Category Archives: Blog Tour

Blog Tour: When I Find You by Emma Curtis

when i find you

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Emma Curtis’s latest novel, When I Find You.  I thoroughly enjoyed Emma’s debut, One Little Mistake, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read her follow up, When I Find You, ahead of publication, and to be able to take part in the blog tour.

What do you do when someone takes advantage of your greatest weakness?

When Laura wakes up after her office Christmas party and sees a man’s shirt on the floor, she is horrified.  But this is no ordinary one-night-stand regret.

Laura suffers from severe face-blindness, a condition that means she is completely unable to identify and remember faces.  So the man she spent all night dancing with and kissing – the man she thought she’d brought home – was ‘Pink Shirt’.

But the shirt on her floor is blue.

And now Laura must go to work every day, and face the man who took advantage of her condition.  The man she has no way of recognising.

She doesn’t know who he is… but she’ll make him pay.

Face-blindness, or Prosopagnosia, is a condition that I didn’t know much about going into this novel, other than it being an inability to recognise faces.  I’d never really thought beyond this, in terms of the impact that this condition would have on a person and those close to them, and the difficulties it would cause in everyday life.   It’s something that Curtis has researched thoroughly for this novel, and I thought that she brought Laura’s daily struggles to life brilliantly, including the question of whether or not to tell people.  It’s a real dilemma – if people know, they can introduce themselves when they speak to you, but there’s always going to be the one bad egg who will take advantage of the condition.

Of course, this is the situation Laura finds herself in after he office Christmas party when she realises the morning after that the man she took home with her is not the man she had been canoodling with all evening, the difference highlighted by the colour of the shirt she finds on the floor.  Coward that he is, he does a runner before she can confront him, and she is left to work out who it was, why they would commit such an act, and how they knew, given that she has only told her boss, Rebecca – no one else knows.  And Laura feels unable to report the incident to the police, fearing that they won’t believe her “sorry, officer, I don’t who he was because I don’t recognise faces”.  Laura is left in a situation of not knowing who she can trust, and takes the only option available to her in not trusting anyone, attempting to cope on her own.

Laura’s character is one that it’s so easy to get behind.  Her ways of coping with her condition show such determination, and whilst her intent to take her revenge on the culprit, once she works out who it is, maybe isn’t entirely advisable, I couldn’t help but admire her spirit, and I wanted her to succeed.  I think that Laura also inspired sympathy in the way that those around her treat her.  Most don’t know about her face-blindness, and so find her to be anti-social and standoffish, but even Rebecca is unsympathetic towards her, and makes things harder for Laura than they need to be.  It has to be said that the other characters in the novel, for the most part, aren’t all that likeable, making it easier to support Laura in her quest for revenge.

When I Find You is an incredibly fast-paced story, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened.  I thought I’d been really clever in working it out, and whilst I got some elements right, the final twist was absolutely brilliant, and completely unexpected.  This is a fantastically original thriller, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

When I Find You was published as an eBook on 1 July, and will be out in paperback on 8 August.  Many thanks to the publisher, Black Swan for the review copy, and to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the blog tour.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐


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

When I Find You Blog Tour Banner

Advertisements

Blog Tour: Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks

call of the curlew

Virginia Wrathmell knows she will walk on to the marsh one New Year’s Eve, and meet her end there.

One snowy New Year’s Eve, at the age of eighty-six, Virginia feels the time has finally come.

New Year’s Eve, 1939.  Virginia is ten, an orphan arriving to meet her new parents at their mysterious house, Salt Winds.  Her new home sits on the edge of a vast marsh, a beautiful but dangerous place.  War feels far away out here amongst the birds and shifting sands – until the day a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh.  The people at Salt Winds are the only ones to see it.

What happens next is something Virginia will regret for the next seventy-five years, and which will change the whole course of her life.

Call of the Curlew is a novel that had me hooked from the very first page.  Who is Virginia Wrathmell, and why is she so certain that she would meet her end on the marsh?  The first of these questions was answered earlier than the second, as the reader gets to know Virginia both now (in 2015) and as a child at the outset of the Second World War.  Both storylines reveal much about her, although I did prefer the earlier sections as the reader begins to understand the burden that she has carried throughout her life.  What this is takes some time to be fully revealed, and I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough to find out what had gone so horribly wrong.

As an orphan, it would be easy to assume that her childhood was an unhappy one, and yet that doesn’t seem to be the case here.  The orphanage was kind to her prior to her adoption by Clem and Lorna, and her adoptive parents treat her well, even if Lorna doesn’t exactly exude maternal instinct.  I loved the way her relationship with Clem developed into something that’s not quite father and daughter, but close enough to be enjoyable for them both.  The other characters in the novel are also well-developed, particularly the ever present yet rarely welcome neighbour, Max Deering, and it’s no surprise that he has his role to play in what comes to follow.

I found the present-day storyline to be extremely thought-provoking, as Virginia seeks to wrap up loose ends before heading out into the marsh.  Things don’t entirely go to plan, however, as she has an unexpected visitor, and one that has her own links to Virginia’s past, stirring up more memories.  Whilst this might seem coincidental, I thought that this development was explained well, and I thought that this was a brilliant way of sharing the outcome for other characters in the novel, without resorting to Virginia simply telling the reader what happened.

The dual timeline means that this is a novel that will appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction, and the mystery which slowly unravels will keep you hooked until the end.  It’s not a fast-paced novel, but I thoroughly enjoyed the slow unravelling of events.  Call of the Curlew is brilliantly written and atmospheric throughout and is imbued with a fantastic sense of place, so much so that the marshes almost seem like a character in themselves, and I liked the constant they provided in the story whilst everything else changes over time.  This is a poignant story, and one that will stay with me for some time.

Call of the Curlew was published by Doubleday on 28 June.  Many thanks to Anne Cater and Hannah Bright for the review copy and the opportunity to join the blog tour.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐


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

Call of the Curlew Blog Tour Poster

Blog Tour: The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke

the tall man

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for debut thriller The Tall Man today – I was intrigued by this novel as soon as I heard about it, and it did not disappoint.

A SENSELESS MURDER. A TERRIFYING LEGEND. A FAMILY HAUNTED.

1990: In the darkest woods, three girls devote themselves to a sinister figure.

2000: A young mother disappears, leaving behind her husband and baby daughter.

2018: A teenage girl is charged with murder, and her trial will shock the world.

Three chilling events, connected by the shadow he casts.

He is the Tall Man. He can make you special…

I find urban legends fascinating, and so the idea of a novel based around a mysterious figure known only as “The Tall Man” made this novel hugely appealing when I first heard about it.

The Tall Man takes daughters

The Tall Man is held responsible for the disappearances of missing children and can be summoned through various rituals of which no one seems entirely sure of the exact details.  This gives the novel a supernatural vibe, which I realise won’t appeal to everyone, but I thought that Locke was very clever in the way in which she based her story around this figure whilst always leaving open the question of his existence and whether he is to blame for what happens in the story.

I enjoyed the structure of The Tall Man which takes the form of a documentary on Amber Banner, recently accused and acquitted of murder, the trial becoming such high profile that Amber has acquired (temporarily at least) celebratory status.  The reader follows the crew filming the documentary, and I loved being a fly on the wall in the interviews with Amber as well as the behind the scenes access with the crew.  There are also diary extracts, and flashbacks to 1990 which I particularly enjoyed, and which add to the story brilliantly.  The Tall Man is a novel in which what happened takes as long to be revealed as why it happened, in that Locke very cleverly only reveals who was murdered towards the end, and I loved this slow reveal of exactly what was going on.

I found the characters in the novel to be largely unlikeable.  Amber is milking her fifteen minutes of fame for all its worth, and the reader gets an insight into how those making the documentary will manipulate the people they are interviewing in order to put on the best possible show and to achieve the best possible ratings, consequences be damned.  The only one who really shows any kind of moral reservations in this is Greta, who spends the novel trailing Amber around and being largely unhappy with the approach taken by her boss, although she does go along with it.  Whilst I didn’t particularly like the characters, I thought that they worked brilliantly for this novel, and by not liking Amber, I was able to view her case objectively.

As the end of the novel approaches, the various narratives come together brilliantly, and whilst being kept in the dark for much of a novel can sometimes be an issue (for this reader at least), I didn’t mind it at all here – I desperately wanted to know what was going on and I loved the hints that Locke dropped throughout.  I would say that if you feel bereft of information then it’s worth persevering with The Tall Man, as the denouement is brilliant, and took me completely by surprise.

The Tall Man was published by Wildfire on 14 June, and I think this will be a huge hit over the summer.  Many thanks to the Anne Cater and Wildfire 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:

The Tall Man Blog Tour Poster

Blog Tour: For The Immortal by Emily Hauser

fot the immortal

I’m delighted to be taking part in the For the Immortal blog tour today – I loved the first two instalments of Emily Hauser’s Golden Apple trilogy which started with For the Most Beautiful and continued with For the Winner, and whilst I’m sorry that the publication of this novel brings the series to a close (I could read about the exploits of the Greeks and their meddling Gods indefinitely) I was also thrilled to receive an early copy, and I can’t wait to see what Emily goes on to do next.

 Thousands of years ago, in an ancient world where the gods control all and heroes fight to have their names remembered down the ages, two extraordinary women become entangled in one of the greatest heroic tales of all time… and must face how much they are willing to risk for immortality.

Desperate to save her dying brother, Admete persuades her father, the king of Tiryns, to let her join Hercules on one of his legendary twelve labours. Travelling to the renowned female warrior Amazons in search of a cure, Admete soon discovers that both Hercules and the fearsome Amazons are not as they first seemed.

The Amazons greet the arrival of the Greeks with mixed feelings – and none more so than Hippolyta, the revered queen of the tribe. For Hercules and his band of fighters pose a threat to her way of life – but also stir up painful memories that threaten to expose her deepest secret.

As battle lines are drawn between the Greeks and the Amazons, both women soon learn the inevitable truth – in war, sacrifices must be made; especially if they are to protect the ones they love most…

One thing that I have loved about this series is that it’s easily accessible with little or no prior knowledge of Greek mythology and their heroes and Gods.  For the Immortal features Hercules on one of his twelve labours, but whether you’re familiar with this particular tale or not, it doesn’t matter because, as with the first two instalments, the focus of the novel is on the women that feature in this tale, namely Admete and Hippolyta in this instance. I think that it’s very easy to read up on the men of this time, and I’ve loved the focus on the women throughout the series to give a different perspective on these stories.  It’s also worth noting that each novel comes with a handy glossary of people and places, so it’s easy to find out who’s who and how they’re connected if needed.

Whilst this is the third novel in the series, these novels can all be comfortably read as standalones, as they all feature different characters, and the stories are all quite different.  They aren’t entirely disparate, however, and they are connected by the overarching themes of the Golden Apples of the Hesperides and the concept of fate versus choosing one’s own destiny, and I think that they work equally well when read sequentially or individually.

For the Immortal focuses on the characters of Admete and Hippolyta – two women who I found to be quite different characters.  Hippolyta is an Amazonian Queen, and as such she is proud, confident, and above all fierce.  I fell in love with her straightaway, of course.  It seemed to me that the Amazons – of which I know little beyond them being female warriors – are one of the few societies to have mastered equality between the sexes, with women being revered and trained from an early age to battle and ride horses (with none of this side saddle nonsense), considered to be equal to their male counterparts.  Hippolyta gets quite a rough treatment throughout this tale, and there were moments at which I was distraught to see this proud lady brought so low – at the hands of the Greeks, of course, and one in particular, who shall remain nameless for the purposes of this review.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the Greek heroes were largely arrogant *****, which doesn’t actually surprise me in the slightest.

Admete is a rather different character.  Of mixed Greek and Amazonian heritage, she has grown up in the Greek court, and has learnt that the Greeks, for the most part, don’t want to be reminded of her mixed parentage.  She has grown up to be extremely well versed in healing – particularly in herbal cures and remedies, and it is this (along with a desire to find her absent mother) that drives the story when she tries, but fails, to heal her feverish brother.  She seems like a quiet individual, but there is an inner strength in her which drives her to stand up for what she believes in, whatever the cost, and whilst she may not be the dominant force that Hippolyta is, she is strong in her own, quieter, way.

I haven’t gone into the plot at all, but it is driven by Admete’s need to find a cure, and the need to search further afield than her own herb garden.  It coincides with Hercules – a long-time friend of Admete and her family – performing his labours in order to be recognised by the gods, Hera in particular, as the son of Zeus and to achieve immortality.  Thus, Admete’s quest is extended to incorporate a labour for Hercules, so that he can achieve his own ambitions whilst accompanying Admete.  I don’t really want to say much more than that, but it’s a great story, and I loved that it ends at the siege of Troy, in which the first novel, For the Most Beautiful, is set (chronologically, For the Immortal, comes first).

This is a brilliant end to what has been a fantastic trilogy, and I can’t wait to see what Emily Hauser goes on to do next.  For someone who enjoys books inspired by old mythologies, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series, and in particular the different slant that Hauser has put on these tales.

For the Immortal was published on 14 June by Doubleday.  Many thanks to Hannah Bright and the publisher 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:

For the Immortal

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

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