Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland #BookReview #BlogTour (@22_ireland) @PolygonBooks @LoveBooksGroup #BoneDeep #LoveBooksGroupTours

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“What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person? The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly.

Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. This is the story of two women: Mac, who is bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.”

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland. My thanks to Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group for the invitation and to the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This book is very different to anything I have read recently. A contemporary novel with a Gothic slant that is a slow burn but utterly compelling and powerful. It really took me buy surprise.

It is told in alternating chapters in the first person voices of Mac and Lucie, which gives us two very different perspectives on the narrative. Mac is a retired history lecturer writing her first fiction book based on local folk lore, who becomes increasingly obsessed with the local legend of two sisters and their fraught relationship. Lucie is a woman running from her own family problems who arrives on Mac’s doorstep hiding a secret of her own, to take up the position as Mac’s Girl Friday. As time passes, their relationship becomes increasingly fractured as the past and present narratives begin to take parallel turns, secrets are revealed and Mac’s mental health seems to unravel alarmingly.

This book has a very small cast of characters, a tight plot, limited scope of place and a slow pace, but it is completely engrossing. I was totally enthralled from page one and read the whole thing in a single day, as I simply could not put it down, and this is purely due to the consumate skill of the writing.

The characters are brilliantly drawn, and their journey through the book and the way they develop from start to finish, starting off seemingly fairly ordinary but gradually revealing their secrets over the course of the book in a way that paints them in a totally different light to us by the end, is masterful. I started off with one set of opinions and had a totally different viewpoint by the end.

The plot is very cleverly drawn, interwoven with scenes from Mac’s book and the story of the two sisters, which may or may not be based on historical fact; the lines between fact and fiction, truth and lies, past and present become increasingly blurred until neither the reader nor the characters are entirely sure what real and what is imaginary and we are left trying to work out what really happened right until the end of the book. It makes the book seem to exist in a slightly other-worldly, dreamlike state which I really loved.

This impression is compounded by the setting which is so atmospheric and wonderfully captured in the author’s descriptions. The decrepit old mill, which starts up at odd times of day and night, the ramshackle Miller’s Cottage with its winding corridors and strange noises and Mac’s disorganised and chilly house which she is reduced to closing off in large part to preserve heat. It all adds up the menacing and increasingly creepy atmosphere and its remoteness increases the feeling of being cut off from reality. The setting is oppressive and this feeling ramps up as the events in the book grow increasingly dangerous. It was perfectly portrayed and an integral part of my enjoyment of the book.

The author’s use of language is beautiful. I revelled in phrases such as ‘The pond, blackberry-dark, glints juicily under the full moon.’ The book is studded with gorgeous and evocative language that I had to stop and just savour for a moment before moving on. However, the book also flows brilliantly, drawing you form chapter to chapter. It was a joy to read.

I loved this book. It is totally unique, original and gripping. It got under my skin and had me thinking about it for a long time afterwards. It really made an impression on me, which is the most one can ask for from a good read.

Bone Deep is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

If you would like to read other bloggers’ opinions of the book, you can follow the tour here:

Bone Deep

About the Author

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Sandra Ireland was born in England but lived for many years in Éire before returning ‘home’ to Scotland in the 1990s. She is the author of Beneath the Skin, a psychological thriller, which was shortlisted for a Saltire Literary Award in 2017. Her second novel, Bone Deep, a modern Gothic tale of sibling rivalry, inspired by an old Scottish folktale, will be published in the UK by Polygon in July, and in the US (Gallery) and Germany (Penguin) next year. She also writes poetry, often inspired by the seascapes of Scotland’s rugged east coast. Her poems have been widely published in anthologies, including Seagate III (Dundee), and New Writing Scotland. She won the Dorothy Dunbar Trophy for Poetry, awarded by the Scottish Association of Writers, in 2017 and 2018. Sandra is Secretary of Angus Writers’ Circle and one third of the Chasing Time Team, which runs writing retreats in a gloriously gothic rural setting.

Connect with Sandra:

Website: https://sandrairelandauthor.com

Facebook: Sandra Ireland Author

Twitter: @22_ireland

Instagram: @sireland22

Goodreads: Sandra Ireland

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena #BookReview (@sharilapena) @penguinrandom @TransworldBooks

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“We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.”

As soon as I plucked this book off the shelf in the supermarket and read the blurb, I knew I had to read it so I spirited it home and started it immediately. I read it in one sitting, as I simply could not put it down.

The ‘trapped in a remote house which you can’t leave with a killer on the loose’ is a favourite trope in suspense fiction but it’s popular for a reason, it is a really compelling premise. What would you do if you were stuck somewhere remote and could not escape from a rampaging killer? Until recently, I would have thought that it was all too convenient. Is there anywhere so remote that you can’t get a phone signal these days? However, having just spent a week on a writing retreat in a remote part of Shropshire where there was no phone signal, at the top of a hill that could easily be cut off in bad weather with 17 people I’d never met before, I can see this could actually happen. In fact, the first night we were all sat there in the lounge, introducing ourselves, it felt like it could be the start of an Agatha Christie novel. Later in the week as I was walking after dinner in the quiet woods around the house when there was rusting in the undergrowth. It turned out to be a fox but at the time I wondered, if someone jumped out of the bushes and strangled me, how long would it take the others to realise I was missing and what would they do? (The perennial ‘what if’ that is grist to the mill of the writer’s mind). This recent experience made the book all the more chilling.

The book is peopled with an interesting cast of characters. the first few chapters did feel a tiny bit contrived, as the author had to introduce all the people who were staying at the remote hotel before she could get to the meat of the story, but they were sufficiently interesting, and the set up was intriguing enough for me to not let this bother me too much and once this was past, I was totally engrossed. The pace then moves fast enough to keep you turning the pages to find out – what next, what next?

I thought she did a great job of switching the initially perfect-seeming setting of a charming and elegant old hotel high in the Catskills into something suddenly menacing and sinister (if you can get past the location of the Catskills which, for me, immediately conjures images of Kellermans and I suspect always will!). The abrupt switch of the cosy and welcoming to hostile and dangerous accentuates  the creepy horror of the story as the murders start to happen and I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book. The knowledge that one of these normal-seeming people is a killer is fascinating, and we start looking for clues as to who it could be in the individual personalities and behaviours.

Shari is very adept at slowly revealing aspects of the different personalities and drip feeding in tiny bits of information about them, small clues, gradually revealing the secrets they have all been keeping from each other in a way that is designed to keep you reading and it is completely effective. These people morph before our eyes from what they appeared to be at the start to what they truly are by the end of the book. As well as a great thriller, it is also a fascinating exploration of human nature and relationships, how we hide things about ourselves from even those closest to us. We are left with the question – can you ever really know another person?

The final reveal of the killer was a surprise and it felt a bit to me like the end of an episode of Midsomer Murders; the murderer is the person you least expect and the method and reasoning is so convoluted that you would never have guessed it in a million years and you wonder how you missed all the clues. Which is why I love Midsomer Murders so much. I need to read this book again, knowing whodunnit, to see if I can spot the clues the second time around. A re-read for me is the ultimate sign of a good book.

An Unwanted Guest is out now and you can buy a copy here.
About the Author

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Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before writing fiction. Her debut thriller, The Couple Next Door, was a global bestseller. Her second thriller, A Stranger in the House, has been a Sunday Times and New York Timesbestseller. Her third book, An Unwanted Guest, is out in 2018.

Connect with Shari:

Website: www.sharilapena.com

Facebook: Shari Lapena

Twitter: @sharilapena

Instagram: @sharilapena

Goodreads: Shari Lapena

 

Do No Harm by Lucy V Hay #BlogTour #BookReview (@LucyVHayAuthor) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #DoNoHarm #TillDeathDoUsPart #OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTours

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Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…”

I am feeling a single word review coming on today for this book and that word would be – labyrinthine. (I’m thinking this might be my new hook – one word book reviews. A departure, I know, as I tend to be fairly verbose. Any blog tour hosts going for this idea?)

On the basis the above idea is not going to prove popular, I guess I should expand a little on the above but that word definitely sums this book up perfectly. It is the most twisty-turny (see, labyrinthine is much better – I’m nailing this writing lark) of all the twisty-turny books I have read this year to the point I had no clue which way was up or down and my brain was meeting itself coming back the other way. It is the novel equivalent of playing a game of Snake (does that mean anything to anyone else or am I really showing my age now?)

I had so many different theories about where this book was going at multiple points during the story but then something else would happen that would completely throw me off track and I would change my mind, only to come back to my previous theory two chapters later. I did actually consider the outcome that proved to be the eventual resolution of the book a couple of times but I absolutely was not sure what was going to be the ending before it was upon me because there were several that were equally as likely throughout. It is really cleverly done.

The book is written from three different perspectives throughout – Lily, Sebastian and a mystery voice. To begin with, I kept getting a little confused at the beginning of the chapter about whose voice was speaking. I did eventually sort it out, as Lily was written in the first person and Sebastian in the third, but until I picked up on that rhythm I had to keep stopping to check which prevented the story flowing in the early chapters, but this was a minor niggle.

It was really fascinating to try and put yourself in Lily’s shoes as she tries to work out why such unpleasant things are happening and who is behind them and see the disintegration of trust she has in the people she is closest to. I began to wonder how quickly I could be made to doubt people I thought I knew and loved and hoped not that quickly but the premise is that one simply does not know until one is in that position.

The setting of the book and the people are fairly ordinary – teachers and doctors in suburbia – and the upsetting events when looked at dispassionately are not that dramatic, until they are happening to you, and that is the genius of it. The author manages to weave tension and menace and deceit and doubt into very ordinary scenarios, so you can put yourself in the shoes of this woman who is no one special but is thrust into an extraordinary situation that turns her life upside down in a very short period of time.

There were points in this book where I did have to stretch to suspend my disbelief to allow myself to be carried along by the story and I found the writing at the beginning a tad bald in places but it was most definitely gripping and had me turning the pages until late in to the night to get to the end and see which of my theories was the correct one, which is all you can really ask of a book of this kind and anyone who liked a psychological thriller will be hooked because it is a tricky one!

Do No Harm is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to follow the rest of the blog tour for this book, you can find the details here:

FINAL DO NO HARM BLOG TOUR POSTER

About the Author

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Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin(2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. Her critically acclaimed debut thriller The Other Twin was published in 2017.

Connect with Lucy:

Website: https://linktr.ee/lucyvhayauthor

Facebook: Lucy V Hay Author

Twitter: @LucyVHayAuthor

Instagram: Lucy V Hay Author

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Butterfly Ranch by R.K. Salters #BlogTour #BookReview (@Descend_Orpheus) @matadorbooks @annecater #Giveaway #ButterflyRanch #RandomThingsTours

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“Tristan Griffin is a household name and the author of a universally popular detective series. For the past few years he has lived in self-exile in a remote jungle lodge nestled in the Mayan hills of Southern Belize, with his partner Hedda. Butterfly Ranch begins as he attempts suicide and Hedda disappears. Altamont Stanbury, an old Kriol police constable posted to the local backwater of San Antonio, rushes to the scene with his daughter Philomena, the village nurse.

Philomena saves Tristan but he remains unconscious. Altamont, a bumbler and long-time reader of crime novels, launches a half-hearted search for Hedda by radio but decides to remain at the lodge. In truth his reverence for Tristan the writer consumes all else, and he becomes obsessed with the Griffin books he finds at the lodge.

When Tristan comes to, he is distraught and at times delirious, haunted by flashbacks of his uncompromising, cursed love for Hedda and the dark secret behind her disappearance. His anger and increasingly erratic behaviour only find respite in the presence of Altamont s innocent daughter. But he feels nothing but spite for Altamont himself, and the relationship between the two threatens to have fatal consequences for one or both.”

Today on the blog I am reviewing the debut novel by R K Sakters, Butterfly Ranch. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Matador and the author for my copy of the book.

From the blurb of this book, you might be forgiven for thinking it is a straight-forward thriller, albeit it set in an exotic part of the world not much used for that type of novel, but you would be wrong. Although with a dramatic mystery at its heart, Butterfly Ranch is so much more and I was astonished to discover that this is a debut by the author.

For me, reading this book is a little like walking through someone else’s dream. A jumble of current events interwoven with flashbacks which tell the story of the mystery happening in the present with regard to the missing Hedda, whilst simultaneously slowly unveiling the history of Hedda and Tristan’s turbulent relationship. The melange unfolds in a disconnected way which added to the air of unreality which permeated the book and I truly was taken out of myself and the every day world which I inhabit whilst I was reading it, not just to another country but also to a slightly altered mental state. (I’m not sure if I have explained that very well. I was reading it late at night!)

The setting of the isolated, decrepit ranch in the dense, stifling jungle of Belize, combined with the repressive atmosphere preceding the imminent hurricane gave the novel a tense, oppressive, almost dangerous mood which enhanced the tension of the thriller aspect of the book and kept me feeling on edge throughout, which I find a positive trait in a thriller novel (although not in life!). The author does a wonderful job of bringing the book’s setting to life, his descriptions are evocative and richly drawn, the world is really vivid and immersive.

There is a small cast of characters, which allows us to get to know them intimately over the course of the book. The bored and bumbling PC who is obsessed with crime novels and is more concerned with discussing Tristan’s work than solving the mystery of the missing Hedda. His daughter, Philomena, only semi-trained but already more dynamic and assured that her father will ever be, seeing him through new eyes as the situation unfolds and she has to take charge. Hedda’s sister and her complicated feelings about her  relationship with her missing twin. All are explored in depth, along with the central relationship between Tristan and the missing Hedda; they all really jump off the page as real, flawed, interesting, but not necessarily likeable, characters. This book focuses a lot on family dynamics and how complicated and shifting these can be. The book also deals with complex issues of mental illness, self harm and destructive relationships.

The pace of the book is leisurely and languorous, unveiling the mystery slowly and with consideration – it is definitely not fast paced and action-packed – but this perfectly mirrors the sultry, tropical setting and the inch by inch exploration and revelation of the background emotions and events. This is not a book of quick, cheap thrills, but rewards a more cerebral and considered examination. It is not at all what I was expecting, but it was extremely rewarding to read and it is a novel that will linger in my mind and which I will mull over for some time to come.

Butterfly Ranch is out now and you can buy a copy here.

The author is hosting a giveaway of five signed copies of the book over on Twitter so, to be in with a chance, please follow this link and leave your smilie on the pinned tweet!

Butterfly Ranch Giveaway

To catch up with the rest of the blog tour, visit the fabulous blogs below and see what they thought of the book:

butterfly ranch

About the Author

RK Salters - Author Picture

RK Salters grew up in Paris in the 1970s to an Irish émigré father and French mother. He is himself an exile of sorts, having left the roost to study abroad and subsequently lived in a number of countries. His approach to writing is eclectic, drawing influences from classic and contemporary, genre and literary fiction alike, across both sides of the Atlantic.

He is now settled in Lithuania (Baltics), where he earlier met his future wife while exploring the collapsing Soviet Union. He is a passionate traveller and an expedition in Belizean jungles provided the setting for Butterfly Ranch, his first novel.

Connect with the author:

Twitter: @Descend_Orpheus

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The Date by Louise Jensen #BookReview (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture #PublicationDay #TheDate #NetGalley #FictionCafeWriters

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“One night can change everything. 

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her. 

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her… “

Publication Day for the fourth book by my fellow Fiction Cafe Writer, Louise Jensen. Happy publication day, Louise, I hope it has been fabulous.

My partner doesn’t read fiction and we often have conversations where we discuss why I love it and he doesn’t. His main argument seems to be that he doesn’t see the point of reading ‘made up stories’ and he likes to read non-fiction. Putting aside my counter-argument as to why he doesn’t feel the same about the sometimes ridiculously OTT movies and TV shows he is prepared to watch (also, made up stories!), the main thrust of my rebuttal would be that good fiction books will always hold some kernel of truth about the world and human experience. Without that, we can’t relate to them and they won’t draw us in, and I have learned a lot from a well-researched book, even if it is fiction.

This book is a case in point. Before I saw the pre-release information about this book and heard the author talking about it, I had never heard of prosopagnosia or facial blindness, never mind how common it is. This is a fascinating hook for the book to revolve on and the author has done a great job of portraying the daily hurdles that someone suffering from this condition has to contend with and the hardships that brings. Imagine not being able to recognise your own face, or the people you love. How would you be able to trust that people are who they say they are? I found the whole subject, and how the main characters learns skills to compensate fascinating.

This is also a really powerful premise on which to base a psychological thriller and this one does not disappoint. If you have read any of Louise’s books before, you will know what to expect and I think her writing is just getting better and better. This book twists and turns like an eel, you think you know what is happening but then she throws another curveball at you, and then another, until your head is spinning right up until the final chapter.

The real skill of this book is making something disturbing out of an every day environment, making the reader believe that this could actually be happening to someone they know, in their street. None of us know what goes on behind a suburban front door. You hear it every day in the papers when the neighbours of the latest villain to hit the front page are all interviewed and are surprised to hear what he/she is accused of because they always seemed so ‘quiet and normal’. Who knows what Mr. Jones from number 15 is up to in this garage? When might your path cross with his in a case of bad karma? These thoughts are more creepy to me than an exaggerated horror film because of the banal possibilities. It’s enough to give you nightmares and this author taps into that brilliantly.

I found the main characters in this book very relatable, more so perhaps than in Louise’s last book, which allowed me to be carried right into the heart of the story from the beginning. I really cared what happened to her and my heart was in my mouth, racing to the end of the novel as fast as possible to find out her fate. Pace of page-turning is the mark of a great thriller and my eyes and fingers were whirring, resenting the everyday intrusions that made me put the book down for the odd minute.

This is a great book in this genre, probably her best yet, and you should definitely pick up a copy today.

The Date is out today and you can buy a copy here.

If you want to know more about facial blindness, check out the video on Louise’s website.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Louise Jensen is the Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate.

To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List.

Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

Connect with Louise:

Twitter: @fab_fiction
Goodreads: Louise Jensen

I Never Lie by Jody Sabral #BookReview @canelo_co #PublicationDay #INeverLie #NetGalley

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“Is she the next victim? Or is she the culprit…?

Alex South is a high-functioning alcoholic, teetering on the brink of oblivion. Her career as a television journalist is hanging by a thread since a drunken on-air rant. But when a series of murders occurs within a couple of miles of her East London home, she’s given another chance to prove herself.

Alex thinks she can control the drinking, but soon she finds gaping holes in her memory, and wakes to find she’s done things she can’t recall. As the story she’s covering starts to creep into her own life, is Alex a danger only to herself – or to others?”

This book has me really torn about my reaction to it. In some ways it was great, very topical and thought-provoking and different to a lot of psychological thrillers I have read recently. In other ways it was really frustrating and a couple of things about it have left me downright furious.

This is the story of Alex, a journalist and high-functioning alcoholic whose drinking has torn both her personal and professional life apart. When a series of murders take place close to her home, she sees a way of redeeming her career, but cannot get control of her alcoholism. The book is told mainly from the first person viewpoint of Alex, as she reports on the story, and also through a series of diary entries of a third person, who we gradually find out more about as the book unfolds, which is an interesting set up and works reasonably well.

There are lots of aspects of this book I enjoyed. The writer sets the scene well, and the small area of London where the murders take place is made to feel claustrophobic and menacing, so we can understand how such awful crimes happening in a normally pleasant area can have an affect on a whole community. The character of Alex is well established, although she is not at all sympathetic, being selfish and unaware, but this is important to the plot development and does not detract from your investment in the story. Her need for alcohol overrides everything and the author very clearly demonstrates how alcoholism controls a person’s life, decisions and personality to the exclusion of everything and everyone else to the extent they will lie and deceive to get it and to hide their drinking. In the end, the constant quest for alcohol becomes pervasive to the extent that it is annoyingly repetitive, but I guess this is reflective of the reality for people living with this issue. The author does not pull any punches as to the character’s behaviour and parts of the book make uncomfortable reading.

I enjoyed the insight into the way new stories are put together, and the urgency of that gave the book a real dynamism which kept me turning the pages. The murder story involves the use of social media, not only as a way for the killer potentially to find victims via dating apps, but also as a way for the news team to track updates in the story which I thought was fascinating. It is amazing to me how the rise of social media has changed the dynamic of how we receive information so drastically that news channels are now playing catch up, instead of being the leading method of us gaining information on big stories and it is great to see this being reflected in current fiction.

On to the less positive side, parts of the book were repetitive, particularly the constant retelling of how her life is imploding. I understand that the author is trying to emphasise the cycle that alcoholics constantly go through by I wish she had mixed up how it was presented a little more. This book is advertised as ‘a gripping thriller with a twist you won’t see coming’. Unfortunately, I did see it coming long before the end and I think this was partly due to the strapline on the cover which is ill thought out in my opinion. The ending, and the explanation of some of the issues that had been brought up felt rushed to me, done as they were in a few pages of diary entry at the end.

The main problem, and the one that had me screaming in frustration at the book came in the final pages and, if I hadn’t been reading it on my Kindle, I think I would have thrown it. In a single sentence in the final chapter of the book, the author chooses to completely reverse a basic and central tenet of English criminal law to suit her story. This is unacceptable and had me totally enraged. There can be only two reasons she did this. Either, firstly, it is a mistake and she has simply not bothered to research the point of law involved. I find this hard to believe because a) it is such a basic premise that most lay people will know it and b) the author is a BBC journalist of long-standing. Alternatively, she does know it’s wrong but has decided that it doesn’t matter because her readers either won’t know or won’t care. I find this insulting to me as a reader and it completely ruined the book for me at the end. Maybe that is just me being a pedant but, for a crime writer to decide to re-write English law to suit her preferred story ending is just lazy. We’re not talking about a small licence in detail here and it really bugged me.

Due to my mixed reaction to this book, I can’t say whether I would recommend it or not. It has a lot going for it but it could have been so much better. Ultimately, my over-riding feeling was one of frustration.

I Never Lie is out today and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Canelo for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Jody Sabral is based between the South Coast and London, where she works as a Foreign Desk editor and video producer at the BBC. She is a graduate of the MA in Crime Fiction at City University, London. Jody worked as a journalist in Turkey for ten years, covering the region for various international broadcasters. She self-published her first book Changing Borders in 2012 and won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2014 for her second novel The Movement. In addition to working for the BBC, Jody also writes for the Huffington Post, Al–Monitor and Brics Post.

Connect with Jody:

Website: https://jodysabral.com

Facebook: Jody Sabral

Instagram: @jodysabral

#BlogTour All The Little Children by Jo Furniss #bookreview (@Jo_Furniss) @AmazonPub @annecater #RandomThingsTours #LakeUnionAuthors #AllTheLittleChildren

Today I am rounding off the blog tour for All The Little Children by Jo Furniss. Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this tour.

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“When a family camping trip takes a dark turn, how far will one mother go to keep her family safe?

Struggling with working-mother guilt, Marlene Greene hopes a camping trip in the forest will provide quality time with her three young children—until they see fires in the distance, columns of smoke distorting the sweeping view. Overnight, all communication with the outside world is lost.

Knowing something terrible has happened, Marlene suspects that the isolation of the remote campsite is all that’s protecting her family. But the arrival of a lost boy reveals they are not alone in the woods, and as the unfolding disaster ravages the land, more youngsters seek refuge under her wing. The lives of her own children aren’t the only ones at stake.

When their sanctuary is threatened, Marlene faces the mother of all dilemmas: Should she save her own kids or try to save them all?”

When I was a teenager, the absolutely brilliant librarian at my secondary school fuelled my insatiable thirst for books by recommending authors I had never considered reading. This wonderful lady introduced me to the works of Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm is still the title I will cite when asked for my favourite book), Dorothy L Sayers (Gaudy Night is a masterpiece and a book I return to time and again) and John Wyndham.

John Wyndham is the master of the dystopian novel and I have adored his work ever since I first read one of his books. I started with Chocky but The Chrysalids is my favourite. However, he is known to most people by way of his most famous two novels, The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day of the Triffids..

The reason for my seemingly irrelevant ramblings about my youthful reading habits and my abiding love of a long-dead science fiction writer in this blog post is that from early on this book reminded me of The Day of the Triffids and I can’t think of higher praise than a book garnering a favourable comparison to one of my most beloved authors.

The opening scene of the novel sees the protagonist, Marlene, hiding from her children in the branches of a tree, trying to make a phone call in peace and this pretty much tells you all you need to know about Marlene and her mothering techniques. Many of us will recognise this woman, if not in ourselves, then in people we know. She is a modern woman, trying to juggle a demanding job, young and exuberant children and a failing relationship, and feeling like she isn’t doing any of it particularly well. Even on a weekend away in a remote, rural location, she can’t switch off and is frustrated by lack of connection to the outside world and being unable to escape for five minutes from her needy offspring, . Marlene is not an obviously likeable central character. She is brusque and short-tempered with her children and her sister-in-law, who has joined her on the trip. She is bitter and resentful and impatient and self-centred and some readers may find it difficult to bond with her. However, Marlene’s personality and attitude are important tenets in the story arc, both from the perspective of how she deals with the predicament she finds herself in throughout the novel and the journey she goes on in her personal relationships.

We are thrust into the action instantly when it becomes obvious very quickly that something is terribly wrong in the outside world and the small group have only escaped harm because of their isolation. This isolation never feels idyllic from the start because of Marlene’s attitude towards being stranded in a remote place trying to entertain her children but it soon becomes suffocating, as the party gradually realise that this is their only refuge, despite it’s lack of facilities – it becomes a prison without walls or bars. As we find ourselves in the heads of the characters, only knowing the very little they know and gripped by the fear they are feeling, the whole book is imbued with menace and an underlying current of suppressed panic that propels us from page to page in a desperate effort to find out what is happening and how the characters can make themselves safe. Marlene doesn’t know where to turn or who she can trust in a world turned on its head and so we in turn are suspicious and wary of every new character. It is uncomfortably compelling reading and I was hooked from the beginning, almost desperate for the intolerable ride to be over so I could relax.

The central theme of this book for me is Marlene’s development as a mother and in her relationship with her children. She is a fairly hard and strict woman with very little patience to begin with. However, over the course of the novel, as her family are threatened and she realises that she can depend on no one for help but must rely on her own resources and work with her children to save them, she learns things about herself and her children which change them all. All the best novels involve a journey that is both emotional as well as physical and this book does not in any way disappoint in this regard. Marlene may not be the most sympathetic character I have ever met but she was real and interesting and complicated and I found myself with a lot of questions as to whether things would have turned out differently if Marlene had been a different type of person and how I myself would react and fare if I were placed in the same situation.

If you have read any of the reviews of this book on Goodreads, you may have seen some readers complaining about the ending of this book, and it is certainly unconventional and unexpected. Why some people see this as a negative I am unsure, as anything that surprises, that makes you question why the author chose this conclusion, wonder what happens next, can only be a good thing. For me, I love a book that makes me FEEL something, that leaves me questioning, pondering the issues, wanting others to read the book so I can see what they think is nothing but a positive and this book did all that.

This book is not a comfortable read but it is evocative and thought-provoking and tense. It will stay with you beyond the final page and I would highly recommend it. And read some John Wyndham while you’re at it, you won’t be sorry.

All The Little Children is out now and you can buy a copy here. Jo’s new novel, The Trailing Spouse will be published on 14 August and can be pre-ordered here.

If you would like to see what my fellow bloggers on the tour thought of the book, you can find details of the tour below.

All The Little Children B T Poster Final

About the Author

Jo Furniss

After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the UK, she lived in Switzerland and Cameroon, and currently resides with her family in Singapore.

As a journalist, Jo has worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle, The Economist, Business Traveller, Expat Living (Singapore) and Swiss News. Jo has also edited books for a Nobel Laureate and the Palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University. In 2015 she founded http://www.SWAGlit.com—an online literary magazine for writers in Singapore.

All the Little Children is Jo’s debut novel and she is working on a second domestic thriller to be released in 2018.

Connect with Jo:

Website: http://www.jofurniss.com

Facebook: Jo Furniss Author

Twitter: @Jo_Furniss

Instagram: @jofurnissauthor

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