Blog Tour: The Old You by Louise Voss

the old you

I’m delighted to be able to share by review of The Old You by Louise Voss today as part of the blog tour.

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir.

A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller.

Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together.  Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words.  As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface… and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.

But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

At the start of the novel, Ed is diagnosed with Pick’s disease, a rare form of dementia.  The diagnosis comes as a shock to Lynn, although with hindsight she realises that he has been acting a little strangely in recent weeks, forgetting words and behaving increasingly out of character.  With no small amount of fear of what the illness will mean for Ed and their relationship, Lynn settles into this new life as best she can, wanting to make the most of their time together.  But as Ed’s illness progresses, Lynn finds herself questioning Ed’s behaviour, which varies from that of a forlorn, scared individual to a sinister, violent man.  But it’s just how the illness is developing, isn’t it?

I thought that Voss was incredibly clever in the way that she played out the “is it him or me” battle that is constantly going on in Lynn’s mind.  These situations can sometimes be a little overdone, but I thought that Voss got the balance exactly right, and it was very convincing.  My opinion changed constantly as to whether Ed was genuinely ill, and Lynn was letting paranoia and the stress of the situation get to her – completely understandable – or whether there was something much more sinister going on.

Lynn and Ed’s background is anything other than straightforward, and I loved the complexity of the situation and how they became a couple.  I won’t spoil it for you, but it was rather unexpected and wholly original, and this formed one of the many twists in the novel.  I liked that this background was only divulged later in the novel and through brief flashbacks, whilst most of the novel is told chronologically, and these few sections really helped to flesh out Lynn and Ed’s characters.

The Old You is an excellent domestic noir / psychological thriller, and whilst I’d like to say that I worked out was going on, I suspect that Voss was just very carefully drip-feeding hints so subtly that I didn’t realise that’s what they were at the time.  Whether my powers of detection are improving (doubtful) or not, there was still a magnificent twist that I didn’t see coming at all.  Recommended to fans of domestic noir.

The Old You was published in paperback by Orenda Books earlier this month and is also available to buy in a digital format and is currently available on Amazon Kindle for the bargain price of £0.99.  Many thanks to Anne Cater for the review copy and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour:

FINAL Old You blog poster 2018 copy

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Hunted by G. X. Todd

hunted

I adored G. X. Todd’s debut, Defender, and it was one of my top ten novels of 2017.  I’m sure it goes without saying that I was thrilled when my request to review the follow up, Hunted, via Netgalley was approved.  That said, I did experience some trepidation in reading the follow up to a novel that I loved, but I needn’t have worried – Hunted is excellent!

The birds are flying.  The birds are flocking.  The birds know where to find her.

One man is driven by a Voice that isn’t his.  It’s killing his sanity and wrestling with it over and over like a jackal with a bone.  He has one goal.

To find the girl with a Voice like his own.  She has no one to defend her now.  The hunt is on.

But in an Inn by the sea, a boy with no tongue and no Voice gathers his warriors.  Albus must find Lacey… before the Other does.  And finish the work his sister, Ruby began.

Hunted is the second book in the highly acclaimed Voices series, where the battle between Good and Evil rages on.  And on.

I don’t want to go into the plot in too much detail as I think that it would be all too easy to slip into spoiler territory but Hunted opens with something of a curveball.  I was expecting it to pick up where Defender left off, featuring those same characters that I grew to know and love.  Instead, it starts by introducing two groups of mostly new characters, one of which is led by a familiar face.  Both groups are hunting Lacey – for markedly different reasons – and for the first third or so of the novel the story alternates between these two groups, introducing the key players and providing the necessary background to allow the reader to understand their motivations.  I wasn’t sure what to make of this change at first, but I soon came to appreciate the shift in perspective.  It gives the novel a bit of a twist, and I enjoyed getting the perspective of the bad guys.  Additionally, it’s clear that certain characters introduced here have a significant role to play in the series, assuming they live long enough.

Given the need to introduce the new characters, the novel did start out a little slower than I was expecting, but there is still plenty of action as the reader comes to understand what these people have been through, and I found that the novel became increasingly tense as the two groups start getting closer to their target.  This allows Lacey and friends to make their entrance later in the novel, and I loved the way in which Lacey had grown and developed since Defender.  She’s so young, and this, combined with the relatively sheltered life that she’d lived before her journey began, gave her an innocent air bordering on naivety.  In Hunted, I felt that she had toughened up a great deal and had become less vulnerable, and whilst this is sad in some ways, I felt that it made her a more interesting character.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I love post-apocalyptic novels, and the harsher and bleaker the world the better.  This series fits the bill perfectly.  Todd’s world building is second to none, and her writing style is such that I found myself completely immersed in the setting – it’s so easily to visualise the narrative as it unfolds.  I really enjoyed finding out a little more about the voices in this novel, although with two instalments still to come, there are still some unanswered questions, and I’ve no real idea of where the story will head in book three, I just know that it will be brutal, and some people will die.  It’s Todd, after all.

Hunted is a brilliant novel in what is proving to be a brilliant series, and I really can’t wait for book three!

Hunted is published on 31 May by Headline.  Many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read and review this title via Netgalley.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

My Sweet Friend by H. A. Leuschel

my sweet friend

I enjoyed H. A. Leuschel’s collection of short stories, Manipulated Lives, and I was really pleased when she offered me the chance to read and review her latest novella, My Sweet Friend.

A perfect friend… or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack.  She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction.  Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them?  Can first impressions ever be trusted?

Like Manipulated Lives, My Sweet Friend focuses on the affect that a manipulator can have on those around them, why those being manipulated might not realise immediately, and why they may try to excuse the manipulator’s behaviour.  It’s a topic that Leuschel knows extremely well through her studies, and this comes through in this novella (and her short story collection) with authentic characters and situations.

Throughout, I found myself wondering how I would react to the situation between Rosie, Alexa, and Jack.  I like to think that I wouldn’t have allowed it to go so far (I like to think that I wouldn’t be in such a situation at all!) and yet I think it’s human nature to forgive to a certain extent, to not rock the boat too much and it’s this facet of human behaviour that manipulators seek to take advantage of.  I thought that this was cleverly portrayed in the way that the manipulator in My Sweet Friend blames a misunderstanding or a misremembered event for their actions, and I could see how such a situation might evolve.

I loved the structure of My Sweet Friend which alternates between the manipulator’s perspective and that of their victim, giving both sides of the story.  Whilst the victim’s perspective evokes sympathy and gives the reader a character to root for, hoping that they’ll come out of the situation unscathed, I did find the manipulator’s point of view to be absolutely fascinating.  I thought that Leuschel was deviously clever in the way that the manipulator would twist events in their own mind and find a way to take advantage of the situation, even when it didn’t look all that good for them.

I thought that the length of this novella suited the story well, and for me personally it worked better than the short stories I’ve read by Leuschel.  This is just my opinion, but I thought that this format allowed her to explore the manipulation over a longer period and through a variety of means so that the reader could see the full extent of their actions and the effect it had.

My Sweet Friend is available to purchase now and is currently available for the bargain price of £0.99 via Amazon Kindle!  Many thanks to H. A . Leuschel for the copy.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This Week in Books – 16-05-18

TWIB - logo

This Week in Books is a feature hosted by Lipsy at Lipsyy Lost and Found that allows bloggers to share:

  • What they’ve recently finished reading
  • What they are currently reading
  • What they are planning to read next

The last book I finished reading was Hunted by G. X. Todd, which I really enjoyed – my review will be up soon!

hunted

The birds are flying. The birds are flocking. The birds sense the red skies are coming.

One man is driven by an inner voice that isn’t his – this Other is chewing at his sanity like a jackal with a bone and has one purpose.

To find the voice hiding in the girl.

She has no one to defend her now.

But in an inn by the sea, a boy with no tongue and no voice gathers his warriors. Albus must find the girl, Lacey . . . before the Other does.

And finish the work his sister Ruby began.

Hunted is the second book in the acclaimed Voices series, where the battle between Good and Evil holds you in its vice-like grip.

#HearTheVoices

 


My current read is The Old You by Louise Voss which I’m reading as part of the blog tour.

the old you

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir.

A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller.

Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface … and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.

But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

 


My next read will be Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic, which I picked up at last year’s Hay Festival, and has just been released in paperback.

sympathy

An electrifying novel of blood ties, online identities, and our tormented efforts to connect in the digital age.

At twenty-three, Alice Hare leaves England for New York. She falls in love with Manhattan, and becomes fixated on Mizuko Himura, an intriguing Japanese writer whose life has strange parallels to her own.

As Alice closes in on Mizuko, her ‘internet twin’, realities multiply and fact and fiction begin to blur. The relationship between the two women exposes a tangle of lies and sexual encounters. Three families collide as Alice learns that the swiftest answer to an ancient question – where do we come from? – can now be found online.


And that’s my week in books! What are you reading this week?  Let me know in the comments!

Blog Tour: The Retreat by Mark Edwards

the retreat

Having read and enjoyed one of Mark Edwards’ previous novels (The Magpies) I was delighted to be invited to join the blog tour for his latest novel, The Retreat.

A missing child.  A desperate mother.  And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident.  Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home.  But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat.  One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily.  But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river?  Why was Lily never found?  And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

I went into The Retreat expecting a thriller, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this had darker undertones and an almost horror story vibe, so much so that I wasn’t entirely sure whether the outcome would be supernatural or whether there would be a rational explanation for everything.  I won’t spoil it for you, but I thought that this aspect of the novel worked really well, and it added a little something extra to the missing child story, as I found The Retreat to be an extremely creepy novel, and I loved the atmosphere throughout.

The plot was fascinating, and I desperately wanted to know what happened to Lily on that day by the river.  The police have all but given up their investigation, convinced that the most obvious answer is the right one and that she drowned, her body swept away by the fast-flowing current.  The novel opens with that day by the river before moving forward two years to Lucas’s arrival at the writer’s retreat, and so the reader knows a little more than the characters in the novel, but not much.  This was a story that kept me guessing to the very end, and I didn’t even come close to putting together a halfway decent guess as to what had happened.

The Retreat is predominantly narrated by Lucas, with a small number of chapters told from Lily’s perspective in the run up to that fateful day at the river.  I thought that this structure worked brilliantly, and whilst Lucas’s investigation continues to result in more questions than it answers, the reader gets a little more insight from the Lily chapters, although the who / what / when / where / how remains elusive until the very end.  I have to admit that I didn’t really like Lucas all that much, but this didn’t stop me enjoying the novel at all – the story was plenty to keep me engaged.  And I REALLY wanted to know what happened to Lily.

The Retreat is a brilliant thriller with a hint of the supernatural thrown in and is a novel that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.  Just don’t read it in the dark.

The Retreat was published on 10 May by Thomas & Mercer and is available in digital and paperback formats. Many thanks to Gabriella Drinkald for the opportunity to read and review this title ahead of its publication.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐


Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour:

The Retreat by Mark Edwards Blog Tour banner final

Blog Tour: Tubing by K. A. McKeagney

tubing

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Tubing today – a debut novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Polly, 28, lives in London with her ‘perfect-on-paper’ boyfriend. She works a dead-end job on a free London paper… life as she knows it is dull.  But her banal existence is turned upside down late one drunken night on her way home, after a chance encounter with a man on a packed tube train.  The chemistry between them is electric and on impulse, they kiss, giving in to their carnal desires.  But it’s over in an instant, and Polly is left shell-shocked as he walks away without even telling her his name.

Now obsessed with this beautiful stranger, Polly begins a frantic online search, and finally discovers more about tubing, an underground phenomenon in which total strangers set up illicit, silent, sexual meetings on busy commuter tube trains.  In the process, she manages to track him down and he slowly lures her into his murky world, setting up encounters with different men via Twitter.

At first, she thinks she can keep it separate from the rest of her life, but things soon spiral out of control.

By chance she spots him on a packed tube train with a young, pretty blonde.  Seething with jealousy, she watches them together.  But something isn’t right, and a horrific turn of events make Polly realise not only how foolish she has been, but how much danger she is in…

Can she get out before it’s too late?

Tubing isn’t my usual kind of read.  I like a thriller, but I don’t tend to read novels with overtly erotic themes, but I’m so glad that I gave this novel a go, as I really enjoyed it, and whilst the “action” on the packed tube trains is a central part of the novel, there’s so much more going on here than sex between strangers.

I think that the idea of tubing is a fascinating one, and I haven’t quite dared look up whether it’s an actual thing.  It seems as though people would get caught, but even as a non-Londoner, I know better than to look at people on the tube where people tend to withdraw into themselves, avoiding eye contact at all costs, and so it’s a plausible idea.  Either way, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be thinking about this novel every time I’m on a packed tube journey for some time to come!

I thought that Polly was a fascinating, if not entirely likeable, character.  At 28, she’s is in a relationship that would sound ideal to many, but it’s one that she’s not entirely satisfied with.  That first illicit encounter on the tube gives her a taste of temptation and excitement that she simply doesn’t get from boyfriend, and it doesn’t take long until she is hooked on tubing, even though some of her encounters are a little uncomfortable.  I think that there’s an element of the grass being greener here, in that tubing gives Polly an experience of being with other men and of having fun which to her seems more interesting than the steady relationship that she is in.

The plot moves along at quite a pace as Polly becomes obsessed with tubing and tracking down that handsome stranger from her first encounter, and it’s shocking at how quickly her life spirals out of control as she loses interest in her job, family and general “real life” concerns.  I wasn’t sure where it was going to go, but I loved how McKeagney brought things to a close, even if I thought that the ending was a little abrupt.  Additionally, I had some unanswered questions at the end, largely around Polly’s mother and her notebooks.  This was a minor point, however, and didn’t mean that I enjoyed the novel any less, and overall, Tubing is a highly enjoyable thriller with a bit of a twist, and if you’re not sure about it, I’d encourage you to give it a go (the novel, that is)!

Tubing is published today – 10 May – by Red Door Books.  Many thanks to Anna and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this title, and to take part in the blog tour.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐


Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour:

Tubing - tour poster.jpg

This Week in Books – 09-05-18

TWIB - logo

This Week in Books is a feature hosted by Lipsy at Lipsyy Lost and Found that allows bloggers to share:

  • What they’ve recently finished reading
  • What they are currently reading
  • What they are planning to read next

The last book I finished was My Sweet Friend by H. A Leuschel – a wonderful novella that I read in a single sitting.

my sweet friend

 

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.


 

My current read is The Retreat by Mark Edwards – I’m really enjoying this creepy novel so far!

the retreat

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.


My next read will be Hunted by G. X. Todd, the follow on to the absolutely brilliant Defender.

hunted

The birds are flying. The birds are flocking. The birds sense the red skies are coming.

One man is driven by an inner voice that isn’t his – this Other is chewing at his sanity like a jackal with a bone and has one purpose.

To find the voice hiding in the girl.

She has no one to defend her now.

But in an inn by the sea, a boy with no tongue and no voice gathers his warriors. Albus must find the girl, Lacey . . . before the Other does.

And finish the work his sister Ruby began.

Hunted is the second book in the acclaimed Voices series, where the battle between Good and Evil holds you in its vice-like grip.

#HearTheVoices

 


And that’s my week in books! What are you reading this week?  Let me know in the comments!