Too Sharp Blog Tour – Marianne Delacourt’s Top Ten Humorous Heroines.

Today I am very happy to welcome Marianne Delacourt to Liz Loves Books, to celebrate “Too Sharp” the third in the Tara Sharp series she is telling us about her Top Ten Humorous Heroines.

Marianne Delacourt’s Top Ten Humorous Heroines

The truth is that Janet Evanovich hooked me on humorous heroines. I really get a kick out of snappy dialogue stirred with slapstick, and the Stephanie Plum series perfected the mix.

My heroine, Tara Sharp, has had some memorable moments of her own. She’s tangled with bad-asses, bangers, bikers, and most recently a barbequed duck.

To my mind, the girls of gag should get talked about a lot more than they do. Here are a few funny heroines (some old, some new) you should check out!

Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum

MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin

Tonya Kappe’s Laurel London

Chelsea Fields’ Isabel Avery

Jaspe Fforde’s Thursday Next

Stephanie Bond’s Carlotta Wren

Sophie Kinsella’s Rebecca (Becky) Bloomwood

Ginna LaManna’s Lacey Luzzi

A.R Winters’ Tiffany Black

Gretchen Archer’s Davis Way

The third novel in Marianne Delacourt’s series of paranormal crime novels about unorthodox PI Tara Sharp, ‘Too Sharp’, launched this week. The novel is available from all online retailers, including Twelfth Planet Press and Amazon. Readers new to Delacourt’s Tara Sharp series can spark their addiction with ‘Sharp Shooter’, the ebook of which is available for free for a limited time to celebrate the launch.

About the Book:

Tara Sharp’s new case brings her to Brisbane, where she is placed in charge of Slim Sledge, a high-maintenance rock star. Tara’s a sucker for a backstage pass, and it’ll provide some much-needed distance between herself and her mother’s not-so-subtle hints about getting a “real” job, not to mention crime lord Johnny Viaspa, the only man on the planet who wants her dead.

She expected the music industry to be cut-throat, but Tara soon uncovers more problems than just Slim Sledge’s demands and his rabid fans. Everywhere she turns, the grudges run deeper and the danger ramps up.

Has Tara finally pushed her luck too far?

Find out more

Follow Marianne on Twitter

Purchase Too Sharp

Follow the Tour!

Happy Reading!

 

Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski – Charlie Armstrong.

Today part 5 of Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski, this time he tells us a little about another character in the novel – Charlie Armstrong. We are nearly at the end of this now – Part Six on Friday when Matt will be answering my 20 questions brave soul that he is, then it’s my turn on the blog tour at the weekend when I’ll review the book. But if you haven’t got your hands on it yet – go! It is truly superb.

 

Charlie Armstrong.

Matt Wesolowski

Charlie was seen, not only by the other teenagers, but also by the accompanying adults as the ‘alpha’ of the group. Perhaps even more than that: he was revered by the others, looked up to and followed.

Charlie meant a lot to those who knew him.

We all knew that one lad. We were never that lad, but we all had a Charlie Armstrong somewhere in our life.

You remember your Charlie, he didn’t give a shit what anyone thought of him, he had his own style which you feebly attempted to mimic, he was funny, charismatic and everyone who encountered him was in love with him. That Charlie, you remember now, right?

Charlie was always into the best music you’d never heard of, he knew how to smoke, how to inhale properly without coughing; he could spit out a ball of chewing gum at hit it on the volley dead-on. Charlie didn’t get picked on, he slouched at the back of classrooms and hung round the end of the field at lunchtimes with the bad kids. Charlie had a darkness, deep, unfathomable, wore it like a cloak, streaming out behind him.

You followed Charlie round in adoration. You wanted to be Charlie, you adopted the same way of walking, the same way of talking, dropped band-names like chip-wrappers at parties.

When Charlie talked to you, when he chose to be seen with you, you lit up, you walked a foot taller, dropped your voice and octave deeper.

You hated yourself for how much you loved him, your Charlie.

Charlie was probably the most fully-formed character I had when I began writing Six Stories. I feel like in every friendship group there’s a Charlie and I wanted to reflect that without going over the top, without making him seem perfect. I guess Charlie is an amalgamation of many different people I’ve admired when I was growing up. It did make me wonder whether these Charlies we grow up alongside are ever aware of their prominence in the minds and hearts of their peers; whether they revel in it or are simply ignorant of the adulation that surrounds them?

Not being a Charlie, I’ll never know…

About the book:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

Follow Matt on TWITTER

To purchase the paperback clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

 

 

Boundary – Andree A Michaud. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from No Exit Press

Source: Review Copy

Where deep woods cover the Maine border, blending together two countries and two languages, the summer of 1967 is a time of fear. Teenage beauties Sissy Morgan and Zaza Mulligan wander among the vacation cottages in the community of Boundary, attracting the attention of boys and men, before they’re found gruesomely murdered — felled by long-dead woodsman’s bear traps. Andrée, the little girl whose name nobody can pronounce, watches the police investigate, unaware of how profoundly these events will impact her passage into womanhood.

Boundary is a challenging book to read – one which rewards a readers patience but takes its time to immerse you into – it is tense and atmospheric, a slow burn of a tale with an edgy sense of place, my main love for this book came within the language used and the coming of age aspects, rather than with the mystery elements.

Boundary follows a community bereaved – not only of the two girls who die but of  their safe place, their haven from the real world.  Told mostly from the points of view of the detective investigating the deaths and Andree a young girl who was fascinated and enthralled by the two free spirited teenagers, this is a story of innocence lost, of that moment when a grown up world invades a child’s easy existence and changes them forever.

The fascination here came as the community collapsed in on itself – as the realisation set in that this place was no longer a safe place – there is an ethereal, waif like feeling to the writing that makes you occasionally crazy but really digs deep into the characters and the setting.  This is not a novel that has huge twists and turns, the eventual reveal is gently jolting – but more an exploration of how violence affects individuals and their wider world. The mythology elements in relation to the wilderness surrounding the location is quietly haunting – a terrible beauty that gives an anchor to the rest.

Overall I loved Boundary – but I would caution that it won’t be for everyone. For me as a reader I just loved the writing. The crime aspects are not unique but the characters certainly are – and ultimately I was extremely taken with this and it stayed with me for a while after reading it.

 

Purchase Boundary

Follow the Tour!

Happy Reading!

The Wolf Road – Neil White interviews Beth Lewis.

Today to celebrate the release of Wolf Road in paperback and the recent release of From the Shadows, I’ve got the lovely (mostly) Neil White having a chat to the lovely (all the time) Beth Lewis – all about Wolf Road and other things. Thanks both!

Over to Neil then….

Sometimes, the best thing about being a writer is coming across great books written by great people that perhaps otherwise I would have missed. So it was with The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis, my favourite read of 2016 and now due out in paperback on 23rd March 2017.

The Wolf Road and I, however, almost got off to a shaky start.

It was at the Harrogate Crime Festival in July that I came across Beth for the first time. As I squinted out my Sunday hangover in the July sunshine, Beth was sitting by a table with Liz, the host of this conversation, and Liz introduced me, finishing off with, ‘And Beth has a book out. It’s really good, and it’s in the book tent over there,’ and she pointed towards the canvas bookshop erected on the lawn of the Old Swan Hotel.

What could I do? I could hardly say, ‘Thanks for the tip, Liz, but I am not interested in the slightest,’ because Beth was sitting there, drinking tea and being all lovely and friendly.

I faked some enthusiasm and comforted myself with the thought that I might be able to bag it as part of a “buy one, get one half-price” sort of deal, and I shuffled across to the book tent.

At that point, I was committed. I could possibly lie and say it had sold out, but what if they checked it out? Imagine my utter horror, as a penny-pinching northerner, when I found out it was in hardback only, double the price of all the paperbacks in there.

I was trapped. I couldn’t go back and say, ‘I was slightly interested, but not at that price,’ so I harrumphed my way to the till and made my way back to Beth and Liz and pretended I’d never enjoyed spending cash as much.

I should not have been so stingy. When I came to read the book, I enjoyed it more than any book I had read for a long time. It wasn’t just the story, which was gripping and engaging, but the way it was told. I hadn’t enjoyed a book purely for the pleasure of reading for a long time, but I did with The Wolf Road, and I can’t wait for her next

one.

That rambling introduction brings me to Beth herself, and my first question.

Beth, before we learn about The Wolf Road, people might want to know more about you, so what’s your story?

Beth: Gosh, now I feel a touch guilty but it is very difficult to say no to Liz when she recommends books. My story, well, I grew up in a tiny hamlet in Cornwall. There was nothing but fields and moorland between our house and the sea, it was beautiful and wild and I’d spend any time I could outside. There were two WW2 watch towers on the headland so my brother and I would spend summers exploring, making dens, finding artillery shells and rusted up rifles, even found a helmet once. My mother was all about books. We had a room of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stacked two-books deep and piles of books everywhere. She would tell me stories constantly. I’d write them down and soon started making up my own. When I was eleven or twelve I knew I wanted to be a writer and I knew I wanted to be published by HarperCollins because that’s who published all my mum’s favourite authors – Raymond Fiest, Clive Barker, Tolkien. Knowing also that I didn’t want to be a penniless writer freezing and hungry in a draughty garret, I pursued a career in publishing, figuring that even if I couldn’t write the books, I could at least work with them.

I can also juggle and will happily eat my bodyweight in cake.

Neil: Eating your bodyweight in cake is a noble hobby, because the very process will produce an ever-increasing target. One should always have a hobby with new goals.

It’s interesting that you’ve worked on “the other side” of the writing world. My only experience of publishing is as a writer, so what interests me is how it feels for you to be on this side. Do you view the publishing side differently now that you’ve experienced it from the writer’s view, and is the writer’s view what you expected?

Beth: I work in a very niche area of publishing so my experience wasn’t all that relevant to publishing fiction. I knew terminology and general stages of production – proofs etc. – but the finer details were lost on me so everything has been new. I’m not sure if it helped or hindered me that my partner works in marketing at Penguin Random House. I had a lot of insider information available to me, which was in parts really useful but in other parts, kind of disheartening. For every massive bestseller there are dozens of other books published that week that don’t get much traction or attention, especially from trade reviewers given how little space Books now receive in newspapers. The process hasn’t been wholly what I expected, it’s a strange thing to have a book published, but it’s an amazing experience and I’m hugely grateful.

Neil: This pre-amble brings me, neatly, to your fantastic debut, The Wolf Road, and I do have a few things to ask you about it. First of all, however, let me ask you the mundane questions: what is it about and how did you get the idea?

Beth: The Wolf Road is about a young girl abandoned by her parents, who discovers the man who raised her is a killer so flees into the wilderness to find her real parents. It’s set in Canada, in British Columbia (BeeCee) and the Yukon after some kind of world-changing event. I got the idea from TV. I watch too much and there was a particular show I loved at the time about a girl and her father and whether she was a victim in his crimes or a perpetrator. I found that fascinating and wanted to explore the psychology of that girl and her eventual realisation of her involvement. I’ve also always loved Canada and Alaska and I am addicted to Discovery channel shows set in the Pacific Northwest, as well as survival shows so all my passions just fell into place and the story, and Elka, came to life.

Neil: The locations came across superbly-well in the book, and they gave me a real sense of place and wilderness. Also, I loved Elka’s description of the world-changing event as “the Damn Stupid”, as it summarised her character up so well.

Dealing with the location first though, it struck me when reading the book how you not only captured that wilderness so well, but also the frontier-feel, so much so that it could have been set just as easily in late-nineteenth century frontier Canada. What made you choose to set in the future, set back by this world-changing event, rather than simply in the past?

Beth: Firstly, thank you! Setting a book in a far-off area of the world is a risk in terms of authenticity so it’s been a big relief that people – even Canadians in British Columbia – have found the setting and wilderness believable. I did think about setting the book in the past, during the Alaskan gold rush of the 1890s but that time in particular has been well documented, written about by all sorts of writers for more accomplished than me, so I didn’t feel like I could bring anything new to that particular time in history. I also didn’t want to have to deal with the gender politics of the time. Lyon wouldn’t have been believable as the merciless lawkeeper, Penelope probably wouldn’t have been educated and Elka, well, she’d probably have been exactly the same. I didn’t want to write a book about women overcoming societal barriers or one examining feminism in that setting. I also didn’t want to do a lot of historical research because I’m quite lazy. I wanted the story to be about Elka’s journey and her friendship with Penelope so I decided to strip away all the politics, social expectations, world events, and start from scratch. It was freeing, not having any established rules to adhere to. I felt like the story that emerged, the relationship with Penelope, was purer for it.

Neil: That’s really interesting, and I like your honesty, as well as your logic. My mantra for research is that it should be directly in proportion to the amount of people who’ll know you’ve got it wrong, so I reckon you’d have been okay, but I prefer it the way you’ve done it, now that I understand it.

This brings me neatly to Elka, as what you do so well is the character voice. That is how it was sold to me back in Harrogate, that the voice was somewhat unique, and it is. Elka makes the whole book so engaging, but how did you settle on her voice? Is it possible to define this? Did you have to adopt her voice in your head as you wrote, or was it something you were able to do almost instinctively?

Beth: I love strong voices and accents in fiction, movies and of course, real life. As a young, unpublished writer sending out manuscripts to agents and reading all about what they were looking for, the one thing they were all after was a unique voice. Elka’s voice came so naturally to me, I could hear her inside my head for months. It took me a little time to work out how I wanted to translate that onto the page though maybe now, looking back, I would adjust it somewhat. It’s a risk to write a whole book in dialect but I’m glad I did. I ended up talking, texting, emailing, like Elka. Friends and family who read it early on were also talking in her voice, coming up with their own ‘Elka-isms’. Then when the book came out, people tweeted me in Elka’s voice. The response has just been incredible. I wish I had a clearer idea of where the voice came from. It’s kind of a mix between the American South, Appalachian, and the Yukon and probably comes from a dozen different movies and TV shows, but none of those at the same time. I think it’s what makes Elka unique.

Neil: That is very interesting, but it makes me think that you’ve created a whole new set of problems for yourself, because from other conversations we’ve had, your next book doesn’t involve Elka, and has a wholly different setting. What is it about and how did you fix on a whole new voice for it? And when can I get my mitts on it?

Beth: The next book is totally different. It’s set in the early seventies, in a small town in the American Midwest. It’s out in May 2018, I believe. It’s about four kids, best friends, who discover a body and set about trying to solve a murder but they ask too many questions and gain the attention of the town’s darker elements with nasty consequences. It’s set over three summers and is dark as hell. For me, it’s all about growing up, letting go of childhood and realising your parents, your town, your world, is not all sunshine and hazy summer days. It’s also written in the first person, from the point of view of one of the kids. It’s not dialect heavy at all, it’s quite the departure from Elka but I didn’t want to repeat myself. It’s always tempting as a writer to stick with what has worked for you in the past, but I always want to challenge myself. Each book I write has to have a point to it and has to be new, whether in structure, voice, setting, it’s got to be unique.

Neil: Thank you Beth, that sounds fantastic. It’s a long wait for me but all the best things are worth hanging around for.

To Beth, I say thank you for the chat and the best of luck with the paperback of The Wolf Road.

To everyone else, I say buy the damn book! You won’t regret it. It’s out in paperback on 23rd March 2017, and is already on your Kindle.

 

About the Books: 

27209140

Everything Elka knows of the world she learned from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her under his wing when she was just seven years old.

But when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

Read My Review

Follow Beth On Twitter

Purchase The Wolf Road

He hides in the shadows, watching, waiting, until the time is right . . .

Mary Kendricks, a smart, pretty, twenty-four-year-old teacher, has been brutally murdered and Robert Carter is accused of killing her.

When defence lawyer, Dan Grant inherits Carter’s case only weeks before the trial starts, everyone expects him just to babysit it, but Dan’s not that kind of lawyer. He’ll follow the evidence – wherever it takes him.

But as Dan and his investigator Jayne Brett look into the case, they discover that there is more to it than meets the eye. In order to do their jobs they need to push the limits of the system, even if it means putting themselves in danger.

Together they will get to the truth – whatever the cost . . .

Read My Review

Follow Neil on Twitter

Purchase From the Shadows

Happy Reading!

20 Questions For…..C L Taylor.

Today I’m very happy to welcome Cally Taylor to Liz  Loves Books – she was brave enough to do my 20 questions a while ago which I’ve saved for now and a lot of fun it was too. The Escape, her latest psychological thriller comes out tomorrow – don’t miss it! Details follow after the interview.

So we’ve just had a brilliant cover reveal for your next book – now I KNOW how you love to twist the tale on ye olde psychological thrillers, tell us a little about this one…

THE ESCAPE is about a woman called Jo, an agoraphobic and part-time student support officer, who lives in Bristol with her husband Max and their two year old daughter Elise. One day after work a stranger asks her for a lift. Against her better judgement Jo says yes. It’s the worst decision she could have made. Jo’s life swiftly unravels as the stranger becomes more and more involved in her life. Jo believes that her daughter Elise is in danger but when the police, social services and even Max accuse her of lying the only way she can keep her daughter safe is to RUN.

Favourite cheese (we’ll get the cheese question out early)

I love a bit of Stilton. Ideally with bacon and brie on a panini. Or in a pasty with steak.

Are you a Christmas person or bah humbug?

Definitely a Christmas person. I love the build-up, the films, the sparkly decorations, the food, the look on my son’s face on Christmas morning, seeing family, playing stupid games. I could go on and on…

A movie you watch when you just can’t cope with reality..

I don’t have a favourite that I watch and re-watch but I do love a sci-fi film when I can’t cope with reality. Gattica is probably the one I’ve watched the most times.

Desert Island – 5 other writer types you’d like to hang out with if you were stuck for a while and why…

Oh this is too tough as I know and love so many brilliant writers. There are five writers that I always go on writing retreats with as they’re great company. They also happen to be my best friends so I’m going to go with them – Rowan Coleman, Julie Cohen, Kate Harrison, Miranda Dickinson and Tamsyn Murray. Brilliantly funny, highly entertaining, good listeners and they can neck prosecco and gin like no one else I know!

Drink too much wine or everything in moderation?

Ha! (see answer to my last question). I definitely drink too much wine.

Do you have a favourite character that you’ve written?

I am itching to write about the main character in my fifth psychological thriller because she’s so different from anyone else I’ve written before. That said I hugely enjoyed writing Max in THE ESCAPE and Drew, the sixteen year old protagonist in my YA debut THE TREATMENT. Oh, oh, and Isaac in THE LIE was a lot of fun. I can’t chose just one, the others will get upset.

How about a favourite character that someone else has written?

Now this is easier! Ruth, from The Lives and Loves of a She Devil by Fay Weldon has stayed with me for over twenty years. Also, Olive Martin from The Sculptress by Minette Walters is a big favourite. I do love a weird, strong, larger than life female character. Actually those two women are part of the inspiration behind my next book but I can’t say more than that…

If you are invited to a dinner party what would you hate to see on the menu? (And if it was on the menu would you eat it anyway to be polite or hide it in a plant pot or something)

Octopus tentacles. I shudder at the thought. It’s the suckers. I would definitely find a way to hide them.

One thing that irritates you beyond all reason.

People who walk slowly and seem to sway to whichever side I’m trying to overtake them on!

Last book you read that made you cry.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. What I thought was a book about a grumpy old man turned out to be profoundly moving.

When writing are you totally organised or flapping around in chaos?

I’m pretty organised. I do a lot of thinking and plotting before I write a word but there are definitely moments of flapping and/or smacking the desk with my forehead while I write.

One book that you would pretend you had written if only you could get away with it.

I want to say the Harry Potter book or the Bible but they’re obvious answers. Maybe a book that’s really stood the test of time because I think all writers would like their work to live on long after they’ve died and become a classic. Probably Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Not a crime book but definitely dark and memorable.

Biggest fear.

Something happening to my son.

Favourite flavour of crisps.

It’s changed over the years. I was an out and out salt and vinegar fan as a child and teenager, briefly flirted with cheese and onion in my thirties but now it’s ready salted all the way (am I becoming more bland in my old age?)

3 top songs that you can’t help but sing along to.

Um, right now the main one is the Chris Evan’s jingle ‘How D’Ya Like Your Eggs in the Morning…’ I listen to the radio with my son when we have breakfast and, if that song doesn’t get stuck in my head, it gets stuck in his and then it accompanies us on the fifteen minute walk to school (which is fun). I love The Cure and my favourite songs are the darker ones but when ‘Friday I’m in Love’ is played I can’t help but sing along. Also, ‘Every Day is Like Sunday’ by Morrissey which is a truly miserable song but with a bit of a jaunty tune.

Chasing Rainbows – something magical or unlikely that you absolutely believe in.

Real rainbows? With pots of gold at the end? Um…nope. But chasing your dreams. Hell yes.

How soon can I read The Escape? Tomorrow? Excellent…

You’ve already read it. How did you do that? Some kind of weird time turning thing? Clever.

Last thing that made you laugh out loud…

Lisa Hall sent me a tweet telling me that her email to my editor about The Escape was ‘WELL SCREECHY’. If you’ve met Lisa you can imagine a ‘well screechy’ email from her. It made me laugh out loud.

I know Lisa well. I can indeed imagine her “well screechy” email having had a few of those from her myself…

How much do you hate me right now?

I don’t hate you at all. Although the question about my favourite character was a bit evil.

I have to throw at least one evil question into all of these…

Thanks Cally!

About the book:

 

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

My review:

I banged through this one. I started it then I growled at it some because it wouldn’t let me go then I finished it just like that. Definitively addictive.

SO the main character, Jo, annoyed the mother loving heck out of me. Yes yes she’s unwell, horrible experiences but it didn’t stop me wanting to slap her. I say this with 100% positivity – I COULD NOT stop reading this until I found out what was what, whether she was fragile or fruit loop and what the blinking heck had her husband been up to anyway?

See? Twisty. Twisty goodness. I’m a fan of irritating characters (and that obviously is subjective) that irritate you in a way that just keeps you turning those pages especially when they can turn around on you. Something that Cally Taylor does INDOMITABLY well is write the divisive, occasionally unsympathetic, layered characters that you engage with, whether by wanting to slap them (seriously can I slap her?) or by loving them or hating them or somewhere in between. Tis a thin line but the main thing is it’s a bloody good story and love or loathe those you find within you will be entertained and find yourself lost in their world.

I hovered between emotions while reading it – there are some stand out thrill moments and some contemplative insights, this is what the psychological thriller is supposed to do, make you crazy, whilst thoroughly embracing that crazy. Top notch really.

I like them when they are like this

Excellent stuff here from Ms Taylor.

Find out More

Follow Cally on Twitter

Purchase The Escape

Happy Reading!

The Witchfinder’s Sister Beth Underdown. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Penguin (Viking)

Source: Review Copy

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

The Witchfinder’s Sister is a tense, highly atmospheric historical drama based on fact, a book that it is easy to devour in quick smart fashion, with it’s vivid and emotionally drawn characters and a beautifully described sense of place and time.

Alice loses her husband in a tragic accident and having no choice returns home to her brother. Matthew is a strange one, and deeply involved in the local community and wider, whispers of witchcraft abound and it seems no woman is safe from Matthew’s obsession. Alice soon finds herself struggling to accept his words and actions but there is little she can do.

This novel is a mix of history and psychological thriller, Beth Underdown paints a picture – a boy with a troubled past, a real life person who back in that time did what he did  – through his fictional sister we see him and he is strangely sympathetic despite his cruel actions. I loved the way the dynamic was drawn between the two of them, a relationship coloured by the social outlook of the time, by the suspicions and beliefs, it was absolutely riveting.

Throughout the read the writing is haunting and atmospheric, with an edge of tension, obviously well researched and cleverly addictive. I was drawn to Alice, a woman who was chained by her circumstances, who wanted to help those whose fiery focus Matthew had, unable to do much but watch on in horror. It was emotionally engaging and scarily riveting.

I took in a breath at the end of the story, a few cleverly placed words made me want to clap my hands over my eyes – but from the first page to that last moment I was totally immersed in this world, not a pleasant place but still entirely brilliantly absorbing and fascinating.

Highly Recommended.

Find out More

Follow Beth on Twitter

Purchase The Witchfinder’s Sister

Follow The Tour!

Happy Reading!

 

Latest Reads: Method 15/33 by Shannon Kirk

Publication Date: Available Now from OceanView Publishing

(UK release from Sphere titled “The Method”)

Source: Netgalley

Imagine a helpless, pregnant 16-year-old who’s just been yanked from the serenity of her home and shoved into a dirty van. Kidnapped Alone Terrified.

Now forget her

Picture instead a pregnant, 16-year-old, manipulative prodigy. She is shoved into a dirty van and, from the first moment of her kidnapping, feels a calm desire for two things: to save her unborn son and to exact merciless revenge.

She is methodical calculating scientific in her plotting. A clinical sociopath? Leaving nothing to chance, secure in her timing and practice, she waits for the perfect moment to strike. Method 15/33 is what happens when the victim is just as cold as the captors.

Thoroughly enjoyed this! Fast and furious read with a truly engaging main protagonist and a healthy dose of ironic brilliance.

She has been kidnapped – pregnant and held against her will, 16 years old, two FBI agents on the case, you’d expect your normal type of “hang on in there possibly show some guts wait to be rescued” type psychological thriller. Nope. this is not your normal teenager, she has a sharp, focused scientific mind and an ability to turn her various emotions on and off at will. Plus an extraordinarily intense maternal instinct and a tendency towards being vengeful.

Poor kidnappers.

Still, the tension is palpable even though, as she is writing this many years later, a story for her now grown child, you know she’s probably going to be ultimately fine. Or her rather different definition of fine anyway. This is no secret from very early on. The beauty of this one is in watching her plan unfold, see her brain working, whilst her hapless yet still somewhat scary captors continue with their plans to steal her child…

It rocks along this book, hearing from our captive and then from the agent who spends his life looking for the missing – both of them have highly intriguing personalities of differing sorts, there was not a single moment of this that I was not practically hugging the narrative. It gets the blood up, a real rollicking page turner, with a fair few surprises along the way, characters to die for, a whole load of fun despite the premise, although there are some sobering moments that give pause for thought too. Plenty of layers here, I loved all of them.

The final parts of this book make for really cool reading as you see exactly what all the little preparations have been for, making you want to fist pump the air (although my advice is don’t do that you drop the book and then have to scrabble around to retrieve your spot) and I don’t think I’m going to get the image of that heavily pregnant, sixteen year old, angel of vengeance out of my head anytime soon. Can we hope that we meet her again in her adult life? Certainly the author allows for this possibility, with a wonderfully poignant and intelligent ending.

Loved it. Sometimes you just boogie right along with the book tune, this one was rock and roll.

Recommended.

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Latest Reads: A Thousand Cuts by Thomas Mogford.

Publication Date: Available Now from Bloomsbury

Source: Review Copy

A thousand cuts … We may be few, but together we can change the world

When a routine court case takes a sinister turn, defence lawyer Spike Sanguinetti starts asking dangerous questions that nobody seems to want answered. Soon, it’s not just the truth that’s at stake: it is everything and everyone that Spike holds precious. As the Gibraltarian sun beats relentlessly down, crimes of the past and present collide, relationships are tested and long-buried secrets exposed. Who can Spike trust? And where do his own loyalties lie?

Loved A Thousand Cuts. You know when you find a book that has characters you fall for, a setting that lives around you and a story that is addictive, clever and unpredictable – that.

This is the first book I’ve read in this series (now dammit I have to go back and read the others, you know sometimes you just wish you could hate a book and prevent your tbr pile getting bigger but not in this case. Sigh) but it doesn’t really matter, I don’t feel I missed anything, the story flows beautifully with enough information about the characters to have an idea where we are – always a good thing for those of us who are always behind with stuff.

Score 10/10 for Spike Sanguinetti as a main protagonist, an honourable man trying to keep things equal in the murky world of law, standing up for his client despite said client being a bit of an ass – then finding himself embroiled in a historical mystery that holds dangerous possibilities for those he holds dear. Loyalties are tested, moral and legal decisions challenging him every day and blimey there is a baby on the way too. Nothing like putting your characters through the wringer is there, to make us readers love them.

Gibraltar as a setting is spot on, beautifully described, I now want to go there, I can see it in my minds eye – another strength of this particular story, putting the people firmly in the places makes for a much more immersive read. I enjoyed the historical aspects, could feel Spike’s frustration jumping off the page on occasion it was all really quite terrific. That and the group dynamic, I feel Jessica may become long suffering, I was engaged by Rufus and the father/son relationship and the ending left some personal issues unresolved that means I will inevitably be picking up the next book when it comes out.

Yep. Good. Good crime. We like it. Highly Recommended.

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Ones to Watch in 2017: The Fact of a Body – Alexandria Marzano-Lesenevich

Publication Date: 18th May 2017 from Macmillan

Source: Review Copy

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky’s crime.

The Fact of a Body was less a non fiction narrative and more a work of art – I don’t think I have been sucked into a book in the way this one sucked me in for a good long while. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich writes with such a beautiful, haunting quality that gets over so many layers of emotional depth whilst still keeping it factual and real, that you can one moment be feeling like you are watching events unfold in real time and the next sobbing like a baby at one small sentence that says everything.

At the heart of it all is not only this killer, Ricky Langley, but also the author herself as she delves into her own mind and her own history in an attempt to understand that which cannot be understood. She takes you along on a journey of discovery, one of unpalatable realities, poignant self realisation and historical influence, it is at turns heart breaking, utterly riveting and melancholy, get ready to be hooked, unable to look away.

The Fact of a Body often reads like a literary thriller, I found myself remembering with a jolt that these were real people living real lives – the author shows the mundane routine of living, alongside the telling events that informed eventual acts, alongside the things that cannot be explained no matter how much we may wish for a reason. Throughout the whole of the telling there are moments of quiet, occasional times you step away from the read and absorb what you have just learned – the historical detail, the absolute compassion with which the author allows the “characters” in this drama to live and breathe on the page is just stunning in its intensity. And we must not forget she is one of them – and does not hide from her own horrors simply lays them bare before us.

This is a tangled, beautiful, intelligently told true story that will surprise you, an unravelling of human nature, a truly incredible look at the power of memory, the influences of life experience and that which we hide from ourselves – as well as that it is a truly compelling and absolutely gripping crime story and family memoir.

I really cannot recommend this highly enough.

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Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski – Anyu Kekkonen

Today we have part 4 of Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski, today he is talking about Anyu Kekkonen  – another character in the mix – and we are heading towards the end of this little feature which has been the best fun, with part 5 later this week and then a Q/A with Matt to finish things off before I FINALLY get to review the book as part of the blog tour. This is an excellent novel by the way. As I have said many times and will probably say a fair few more times!

Anyu Kekkonen

Matt Wesolowski

There’s something intriguing about Anyu – the way she holds herself, perhaps? She has this ethereal quality to her – an other-worldly serenity.

When writing characters, they often come to me, they emerge, unformed, taking shape the more I write. I have little control over who they become.

Six Stories was slightly different; before I started, I had an idea of who these characters were – but I didn’t want to touch them yet. I find if I plan or plot anything, especially characters it kills them and their story stone dead. I had to just write and see what happened, see who turned up.

With Anyu Kekkonen, I wanted to capture a character who is somewhat inscrutable; instead of making her mysterious as such, I wanted to make this inscrutability accidental, something she carried almost as a burden. I wanted the others to make her into a mystery, through no fault of her own.

The inspiration for this was fairly easy; I reached into my own experiences of being a teenager, for lots of boys, probably more than we’d like to admit, we put the objects of our affections up on a pedestal, weave mystery around them where is usually none. I wrote Anyu as the sort of girl my early affections would be bequeathed to, despite being aeons out of my league. I would have followed Anyu around when I was 15 like a lost puppy, forever wondering why she had no interest in me whatsoever!

What I also wanted to do was show that someone like Anyu, despite being perceived as exotic and mysterious, quite simply wasn’t; that she was an awkward teenager like the rest of them. Anyu Kekkonen has her own insecurities and her own unrequited feelings.

She also has stories…but I’m not going to spoil that for you here….

About the Book:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

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