Normal Service Will Resume….

……..On 9th October. Apologies for any posts due up last week or this week that did not appear. All missed posts will get a spot next week. Please bear with me. An unusual situation prevents my usual bookish glee. I’m now taking a few days just for me and after that expect the normal book babble to continue…

Happy Reading!

 

The Blackbird Season: Interview with Kate Moretti

Today I am VERY happy to welcome Kate Moretti, author of the brilliant “The Blackbird Season” to talk a little about the book as part of the blog tour.

This was originally supposed to be a full review also, however I am currently dealing with some real life  and am officially On Hiatus – so there will be a separate post with a full review upon my return. But what I will say right now is you do NOT want to miss this one – it was entirely emotionally brilliant.

First of all, I want to say The Blackbird Season was a wonderful read for me, so compelling I read it almost without stopping. I know you probably get the inspiration question too much but I am intrigued to know where the Blackbirds came from – an underlying theme in the story and an event within it that drives it.

Thank you so much! I love when a reviewer really gets what I tried to do — it’s like a writer’s dream come true. I’ve always been fascinated by natural phenomenon: birds falling, a mass fish death, I once read a story about a river in China that turned completely red overnight and it took them forever to figure out why. Something about the iron content of an opened dam. Either way, it was all fascinating. Most of my inspiration comes from news articles. I’m a junkie! I read a story about a teacher who followed all his students on social media and I thought about how polarizing it must be now. How easy it would be to cross those lines, with good intentions! But then how easy would it become for someone to subconsciously use their students to fill a hole in their own lives. How accessible everyone is. That’s my favorite part of writing stories: exploring those morally gray areas that can ensnare even the most well- intentioned people.

You take a pretty relentlessly emotive look at the underlying soul of small towns everywhere, where everyone knows everyone and all have an opinion to share – is this a theme that particularly interests you generally when writing a novel?

Yes. I love setting. I grew up in a very small town. While we never had a booming local economy in my lifetime, I am interested in what the exodus of manufacturing from the US has done to areas like the rust belt. While Blackbird takes place in PA, not in the geographical midwest, the economics was similar. A dwindling population, deindustrialization, rural decay, rampant heroin use. In northern Pennsylvania, there are thick, dense woods that even an avid hiker could get turned around it. The combination of these two settings felt so interesting to me. The book I wrote before and after Blackbird are different urban settings: NYC and Philadelphia, so it was fun to write the special kind of hell that can be country life.

It is quite difficult these day, I imagine, to stand out in this genre – call it what you will, psychological thriller, domestic noir, or to my mind just taking human nature and spinning it in different ways – what authors have inspired you to write and how do you go about plotting a book and trying to make it unique?

THANK YOU. It’s just human nature, spun different ways, with a murder mixed in. I have no idea what my technical genre is. I like the ultimate stakes: life or death. I like families and the myriad of ways we can ruin each other and ourselves. This is where my fascination lies. No idea if this is psychological suspense or mystery or noir or whatever you want to call it!

I plot a book somewhat haphazardly. Generally, the opening chapter comes to me immediately. Sometimes I can get to the ending. The middle is always murky and sometimes I loosely outline and say

“Make something interesting and clever happen here.” My outline changes as I write. Then the book changes again when I rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite.

It’s so hard to stand out! I think it’s likely that all of us suspense writers fret about this kind of thing. For me, it’s such a driving force. How can I take something that interests me, make it universally appealing, and still write something that sets it apart? I have a zillion authors that inspire me constantly! Megan Abbott has been a huge influence: I love how she can really drill down to the nuts and bolts of family life and make it so incredibly fraught with tension. I read Elizabeth Haynes and I swear to God, I don’t breathe. Her plots are hairpin! Tana French can build a world and a set of characters that I cannot believe don’t really exist. Peter Swanson gave the word “twist” new meaning in THE KIND WORTH KILLING. Liane Moriarty’s characters are so accessible — she brings the reader right into their head. Whenever I need to understand how to do this or that better, I turn to these masters. I’m always learning.

I was highly intrigued by Nate Winters – a character who could just as easily be hero or villain during the reading – he has a kind of passive aggressive likability that makes you want to trust him – also the layer of storytelling that deals with the teacher/student relationship and where the line needs to be drawn is utterly thought provoking – where do you see that line and how did you ultimately view Nate?

This is my FAVORITE QUESTION. I’ve known a lot of guys like Nate Winters. Self-described “nice guys”, the heroes of their own story. They are likable, sometimes. They’re also, as a group (I’m generalizing), incredibly narcissistic. Nate, like everyone else, felt complicated to me. He wanted his life to be easy. He wanted everyone to like him. He could handle his son’s disability just fine by pretending it didn’t really exist. He wanted Alecia to let him off the hook, to let him have his free and happy life, half checked out. Then again, he genuinely wanted to help his troubled student. Or was it another way to play the hero? I’ve never trusted a man who tells me he’s a “nice guy”. Who are they trying to convince? I loved exploring this and I can’t say I like Nate much, but I don’t think he’s a villain per se. I think he crossed the line a long time ago by following his students on social media. There’s definitely a savior complex there.

Finally a question I ask everyone – is there one novel you have read this year that you would like to recommend to everyone?

Do I have to pick just one? THE PERFECT STRANGER by Megan Miranda, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng, THE FIFTH OF JULY by Kelly Simmons, ALL THE BEST PEOPLE by Sonja Yoerg. It’s a 4-way tie.

Thank you so much!

About the Book:

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Connect with Kate on Twitter

Purchase The Blackbird Season Available Now from Titan Books

Happy Reading!

On Hiatus….

Liz Loves Books is taking a short break and will be back somewhere between the 2nd and 4th October 2017.

If I am due on blog tours or to post a specified date review during this time the posts have been set to go but please forgive me if the schedule goes mad and decides to throw out a technical hitch..

If I get time to complete any reading short reviews will appear on Goodreads – fuller reviews will be added here when I am back.

Have a great bookish little while peeps!

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

Latest Reads: White Bodies Jane Robins

Publication Date: 19th September (US – Touchstone) 28th December (UK -HQ)

Source: Netgalley (Touchstone)

Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless facade, not everything is as it seems. 

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms. 

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an Internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies–or was he murdered? 

Memorable characters and a highly creepy feel to this. Admittedly the resolution was no surprise but that did not detract from the fact that this is beautifully written, explores mostly the relationship between 2 sisters who are both, frankly, all the weird and whether you want to call it a psychological thriller or not it is, for sure, an incredibly riveting character study.

It is indeed deeply disturbing, the voice that Jane Robins gives to Callie is taut, mesmerising and clear, she is a strange one but it’s possible her sister Tilda, shown to us only through Callie’s eyes, may be even stranger. Both of them are entirely fascinating, you look on in not some little awe as Tilda seemingly falls into an abusive relationship and Callie becomes more and more obsessed with that fact. This is a twisted plot indeed and nothing is more twisted in it than these two sisters – which isn’t to say you won’t fall in love with Callie because you probably will. There is such a beautiful vulnerability about her, even when she is doing the most absurd things, when her obsessive quality spills over as she becomes entangled in a web of deceit that may unravel her.

It is very difficult to review this one in a way that gets across just how indomitably clever it is – I’ve seen it called Strangers on a Train for a new generation – I guess in some ways that would be a good description. However “White Bodies” is so much more than mystery, so much more than the characters, it has that underlying emotional buzz to it that only comes along once in a while, it will make you feel odd and uneasy, like those times you think you see something out of the corner of your eye but when you turn there is nothing there.

The quality of the writing is superb, the storytelling is excellent, White Bodies as a whole is an entirely satisfying if extremely disconcerting read – I felt vaguely off kilter for hours after finishing it. The ending, external to the mystery resolution, is absolutely brilliantly placed and completely true to the rest of the narrative, no gimmicks here just a genuinely perturbing finish.

I loved every last moment of it. Every word, every chapter, from the moment I started until the moment I finished.

Highly Recommended.

Follow Jane on Twitter

Purchase White Bodies (US)

Purchase White Bodies (UK)

Happy Reading!

Latest Reads: The Deaths of December Susi Holliday.

Publication Date: 16th November from Mulholland

Source: Review Copy

It looks like a regular advent calendar.

Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors…and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.

The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years.

But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?

As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…

It’s shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.

I’m not sure how many sleeps it is until Christmas right now (no please don’t tell me!) but if you are already looking out for the perfect book gift to give this year and you prefer your festive season dark and dastardly, you probably can’t go wrong picking this one up and popping it into a few stockings. Keeping one for yourself of course…

The Deaths of December is a rocking good crime read, twisted and clever, personally I might sit and read it again on Christmas Eve when there will only be one more sleep….

A very different kind of advent calendar turns up, showing mini crime scenes – some of which are all too familiar to Eddie Carmine – together with Becky Greene he tries to untangle a killers’ pointed yet hidden message – and prevent more deaths at this oh so happy (???!!??) time of year.

I’ve always loved the characters that Susi Holliday portrays in her novels – they are very very real, could easily be your neighbour or your friend (even the killers!) which makes any reading of her novels a truly immersive experience. I hesitate to say that a Christmas book featuring a serial killer can be all the fun – but actually it WAS all the fun, a story I got all tangled up in until the final resolution which was perfectly formed.

As the countdown continues it gets ever more intense, there are also a lot of hidden layers here, it is like unwrapping a gift only to find another wrapped gift and so forth until you end up with a severed finger or something (yes my mind just goes there ) as things unwind and we find out what is behind that final door. So to speak.

Spoiler: It ain’t puppies, kittens, or the jolly fat man in red.

The writing as ever is excellent, the plot tightly woven and endlessly intriguing and this is absolutely my type of Christmas read – dispensing with the holly and the church bells and replacing them with bodies and bloodshed. Criminally good reading.

Highly Recommended.

Find Out More

Follow Susi on Twitter

Purchase The Deaths of December

Happy Reading!

A Patient Fury Sarah Ward. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Faber

Source: Review Copy

When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.

Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.

But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.

What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career. 

A Patient Fury, the third book to feature Connie Childs is, as its predecessors, a right old page turner with an intriguing multi-layered plot, the usual character suspects plus some others and a tense and atmospheric tale of families gone wrong.

What I love about these books is the way Sarah Ward twists her plots and those living out the drama within the pages in subtle and undefined ways so it is not until you are heading towards the end that you finally start to see the truth. Her strength is dysfunctional family units, showing us the underneath of things, those hidden parts of marriage, wider ties and parenthood that can explode in the most violent ways. It is fascinating to “watch” things unfold, see the connections and the hidden meanings, this is character led crime fiction at its finest.

Connie is a very good anchor to all of this – she is determined and not always sensible – I’ll admit as a reader that she often irritates me but in the best reading way. In A Patient Fury she see’s beyond the obvious and takes us, the reader, down a different track  – it is clever and unpredictable.

Overall a fine addition to the series. Beautifully readable and one of those books that makes you think back on it later to see the nuances.

Highly Recommended.

Find Out More

Follow Sarah on Twitter

Purchase A Patient Fury

Follow the Tour!

Happy Reading.

Latest Reads: Bonfire Krysten Ritter.

Publication Date: 9th November from Randomhouse UK (Hutchison)

Source: Netgalley

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands. 

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s economic heart, she begins to find strange connections to a decade-old scandal involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

But as Abby tries desperately to find out what happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations. And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret, her search threatens the reputations, and lives, of the community and risks exposing a darkness that may consume her.

I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed this intense and atmospheric tale from Krysten Ritter – whilst it is far from being the first “Girl escapes small town only later having to return and face her demons” tale I have read, it is definitely one of the ones of superior quality and storytelling – Abby as a character immediately engaged me and the well layered, twisted yet authentic plot just sealed the deal.

Big corporation v socially engaged lawyer is another type of story that I love to read – this is also the defining theme within “Bonfire” which the author uses to great effect – mixing up Abby’s past life with her present, making her see things with new eyes and eventually leading us to answers and a rather heart stopping conclusion. I liked that Abby was portrayed as strong, driven, yet haunted by her very realistic demons – there was no sense of safety within the story for her at all, no promises made that she would endure. The supporting cast are cleverly woven in, the socially relevant big corporation cover up is given a new little twist and ultimately this is a tale of redemption and understanding. Sometimes you know, you just can’t go home….

The small town setting is beautifully described, you can smell the “Bonfire” in the air, see the good and the bad and all the area’s in between – I want to describe it in some ways as “mean girls on acid” but that doesn’t really say what I mean, Krysten Ritter building her relationships between the people you meet in an intelligent and thought provoking way. The mystery elements are clever, you’ll love/hate/love Kaycee as remembered by Abby and the ups and downs between these two girls is one of the strengths here.

Very good indeed. Yes. I’m aware of course that the author is a well known and much admired actress – I have not watched any of her screen moments but I’m fairly sure that if she is as good an actress as she is writer I’d better go track them down. I might even do that  right now.

Recommended.  A brilliant read.

Follow Krysten on Twitter

Purchase Bonfire

Happy Reading!

 

Maria In the Moon Louise Beech. Blog Tour Review

Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda

Source: Review Copy

Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’ 

Thirty-one-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

Maria in the Moon had everything I have come to expect from this author – beautiful, stunningly impacting prose, a dark and engaging story, characters of substance and that emotional edge that only ever comes along every so often within all the books that I read.

Louise Beech always writes from the heart, her own life experiences are layered in there which gives it that strong authentic edge – never easy to describe or fit into genre boxes, Maria in the Moon encompasses many things – family drama, dark underlying social relevance, hints of psychological thriller but mostly just getting into your head, into those quiet between moments where you live and making you consider things differently.

Catherine is an intriguing and gorgeously knowable character, her mystery is our mystery and this is less a puzzle than it is an awakening – for her, for us as we read and come to understand her past and how it impacts her present. Memory and the truths we obfuscate to survive is a strong theme here, striking a chord within the reader as the story unfolds. It is clever, intense and ultimately uplifting in a lot of ways.

The author uses real events to imbue that authenticity, she takes you to the heart of all the themes she is exploring and makes you sit up and take notice. At the same time it is a wonderfully emotive piece of storytelling as always, entertaining and addictive – also deeply deeply moving and extremely thought provoking.

Maria in the Moon is a literary delight,  Louise’s novels are like a bookish box of chocolates, a sweet and bitter mix of different tastes and textures –  I loved every moment of Maria in the Moon and cannot wait to see what flavour I get next. Each novel has seen the quality grow, putting this author firmly on my must read list with the gorgeous sense of anticipation that goes with knowing there is a lot more to come.

Highly Recommended.

Find out More

Follow Louise on Twitter

Purchase Maria In The Moon

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Happy Reading!

Ones to Watch in 2018: This Is How It Ends. Eva Dolan.

Publication Date: 25th January 2018 from Raven

Source: Review Copy

This is how it begins.

With a near-empty building, the inhabitants forced out of their homes by property developers.

With two women: idealistic, impassioned blogger Ella and seasoned campaigner, Molly.

With a body hidden in a lift shaft.

But how will it end?

Well to be honest I’m not sure where to begin. I’m certainly sure that the end has left me with that melancholy, low key buzz of a feeling that all real readers will know when they’ve just finished a novel that will  linger in the senses and be the benchmark for future reads for a long long time to come.

Eva Dolan’s Zigic and Ferreira series is one of the best, most authentic police series out there but This Is How It Ends enters a whole new league of subtle brilliance that defies explanation in any kind of review – things to note though are the beautifully immersive writing, the insightful and deeply layered characters and the ability to recreate the world we are living in without need for filter or fuss. Socially relevant, entertaining yes but also utterly genuine and just getting you right in the heart.

This Is How It Ends is masterfully plotted – A party, a body and two friends who live in a world of protest and activism, suddenly faced with a moral dilemma – This is how it began…

I’m not telling you anymore about the detailed plot than that and I hope HOPE that not many reviewers coming after me do either. This is a masterclass of suspense and character study, peeling back layers of both the fact and the fiction of these two women, until you are left with how it ends. If you know almost anything else it won’t have the same impact – and it does have impact, trust me on that one. I was blown away by the ultimate resolution both emotionally and practically, all I could do was sit there and shake my head at the pure resonance of it (and give a small nod of approval to the clever way Eva Dolan had manipulated my head)

Look this is classically good writing right? There are a plethora of brilliant crime and thriller writers around, using language in many different ways to entertain us, but there a few, those very few that just have that depth of emotion, that literary twist to the way they do things, that thing in their storytelling that tells you they were born to do this – and this author is one of those. She’s been showing us for a while now, but with this novel, undoubtedly for this reader her best so far, she’s hit that sweet spot that starts defining a writing career.

Exquisitely understated prose that digs deep, two characters that you will live with, an utterly utterly riveting story with a final denouement that will leave you stunned, This Is How It Ends heads straight onto my favourites of all time list. No messing. Sometimes that’s just the way it is.

Read this. This is what it’s all about. Eva Dolan is the real deal.

Highly Recommended.

Follow Eva on Twitter

Purchase This Is How It Ends

Happy Reading!

Latest Reads: This Mortal Coil Emily Suvada

Publication Date: 2nd November from Penguin UK (Children’s)

Source: Review Copy

When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta’s death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world’s leading geneticist, and humanity’s best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole’s genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine.

Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world’s genetic tech. But it’s too late to turn back.

There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything

There’s no gene for Run Like Hell…

Or is there?

Stop the presses I’ve found my new YA trilogy obsession with Emily Suvada’s “This Mortal Coil” a fast paced, intricately woven, brilliantly fascinating and best of all intelligent and addictive thriller.

Actually I’m assuming trilogy I guess it may end up being more but this is definitely book one and what a book one it is. For a start we have genuinely likable characters, none of whom are in any way generic, who you almost immediately care about and by the end of the novel you are entirely attached to.

Secondly Ms Suvada manages to avoid almost everything passe and overdone in your classic YA post apocalyptic story and makes the genre seem fresh as the morning sun – her romance threads are realistic, her relationship building is highly natural and the world building is subtle, immersive and well achieved. It’s also bloody clever. Rather than stick with your everyday virus she has created a truly fascinating, scientific geek heaven, honestly believable outbreak and rather than zombies she has….well I’ll let you find out that one for yourself.

The sciency (yes I know that’s not really a word) parts are really really riveting, the tech speak is easy to absorb within the narrative, it defines and drives the characters and sets us up for a lot of high thrills and spills action along the way. This is one of those truly immersive novels where you live in it for the moment, a proper page turner that will appeal to all ages, it is an adventure of the classic kind brought into modern times with  socially relevant themes running throughout.

Seriously also it’s like a YA psychological thriller spun into a fantasy – it has often literally breathtaking twists and turns as our anchor to it all Cat starts to discover some horrific truths behind her honest belief system and starts to methodically yet emotionally untangle a web of deceit that shatters the very centre of her being. The ending will have you up out of your chair, a kind of fist pumping but dammit now I have to wait reaction that encompasses all that has gone before it into one big bubble of reading trauma. Don’t you love it when that happens?

Beautifully written, skillfully plotted with that touch of subtle intuitive storytelling  that makes a book a word of mouth success, I am rather hopeful that movies and the suchlike will follow. We’ll see. But I get the feeling I just signed on for one HELL of a ride.

Highly Recommended.

Find Out More

Follow the author on Twitter

Purchase This Mortal Coil

Happy Reading!