Spotlight Latest Reads: The Page by M Jonathan Lee.


Publication Date: Available Now from Troubador.

Source: Author Review Copy

Following a tragic car accident, Michael Sewell is alone for the first time. The loss of his wife, Margaret, after thirty years of marriage has left a hole far greater than Michael could have imagined.
Persuaded to go on holiday by his daughter Jane, he’s at the pool when a page blown from a book sticks to his chest. The words from the page resonate with Michael, describing in detail the exact events leading up to the accident. Now, Michael must delve into his past and face his future, taking him and his family on a horrifying and tragic journey toward the truth…

I loved “The Radio” so was looking forward to this one – it was a really excellent read, quite the page turner (yes I know!) and beautifully done.

It is a fun book to read as you try to work out just what is going to happen, peppered with clues and with some truly fascinating characters you will love to hate to love. As Michael takes us on a journey through his life and tries to track down the rest of this book that happens to be scarily accurate, it is a beautifully drawn mystery thriller that will engage you all the way.

This is part of a trilogy, The Radio being the first part this being the second, and the way it ends will have you on the edge of your seat for the finale – where presumably all will be revealed including all the connections – I say presumably because the joy of these is it is never exactly clear where everything is going. Trying to work it out will give you a major book hangover but it is delicious stuff none the less.

Michael is horrible (I thought so anyway) so it is quite an accomplishment to make the reader still care what happens and want to know, but want to know you will and Mr Lee has a lovely way with words that embeds you into the tale immediately and will have you devouring every chapter.

Overall then a really terrific read, an author to watch. Hopefully not long until the next one – intelligent plotting and careful character driving makes it a must have.

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My original review for The Radio and interview with the author can be found here:

Happy Reading Folks!


Touched by Joanna Briscoe. Guest post from the Author.

TouchedJoanna BriscoePhoto by Jason Alden

Today I’m happy to welcome Joanna Briscoe to the blog. Her new novel “Touched” is available now.

Rowena Crale and her family have moved from London to a cottage in a picture perfect English village. But despite their efforts, the cottage resists all attempts at renovation.Walls ooze damp, stains come through layers of wallpaper, ceilings sag, and strange voices emanate from empty rooms.And then, one by one, Rowena’s daughters go missing….

Joanna’s childhood home was the inspiration for the house in “Touched”. Here Joanna tells us why.


The Village of the Damned

I spent my first four years in the village of the damned. This was where the classic 1960 horror film The Village of the Damned, based on John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos, was shot. I can even see my old house in the film. This was the most picture postcard perfect village, with old red brick houses set around a Green with a duck pond, a war memorial, and fields all about. The village was so pretty, and so near the Elstree film studios, that it was often used as a location.

When I went back there for the first time in adulthood, it was almost worryingly identical to how I had remembered it, every lane, every feature of the house coming back to me, though we had left when I was four. In its prettiness, it seemed almost creepy, as though ghosts or hidden perversions haunted the perfection.

Why is beauty so powerful? Why does it delude, make people obsessed and act in odd ways when we know it’s only skin deep? This is connected to Touched in two ways – the character of the beautiful girl Jennifer, and the pretty village that hides all sorts of darkness.

What is it about children that can be so disturbing in the context of horror or the supernatural? Does the root of this lie in their seeming innocence juxtaposed with darker psyches or abilities?

I wanted to write about a child who seems very disturbing – she dresses as a shabby Victorian while her contemporaries dress in the latest fashions of the early 1960s, when the novel is set – and her behaviour is certainly odd. But actually, at some level, it is her ordinary seeming and extremely beautiful sister, Jennifer, who is, in her blankness, more disturbing.

Joanna Briscoe is the author of Mothers and Other Lovers, Skin and the highly acclaimed Sleep with Me which was published in ten countries and adapted for ITV drama by Andrew Davies.


She spent her very early years in ‘the village of the damned’, Letchmore Heath in Hertfordshire, the location for the celebrated 1960 film based on John Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos – and the inspiration, too, for this Hammer novella.

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Praise for Touched


‘A ghost story interwoven with crime, love and horror. It works on every level… Touched is a finely balanced creation, reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Briscoe’s prose is sensuous, poetic, light. The rhythm is delicately controlled. A strange, fascinating tale’ Financial Times


‘Touched is a gripping novella, a waking nightmare in the home counties that is both erotic and claustrophobic. There’s a woozy atmosphere of menace, a satirical stab at Britain’s postwar commuter-belt aspirations, and an elegant, postmodern, cine-literate twist… has something of The Turn of the Screw, certainly, but with it, the brasher influence of Ira Levin, or Anthony Shaffer, screenwriter of The Wicker Man. And Briscoe is, of course, influenced by that strange and fascinating B-movie, the Twilight Zone chiller Village of the Damned… This is a haunting and disquieting parable… Touched would make a terrific 1960s black-and-white film’ Guardian


‘Children go missing from a cottage that resists renovation in a wonderfully claustrophobic horror. It’s all wonderfully creepy….Touched is thoroughly eerie, an enjoyably chilling sliver of ice on a hot summer’s day’ Thriller of the Month, Observer


‘A brilliantly eerie story’ Martha Lane Fox, Event Magazine, Mail on Sunday


‘That sense of suffocation and slowly creeping madness is something that Touched — the latest novella from the Hammer horror imprint — expertly mines’ Daily Mail


‘A spine-chilling tale of a creepy cottage and a mother’s terror’ Daily Express


‘An old fashioned, scary horror story’ Sunday Mirror


‘Haunting novella from Joanna Briscoe… a disorientating ride’ Grazia


‘A ghastly gathering sense of unease never lets up… chilling tale’ Woman & Home

Happy Reading Folks!

Prey by James Carol – Blog Tour


Publication Date: Available Now from Faber

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Six years ago a young married couple were found brutally stabbed to death in their home in Upstate New York. Local police arrested a suspect who later committed suicide. But what if the police got it wrong?
Ex-FBI profiler Jefferson Winter is drawn into a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a mysterious female psychopath as she sets him a challenge: find out what really happened six years ago.
The clock is ticking, and as Winter is about to find out, the endgame is everything…

So the third in the Jefferson Winter series then, I’ve really enjoyed these and I have to say that from a personal point of view I think that Prey is my favourite so far.

In this instalment a mysterious woman accosts Jefferson in a cafe – challenging him in a way that he cannot ignore, he begins a journey into a past case that may have far reaching consequences.

A real page turner this one – I read it in two gulping sittings, in this case it was not Jefferson I was interested in so much as it was our enigmatic female “bad guy”  I LOVED her, so much so that often I wanted her to win. Well occasionally anyway. Even Jefferson is having trouble getting a handle on things and this makes for some great moments as he attempts to make sense of the unimaginable.

I love a good “profiler” story and James Carol’s series is a cut above when it comes to pure readability and for characters that always leave you desperate for more. Jefferson is a marvellously drawn character, usually he’s right on the ball so it was actually fascinating to see him having issues. As for our appearing/disappearing lady, never knowing when she was going to suddenly appear made for some edge of the seat moments, with a very real possibility that Jefferson had met his match.

The mystery element is, as always, intelligent and compelling, lovely twisty turny goodness as things progress and more information comes to light. Keeping you off kilter as far as what may happen next is one of the strengths of this particular author and with “Prey” it is beautifully done.

Overall then a most terrific read. I simply cannot WAIT for the next one.

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The Boy who Granted Dreams by Luca Di Fulvio – Blog Tour.


Today a guest post from Luca Di Fulvio – welcome Luca and thank you!


It’s completely natural for Italians to think of emigration as part of their DNA, as integral as art, music and sunshine. Even for those of us whose relatives did not emigrate. It’s part of our national experience (even if, now that it’s our turn to accommodate all those coming from Africa or Eastern Europe in search of a better life, we sometimes seem to forget this).

For this reason, I didn’t have too much trouble putting myself in the shoes of Cetta, the mother of the protagonist of my novel, who leaves a shady part of Calabria for New York.

Almost all of our migrants, especially at the beginning of the last century, came from the south of Italy (and consequently they shape the popular view of all Italians), having been forced by hunger and social injustice to go in search of a new world and a new life. They were poor, often illiterate, struggling even to speak Italian. The modern world they found in America, and particularly in New York, must have been totally overwhelming. It has always seemed to me that the thuggish behaviour that made us notorious was a front concealing a huge amount of fear. And I think our national tendency to seal ourselves off in tight little groups began as a kind of remedy to that, a way to share that terrible fear among the community. These people’s nostalgia for their homeland (by which they meant not Italy but the little region they came from and the incomprehensible dialect they spoke), and for the roots they had been wrenched from, were simply a balm for the deep sense of not belonging they must have felt. I remember a friend of mine telling me about her grandmother who, twenty years after moving to France, had barely mastered the basic vocabulary needed to do the shopping.

But there was another type of emigrant, the adventurers who threw themselves into the melting pot, back when that concept was still in fashion. Who grasped and believed in the extraordinary opportunities the Promised Land had to offer.

Cetta belongs to this second category. But she keeps her wits about her. She is smart enough to realise that for her there can be nothing more than the ‘salad bowl’ on which American culture would fall back years later. But she has the foresight to invest all her hopes and dreams in a different future for her son, a future in which the mythical ‘melting pot’ could become a reality. As far as Cetta is concerned, this child, who set off for America with the Italian name Natale, but at Ellis Island had it translated to Christmas by a fledgling interpreter named Fiorello LaGuardia, can and must have what she will never attain. Christmas will be American. He will integrate.

People immediately tell her that Christmas is a negro name. But Cetta asks who the negroes are: ‘Are they Americans?’ And when told there’s no denying they’re American, she happily and proudly states, ‘Then my son has a new American name.’

Cetta, who has escaped from a quasi-medieval fiefdom whose padrone molests his female subjects, has no choice at the beginning but to work as a prostitute. But there is something spurring her on to succeed, to reach her aims. Maybe she wouldn’t have had the strength to succeed for herself (even though she is an amazing woman and I think she would always have gone far), but for her son, who is her future, she finds all the determination she needs to fulfil her ambitions.

Christmas is an extraordinary peddler of dreams, a giver of hope, and not only to the people of the Lower East Side ghetto; but there’s no doubt he gets this talent from Cetta, and the way she brought him up.

I tried to paint a picture of a girl (when she arrives in New York she is only a teenager) with a gift for lightness. The cruel, terrible world she encounters seems to leave her unscathed. The mud the other down-and-outs fling at one another seems to wash right off her. Sal himself, who will become her faithful companion, is none other than a pimp. A man who, in common with so many others like him in that era, chose to take the shortcut of criminality. And yet even he, under Cetta’s influence, will display a better side to himself, a side every one of us has.

It sounds like a fairytale, I know. But I firmly believe in human nature, despite everything going on around us. I have an unshakeable faith in the human being’s capacity to choose the right path and, with the help of circumstances, to open the door to a better world.

And in this story, Cetta is the character who shows others the way. With natural ease. With lightness, as I said before. Without airs and graces.


When Christmas was little, he and Cetta “would sit on a bench in Battery Park, next to one another, and Christmas would read aloud to her — first sounding out each syllable with difficulty, then more and more smoothly as he went on — the adventures of White Fang. One page a day.

“This our story,” Cetta told him the day they finished the book, almost a year later. “When we come here to New York, we like White Fang, like wolves. We strong and we wild. And we meet bad people who make us more wild, savage. And they kill us if we let them, eh? But we not just wild. We strong, too. Always you remember that, Christmas. And when we meet good person, or if we have some good luck, then our strength make us like White Fang. Americans. No more wild. That what book mean.”

“I like the wolves better than the dogs,” said Christmas.

Cetta stroked his fair hair. “You a wolf, my baby. And wolf inside you make you strong, more strong, when you big. But like White Fang, you listen when you hear voice of love. If you no pay attention when you hear, then you get like all those bad boys in neighborhood, those delinquenti, they not wild wolf, they mad dogs.”


The Boy Who Granted Dreams by Luca Di Fulvio is published 23rd March by Bastei Entertainment, price £4.99 in eBook

About the book:

1909. Ellis Island. Arriving off one of the many transatlantic freighters are Cetta Luminita and her illegitimate baby boy Natale, fleeing the poverty and violence of their Southern Italian hometown. Having sacrificed everything, and endured every possible shame, Cetta has but one wish: that her baby should be an American, and grow up with the freedom to decide his own destiny. As they alight, US Immigration officials give Natale a new name: Christmas.

Growing up in the Lower East Side of New York with his mother, who works as a prostitute, Christmas is determined to be a success, whether a decent person or a gangster. The city is ruled by gangs from each community, Italian, Jewish and Irish, and survival is dependent on ruthlessness and strength. But Christmas has a vivid imagination, and an ability to tell stories that people want to believe…and thus is born his imaginary gang, the Diamond Dogs, which earns him respect within the ghetto. All this changes the day he saves the life of a rich Jewish girl Ruth, and despite their different backgrounds, he falls hopelessly in love with her. When circumstance tears them apart, Christmas vows that he will find her, by any means possible.

A sweeping saga of love and hate set in the Roaring Twenties, The Boy Who Granted Dreams is the story of Christmas and Ruth; the story of the dawn of radio, Broadway and Hollywood; and above all, a story about believing in the power of dreams.

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The Faerie Tree blog tour‏ with Jane Cable

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Today I am very pleased to welcome Jane Cable to the blog – celebrating her new novel “The Faerie Tree”. Here she talks about keeping Fiction real.



I tried to remember the first time I’d been here and to see the tree through Izzie’s eyes. The oak stood on a rise just above the path; not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings; pieces of ribbon, daisy chains, a shell necklace, a tiny doll or two and even an old cuckoo clock.
“Why do people do this?” Izzie asked.
I winked at her. “To say thank you to the fairies.”

The first time I saw the faerie tree I wanted to hug it. And I don’t generally go around hugging trees. I may sometimes talk to pot plants, but that’s different. No; wanting to hug this tree was something deeper, more elemental. I knew it was a special place. Just how special I didn’t come to realise until I started writing the book some eight months later.

The Faerie Tree is about the tricks memory plays; the main characters, Izzie and Robin, first fall in love in 1986. They hold hands around the faerie tree and make their separate wishes for a future together but within hours tragedy strikes and they don’t meet again for twenty years. When they do, they discover that their memories of what happened before are completely different.

With all this uncertainty having credible settings for the story was vital. They have to be real; I think, because the things which happen perhaps are not. They’re puzzling, mysterious – sometimes even other worldly – and to make that work I need them to be grounded in places I actually know.

The faerie tree in the story is on the banks of the River Hamble and stands in National Trust woods near the village of Curbridge. It is just as Robin describes it in the passage above; as an added bonus you can leave letters to the faeries in the box attached to the trunk and they will leave you a reply in the plastic folder tacked to the back of the tree.

The place has a magic all of its own and although probably few visitors to the tree would realise it, the practice of decorating oaks with offerings stretches back to pre-Christian times. Perhaps it is something in a shared memory that makes people do the same thing today. If you would like a virtual walk there, visit this page of my website:

Because the faerie tree is central to the story I needed to use other locations nearby in Hampshire. The fact the opening scene is in Winchester is a personal doffing of my cap to the wonderful Winchester Writers’ Festival which I have attended three times and has had a huge influence on the writer I have become. But more than that Winchester is a beautiful city, the sort of place that begs to be written into any novel.

As are the places the young Robin travels through on his journey. It was such a pleasure to pick out some of the jewels in crown of the coastline west from Southampton that I actually over-wrote this part of the book in the first draft. Sometimes it is far too easy – and self-indulgent – to write paragraph upon paragraph about places you love without realising the story is going nowhere. I hope the places which survive in the final version are those which add to the story rather than detract from it.

Although most of the book is set in Hampshire, Cornwall has a significant part to play as well, in particular its surf capital, Newquay. In the summer of 2010 I spent a long weekend nearby and my sister-in-law and I booked a surfing lesson. I was hopeless, but hooked. I even went into Newquay to buy my own body board and although I didn’t realise it at the time, the shop and the town itself stayed etched in my mind. Filed away, neatly, until I had a character – and a story – who would need it.



How can a memory so vivid be wrong?

I tried to remember the first time I’d been here and to see the tree through Izzie’s eyes. The oak stood on a rise just above the path; not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings – pieces of ribbon, daisy chains, a shell necklace, a tiny doll or two and even an old cuckoo clock.
“Why do people do this?” Izzie asked.
I winked at her. “To say thank you to the fairies.”

In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.

In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?

With strong themes of paganism, love and grief, The Faerie Tree is a novel as gripping and unputdownable as Jane Cable’s first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, which won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. It is a story that will resonate with fans of romance, suspense, and folklore

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Happy Reading Folks!



New Release Spotlight: Knights Shadow by Sebastien De Castell. Guest Post and Review.


Today I am happy to welcome Sebastien De Castell to the blog telling us all about Character Turmoil as the second book in his “Greatcoats” series is released.


Turmoil and Tribulation in Series Fantasy: Why Authors Torment Your Favourite Characters


I slammed down my copy of George R. R. Martin’s Storm of Swords on top of the bed. It bounced. “That son of a—”


“Please stop yelling at the book,” my wife said, nose-deep in a different, less contentious novel. “The author can’t hear you.”


“He’s killed off another of my favourite characters,” I complained.


“Yes, well, that’s terrible of him.”


I took in a deep breath—a necessary preparation for the lengthy speech I was about to deliver—“What’s worse, I didn’t even like that character in the first place! But then damned George R.R. Martin went and made me like the character and then boom! Killed ‘em off right in front of me.”


I imagine some variation of my rant has been repeated by fans of A Song Of Ice and Fire the world over, always ending with the same question: why do authors insist on tormenting and even murdering our favourite characters?


The Need for Escalating Failures


Think of some of your favourite literary characters. What is it about them that you love? I don’t mean the simple, surface attributes like being witty or clever or attractive. I mean the things that will keep you reading page after page to find out what happens to them. Is it their willingness to sacrifice everything for love? Their ability to stand up to even the worst bullies? Whatever those qualities are, chances are they can only really be seen when the character is facing serious adversity.


But can a character who never fails really be brave or determined? How can we find a character’s inner strength compelling unless we’ve first seen them fail? Falcio val Mond, the protagonist of Traitor’s Blade, starts the novel having already failed many of the most important people in his life. His determination to follow his ideals is only interesting because of the way those ideals have failed him in the past. It’s only through watching the character lose—and lose big–that we can rejoice when he finally succeeds.


But what happens after that final victory when we move onto the next book in the series? Will you, as a reader, really be as emotionally engaged if the next failure the protagonist experiences is no worse than the ones you’ve already seen them overcome in the previous book? The answer, of course, is no. And this means that things have to get harder. The emotional stakes have to get bigger, and the failures have to get worse.


The Need for Increasing Torment


The only people who enjoy tormenting the things they love are psychopaths and writers. In fact, the term ‘enjoy’ is probably a bit off here. I suppose it’s more that the writer feels they have a duty to torment their characters. Now that I think of it, I’m not sure if this makes writers better or worse than psychopaths…


There’s a long sequence of scenes that take place in Knight’s Shadow which will, I suspect, shock a few people. I didn’t write them to be shocking, it’s just that, well, that’s how they turned out. See, if you like Falcio as a character then it’s at least in part because you feel a connection to his ideals. But at the root of ideals are real experiences—often terrible ones—that shape our ideas about the world. To get to the absolute core of Falcio, I needed to strip him down to the point where there was nothing left except that first, fundamental piece of him that couldn’t be taken away.


So while failures are a crucial part of the plot, torment—the internal pain that comes as a result of those failures—is vital for character. This, too, becomes more difficult with a sequel. If your beloved character has emerged from his first adventures stronger than before, then the internal pain they experience has to be commensurately higher the next time around.


The Necessity of Death


So after all that, why in the world would any author kill off a character that fans enjoy? Considering how much work it takes to make people like them in the first place, why would any writer do such a foolish thing?


The simple answer is that, at a certain point, a character has finished their journey. They no longer have a tale of their own to tell, they no longer reveal anything about the world they inhabit, and their continued presence dilutes the overall story. At that point the author is faced with a question: should I simply disappear this character (have them move, retire, or otherwise leave the stage)? Or do they have the ability to dramatically impact other characters who do have a story to tell? If it’s the latter, then some radical shift is likely required, either through death or turning towards a darker side.


As a writer, part of my job is to wring every possible ounce of dramatic potential from my characters. If that comes from them living, great. If it comes from them dying…bring on the guillotine!


Addendum: The Necessity of Life


“So that’s why I’m going to kill him off,” I told my editor, the esteemed Jo Fletcher.

She thought about it for all of a second. “No, you damn well aren’t.”


Okay, she didn’t say it exactly that way. In fact, she never actually forbids me from killing off a character, but she has moved me away from killing off specific characters at various points in the series. The details of the conversations change but the essential question is always the same: “Have you said everything you want to say with that character?”


That, kind readers, is the one and only reason to keep a character alive: when they still have important things to say.


Thank you so much!



Publication Date: Available Now from Jo Fletcher.

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Tristia is a nation overcome by intrigue and corruption. The idealistic young King Paelis is dead and the Greatcoats – legendary travelling magistrates who brought justice to the Kingdom – have been branded as traitors. But just before his head was impaled on a spike, the King swore each of his hundred and forty-four Greatcoats to a different mission.
Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor, with the help of fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti, has completed his King’s final task: he has found his Charoites – well, one at least, and she was not quite what they expected. Now they must protect the girl from the many who would see her dead, and place her on the throne of a lawless kingdom. That would be simple enough, if it weren’t for the Daishini, an equally legendary band of assassins, getting in their way, not to forget the Dukes who are determined to hold on to their fractured Kingdoms, or the fact that the heir to the throne is only thirteen years old. Oh, and the poison that is slowly killing Falcio. That’s not even mentioning the Greatcoat’s Lament…

So a big task for the author then, to follow up the really most excellent Traitors Blade with another blazing adventure – if anything Knights Shadow is even more compelling, definitely a whole load of swashbuckling fun but with a darker tone to it that I adored.

Once again it is brilliantly readable, wittily ironic in places with some tremendously clever world building and characterisation – one of the things that I like most about it is the bounce to the dialogue, the interactions between our group of Greatcoats and the wider cast they come across is gorgeously written, often funny and really brings the whole thing to life. Our villains are truly villainous and beautifully drawn, the mythology is expanded and intensified, added to that we have plenty of action, thrills and spills to keep us on our toes.

Knights Shadow picks up right where Traitors Blade left off and is a breathless rollercoaster of a ride that will engage, fascinate and compel the reader ever onwards, there is a beauty to the tale that gets right to the heart of you. Another huge page turner and basically Mr De Castell has just hit the sweet spot when it comes to Fantasy writing – this is exactly how it should be done. No problem with “2nd book syndrome” here, a really really great read. I simply can’t wait for the next.

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Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.

Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.

All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…

Happy Reading Folks!


Liz Currently Loves…..The Lie by C L Taylor


Publication Date: April 23rd from Avon.

Source: Netgalley

I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes…
Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

The Lie is a really excellent follow up to “The Accident” a book I was enthralled by last year, clever and tense psychological thrillers both. In The Accident the focus was on parental relationships and secrets, here with “The Lie” it is all about friendship.

Jane Hughes was not always Jane Hughes. In her other existence she and a group of friends went on the trip of a lifetime – What happened during that holiday led Jane to change her name and hide away from the world. Now, however, someone has tracked her down and soon the truth will emerge…

I do love books like this for their utterly addictive quality, where a past story is slowly drip fed to you in conjunction with present events, slowly but surely leading you towards the full picture. Ms Taylor does this particularly well by using some really excellent and emotive characters to pull you in. These friends could be any  friends – the relationships we form as we head into adulthood tend to be the ones that stay with us even if we drift apart, this is captured in essence here perfectly even as this particular group fractures and falls.

I adored (hated) in equal measure every single one of them. This is why it is so completely enthralling throughout….when faced with an untenable situation, what do you do when the people you relied on, trusted, turn their backs on you?  As an exploration of the petty jealousies and rolling emotions that can hide underneath the surface of the most solid seeming relationships this is pitched perfectly with some thought provoking themes and scenario’s.

Add to that the fact that it is truly haunting – I’m not giving too much away on the plot, what happens to the girls is horrific, but you should come to that on your own – still it is terribly creepy at times, there is one character in particular that I found to be as scary as he was intriguing and the situation is very authentic and possible which of course makes it even more frightening.

I will give a nod to Daisy. Daisy was a character who I wanted to punch in the mouth and I am not a violent person. Still, she was absolutely captivating, truly memorable, fascinating and provocative, I’d like to bet that like me, she will be one who will stay with you for the longest after the story is done.

Overall then a most terrific read, a huge page turner and a beautifully written snapshot of friendship and the things that separate us. Convincing and chilling, this comes highly recommended from me.

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The Accident

Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality.

Retracing her daughter’s steps she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past.

There is a lot that Sue doesn’t know about Charlotte’s life. But then there’s a lot that Charlotte doesn’t know about Sue’s …

Happy Reading Folks!



Black Wood by SJJ Holliday – Blog Tour.

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Publication Date: Available now from Black and White Publishing.

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story. Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun. But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?

So any fan of the psychological thriller definitely needs to be getting their hands on this one – I was lucky enough to read it extremely early, even then I knew it was going to be a great addition to the crime fiction genre, since then I have read the finished version and turns out I was right. Brilliant.

What I found was a character driven story with a very haunting and expressive feel that pulled me in immediately. Jo is an intriguing character, dealing with some difficult issues stemming from a childhood trauma – but with no-one to believe her and a memory that is flaky, she feels very alone and that comes out in the way she interacts with those close to her. Not always sympathetic as a character but ever fascinating, the mystery of what happened to her and Claire all those years ago is compelling and addictive. I can’t say I liked her particularly, but one of the strengths of the story is in the fact that you feel for her anyway.

The book is an exploration of memory and emotion, how things from before can affect the after and is all the more powerful for it. There is a great depth to the psychology and feeling of it, with some authentic twists and turns to keep you off kilter, beautifully paced, it is one of those novels you sink into completely and have to shake off when you emerge back into real life.

The tale has a very “noir” feel, atmospheric and often very haunting, the heart of this is to be found in the people that pepper the pages and the background they are from – at times scarily claustrophobic, especially when delving into Jo’s head and heart, it will engage you and disturb you, surprise you and intrigue you.

It really is deliciously written, capturing the essence of village life perfectly and delivering an eclectic cast of characters, an appealing and exquisitely drawn enigma both in character and plot and overall would defnitely come highly recommended from me. Oh and beautiful job on the cover – captures the whole thing perfectly right there.

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Liz Currently Loves….A Song of Shadows by John Connolly.


Publication Date: 9th April 2015 from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Bookbridgr

Recovering from a near-fatal shooting and tormented by memories of a world beyond this one, Parker has retreated to the small Maine town of Boreas to recover. There he befriends a widow named Ruth Winter and her young daughter, Amanda. But Ruth has her secrets. She is hiding from the past, and the forces that threaten her have their origins in the Second World War, in a town called Lubko and a concentration camp unlike any other. Old atrocities are about to be unearthed, and old sinners will kill to hide their sins. Now Parker is about to risk his life to defend a woman he barely knows, one who fears him almost as much as she fears those who are coming for her.His enemies believe him to be vulnerable. Fearful. Solitary. But they are wrong. Parker is far from afraid, and far from alone. For something is emerging from the shadows . . .

Pretty unbelievable that Charlier Parker is on his 13th outing, seems like only yesterday I picked up “Every Dead Thing” rather randomly and became an immediate and lifelong fan of this author and of this series in particular. 13 may be unlucky for some but not in this case because “A Song of Shadows” has a beautiful quality about it, following as it does the emotional and traumatic events of “A Wolf in Winter”, a book that had me distraught for weeks. In a good way.

A bit of background for anyone who has not yet started these… Charlie Parker is a private investigator, who lost his family to the serial killer known as The Travelling Man. Each book takes Charlie one step closer to the end game (sob, I feel it coming now I really do, one time in my reading life I hope I’m wrong and there are another 20 books on the way) whilst each one also has its own self contained storyline. Even so I would highly recommend that you read these in order without missing a step – the richness and depth of the mythology that John Connolly has created here is pitch perfect both in construction and prose, with each novel leading you slowly towards something I still cannot yet imagine – as such the complete experience is better served as a sequence of events.

Looking at “A Song of Shadows” then, here we find Charlie recuperating from the violent attack he suffered, watched over as ever by the elusive Louis and Angel, he moves to a small town to take the time to heal. Living next door is Ruth Winter and her daughter Amanda – Ruth hides a dark secret with its roots firmly in the past. Of course Charlie gets involved. It is who he is.

I read this in a day, such is the addictive quality of the writing and the story unfolding – often taking time out to take a step back, I’m not sure why exactly but these stories always get right to the heart of me. It may be crime fiction with a twist but it is also poetic, haunting and highly emotional. Always. The sheer wonder of Charlie Parker’s world ends up giving me just as much pain as pleasure emotionally speaking, I am wrung out by the end of them, this one was no different. It is why I love them and will read to the bitter end (please don’t end) because books that touch the soul are rare – and books with this subject matter that do so are even more unusual.

The ongoing mythology of the series takes a huge step with very few words in this instalment – another huge strength of the writing is the author’s ability to get a world of meaning, passion and anticipation into a few small sentences – as well as dealing with Ruth’s issues, Charlie has his own family to consider. This thread of the tale was truly terrific, although of course it also made me mad as all heck that now I have to wait again. I’m really not good at waiting. I don’t like it. It makes me grumpy.

All our well loved characters are back, including a brief cameo from my personal favourite “bad” guy –  the interactions and conversations are electric as ever, the relationships solid and developing. I may take this opportunity to mention that I really hope that Mr Connolly might give us another novel somewhere in there that gives Louis and Angel their own tale of woe (see The Reapers) because these two marvellous men certainly deserve that and I’m sure there is a lot left unsaid for this pair.

Overall this was fantastic. I always think it cannot possibly hit me any harder but each time it does – beautifully written, literary genius and without doubt my favourite series in the history of the world ever. So highly recommended that highly recommended doesnt even cover it. If you have not read these yet you are missing something incredible. Don’t do that. Life is too short.

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Every Dead Thing (Charlie Parker, #1)

Tormented by guilt over the brutal slaying of his wife and daughter, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, ex-cop with the NYPD, agrees to find a missing girl. The search leads him into an abyss of evil and he is warned that The Travelling Man will strike again.

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Liz Currently Loves….Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton


Publication Date: Available Now from Faber and Faber

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Meet Van Shaw – soldier, ex-con – as he returns to his native Seattle after a decade’s self-imposed exile. Answering voices from his past, he finds a whole heap of trouble, and himself the prime suspect in the brutal attack on his grandfather. Drawn back into the violent, high-stakes life he tried to leave behind, he has to try and see right from wrong amid the secrets and resentments of those he was once closest to.

So the other week I took part in the blog tour for Past Crimes, the author told us all about writing and procrastination – you can read that article here:

Today I’m going to tell you about the book itself and my thoughts…

Past Crimes is a very authentic feeling, cleverly written thriller with a main protagonist in Van Shaw that I absolutely adored.

A note from his Grandfather brings Shaw back to Seattle, despite having left that life behind vowing never to return. When he discovers his Grandfather has been attacked, he starts to delve into the time that he has been away and finds himself drawn inexorably back into that world.

This is a fast, action packed story a la Reacher (although to my mind with much greater depth) which will engage immediately. I loved all the characters, Shaw of course with his inner turmoil and need to do right in a whole world full of wrong, but also Dono, who raised him and is a highly intriguing, shadowy figure who you slowly learn more about. Cleverly written to draw you into the family dynamic, as Shaw remembers his past and looks to the future, I really did enjoy every minute of it.

There are some little twists and turns along the way, the backstory is drip fed in perfect harmony with current events so you can start to see the bigger picture, the story is peppered with many colourful and eclectic characters and the author walks a fine line between right and wrong, Shaw especially lives in a world of grey area’s and this comes over beautifully.

The scene setting is also top notch – Seattle comes to vivid life giving the characters and events an anchor and putting you right on the spot.

Overall then a most terrific thriller – Hopefully we will meet Shaw again one day, I for one will look forward to that greatly.

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