Category Archives: Blog Tours

Blog tours Bloomin’ Brilliant Books has participated in.

Blog Tour – The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye *Excerpt*

I’m delighted to be taking part in The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye blog tour today and I’m excited to be able to share an excerpt with you. There is also a giveaway in which you can win a signed copy!

Firstly, what is The Second Cup about?

The Blurb

Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye’s heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life.
With the fragility of life staring them in the face, Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and Faye her friendship with Ethan. And poor Olivia is questioning everything – including why Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest. Is she about to take her own life too?

As promised here is the excerpt. We’re introducing Abbie – one of the four main characters – and we catch up with her while she’s sitting in A&E waiting to find out how her friend Beth is after a suspected overdose.

So how does this praying thing work? I’m starting to wish I’d paid more attention when Beth went on one of her rants about her Catholic upbringing, as it would have put me in good stead for knowing what to do right now.

My closest friend has downed a bottle of Paracetamol and is lying the other side of a locked door that requires a keypad access code. I’ve been the other side of the keypad and it is no easier – although at least you have NHS staff on your side when you’re that side.

I have positioned myself on the row of plastic seats along the far wall so I can watch the comings and goings through said door without having to strain my neck muscles. But so far every raised chin has been greeted with nothing – no glance in my direction, no calling out “Beth Adam’s friend” or “Abbie? Abbie Tomlinson?” repeating your first name as part of some sort of ritual. I listen to the strange names being called out, finding myself adding a second surname to the announcements to make them even.

“Emily? Emily Paterson?”

“Paterson.”

“Robert? Robert Samuels?”

“Samuels.”

“Gobinda? Gobinda Mudri?”

“Mudri.”

I only catch myself doing it when I realise I’m saying them out loud and the person two seats away shifts further along the row, giving me a worried glance as they go. I want to scream “I’m not mental” at them, but that would make me seem the opposite. And I would also feel very guilty at the inference that there was something wrong with being mental when I’m sitting here waiting for the doctors to save my friend from an overdose.

And I’m sure my little habits and rituals are perfectly normal for someone who’s under as much stress as I am at work.

I just like things to be even. To be balanced.

I look up at the clock. I’ve not been here a full half-hour yet and yet I feel as if a day’s worth of energy has been drained out of me. I’m wondering if the clock is playing tricks on me, so I decide to stare at it and count along with the second hand – this time in my head so the lady a few seats down doesn’t feel she needs to move even further away. The full 60 seconds pass, as they should.

“Okay God,” I think, “If I can hold my breath and sit completely still for a full 60 seconds, you have to make Beth live.”

I wait until the second hand is at 12 and take a deep breath in – probably loud enough to scare the timid lady on my row, but I can’t look to check because sitting still is part of the pact. Time feels like it’s slowing down as the hand gets to 11. I watch – 56, 57, 58, 59, 60 – and then breathe out.

I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything worthy of saving a life. Maybe that was just a test pact and now I have to do another one. This might be how prayers work; why you have to say so many of them while you count rosary beads. You start off with a simple one and then build up to more complicated and challenging ones.

I shift on my plastic seat, massaging the ridges the edge has left mid-thigh on both legs. I take a few sips from the now-cold cup of coffee on the table ledge next to me. The temperature makes it no more or less drinkable as it was disgusting from the first mouthful, my brain immediately forgetting just how undrinkable it is, so each sip is a brand new shock to my taste buds. My brain is too busy willing Beth to stay alive to process information like “stop drinking because it tastes terrible”.

I’ve stretched and taken on more fluids, so I’m ready for my next challenge. Four is my lucky number. So maybe I need to hunt out for things in fours? Four is like your engine number, you breath in and out; your heart beats up and down. A four-stroke engine. It’s this four that powers you, so maybe if I find lots of fours it will be a sign that Beth is going to make it.

Scanning the room I notice four people with touchscreen phones out, ignoring the faded posters rather forlornly telling people to turn their phones off. I’m wondering if they’re all iPhones or Samsung, but I might be pushing my luck, so I check for other fours. There are four girls with ponytails. There are four noticeboards. There are four internal doors of the waiting room – if you don’t count the toilets.

There are four people with rucksack style bags. No, there are five, but one is close to the door and he’s put his bag on the floor – while the others are still wearing theirs. And he’s by the door, organising the content of his bag. I have to resist reaching out and kicking him with my leg to get him to go. C’mon. C’mon. And he’s gone. I can breathe again, even though I didn’t realise I was holding my breath. I hope it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t for 60 seconds. Maybe fours don’t matter after all, I tell myself.

We’re now a four – me, Beth, Olivia and Faye – but I preferred us more as a three.

Before Faye.

If that has whet your appetite for more you can purchase a copy of The Second Cup HERE.

Giveaway

There are three signed copies up for grabs and it is open internationally:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1975, to English Catholic parents. One of five daughters, to the outside world Sarah Marie’s childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing… until aged 9, when she was diagnosed with depression.
It’s a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision.
Now in her early 40s, and with an MA Creative Writing from London South Bank University (where she was the vice-chancellor’s scholarship holder), Sarah Marie has published her debut novel – about family, friendships and mental health.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/SarahMarieGraye

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Blog Tour – Hydra by Matt Wesolowski *Review*

I am so pleased it is finally my turn on the Hydra blog tour as I have been dying to shout about this book for what feels like an eternity. The much anticipated follow up to Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski is finally published this month and it’s fair to say that I liked it just a tad! So, here is what Hydra is about and my thoughts on it.

 

The Blurb

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will
speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.
King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as diminished as her legal team made out.
As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess…

Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.

My Thoughts

Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories was my book of 2017 and if I thought it was difficult to write a review to do Six Stories justice I once again have my work cut out reviewing Hydra. Quite simply, Hydra is to die for!

In 2014 Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and sister to death with a hammer and following her trial she has been incarcerated in a medium-secure mental health hospital. Once again, we find ourselves in the safe hands of Scott King, the creator of the Six Stories podcasts, as he sets out to explore if the diminished responsibility ruling that Arla’s defence team argued holds up. Through the interviewing of five witnesses and Arla herself, King attempts to unravel the events that resulted in the ‘Macleod Massacre’. I was instantly attracted to the premise of Hydra as it sparked off childhood memories of me reading about Lizzie Borden, the ’40 whacks’ poem about her and the kind of morbid fascination I had about the case. Wesolowski taps into the consciousness of the majority of people who seek to understand why some people go on to commit such horrific acts, making his books immediately interesting and compelling.

Demonstrating that he has his finger firmly on the button of what is happening in today’s society, Wesolowski draws on mental health, social media and the media to ensure that Hydra is a bang up to date thriller. It has a considered intelligence about it as he draws on such as issues as media sensationalism, the search for ‘blame’ in order to rationalise and explain the unexplainable – often in the wrong areas, think Marilyn Manson in Columbine and Child’s Play in the Bulger case – and the pervading nature of the internet in our lives. With social media Wesolowski immediately draws on one of my fears and coupled with the black-eyed children that play a part in the book, he had me looking over my shoulder as I read. Hydra is creepy as hell … and I’m not one who gets scared easily!

In terms of the prose, Wesolowski again skilfully ensures that the unique character of each voice shines through. Hydra is every inch as beautifully written as its predecessor, Six Stories, demonstrating that Wesolwski is no one trick pony but, indeed, a formidable talent. Hydra is every inch as fresh and current as his debut which will delight all those readers who have eagerly anticipated this book. Hydra literally pulses with atmosphere as you wind your way through the stories to its startling conclusion. Could I have possibly already found my favourite book of 2018?

Intelligent, thoughtful and damn scary, read Hydra with the big light on and not before bedtime! Absolutely bloody brilliant!

Published on 15 January 2018 by Orenda Books you can grab your copy HERE.

A huge thank you to Matt Wesolowski, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my advance copy of Hydra and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

About the Author

Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio…

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Blog Tour – The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor *Review*

I am delighted to be starting the New Year on The Chalk Man blog tour. This is the debut novel by C.J. Tudor and it’s a cracker! If this is a sign of things to come then 2018 is going to be a great year for books. So, here is what it’s about and what I thought of it.

The Blurb

None of us ever agreed on the exact beginning.
Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures, or when they started to appear on their own?
Was it the terrible accident?
Or when they found the first body?

My Thoughts

January 2018 has certainly started on a high with my first review of the year being for CJ Tudor’s debut novel The Chalk Man. It wasn’t what I was expecting and, if I’m honest, that’s a good thing as it meant I enjoyed Tudor’s debut novel even more. I have recently struggled with psychological thrillers which I put down to reading so many in a relatively short space of time, so I was a little concerned going into The Chalk Man that I would struggle with it. My worries quickly proved to be unfounded as I settled into this book immediately.

In The Chalk Man we meet Ed Adams who takes us on a journey back to 1986, a year in which his eyes were opened to the darker side of life and when he first encounters the Chalk Man. Tudor seamlessly switches between 2016 and 1986, ensuring that the reader is equally invested in both timelines. While there is a murder mystery at the heart of the book, The Chalk Man, for me, is a book about friendship and lost innocence.

In Ed and his four friends – Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo and Nicky – Tudor has created incredibly likeable, relatable characters and she has really brought them to life. On the brink of becoming teenagers in 1986, their reactions to the events that unfold are realistic, funny and really made me smile. Tudor has nailed the teenage attitudes and responses, ensuring that you warm to Ed and his group of friends. It reminded me in some ways of the film of Stephen King’s Stand By Me in the sense that it is, in part, a coming of age tale. Tudor does not shy away from topics that are hard-hitting as Ed and his friends discover that life and people are not always what they seem.

The chalk man drawings give the story a spooky edge and ensures that you are gripped and have to keep turning the pages to discover what happens. Set in a small town in which the inhabitants harbour secrets, there is a lot to enjoy in this book as Tudor navigates you around the murky underside of small town life, spooky goings-on and the ending … well, I most certainly wasn’t expecting that! Tudor ensured that The Chalk Man stayed with me long after I had finished reading.

A fantastic debut novel which I’m sure will be a big hit this year and rightly so. The Chalk Man is great book and Tudor is an author to keep an eye on in the future. 

A huge thank you to C.J. Tudor and Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for my advance copy for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Fancy reading The Chalk Man? Grab your copy HERE.

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Blog Tour – Twice The Speed Of Dark by Lulu Allison *Excerpt*

Today I am joining the blog tour for Lulu Allison’s Twice The Speed Of Dark and Lulu has kindly allowed me to share an excerpt with you. Firstly, what is the book about?

The Blurb

Caitlin, killed by violent boyfriend Ryan, tells her story from the perplexing realms of death. Ten years on, her mother Anna is still burdened by suppressed grief. Dismayed by the indifference in the news to people who die in distant war and terror, Anna writes portraits of the victims, trying to understand the real impact of their deaths. It is only through these acts of love for strangers that she can allow herself an emotional connection to the world. Anna’s uneasy equilibrium is disrupted when Ryan is released from prison. As her anger rises will Anna act on her desire for revenge, or will she find freedom at last from the terrible weight of grief? And will Caitlin reclaim herself from the brutality that killed her?

Excerpt from chapter one

It began on a morning much like this one, a cold and sunless day six years before and a little deeper into the winter. Christmas, itself a burden, had been passed with relative ease, though the relief of that was tarnished by the anticipation of the greater test to come. The most appalling of anniversaries was looming, a few small squares in the calendar away. Four years since Caitlin’s death, aged just nineteen. On this day, not long before the anniversary, she had not answered the phone or gone out. After cleaning already clean cupboards and shining already clear windows, she sat to read the paper. In her habitual, well-rehearsed way, she acknowledged the dead. There had been a bomb in a distant marketplace, one of several that day. A filament snagged and slowed the story down, her habitual soft focus pulled into unexpected sharpness. Somehow that detail caught her; a marketplace, perhaps the most domestic public space there is. People shopping for food, plastic buckets, scarves, aluminium pans. A place providing easy acquisition of the humbler tools of life: domestic wares, phone parts and gaudy cases, vinyl handbags, eggs, cabbages. Mothers buying an evening meal, teenagers shopping for the excitingly new and obligingly affordable. A man buying a bucket so he could clean his house. These ordinary people doing ordinary things, they would be the dead.

She thought of there being no dinner in some households, because the shopping never came back from the market. A husband whose anxiety makes him fear, as if seeming finally by prophecy rather than grinding habit, that his wife has been killed. A family who wouldn’t know for long hours where their father had gone. Somewhere in a town where death might just as easily come at the hands of a checkpoint soldier, a sniper, a drone. Somewhere in a world where escape from such horror resulted in thousands of drowned bodies day by day, as boats and brutal businessmen cast people to their fate in the deceptive, seductive glint of a blue sea that pretended to show the way to safety.

Over the next days, the people behind the numbers began to materialise when she picked over stories in the news. As she was standing at a supermarket checkout she was hit by a surge of connection to the others in the queue. They were ugly and beautiful, unkempt, elegant, all mixed. Their banal ordinariness for once caught her attention, linked them to those killed by bombs in markets in Iraq or by roadsides in Afghanistan. The young man with a backpack and scraggly beard, buying four hooped-together cans of lager and some broccoli and biscuits, trousers carelessly rolled above bare brown ankles. The woman with tired eyes and pink plastic earrings, grey showing at the roots of her black hair. The old man with beige slacks and an olive cap, a small brown shopping bag ready for his bread rolls and two bananas, a small shakiness in his hands. Anna felt a tender kind of love and sadness for them, those ordinary people caught there in a tiny moment of complex lives, as those killed were caught in what became the last moment of their lives, when a crude bomb exploded near enough to kill them. Any one of them, all of them, could be one of the bodies, a life behind the numbers. She made her way through the queue and looked intently at the young cashier, haunted by a sudden picture of her, dead amidst the rubble of a faraway town, her mouth open, small teeth exposed to the heat and dust of disaster. She felt the upwell of a sob, an echo that pulsed in her chest, an inappropriate urge to shield the unknown girl from a fate that was not hers, from any fate that meant her harm.

Sounds good, right? Twice The Speed Of Dark was published on eBook on 24 November 2017 by Unbound Digital. You can get your copy here.

A huge thank you to Lulu for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and fr allowing me to share this excerpt with you. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour.

Blog Tour – His Guilty Secret by Helene Fermont *Excerpt*

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for His Guilty Secret by Helene Fermont today and have an excerpt to share with you.

The Blurb

Secrets & Lies Are Dangerous

When Jacques’s body is discovered in a hotel room his wife, Patricia, suspects he has been hiding something from her.

Why was he found naked and who is the woman that visited his grave on the day of the funeral? Significantly, who is the unnamed beneficiary Jacques left a large sum of money to in his will and what is the reason her best friend, also Jacques’s sister, Coco, refuses to tell her what he confided to her?

Struggling to find out the truth, Patricia visits Malmö where her twin sister Jasmine lives and is married to her ex boyfriend. But the sisters relationship is toxic and when a family member dies shortly after, an old secret is revealed that shines a light on an event that took place on their tenth birthday.

As one revelation after another is revealed, Patricia is yet to discover her husband’s biggest secret and what ultimately cost him his life.

His Guilty Secret is an unafraid examination of the tangled bonds between siblings, the lengths we go to in protecting our wrongdoings, and the enduring psychological effects this has on the innocent…and the not so innocent.

Excerpt

He joined her at the window, a big white towel around his waist. “I love you just as much as her, you know? Perhaps things would have been different if it was just the two of us, you and me… but I’ve no regrets. Most people never get to meet one person to love and who loves them back. I’m extremely fortunate to have met and fallen in love with two such extraordinary women. If things weren’t as they are, you and Patricia would have enjoyed spending time together as friends. Of that I’m absolutely certain.”

Pushing his comment to the back of her mind, the woman took his hand as they returned to bed and made love a second time.

Much too soon it was time to get up and pack their things. They hadn’t brought much with them; both were acutely aware they never had the opportunity to spend more time than the bare minimum. She’d lied to her husband for years, saying an old school friend wanted to meet up with her at their home in Marseille.

Thank God for Milou, she thought. Without her I’d have no one to confide in and cover for me in case I’m found out or something happens to my preciousour precious gift. Reluctantly, she willed herself to focus on what little time they had left together.

She was in the shower when she heard him shout, “Tom’s arrived with our breakfast, it smells delicious!” She joined him soon after, having applied subtle makeup to hide the sorrow she carried in her eyes each time they parted.

The man reached for her hand. “We’ll find a way to meet again soon, just like we always do. Meanwhile, I rely on you to look after our special gift. Can you do it for us both? I’ve two regrets in life: one is that I’ve caused you much pain by refusing to divorce my wife; the second is that I never got to spend enough time with what matters most to us.”

Together they sat at the small table by the bed, drinking coffee and eating croissants, pretending they were okay and already looking forward to the next time they’d meet, usually in Paris after he finished a shift with Air France or in London before he returned home to his wife.

His Guilty Secret by Hélene Fermont is out on 27th November 2017 and will be available on Amazon.
For more information see helenefermont.com

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Blog Tour – Anything for Her by G J Minett *Excerpt*

I am delighted to be joining the blog tour for Anything for Her by GJ Minett today. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read the book but I’m excited to be able to share an excerpt with you today. Let’s face it, an excerpt is probably better than listening to me blah on about my thoughts! I will firstly tell you what the book is about and then on to the excerpt. So, grab a cuppa and enjoy.

The Blurb

A devilish psychological thriller from the widely loved GJ Minett, for fans of The Girl Before and Lie with Me.

You’d do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn’t you?

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her. He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago?

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing – reasons that might be more dangerous than she’s led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.

Excerpt

Matthew had a golf match scheduled for midday and was happy to leave them to it. He offered to give them a lift to Tenterden, suggesting they could get a taxi home. Mia’s Fiat was sitting there in the driveway and Billy wondered why they didn’t just take that. As if reading his mind, she launched into an obviously pre-rehearsed spiel about the brakes being a little unreliable lately and how she wouldn’t feel comfortable using it until she’d had them checked over. It sounded shaky, her swift glance at Matthew not lending any conviction to it whatsoever and it was difficult to escape the conclusion that the real problem was the prospect of Mia being behind the wheel. He thought of offering to drive instead but didn’t want to make her feel any more uncomfortable than she already was.

He found the Alpen halfway down the aisle, pondered over it for a few seconds and then opted for the Original rather than the No Added Sugar variety. Sod’s law said it would be the wrong one but he’d try to remember to check with her before they got to the checkout – always assuming he could find her in here. She’d gone off to queue at the deli counter ten minutes earlier and he hadn’t seen her since. The place was heaving.

He fetched the list out of the trolley and worked his way down it to see where he needed to go next.

‘Billy?’

He looked up, half-expecting it to be Mia standing there although even as he did so it dawned on him that the voice was wrong – familiar, yes . . . but not quite right. And the moment he realised who was standing there in front of him, this whole morning’s trip down memory lane took on an altogether different perspective. He was dumbstruck for a second or two in a way he’d have been the first to dismiss as a cliché in different circumstances. He stayed rooted to the spot for a moment, uncertain as to what would be the most appropriate way of greeting her, and it was only as she solved the problem for him by stepping forward and giving him a hug that his mouth finally managed to find his voice.

‘Aimi?’ he said.

Mia’s on her way back from the deli counter, trying to track down Billy and the trolley. She’s just rounded the corner at the far end of the aisle when she catches sight of him, locked in an embrace with someone she doesn’t recognise at first. She takes a few steps towards them but when they break apart and she has a chance to see who it is, she promptly turns on her heel and heads back in the opposite direction, hoping they won’t have noticed. All of a sudden, the washing products seem to offer an attractive alternative.

Has that whet your appetite? If so you don’t have long to wait. Anything For Her is published on eBook on 30 November 2017 and paperback on 22 March 2018 by Bonnier Zaffre.

A huge thank you to G J Minett and Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for allowing me to share an excerpt. Catch the rest of the tour…

Blog Tour – Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson *review*

I’m delighted to be taking part in today’s turn on the Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson blog tour with the fabulous Noelle at CrimeBookJunkie and I’m sharing my thoughts on the book with you.

The Blurb

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister  take place beneath the lighthouse and the old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór 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 the 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. Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

My Thoughts

I fell in love with this book at the prologue! Whiteout begins with a brief and beautiful prologue that perfectly sets the reader up for the mysteries and secrets that are to follow. Jónasson’s prose throughout is enchanting.

Whiteout is the fifth in the Dark Iceland series, however, it can be read equally well as a standalone. When the body of a young woman is found at the bottom of the cliffs in the desolate village of Kalfshamarvik, Ari Thór is called upon to investigate and determine if this was a suicide or something more sinister.

Whiteout reminded me of a classic crime novel with its emphasis on old school detective work rather than forensic science and that adds to the enjoyment and sheer pleasure you get from reading this book. It is solidly crafted and meticulously plotted. Red herrings abound and Jónasson keeps you on the back foot in regards to who can and cannot be trusted. I adored the characters in Whiteout as Ari Thór finds himself amongst the strange inhabitants of a village that has been largely abandoned. The cast are most definitely odd and, thus, utterly compelling. I found myself mesmerised by Whiteout – not something I usually get with crime fiction.

Whiteout is absolutely brimming with atmosphere and the setting plays an important part in the overall sense and structure of this book. The feelings of isolation and bleakness serve to add to the sinister undercurrent that runs throughout. Whiteout moves at a steady pace and is a book to be savoured rather than rushed through as you want to take in every word.

The perfect winter crime read, especially for fans of more golden age crime fiction, Whiteout is beautiful for a crime novel. Jónasson’s writing talent shines through and it has been translated to perfection by Quentin Bates. Grab yourself a steaming mug of hot chocolate, get cosy in front of the fire and immerse yourself within this stunning book.

Published on 1 November 2017 by Orenda Books.

A huge thank you to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

About the Author

Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.
His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after
publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting
the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 18
countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he
continues to work as a lawyer. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14
Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels
worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

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Blog Tour – The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne *excerpt*

Today I am taking part in the blog blitz for The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne and I’m delighted to be able to share with you a tantalising excerpt. First up, here’s what the book is about:

The Blurb

Billie is hiding from the world in fear of a man who nearly destroyed her. But a chance meeting with budding journalist, Adam, sparks a relationship that could free her from her life of isolation and fear.

Unbeknownst to Billie, Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives he believes she has ruined. But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him. As an unwanted attraction blossoms between them, Adam comes to realise that all is not as it seems.

Who is really pulling the strings? And are Adam and Billie both being played?

One thing is for sure, The Master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.

And to whet your appetite further, grab a coffee, put your feet up and enjoy this excerpt from the first chapter…

Chapter One Present Day – 2018
Billie

Billie stole down the street avoiding all eye contact and people.

Once a week, on Sunday, she braved the world to visit the bookstore not far from her flat. Once Upon a Time had thousands of books and a quaint little cafe; it was her haven. “Same as usual, love?” asked the elderly lady at the till.
“Err … yes, please,” whispered Billie, blushing bright red. She focused on her tray, the same hot chocolate and sandwich she had each time. She didn’t really like the sandwich but she felt silly just buying a drink.

“That’s five pounds fifty then please, love.” Avoiding her gaze, Billie handed over the money she had already got out in preparation. “Thank you,” Billie said, and scuttled off to the same table by the window that she always had. She liked this table because she could look out of the window at people hurrying down their way through their lives no one stopped or took their time any more. But if she didn’t fancy that, she could people watch in the cafe. It was a small, intimate place with a few tables and lots of quirky signs dotted around. Her favourite was ‘Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup’. Today, she watched two women through the gaps in her long red hair, shielding her gaze. They were at the table next to her, chattering about the possible affair that one of their husbands may or may not be having. She enjoyed these little snippets of society.
Some days she felt a pang of loneliness. No one would ever sit at this table with her. But mostly that was a relief. It wasn’t safe. People were dangerous.

She looked over at the lady who had served her. Her face was wrinkly with laughter lines, her smile wide and welcoming. White hair bounced cheerfully on her head as she moved. But Billie knew that appearances were deceiving. Nearly everyone wore a mask. No one was themselves any more, too afraid at being judged. Everyone had to fit in with what was ‘normal’.

Billie could just make out the lady’s name badge. Martha could easily be hiding something. She could be stealing children and cooking them just like the witch in Hansel and Gretel.

She shook her head trying to dislodge the feeling. It was no good thinking like this. It would only trigger memories of her past.

She went back to eating her food, surreptitiously watching the people around her. She could live through their lives. People watching was much safer than making actual connections.

At another table, a mother was helping her son with a jigsaw. She watched them and allowed herself to become absorbed in their lives. She wondered what the woman did. She was dressed haphazardly and appeared to be a full-time mum. The boy looked happy and content. Billie hoped his mum would keep him safe. That she wouldn’t abandon him when things got tough. That she wouldn’t put herself first.

She was distracted from her thoughts by a man who had entered the cafe. She watched as he made the rookie mistake of ordering his food without checking to see if there was a table free. For a moment, his black-clad body stiffened as he realised his mistake. But then, instead of putting his head down and scurrying away as she would have, he moved over to her table. Billie wanted to look away as he stared down at her with his unusual pale-green eyes, which were in perfect symmetry to his mouth. His stance exuded a sense of restless energy.

For the first time she could remember, she wasn’t scared. He stood there, devilishly handsome, and she was captivated.

A lock of his wavy blond hair fell casually on his forehead as he spoke. “Can I sit here?” Billie knew words weren’t going to come, so she just nodded.

He was calm, as if sitting next to strangers was normal. She couldn’t stop fidgeting, her eyes not knowing where to look.

Why was he sitting here?

He sat down and looked at her intently; his eyes were pale and unreadable. But then, as if she had passed some test, a smile broke across his face.

“So, how are you?” he said.

She didn’t reply straightaway, thrown by his familiar tone as if they knew each other.

“Err … Fine … Do I know you?” Blushing from head to toe she wracked her brain, trying to remember if he worked with her. She made a point of not talking to anyone outside work, and just kept her head down.

“Nope, never seen you before, just thought it would be rude not to talk,” he said. His smile widened and his face changed; a light came into his eyes and her pounding heartbeat lowered. She realised she was staring and quickly lowered her head.

“Okay,” she murmured into her shaking hands. She focused on them to calm herself. She’d always had fat fingers, but her fingernails were nice. Now she was grateful she’d managed to kick the habit of biting them.

“Are you texting someone for help? Is that why you keep looking down?” he said.

She looked up instantly, her face feeling redder still.

“I’m going to have to work on my image. I thought I’d mastered looking sweet and innocent but, from your reaction, I don’t think it’s working.” Despite herself, she smiled. Her stomach was fluttering.

“I don’t have a mobile.”

“How curious, are you also one of those loons that doesn’t have a television?” He visibly shuddered. “I’d rather sit on the floor if that’s the case. I don’t trust people who don’t watch TV; it’s unhealthy.”

She chuckled quietly, still unable to look him in the eye. “I have a TV.”

“Is it black and white?”
“No, it’s a regular TV.”
“Phew, that’s a relief, you had me worried then.”
She laughed as he flopped back in his chair in exaggerated relief. It was strange. Although she was wary and uncomfortable, it wasn’t as bad as it usually was.
She remembered her first week at her current job. She was staring out of the window, grateful to have a window seat, when one of her male colleagues came over to her.

“Hi, I’m Andy, you must be Billie?” His hand reached out to shake hers and she froze. She stared at it. The hand loomed over her and began to magnify. She could see every hair on it. His hand was massive and all she could think about was how easily it could crush hers.

Instead of shaking it, she got up and ran to the ladies’ bathroom. She went in a stall and was sick. From then on she never spoke to anyone unless she absolutely had to and no one spoke to her. She heard the muttered rumours that people said about her, but she didn’t listen to them. The only people she talked to regularly were customers on the phone, and they were only perfunctory conversations.

With the shock of this man’s arrival at her table wearing off, she was surprised how little she felt intimidated by him. Alarm bells had begun to ring in her head as soon as he had started talking to her but his relaxed manner and humour had put her at ease. She couldn’t remember the last time she had laughed with someone, let alone spoken comfortably.

Life had kicked Billie down. The only way she could exist safely in this world was to close herself off from the rest of humanity.

People were dangerous.

She had lived alone, with this mantra, for the last five years since leaving university. She had thought that she no longer felt loneliness, but this stranger was stirring feelings she didn’t know still existed.

“Although we still need to discuss the phone thing … I’ve never met someone who doesn’t have a phone. How do people get in touch with you?”

“I have no one that needs to get in touch with me.”
“No one? I don’t believe that. What about your parents?” She sucked in a painful breath and was reminded why she didn’t like to talk. People were nosey. They walked around quizzing people about their personal lives, believing they had the right to ask whatever they wanted. Life felt like one big interview and Billie hated it.

“I don’t have any, and before you ask, no siblings or any other relations; just me.” She hoped her sharp tone would make it clear that she did not want to talk about this anymore.

“Aw. Do you want to talk about it?”
She shook her head and added, “No.”
He was quiet for a moment, brow furrowed. Then his face brightened.
“What about work? They have to be able to contact you …?” “I have a neighbour; she has a phone that my work can call.” “You know you could just get a phone, don’t you?”
“I don’t want one.”
“Why?”
She floundered. How could she explain that such a simple question would require her life history to answer?
This was the most she’d spoken with anyone for a long time. His light tone and handsome smile had her mesmerized. She was considering telling him everything. She’d never told anyone the whole story and, until now, she hadn’t known she wanted to.

She realised she hadn’t answered him and she panicked. He must have seen it on her face because he changed the subject.

“So, can I know your name, or would you prefer crazy, beautiful, anti-phone lady?” The word beautiful echoed in her head. She felt sick. He was just like the rest. She got up quickly, sloshing his coffee on the table.

“I need to go, sorry.” She ran to the door and out of the cafe. Trying hard to beat down the memory of the last time someone had called her beautiful.

The Puppet Master was published on 13 November 2017 by Bloodhound Books. Follow the other bloggers on the blitz for reviews and author guest posts.

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…

 

 

 

Blog Tour – The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen *Review*

I am delighted to be one of today’s hosts for The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen and I’m finally sharing my review of this fab book. But first the all important blurb…

The Blurb

A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.
With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.

My Thoughts

I love a book with a cracking first line and Tuomainen’s The Man Who Died has one of THOSE first lines. It is both amusing and unexpected. It perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the book.

Jaakko is a successful mushroom farmer in Finland and is shocked when he finds out that he is dying. Not only is he dying but it is due to being poisoned. Jaakko embarks on a journey to discover who it is who wants him dead and discovers more secrets and lies than he expects.

I absolutely love Jaakko! Tuomainen has created an incredibly likeable, relatable character. You become completely at one with him and he is the sort of person I would love to have a pint with. Jaakko is incredibly human as we see his everyday concerns – such as having put on a bit of extra weight in his thirties – those things that we all, at times, worry about. His sardonic outlook and wry, dark wit appealed to me greatly. As somebody with a chronic illness who has had to adjust to certain limitations and symptoms, Jaakko’s outlook on his health and situation and how he deals with it really struck a chord with me. He manages to see the humour in his situation and The Man Who Died had me giggling out loud and nodding my head in agreement.

Tuomainen has also written a great mystery novel. As we join Jaakko on is journey to discover who is behind poisoning him we are treated to twists, turns and red herrings all set against a stunning backdrop. Tuomainen’s prose is, quite simply, gorgeous. It’s as though he has spent time carefully considering every word to ensure it fits and makes an impact and yet it flows effortlessly. As always with Orenda books, the translation by David Hackston is flawless.

The Man Who Died subverts being categorised into a genre. For me it is a book about the absurdity of living and dying and how we, as humans, deal with it. It’s almost philosophical in tone in that it makes you think about the ridiculousness of worrying about the minutiae of life – something we are probably all good at but which does us no favours.

Full of the darkest, wonderful humour and a gripping plot Tuomainen’s The Man Who Died is a fantastic read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Tuomainen’s abilty to pull off this departure from his usual writing and to pull it off with such skill is a testament to his talent as writer.

Published on 10 October 2017 by Orenda Books.

About the Author

Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. The Mine, published in 2016, was an international bestseller. All of his books have been optioned for TV/film. With his piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and The Man Who Died sees him at his
literary best.

A huge thank you to Antti Tuomainen, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the rest of the tour for more reviews and guest posts…