me as I had expected Beckett to be on his own solving the murder of a girl on his home island of Farou. But once these two came together I really felt the chemistry of their work relationship coming together and from there on I actually enjoyed the storyline much more as well.

The setting in Greece was also rather cleverly done as it felt much darker than the usual sunny and warm environment that I was expecting! It was obviously a tourist destination for those gangs of girls/boys holiday (I imagined it in my head to be similar to Laganas in Zante!) but the author seemed to make it feel so much more mysterious with an brooding, evil undercurrent.

The second half of the book really upped the pace and I found myself enjoying it more the further I got into it. It’s definitely got a different vibe to the other crime thrillers around at the moment so it was a refreshing change to not know what direction the author was planning to take us. I did find the ending a little abrupt though which surprised me but on the whole I found it a satisfactory conclusion to The Hidden Island.

The Hidden Island: an edge of your seat crime thriller was published by Bloodhound Books on 26th November. Thank you to Bloodhound for my review copy of The Hidden Island.

Meet the author…

Angela Corner was born and bred in Lancashire but has moved ever further south in search of better weather. She currently lives in cider and strawberry country in the Wye Valley in South Herefordshire with her dogs, horses and a very understanding partner.

Angela’s writing life began after being made redundant from a career pretending to know about tax law. She did a Master’s Degree in Radio & TV Scriptwriting at Salford University and then spent eight years writing scripts for Channel 4’s Hollyoaks followed by a stint on Eastenders. But Angela’s writing ambition was always to become a novelist so the lives of beautiful teenagers and angry cockneys were swapped for the murder and skulduggery of crime fiction.

Angela is a serial reader of crime fiction and historical novels and is an avid watcher of TV crime drama, particularly anything Scandinavian and everything dark.

When she is not writing or doing internet research on how best to dispose of dead bodies she can be found riding her horses, walking her dogs or attempting to cook something edible for the understanding partner.

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

I must start by saying a huge thank you to fellow blogger Tracy Shepard. After reading her review I just knew this was a book I had to read and she very kindly put me in touch with Caitlin Raynor at Headline who sent me a copy for review. So thank you both!

About this book…

Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.

With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.

On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man’s odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A‘s tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.

Beloved, bestselling author Victoria Hislop’s Cartes Postales from Greece is fiction illustrated with photographs that make this journey around Greece, already alive in the imagination, linger forever in the mind.

My review…

I don’t know why we chose Corfu as our honeymoon destination in 1988 but that first trip to Greece for both of us has led to a yearly holiday to a country that has adopted us as the years have gone by and welcomed our family as it has expanded. We just seem to fit there and now our grandchildren are also experiencing the culture and way of life-capturing the hearts of the Greek people with their willingness to try their food and their language. So I was overjoyed to see that a favourite author had written this absolutely stunning book that is written in one of the most unusual formats I have ever seen. Does it work? Totally!

This is really a series of short stories set within a story…that is set within a story! And it is accompanied by the most stunning photographs throughout that lift this book to another level! When Ellie starts to receive a series of postcards from Greece she becomes obsessed by them. Although obviously for a previous tenant of her flat, she keeps them on her pin-board to gaze upon as they lift her spirit daily and she makes a life changing decision to go to Greece. On the day she leaves for the airport she finds a notebook in her post box which she hurriedly picks up to take with her. Once in Tolon, on her self contained holiday, she starts to read. It’s the story of A and his love for S and how, after she stands him up, he travels the country meeting interesting locals who tell him stories.

I just loved these little snatches showing the real Greek people. In such a beautiful country they really do seem to have struck on some terrible hardships both economically and socially. But this strips back the recent revelations to the core with its mix of darkly atmospheric conversations and historical observations, like a set of Greek fables. My personal favourite was In Love With Love which I found rather mournful and brought in an archaeological twist. And I loved the mention of the funeral notices as well as I have only just learned of them after spending half an hour this year trying to translate them for my family when we visited one of the oldest villages in Crete. I found them fascinating!

This would make a beautiful present for any lover of Greece. The whole concept of the photographs within a fictional novel is just genius especially when combined with the natural storytelling of Victoria Hislop. This is a country that always seems to have its people at its heart as much as its stunning countryside and scenery so both are photographed to great effect here. It has also encouraged me to maybe move off the beaten track a little more next time (although possible not to the village mentioned in one of the tales!) and just take it all in. There’s nothing more relaxing than an ice cold Mythos and a plate of fresh olives as you watch the world go by.

Thank you to Headline for providing my review copy of this glorious book.

Cartes Postales from Greece will be published on 22nd September and is available to buy from Amazon UK

About the author…

Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria Hislop wrote The Islandin 2005. It became an international bestseller and a 26-part Greek TV series. She was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and is now an ambassador for Lepra.

Her affection for the Mediterranean then took her to Spain, and in The Return (also a number one bestseller) she wrote about the painful secrets of its civil war.

In her third novel, The Thread, Victoria returned to Greece to tell the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki and its people across the 20th century. It was shortlisted for a British Book Award, and confirmed her reputation as an inspirational storyteller. It was followed by her much-admired Greece-set short story collection, The Last Dance and Other Stories.

Her next novel, The Sunrise, was published to widespread acclaim. It was a Sunday Times hardback bestseller and debuted at number one in the Sunday Times paperback chart.

Victoria divides her time between England and Greece.