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!

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Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land #BookReview

Okay I know! I said about 3 posts ago that I was going to be having a little break over the Christmas holidays but I seem to be completely unable to stop reading! Which means I simply have to keep writing reviews about the most amazing books coming out so that you can all read them and love them too! And I just knew I had compiled my top books of the year post too soon when I read Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land.

About this book…

‘NEW NAME .
NEW FAMILY.
SHINY.
NEW.
ME.’

Annie’s mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…

My review…

I actually passed over this book when I saw it up on netgalley as the blurb didn’t really draw me in and I mistakenly thought it to be YA which I don’t normally read. But then I started to see some very intriguing and positively glowing reviews start to appear and my fear of missing out kicked in. And thank goodness it did because I would have been seriously kicking myself if I had missed this utterly brilliant debut novel by Ali Land. If I have to be truthful though for about the first 5% I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about as it took me that long to get used to the unique storytelling voice that the author brings to approach her main characters thoughts and feelings. But once I found my reading rhythm this book did not leave my side and I read it into the wee small hours of the morning-sleep would have been difficult to achieve anyway, with my pounding heart and the obsessive thoughts twisting themselves around in my brain!

The themes of nature versus nurture are used to a truly terrifying affect here. It’s the one thing guaranteed to make me question everything I have ever learned about human nature.  When Annie turns her serial killer mother over to the police she is put into foster care while she awaits the murder trial she has to give evidence for. Renamed Milly, she has to live within a family where their teenage daughter Phoebe is unaware of her past. As Milly gradually reveals to us the truth about her life with her mother, we also see her struggle to fit in with her peers due to her very different upbringing.

Most of what happened to Milly and to the children her mother is accused of murdering is handled without explicit content thankfully but I think that it actually hits you harder that way. It means you are left to imagine the horrors that faced Milly as a young girl and how it shaped her life both before and after her mother’s arrest. To hint at such an abhorrent crime without graphic details was an interesting but very clever tool. It kept the adrenaline pumping as we were drip fed information about Milly’s childhood until the full horror of what happened to her is upon us.

This is such an atmospheric and dark read. The characters were well projected, not too much information, just enough for us to get a taste of how they lived their lives within their own family boundaries. I desperately wanted Milly to have a good life and a happy ever after but how do you come back from such an upbringing? I found that the author seemed very aware of mental health issues and wrote confidently whenever these arose. But I tell you something, I would HATE to be a teenage girl again in this age of smartphones and social media and I’m not surprised by the problems that they have to face to “fit in”, just saddened.

This book is going to be huge next year and I’m very happy to recommend it to everyone I know! It was so much more than I was expecting and I hope to read more by Ali Land very soon.

Good Me Bad Me will be published by Penguin Michael Joseph on 12th January 2017 and is available to buy at Amazon UK.

Meet the author…

After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nurse in hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia. Ali is now a full-time writer and lives in a creative warehouse community in North London. Good Me Bad Me has been translated into over twenty languages.

The Wrong Hand by Jane Jago

About this book…

We all make mistakes. Moments that change us and the path we are on irrevocably.
For Rachel Allen it was the moment that she let her son’s hand slip from hers. For Danny Simpson and Graham Harris it was the moment one of them took it.

Seven years ago Danny and Graham were just children themselves, angry, marginalized and unguided. That was, until they committed a crime so heinous that three families were left devastated. They were no longer just boys. They were monsters.

Released from juvenile detention, it is time for the boys, now men, to start again; new names, new people. But they can never escape who they are or what they did. And their own families, now notorious; the Allens, destroyed with grief; and the country at large have never been able to forget.

They will always be running. They will always be hiding. But are some mistakes too large, the ripples to far reaching, to outrun forever?

My review…

I have to admit to struggling with this book but I’m not sure whether my own feelings about the subject matter tainted what I was reading. This is such a difficult and horrific fictional account of the murder of a 3 year old boy by two 11 year old boys but, despite it being set in Australia, it still followed far too close to a real life UK crime that it made me feel particularly squeamish and uncomfortable. Normally I do like this type of storyline, a particularly good example is The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood which I loved but I just didn’t get that feeling here.

This is the story of Danny and Graham who committed an awful crime at the age of 11. As the crime has had far reaching consequences it also follows Rachel who’s son was murdered and how she is dealing with her emotions as a mother to her other children. Benjamin’s dad just wants to find the boys now that they have been released from prison and it is an all consuming passion to work out where they are now and what they look like. We see the affects on the boys families as well. How do you cope as a parent if your child has murdered another? Do you have to take some of that blame on your own shoulders? We are back in my favourite territory here of “nurture vs nature” and how 2 individuals can spark off something in the other that is dormant, waiting for that other person, that “reflection in the mirror” to complete a match made in hell.

Jane Jago is a fantastic writer who can spark an emotional response in her readers and I would love to read more of her work. This one just bothered me a little bit purely because of that connection, it made me feel uncomfortable as it was just a little bit too close to home for my liking.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

The Wrong Hand is out in e-book on 30th June and is available to buy here at Amazon UK