Blog Tour: Wilderness by B.E. Jones #BookReview

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A dream road trip turned dark nightmare.

Two weeks, 1,500 miles and three opportunities for her husband to save his own life.

It isn’t about his survival – it’s about hers.

Shattered by the discovery of her husband’s affair, Liv knows they need to leave the chaos of New York to try and save their marriage. Maybe the road trip they’d always planned, exploring America’s national parks – just the two of them – would help heal the wounds.

But what Liv hasn’t told her husband is that she has set him three challenges on their trip – three opportunities to prove he’s really sorry and worthy of her forgiveness.

If he fails? Well, it’s dangerous out there. There are so many ways to die in the wilderness; accidents happen all the time.

And if it’s easy to die, then it’s also easy to kill.

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for the paperback launch of Wilderness by B.E. Jones. My thanks to Emma Welton of damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is going to be a hard book to review without giving away too much plot, but this book is a wild ride in so many different ways. From the narrator to the locations to the intertwined timelines, to the exploration of relationships, infidelity, how people react to it and whether we can really ever know the people we are with, there are so many amazing facets to this brilliant thriller.

The book is narrated by Liv, who has just found out that her husband, Will, has been having an affair. Her seemingly perfect life ripped apart, she decides that they will take a road trip to try and mend their marriage, exploring some of America’s beautiful National Parks. But does a trip in to the wilderness heal or expose the rifts in their relationship, and where does the greatest danger really lie. Liv is a fantastic character to lead the book. The quintessential unreliable narrator, Liv is a deeply flawed and troubled soul dealing with a situation that has rocked her world and it is immediately apparent that she may not be psychologically equipped to cope with what has happened to her, Throughout the book, as we dive backwards through the events surrounding the revelation of the affair, and forwards through Liv and Will’s road trip, all the layers of Liv’s psyche are peeled back, and more and more surprising facets of her character are revealed, so we are always on our toes and never know what to expect.

But Liv is not the only troubled character in this book, demons seem to haunt everyone, secrets are everywhere and it is impossible to know whose version of events to trust and who is telling the truth. The author builds up such a complex web of lies and deceit that, even the most heinous of characters end up with seemingly ‘reasonable’ justification for their immoral behaviour and one of the main questions becomes, who are the real bad guys here, and who amongst them deserves the consequences they end up suffering. Being able to make the reader feel some sympathy and solidarity with characters who are less than clean cut takes some skill, and is brilliantly done here.

The settings of the book really grabbed me too, and perfectly reflected the events taking place. The author makes the teeming city of New York and its vast skyscrapers feel both like a place where it is possible to hide and get lost in order to carry out nefarious deeds, uncaring and impersonal, and a tiny community where you cannot avoid the consequences of your actions at the same time. Then, when the couple hit the open roads of the American West, the vast empty landscapes are actually made to feel claustrophobic and menacing, because of the danger that lurks along every step. The book has an extremely oppressive atmosphere, which really ramps up the tension throughout. There was actually one point where, reading this in bed late at night, one of the WTF Moments (more later) happened, and I actually physically jumped, as I would when watching a scary scene in a movie. Making a book so vivid and immediate is a gift. This book is a joy for an armchair traveller, really bringing a sense of place to the narrative, albeit an ominous one at times.

There were so many themes in this book that are there for unpicking, I think it will reward multiple readings. How well do you know the ones we love? How well do we know ourselves? What are we capable of when under threat, and are we always looking in the right places for danger in our lives? This book has so many twists and turns, and so many things I did not see coming. Just when I thought I could see where things were going, the author spins us off on a completely different track and there was more than one point in the book where I was actually internally shouting, ‘WTF just happened?!!” at the pages. And the ending? OMG. This book is a fantastic and creepy thriller that I read in a single day and had to force myself to set aside in the wee small hours of the morning because I really did not want to put it down.

I absolutely loved this book, it was an extremely rewarding, edge-of-your-seat thriller that did not disappoint on any level. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Wilderness is out now in all formats, and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you visit the other fabulous blogs taking part in the tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

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Beverley Jones was born in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, and started her ‘life of crime’ as a reporter on The Western Mail before moving into TV news with BBC Wales Today. 

She covered all aspects of crime reporting before switching sides as a press officer for South Wales police, dealing with the media in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Now a freelance writer she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales. 

Wilderness, her sixth crime novel follows the release of Halfway by Little Brown in 2018.

Bev’s previous releases, Where She Went, The Lies You Tell, Make Him Pay and Fear The Dark are also available from Little Brown as e-books. 

Connect with Bev:

Facebook: Bev Jones

Twitter: @bevjoneswriting

Instagram: @bevjoneswriting

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Tempted by … Macsbooks: Scorched Grounds by Debbie Herbert

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In the eighteen years since her father went to prison for killing her mother and brother, Della Stallings has battled a crippling phobia. Her fear only grows when her father’s released. She still believes he killed her family, but the police don’t have enough evidence to arrest him again.

When new grisly murders occur—each bearing the telltale signs that seem to implicate her father—Della begins to wonder if the real murderer is still out there. Could her father have been framed?

To find the truth, Della must face her greatest fears and doubts—not only to find justice for her family but to ensure her own survival.

Today’s Tempted By… involves me being enticed to buy not one, but two books by the same author, after reading this review on the blog, Macsbooks.

I have mentioned repeatedly on the blog before my love of books set in the South of the USA, so the opening lines of the review immediately caught my attention. However, the books I normally pick up set in this region tend to be romances, family sagas or historical fiction, so I was drawn to the fact that Scorched Grounds is a dark, Southern noir thriller, quite unlike other Southern literature I’ve read, so I knew I had to grab a copy. In addition, who wouldn’t want to read a thriller set in a town called Normal, which promises to be anything but. When I saw that this was the second book set in this location, I decided to get them both and read them in order, so you can see my copy of Cold Waters peeping out underneath.

Is it me, or does anyone else really want to go and see what the real Normal, Alabama is like after reading this review, or is that an odd reaction to have after seeing this creepy cover?

I really enjoy following Mac’s blog as, being in the States, she often reviews books that I am not coming across on many of the blogs run by UK bloggers and I really enjoy that diversity. She also has a very approachable reviewing style, and I enjoy catching up with her mini reviews. Her blog always seems fresh and vibrant, make sure you check it out if you haven’t done so before. You can find her at https://macsbooks311.wordpress.com

If you now fancy taking a literary trip to Normal, Alabama yourself via Debbie Herbert’s writing, you can grab your own copy of Scorched Grounds, here.

 

Blog Tour: Strangers by C. L. Taylor #BookReview

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Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.

Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.

None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.

Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.

Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Strangers by C. L. Taylor. Huge thanks to Sanjana Cunniah of Avon Books for inviting me to take part and for my digital copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This thriller has a fantastic construction, as it opens with the three main characters standing over a dead body, so we know immediately they are involved in a death, but not who is dead, which one killed them or why . The plot then scoots back a week and follows the separate stories of the three individuals who we quickly realise don’t know each other at this point, so we spend the rest of the book trying to find out how three strangers come together in a week to be involved in a death.

I found this story really compelling in so far as the three protagonists are very ordinary people leading fairly dull lives, who all get dragged into something extraordinary through a series of unremarkable occurrences. It makes you wonder how far any of us are from becoming embroiled in something way out of our control through a tiny twist of fate. From the beginning it is hard to see how any of these simple people could become involved in a violent death, but the plot slowly and cleverly draws the disparate threads together that bring them all to one place. It is very skilfully done, and fascinating to follow. I loved the series of false trails that were laid to trick us into following them and coming up only with red herrings. I didn’t guess where the story was going to end up until quite close to the conclusion.

As well as being a gripping thriller, the story builds three very believable ordinary characters that it is easy for the reader to relate to. Although not individually remarkable, they all dealing with a series of every day problems that any one of us may face at any time – grief, loneliness, infidelity, divorce, money worries, internet dating, sexual assault, unemployment, family illness, troubled teenagers, domestic abuse, psychological distress, workplace stress – which of these triggers, small or large, are the ones that push these people to the place where they find themselves in a terrifying situation.

This is a book that propels you through the story and holds you tightly in its grip until you get to the end. I read it in two sittings (it would have been one if I’d not started it late one evening and fallen asleep before I could finish.) It is a domestic drama, than a thriller filled with whizz bangs and explosions, but it actually all the more gripping for it. This could happen to you or me. Maybe we should be afraid.

Another fantastic and gripping thriller from Cally Taylor, fans of her books will not be disappointed.

Strangers is out now in hardback, audio and ebook formats, and you can buy a copy here.

This book is taking a mammoth blog tour, so make sure you check out some of the other stops as detailed below:

 

About the Author

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C.L. Taylor is an award winning Sunday Times bestselling author of seven gripping psychological thrillers including SLEEP, a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for autumn 2019.

She has also written two Young Adult thrillers, THE TREATMENT, which was published by HarperCollins HQ and THE ISLAND, which will be published in January 2021.

C.L. Taylor’s books have sold in excess of a million copies, been number one on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play and have been translated into over 25 languages and optioned for TV.

SLEEP won the ‘best ebook’ award in the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards. THE ESCAPE won the Dead Good Books ‘Hidden Depths’ award for the Most Unreliable Narrator. THE FEAR was shortlisted in the Hearst Big Book Awards in the ‘Pageturner’ category.

Cally Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014. She lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

Connect with Cally:

Twitter: @callytaylor

Instagram: @cltaylorauthor

 

Blog Tour: Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl; Translated by Don Bartlett #BookReview

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Oslo detective Frølich searches for the mysterious sister of a young female asylum seeker, but when people start to die, everything points to an old case and a series of events that someone will do anything to hide…

Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death.

Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run…

Today I am posting my review for Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl, the latest in the Oslo Detectives series. My huge apologies to the author, publisher and tour organiser for the lateness of this review. I was unable to post on my scheduled date due to an accident, but I hope you enjoy it now. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to review the book and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was my first introduction to the world of Detective Frolich, despite being the the fact that it is book eight in the series. However, it works perfectly as a standalone, although I would like to know more about Frolich’s back story, as he is a fascinating character. In this book, we meet Frolich as he is working as a private detective, having been suspended from the police, and is trying to find his footing in this new world and work out how to make a living. Despite this, he gets involved in a case that is set to be hugely unprofitable for him at the behest of his new girlfriend, and a woman who begs him to help a refugee she is working with. The fact he accepts gives us great insight into Frolich’s character and what drives him. It is a sense of justice and wanting to help people that is his biggest motivator, rather than money.

The book takes Frolich across the Norwegian landscape, from Oslo to more remote places, and I found the descriptions of the locations enticing, if a little bleak. It felt like there was a darkness seeping into every corner of this novel, not just the crime but the setting and the characters too. In fact, the word that really encapsulated the feel of the book for me was melancholy. There was a sadness seeping from the pages; from Frolich and his situation; from the plight of the subjects of the investigation; and from the very landscape itself. The references to unfortunate things that have happened in Norway may have contributed to this throughout, the book felt sad and a little hopeless.

This is largely due to the driving narrative behind the story, which is the problem of refugees in Norway and the desperate situations in which they find themselves. Fleeing from places of war and persecution, they risk a lot to reach countries they believe they may be safe, only to find that they may be in as much danger where they have arrived than the place they are left. Subject to prejudice and at risk of exploitation, they find they have not reached the nirvana they were hoping for. The book is a damning indictment of how Western societies are failing these vulnerable people, as well as an illuminating social commentary on the risks that they face at either end of their journey. A very modern and relevant story, as well as being a gripping thriller.

I was hooked o this book from start to finish, although I did find it a heart-rending and thought-provoking read. I just wanted to mention the skill in the translation of this novel from Norwegian. It was seamless and barely noticeable, which is the great skill in translating fiction, I was not distracted by the translation at all. Another great, new writer to me from the astonishing Orenda stable, I can’t wait to catch up on the instalments I have missed and see what is next. Intelligent writing.

Sister is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do make sure you check out the rest of the tour, as detailed below:

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About the Author

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One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

Connect with Kjell:

Twitter: @ko_dahl

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Blog Tour: I Am Dust by Louise Beech #BookReview

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When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

A new book by Louise Beech is always something to get excited about so I feel very privileged to be taking part in the blog tour for her latest novel, I Am Dust today. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for including me on the tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

“a moment when darkness falls, and the stage is lit; a moment when they might wonder if they even exist any more; when they forget everything for two hours.”

This is a quote from early on in I Am Dust, the new book by Louise Beech, when we first meet the protagonist, Chloe, in the modern day setting of the Dean Wilson Theatre where she is an usher. Chloe is talking about the moment just before the curtain rises on a show, where the audience hang in anticipation of being swept away to a new world, taken out of their mundane lives and transported and immersed in someone else’s for a while. Everyone who loves the theatre, and I certainly count myself amongst that number, recognises this feeling.

I have picked this quote out and included it here because this is also exactly how opening the first page of a new book by this author makes me feel. Breathless with anticipation and ready to be transported to somewhere completely different and, I have to say, that I Am Dust delivered on this sense of promise on every level. I read this book pretty much in a single sitting over the course of one day, ignoring everything around me because I was so captivated and consumed by the story that Louise placed between these pages that I could not bear to break the spell before it was over. A bit like when you emerge from a virtuoso performance, slightly disoriented and blinking in the alien light of the real world, I came out of this reading experience, preoccupied and slightly bereft, but with the horde of emotions the tale had stirred up in me still buzzing through my veins.

One of the things that makes Louise’s writing so unique is that it defies genre pigeon-holeing. Everyone is different and unique, and you never know quite what to expect, except that you know it is never going to be straight-forward and that it will touch you in a million different ways. Here we have a mystery, a ghost story, a tale of love and rivalry and an exploration of teenage angst, ambition, and sacrifice. It has so many levels of complexity that it takes a while to sort out how you feel about the book once you have finished it, and it made me immediately want to go back to the beginning and start again so I could savour the tiny details I missed on my first impatient read-through where I both couldn’t wait to get to the end and could not bear to be finished either. These dichotomies will be familiar to anyone who has read Louise’s work before, and feed through to many aspects of her stories, a case in point here being the theme that it is possible to both love and hate someone at the same time.

This is a dual timeline story, set in the present day Dean Wilson Theatre where a revival of the controversial musical, Dust, is imminent; a musical which has profound meaning for our main character, Chloe, and its return stirs up painful feelings and memories from the past for her. We also then have flashbacks to one intense summer during Chloe’s teenage years, the events of which are now bleeding through in to the present. The narrative construct works really well to reveal pertinent facts to the reader at the same time as they are recalled by Chloe and impact the present day events, and it delivers a level of tension and urgency that it one of the main reasons I was unable to set this book aside during the first reading.

This page-turning quality is only one small part of what makes this book so compelling, though. The character development and exploration is also exquisite. Chloe is so well drawn, so sympathetic and recognisable a person to carry this book that the reader cannot help but be taken along on her journey and feel all that she feels along the way. The pain of her teenage years, of intense, unrequited love and those instant, fierce, emotional swings are so vivid and familiar, the story feels absolutely real, even when exploring the supernatural elements. There have been many books and movies that have  used the link between unchecked teenage emotion and psychic happenings, but here Louise draws Chloe’s angst so honestly and believably that the occurrences seem almost inevitable, as does her reaction to them, and to the pain of just being as a teenager. The book explores some difficult topics, but always sensitively, and my heart was just beating along with Chloe’s, feeling deeply what she is feeling throughout the story.

The other quality that makes this book extra special is the one I pointed out at the beginning, how the author has managed to encapsulate absolutely perfectly the dream-like feeling of a theatre production and bring it to life in the pages of this novel. That sense of being held in a bubble, separate from the real world, disconnected from time for a while and completely captive to the story. This ethereal, surreal quality to the reading experience is something I am not sure I have experienced before and I am not sure how she has managed to do it, I could not pinpoint what it is about the text that makes this so, but it is so magical that it left me almost breathless. It is a quality that makes this ghost story believable, because the whole story seems illusory, both past and present, as if there is a gauzy curtain between what is happening here and reality. It is very hard to describe, I think you need to read the book yourself to experience it, but it is quite startling in its originality and something very special.

My love for this book is unbounded. It is deeply moving in parts, it almost brought me to tears at the end, because the emotions bleed off the page. I could wax lyrical about what makes this book special all day and still fail to really convey what makes it outstanding, but you are probably already bored. So I’ll just finish by saying, you will never have had a reading experience quite like this and Louise’s chameleon-like abilities as a writer continue to amaze me with every new book. I was blown away by I Am Dust and it has flown into my top ten books of the year, please, please read it for yourself.

I Am Dust is out now as am ebook and will be published in paperback on 16 April, and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the I Am Dust blog tour, check out the details on the poster below:

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About the Author

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Connect with Louise:

Website: https://louisebeech.co.uk

Facebook: Louise Beech

Twitter: @LouiseWriter

Instagram: @louisebeech13

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The Secret by K. L. Slater Narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis #BookReview #audiobook (@KimLSlater) @bookouture @audibleuk #freereading #TheSecret

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You think you can trust the ones you love most.

But what if one secret could make you question everything?

Every day, a woman like Louise passes you in the street: elegant, confident, determined. But underneath, she’s struggling.

She doesn’t know her sister, Alice, has been scared of leaving the house since their mother died.

She doesn’t know when Alice babysits her little boy, Archie, he sometimes sees things he shouldn’t.

She doesn’t know Archie has a secret.

A secret that could send cracks through the heart of Louise’s carefully constructed life…

I think the blurb to this book is a tiny bit misleading because it makes it sound as though the main character in the book is Louise, when in actual fact the majority of the book comes from the point of view of Alice. We actually hear the voice of three different narrators at times, Alice, Louise and, very briefly at the beginning and the end, Archie. But whose voice can you actually trust?

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook, and the further I got in to it, the more it gripped me. This was another one where, by the end, I actually just sat down and listened to the last 45 minutes because I just needed to find out where it was going, even though I did not have any of the chores to do that I am normally doing when I listen to audiobooks.

This book took me all around the houses trying to guess what was going on, who I could trust and who was an unreliable narrator and I had not got close to guessing what was actually going on when it was revealed. There was even a twist upon the twist that totally took me by surprise and it was so cleverly done, I had no idea it was coming. Gripping stuff.

There were a couple of times when I was inwardly shouting at the characters for some of their behaviour. ‘That’s not how sisters are!’ I found myself yelling internally, speaking from the experience of being the eldest of four girls myself and having five daughters/step-daughters, but then I had to remind myself that not all families are as well-adjusted and as close as mine and decided to suspend my disbelief that this is how siblings relate to one another to enjoy the story. I truly hope the author was pushing the boundaries of fiction to draw these relationships!

The narrator was a huge part of what made this book a successful listen for me, her voice work brought the characters to life and really held my attention. This was a gripping and surprising thriller, enhanced by wonderful narration and it held me in its thrall until the very end. Well worth an Audible credit.

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

About the Author

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Kim is the million-copy bestselling author of nine standalone psychological crime thrillers. SINGLE, her new thriller, is published November 2019.

Her titles are published in eBook by Bookouture and in paperback by Sphere (UK) and Grand Central (USA).

For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents and collected an impressive stack of rejection slips. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating in 2012, she gained literary agent representation and a book deal. As Kim says, ‘it was a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

Kim is a full-time writer. She has one daughter, two stepsons and lives with her husband in Nottingham.

Connect with Kim:

Website: https://klslaterauthor.com

Facebook: Kim L Slater Author

Twitter: @KimLSlater

Instagram: @klslaterauthor

Backlist: Six Stories Series by Matt Wesolowski #BookReview (@ConcreteKraken) @OrendaBooks #SixStories #Hydra #Changeling #freereading #backlist

 

BACKLISTTomorrow, I will be reviewing Beast, the fourth book in Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series, as part of the blog tour for that book. In anticipation, I thought I would review the first three books in the series here for you, as a little amuse bouche before the main course. I think this might be the first in a new occasional series where I catch up with the previous books in a series before reviewing the latest release. It occurred to me this might be a good way to try and reduce my TBR a bit, which was, after all, the founding aim of the blog!

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One body. Six stories. Which one is true?

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

The first book in the series introduces us to the slightly unusual format of the series, which takes the form of a podcast where the ‘host,’ Scott King revisits an old crime with the aim of exploring whether the accepted public story is actually the true one. He does this by allowing six different individuals connected to the case to tell their story, and for the ‘listener,’ (us, the reader) to draw our own conclusions. Anyone who has listened to the phenomenally popular podcast, Serial, will get the idea (in fact, Matt references Serial in the book.) As I was a massive fan of Serial, this premise really drew me in and, once you get your head around this unique approach and separate in your head who is talking throughout the chapters, it works brilliantly.

The author has a fantastic way of creating a menacing and claustrophobic atmosphere as he sets the scene, so the reader is immediately on edge and drawn in to the horror story that is unfolding before their eyes. And it is a horror story, but one written in a unique way, balanced with a mystery and a thriller and an exploration of teenage friendship dynamics and personality traits that can be hidden beneath a benign facade. This book sets up the premise that continues as a connecting theme throughout the series – things are not always as they seem on the surface.

Once I got in to the rhythm of the storytelling, I was completely hooked on the story, the tension, the twists and turns, the unexpected revelations that are cleverly unfolded as we hear stories from each of the individuals which come from different perspectives, which divert the reader down one path, then another, drawing us through a maze until we reach the heart of the story.

It is so clever and fresh and gripping, I absolutely loved it and could not wait to read the next one.

Six Stories is available by following this link.

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A family massacre. A deluded murderess. Five witnesses. Six stories. Which one is true?

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.

King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out.

As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess…

On to the second book in the series (which is actually a prequel) and a completely different case for Scott King. This time he has managed to secure an interview with a notorious murderess who slaughtered her whole family for a reason that no one can quite comprehend. Scott is keen to see if he can get to the bottom of a mystery that has evaded everyone else, why did Arla Macleod commit this crime?

Now I was used to the format, I got drawn in to the book much quicker than the first one and, partly for this reason, I enjoyed it even more. It is odd because there is no mystery as to who committed the crime as there would be in a normal thriller, there is no doubt Arla did it, but why? No one knows, we are desperate to find out. The method of slowly peeling back layers of the story as we move through the testimonies of six people connected to the case is genius. Add to this the fact that there are no witnesses to the crime save Arla herself, the ultimate unreliable witness locked in a mental institution, it is almost impossible to know what is the truth, who to believe and to get to the bottom of the story.

Parts of this book were completely terrifying, dealing as it does with risky online internet games that promise supernatural encounters and dangerous trials. There are also the constant references to BEKs (intrigued? You’ll have to read the book to find out what I am talking about!), I’ll admit I was completely wigged out and regretted reading parts of this book late at night. This book also had a jaw-dropping, did-not-see-that-coming moment and a fairly twisted ending, the whole thing was addictive from start to finish and I loved it even more than the first one. A book quite unlike anything you will have read before, an enticing mix of supernatural, horror, thriller and psychological  drama. So unique, could not wait to read on.

Hydra is out now and you can get a copy here.

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A missing child
A family in denial
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the dark Wentshire Forest Pass, when his father, Sorrel, stopped the car to investigate a mysterious knocking sound. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.

Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. Journeying through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there, he talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know what happened to the little boy…

You wonder how the author can make another book in the same format different to the first two when you get to book three, and having read the blurb, I did wonder if this was going to be similar to book one. It did have some similarities, as the setting of a menacing forest for the mystery has echoes of the first one, but the author has come on leaps and bounds since then and the tension and fear is ramped up to a whole new level here. Part of this is due to the victim in this story being a very small child, which will immediately strike terror in to the heart of any reader who is a parent. There again is the supernatural element, which strikes from the very early chapters of this book but, by now, the reader should have grasped the fact that there is always more to the story than first appears and we are lead down one track, only to have our ideas, our opinions, our whole understanding of the story turned a full 180 by the next narrator, and again, and again. You begin to feel as lost in the labyrinth of the truth as characters were lost in the vastness of Wentshire Forest.

Despite the fact that this is the third book in a series that follows the same basic format, it managed to surprise me in so many ways. The underlying themes of the book are very different to the first two, the intrigues and misdirection become more and more ingenious and complex, the book will leave you breathless and twanging with tension and you will marvel at the ingenuity of the author as he keeps you guessing to the final page. This is a book that shows an author who, far from running out of ideas, is just hitting his stride and obviously revelling in bringing something new and exciting to each instalment. I could tell from the writing that he is having tremendous amounts of fun with his work, but also that this book in particular deals with a topic that he has a personal interest in exposing and has been careful to portray accurately.

These books are something so different to anything else out there, are so exciting and detailed and just rewarding to read. I am totally hooked on the series and am delighted to be bringing you my review for the latest book tomorrow. Honestly, one of the best discoveries I have made since I started blogging and would encourage everyone to pick up these books to discover something really innovative.

Changeling is available for purchase here.

Make sure you come back to the blog tomorrow to read my review of Beast.

About the Author

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Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is
an English tutor for young people in care.

Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013.

Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

Connect with Matt:

Website: Beyond The North Waves

Facebook: Matt Wesolowski

Twitter: @ConcreteKraken

Instagram: @mattjwesolowski

 

 

A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan #BookReview #BlogTour (@ausmazehanat) @noexitpress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #ADeadlyDivide

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IN A TOWN FULL OF SECRETS, WHO CAN YOU TRUST?

In the aftermath of a mass shooting in a mosque, small town tensions run high. Clashes between the Muslim community and a local faction of radical white nationalists are escalating, but who would have motive and opportunity to commit such a devastating act of violence?

Detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty from Canada’s Community Policing Unit are assigned to this high-profile case and tasked to ensure the extremely volatile situation doesn’t worsen. But when leaked CCTV footage exposes a shocking piece of evidence, both sides of the divide are enraged.

As Khattak and Getty work through a mounting list of suspects, they realise there’s far more going on in this small town than anyone first thought…

I am thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan. 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 have to say first off that I have not read any of the previous books in the Khattak and Getty series, this is my first book by this particular author. Although there were certain aspects of the book that I probably would have had a deeper understanding of if I had read the previous novels in the series, this works perfectly well as a standalone and not having read the previous books did not impair my enjoyment of this one at all. It just made me want to go back and catch up, in fact.

This book tackles an extremely difficult topic, probably the most controversial one in current affairs at this point in time because it causes such deep divisions in our society, from the bottom to the very top. We are talking about racism, Islamophobia, terrorism, hate crimes and white supremacy. This makes for a very difficult read that shines a light on certain ideas that a lot of us might prefer not to face and asks a lot of questions to which there are no easy answers.

Khattak and Getty are called to a small town in Quebec where there has been a mass shooting in a mosque. Once they start to dig into the crime, they uncover a morass of racial and religious tension bubbling under the surface of the community, which has finally spilled over into violence. There is extreme suspicion and mistrust between various factions in the town, people are keeping secrets and no one knows who they can trust, or who is hiding behind a facade of civility to conceal their hatred and bigotry. Khattak and Getty find themselves acting as part of a police team, and even within law enforcement it becomes obvious that there are elements sympathetic to the perpetrator and who cannot be trusted.

All of this makes for extreme tension and suspicion throughout the book. There are so many different elements involved in the case that it is impossible to keep track of who may be guilty of what and who might be hiding vital information. It is like trying to find the perpetrator in an ever-moving, swirling fog of mistrust and doubt, and every new act, every new piece of evidence stirs up the picture and makes it harder to penetrate. It then becomes obvious that Khattak has become the object of someone’s negative attention and another strand of confusion is added to the investigation – are the police dealing with one case or two?

Amongst all of this confusion and doubt, the one thing that stands strong and true is the relationship between Getty and Khattak. The two have absolute trust and faith in one another at all times, and this shines particularly strongly in an environment where every one else is to be suspected. In addition, Khattak’s identity and faith are relevant to his part in this investigation, and Getty’s complete acceptance and trust of him and his motives provide a sharp and welcome contrast to the situation playing out in the town, and give the reader faith that these people do not represent our society as a whole. They are a central beacon of hope and faith in this story.

The author approaches this subject with candour but sensitivity, and it is obviously a topic that matters greatly to her and she has taken care to do her research. As well as being a wonderful crime thriller, this is a brave and frank exploration of a worrying and unpleasant issue in our society. I found it unsettling, difficult and thought-provoking, taking me a step beyond your run-of-the-mill detective story. Definitely worth picking up.

A Deadly Divide is out now and you can get a copy by following this link.

Do follow the rest of the tour for more reviews and other great content:

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About the Author

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Ausma Zehanat Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with a specialisation in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. She has practised immigration law and taught human rights law at Northwestern University and York University.

Formerly, she served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine, the first magazine to reflect the lives of young Muslim women.

Her debut novel, The Unquiet Dead, won the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel. It is followed by The Language of Secrets, Among the Ruins and No Place of Refuge in the Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty mystery series.

She is a longtime community activist and writer. Born in Britain, Ausma lived in Canada for many years before recently becoming an American citizen. She lives in Colorado with her husband.

Connect with Ausma:

Website: https://www.ausmazehanatkhan.com

Facebook: Ausma Zehanat Khan

Twitter: @ausmazehanat

Instagram: @azkhanbooks

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Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil Narrated by Joanne Froggatt #BookReview #audiobook (@sarahdenzil) @JoFroggatt @audibleuk #freereading #SilentChild

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In the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned.

His body was never recovered.

Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again…

… until Aiden returns.

Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.

As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?

It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell her the unspeakable.

Wow, what a ride this audiobook turned out to be! I was absolutely blown away by this book because, unlike most of the titles I read these days which I have picked up on recommendation from someone, I plucked this one out of the blue in a 2-for-1 Audible promotion last year. I chose it based purely on the blurb, I had heard nothing about it, went in to it with no expectations at all and I absolutely loved it.

This is the story of Emma, a teenage mum whose small child is presumed drowned after he goes missing from school on the day of a biblical-scale flood. His traumatised mother eventually manages to pull herself together and move on with her life when, a decade later, he turns up out of the blue, so mentally scarred by his ordeal that he is mute. The rest of the story follows Emma as she tries to reconnect with her son, now a teenager, absorb him into her new life and find out what happened to him and where he has been all this time.

As a parent myself, it was only too easy to identify with Emma and her absolute despair at her child’s disappearance. I tried to imagine how I would feel, and I think the author did a truly fantastic job of portraying the range of emotions and reactions that Emma has to this unbelievable situation. It felt very authentic to me and cemented Emma as a relatable character in my mind and someone who could carry the story for me and make me suffer the ups and downs with her.

Aside from the character study and the examination of what I might do and feel in this position, this was also a totally gripping psychological thriller and, by that, I mean I was finding reasons to do things that meant I could listen to my audiobook so I could progress the story – I REALLY needed to know what was going to happen. In the end, I just sat and listened to the last hour of the book on the sofa, something I never normally do with an audiobook, they are always accompaniment to some task or other, because I just had to finish it. I went backwards and forwards as to who had done what, and who was the main suspect and, although I had suspicions, the author confounded me with what actually happened – I did not see it coming at all.

The narration of the audio version of this book is superb, Joanne Froggatt was perfect to bring Emma to life and she imbued her voice with every emotion Emma was going through. I really felt it all, and was totally hooked from beginning to end. It was one of those books where the narration actually enhances the story. A perfect synchronisation of story and performance. Wonderful stuff, worth a full Audible credit and a massive bargain for me.

Silent Child is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. Her books include SILENT CHILD, which has topped the kindle charts in the UK, US, and Australia. SAVING APRIL and THE BROKEN ONES are both top thirty bestsellers in the US and UK Amazon charts.

Combined, her self-published and published books, along with audiobooks and foreign translations, have sold over one million copies worldwide.

Her latest thriller ONLY DAUGHTER, published by Bookouture is released in March 2019, about a mother desperately trying to find out why her seventeen-year-old daughter died after falling into a quarry.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her husband, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather. She loves to write moody, psychological books with plenty of twists and turns.

Connect with Sarah:

Website: https://www.sarahdenzil.com

Facebook: Sarah A Denzil

Twitter: @sarahdenzil

 

The Holiday by T. M. Logan Narrated by Laura Kirman #BookReview #Audiobook (@TMLoganAuthor) @laurakirman @ZaffreBooks @AudibleUK @NetGalley #NetGalley #TheHoliday

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Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Languedoc-Roussillon.

But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends. One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one?

As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined.

Because someone in the villa is prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

My thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of this book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

It’s a nightmare scenario, isn’t it? Being trapped on holiday for a week with people you aren’t getting on with. Even if some of those people are your lifelong best friends, once you have to share living space with them 24/7 for a week, along with their husbands, whom you may not love quite as much, and their children who may not have the same expectations in behaviour as yours do – tensions are bound to arise. Add in too much sun, too much wine, and you have a powder keg ready to explode.

Then, on top of this, imagine that you suspect your husband is having an affair, and his mistress is on elf the very same lifelong friends you are taking a holiday with, the situation will inevitably boil over before the week is out, in a very public setting.

This is the premise behind The Holiday, which was a book widely feted last year, and it certainly provides a book full of intrigue and strain with many twists and turns before its thrilling conclusion. And because it is a scenario so many of us can imagine for ourselves, or may even have experienced (although to a lesser degree, I hope!), it causes an intimate level of stress in our imaginations. ‘There too but for the grace of God, go I’ is always a powerful hook for a novel.

There is a fascinating array of characters in this novel, a lot of personality flaws explored and exposed, and some morally dubious behaviour in evidence, even from the people who are supposedly the ‘good guys.’ It begs the question, what would I do to protect my family, to protect my children from harm? How far would I be prepared to go if I found myself in this situation? Are my principles really as strong as I believe, when faced with a serious dilemma. Thinking of these things can make for an uncomfortable reading experience if you allow the book to take you there.

This book was a great, entertaining read with a fabulous rope of tension running through it and enough twists and turns and revelations to keep the reader hooked. highly recommended.

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

About the Author

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Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His latest thriller, The Holiday, is a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and spent ten weeks as a Sunday Times top ten bestseller in paperback, selling more than 200,000 copies to date. The Holiday takes place over a sweltering summer week in the south of France, as four best friends see the holiday of a lifetime turn into a nightmare of suspicion, betrayal and murder…

Tim’s debut thriller LIES was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling more than 400,000 copies and winning a Nielsen Bestseller Award. Together with his second standalone thriller, 29 Seconds (2018), his books are now published in 14 countries around the world including the USA, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.

His next novel, The Catch, is due to be published on June 11, 2020.

Tim lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children, and writes in a cabin at the bottom of his garden.

Connect with T. M. Logan:

Website: https://www.tmlogan.com

Facebook: T M Logan Author

Twitter: @TMLoganAuthor

Instagram: @tmloganauthor