Latest Reads: Dead Writers in Rehab – Paul Bassett Davies

Publication Date: Available Now from Unbound

Source: Review Copy

When literary reprobate Foster James wakes up in a strange country house, he assumes he’s been consigned to rehab (yet again) by his dwindling band of friends and growing collection of ex-wives.

But he soon realises there’s something a bit different about this place after he gets punched in the face by Ernest Hemingway.

Is Foster dead? Has his less-than-saintly existence finally caught up with him? After an acrimonious group therapy session with Hunter S Thompson, Colette, William Burroughs, and Coleridge, it seems pretty likely. But he still feels alive, especially after an up-close and personal one-on-one session with Dorothy Parker.

When he discovers that the two enigmatic doctors who run the institution are being torn apart by a thwarted love affair, he and the other writers must work together to save something that, for once, is bigger than their own gigantic egos.

Dead Writers in Rehab was totally insane. Nuts. Right out there and I absolutely loved it. Not only is it darkly witty and hilariously funny but also emotionally resonant and just downright cool.

If you like your literary heroes then this book is chock full of them. Possibly not as you would have imagined them but the author gives them clear and authentic voices and a touch of beautiful madness. The story told as it is in various ways (I’ll let you come to that by yourselves)  becomes a bit of a page turner. There is mystery and romance and a whole host of laugh out loud moments, tempered by the very real emotional core of the novel that just grabs you by the heartstrings.

Dead Writers in Rehab kind of defies logic but makes perfect sense – a work of imaginative genius, you will literally enter this world and live in it.  The only thing worse than waking up with a hangover from hell is waking up with a hangover IN hell. And there you have it.

I’m probably supposed to make comments about ambitious prose and relative reasoning but frankly who cares – Dead Writers in Rehab is one of the most entertaining reads of my year so far, I laughed, I nearly cried, it works on many many levels, defying genre and description it just IS. Brilliant. Clever. Whimsical. And often quite rude.

Whats not to love? NOTHING that’s what. Go get it!

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The Honeymoon Tina Seskis

Publication Date: Available Now from Penguin

Source: Review Copy

There’s trouble in paradise. . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

This book. Seriously.

Ok so on the surface you have a psychological thriller in the vein of many other psychological thrillers, a life turned upside down, secrets hiding around corners, characters you are not sure are trustworthy and a twisty plot that keeps you turning the pages.

Well “The Honeymoon” has all of that and brilliantly done too – add to that a beautifully described setting, Paradise then Paradise Lost, add in this authors keen eye for characterisation and rather dastardly plotting, all done in a wonderfully immersive style and you do have a winner. A proper page turner where you really are not sure where it is going.

I mean considering the enclosed environment our protagonists are stuck in you wouldn’t think there would be much room for maneuver  –  I mean Jemma’s husband has to be SOMEWHERE right? Anyone who has read “One Step Too Far” will know that whatever is on the surface the underneath is where the truth lies when it comes to Tina Seskis, therefore I would just hold onto your hats.

Honestly this is just pure brilliance – that ending though.

Just wait.

I loved this. I’m sure it will divide opinion but one thing I’m reasonably certain of is that nobody will work this out before they get there. Oh there are plenty of clues. There is no cheating of the reader here. But until you read those WORDS I’d like to bet you will be on the other side of the world from the truth. Maybe on a random beautiful little island…..

Inventively clever, devilishly tricky – The Honeymoon takes its place on the very small pile of books that actually made me gasp at the resolution. Like One Step Too Far before it – This could get to be a habit.

Highly Recommended.

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Exquisite – Sarah Stovell. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now (E-book) 15th June (Paperback) from Orenda

Source: Review Copy

Bo Luxton has it all—a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops. Or does it?

When you have been reading psychological thrillers for as long as I have you start to believe that nothing  can surprise you, that you have read every nuance possible, there is nothing new to see just variations on a theme, some good, some dreadful –  but it’s almost like you get into a  zone, the next psychological thriller is a bit like a comfort blanket.

Then a book like “Exquisite” comes along and knocks your socks off, lights dynamite under your reading slumber and explodes your brain into a million pieces – you can’t quite grasp what just happened and for nights afterwards you wake up going “hang on a minute” then madly picking over the detail in your head before dragging yourself through your normal routine a bit confused about what day it is.

Exquisite is genuinely Exquisite – so beautifully written and utterly absorbing that you sink into it. I’m loathe to tell you too much about it because the colder you read it the bigger impact it will have on you – suffice to say we have two women, two very different women, who have a creative streak linking them and who come together with extraordinary consequences. Probably. Sarah Stovell creates clear character voices, messes with their dynamics throughout the narrative, throws in so many layers that often you are reeling, incites reader violence (occasionally I got randomly stabby at things that were going on) –  then just when you think you’ve grasped what the realities are she turns everything upside down and backwards with an ending that is so incredibly BOOM that you just fall over and lie there for a moment. Metaphorically speaking.

Then you just have to go back and read it all over again.

Clever intelligent plotting, a wonderful wonderful use of language to subtly engage the senses of the reader, with a strong emotional core that just stays with you for days and days after finishing it, Exquisite is the best novel about obsession I have read in forever. It is certainly the best psychological thriller I have seen emerge from the crowd in the last few years – A shoe in for my top ten this year and a definite chance at the top spot, Exquisite is a book for everyone but especially for those who believe, like I did, that there is nothing  new to be done within this genre.

Simply gorgeous.

Exquisite.

Highly Recommended.

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Don’t Wake Up – Liz Lawler. Blog Tour Extract.

Today I am more than happy to offer an extract from Liz Lawler’s tense and atmospheric psychological thriller – a book that I recommend highly to readers in this genre. After the extract you can find  my review and more information.

Don’t Wake Up.

Her eyes darted to the cardiac monitor on a trolley beside her.

She could see the trailing wires and knew they were attached to electrodes on her chest.

‘Look, I don’t mean to be rude. You’ve probably had a long day, but I’m a bit pissed off that I’ve woken up to find myself alone. Now just so we’re clear, I’m not going to make a complaint, but I do want to know who you are. I want your name and I want to know what’s going on, right now.’

‘Well, Alex,’ he said, raising purple-gloved hands in the air which held a surgical stapler. ‘Just so we’re both clear. Right now, if you don’t keep a civil tongue I’ll be inclined to staple your lips together. You have a pretty mouth. It will be a shame to ruin it.’

A wave of terror instantly hollowed out her stomach. Muscles rigid, eyes open, her thoughts, her anger and her voice were paralysed.

‘Temper isn’t going to help you here,’ he stated calmly.

Champagne and roses, she thought. Think of that. Patrick. Think of him.

‘That’s better.’ She could hear a smile in his voice. ‘I can’t work with noise.’

Scenarios played like a film on fast forward in her head.

She was in the hospital somewhere.

Someone would find her.

Someone would hear her scream.

This was a madman. A patient on the loose. A doctor? Or someone impersonating one? He had obviously taken control of one of the theatres and she . . . she had somehow stumbled across him. Her mouth, the pressure she had felt. The gagging after she dropped to her knees in the car park . . . He had brought her in here. He had hit her and then gagged her, with a cloth. He must have anaesthetised her. Chloroform or ether . . .

‘Please don’t scream,’ he said, reading her mind. ‘We’re quite alone and I really don’t want to resort to silencing you. I have a headache as it is. Cold wind always gives me one. Surprised you haven’t got one, wearing so little on a cold night like tonight.’

About the Book:

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.

The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.

The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

My Review: 

This was a fast read for me, in many ways your typical psychological thriller but it was superbly menacing and I give it extra points for being quite unpredictable – not necessarily on the “whodunnit” level, although Liz Lawler does a great job of obfuscating things – but more because it didn’t feel at all like things would necessarily work out for our main protagonist. Did all come good in the end? Well you’ll have to read to find out.

It has that addictive quality that I look for in this genre, certainly a page turner, also intensely creepy at times. Imagine you are assaulted but nobody believes you. Imagine then that at every turn you are looking more and more unbalanced but you know that you are not. That is an intriguing layer to Don’t Wake Up, I also give points for the fact that the characters mostly behaved reasonably given the circumstances. If I had one bugbear it was one police officer character that was way too caricature but I won’t say more because everyone reads differently

Overall Don’t Wake Up is a great read, especially as a book to sit down with when you just need to read totally in the comfort zone – I have no problem recommending it to fans of this genre, whilst it may not offer anything unique, it is accomplished writing and a banging good story.

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Latest Reads: The Lying Game Ruth Ware

Publication Date: June 15th From Harvill Secker

Source: Review Copy

The text message is just three words: I need you.

Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her now.

Something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three best friends she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten. Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, after what they did.

At school the girls used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. But for some, did the boundary between fact and fantasy become too blurred?

And how much can you really trust your friends?

I’ve loved both of Ruth Ware’s books to date and The Lying Game was probably the one I banged through fastest – once I was in I couldn’t get out again, sucker as I am for a good tale that involves school clique cover ups and future consequences. This author  writes some of the twistiest tales out there and I’m never quite sure where she’s going until she gets there.

In The Lying Game we have four close friends who have hidden a horrible secret for years and now it is going to come back and haunt them. The group dynamic is tight and compelling, we follow along mostly with Isa, learning the back story and slowly discovering what has them so haunted. Cleverly done and intimately woven, The Lying Game is a mystery and a slow burn of a character drama, a beautifully done mix that keeps you turning the pages.

It is a little different from her other two novels, focusing more on the dynamics of the relationships than thrills and spills but certainly there are a few edge of the seat moments. The setting of Saltern is atmospherically described with the decay of the house the girls used to frequent equalling the decay in their current friendship as they all struggle to readjust and find a way out of an untenable situation.

I loved the village life focus, the wider cast suspicious and waiting – and the historical school elements were utterly fascinating. I refer you back to I’m a sucker for school cliques.

Overall a really great read once again from Ruth Ware and honestly I can’t wait to see what she does next having managed to write three very different novels already each one captivating me entirely.

Recommended.

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The Last Cut Danielle Ramsay – Blog Tour Giveaway.

 

**Giveaway Now Closed**

Today I have the chance for you to win a paperback copy of The Last Cut by Danielle Ramsay. Simply comment on this post or tweet me @Lizzy11268 to go into the draw. Crime fans will want this one!

About the Book:

Obsessions can kill.
First, he selects them. Strips them of their identity.
Then he kills them. All for her…

DS Harri Jacobs transferred to Newcastle from the Met in the hope of leaving her past behind: the moment where her stalker turned violent. He left her alive, saying that one day he would be back. And she ran.

But a year later, she realises he has followed her from home. He’ll prove his devotion. With blood…

About the Author: 

Danielle Ramsay is a proud Scot living in a small seaside town in the North-East of England. Always a storyteller, it was only after initially following an academic career lecturing in literature that she found her place in life and began to write creatively full-time.

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Latest Reads: Don’t Look for Me – Mason Cross

Publication Date: Available Now from Orion

Source: Purchased Copy

Don’t look for me.

It was a simple instruction. And for six years Carter Blake has kept his word. He hasn’t looked for the woman he once loved and lost. But now her life is in danger and Blake is forced to break that promise.

Trenton Gage is a hitman with a talent for finding people – dead or alive. His latest job is to track down a woman who’s on the run, harbouring a secret many would kill for.

It turns out Blake and Gage are after the same person – but who will get to her first?

I love a good thriller, me, but they have to be actually thrilling with characters that are more than cardboard cut outs running around with guns and there has to be some heart and soul in there otherwise I get bored and grumpy.

Enter, a few years ago now, onto my reading list Mason Cross and the Carter Blake novels. Each one has been a pure joy to read and this one is no different in fact it is probably my favourite so far.  The reading adrenalin rush of these knows no bounds and they are fast paced, incredibly addictive, super compelling and definitely chock full of heart and soul.

Don’t Look For Me also has a beautifully twisted plot and a little emotional trauma for Carter Blake this time around plus it had Sarah who I really really engaged with (so let’s hope we see her again sometime) – really there was absolutely nothing at all that I did not like about this book. There’s not really a lot else to say, if you like thrillers you’ll love these. Handily enough you can read any one as a standalone – and although I would recommend reading in order for full immersion ( The Killing Season would be where to start) actually Don’t Look For Me would be a great entry point into the series so what the heck,  go for your life.

A hot book for the hot weather – fantastic. Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Last Seen Lucy Clarke.

 

Publication Date: June 29th From Harper Collins.

Source: Netgalley

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

I loved this novel – it is an extremely clever, emotionally resonant psychological family drama in which Lucy Clarke explores many levels of relationships and what can happen when something goes horribly wrong.

Two best friends. Two sons. One is lost, one is not. That  moment in time ripples both outwards and inwards during “Last Seen” as both families come to terms (or not) with a genuinely horrible loss. Too many people are keeping too many secrets but it is still utterly authentic and completely believable from the first moment to the last.

I love it when a novel in this genre gives you divisive and sympathetic characters, Lucy Clarke brings a huge amount of reality both to Sarah and to Isla. I will confess that I actually ended up detesting one of them (no spoilers!) but the road to that was rocky and incredibly addictive and the oceans (yes I did that) of depth in the storytelling, well,  simply brilliant.

I genuinely did not see where this one was going, that of course is a big tick for me as so much is so predictable (not necessarily making it bad but just taking something away) – Last Seen really DID keep me guessing as to what really happened the day two little boys ended up in the sea, on the way to that knowledge was a twisted and intelligently drawn plot that kept me immersed throughout.

In the end there was a bit of a tear in my eye. For what was lost and what was gained and for the child that didn’t make it out to grow up, but there was such a wonderful sense of closure to it all eventually that it was a genuinely satisfying read.

Yep. Highly Recommended.

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Leopard at the Door – Jennifer McVeigh. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Penguin.

Source: Review Copy

Stepping off the boat in Mombasa, eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years. She has come home.

But when Rachel reaches the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, she finds so much has changed. Her beloved father has moved his new partner and her son into the family home. She hears menacing rumours of Mau Mau violence, and witnesses cruel reprisals by British soldiers. Even Michael, the handsome Kikuyu boy from her childhood, has started to look at her differently.

Isolated and conflicted, Rachel fears for her future. But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?

Leopard at the Door is a beautifully written novel that puts you right in the heart of Kenya, the beauty and the occasional horror of it and is wonderfully involving but occasionally very hard hitting.

Focusing on Rachel who is returning after a few years in England, the story follows her as she adapts back into her old life whilst realising that the Kenya she left years ago is not the same as it is now. Set in a period of the history of the country I know little about it was a fascinating and compelling story.

Jennifer McVeigh has an immersive descriptive style and we feel everything right along with Rachel as she comes to terms with herself and those around her, I was emotionally invested and read this in 2 sittings. There are some violent moments which cause a little gulp, I was also very taken with Rachel’s relationships with her family and the political landscape, it was all utterly gripping.

Recommended.

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Rock Beats Paper – Getting to Know You with Mike Knowles.

Today I’m very pleased to welcome Mike Knowles to Liz Loves Books – this is a post that was meant to run during the blog tour but slipped through the cracks – huge apologies to all concerned but better late than never!

Tell us a little about your current novel, and what readers can expect from it.

The current book is titled Rocks Beat Paper. The novel is the sixth in the series about a career criminal named Wilson. In Rocks Beat Paper, Wilson goes to New York to meet with nine other men about a jewellery store heist. At first, Wilson can’t see a way to make the job work — there are too many people vying for control and too many layers of security protecting the diamonds they are out to steal. The death of the inside man derails the job and sends everyone walking — everyone but Wilson. With the crew gone and the diamonds still locked up, Wilson is free to execute the job his way. Wilson assembles his own team and sets a con in motion that will walk the stones out of the store and into his hands.

The plan took everything into account — everything except the number of people out to steal the diamonds. Everyone is playing to win and no one is willing to walk away because the job is about more than money, the job is about diamonds. And in this game, rocks beat paper every time.

Academic or creative at school?

Looking back, I would say creative. As a kid, I took a by-any-means-necessary approach to doodling. I had stories floating around in my head and I loved to put them down on paper. I didn’t consider using words instead of pictures until I was a lot older and it was less socially acceptable to doodle all day.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

I wanted to be a police officer when I was younger. I think it was less about the job and more about the stories. I liked thinking about being a police officer and the kinds of things that could happen in a job like that. Most of my interest was in the daydreaming about the job rather than the job itself. I didn’t go that route when I got older, but I never stopped thinking about cops and robber type stories.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I think I realized that I wanted to be a writer later than most. I always loved books and I spent most of my youth reading, and looking for, every crime novel I could get my hands on. I didn’t realize that I wanted to write my own stories until I took a creative writing class in my fourth year of university. I think the course had such an impact on me because I had been on a steady diet of writing about things other people told me to write about for years — the sudden freedom to write whatever I wanted sparked something in me and I never stopped writing.

Who are your real life heroes?

I geek out pretty hard for other writers. I really admire people who have the ability to consistently push boundaries with their work. When I was younger, I would find a series and devour it as fast as possible. There were times when I would find a book that strayed from a series; that used to drive me nuts. There was a formula that worked, and that I loved, and I was always disappointed when a writer went in another direction. After writing a few books of my own, my opinion has changed. I’d like to think that I have developed a greater appreciation for the craft of writing and I am a bit more aware of the writer’s presence in the book. What used to bother me is now something that I admire in other writers. There are a lot of fantastic writers who seem to push against the idea that they have to be a certain kind of writer, or the idea that they have to stay faithful to a particular character or genre. That ability to be fluid and the skill to craft something unique is something wonderful to find and something that I take inspiration from.

Thank you!

About the Book:

A phone call brought Wilson and nine other men to a job in New York. At first, he couldn’t see a way to make the heist work, but the score — millions of dollars in diamonds — kept him looking. Wilson came up with a plan he knew would work . . . until the inside man got killed and took the job with him.

With no way inside, the crew walks away without the diamonds. Alone, Wilson is free to execute the job his way. Wilson sets a con in motion that should run as predictably as a trail of dominoes — except the con doesn’t rely on inanimate tiles, it relies on people.

Wilson pushes all of the pieces across the board only to find out that there are other players making their own moves against him. Everyone is playing to win and no one is willing to walk away because the job is about more than money, the job is about diamonds. And in this game, rocks beat paper every time.

About the Author:

Mike Knowles lives in Hamilton with his wife, children, and dog. His Wilson mystery In Plain Sight was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel.

You can Purchase Rock Beats Paper HERE.

Happy Reading!