Category Archives: Authors M to O

Reviews by author surname M to O

Blog Tour – Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister *Review*

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister and sharing my review. 

The Blurb

Gone Girl meets Sliding Doors in this edge-of-your-seat thriller

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

My Thoughts

Having really enjoyed McAllister’s debut novel Everything But The Truth I was eager to read her next novel Anything You Do Say. McAllister has definitely proved herself as a talented writer and an author who has a great career ahead of her.

Anything You Do Say is narrated in first person by main character Joanna Oliva. Following a night out with her friend in which a man in the pub has become a little too ‘friendly’ Joanna, who usually avoids making decisions, finds herself having to make the biggest decision of her life. On her way home Joanna believes she is being followed by the creep from the pub and as he gets closer she pushes him down some steps. As his body lies at the bottom of the steps Joanna has to decide whether she will stay and call for help or run and keep quiet about it.

McAllister presents both outcomes to us as Anything You Do Say is split into alternating chapters of Reveal and Conceal. We follow Joanna through the outcome of each decision and see the impact that both have on her life and the lives of her family and friends. This could have the potential of becoming complicated and muddled but McAllister pulls it off perfectly. It works incredibly well and makes the book really compelling. Each chapter is flawlessly crafted and the fact that each alternating chapter tells one half of the story makes Anything You Do Say really difficult to put down.

I loved the moral aspect of Anything You Do Say and this would make a great book for a reading group as there is so much to discuss. McAllister has considered every possible outcome for the two scenarios and this is a book that really gets you thinking. I was also emotionally moved as the consequences of both outcomes are heart breaking. I spent quite a lot of time trying to decide whether the fall out was worse for concealing or revealing and for me I found concealing the hardest to take.

Anything You Do Say is a wonderful book. It is meticulously plotted, well written and offers something unique to the psychological thriller genre. I loved it and highly recommend it.

Published on  eBook on 19 October 2016 and paperback on 25 January 2018 by paperback.

A huge thank you to Gillian McAllister and Penguin for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the rest of the tour…

 

 

 

Review – The Girl From The Sugar Plantation by Sharon Maas

The Blurb

An unputdownable story of a woman in search of the truth, the man she falls in love with, and the devastation of the Second World War.

1934, Guyana. All her life, Mary Grace has wanted to know the truth about who her parents really are. As the mixed-race daughter of two white plantation owners, her childhood has been clouded by whispered rumours, and the circumstances of her birth have been kept a closely guarded secret…

Aunt Winnie is the only person Mary Grace can confide in. Feeling lost and lonely, her place in society uncertain, Mary Grace decides to forge her own path in the world. And she finds herself unexpectedly falling for charming and affluent Jock Campbell, a planter with revolutionary ideas.

But, with the onset of the Second World War, their lives will be changed forever. And Mary Grace and Jock will be faced with the hardest decision of all – to fight for freedom or to follow their hearts…

An utterly compelling and evocative story about the heart-breaking choices men and women had to make during a time of unimaginable change. Perfect for fans of The Secret Wife and Island of Secrets.

My Thoughts

It’s no secret that I adore Sharon Maas’s books, so when a new one comes out I am always very excited and eager to read it. There is always a sense of anticipation when picking up the new novel by one of your favourite authors; will it be as good as their previous novels? What if it doesn’t live up to expectations? Maas, however, delivers again and The Girl From The Sugar Plantation exceeded all my expectations.

The Girl From The Sugar Plantation is the third (and sadly final) part of The Quint Chronicles. It works perfectly as a standalone so don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two books. We follow Mary Grace (known as Grace) Smedley-Cox in British Guyana from 1935 to the 1960’s. Grace is the mixed-race daughter of two white plantation owners and, at the age of sixteen, she is desperate to know the truth behind her parentage. What follows is an epic story of family deceit, love and identity set against a stunning backdrop and yet there is much more to this book than that.

Maas, as always, has beautifully created the sense of place. You can see, smell and hear Guyana and you are completely transported there. The Guyanan sun was a welcome break from the somewhat dull British autumn months. You are on the plantations and in Georgetown while reading this book and, indeed, Maas’s other books in the series.

With a rich cast of characters, you cannot help but get completely absorbed in their lives. Grace is in an unusual situation in that she has status as the daughter of plantation owners but she is the ‘wrong’ skin colour during a time and in a place in which the colour of your skin determines your future and your standing. This gives The Girl From The Sugar Plantation that extra depth which makes the book all the more compelling.

Alongside the tale of family secrets and love is the tale of oppression and social change and it is this aspect that makes The Girl From The Sugar Plantation even more enjoyable for me. Maas has clearly carefully conducted her research and portrays this time of great change in Guyanan history with authenticity, skilfully mixing historical fact with fiction.

The political landscape The Girl From The Sugar Plantation is fascinating. I only realised on reading the Historical Notes that Jock Campbell actually existed and that there is very little written about this hero. Maas has done him and his family proud in her portrayal of him. It is comforting to know that in an often harsh and unequal world there are and have been people out there who have a social conscience and become a force for good.

I adored The Girl From The Sugar Plantation and recommend it highly. If you love books that contain exotic settings, family secrets and lies and historical fact you will enjoy this book. Maas has brought us a wonderfully written piece of historical fiction.

Published on 19 October 2017 by Bookouture.

A huge thank you to Sharon Maas, Bookouture and Netgalley for the advance copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

To read my reviews of Sharon’s other books and the Author Influences feature with her click HERE.

 

 

Blog Tour – The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan *Author Guest Post*

Welcome to my turn on The Doll House blog tour. I am delighted to have a great guest post by Phoebe Morgan on writing tips! I will hand you over to Pheobe and then tell you more about her debut novel.

My Top Three Writing Tips by Phoebe Morgan

1. Don’t try to edit as you go
It can be really hard as you write to resist the urge to correct every sentence as soon as it’s down on the page, but my advice would be to try not to do this. Instead, keep writing, and once you have a first draft, you can then go back and edit it as much as you like! If you keep stopping and going back after every new paragraph, you will find that your manuscript progresses very slowly, and the chances are that you’ll end up changing it all again later anyway. No first draft is anywhere near perfect – far from it – but you will feel so much better psychologically when you have a body of work that you can then play around with. There is something about having the finished draft that takes some of the pressure off – and then you can begin sculpting it into the end product, which I often find more enjoyable than the initial scramble to get words on the page.

2. Know your characters’ backstories
In the first draft of The Doll House, the character of Mathilde had a whole backstory where we got to see her marriage, how she first met her husband and the different jobs she had as a young woman. During the editing process, all of that got cut out, but it didn’t really matter because I knew all about her life and so it made for a (hopefully!) more rounded, 3D character in the final draft. Even though the reader hadn’t seen her backstory, it was all fleshed out in my head and so I knew what kind of character I needed her to be. I think it’s always important to know your characters really well, so that their actions, thoughts and decisions ring true to your readers. I like plotting the characters out in spider diagrams before I write – just little things like their traits and hobbies, and even if that content doesn’t go in the book or only takes up a sentence or two, it just makes them into believable people on the page.

3. Don’t be scared to cut things out
When you’ve worked very hard on something, the idea of deleting great swathes can seem terrifying, and you’ll probably find that every instinct in your body is screaming out no! But it’s like that moment when you swim in the sea – you really don’t want to put your shoulders under but then when you do, it’s really fun and you’re glad you did. Once you actually start cutting out bits that aren’t adding to the pace, aren’t moving the story forwards or just aren’t of interest to a reader, you’ll find you get a bit of a buzz as you see your clean manuscript emerging in front of you, without all the unnecessary extra words that were weighing it down.

Thank you Phoebe for the great tips.

The Doll House Blurb

You never know who’s watching…

Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.

But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…

How does the stranger know so much about her life? How long have they been watching? And what are they waiting for…?

A gripping debut psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Perfect for fans of I See You and The Widow.

Published on 14 September by HQ Digital

A huge thank you to Phoebe Morgan and Helena Sheffield for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the est of the tour for more author guest posts and reviews…

 

Blog Tour – House of Spines by Michael J Malone *Review*

I am super excited to be on the House of Spines by Michael J Malone blog tour today with the fabulous Blue Book Balloon, and to finally be able to share my review of this bloomin’ brilliant book. I loved it! To find out why, read on…

The Blurb

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman …

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

My Thoughts

I have been eagerly anticipating this book, however, there is always a worry that a book you are desperate to read won’t live up to expectations especially when you have loved an author’s previous work as much as I loved Malone’s A Suitable Lie. I am pleased to say I had nothing to worry about as House of Spines is amazing and I adored it!

I do have one problem though, and that is how on earth to write this review and do House of Spines justice. Malone has combined so many things I love in one book and while I want to talk about it, I want readers to have the same experience I did in reading it for the first time. Talking about it is, therefore, difficult. I wish I was a member of a reading group that currently had House of Spines as their current read as there is so much to discuss.

House of Spines has everything you could want in a novel – the uncovering of closely held family secrets, a complex and damaged main character, a web of deceit and enough left to the reader’s interpretation to make you continue thinking about it long after you have closed the book for the final time. It also has the gothic elements I have loved since first discovering Wuthering Heights and Du Maurier as a teenager.

The prologue captured my attention immediately and literally begged me to read on. Simultaneously intriguing and moving, Malone has created the perfect introduction to main character Ranald. You just know there are going to be several layers to this man due to his experiences. I was with Ranald for every step of his journey – from him inheriting a house from the great uncle he never knew existed, to his unravelling and the position he ultimately finds himself in in the end. While there were moments I doubted him, I desperately wanted him to be okay.

My other favourite ‘character’ in House of Spines was Newton Hall – the property in which the book is named after. While Newton Hall cannot be classed as a character in the normal sense of the word, its importance to the book cannot be ignored. It has an omnipresence that is both disturbing and delightful. I found myself both loving Newton Hall and being repelled by it. I was in awe of it and yet nervous in its presence and about the impact it had on Ranald. I wanted the best for Ranald yet I also wanted the best for Newton Hall and being unsure if the two could go hand in hand, I wasn’t sure, if push came to shove, which of the two I would support. The energy Newton Hall emits, the secrets it harbours and Malone’s writing and conveyance of the two caused a mix of emotions within me. Newton Hall caused me much trepidation and yet I was enthralled by it.

House of Spines is a story of mistruths, mistrust and generational discord in which the most harmful aspects of being human are passed down from one relative to another. Whose version of events are to be believed continues to be a question I am mulling over days after reading. Malone incorporates the right amount of red herrings in order for the reader to be caught off guard and the distrust that lies amongst the characters of the book becomes a state the reader also finds themselves in.

Malone touches on mental health issues throughout House of Spines and deals with this with sensitivity and insight. It is a credit to Malone’s skills as a writer that he has managed to combine a current issue with a gripping psychological thriller while maintaining an otherworldly element and feel. Malone’s prose at times hit me right in the heart and you can clearly see the poet within him.

House of Spines will send shivers down your spine, leave you questioning, take you by surprise and mess with your emotions. Read it, it’s fantastic and will undoubtedly be included as one of my books of 2017.

Published on 15 September 2017 by Orenda Books.

About the Author

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

A massive thank you to Michael J Malone, Orenda Books and Anne Cater for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

Blog Tour – Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell *Author Guest Post and Review*

I am beyond excited to be kick starting the blog tour for Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell today. I loved A Man With One of Those Faces and The Day That Never Comes and could not wait to get my hands on this, the prequel. I’m delighted that Caimh joins me today with a brilliant guest post on the inspiration behind Angels in the Moonlight so, without further ado, I will tell you about the book, then hand you over to Caimh and finally share my thoughts. Enjoy!

The Blurb

For Detective Bunny McGarry, life is complicated, and it is about to get more so.

It’s 1999 and his hard-won reputation amongst Dublin’s criminal fraternity, for being a massive pain in the backside, is unfortunately shared by his bosses. His partner has a career-threatening gambling problem and, oh yeah, Bunny’s finally been given a crack at the big time. He is set the task of bringing down the most skilled and ruthless armed robbers in Irish history. So, the last thing he needs in his life is yet another complication.

Her name is Simone. She is smart, funny, talented and, well, complicated. When her shocking past turns up to threaten her and Bunny’s chance at a future, things get very complicated indeed. If the choice is upholding the law or protecting those he loves, which way will the big fella turn?

Angels in the Moonlight is the standalone prequel to Caimh McDonnell’s critically acclaimed Dublin Trilogy, and it is complicated.

Inspiration by Caimh McDonnell

It is one of the great truths of life that nobody has ever asked an accountant where they get their ideas from. People should start doing that, because it would take a lot of the heat off us authors. I’ve been asked that question a few times and, generally, I give some variation of a funny response that doesn’t answer the question. Nobody likes to answer that question, not least because there really is no satisfying answer. In all honesty, most of the time the ideas are just there in my head when I jump into the shower in the morning. Perhaps my subconscious has worked them out overnight, perhaps my brain reacts well to water, perhaps I do all my best thinking naked. Certainly, I seem to think more clearly when naked, even if the thought is ‘I should very definitely not have taken my clothes off here’.

Still though, for the first and probably last time ever, I have gone through latest novel, Angels in the Moonlight, and tried to identify, where possible, how I arrived at certain conclusions. What this has resulted in is a weird scrapbook of ideas that may make little or no sense, but if nothing else, it’ll make you think twice before asking that dreaded question of anyone, even your accountant.

Getting annoyed at Lethal Weapon
You know the famous scene in Lethal Weapon where Mel Gibson’s character is dealing with a man trying to jump off a building? He handcuffs himself to him and then they both jump. Here’s the thing – it is a great scene that makes absolutely no sense. There’s a big inflatable bouncy castle type thing below that they land on – how did the jumper not know that was there? I’ve never jumped off a building but I’m pretty sure that if I was going to, I’d be incredibly focused on the ground. That has bugged me for thirty years, the whole first scene of my book is essentially me doing a distinctly Dublin version of that scene, with no invisible bouncy castles anywhere to be seen or indeed not seen.

A benign cyst
Speaking of romance … I was once the proud owner of a benign cyst. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, the human body will occasionally grow these entirely harmless lumps that, though slightly alarming, have zero medical repercussions. It’s one of the ways that life reminds us that while the human body is a miracle, God could still have probably asked for a bit of help on the finishing touches or maybe done some beta testing. I had one on my back that my long-suffering wife was not a big fan of. She eventually talked me into getting it removed because it was bothering her she was concerned about it. Long story short, I then had an operation and a severely unpleasant reaction to anesthetic. There’s an instance in the book where one of the characters is about to go through that same operation. Essentially, I wrote that so I could bring it up again without my wife being allowed to roll her eyes and tell me to get over it.

Y2K
Some of you young’uns might not remember but back in the good old days (1999), we all thought the world was going to end due to a thing called the Millennium Bug – a very real and serious problem created by IT people that was going to cause planes to fall from the sky, all computers to stop working and my ma’s microwave to blow up so she had to unplug it and put it outside in the garden for safety. The only possible way to fix this was to pay IT people an awful lot of money – funny that. The best thing about it was if nothing happened they had done a brilliant job. This meant on January 1st 2000 the entire world felt a tremendous sense of anticlimax and started noticing the suspicious amount of IT consultants who now owned sports cars. I was working in IT at the time and while my compatriots were making out like bandits, I was spending my time reading endless articles on the internet about cults and predictions about how the world was going to end. Understand, I didn’t think it was going to end, I just developed an unhealthy fascination with those that did. I think I may’ve essentially set my book in 1999 just so I could share my obsession with one of my characters. Nothing is wasted – well, apart from if you gave away all your earthly possessions in the firm belief that the world was about to end, that is a bit of a waste.

Having re-read this, I think it is fair to say you could read the book (which I strongly suggest you do) and not have any idea what effect any of the above had on its creation. There’s an old saying in American politics, that laws are like sausages; it’s better if people don’t see how they’re made. I think we can now add novels to that list.

Thanks Caimh for the great post. Angels in the Moonlight certainly brought back fond memories of my mis-spent early adulthood in 1999 (and now I feel old!).

My Thoughts

Bunny is back! And I am bloomin’ glad he is! Angels in the Moonlight is the prequel to the brilliant Dublin Trilogy and it takes us back to 1999 when Bunny is still working as a detective. If you haven’t read the first two books in the trilogy Angels in the Moonlight is a great place to start (obviously … it’s a prequel!) and it is equally great for those who are familiar with and, let’s face it, love Bunny.

The first chapter is perfectly set. It incorporates drama and that all important acerbic Bunny wit. Angels in the Moonlight continues in this vein and, as you would expect from McDonnell, it has you doubled over with laughter while clinging to the edge of your seat. McDonnell continues to totally nail the crime/comedy aspect getting the blend of genres absolutely spot on. We see another layer, however, in Angels in the Moonlight as this is Bunny’s story and McDonnell answers the questions readers of the initial two books had about Bunny. We finally learn about – and meet – Simone; the woman who is often in Bunny’s thoughts in books one and two. Here McDonnell really demonstrates his writing skills as we see a softer side to Bunny, and McDonnell captures the emotions between him and Simone perfectly.

The characters throughout the book are fantastic. McDonnell’s descriptions of them are vivid and he really brings each one to life. I adored the nuns who appear in Angels in the Moonlight they are hilarious. There are always characters you want to see more of in the future in McDonnell’s books and this time, for me, it is definitely the nuns. The dynamics between the characters work wonderfully and ensures that you are completely engaged in the story.

McDonnell manages to make the more tedious aspects of detective work side-splittingly funny ensuring the plot moves along at speed while adding that realistic edge. Once you start Angels in the Moonlight you will find it difficult to drag yourself away from it.

Basically, Angels in the Moonlight is bloody brilliant. McDonnell doesn’t put a foot wrong and I urge everyone to read this (and the other two books if they haven’t already) as it is fantastic. Perfection on a page!

Published on 30 August 2017 by McFori Ink.

You can get your copy here:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

About the Author

Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.

He is a man who wears many hats. As well as being an author, he is an award-winning writer for TV, a stand-up comedian and ‘the voice’ of London Irish rugby club. His debut novel, A Man with One of Those Faces was released in 2016 and it is the first book of the Dublin Trilogy series. The follow-up, The Day That Never Comes was published in 2017. Both books are fast-paced crime thrillers set in Caimh’s home town of Dublin and they are laced with distinctly Irish acerbic wit.
Caimh’s TV writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series Pet Squad which he created.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Follow Caimh’s witterings on @Caimh
Facebook: @CaimhMcD

A huge thank you to Caimh McDonnell and Elaine Ofori at McFori Ink for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

 

 

 

Review – The Orphan of India by Sharon Maas

The Blurb

A lost child. A childless couple. Can they save each other?

Living on the streets of Bombay, Jyothi has no-one to turn to after her mother is involved in a tragic accident.

Monika and Jack Kingsley are desperate for a child of their own. On a trip to India, they fall in love with Jyothi and decide to adopt the orphan child.

The new family return to England, but Jyothi finds it difficult to adapt. As Monika and Jack’s relationship fractures, Jyothi is more alone than ever and music becomes her solace. But even when her extraordinary musical talent transforms into a promising career, Jyothi still doesn’t feel like she belongs. 

Then a turbulent love affair causes her to question everything. And Jyothi realises that before she can embrace her future, she must confront her past…

The Orphan of India is an utterly evocative and heart-wrenching novel that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Perfect for fans of Dinah Jefferies, Santa Montefiore and Diane Chamberlain.

My Thoughts

Sharon Maas has become my ‘go-to’ author when I need a break from thrillers and want a novel that delivers on an emotional and thought-provoking level while transporting me to a totally different place. So when the opportunity to read The Orphan of India came up I jumped at the chance. Maas has once again written a book that touches your heart.

Jyothi is a five-year-old Indian girl living in a small village with her parents when we first meet her in 1977. Her father’s work as a dhobi has come to an end when their regular customers purchase a washing machine. The family move to Bombay in the hope that her father will find work in The Dhobi Ghat. The story progresses as we follow the fate of Jyothi throughout her life as she suffers losses and goes on to be adopted and moves to Britain.

The Orphan of India is a multi-faceted book that beautifully conveys the themes of inter-racial adoption and identity. Clearly well researched and considered, Maas really gets to the heart of how Jyothi feels – all of the confusion, the feeling of not completely belonging and her trying to find her sense of self – along with the challenges faced by her adoptive parents and the reactions from those around them. Jyothi struggles throughout her childhood and into her adulthood with her sense of identity and turns to her musical talents to define her. Some of the most beautiful prose comes when Maas describes the relationship between Jyothi and music and you can clearly tell that she is writing about this from the heart.

The narrative structure of The Orphan of India is an interesting one. We follow Jack and Monika Kingsley at from their arrival into Bombay from Britain in 1978 as Monika works to set up a charity in India and the narrative takes place in third person. As Jyothi grows the narrative structure changes to that of first person from the perspective of Jyothi. This clearly defines each part of the book and the serves to set the different stages of Jyothi’s life and how her feelings grow and develop.

The Orphan of India is another wonderful book by Maas that has all the trademark thought and care that resonates throughout her work. A heart-rending, epic tale of loss and identity that gets into your heart.

Published on 28 June 2017 by Bookouture.

A huge thank you to Sharon Maas, Bookouture and Netgalley for the advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

Sharon recently took part in Author Influences … find out about her favourite books and authors HERE.

Review – You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood

The Blurb

An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder. Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence speech.
He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But he thinks that if he’s going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth.
There are eight pieces of evidence against him. As he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands. We, the reader – member of the jury – must keep an open mind till we hear the end of his story. His defence raises many questions… but at the end of the speeches, only one matters:
Did he do it?

My Thoughts

I like a good legal drama/thriller so You Don’t Know Me was always going to be a book I just had to read, and I was very intrigued by the premise of the reader being a member of the jury. On trial for murder, the unknown defendant sacks his barrister just before the closing speeches and closes the trial himself. His reason for doing this … his barrister had told him to omit the truth.

I loved the unique way You Don’t Know Me is narrated. Mahmood uses the second person throughout so you really get the sense of being a member of the jury as the main character addresses you throughout. Not an easy style to pull off but Mahmood manages it with ease. As the defendant describes his life on the periphery of gang culture, his voice comes across as authentic and genuine with the use of gang slang words. It is clear that Mahmood has undertaken a lot of research in order to make You Don’t Know Me believable.

We do not find out the name or age of the defendant and omitting these details from the book is something I really liked. It makes the narrator enigmatic and intriguing, allowing your imagination to rule, and your ideas and feelings towards them constantly change as the story is unveiled. It also serves to ensure you are guided completely by the story that the narrator is telling and not caught up in any assumptions about the narrator that may occur if these details and descriptions were made available. You are completely reliant on the points of evidence the prosecution team have put forward and the defendant’s explanation for them. Of course, it also fits in perfectly with the title.

Mahmood’s experience as a barrister shines through the pages and many questions are raised in respect of our current justice system. While the jury system represents a fair trial by your peers, can this ever truly be the case? As the narrator describes a life that I am aware of via the media but have no direct experience of, can a jury ever be truly representative of your peers? It therefore begs the question as to whether or not this is really a fair system. The manipulation of evidence by the prosecution and defence is also apparent throughout this book. The defendant fired his barrister as he wanted him to omit parts of the truth and yet we are told to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You Don’t Know Me also raises moral questions in relation to whether murder can ever be justified or understood. Mahmood has written a thought-provoking book as well as a great thriller.

As the defendant’s story progresses you are pulled wholeheartedly into the tale and what the defendant states is the truth about the murder. As all the pieces finally appear to fall into place I was shocked and stunned by the eventual conclusion. But can we believe what we have been told?

You Don’t Know Me is a great debut. Mahmood has written a thought-provoking page-turner that is unique, intriguing, believable and compelling. Guilty or innocent? What will your verdict be?

Published on 4 May 2017 by Michael Joseph.

A huge thank you to Imran Mahmood, Michael Joseph and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Blog Tour – Sleep Tight by Caroline Mitchell *Review*

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of the Sleep Tight blog tour today along with Sharon at Chapter In My Life and Claire at Crimebookjunkie. So what did I think of the second book in the Detective Ruby Preston series? Has Caroline Mitchell managed to pull off another cracking read? Read on to find out…

The Blurb

Close your eyes … Just pray you don’t wake up.

A killer stalks the streets of East London. All over the area, murdered young women are discovered, their bodies posed into a sickening recreation of fairytale princesses.

Detective Ruby Preston is determined to hunt down a disturbed individual who is using the women to realise their twisted fantasies. But when body parts are found at the home of her lover, Nathan Crosby, Ruby is torn between her job and her heart.

Convinced that he is being framed, Ruby must catch the killer before Nathan becomes the number one suspect. But as more victims are found, it becomes harder to prove his innocence.

Ruby is in too deep, knowing that the cruel individual is getting ever closer, looking for his next beautiful victim. But can she stop a killer hell-bent on fulfilling their horrific desires – before it’s too late? And how well does she really know the man she loves?

A terrifying, addictive serial killer thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, for readers of Angela Marsons, Peter James and Rachel Abbott.

My Thoughts

Detective Ruby Preston is back and I have to say I’m very pleased she is! I adored Love You To Death and couldn’t wait to get my mitts on the second in the series. I’m pleased to say that Mitchell has done it again with Sleep Tight and written another bloomin’ brilliant book.

Ruby has her work cut out for her as a serial killer is on the loose and bodies of young women are being discovered across East London. The case becomes personal when body parts are found at her on-off lover and gangster Nathan Crosby’s home.

Mitchell has written a macabre, twisted novel in which the bodies are dressed as fairy tale princesses. I love the way she has incorporated the fairy tales within the killer’s MO harking to the original dark stories told by the Grimm brothers. It makes the killings even more disturbing thus making Sleep Tight all the more thrilling.

I devoured this book in a matter of hours. The prologue is darkly enticing and creepy, and the pace that follows is unforgiving and relentless, forcing you to read ‘just one more’ chapter until, before you know it, you have finished the book. Mitchell takes you to the brink of thinking you have it all sussed out and then quickly pulls the rug from underneath you.

I really liked the character of Ruby with her complicated life in the first book and Sleep Tight has cemented my view of Ruby being a Detective to follow. The personal perspectives on police procedures, the investigation and interrogation give that real insight into how the job is viewed by those who undertake it every day adding that extra layer to the story. Mitchell’s previous life as a detective shines through and gives her work an authentic feel.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sleep Tight, it is fast-paced, creepy and nail-biting. Mitchell has created a fantastic follow-up to Love You To Death and I can see the Detective Ruby Preston series being a big hit with crime fiction fans. Read it, you will love it!

Published 20 April 2017 by Bookouture.

Purchase Links
UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2oFTxLj
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2npDVLY

About the Author

A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences.
Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. She now writes full time.
www.caroline-writes.com
https://www.facebook.com/CMitchellAuthor/
https://twitter.com/Caroline_writes

A huge thank you to Noelle at Bookouture and Caroline Mitchell for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Be sure to catch the rest of the fab bloggers on the tour…

 

Book Review – Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister

The Blurb

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister’s stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman’s compulsive need to uncover the truth.
It all started with the email.
Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.
But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.
Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

My Thoughts

I really love a book that makes you think beyond the storyline and Everything But The Truth, the debut novel by Gillian McAllister, is definitely one of those books. It’s going to be pretty tricky to say everything I want to in this review without giving any of the plot away but I will try. This is one of those books you are desperate to discuss with somebody else who has read it!

Everything But The Truth tells the story of Rachel who is pregnant with her first child to Jack; a man she has been in a relationship with for only a short period of time. Rachel begins to discover that the man she is involved with is not who she thinks he is. What follows is a tale of secrets, lies and insecurities which also has a psychological edge to it. Told over two timelines, switching with ease between the present and a year ago, it is told from the perspective of Rachel.

I had a feeling from the outset that I would enjoy this book as McAllister has chosen the following quote by H. Jackson Brown, Jr at the beginning of the book;

‘Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.’

The characters play an important part in this story and through the use of first person narrative the reader is privy to all of Rachel’s innermost feelings and thoughts and, therefore, her flaws. Her back story is drip-fed resulting in a feeling of anticipation throughout the novel. I found myself questioning how much I could rely on Rachel to accurately portray what was going on due to her own nuances. The result is that this is as much a story about the psychological effects of traumatic events as it is gripping domestic noir.

Add to this the moral dilemmas that are presented throughout—which had me constantly mulling over ‘what would I have done?—and McAllister has written a cracker of a psychological thriller that has that slow-burn I love so much. I was desperate to have a conversation about the book with somebody else who had read it to get another person’s perspective and thoughts.

McAllister has also written a gripping and compelling novel. I devoured Everything But The Truth in pursuit of finding out what that truth was and how things would work out for our main character. You are completely pulled into the novel from the very first line and the combination of prose, thought-provoking storylines and in-depth characterisation make this an accomplished debut.

Everything But The Truth is riveting, mentally stimulating and intelligently written; really giving the reader food for thought. It is a book to mull over and discuss. A highly recommended read and if this is anything to go by McAllister has a great career as a writer ahead of her.

Thank you to Gillian McAllister, Penguin Books (Michael Joseph) and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

Published on 9 March 2017 by Penguin Books (Michael Joseph).

Review – Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullen

The Blurb

The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI  Charlie Cameron was looking for.

But it wasn’t a stranger.

Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival. As Charlie is dragged deeper into Glasgow’s underbelly he goes up against notorious gangster Jimmy Rafferty and discovers what fear really is.

Rafferty is so ruthless even his own sons are terrified of him.

Now he wants Charlie to find something. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants.

There is only one problem…Charlie doesn’t know where it is.

My Thoughts

A dead body, missing money and Glasgow gangsters result in what could be Private Investigator Charlie Cameron’s most difficult case yet…not least because the dead body is that of an old friend and it has become personal!

Old Friends and New Enemies is the second book in the Charlie Cameron series. Initially I felt I had missed out as I have not read the first book The Games People Play and it took me a little while to get into the characters and the setting as I didn’t have the benefit of the backstory that had gone before in the previous book. However, as the book progressed I settled in, got to know the characters better, and it worked well as a standalone novel.

Charlie Cameron is a great character who I really warmed to. He has the right combination of being straight-forward with hidden depth which makes you want to get to know more about him. Mullen has created a great cast around Charlie in his friends which results in the reader feeling fully involved in their lives. I really liked the dynamics portrayed in the Rafferty family and Mullen has made the ‘bad guys’ gritty and two-dimensional with insights into their family and personalities. This always adds extra to the story as I always love to know more about the villains and their motivations.

Fast-paced with ‘Oh my God’ moments, Mullen writes well keeping up the momentum until the very end. With two investigations running concurrently, Mullen effectively keeps the reader’s interest with both until they reach their conclusions. There are also moments in the book in which Mullen writes about Charlie’s thoughts and feelings with a depth and sensitivity I wasn’t expecting.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, Old Friends and New Enemies is a great book with a protagonist I look forward to seeing more of. The Charlie Cameron series is set to become a firm favourite and I will definitely be reading The Games People Play, the first book in the series.

A huge thanks to Owen Mullen for my copy in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

Old Friends and New Enemies is published in paperback on 6 February 2017 and Ebook on 21 February 2017 by Bloodhound Books.



#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 3 – County: Glasgow