Getting to Know You with Grace Coleman.

Today I am happy to welcome Grace Coleman to Liz Loves Books, telling us about her novel Walking Barefoot and a little about herself. Thanks Grace!

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

Walking Barefoot explores the life of Will Balston, past and present. As the story unravels we try to come to terms with the source of his unhappiness. It’s a brooding dystopian novel; more character-driven than traditional Speculative fiction with an intriguingly headstrong but flawed protagonist. Set in the futuristic, but broken, city of London, it paints a vivid portrait of what the world could look like.

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

The majority of my childhood (6+) was spent in Sussex in a town not quite big enough to be interesting and not quite small enough to be quaint. My family life had ups and downs but there was always a lot of love there, so I count myself very lucky. I’ve always been very close to my big sister too, although five years older she really is my best friend.

Academic or creative at school?

I was a bit of a brown-nose at school so did well in most subjects. I loved the thrill of acting in front of the class in Drama as much as I loved the satisfaction of working out a tricky maths equation. I chose History to study further and now work in the business side of television, so I think I’ve always put myself in situations that combine the academic and creative.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

I wanted to be a generic business woman for a large part of my childhood. This involved carting round a plastic pink phone having imaginary but very important conversations, writing endless notes at my writing desk and answering our home phone with ‘Miss Coleman speaking, how can I help you?’

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I really don’t. Writing has always just been there; whether it was presenting my mum with stories about magic frogs, hours of not-so-veiled teenage angst poetry or a way of imagining the Californian record-label hotshot I would become (spoiler alert – I didn’t make it), writing has always been a way of exploring and expressing myself and letting my imagination run wild.

Who are your real life heroes?

I tend not to hero worship, but I’m very proud of both my grandmothers. One for her strength and smarts in pulling herself out of working class Belfast to a career in fashion in the city at a time when it couldn’t have been easy for a woman trying to make it in the working world. The other for successfully raising a family of seven (and uncountable grand and great grand kids) with endless love and patience that is still felt in the family today.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

If my mum reads this I’m dead.

Coming back from a night-out, alone tripping in heels and wearing an over-sized coat, I eventually gave up on walking (I think I was heading in the wrong direction anyway) and hailed a taxi. I was a bit perplexed when he said ‘It’s OK get in the front seat’ and even more concerned when I couldn’t see a metre anywhere. After a few comical back and forths it became painfully apparent that I thought he was a taxi, and he thought I was a prostitute. Of course my reaction was to burst into tears. His was to drive me back to my house (well, near my house) giving me lectures all the way about stranger-danger. At the time I was pretty shaken up, but since then I’ve taken a more philosophical approach to the encounter: First, don’t get into strangers’ cars. Second, even old men who pick up prostitutes can be nice people.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

I like to be self-reliant and hate asking for favours; so if I ever have a DIY need I do it myself with a hammer. I’m not very patient or precise so my attempts usually end up in gaffer tape solutions.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

There’s something intrinsically more exciting about the night-time but I’m definitely more melancholy in the evening. Plenty of sunshine and natural daylight keeps me on an even keel. I like the to think this means I’m a typical Aries, but it probably means I’m a typical human.

A book that had you in tears.

I cry quite easily but I remember being really affected by the final lines of Phantom of the Opera. I like books that twist your expectation, where the line between good and evil are blurred and there’s such a broken tragedy to Eric.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

I stumbled upon Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on our family bookshelf before going on a long haul flight. I don’t even know what it was doing there (no one in my family appears to be a fan) or why I decided to take it with me. I stayed up the whole, overnight flight with my little reading light on, chuckling away (much to the annoyance of my neighbours). Every word was so purposeful. It reinvented what writing (and reading) could be for me.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

Be kind.

Thank you!

About the Book:

Set in a futuristic London in a world ravaged by war, Walking Barefoot explores the life of Will, past and present. The cocksure eighteen year old who, in a bid to find himself, goes travelling and the city-living adult, who despite his well paid job, upper quadrant apartment and sexy girlfriend, struggles to be happy. When nightmares begin to haunt his sleeping and waking life Will is unsure whether he is suffering from the illness that killed his father or being led by unseen forces to uncover a city-wide conspiracy. As his paranoia heightens he must ask himself – is he willing to lose himself to find the truth?

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Latest Reads: The Liar Steve Cavanagh.

Publication Date: 18th May from Orion

Source: Review Copy

WHO IS DEADLIER …

Leonard Howell’s worst nightmare has come true: his daughter Amy has been kidnapped. Not content with relying on the cops, Howell calls the only man he trusts to get her back.

… THE MAN WHO KNOWS THE TRUTH …

Eddie Flynn knows what it’s like to lose a daughter and vows to bring Amy home safe. Once a con artist, now a hotshot criminal attorney, Flynn is no stranger to the shady New York underworld.

… OR THE ONE WHO BELIEVES A LIE?

However, as he steps back into his old life, Flynn realizes that the rules of game have changed – and that he is being played. But who is pulling the strings? And is anyone in this twisted case telling the truth…?

Bloody hell Steve Cavanagh has REALLY gone for it this time with a most terrific, edge of the seat, courtroom drama come nutty addictive thriller. I mean nutty in the best way because it is totally addictive. Like when you open a tube of pringles and then realise you’ve eaten them all without really thinking about it. With The Liar once you pop you can’t stop.

Hey I like the Pringles comparison. I also like Pringles. And Eddie Flynn. Conman turned lawyer, in this book hovering between the two as he tries to sort out a rather adrenalin fuelled situation. You’ll keep turning those pages both desperate to know the outcome and also wallowing in the rather beautifully written adventure that will get you there.

The thing I find with this series is each one gets better than the last. Steve Cavanagh manipulates the plot with vivacity, throwing the reader unexpected curveballs then barely giving them time to draw breath before chucking a chase or a momentary danger at them – really I think we’ll throw some pretzels in with those Pringles, certainly there are enough twists here to warrant that. And all so cleverly done too.

The writing is cool and effective, the story is chocka block full of heart, a lot of writers can write a banging thriller but not all of them can also slip in such elegantly layered character drama. Eddie is fascinating and utterly appealing, holding the whole thing together – here dealing with kidnapping, death, trouble a plenty with his usual wisecracking style. I just loved the whole thing.

The Liar, as with the previous Eddie Flynn novels is intelligent, thrilling, unpredictable and entirely brilliant – reading escapism at its very very best.

Highly Recommended.

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20 Questions For…Peter Laws.

Next victim on my 20 Questions is the rather lovely Rev Peter Laws author of one of my favourite books of the year so far, that would be Purged, a shoe in for my top ten in December so I had a load of fun with this one. Not sure how much fun it was for him but I don’t care so much about that. So here you are…

So go on then tell us about Purged. Only 5 sentences though (these questions have very random rules that I make up as I go along)

Okay, so Purged is the first in a series about an atheist ex-vicar turned University Professor. He spends his time writing books that debunk the Christian Faith while also helping the police solve religiously motivated crimes. In Purged he’s trying to catch an evangelical serial killer who baptises his victims before killing them – he figures that’s the most caring way to fast track people to heaven. It’s crime fiction with a healthy dose of horror and spookiness. Ooo…one sentence left…it’s got a green cover.

When the world throws a sudden shortage of Marmite at you (yes this is a question so related to my career choice) how do you cope?

I drop to my knees and praise the sweet lord for ridding humanity of Satan’s hair gel. Seriously, that stuff is rotten and probably demonic in origin.

Later this year (and VERY SOON FOR ME I hope) you’ll be unleashing Unleashed which will once again feature Matt Hunter, a man very much after my own heart. Do that thing where you give away a little about Unleashed without in any way spoiling Purged. It’s a challenge.

Unleashed takes place a few months after Purged, and kicks off with a horrific dog attack at a primary school open day (I wrote it because my life consists of constant school runs, so you’ll appreciate my need to unleash some mayhem into that scenario). It’s through this attack that Matt is made aware of a fifteen year old poltergeist case, which seems to be returning – with homicidal consequences. While Purged explored the concept of Baptism and ideas about salvation, Unleashed explores the human desire to see patterns in life and how that can lead to a clash of worldviews. The book is filled with people having different opinions on what is killing people. I really like Unleashed. It’s a meaningful story to me.

Normally now I ask the cheese question but I’m over cheese so given your Horror credentials I think this will be harder. One Horror film. Definitively. Can be old can be new but only one. (Remember the random rules thing)

That’s like getting me to choose between my two kids…but that’s fine because I only like one of them anyway (that’s a joke by the way). But yeah, to choose one film’s tricky, but I’ll do it. I’ll opt for The Changeling from 1980 starring George C Scott. It’s my favourite haunted house movie and it influenced the writing of Unleashed because I listened to the soundtrack to that film on a loop while I wrote it. Amazing film, that is, which so many other horror movies copied.

Oh go on then what IS your favourite cheese?

I’m really getting into Blue Cheese and Stilton. It’s because I follow that Joe Wicks guy who suggests it in recipes a lot. It tastes like old lady’s tights, which at first was the attraction because it was so rough it made me only eat tiny bits at a time. Very slimming. Now I’ve got a taste for it I’m eating chunks of the stuff, so maybe it’s time to find a more disgusting cheese. Like Marmite flavour, perhaps.

When I was at your book launch t’other week I asked you whether you thought genuine possession ever happened (or something like that I had after all had a glass of wine or two) – I remember everyone being fairly fascinated by your response so I’m asking again for readers of this madness.

The Bible is pretty clear that demonic possession is a phenomenon that can happen, but I do think we need to be extremely cautious in this area. Some forms of mental illness (such as epilepsy, tourettes syndrome, alien hand syndrome etc) could have been seen as demonic in ancient times. Thankfully, we’ve stopped stigmatising these natural conditions, and treat people accordingly. So I’m extremely reluctant to label someone as possessed, especially when some of the signs of possession are so easy to fake (such as increased strength, aversion to Holy symbols etc).

However, there are other signs that have been reported that are not as easily mimicked. I’ve heard reports of people levitating for example, or their eyeballs turning completely white. Plus there are cases where a subject has knowledge they wouldn’t naturally have known – so when the so-called possessed person starts spouting out secret (and specific) information on the Exorcist it’s scary. Like if a subject mocked the priest by saying, ‘Ha…I know you tried to kill yourself when you were seventeen, on the trainline to Leeds. I was there.’ If that turns out to be true and nobody knew it, it’s pretty freaky – though I guess it could be a form of telepathy and not demonic. Still though, with all these cautions in place I’m open to it happening and the Matt Hunter books certainly explore the subject of demonic influence in the world. It’s going to be a running theme, that behind every crime there may be a mundane explanation, or a sinister more supernatural one. I leave that to the reader to decide.

In a very loosely connected to the above question – How much of you is there in Matt Hunter and how much of Matt Hunter is there in you?

To be honest with you, there’s quite a bit of me in Matt Hunter. For a start he’s a trained church minister, like I am, though he’s jacked his faith in while I haven’t. He’s also a bit of a geek, which I’d say I am too. He’s more intelligent than I am, younger and more handsome, clearly. But we share a quirky sense of humour and a fascination with the bizarre.

Lettuce. Why. Just WHY?

Ha ha! So many people have spoken to me about the lettuce scene in Purged. It’s given people nightmares, which for a writer is a punch the air moment. Funnily enough the bits with the possessed Nigerian woman and the lettuce are linked to a real-life case where some nuns ate some unblessed lettuce. Afterwards they started acting crazy and were considered to be possessed. So basically I picked lettuce because it has a historical precedent and…most importantly…it freaks people out.

Last book you read that you wanted to recommend to everyone. That wasn’t one that you wrote.

I just read a great Australian thriller called Fear is the Rider by Kenneth Cook. Sadly Cook passed away some years ago, but the manuscript for this novel was found in his belongings, and thankfully it got published. It’s a read-in-one-sitting horror thriller where two urban professionals are chased across the Australian outback by a feral man. It’s got very little character development or extra detail – it’s just 200 pages of pure action and adrenalin. I’d also recommend Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Strangers by Taichi Yamada and On Chesil Beach by Ian McCewan. All of which made me cry – which is good. I like books that move me.

As a Rev I know you go and give guest sermons. Having heard you speak about your novels I’d definitely be interested in hearing you in “other” professional mode (assuming that is I could walk into a church without immediately being struck down) so how do they come together? Obviously with a different approach than writing or talking about writing and horror stuff – or is it significantly different?

I speak in a lot of churches on Sundays (and am available for anybody out there, if they want to get in touch!). I don’t tend to write and deliver horror sermons (though I can occasionally drop in a few creepy facts now and again). But on the whole I just look at a Bible passage and examine what it meant when it was first written to the ancient world. I was taught a bit of Greek in Bible college so sometimes I’ll translate some of the words from the original text, so I can stay close to the original intention. Then I spend a bunch of time trying to bring the message of that text into modern life. So much of the Bible can speak into our everyday challenges. I like sermons that are fun and down to earth but that raise big questions, sometimes from unusual angles. Writing a sermon can be hard work, but when I’m delivering it, it feels kind of special. Like I’m doing something important and meaningful for both me and those who are listening.

Also, you could definitely walk into a church without being struck down. Some people get the impression that God is like a ticked-off headmaster annoyed with anybody who knocks on his door – but in my opinion he’s like the best, most loving, perfect Father who sees his prodigal son on the road and rushes out to hug him and throw a party. I was very anti-Christian up until I was in my early 20s. I’d constantly pick on my Christian R. E. teacher for her ‘pointless and outdated’ religion, and I was even in a band for a while which sang about spitting on God and the Bible. Yep, I wrote that one. Then I started going to church in my early 20’s and I didn’t feel like God was waiting with a cane to whack me. I felt him throw his arms around me and my life changed forever. I know this sounds a bit whacky, but my life really has changed in so many wonderful ways because of my faith. But I hate the idea of forcing my beliefs on anybody, hence why Matt Hunter is a staunch atheist. In fact, some readers have said that Purged comes across as really anti-Christian, ha ha!

That was a bit deep that last question so let’s get back to the important stuff – if you were stuck on a desert island for no apparent reason whatsoever except that I say so and could choose 3 famous people living or dead to be stuck there with you who would you choose?

William Shatner. Without a doubt. He’d be first on the list, because I’ve loved that guy since I was a kid. Then I’ll have Stephen King because as everybody knows, he totally rules. Let’s have Elvis Presley too, cos I’d love to chat with him. Aw, hang on…I’ve used up my go’s and I ended up with all men. Bummer!

What one food did you try once then immediately wish you could delete from the planet?

I think I already answered that above. But if you want another it’s liquorice. That’s dirty food, I’m telling you.

On that note – tipple of choice?

I’m into Whiskey at the moment. I tend to drink Bourbon with just ice. Not only does it make a cool clinking sound in the glass, it makes me feel like J.R. or sumthin. I’ll also take Red Wine, lager and beer if you’re asking.

I know you compose – but what type of popular (using the term loosely) music do you enjoy just chilling out to?

I’ll listen to anything, me. My daughter loves Little Mix for example, and I’m happy to have it on in the car. I also think Bruno Mars writes some brilliant songs. But on the whole tend to listen to a LOT of film soundtracks. I like electronic music too, especially people like John Carpenter or Carpenter Brut. I’m back into Vinyl so have been buying some great albums on that. Oh, and I like cheesy lounge music too. Bit of metal, bit of funk, and I really love music from old Blaxploitation movies. Heck, I pretty much like everything.

Guilty pleasure – that one thing you feel you really shouldn’t enjoy but do (Me, its singing very loudly along to Taylor Swift songs with the windows open in Summer)

Well I’m not sure if I should feel too guilty about this, but I really got into the TV soap opera Nashville recently. My wife was watching the first season and I wandered by and just casually watched the last ten minutes of an episode. Then we both avidly watched all the seasons. I wasn’t really into country music much, but that show had me loading up my Spotify list with the Nashville albums. Which is kinda cheesy, but hey. It’s odd because I have zero interest in the popular British soap operas – but when it comes to stuff like Dallas or Prisoner Cell Block H or Dark Shadows I TOTALLY get the appeal.

What on earth made you decide to write fiction? You KNOW it’s hard right, and yet so many of you do it. And do it so well…

Hey, thanks! I just had as notion to write a novel, while I was walking in a field with my wife. The idea was for a book called Congregation – which will actually become Matt Hunter 3 if the first two sell enough and the publishers want more. Writing fiction is hard, but I’m currently writing a non-fiction book for Icon books called The Frighteners and that’s even harder! It asks why human culture is drawn to the morbid so there’s a lot of fact checking on that one – but at least I’ve been able to hunt werewolves, be chased by zombies, stay in haunted ruined churches and be surrounded by wild dogs in Transylvania for it!

The most irritating thing you can think of (please don’t say wonky wheeled supermarket trolleys I obviously do my best but I’m only one employee…)

The slap of a flip flop against the underside of a foot. That sound is like Chinese Water Torture to me.

Last thing that made you laugh.

I watched a bit of Smokey and the Bandit the other day and that always makes me chuckle.

Last thing that made you cry.

A friend of mine has been through a horrendous time of stress recently and my wife and I went to visit him for dinner the other day. We prayed for him, and as soon as I closed my eyes I felt myself filling up. Prayer’s pretty interesting – it can be boring sometimes, but at others it’s really powerful. Oh, and on the same day I took my kids to see this film called The Boss Baby, which has a scene where an older brother is lying in bed waiting for his parents to read to him, but they’re fast asleep on the couch because the baby brother is taking up all of their time. The film was trying to say that sometimes you get left out and forgotten and that got to me a bit. Maybe it had echoes of the last five years and me trying to get a book deal, ha ha!

How much do you hate me right now?

My hate levels for you are at the same zero percent they always are. I’ll let you know if they change, but let’s face it, Liz, I seriously doubt it.

Thank you!

Thank YOU!

About the Book:

Read my review HERE

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The Burial Hour Jeffery Deaver – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Review Copy

The only leads in a broad-daylight kidnapping are the account of an eight-year-old girl, some nearly invisible trace evidence and the calling card: a miniature noose left lying on the street. A crime scene this puzzling demands forensic expertise of the highest order. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are called in to investigate.

Then the case takes a stranger turn: a recording surfaces of the victim being slowly hanged, his desperate gasps the backdrop to an eerie piece of music. The video is marked as the work of The Composer…

Despite their best efforts, the suspect gets away. So when a similar kidnapping occurs on a dusty road outside Naples, Rhyme and Sachs don’t hesitate to rejoin the hunt. But the search is now a complex case of international cooperation – and not all those involved may be who they seem. All they can do is follow the evidence, before their time runs out.

Book 13 in the Lincoln Rhyme series then, unlucky for some but not it seems for Jeffery Deaver who has written another page turner featuring his fascinating and fun characters Lincoln and Amelia.

The Burial Hour takes them out of the country and out of the  comfort zone, but all else remains the same as far as quality goes – again wonderfully engaging forensic detail and a twisted mystery that keeps you guessing. Added to that there was Ercole Benelli, an Italian character that I rather loved.

There’s a change in atmosphere as we hit political issues and in this story the author tackles some very current issues, as well as weaving an intense and clever mystery that works on many levels. I’ve always loved the forensic side of these that does such a great yin yang with the crime elements and the writing is beautifully perceptive and hugely readable.

Overall The Burial Hour does exactly what you expect and hope it will do -and then some – I’m still a huge fan of this series as I have been from the moment I read the first page of The Bone Collector. Keep them coming I say.

Series highly recommended.

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Latest Reads: Mad Chloe J Esposito

Publication Date: 15th June from Michael Joseph

Source: Netgalley

‘There’s something you should know before we go any further: my heart is in the wrong place. Now don’t say I didn’t warn you…’

Perhaps that’s why nothing in Alvie’s life has ever gone right? Until now.

She can finally abandon her credit card debt – and her fruitless three-way relationship with Tinder and Twitter – when fate gives her the chance to steal her identical twin’s perfect life.

It’s just a shame Beth had to die to make Alvie’s dreams come true.

She may be an accidental murderess, but who can blame her for taking lemons and making lemonade? Well… Beth’s husband might, and the police, but only if they can catch her.

So begin seven days of sex, violence and unapologetic selfies – one wild week that sees Alvie break every rule in the book. She never did have much respect for boundaries.

It might be madness, but rules are meant to be broken. Right?

This book was insane for all the right reasons – I banged through it, once you meet Alvie Knightly you won’t want to turn your back on her, no way!

Mad is a whole pile of fun, sexy, sassy, murderous and intensely funny at times, I sat there reading it giggling away to myself I’m fairly sure people around me thought I might be mad. What? Sssh…

Anyway, Alvie has a twin. She hates her twin. Alvie is also a bit crap at life but kind of takes it all in her stride. Off she goes to visit her sister in Italy, her sister with the gorgeous husband, tons of cash and beautiful home, a baby and the life Alvie feels she should be living. When circumstances turn slightly, well, mad, Alvie seizes her chance to step into those high high heels.

This novel cracks along with frenetic, addictive style, beautifully descriptive in hot and heavy fashion, the author sets the scene, pops Alvie into it and off we go on a purely brilliant ride. Alvie has no filtered thoughts, finds she has a violent streak, observes life with a wittily intelligent outlook and manages to get into a whole load of trouble, using only her intuitive impulses to keep herself out of the danger zone. It is highly entertaining, first page to last, also quite bloody, gorgeously racy and beautifully provocative. I loved it.

So glad this is a trilogy. Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know. I’m in it all the way. Bring on book 2.

Alvina Knightly: Uncensored. Unhinged. Unforgettable.

Yep – you got that right.

Highly Recommended.

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Block 46 Johana Gustawsson – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda

In Falkenberg, Sweden, the mutilated body of talented young jewelry designer Linnea Blix is found in a snow-swept marina. In Hampstead Heath, London, the body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

Block 46 is the type of brilliantly insightful crime thriller that doesn’t come along that often – dark and brutal yet with some beautiful writing, Johana Gustawsson takes you inside the heads, hearts and every other part of her characters telling an emotional and hard hitting story that will stay with you long after finishing it.

The historical aspects are horribly authentic – there are no punches pulled here and Block 46 is a page turner of the highest order, a book that is utterly gripping and totally character driven. The descriptive sense here is second to none and I was fascinated, alarmed, immersed into the investigation and its roots from the moment I started reading.

The author manages the layers of the storytelling in a clever and thought provoking manner, drawing the reader along with her characters, there is not one moment of Block 46 that fails to engage. Definitely in the running to be on my Top Ten of the year, don’t expect an easy ride emotionally but DO expect a highly addictive, gorgeously constructed incredibly intelligent crime novel.

Definitively Highly Recommended.

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The Night Visitor Lucy Atkins. Blog Tour. Review.

Publication Date: 4th May.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

Oh The Night Visitor has some beautiful beautiful writing, it took me all of 5 seconds to be totally immersed into this one, it has two of the most impressive characters I’ve read in a long long time, with a story that is often haunting and genuinely sends you deeper down the rabbit hole with every chapter.

Told alternatively between Olivia, highly successful, hiding a secret and Vivian, her “research assistant” who knows many things and is hiding her own, the relationship between these two, how you see it and them develop is intensely fascinating and holds a dark sense of menace, things you can feel coming but cannot quite grasp.

The plotting is intelligent and intricately woven, neither woman is easily readable and Lucy Atkins twists the characters around wonderfully to keep you feeling off kilter, yet unable to stop reading. I really don’t want to give anything away, the scene setting is also impressive and overall this was just one heck of a read.

The ending is killer and the rest of it is just as addictive, terrific terrific stuff here. And Beetles. Is all I’m saying.

Highly Recommended.

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Child Taken Darren Young. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: 18th May from Red Door Books

Source: Review Copy

One hot summer’s day, two-year-old Jessica Preston disappears from the beach. The police are convinced she drowned, but Sandra Preston won’t give up hope that her daughter is still alive. How can she?

Twenty years later, another child goes missing, and Sandra is approached by a young journalist who raises questions about what really happened to Jessica Preston all those years ago. But when the journalist discovers someone with an explosive secret, it threatens not only to reveal what’s been covered up for so long, but puts both their lives in danger.

Child Taken is a tense and beautifully addictive thriller that had an excellent premise – one of those books you just get sucked into and don’t want to stop reading.

There have been a few books about child abduction that I have read, I liked Child Taken for its differences – we have two missing girls, years apart, a journalist who becomes fascinated and obsessed with a story and a girl who is starting to question everything she has ever known. Darren Young layers the secrets beautifully, twisting and turning the story to the ultimate conclusion, strong and compelling character voices and enough unpredictability to make it a proper page turner.

I was very moved by Sandra, convinced her daughter is still alive, her life spirals downward, I spent the book mainly hoping for her to finally have peace. The author has a way of showing the emotion of things in a subtle and haunting way that just brings you into the world of the characters, another big plus for this one.

Overall a really excellent read – recommended.

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The Quiet Man James Carol – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: 4th May from Faber

Source: Review Copy

In Vancouver, the wife of a millionaire is dead following an explosion in her own home.

Everyone thinks her husband is responsible, but former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter isn’t so sure. The method is too perfect; the lack of mistakes, uncanny. He’s seen a series of carefully orchestrated murders – once a year, on exactly the same day, a woman dies in a situation just like this one.

That date is fast approaching and Winter knows another victim has been selected. Can he identify the quiet man before he strikes again?

 

I’m a fan of the Jefferson Winter series  – The Quiet Man is basically just another brilliantly addictive fast paced thriller that is just  gripping right from the very first moments.

Jefferson Winter as a character is completely fascinating, son of a serial killer, former FBI agent who now freelances around and about catching the worst of the worst. The case he finds himself embroiled in this time is unique – the victims are twofold, one dead one left living with that death having caused it – this allows for some emotive moments that just add to the whole.

I love the simple intricacy of James Carol’s plotting in this series – Winter as a kind of twisted Holmes character has terrific insight but is not always that warm, his interactions with other characters always make for great reading, often bringing on a smile. The cases are always cleverly twisted, mostly unpredictable and the pace is pitch perfect, what I like to call readability factor high.

The Quiet Man has all of that and then some – another one sitting read for me, no messing, you simply do not want to put them down once you have picked them up. For that reason I highly recommend all of the Jefferson Winter novels including this one. Easily read as an ongoing series or standalones just pick one up and dive right in. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

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Latest Reads: The White Road Sarah Lotz.

Publication Date: 4th May from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Review Copy

Adrenaline junkie Simon Newman sneaks onto private land to explore a dangerous cave in Wales with a strange man he’s met online. But Simon gets more than he bargained for when the expedition goes horribly wrong. Simon emerges, the only survivor, after a rainstorm trap the two in the cave. Simon thinks he’s had a lucky escape.

But his video of his near-death experience has just gone viral.

Suddenly Simon finds himself more famous than he could ever have imagined. Now he’s faced with an impossible task: he’s got to defy death once again, and film the entire thing. The whole world will be watching. There’s only on place on earth for him to pit himself against the elements: Mt Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.

But Everest is also one of the deadliest spots on the planet. Two hundred and eighty people have died trying to reach its peak.

And Simon’s luck is about to run out.

I loved this whilst being inordinately disturbed by it – you know those times where you read something or watch something and it plays on your mind for days even weeks afterwards, leaving you feeling slightly perturbed for no reason you can put your finger on. I’m a fan of books that do that – means they really have gotten under your skin.

‘Who is the third who walks always beside you?’

Yes. That.

So with “The White Road” then, Sarah Lotz gives us a kind of a ghost story, with an edge of horror and a side of creepy “look behind you” vibe. Simon is not particularly likeable and falls into things – after a caving expedition goes awry he finds himself somewhat of a You Tube superstar. Trying to cash in on that his friend sends him off to climb Everest – the narrative jumps between Simon and Juliet, a previous climber, its not until much later that their two stories come together.

Sarah Lotz as she always does writes with an atmospheric, darkly twisted tone that just gets right to the heart of things. I shivered my way through this, I was living on that mountain with Simon and with Juliet – I couldn’t look away and the night in between the two days I read this over was full of those weirdly incoherent dreams that you only half remember when you awake. For me, that’s clever, beautiful writing right there.

I don’t want to talk about the actual plot much – there are many levels I could dissect for you but let’s not do that – Just know that if you are a fan of creepy, intense and  authentic feeling stories then The White Road will tick every box for you. The author walks the line between the real and the imagined so beautifully, the mythology that she builds The White Road from – the third man factor – is enough to make you nervous to begin with. The tension and the sense of unease build inexorably over the course of the storytelling, the setting is wild and uncontrollable and that comes across brilliantly. By the end, an end that haunts, I was so involved that it was hard to leave behind.

The White Road is chilling, in more ways than one, it is also intelligent, wonderfully written and has an enigmatic, mysterious other sense about it that will dig deep into your consciousness. From the opening claustrophobic and downright scary set up to the strangely even more claustrophobic mountain, you will get hook line and sinkered into this one – when a novel literally heightens all your senses as you read it you know you’ve got a good one.

Highly Recommended.

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