Whiteout Ragnar Jonasson – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda Books

Source: Review Copy

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kalfshamarvik.

Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thor Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier.
As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.

Book 5 in the Dark Iceland series (UK publication not in exact order)  from Ragnar Jonasson and they just get better – tense, atmospheric, with beautifully descriptive setting and terrific sense of character.

In a small isolated village a girl has been found dead at the foot of the cliffs where her mother and her sister had earlier died – was this suicide or something more sinister?

What I love about this series is the old school feel brought to the writing – like if Agatha Christie were writing Icelandic Noir right now – that and the incredibly immersive settings as Ragnar Jonasson brings Iceland to beautiful, stark life – despite it being fictionally dangerous (always a body!) you want to visit and drink it all in. The prose is so good you almost can without even leaving your house…

The mystery elements are beautifully layered and Ari  as ever is utterly compelling – I’m going to miss that guy with his little quirks of personality, in this story about to become a father – I have to give a  shout out to the amazing Quentin Bates who has translated all of these perfectly –  the series has been entirely absorbing, a literary delight that is perfect for curling up with on those chilly winter nights.

I always read these in one sitting. So immersive, the plotting taut and darkly devilish, the characters engaging and full of depth and I can’t recommend these highly enough for fans of literary crime with a cleverly addictive tone.

Go get ’em!

 

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Top Ten of 2017 – How did that happen already?

It is a little insane that we are here again already. But the end of another reading year approaches and as I always do at this time I’ve picked a Top Ten for the year. This is my reading year not necessary the publishing calendar so you may have to wait for some of these should you be encouraged to read them – but all are books I’ve read and reviewed this year.

It was an extremely difficult one. My Best of the Rest post earlier this week encompassed 30 books that could easily be Top Ten. Since I locked this list down I’ve read several that are in the running for next year, every time I struggle with what goes in what stays out. But in the end I go for a mixture of the books that I have completely and utterly adored during 2017 and my No 1 is the one that made me go wow the most times before I finally put it away.

Before we get to that that though I’m giving a shout out to 5 books that in a lesser reading year would quite definitively be in this top ten and I can’t end the year without mentioning them. Louise Beech’s beautiful family drama “Maria in the Moon” made me weepy and I HATE (love) being weepy over a book. Mike Carey’s “The Boy on the Bridge” had such beautiful writing for such a very dark tale and took me back to the world of The Girl with All the Gifts (A top ten book in it’s year). Rachel Rhys (or Tammy Cohen as she is also known) wrote the book that stole a weekend of my life with “A Dangerous Crossing”. Then we have Michael Malone and his BRILLIANT gothic psychological thriller “House of Spines” and last but by no means least the work of utter utter genius that is “Gnomon” by Nick Harkaway. Great books all and all offering something a little different.

So with that slightly guilty feeling of having left so many wonderful books out, here are my Top Ten for the year for your reading consideration…

Ten.

Khurrum Rahman’s East Of Hounslow  was a purely brilliant read that crept up on you with that brilliance, telling the story of Jay, drug dealer but randomly good guy as he gets caught up in an attempt to bring down extremists and struggles to asses the world around him. It is both witty and hugely thought provoking, with an ending that will resonate and the authors ability to draw deep, divisive and cleverly layered relationships between his characters is second to none. I genuinely cannot wait to see more from this author. You can READ MY REVIEW and/or Purchase East Of Hounslow by clicking the links.

 

Nine.

Sylvain Neuvel’s follow up to Sleeping Giants was a huge hit with me this year, not least because he absolutely BROKE MY HEART with one particular plot twist and I still haven’t forgiven him. That aside though, Waking Gods is a dream of a read, fast, funny, incredibly imaginative and it has robots. I mean what more could you POSSIBLY want? You can read my review and purchase Waking Gods HERE.

 

Eight

The Woman in the Window is a book I read really early but it is due out soon and comes HIGHLY recommended from me. An ode to Hitchcock with beautifully immersive writing, an engaging main protagonist and a voyeuristic twist that really resonates, The Woman in the Window was another book that I devoured in short order this year and one of those I wish I hadn’t read yet so I could read it again for the first time. You can read my review and purchase The Woman in The Window here. 

 

Seven.

I was introduced to the writing of Jamie Sawyer this year with  the start of a new series – The Eternity War: Pariah was utterly gripping, excellent world building and a thrill ride of a plot with some divisive and brilliantly drawn characters.  At the end I was hanging off the edge of my seat and I’m telling you I’m going to be going after that Nazia for the next book in the series with the passion of the newly converted. You can read my review and purchase The Eternity War: Pariah here.

 

Six

Poor Evelyn Hardcastle gets both 7 and 71/2 deaths depending on where you are reading it but either way the poor girl is NOT having the best day. Plus it’s like Groundhog Day on acid so she’s not getting out anytime soon. Stuart Turton’s speculative and extraordinarily clever novel is out next year and although I have not yet given it a full review yet, it HAD to be in my Top Ten simply because it’s a work of genius that you should all immediately put on pre-order. Or something. Just don’t ask me how the author managed to keep it straight and ultimately work, this is a puzzle piece that will grip you from the very first page. A teaser review here or purchase The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle HERE. 

 

Five.

As soon as I put “The Feed” down I KNEW it was going to be in my Top Ten. A speculative post apocalyptic joy to read, you will I promise NEED THE FEED next year when you can get your hands on this. I adored it, it was ludicrously addictive and brilliantly paced – you’ll be breathless and possibly slightly emotional by the end of it. You can read my review and purchase The Feed here.

 

Four

Cold Desert Sky is a book I read so early that there is not even a definitive cover for it yet and you can’t read my review because I haven’t written one – but having obtained Rod’s permission to include it in my Top Ten nonetheless here it is. In a year of brilliant reading, this was dazzling – as I’ve come to expect – the 3rd Charlie Yates novel and by far the best one yet, with mobsters and missing girls and Las Vegas you’ll be hook line and sinkered. Absolutely I’m very pleased to be able to put it well onto the reading radar here and sometime next year (I want to say July but don’t quote me) you should dive into this one and live in the 40’s for a while. God knows we all need a little escape from the modern world right now. You can purchase Cold Desert Sky here. 

 

Three

Dark Pines has definitely earned its place here -I loved this book, atmospheric, beautifully drawn characters, a setting to die for (literally for some) and another book I devoured in short order, drawn into the life of main protagonist Tuva and the world she lives in. Clever and entirely addictive Dark Pines is simply an amazing debut and you should all give it a go. You can read my review and purchase Dark Pines here. 

 

Two

Anatomy of a Scandal was NEARLY my No 1 this year but got usurped by my actual No 1 – still Sarah Vaughan’s debut is one of the best crime novels I’ve read this year – beautifully written, socially relevant and absolutely gripping, I don’t even know what words to say to make sure you pick this one up. A genuinely talented writer telling a deeply disturbing yet hugely realistic story I’m going to be fully reviewing this one upon publication. A teaser is here and you can purchase Anatomy of a Scandal here.

So that is 10-2 then so what did make it into the No 1 spot this year? Well I’m about to answer that question and the very MINUTE I put this novel down after holding onto it for ages not wanting to let it go, I knew that it would be in my No 1 spot.

 

 

ONE

Eva Dolan’s “This Is How It Ends” was simply an incredible piece of writing, not only in style but in substance – It is almost impossible to describe how much this one struck me, not only was the plotting absolutely cleverly divine and a work of pure genius but the characters literally come alive on the page. Not conventionally told, but all the more gripping for it, this book above all the others this year made me go Wow. Then made me go wow again. Then a few days later when I thought back on it made me go Wow AGAIN. Honestly deserving of my top slot this year this is Eva showing us what she’s truly made of. I cannot WAIT to see what she does next. You can read my review and purchase This Is How It Ends here. 

 

That is IT for another year then. My word what a reading year it has been and next year is shaping up beautifully.

Great books next year including the best Marnie Rome yet from Sarah Hilary and of course Pierce Brown’s Iron Gold which I devoured recently and I can tell you it’s going to be the biggest hit of the Red Rising saga yet – plus many I probably don’t even know about yet, I can’t wait.

Hope you’ve found something here to love and have a great end of 2017 and a thrilling 2018.

 

So this IS how it ends….

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of the Rest – Top Ten Teaser.

Well it’s that time of year again – on Friday my Top Ten will post but honestly I’ve read SO MANY great books in 2017 I thought I’d do a quick round up of the best of the rest to get the bookish juices flowing. Since I cut off my top ten considerations and locked it down, I’ve read even MORE great books – not the least of which was Sarah Hilary’s Come and Find Me – so already the list for next year is looking difficult to manage. But it’s what we live for right?

I will have missed books that I adored. The only way to get everything in that I would like to mention would be to relist nearly everything I’ve read this year, I haven’t honestly had that many misses – but I will, of course at the time, have written my true feelings review so if you are not on this list or the next one it is not indicative of anything. I would like to shout out a HUGE thanks to all the brilliant authors whose words I have devoured this year so far. And I still have a month to go.

So the best of the rest:

Well of course in any normal year the undoubtedly talented Chris Whitaker would have my no 1 spot because nobody NOBODY writes like he does. Tall Oaks had my No 1 last year – this year, our friendship having developed to the point that putting All The Wicked Girls in my Top Ten would feel like nepotism, instead I’m giving him the first and the most important best of the rest spot. All the Wicked Girls is quite simply a stunning piece of literature. Read it, love it, you won’t be able to help it. Read my review here.

 

Our Kind of Cruelty from Araminta Hall is my pick of the psychological thrillers I’ve read this year, a twisted tale with a sympathetic yet dangerous main protagonist and a book that makes you think it is doing one thing when actually it is doing quite another. Out in 2018 any fan of this genre should be putting it on their must have list. Read my review here.

 

 

Matthew Blakstad’s Lucky Ghost is another rock and roll novel and a truly brilliant follow up to Sockpuppet – I call him the punk rocker of the writing world because the prose is banging good, the storytelling addictive and clever and if you haven’t read these yet then you should. Any other year of course this would be top ten…but every year those decisions get harder. Don’t miss Lucky Ghost though. Read my review here. 

 

I read both of this books within this year’s time frame and the Matt Hunter series from The Rev (as I call him) Peter Laws is definitely one to watch. Scary, witty, dark as you like, you should read these with the lights on or preferably during the day if you can – otherwise you never know what might jump out at you. These come very highly recommended from me. Read my Unleashed review here.

 

Colette McBeth’s An Act Of Silence is an intuitively insightful piece of storytelling that has a psychological thriller tone but actually does so much more than that. Her best novel to date, I devoured it in huge chunks of reading time and it was an emotionally affecting read that has stayed with me. Read my review here.

 

 

Sarah Stovell’s “Exquisite” IS Exquisite both in writing and in immersive, cleverly obfuscated plotting with two dangerously engaging women playing a cat and mouse game that is totally unpredictable. Read it in one sitting then ponder it for days. That is how it gets you. Don’t miss it. Read my review here.

 

Three top Fantasy reads right here – each one getting my blood up at various times of the year. LOVED them all and I wish that I could just put them all in the top slots but I can’t (Maybe I’ll do a top 100 next year!) Different reasons but same recommendation here. Age of Assassins and it’s top notch plotting, Godblind and it’s tendency to make you grimace whilst desperate for the next chapter and The Tethered Mage with it’s brilliantly drawn politics are just simply wonderful reads.

 

 

Three of the twistiest tales for you now – Gillian McAllister’s brilliantly speculative sliding doors with death novel Anything you Do Say, Corrie Jackson fast catching up to the queen of the twisty tale Sophie Hannah with her brilliantly unpredictable “The Perfect Victim” and of course then Sophie Hannah herself with the undoubtedly clever Did You See Melody? 

 

 

Three literary delights for you now – The emotionally resonant and beautiful “The Immortalists” from Chloe Benjamin, M L Rio’s Shakespearean inspired dark tale “If We Were Villains” and Paul Bassett Davies with the darkly comic “Dead Writers in Rehab” – honestly don’t miss any of these.

 

 

The Young Adults have had a great year – here are three of my top picks but I could have had many many more.  Sara Holland’s Everless is so addictive and promises much more to come, Emily Suvada’s  This Mortal Coil was fast, furious and brilliant and Karen M McManus wrote the twistiest tale I’ve ever seen outside of adult psychological thrillers with the genuinely unpredictable “One Of Us is Lying”  Whatever age you are go pick at least one of these up!

 

 

The best of the rest of the best of the rest in crime for me this year – Amer Anwar’s incredibly insightful and highly entertaining “Western Fringes” then Emma Viskic’s “Resurrection Bay” which had me sitting engrossed for an entire afternoon and has a terrific main protagonist and I CERTAINLY couldn’t do a top book round up without including James Hazel’s “The Mayfly” which may make you shiver and is probably my favourite one sitting read of the year. You just can’t look away!

 

 

Need a thrilling thriller? Look no further. Adam Hamdy’s follow up to Pendulum which is twice as fast and ups the ante “Freefall” will have you on the edge of your seat. Haylen Beck (AKA Stuart Neville) and the psychological thrill ride that is Here and Gone will steal a few hours of your life and finally batten down the hatches with one from my favourite thriller series featuring the extremely cold but really very hot anti-hero Victor, Tom Wood’s “The Final Hour”. 

 

 

Some top legal eagles now with lawyers turned writers who are in my top “most entertaining reads” category when it comes to crime – Try William McIntyre’s “Last Will” with his funny Scottish main protagonist and wittily brilliant plots, then of  course I cannot EVER miss the incredibly talented Steve Cavanagh and Eddie Flynn with The Liar another edge of the seat rock and roll legal thriller – finally well we know he’s one of my top 5 favourite authors when he’s behaving himself and Neil White’s “From the Shadows” started off his new series in his usual indomitably excellent style.

 

 

Wow. That’s 28 brilliant reads. No wonder my Top Ten was so hard to pin down this year. Perhaps then just two more to round it up to a even 30 I mean why not? Maybe a couple that I just fell in love with for no really good reason whatsoever…

Rowan Coleman broke my heart and made me melancholy happy with her brilliant, gorgeous and heartfelt tale “The Summer of Impossible Things” – then we have Matt Haig’s “How to Stop Time” which is a wonderfully full of heart story about a man who lives a long long long life. These two actually go together well – I could easily recommend that you pick them both up and hunker down for a weekend in front of the fire and just lose yourself in the beautiful writing and magical heart of both these stories, written by true storytellers.

There that is your lot for now. Find out on FRIDAY which books made my top ten reads of 2017 – although like this list, you’ll have to wait to get your hands on one or two – It was genuinely almost impossible to pick both those and these – every year the talent grows, the reads get better and if you search for my “Ones to Watch in 2018” posts you’ll get a feel for how difficult it will be to pick next year too. Every single book mentioned here could easily have been in my Top Ten and many that are not mentioned here could have been too. But this is Best of the Rest – I hope you find something to love.

Happy Reading!

 

Latest Reads: Clockwork City Paul Crilley

Publication Date: 14th December from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Review Copy

Cop. Drunkard. Low-grade magic user. My name is Gideon Tau, but most people just call me London.

Three years ago, someone killed my daughter. I sacrificed everything to learn his name – and then allowed that knowledge to be erased from my mind.

It was for a good cause: I was saving the world, after all.

But now I have to start over from scratch, with only my boss and my dog to help me find my daughter’s killer. The reanimated corpse of my boss, and my alcoholic, foul-mouthed demonic sidekick dog, that is.

Our journey will take us from Durban, South Africa to London, England.

And once we’re there… well, if things seemed dark before, they’re about to get a lot darker.

I LOVED Poison City the first novel in the “Delphic Division” series from Paul Crilley – but now I’ve read Clockwork City and I loved that more. MORE. It was pure, utter brilliance.

Fiendishly funny, yet incredibly dark, Paul Crilley is the king of dastardly dialogue and brilliantly awe inspiring action, all tempered with an emotional core that really digs into your heart. Clockwork City is fast and furious, set in a world where a wary peace is kept between humans and others by the Delphic Division – a force for good or, erm, a kind of rash and random group of people who do their godarn best.

We follow Gideon (more commonly known as London because that’s where he’s from, clever huh?)  and his Dog (Oh Dog please come and live with me) plus some usual suspects from Poison City and a few new faces as they attempt to save actual London from a rather nasty looking doom. A missing oracle, some nefarious Faeries, a city in magical mayhem and an attempt to open a jail that really should stay shut are all in the mix here and it is beautiful, madly addictive, incredibly well written chaos.

The characters pop from the page, they are all so brilliantly drawn, I especially adore Armitage, but Gideon Tau is a truly remarkable creation, with his quest to find his daughter whilst trying not to destroy the world in the process . That theme continues in Clockwork City, all interspersed with the current big problem, some foreshadowing and an ending that made me practically leap from my seat – YOU CAN’T DO THAT – but yeah he just did, so my loyalty to this particular series is now solidly set – please don’t make me wait too long for more I shall get incredibly grumpy.

Creative, hilarious and dastardly – that is Clockwork City. Don’t miss it.

Highly Recommended.

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The Deaths of December Susi Holliday. Blog Tour Extract.

Today (better late than never!) I am VERY happy to offer an extract from Susi Holliday’s brilliantly fiendish and festive novel The Deaths of December. Please be careful with your advent calendars this year….

The Deaths of December…

Prologue – The Photographer.

There’s an art to taking the perfect photograph. It’s too easy now – all those camera phones, those built-in filters. People snapping pics of their artfully arranged lunch, taking selfies in changing rooms – all twisted and pouty, angled down so you can’t see the chins, overexposed so you can’t see the wrinkles. That’s not art. Art is real. Art is the lines around an old woman’s eyes that tell a story without words. Art is sitting on a freezing cold bench in the darkness, waiting patiently for the sun to rise.

Grabbing that photo when the clouds are sitting softly, in perfect formation. Art takes effort. I still use a 35mm camera. I know they say that DSLRs and the like are just as good, but they aren’t. Digital is all very well, for convenience and sharing and all that kind of thing, but what you gain in the convenience, you lose in the essence. You need to feel. No matter what the situation, what’s going on with your own life, where you’ve got to be. You need to give your subject your full attention. Nurture them as much as you can. Even if all you’re doing is waiting for them to stop something, or start something new. Waiting for them to relax. To forget the camera is there. Sometimes you don’t even know you’ve got the perfect image until it’s developed. When you pull that sheet of paper through the fluid, carefully letting the liquid coat the film. You have to be patient, waiting for the picture to appear.

Hanging it up to dry. Waiting. Always waiting. It was difficult, at first. But I wasn’t going to give up on it. It’s like a calling. I have a job to do. This one took a lot longer than I expected. I had to wait almost ten minutes, keeping the camera poised and ready, but aware of my surroundings, of the danger. Feeling my heart thumping in my chest, trying not to breathe. Hoping that it would happen soon, and when it did, the fear drifted away, just long enough to allow me to adjust the lens one final time. Zooming in, getting the close-up. Click and wind. Then back out, for the entire, perfect scene.

Click and wind. The centrepiece of this one is red. A dark floral stain against the shocking white of the carpet. The image in the viewfinder is framed by the pale furniture, the delicately painted walls. Just off centre, a figure lies. Half curled, where he has attempted the foetal position. Seeking comfort at the end. Next to him, creeping towards me as if trying to escape its useless host: blood. So much blood. I feel an ache of sadness, but I push it away. I can’t let it crush me. I can’t let it stop me from doing my job. There is a special kind of silence, at the end. ‘I’m sorry,’ I whisper, as I close the door behind me and step outside into the icy white dark. Cold air against my hot cheeks. Calming. It took me a long time to perfect my art. But you know what they say. Practice makes perfect.

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Ones To Watch in 2018. Come and Find Me Sarah Hilary.

Publication Date: March 2018 from Headline

Source: Netgalley

On the surface, Lara Chorley and Ruth Hull have nothing in common, other than their infatuation with Michael Vokey. Each is writing to a sadistic inmate, sharing her secrets, whispering her worst fears, craving his attention.

DI Marnie Rome understands obsession. She’s finding it hard to give up her own addiction to a dangerous man: her foster brother, Stephen Keele. She wasn’t able to save her parents from Stephen. She lives with that guilt every day.

As the hunt for Vokey gathers pace, Marnie fears one of the women may have found him – and is about to pay the ultimate price.

So 3 hours and 24 minutes of reading time later and I’m done with Come and Find Me – Marnie Rome book 5 (How the heck did THAT happen, I still have my much loved little proof of a certain book called Someone Else’s Skin) and with this one Sarah Hilary has belted it out of the ballpark and all the way to the moon.

For me this was the best one yet, all the sense and the feeling that you have come to expect with an added darkness that is intriguingly gripping – I devoured it, felt it in my bones from the moment I started reading until the moment I reached the emotionally traumatic end game…

It’s not so much about who did what but about the underneath of everything – how looking at something doesn’t mean you see it, not only within the events of the novel but within the characters. A prison riot, an escapee, an obvious line to follow but even more so than the previous Marnie stories the psychology of it all comes into play with devastating results. Things also move on for our main players, in REALLY TRAUMATIC WAYS and if you are reading this Sarah Hilary we may have to have words about that bit at the end. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN don’t try and hide. I’m still slightly sobbing.

The writing is divine, having a quietly impacting resonance, the plotting is taut and somewhat terrifying, your sense of the people and the places gaining momentum with each passing chapter. It is addictive, unpredictable and criminally clever, there’s not that many writers writing at this level out there.

I don’t really want to call the Marnie Rome book police procedural’s anymore – although the series seems to generate that genre tag – if I had to describe them, in a vacuum, I’d call them psychological crime drama’s. In fact why WHY this is  not a tv show already, I really can’t understand, it would lend itself so well to the screen, almost as well as it does to the page.

(As an aside, I spoke to Chris Whitaker earlier when I was concerned I couldn’t find the words to say how good Come and Find Me is. He said “Just tell Sarah I love her. That’s all she needs to know” I said I’d put that in here and now I have…)

Come and find Sarah Hilary’s novels if you have not already. And if you have and are waiting for this one then batten down the hatches. You ain’t seen nothing yet…

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Best Friends Forever Margot Hunt.

Publication Date: 23rd January 2018 from HQ Digital

Source: Netgalley

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all. 

I’m right back into my psychological thrillers right now having had a bit of a meh time about them where I felt I was reading the same story over and over again, so I made it a mission to seek out the ones that can surprise me. If you surprise me you get Brownie points. They are not worth anything but you know, it is fun for me.

Best Friends Forever did manage to surprise me. As well as that it was a brilliant page turner, with a couple of cleverly drawn main protagonists, a supporting cast of possibly nefarious bystanders and the story of one true friendship. Told from the point of view of Alice, who appreciates the light that friend Kat brings into her mundane family life, giving her a break, she begins to realise that perhaps Kat is not QUITE as friendly as she seems..

It is very gripping as we see the present Alice being interviewed by the police and the past Alice meeting Kat, becoming friends, all the ways their lives entwine – but underneath it all it is just a little off, not quite as bright and bubbly as it appears. Margot Hunt layers it well, genuinely keeping you guessing, especially in relation to the psychology of everyone in this – from Kat to Alice, from both the husbands to the extended family – in the end the outcome is highly effective and yes, unexpected although maybe not on the level you would think.

I like the clever ones. I like the ones that keep you reading  bleary eyed into the night to see if what happens and if you’ve guessed correctly. I like the ones with characters that stand out and are not carbon copies of the last book you read in this genre. Best Friends forever scores highly on all of those therefore I will happily highly recommend it.

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Can You Keep A Secret Karen Perry. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Penguin (kindle) Paperback 30th November. 

Source: Review Copy

It’s time for a reunion

Lindsey hasn’t spoken to Rachael in twenty years, not since her brother’s 18th birthday party at their parents’ remote country house. A night that shattered so many friendships – and left Rachel’s father dead.

Now Thornbury Hall is up for sale, and the old gang are back there, together again. A weekend to say goodbye to the old place, to talk about the past. But twenty years of secrets aren’t given up lightly. Some won’t speak about what happened that night. While others want to ensure that no one does. Surviving the weekend is going to depend on whether you can keep a secret . . 

This is one of those types of stories that I love – school secrets shedding their skin in adult lives – the past/present colliding in dreadful and compelling ways – and with “Can You Keep A Secret?” the writing team that is Karen Perry have come up with a corker.

Genuinely absorbing the author takes us through the relationships between a group school friends, the impressive home of one of them forms its own character in the background – a tragedy at a party has repercussions years later as the friends gather once more to say goodbye to that home before it is sold. This is almost like a Shakespearean tragedy unfolding as events take on new meaning and the true nature of what went on both in reality and in mindset back then come to light. Through the voice of main protagonist Rachel, this is a twisty tale indeed and often actually surprising.

Using the past/present vibe to excellent effect, Can You Keep A Secret weaves a complex web of misconceptions and lies, a character driven narrative that unravels each event slowly but surely until you have an entire picture. Not always predictable, it is one of those page turning stories that keeps you immersed into the lives of these people and stays with you once you are done with it. All in all an excellent and often thought provoking read.

Recommended.

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Latest Reads- The Blinds Adam Sternbergh.

Publication Date: February 2018 from Faber (available Now on Kindle)

Source: Review Copy

Imagine a place populated by criminals – people plucked from their lives, with their memories altered, who’ve been granted new identities and a second chance. Welcome to The Blinds, a dusty town in rural Texas populated by misfits who don’t know if they’ve perpetrated a crime or just witnessed one. All they do know is that they opted into the programme and that if they try to leave, they will end up dead.

For eight years, Sheriff Calvin Cooper has kept an uneasy peace – but after a suicide and a murder in quick succession, the town’s residents revolt. Cooper has his own secrets to protect, so when his new deputy starts digging, he needs to keep one step ahead of her – and the mysterious outsiders who threaten to tear the whole place down. The more he learns, the more the hard truth is revealed: The Blinds is no sleepy hideaway, it’s simmering with violence and deception, heartbreak and betrayal, and it’s fit to burst.

Having been a HUGE fan of both Shovel Ready and Near Enemy from this author to say I was very happy to see “The Blinds” land on the doormat would be putting it mildly. Turns out, although this is very different, I loved it just as much, cleverly imaginative with some top notch divisive characters and a real western vibe about it that I adored.

The Blinds is a town like no other. Part prison, although you can leave if you wish and part social experiment, it houses ex criminals (or possibly witnesses) who have no idea what crime they may have committed. Having had a partial or full memory wipe prior to arriving they all live in sort of a little social bubble, a community both divided and united, cut off completely from the outside world. Into this we come, just after a suicide and a murder – destroying the uneasy peace and creating all kinds of questions for Sheriff Calvin Cooper..

This is a rocking good read, providing both mystery and a hugely thought provoking central theme. Nobody in this story is exactly who they appear to be, nothing is exactly as it looks and as each new day unfolds new events and new revelations abound. It is an addictive and intelligently woven tale which is also utterly gripping. I was riveted by the idea’s entertained here, got emotionally involved with all the characters and was actually bereft when I finished it and had to leave them all.

The characters pop, the setting is claustrophobic yet wide reaching and the writing is, as before with Adam Sternbergh, unique in style and strong in substance – beautifully immersing the reader into the moment. I loved it. I’m a fan. I also couldn’t help but think what a binge worthy Netflix show this would make. If only wishing made it so…

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The Binding Song Elodie Harper

Publication Date: Available Now from Mulholland

Source: Purchased Copy

Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls.

A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared – along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins.

Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels.

Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts…

The Binding Song is brilliantly compelling, eminently creepy and one of those books that has you looking over your shoulder and eyeing strangers oddly as if they might suddenly leap up and shout BOO.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, the story is utterly riveting, also extraordinarily haunting as you follow Janet, new recruit at Halvergate prison, trying to untangle the web of deceit left behind by her predecessor. Something evil stalks the corridors here but is it  a human evil or something beyond our knowledge of the world?  Well that is the question….

Elodie Harper keeps things off kilter as she explores some of the darkest minds, not all of them belonging to the prisoners. There is a real sense of menace pervading the narrative that creeps up on you unexpectedly and the play between the real and imagined is cleverly manipulated so you are not sure what to believe. Terrific writing with a real storytelling talent, The Binding Song is highly addictive and likely to keep you up at night so you can just read that one more chapter.

The ending is perfectly placed to match the feel of the rest of the novel, eerie and memorable, one of those that stays with you and leaves you pondering the state between fantasy and reality. I loved it. Unsettling and enthralling.

Overall a truly excellent debut that promises so much for the future. I can’t wait to see what Elodie Harper writes next. Stephen King should probably start upping his game…

Highly Recommended.

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