Blog Tour: The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell #BookReview

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As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another… Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them.

But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

My second blog tour today is for The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell and I am delighted to have been invited to take part by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours. My thanks also to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Well, Laura Purcell, you owe me a tube of expensive eye cream to try and undo the ravages to my face inflicted by sitting up late into the night finishing your fantastic book. I inhaled the whole thing in a single day. It would have been one sitting if pesky things like having to feed my family hadn’t got in the way. Talk about compulsive reading, I couldn’t tear my eyes or mind away from this immersive story you have woven.

Life in Victorian Bath is alive on the page here, in all its grimy glory. Because this isn’t the world of the gentry, will dances and dinners and pretty dresses. This is the world of the impoverished, who are scratching around for the next pennies that will save them from the arms of the workhouse, walking a fine line that will keep them out of both there and the jail, because neither of those places are anywhere that a person wants to be in Victorian England, and Laura makes this quite clear in her writing. The prose is so evocative, it is alive with sights and sounds and scents, tastes and textures, and it is a pretty dark place she paints on the page. Not here the golden stone and gilded society of Jane Austen’s Bath. This is the perfect setting for a gothic tale that will keep you saucer-eyed into the wee small hours, as I was.

Our protagonist is Agnes, a feeble women of advancing middle-age, trying to scratch a living from her profession of cutting ‘shades’ or silhouette portraits for sitters who are becoming fewer and fewer as the silhouettes fall out of fashion, replaced by advances in technology. To make matter worse, tragedy seems to be striking her few recent clients, making her fear for her reputation and even her safety. This fear makes her seek answers from a spiritualist child, Pearl. But is Pearl’s gift real? And who is really haunting Agnes?

This is such a clever book. From beginning to end, nothing is what it seems. It is impossible to tell what is real and what isn’t, who is honest and who is a charlatan, who is the villain and who we can really trust. My thoughts and conclusions changed from page to page, I had so many wild theories but I never came near to the truth and, oh my god, the ending completely blew me away and left my mind reeling. This is one of those books where everything you think you know gets completely flipped on its head by the end and you end up wondering how the author managed to fool you so completely all the way through. One of the most satisfying books I have read for a long while.

This book has everything you could possibly want in a gothic novel. Darkness, danger, mystery and misdirection. Parts of it are quite vividly disturbing, because the author does not shy away from the real life horrors of this period of history for those who were not wealthy, as well as filling the book with supernatural thrills, but if you are a fan of this type of book, and of Laura’s previous books, you will absolutely love this.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. There aren’t that many books that I can afford to give up my beauty sleep for at my age, but this one was definitely worth it.

The Shape of Darkness is out now in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats and you can buy a copy here.

There are lots of other great reviews and contents being hosted on the other blogs taking part in the tour so make sure you pay them a visit:

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About the Author

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Laura Purcell is a former bookseller and lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs. Her first novel for Raven Books, The Silent Companions, was a Radio 2 and Zoe Ball ITV Book Club pick and was the winner of the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award, while her subsequent books – The Corset and Bone China – established Laura as the queen of the sophisticated, and spooky, page-turner.

Connect with Laura:

Website: https://www.laurapurcell.com/

Facebook: Laura Purcell

Twitter: @spookypurcell

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The Fiction Cafe Book Club Reading Challenge 2021: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager; Narrated by Cady McClain & Jon Lindstrom #BookReview

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What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into a rambling Victorian estate called Baneberry Hall. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a memoir called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon.

Now, Maggie has inherited Baneberry Hall after her father’s death. She was too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist.

But when she returns to Baneberry Hall to prepare it for sale, her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the pages of her father’s book lurk in the shadows, and locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself – a place that hints of dark deeds and unexplained happenings. 

As the days pass, Maggie begins to believe that what her father wrote was more fact than fiction. That either way, someone – or something – doesn’t want her here. And that she might be in danger all over again….

This is the first book I have chosen this year as part of the 2021 Reading Challenge for my online book club, The Fiction Cafe Book Club. (If you love books, you must check it out, it is the friendliest part of the internet for bibliophiles). The challenge is to read a new book every fortnight that fits the prescribed category for that two-week period.

The first category is ‘A book that was a Goodreads top read of 2020.’ I have again vowed to try and pick unread books from my TBR to fit the challenge categories, rather than buy new ones. So I chose this book, as I had it already as an audiobook.

I love to listen to Riley Sager novels as audiobooks. There is always so much action and tension in his books that they keep the narration rolling along, despite the fact that the narrators always read a lot slower than I could read them myself if I sat down with the paperback. This one was no exception, and it made me eager to get on with my chores so that I could listen to the next segment. The only drawback was that I could not use this audiobook to send me off to sleep at night as I sometimes do, it was too scary! I was afraid I would have nightmares, or frighten myself to death if I woke up in the night and caught sight of my reflection in the bedroom mirror.

The book is told in the voices of two narrators. The first is Maggie who, in the present day, returns to the ‘haunted house’ that her family fled from when she was five years old. Her family grew rich on the back of a book detailing their experiences in the ‘House of Horrors,’ but the experience has marred Maggie’s life since and, on the death of her father, Maggie returns to the house to find out what really happened back then. The second narrator is the voice of Maggie’s father, Ewan, telling the story of their time in the house as detailed in the book. But it is fact or fiction? Honestly, the reader/listener can’t really know until right at the end of the book, both stories (the one in the book, and the book itself) are very convincing. The audiobook is voiced by two different narrators for Maggie and Ewan who are both excellent and it works really, really well as a listen.

There are lots of twists and turns in the book that keep the reader gripped and guessing, right to the end. Parts of it a really unsettling, I quite often felt the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end and, as I said, I was afraid to listen to it just before sleep. All great signs of this type of ghost story/thriller and things I have come to expect from a Riley Sager novel. If you have enjoyed his books before, you will like this one.

Yes, it’s preposterous. Yes, the ending is absolutely ludicrous. Yes, you have to suspend your disbelief so far that it will feel like it is hovering over the Grand Canyon. But these are the things that make this kind of book so much fun and why this book was so popular that it ended up in the Goodreads Top Reads of 2020. It gave me everything I expected in spades and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Can’t wait for his next book.

Home Before Dark is out now as an ebook and audiobook, and will be published in paperback in July, and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer. Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and international bestseller that’s been translated into more than 25 languages. His subsequent novels, THE LAST TIME I LIED, LOCK EVERY DOOR and HOME BEFORE DARK, were instant New York Times bestsellers. His newest thriller, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, will be released in June.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not working on his next novel, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”

Connect with Riley:

Website: https://www.rileysagerbooks.com/

Facebook: Riley Sager Books

Twitter: @riley_sager

Instagram: @riley.sager

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Blog Tour: Winterkill by Ragnar Jonasson; Translated by David Warriner #BookReview

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Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.

Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.

Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…

As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

Time for my first blog tour of the new year and, what a dazzler to start off 2021! I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Winterkill by Ragnar Jonasson, the final book in his Dark Iceland series. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I’m ashamed to admit that I have never read a book by Ragnar Jonasson before, so I was coming in to the Dark Iceland series at the very end without knowing anything about any of the characters. This did not detract from my enjoyment of the novel one bit, in fact, it just made me want to go back and read the preceding novels in the series.

The book is set in the small town of Siglufjörður in northern Iceland at the start of the Easter weekend. Ari Thor Arason is the police inspector, and is in sole charge of the town’s policing, except for a new, young assistant straight out of the police academy. So when a dead body is discovered lying in the main street of the quiet town in the middle of the night, this is the first serious investigation that Ari Thor has been in sole charge of, and the responsibility lays heavy on his shoulders. To compound his problems, the weekend marks the arrival of his estranged partner and young son for a long-awaited visit.

There were a number of things I really loved about this novel. First was the small town Icelandic setting of the novel. I’ve read a number of books set in Reykavik, but this was my first exploring what life is like in a very remote and tiny town in this small country, and it was absolutely fascinating. The author really brings the setting to life, I could clearly see the town in my mind’s eye, and imagine what it must be like to live there. Coming from a tiny village, I could understand the conflict between the comfort and claustrophobia of small town life, compounded as it is here by remoteness and the harshness of the Icelandic winter. It was the perfect setting for a tense, suspenseful murder investigation, I felt quite in edge throughout most of the book.

Secondly, I loved how human Ari Thor was throughout the book. There is a lot of focus on the balance between his home life and work life. As there is such a small police force, it is almost impossible for Ari Thor to be off duty, and we can see clearly throughout the book how closely his two worlds are intertwined, and how this has impacted, and continues to impact all of his relationships, particularly with his ex and young son. I also thought it was so interesting that the author displays Ari Thor as a man with many uncertainties and frailties in his life and character. He is unsure of his ability to manage such a serious case, unsure about what he wants to do with his future, constantly questioning his decisions, how other people feel about him, what he is capable of. Normally we see men who are hardened, confident, stoic in these roles, Ari Thor is not like that at all and I found it refreshing and honest.

Finally, the actual crime itself and the way the story pans out was gripping. The book is very short, only 225 pages, but a lot of action is packed in to the pages. We start off with something that looks like a simple suicide, but over the course of the investigation so many secrets are uncovered that we end up in a very different place than where we started, but not at all in a predictable way. The plot is engaging, as is the way that Ari investigates it, and the whole book was a rewarding reading experience from start to finish.

All in all, Winterkill is a short but satisfying read, with interesting and very human characters and an atmospheric setting that really drew me in and held me in thrall. A great start to my reading year, and an introduction to a new author that I can’t wait to read more of.

Winterkill is out now in hardback and ebook formats, and in paperback on 21 January. You can buy your copy here.

Please do visit some of the other fabulous blogs featuring on the tour to get their views on the book:

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About the Author

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Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavík University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavík, and is co-founder of the International crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. Ragnar’s debut thriller, Snowblind became an almost instant bestseller when it was published in June 2015n with Nightblind (winner of the Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation Award) and then Blackout, Rupture and Whiteout following soon after. To date, Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, which has been optioned for TV by On the Corner. He lives in Reykjavík with his wife and two daughters.

Connect with Ragnar:

Website: http://www.ragnarjonasson.com/

Twitter: @ragnarjo

Instagram: @ragnarjo

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Blog Tour: Double Deceit by Julienne Brouwers #BookReview

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What if you were framed for a murder you didn’t commit? 

Jennifer Smits is a young mother, married to a hotshot lawyer and living in Amsterdam. Her world explodes when her husband is found dead at a holiday park during a weekend getaway. Convinced that the police have failed in their investigation, she embarks on a desperate quest for the truth – but the deeper she digs, the more she gets enmeshed in a tangled web of lies, spun by a ruthless law firm.

As Jennifer’s search for answers intensifies, her grip on reality weakens. Barely able to manage her patients at the health clinic, or take care of her young son, Jennifer is at risk of losing it all – even her closest friends begin to desert her. And then a chance encounter with a charming stranger sparks a new chain of events that plunges her deeper into a world of threats and corruption. Soon, she begins to fear for her life – but who can she trust, and how far will she go in pursuit of the truth?

I am delighted to be sharing my review today of Double Deceit by Julienne Brouwers. My thanks to Chris Nijs at JB Publishing for inviting me to take part and to Head of Zeus for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I was immediately drawn to the premise of the book as soon as I read the blurb. I am a sucker for a legal thriller and the prospect of a lone woman up against a nefarious group of lawyers is definitely something I want to read. I was hearing echoes of one of my favourite books, The Firm by John Grisham, and there were definite parallels between that book and this one as I read it, so if that is a book that is up your street, I know you will enjoy Double Deceit.

The book starts off with tension between the main character, Jennifer, and her husband Oliver whilst they are on a family break when their young son gets lost. I thought the story was going one way when Oliver later turns up dead, but it soon took a different turn and we are lead down a labyrinthine path, as more and more details of Oliver’s life before his death are revealed to an unsuspecting Jennifer and her faith in what she knew about her husband is shaken to the core. She begins to doubt his death is as straight forward as the police believe, and she becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth, to the point where she is alienating all around her.

The book is gripping, with numerous red herrings and dead ends thrown in to keep the reader guessing right until the end. Just when you think you know where it is going, there is a huge twist thrown in and, I have to say, I kept changing my mind between different theories as to what had happened, right up until the final chapter, so it was very cleverly done in that respect. There were numerous different endings that the book could have had, some that maybe would have been even more interesting than how it finally turned out, but overall I was satisfied with the way the plot turned out.

The author has developed some very interesting characters in the book. I thought the way she explored the emotional fallout for Jennifer of her husband’s death and being left alone with a small child to bring up alone was fascinating and realistic. How quickly her friends abandoned her when they thought she was going a bit crazy over the way her husband dies was very upsetting and makes you wonder what your friends would do in that situation. It was an interesting exploration of the dynamics of relationships and the robustness of the human spirit, how much we should trust our gut about people and how well we know them.

If I had any tiny niggles, one was that some of Jennifer’s actions required a bit of a stretch of credulity to accept, but this is often the case in a book of this sort, it isn’t supposed to be real life. Also, some of the writing, particularly in the speech patterns, sounded quite formal and not one hundred per cent natural. However, I put this down to English being the author’s second language and I think it is quite forgivable in that context.

I really enjoyed Double Deceit and would definitely read more books by this author in the future, it kept me  clenched in its grip for a good few hours. Highly recommended.

Double Deceit is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do check out the blogs listed below for more reviews of the book:

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About the Author

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Julienne Brouwers worked as a pharmaceutical scientist and medical physicist before becoming a writer. She lives in the Netherlands, with her husband and three children, where she has published two successful thrillers, and lived in the UK and US for a total of four years. 

Connect with Julienne:

Facebook: Julienne Brouwers

Twitter: @JulienneAuthor

Instagram: @juliennebrouwers

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Blog Tour: The House Mate by Nina Manning; Narrated by Helen Keeley

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I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for the audiobook of The House Mate by Nina Manning. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting to take part and to Boldwood Books for providing me with an audio copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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The perfect life? …Or the perfect lie?

When Regi moves into her new house share, she’s ready for a clean slate. A new home. A new routine. A new identity…

Desperate to escape the shadow of her past that follows her everywhere she goes, Regi finds the ideal distraction in the perfect lives of others on social media.

But as innocent scrolling turns into an unhealthy obsession, Regi will soon learn that seeking perfection comes at a price…

I love to listen to thrillers in audiobook format because they always full of action and tension and they hold your interest, making whatever mundane job you are doing while listening to it just fly by. For this reason I was really looking forward to listening to The House Mate, and I did really enjoy it, with a couple of caveats.

The book is narrated by Regi, a mature student who moves into a house share with three other, much younger girls, whilst starting a foundation course at university. She is running from something in her past that is initially unnamed, but is gradually revealed throughout the course of the book. She suffers from OCD, and becomes obsessed with a ‘clean-stagrammer’ on Instagram – an obsession that gradually leans her in to trouble.

It is hard to know from early on in the book whether we can trust Regi and her narration of events. She is obviously very damaged, and she makes decisions no mentally healthy person would contemplate, so we are suspicious from the start which ramps up the tension. There are lots of hints and innuendos about violence in her past, and the narration cleverly leads us down a certain path, only to flip our perspective completely at the end. I was really surprised by the ending, which is quite a hard thing to achieve these day, given how much the domestic psychological thriller genre has been mined. The author touches on some really interesting themes and issues in the book that I don’t believe I have read about in this type of fiction book before, so that was all in its favour.

The book did have a couple of issues. I found the pacing uneven, which is a difficult thing to overcome on an audiobook rather than text which you can read faster. There was a certain amount of repetition of events which didn’t necessarily advance the plot in a couple of areas. And bits of it felt a bit far-fetched, some people might struggle to stretch their imaginations to accept that these things could happen. If you are happy to suspend your disbelief as far as necessary to enjoy an entertaining puzzle, you’ll probably enjoy this very much. If you find your pragmatism kicks in when reading to question the credibility of a plot, you might have to work a bit harder.

The author’s writing style is approachable and flows well, and the narrator was excellent. She really brought the characters to life, and her emphasis and inflection kept the story moving along evenly. I would definitely listen to other books narrated by Helen. This was a book that I needed to listen to to the end, because I wanted to know what happened, I also really liked the way that the author didn’t necessarily give us the neatly-tied-up-in-a-perfect-bow ending that might have tempted her, it made it feel more authentic in the final chapters. However, the wrap up did dump a lot of information in the last couple of chapters in a way that just enhanced how slow-burning the plot had been to this point.

A good, solid domestic thriller exploring some novel, current and fascinating topics. If this genre is your bag and you are looking for something a bit different, give it a try.

The House Mate is out now and you can get the audiobook here.

Please do make sure you check out the other reviews from the bloggers taking part in the tour for some different perspectives.

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About the Author

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Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. Her debut psychological thriller, The Daughter in Law, was a bestseller in the UK, US, Australia and Canada. She lives in Dorset.

Connect with Nina:

Website: https://www.ninamanningauthor.com/

Facebook: Nina Manning

Twitter: @ninamanning78

Instagram: @ninamanning_author

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Publication Day: One By One by Ruth Ware #BookReview

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It’s finally here! It’s Publication Day for One By One by Ruth Ware, her fantastic new thriller. I am a massive fan of Ruth’s books, so I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to be part of the team promoting her latest novel. I want to thank Graeme Williams of Graeme Williams Marketing for the opportunity and Harvill Secker and Vintage Books for my advance copy of the novel, which I am reviewing for you today, honestly and impartially.

Have a very happy Publication Day, Ruth!

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Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.

The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask – would someone resort to murder, to get what they want?

I love to ski, but I’ve only ever stayed in ski hotels, in the heart of bustling resorts with lots of other cheery people and lively apres-ski activity. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to stay in an exclusive chalet, waited on hand and foot and with every luxury at your fingertips after a hard day on the slopes. Well, now I’ve read this book, oppressive, isolated and lonely are the words that spring to mind. I think I’ll stick to my cheap and cheerful accommodation!

Set in the tiny ski resort of Antoine 2000, the book opens with the two chalet hosts, Erin and Danny, setting up the luxury chalet for its latest guests, the management team of hip, music-sharing app, Snoop. The atmosphere begins off in a laid-back way, with Danny and Erin laughing and joking and relaxing in their surroundings, getting to enjoy the luxury themselves for a few hours. This all provides the reader with a false sense of warmth and security, which makes the flip to the nightmarish reality later in the book all the more horrifying.

Once the Snoop team arrive, it becomes clear that they aren’t an altogether pleasant bunch, and that there are tensions running rife through the group with regard to the running of the business and where it is headed. I loved the idea of Snoop, and being able to nosy in on what music other people are listening to in real time. Is this a little insight into who people really are, or would it make individuals feel they had to maintain a facade, even in their private time? This is an interesting theme explored in the book, the difference between the public face we choose to show the world, and who we really are underneath, what truths about ourselves are we hiding.

Anyone who has read any of Ruth’s books before will know that she is the queen of the page-turner. Her chapters are short and snappy, full of action, always driving the plot forward and it is so easy and tempting to read ‘just one more chapter, just one more,’ until your realise you haven’t looked up for a couple of hours and you are halfway through the book. There is always something at the end of one chapter that means you have to read the next, making the book very pacy and addictive. I could have read it in a single sitting, if sleep hadn’t got in the way.

I really loved One By One, it gave me everything I want from a gripping thriller. Fast-paced plot, oppressive atmosphere, clever set up that looks like it gives the protagonist no way out of their predicament, shocking turns of event, cleverly built and atmospheric location, secrets, lies, dilemmas, a mix of likeable and unlikeable characters and a shocking conclusion. I did have my suspicions about who was to blame for what was going on from quite early on, but this did not in anyway detract from my enjoyment of the book or the sense of tension built in the narrative. It is one of those books that you race through to get to the end because you have to know what happens, and then wish you could go back to the beginning and read it for the first time all over again. Excellent stuff.

One By One is out today in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats and you can buy a copy here.

Tonight I will be attending the online launch party for the book, so watch out for reports from that across my social media channels.

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About the Author

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Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, The Death of Mrs Westaway, The Turn of the Key and One by One have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times, and she is published in more than 40 languages. Ruth lives near Brighton with her family.

Connect with Ruth:

Website: https://ruthware.com/

Facebook: Ruth Ware Writer

Twitter: @RuthWareWriter

Instagram: @ruthwarewriter

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Guest Post: One By One by Ruth Ware

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It’s Publication Week for the new novel by Ruth Ware! One By One is out this Thursday and, as a huge fan of Ruth’s books, I am thrilled to be part of the team celebrating publication of her new book. There is lots going on across social media this week, including my review coming on publication day, and coverage of Ruth’s launch party. But, for today, I am delighted to have some exclusive content to share with you.

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Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.

The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask – would someone resort to murder, to get what they want?

Doesn’t that sound amazing? Don’t you want to read it immediately? I can’t wait to share my review with you on Thursday. However, for today, I am just going to whet your appetite with an exclusive profile of one of the characters from the book, prepared by Ruth.

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So, now I know you want to read this book even more, don’t you? Well, there are only three days left to go before you can get your hands on your own copy of One By One by Ruth Ware. Pre-order your copy here now.

Please do keep watching the blog and social media for more news about Ruth’s latest book this week.

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Blog Tour: The Wicked Oath by Michael L. Lewis #Spotlight

The Wicked Oath

It is my turn on the blog tour today for The Wicked Oath by Michael L. Lewis and I am pleased to be able to spotlight this book for you today. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for offering my the opportunity.

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A wicked conspiracy. A diabolical offer. Survival: a matter of life or death!

Behind the walls of Blackleigh, a prestigious public boarding school in northern England, lurks wickedness and bullying. Those in power form a conspiracy to devise any means to expel certain boys. Surviving for their victims becomes a matter of life and death…

Jonathan Simon, in his second year, returns to school to find that ruthless prefects – Sleeth, Tunk and Miller – are in charge of his house. Things take a turn for the worse when the new Headmaster starts, and Jonathan and his friends are targeted.

As the pressure mounts, friendships become closer and scheming increases as unexpected revelations occur. For Blackleigh, the year is just beginning...

The Wicked Oath is the second book in the Oath series by Michael L. Lewis, set in the enclosed world of an elite boys’ boarding school in the 1950s. However, the book will work quite well as a standalone and will appeal to anyone who loves a thriller, filled with conspiracy theories and details of the secretive, esoteric goings on behind the doors of Britain’s public schools. How true is the story? Only people who have experienced that world, like the author, can really know.

If this sounds like something that would appeal to you, you can buy a copy of The Wicked Oath here, along with the first book in the series, The Oath.

If you would like to read some reviews of the book, to see what my fellow bloggers thought, you can follow the rest of the tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

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Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of Trustees for several schools and has been a member of the same book club for twenty-five years.

Connect with Michael:

Facebook: Michael L. Lewis

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Blog Tour: Playdate by Alex Dahl #BookReview

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It was meant to be your daughter’s first sleepover.
Now it’s an abduction.

Lucia Blix went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, her mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and shared a glass of wine with Josie’s mother. Then she kissed her little girl goodnight and drove home.

That was the last time she saw her daughter.

The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia.

In Playdate, Alex Dahl puts a microscope on a seemingly average, seemingly happy family plunged into a life-altering situation.

Who has taken their daughter, and why?

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Playdate by Alex Dahl today. My thanks to Sophie Ransom of Midas PR for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher, Head of Zeus, for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This book gave me nightmares. I don’t mean that figuratively, I mean that I had an actual nightmare about being in a similar situation with my own youngest daughter the first night I started reading this book. The story is so profoundly realistic that I was actually able to imagine myself in the situation of Elisa in the book and my sub-concious acted that out in my sleep, jerking me awake in the early hours, sweating and heart pounding in panic. If you like a good horror story, this is it.

We are plunged almost immediately into a hellish scenario in the novel, which any parent will easily be able to relate to with a shudder. Remember one of those times where you lost sight of your child for a moment or two and felt a sudden panic that they were lost? Now imagine that was real and that you KNEW they were gone but had no idea where and how to find them. That they weren’t just lost but taken by someone whose motives were unclear. It doesn’t take much of a leap of imagination for a parent to put themselves in that position, and that is what makes this book so chilling. The way it happens is so completely plausible that it will give you palpitations thinking of how this could easily happen to you. There is nothing more nightmarish than reality at times.

If I hadn’t started reading this book so close to bedtime, I would have devoured it in a single sitting. As it was, it took me less than 24 hours to read the book from start to finish, I simply could not put it down. The narrative is addictive, I just had to know what happened. The book is written from many different perspectives, so we get a fully rounded picture of events from every side – the grieving mother, the confused child, the abductor themselves, and other peripheral but pivotal figures in the drama. Each chapter starts by telling us who we are hearing from, so it is easy to follow, and it works perfectly to slowly peel back the facts of the matter and, more fascinatingly, the motives behind the behaviour of the individuals involved. Just when you think you have a handle on what is happening and why, we are thrown another snippet of information which changes the course of the narrative and leads us down another path. It is totally engrossing.

The chapters are short and punchy, with no words wasted, which leads to a pacy reading experience. There is action and information on every page, no slow spots, no needless descriptions or detours. The tension never lets up for a second and it will keep you on the edge of the seat all the way through. I know this book will be one that haunts me for a long while after I have finished it. It is all too plausible a set of facts for us to able to dismiss as far-fetched the way you can with some more extreme thrillers, and this makes it all the more unsettling (although I did wonder at the very beginning what the mother thought she was doing, giving in to something on the spur of the moment, but I guess it just shows we are all fallible and how easily we can make foolish, impulsive decisions that come back to haunt us.)

This book is an absolutely fabulous and riveting read for anyone who likes a fast-paced, enthralling thriller based on a credible premise that will terrify any parent who has ever watched the news. Close the curtains, lock the door, hug your child and be glad that, in your world, this is only a piece of fiction.

Please do follow the rest of the tour for more great reviews (Meggy from Choc’n’Waffles wrote a much more eloquent one than this yesterday, you can read it here): 

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About the Author

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Alex Dahl was born in Oslo and is the critically acclaimed author of The Boy at the Door.  She graduated with a B.A. in Russian and German linguistics with international studies and went on to complete an M.A. in creative writing at Bath Spa University, followed by an M.S. in business management at Bath University. Alex has published short stories in the U.K. and the U.S. and is a serious Francophile.

Connect with Alex:

Facebook: Alex Dahl Author

Twitter: @alexdahlauthor

Instagram: @authoralex

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Blog Tour: The Memories We Bury by H. A. Leuschel #BookReview

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An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood

Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, whose own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.

Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?

In The Memories We Bury the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.

Today is my turn on the blog tour for The Memories We Bury by H. A. Leuschel. My thanks to Emma Welton of damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part in the tour, and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book from reading the blurb and, throughout the book it became obvious that it was something a little different. Part psychological thriller, part study of human nature and how we are formed and influenced from childhood, it was an usual and fascinating reading experiences which I found interesting, with a couple of caveats.

There are two main protagonists in the book, and we hear the story through their alternating voices. Lizzie, a young mother who has been influenced by a mother who she was never able to please, and this seems to have influenced her choices throughout her life, particularly her husband; and Morag, her older neighbour who is looking for a surrogate family to love. Initially, these women seem to be just what the other needs, but when is life ever that simple? It becomes obvious that there are sinister undercurrents at play and things may not end well.

It is hard to tell throughout who is genuine and who is hiding something beneath their cultivated facade, and my opinions on this changed from chapter to chapter. I found the ending quite shocking, and the whole book is disquieting, digging deeper into ideas about our memories and the influences childhood memories have throughout our lives.

I had difficulty getting into this book for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it does jump around between voices and timelines somewhat, and I found it quite hard to keep track of where we were at with each character in the plot to begin with, possibly not helped by the fact that I started reading it quite late one night when I wasn’t at my freshest. Also, some of the sentence construction  and phrasing is a little unusual, I suspect because English is not the first language for this author, and that somewhat upset the rhythm of the reading for me until I got used to it. These are minor niggles, easily overcome and possibly may bother other readers less. The main issue I had, I’m afraid, was my lack of connection to any of the characters in the early stages of the book. Two of them I didn’t like at all and, the one I think I was supposed to feel most sympathy for was a bit wet for my tastes. Other readers may have a different reaction. I did read this book immediately following a reread of one of my all-time favourite novels which has, as its protagonist, one of the strongest and most inspiring female leads in literature, so the contrast perhaps worked against this novel and maybe at a different time under different circumstances, I would have felt differently. In fact, if I hadn’t been reading it to a deadline, it may well have been one of those books that you set aside because you aren’t in the mood, then return to and enjoy more at a later date and in a different mindset.

This novel has a lot going for it. It is s detailed dissection of human nature with an interesting premise and some skilfully drawn characters. There are enough twists and turns and red herrings to keep the reader interested, and the end is definitely memorable. I think this is a book that people need to read and judge for themselves, especially if you enjoy psychological fiction and are looking for something unique and outside of the curve. The minor issues I had with it are very likely to prove personal to me and should not in any way discourage potential readers if they like the sound of the blurb. They distracted very little from the worthiness and value of the book.

The Memories We Bury is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Do make sure you follow the rest of the tour for different perspectives on the book.

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About the Author

HA Leuschel

Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specializing in the study of the mind. Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists. She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.

Connect with Helene:

Website: https://www.heleneleuschel.com

Facebook: H A Leuschel

Twitter: @HALeuschel

Instagram: @haleuschel

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