Blog Tour: The Daughter by Liz Webb

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I lean in and whisper the question I have never let myself utter in twenty-three years.

“Dad, did you murder Mum?”

Hannah Davidson has a dementia-stricken father, an estranged TV star brother, and a mother whose death opened up hidden fault lines beneath the surface of their ordinary family life.

Now the same age that Jen Davidson was when she was killed, Hannah realises she bears an uncanny resemblance to her glamorous mother, and when her father begins to confuse them she is seriously unnerved.

Determined to uncover exactly what happened to her mum, Hannah begins to exploit her arresting likeness, but soon the boundaries between Hannah and her mother become fatally blurred.

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Daughter by Liz Webb. My thanks to Helen Richardson for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Daughter before I started reading it and I have to say it took me a little while to get into the novel. The book is written in the first person, in the voice of Hannah as she is visiting her dementia-stricken father in hospital after he has had a fall. Hannah’s voice was not clear to me to begin with, I wasn’t even sure if the character was male or female at first and, as a result, it took me a little while to become invested in the story.

However, after a couple of chapters, things began to fall into place and my interest was piqued. Hannah is clearly a troubled young woman, engaging in destructive behaviours, and I was curious about what had led her to this place. As we find out more about her dysfunctional family and the tragic events that splintered their family decades before, the reasons begin to make sense, but I was left wondering if she was an entirely reliable narrator, which always makes a book more interesting. Not knowing whether you can believe what the main protagonist is telling you always builds tension, and even Hannah herself questions whether her memories are reliable when they conflict with those of other people present at the time. Who is mistaken? Who is lying to themselves, or others, to hide the dreadful truth?

This mistrust bleeds through to the other characters, particularly her father, who is in a fog of confusion and has begun to mix Hannah up with his long-dead wife, and her brother, from who she has been estranged for 14 years and is practically unknown to her now, and who practises make-believe for a living. Who is telling then truth and who will benefit from lying? These are the puzzles the engaged reader if left to solve.

The cast of characters is small and manageable, the plot engaging and tense and the writing easy to read and flows well. I thought this stood out as a story I hadn’t read before in the domestic thriller genre and, after a shaky start, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It is full of twists and turns and interesting ideas about families, how they work and how they can mess you up. A theme many people will be able to relate to on some level. This book has a different feel to many books in the genre, an interesting edge to it and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new author.

The Daughter is out now in all formats and you can buy your copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for other great reviews:

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About the Author

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LIZ WEBB originally trained as a classical ballet dancer but had to give up following a back injury. She then worked as a secretary at the British Library whilst going to night school at the City Lit to get into Oxford University age 23. After graduating, she worked as a stationery shop manager, an art model, a cocktail waitress, stand- up comic, voice-over artist, script-editor, and radio drama producer before becoming a novelist.

Liz Webb was a stand-up comic for ten years performing at clubs across the UK and at festivals in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leicester and Cardiff. At the same time, she worked as a voice-over artist voicing many TV ad campaigns including The Times, Kellogg’s Just Right cereal and Organics hair products.

She also worked for fourteen years as a prolific radio drama producer for the BBC and independent radio production companies.

Liz lives in North London with her husband, son and serial killer cat Freddie.

Connect with Liz:

Website: https://lizwebb.co.uk

Facebook: Liz Webb

Twitter: @LizWebbAuthor

Instagram: @lizwebbauthor

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Blog Tour: Tell Me Your Lies by Kate Ruby

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You think she wants to help.
You’re wrong.

Lily Appleby will do anything to protect the people she loves. She’s made ruthless choices to make sure their secrets stay buried, and she’s not going to stop now.

When her party-animal daughter, Rachel, spins out of control, Lily hires a renowned therapist and healer to help her. Amber is the skilled and intuitive confidante that Rachel desperately needs. But as Rachel falls increasingly under Amber’s spell, she begins to turn against her parents, and Lily grows suspicious.

Does Amber really have Rachel’s best interests at heart or is there something darker going on? Only one thing is clear: Rachel is being lied to. Never quite knowing who to believe, her search for the truth will reveal her picture-perfect family as anything but flawless.

It is my turn on the blog tour for Tell Me Your Lies by Kate Ruby. My thanks to Sophia Sagir at Midas PR for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Sometimes you read a book and it makes you think, no matter how dysfunctional your family dynamics may be, at least you are not like the people in this book. Tell Me Your Lies is one such novel.

Told from the alternating viewpoints of mother, Lilly and daughter, Rachel, this is the story of some very twisted relationships and the destructive effects that secrets, lies and unhealthy familial links can have on the people involved. Right from the start we can see that Rachel is one very troubled young woman, meeting her we do as she comes round from a drink and drugs binge that ends in her hospitalisation. it is also clear pretty quickly that she sees herself as the black sheep of her successful family and that the relationship with her mother is strained. But is there something darker at play? Lilly brings in therapist, Amber, to help Rachel overcome her demons, but maybe Amber isn’t quite as she seems either.

This is a novel of unpleasant characters, unreliable narrators and deceitful behaviour so the reader is never quite sure who to trust, what is true and what lies around the next corner. Full of revelations and surprises, the book will hook you in and keep you turning the pages to find out what is actually going on behind the lies, behind the facades and at the heart of this family, but you will be afraid you may not like it when you get there. the best kind of page turner.

That being said, this book is quite a slow burn, rather than a heart-racing, pacy novel and you may have to stick with it in the beginning until it buries its claws into you and hangs on. Because all of the characters are fairly unpleasant, there won’t be anyone that you are particularly rooting for, which could make it hard to care about what happens to them. However, the writing is great and the author’s voice is fairly light for the subject matter, but compelling. She knows how to construct drama, and this made the book easy to read for me.

I found this to be an accomplished and engrossing debut and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for something new in the psychological fiction genre. An exciting new voice to watch out for.

Tell Me Your Lies is out now in all formats and you can buy your copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

Tell Me Your Lies Blog Tour Asset

About The Author

Kate Ruby credit Simon Annand

Kate Ruby is a producer and screenwriter, with a highflying career in television. Tell Me Your Lies, a psychological thriller, is her debut novel and is currently in development for a major TV show. As an executive producer for drama, she spent a decade at the BBC, working on shows including Spooks and Being Human. Currently Head of Television for a global production company, she has worked on major Netflix shows including Watership Down, Traitors and The English Game. She has recently worked on the BBC/HBO adaptation of JP Delaney’s bestselling thriller The Girl Before, starring Gugu Mbatha Raw and David Oyelowo.

Connect with Kate:

Twitter: @katerubybooks

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Book Review: The Serial Killer’s Girl by L. H. Stacey

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Does a killer’s blood run in the family?

Lexi Jakes thought she could run from her past…she was wrong.

Because when her biological mother is found dead, with all the same hallmarks of her own serial killer father, Lexi knows someone is out for revenge, and that she and her small daughter, Isla, could be next.

Determined to protect Isla, Lexi travels back to Lindisfarne, the small remote island where she grew up. There, cut off from the mainland, Lexi hopes they’ll both be safe.

But as the tide comes in and the causeway slowly closes, Lexi’s greatest fear comes true: now they are trapped with no way out.

Lexi will do anything to save her daughter…she is the serial killer’s girl after all.

I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Serial Killer’s Girl by L. H. Stacey today. My thanks to the author for inviting me to review her book and providing me with a digital copy for review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

The premise of this book is absolutely fascinating. What is life like for the children of people who have committed the most heinous of crimes? How do their families move on after their atrocities have been exposed and they are behind bars? It is something I haven’t really given much thought to in relation to their children, I have to say. I’ve sometimes wondered about their spouses – how can they not of known, how do they adjust afterwards to what their partner did and why they never suspected, but not the children, so I was keen to read the author’s exploration on the matter.

The plot is quite gripping. Someone murders Lexi’s mother in a way very similar to the methodology of her father’s crimes and she begins to worry that someone is out for revenge on him via the people he cares about. This would put Lexi, and more importantly her young daughter, in harm’s way. So Lexi decides to take her daughter and run to a place that she believes no one will find her and where she always has felt safe. Lindisfarne.

I loved the exploration in the book of this beautiful area of the country, as it a place I visited often as a child but have not revisited for many years. It was really interesting to read about it from the perspective of people living on the island, as opposed to visiting, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sections of the book set on Lindisfarne.

There was plenty of tension in Lexi’s situation. She has kept her past hidden from people she is close to, so this leads to tensions in her relationships as it all bubbles to the surface. It is not clear who is responsible for the murders – the author cleverly conceals their identity, even whilst writing some parts of the book from their perspective – and I was mystified until the end as to who had done it, although I had my suspicions. Look, some of the decisions Lexi makes are baffling to me and I was mentally screaming at her whilst reading because it was clear they weren’t going to lead to a good place. However, this was part of what created the tension, being able to see where she was going wrong and anticipating the upcoming fallout.

If I had any criticism of the book at all, it would be that there was some level of repetition of ideas in certain parts that felt a bit like labouring a point. However, I did read an early proof, rather than the finished copy, which may be different, and this did not in any way detract from the enjoyability or tension in the main plot. This is a very entertaining book for people who enjoy the genre of domestic, psychologic al thriller and I would not hesitate to recommend it.

The Serial Killer’s Girl is published on Thursday 27 April and you can pre-order a copy here.

About the Author

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As well as being the author of seven books, Stacey also works a full time job as a Sales Director. She’s also a fully qualified scuba diving instructor and has been known to happily jump in the sea with sharks, without a cage.

Following a life changing car accident in 2008, Stacey was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to teach scuba diving professionally anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Stacey to create stories with challenging and unpredictable plots.

Stacey’s debut novel ‘House of Secrets’ was published in 2016 and her seventh book ‘The Serial Killer’s Girl’ will be published by Boldwood Books in April 2022.

Website: http://www.lyndastacey.co.uk

Facebook: L H Stacey

Twitter: @LyndaStacey

Instagram: @lynda.stacey

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Audiobook Review: The Curfew by T. M. Logan; Narrated by Richard Armitage

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Your son said he was home. Why did he lie?

I should have known something was wrong.I should have sensed it. Felt it in the air, like the build-up of pressure before a thunderstorm, that heavy, loaded calm.

The curfew….

Andy and Laura are good parents. They tell their son, Connor, that he can go out with friends to celebrate completing his exams, but he must be home by midnight.

The lie….

When Connor misses his curfew, it sets off a series of events that will change the lives of five families forever.

The truth?

Because five teenagers went into the woods that night, but only four came out. And telling the truth might mean losing everything….

What would you do?

Every time I read a book by T. M. Logan I say it is my favourite of his books. Well, I can honestly say, having read The Curfew, this is my absolute favourite of his books so far.

The book is mainly narrated by Andy, a GP who is father to two children, sixteen-year-old Connor and his younger sister, Harriet. His family live fairly ordinary lives in a middle class suburb of Nottingham, and nothing seems likely to change that, until the night that Connor misses his curfew.

The characterisations in this book were spot on perfect, particularly of the parents, and the reason I loved it so much was because I could absolutely feel the worry and anguish of Andy and his wife Claire as they were drawn into a nightmare involving their son. The only thing worse that finding your son embroiled in a police investigation, is for your child to go missing, and both of these horrors are faced by parents in this book and my heart was on edge for them the whole time as I put myself in their shoes. As a parent, this book is all your nightmares made manifest.

The genius of the writing is to bring tension and horror to a completely ordinary setting. Where the story takes place is the most unlikely setting for drama, but this is what causes the real tension, because this kind of thing could all too easily happen to any of us. You don’t have to suspend your belief very far to imagine yourself or your family in Andy’s shoes, and it will make you insides curl up with fear and make you rush to the end, praying for a happy outcome for these people who are much too like you and I for comfort. I have never been so happy to do my housework as when I was eager to get to the end of this book.

I have consumed all but one of T. M. Logan’s books in audio format and I can honestly say that these are the perfect books to listen to. I like an audiobook that has pacy action that holds my attention, otherwise it is too easy for my mind to wander and for me to lose my place. This never happens with these books. Richard Armitage does an absolutely amazing job of narrating this story (would you expect anything less?) to the extent that at times I actually forgot I was listening to an actor narrating a piece of fiction.

If you like a thriller that can truly be called domestic, The Curfew is one for you. But be prepared to hug your children close and, maybe, bring their curfew forward an hour until the stress of this story has faded from your mind. Brilliantly terrifying for any parent, this story was scarier to me than any Stephen King novel.

The Curfew is available now in audiobook, ebook and hardback formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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TM Logan’s thrillers have sold more than a million copies in the UK and been translated into 22 other languages for publication around the world.

His brand new novel, THE CURFEW, follows the events of a hot midsummer’s night, when five teenagers go up to the woods to celebrate the end of exams, and only four come out…

THE HOLIDAY was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and spent ten weeks in the Sunday Times paperback top ten. It has since won a Nielsen Bestseller Award and been made into a four-part TV drama with Jill Halfpenny for Channel 5.

Tim’s 2021 thriller, TRUST ME, begins when a woman is asked to look after a stranger’s baby on a train – only for the mother to vanish. When she looks in the baby’s things, she finds a note that says: ‘Please protect Mia. Don’t trust the police. Don’t trust anyone.’ His other books are THE CATCH, LIES and 29 SECONDS.

A former national newspaper journalist, Tim lives in Nottinghamshire with his family and writes in a cabin at the bottom of his garden.

For exclusive writing, new releases and a FREE deleted scene from Tim, sign up to the Readers’ Club.

Connect with T. M. Logan:

Website: https://www.tmlogan.com

Facebook: T M Logan Author

Twitter: @TMLoganAuthor

Instagram: @tmloganauthor

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Blog Tour: The Club by Ellery Lloyd

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The Home Group is a collection of ultra-exclusive private members’ clubs and a global phenomenon, and the opening of its most ambitious project yet – Island Home, a forgotten island transformed into the height of luxury – is billed as the celebrity event of the decade.

There’s no place like Home…

But as the first guests arrive, it turns out that even the most beautiful people can keep the ugliest secrets – secrets some will die to keep and others will kill to expose.

I’m delighted to be opening the blog tour today for The Club by Ellery Lloyd. I’m very grateful to Becca Bryant at Pan Macmillan for inviting me to review the book and providing me with a copy for that purpose. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

There have been lots of thrillers recently involving small groups of people stranded in remote locations falling foul of a murderer. You might think that The Club is just another in this group by reading the blurb, but it is actually something a little different, and well worth picking up, even if you think you have heard it all before.

Ned and his brother Adam run a group of exclusive private members’ clubs around the world, catering to the glitterati and indulging their most extreme excesses. The opening of their latest venture, a club on an abandoned island just off the South Coast, promises to be a glamorous weekend of indulgence for the creme de la creme of the entertainment world, and everything has to be perfect. However, under the surface of all this perfection, dangerous tensions are simmering, ugly secrets are about to be revealed – it’s going to be murder!

This book is a fun thriller that exposes all the dark heart and flaws of celebrity and the lifestyle that some of these people live. The way that some believe their power, fame and money will protect them, even as they indulge in activity that society finds abhorrent or is actually criminal. The lengths they will go to to protect their reputations and how this leaves them open to manipulation by unscrupulous characters masquerading as friends.

The book is told from the viewpoint of four different characters, interspersed with extracts from a Vanity Fair article detailing the events of that weekend in the aftermath. It is a very clever way of revealing the story and the truth of the events bit by bit, leaving you guessing what has actually happened right until the end. It’s very easy to follow who is telling the story at any given time and, as the story is told sequentially, it is not at all confusing. The tone is quite light and easy, not too dark, despite the bleakness  of the story and the whole thing is very entertaining. The press release blurb suggests the book will appeal to fans of The White Lotus and, as someone who loved this show, I think this is a most apt comparison. (If you haven’t watched this show from 2021 on Sky, I highly recommend it, it is excellent and darkly humorous.) I was completely caught up in the story and read it over the course of only 24 hours because it was so addictive.

A lot of the characters in this book are unpleasant, but deliberately so. There are some you are desperate to see get their comeuppance, others you will be rooting for, and you might be left wondering which celebrities these two wicked writers have taken as their inspiration! Having read this, I will definitely go back and read their first book, which I seem to have overlooked despite it being a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. The Club has been chosen by Reese Witherspoon for her book club, which is a good enough endorsement for me and may persuade you to pick this up, if my review doesn’t.

The Club will be published on 31 March and you can pre-order your copy here.

Please follow the rest of the tour for alternative reviews of the book:

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About the Author

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Ellery Lloyd is the pseudonym for London-based husband-and-wife writing team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos. Collette is a journalist and editor, and former features editor at Stylist, content director of Elle and editorial director at Soho House. She has written for the Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Sunday Times as well as two travel books. Paul is the author of Welcome to the Working Week and Every Day is Like Sunday. He is subject leader for English Literature, Film, and Creative Writing at the University of Surrey.

Connect with Ellery Lloyd:

Website: https://www.ellerylloyd.com

Facebook: Ellery Lloyd Author

Twitter: @ElleryLloyd

Instagram: @ellerylloyd_author

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RONA Awards 2022 Celebration Drinks with… Leah Mercer

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Tonight I am having celebratory drinks with the first short-listed nominee in the Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers for her novel, A Mother’s Lie. It is author… Leah Mercer.

Leah Mercer, Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers, Romantic Novel Awards 2022

Leah, welcome to the blog and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

I’m drinking something with a lot of tequila so I can pretend I’m on holiday! Maybe a lime margarita with one of those paper umbrellas. Yum. 

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’d take you to a great place on High Street Kensington called Balans, where they have a happy hour and delicious cocktails.

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I’d love a drink with Margaret Atwood, because she’s a fellow Canadian and I think she’d have lots to say on every topic imaginable! Plus I’d invite along Chris Whitty, because I have a secret crush on him and I’d like to see what he’s like when he cuts loose. 

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m just now fleshing out ideas for my next book. I love this stage, because there is always so much potential and excitement before you get bogged down in the reality of trying to get your characters to behave!

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

I think reaching the top ten on both Amazon.com and Amazon UK with Who We Were Before, my first Leah Mercer novel, was my proudest moment. The biggest challenge has been to just keep going, despite the self-doubt and obstacles. I knew it would be difficult to get published, but I never realized how hard it can be to stay published. 

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Zoe knows that it wasn’t really her fault. Of course it wasn’t. But if she’d just grasped harder, run faster, lunged quicker, she might have saved him. And Edward doesn’t really blame her, though his bitter words at the time still haunt her, and he can no more take them back than she can halt the car that killed their son.

Two years on, every day is a tragedy. Edward knows they should take healing steps together, but he’s tired of being shut out. For Zoe, it just seems easier to let grief lead the way.

A weekend in Paris might be their last hope for reconciliation, but mischance sees them separated before they’ve even left Gare du Nord. Lost and alone, Edward and Zoe must try to find their way back to each other—and find their way back to the people they were before. But is that even possible?

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

What novelist doesn’t want to reach the New York Times or the Sunday Times bestseller list? Yes, please! 

What do have planned that you are really excited about?

For the first time since March 2020, we are going to see our family soon! We’re off to Egypt over Easter and then to Canada this summer. I can’t wait. 

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

Ooh, that’s a great question! I have so many favourite places, but top of the list has to be Nova Scotia, Canada, where I grew up. It’s so beautiful – the beaches are pristine. At the top of my bucket list would have to be St Petersburg in Russia. 

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I used to have running records back in my home country. I’m pretty sure they’ve all been broken now!

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

My mind goes blank when people ask me this! I do love The Time Traveller’s Wife. It always makes me sob!

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This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future.

In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

A big glass of water and lots of ibuprofen!

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Probably sleeping, as my liver is not up to what it used to be.

Leah, thanks for chatting with me this evening and good luck in the awards.

Leah’s short-listed novel, A Mother’s Lie, is available now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Leah Mercer, Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers, Romantic Novel Awards 2022, A Mother_s Lie BOOK COVER

My darling child… I can already feel your tiny fingers gripping mine; smell your soft hair. But how do I keep you safe?

Heartbroken and alone, Ali arrives at her grandmother’s old house on the beach. Perhaps here, she can escape her past, and make a home for her unborn child. Greeted by the familiar scent of roses and the sounds of the waves, Ali feels instantly safe.

The couple next door, Michael and Meg, welcome Ali into their seemingly perfect world with their glamorous home and beautiful baby. Ali feels an instant connection and knows she has made the right choice for herself and her baby.

But Meg is holding onto a dark secret. As a powerful bond grows between the two women, Michael leaves suddenly for a work trip, and Meg becomes impulsive – unpredictable.

As Meg’s behaviour becomes ever more erratic, Michael shows no signs of returning, and Ali begins to worry. Are she and her unborn child safe? And what about her own devastating secret… the one she ran from?

Leah’s latest book, Why She Left, is also available now here.

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Fifteen years ago, her daughter vanished. Now, she’s back.

Ruth has spent every day of the last fifteen years grieving for her daughter Isobel who left the family home as a teenager and completely disappeared. Walking around the school to which she has given her life, every child she sees reminds her of her daughter’s bright future and of a happy family destroyed in an instant.

So when Ruth opens the door to find Isobel and a grandson she never knew existed, she feels a rush of joy. Isobel tells her that they need a safe place to stay whilst she gets back on her feet. Having lost her daughter once, Ruth is determined to keep her family together and enrols her grandson at the school, in the hope that they stay for good.

But as mother and daughter begin to heal the wounds of the past, a violent attack brings old secrets to the surface once more. It is clear that someone is prepared to destroy everything Ruth holds dear. Can Isobel confront her darkest secret before it is too late?

Leah Mercer was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada. Her first ambition was to be a journalist, but after completing a master’s in journalism, she soon realized she preferred anything other than reporting the news. After trying her hand at public relations, teaching and recruitment in various countries around the world, she finally settled in London and returned to writing… fiction, this time. Her first two novels, Who We Were Before and The Man I Thought You Were, were shortlisted at the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards. Leah loves books, running, and visiting historic houses with her husband and their son.

Connect with Leah:

Website: https://www.leahmercer.com

Facebook: Leah Mercer

Twitter: @LeahMercerBooks

Instagram: @leahmercerauthor

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Book Review: Hold My Place by Cassondra Windwalker

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Obsession never dies.

When librarian Sigrun falls head-over-heels for the sophisticated and very married Edgar Leyward, she never expects to find herself in his bed—or his heart. Nevertheless, when his enigmatic wife Octavia dies from a sudden illness, Sigrun finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance worthy of the most lurid novels on her bookshelves.

Sigrun soon discovers Octavia wasn’t Edgar’s first lost love, or even his second. Three women Edgar has loved met early deaths. As she delves into her beloved’s past through a trove of discovered letters, the edges of Sigrun identity begin to disappear, fading into the women of the past. Sigrun tells herself it’s impossible for any dark magic to be at play—that the dead can’t possibly inhabit the bodies of the living—but something shadowy stalks the halls of the Leyward house and the lines between the love of the present and the obsessions of the past become increasingly blurred—and bloody.

I was offered a digital copy of Hold My Place by Cassondra Windwalker by Lindy Ryan at Black Spot Books for the purpose of review, for which I am extremely grateful as always. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by this author and, I have to say, I was captivated by her writing. The characterisation, the plotting and the language all combined in an elegant symphony to deliver a book that lingered in my mind long after I had finished it. It was not at all what I was expecting from the blurb but I am so glad that the invitation from the publisher led me to this book which I likely would not have discovered otherwise.

The protagonist of the book is librarian, Sigrun. A lover of dark and gothic literature, uncompromising in attitude, she surprisingly finds herself drawn to smooth, handsome, society chef, Edgar. Surprising because they seem diametrically opposite in character, and Edgar is happily married to the beautiful, sophisticated Octavia. Despite this, they start a friendship and Sigrun finds herself becoming obsessed with him. Then his wife dies unexpectedly and Sigrun is drawn completely into his life.

The book is set during the recent pandemic lockdown, which adds to the feelings of claustrophobia and isolation that surrounds Sigrun and Edgar and their dangerous, exclusionary love. Set almost exclusively within the confines of Edgar’s brooding house, and the deserted city streets, Edgar and Sigrun’s total devotion to one another feels all the more unhealthy and lonely than it would in more normal times. Sigrun’s paranoia and confusion is heightened by her distance from other people in her life, and you can easily see how her thoughts have become so distorted in this environment.

The author’s use of language is just beautiful, it is almost like reading poetry, which enhanced my enjoyment of the book immensely. The book had the air of a gothic fairytale, one of the original ones written by the Brothers Grimm, not the Disney version with the guaranteed happy ending. The book has an aura of menace and doom hanging over it. There is more than a whiff of Daphne du Maurier in its twisted portrayal of unhealthy love and hint of the supernatural. The book was not, however, in any way predictable and I did not see the ending coming at all.

I love discovering new authors, as well as books that surprise and delight me, and this book ticked every box. Something out of the norm, that really generated an extreme of feeling within me as I read. A book that I will remember for a good while.

Hold My Place is out now in paperback and ebook formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Cassondra Windwalker is a poet, essayist, and novelist presently writing full-time from the southern Alaskan coast. She enjoys hearing from readers via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, smoke signals, and interstellar songs.

Connect with Cassondra:

Facebook: Cassondra Windwalker Writes

Twitter: @WindwalkerWrite

Instagram: @cassondrawindwalker

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Book Review: Sundial by Catriona Ward

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You can’t escape the desert. You can’t escape Sundial.

Rob fears for her daughters. For Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. For Annie, because of what Callie might do to her. Rob sees a darkness in Callie that reminds her of the family she left behind. She decides to take Callie back to Sundial, her childhood home deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is afraid of her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely. To tell her secrets about her past that both disturb and excite her. And Callie is beginning to wonder if only one of them will leave Sundial alive…

Catriona Ward’s last book, The Last House on Needless Street, was one of the highlights of my reading year last year, so I was delighted to be invited to preview her new book, Sundial. I am very grateful to the publisher, Viper Books, for providing me with an advance proof of the book for the purpose of review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

Anyone who read The Last House on Needless Street will be wondering what is to come next from this author. That book was so brilliantly unexpected and out of leftfield that it seems impossible she could come up with anything to match it. It was out on its own, so distinctive that she could not possibly replicate the things that made it so standout, a book that was talked about by everyone last year. And she hasn’t replicated the genius of The Last House on Needless Street. What she has done is write something totally different but equally, if not more, compelling in its own distinctive way.

This is the story of two people, Rob and her daughter, Callie. Rob is struggling in a tempestuous relationship with her husband, Irving, and is concerned about the impact this is having on her two daughters. In particular, the elder of the two, Callie, has begun to exhibit behaviours that Rob finds deeply concerning, particularly as they pertain to the safety of her other child. She decides to take Callie back to her family home in the Mojave desert to try and deal with Callie’s behaviour. In a series of flashbacks to Rob’s own childhood, we discover it was far from normal and begin to wonder if DNA may be at play here.

This book was addictive from beginning to end. An extremely dark, oppressive, creeping psychological horror story with a pair of completely unreliable narrators and underlying themes that will burrow into your brain and take root to the point that you will not be able to extricate yourself from this story until you have finished. The very pinnacle of unputdownable reading, this story held me in thrall from beginning to end.

The story is twisted in every definition of the word. What goes on in both the present day and the historical back story is disturbing to say the least, and will raise some interesting scientific and moral questions in the reader. The plot itself is so serpentine and cleverly constructed that I defy anyone to work out where it is is going until the very end, and there are myriads of shocks along the way. The setting of the book is oppressive in the extreme, and brought brilliantly to life on the page and is absolutely essential to the plot. I has such clear imagery in my mind throughout the novel that it was almost like being in a movie of the book. A terrifying movie it was much of the time too; if it was playing out on the screen I would be hiding behind a cushion. This author has a brutal, ingenious mind, I have no idea which dark part of her psyche dreamt up this plot, but it must be scary and thrilling to live with.

This book is not an easy read. It is not the type of book you pick up to lift you on a dark day or doze off under in bright sunshine on a poolside lounger. It is a book that will challenge you, excite you and grasp onto you with a ferocious hold until you reach the end. You won’t be able to leave it behind, even when you aren’t holding it in your hand, and it will be one you remember long after you have read it. Much as I loved The Last House on Needless Street, I think I may love Sundial more. What this says about me as a person, I don’t know, but this is not a book that fades in with all the others on the bookshop shelf. Another book that will be a big talking point amongst book lovers this year.

Sundial is out on 10 March and you can pre-order in hardback, ebook and audio formats here.

About the Author

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CATRIONA WARD was born in Washington, DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia.

‘The Last House on Needless Street’ (Viper Books, Tor Nightfire) was a Times Book of the Month, Observer Book of the Month, March Editor’s Pick on Open Book, a Between the Covers BBC2 book club selection, a Times bestseller, and is being developed for film by Andy Serkis’s production company, The Imaginarium.

‘Little Eve’ (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2018) won the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award and the August Derleth Prize for Best Horror Novel at the 2019 British Fantasy Awards, making her the only woman to have won the prize twice, and was a Guardian best book of 2018. Her debut Rawblood (W&N, 2015) won Best Horror Novel at the 2016 British Fantasy Awards, was shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award and a WHSmith Fresh Talent title. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. She lives in London and Devon.

Connect with Catriona:

Facebook: Catriona Ward

Twitter: @Catrionaward

Instagram: @catward66

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Book Review: The Village by Caroline Mitchell

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Ten years ago, the Harper family disappeared. Their deserted cottage was left with the water running, the television playing cartoons, the oven ready for baking. The doors were locked from the inside.

Overnight, the sleepy village of Nighbrook became notorious as the scene of the unsolved mystery of the decade, an epicentre for ghoulish media speculation.

For crime journalist Naomi, solving the case has turned into an obsession. So now, with Ivy Cottage finally listed for sale, it’s her chance to mount an investigation like no other. And her husband and stepdaughter don’t really need to know what happened in their new home… do they?

But Nighbrook isn’t quite the village she expected. No one wants to talk to her. No one will answer her questions. And as she becomes increasingly uneasy, it’s clear that the villagers are hiding something―that there is something very dark at the heart of this rural idyll. And the deeper she digs, the more it seems her investigation could be more dangerous than she ever imagined… In raking up the secrets of the past, has she made her own family the next target?

I am delighted to be sharing my review today of The Village by Caroline Mitchell. My thanks to Katrina Power for asking me to review the book and providing me with a copy for that purpose. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

There is nothing more sinister than an abandoned, neglected, isolated house buried deep in the looming woods, is there? It’s a premise that has been quite popular in novels in recent years, and you might think the trope has been done to death, but don’t let that put you off picking up a copy of The Village by Caroline Mitchell, because this book takes the storyline to the next level of creepiness with a historic disappearance and a village full of unfriendly locals that will do anything to see the back of you. Think an adult version of Hansel and Gretel meets The Wicker Man. That is the level of creepiness we are talking about with this book.

Crime journalist, Naomi, has always been fascinated by the story of the Harper family and their unsolved disappearance a decade ago, so when the chance comes to buy the very cottage in the New Forest from which they disappeared, she can’t resist. Dragging along her hostile step-daughter, Morgan, who has secrets of her own, she moves her family there to see if she can solve the mystery, only to meet silence and hostility from the locals. What are they hiding?

This book starts off with tension between Naomi and Morgan, and it does nothing but ramp up and ramp up throughout the book until your nerves are twanging like a banjo string in the duelling scene in ‘Deliverance’ and you will be physically unable to put the book down until you find out what happened to the Harper family. You will find yourself sharing Naomi’s obsession with the disappearance, as well as her fear and distaste and conflicted emotions. This book is a masterclass in keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.

I must warn you, this book is dark. Very dark. It covers some disturbing issues that are going to make you uncomfortable as you read. The author plumbs the murky depths of human behaviour in this story, but stick with it to the end. There is hope. There is some light at the end of the tunnel. All is not darkness and despair is you keep trying. I got a lot more from this book than I was expected when I started it, and it has haunted me more than I anticipated now that it is finished. Affecting and surprising, it has made me want to pick up further books by this author, and I can highly recommend it.

The Village is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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A New York Times, USA Today and Amazon No.1 bestselling author, Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline writes full time, with over 1.3 million books sold worldwide.

As well as her crime series, Caroline also writes stand-alone psychological thrillers. Her books have won first place as best psychological thriller in the US Reader’s Favourite Awards, been shortlisted for the International Thriller Awards in New York and been shortlisted for ‘Best Procedural’ in the Killer Nashville awards. Her crime thriller, Truth And Lies is a No.1 New York Times best seller and has been optioned for TV. 

Connect with Caroline:

Website: https://caroline-writes.com

Facebook: Caroline Mitchell Author

Twitter: @Caroline_writes

Instagram: @caroline_writes

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Book Review: The Jealousy Man by Jo Nesbo; Translated by Robert Ferguson

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Murder. Assassination. Revenge.

Discover the first short story collection from the King of Scandi Crime.

Meet a detective on the trail of a man suspected of murdering his twin; a hired assassin facing his greatest adversary; and two passengers meeting by chance on a plane, spelling romance or something far more sinister.

In his first ever collection of short stories, this master of crime delivers a gripping, edge-of-your seat read that you won’t be able to put down.

The first short story collection by Jo Nesbo and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this collection really blew me away with the range and depths of the ideas the author explores in these stories. He really mines the darkest and most base instincts of human kind here, and delves into some very dystopian ideas that are all the more disturbing for not being entirely incredible.

Normally I race through a book of short stories quite quickly, because they are consumed in easily digestible chunks – like grazing on snacks rather than consuming a three course meal. This book didn’t unfold that way for me. Firstly, many of the stories are not short, a couple are more like short novellas. Secondly, every one of them is dense and complex, in characterisation, theme and development so, for me, it was just impossible to race through them quickly. Each of them needed slow and careful reading to unpack and appreciate all the nuance contained within. This is a book which has to be read in a considered and thoughtful fashion. A pause after the end of each was necessary to fully absorb what the author have revealed in the story, and I even broke off halfway through and read something a little lighter to break up the experience because of the effect the book was having on me.

Because I found this book quite bleak in general in the issues it explores and the conclusions that are drawn in the stories. These are not tales of uplifting experiences and positive affirmations of human nature. They are all dark, even fatalistic, in tone and paint quite a negative view of humanity. They feel quite appropriate for the way things are developing at the moment, maybe even prophetic, so if you are looking for a book to cheer you up when the current news gets too heavy, this isn’t it. It is, however, brilliantly written, thought-provoking and a masterclass in how to write a complete and satisfying short story. I am more impressed than ever by Nesbo’s writing, and his fans will love it.

The Jealousy Man is available in all formats here.

About the Author

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Jo Nesbo is one of the world’s bestselling crime writers, with The Leopard, Phantom, Police, The Son and his latest Harry Hole novel, The Thirst, all topping the Sunday Times bestseller charts. He’s an international number one bestseller and his books are published in 50 languages, selling over 33 million copies around the world.

Before becoming a crime writer, Nesbo played football for Norway’s premier league team Molde, but his dream of playing professionally for Spurs was dashed when he tore ligaments in his knee at the age of eighteen. After three years military service he attended business school and formed the band Di derre (‘Them There’). They topped the charts in Norway, but Nesbo continued working as a financial analyst, crunching numbers during the day and gigging at night. When commissioned by a publisher to write a memoir about life on the road with his band, he instead came up with the plot for his first Harry Hole crime novel, The Bat.

Connect with Jo:

Website: https://jonesbo.com

Facebook: Jo Nesbo

Instagram: @jonesbo_author

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