Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Review - The Fear by C.L. Taylor

The Fear by C.L. Taylor
Publisher: Avon Books UK
Release date: 22 March 2018
Back cover blurb: When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces. Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused. But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

Louise (Lou) Wandsworth is thirty two years old when she moves back to her home town to clear out her Father’s house ready to sell on after his death. She isn’t married (she hadn’t had a relationship last longer than three months!) and sent her last boyfriend packing when her tried to surprise her.

But none of these things particularly matter to Lou. She is still damaged from being groomed as a teenager by her then karate teacher Michael (Mike) Hughes. She knows she shouldn’t look him up, she should leave everything be and try once and for all to move on with her life.

But she can’t.

Particularly not when she realises that Mike is involved with another teenager, Chloe Meadows. The situation is eerily similar. Both Lou and Chloe were insecure teenagers with few friends and broken, sometimes violent or drunken families.

Mike offers a chance to get away from real life, tells them he loves them, that they are beautiful and that he wants to be with them forever. Lou believed him, and knows that she must somehow get to Chloe or stop Mike before history repeats itself.

When Mike took Lou to France, he promised her the Earth. She didn’t realise it was abduction until it was too late. She cannot let Chloe be Mike’s latest victim, she must do something. After trying the Police under a false name she realises it’s useless without evidence. 

What now? Lou must think of something, and must act quickly 

The Fear tackles a few very difficult subjects with sensitivity and as for the ending. It’s a fast paced novel, in the sense that you want to keep reading to see where you are being led and as for that ending - well let’s just say it doesn’t disappoint. Another amazing novel from C.L. Taylor.

The Fear is available from 22 March 2018.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Review - Exhibit Alexandra by Natasha Bell

Exhibit Alexandra by Natasha Bell
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Release date: 8 March 2018
Back cover blurb: ALEXANDRA SOUTHWOOD HAS VANISHED . . . AND SHE KNOWS THEY WILL NEVER FIND HER . . . THIS IS UNLIKE ANY OTHER THRILLER YOU'VE READ. 'This story I have to tell is more than a collection of facts. I have no reason to paint a better or worse picture than what really happened. I've already lost everything.' Alexandra Southwood is missing. Her husband is beside himself, or at least he appears to be. She has vanished into thin air; the only traces left are her bloodied clothes by the riverside. It isn't long before the police are searching for a body. But we know that she is alive. That she is being kept somewhere far from her family. That perhaps this wife and mother wasn't quite what she seemed . . . Be warned: this isn't another missing-woman thriller. This is something far more shocking . . .

So, I was prepared for this to be an unconventional thriller. But I wasn’t prepared for just how unconventional it would be.

Alexandra Southwood is missing, she has quite literally vanished into thin air. The police are only vaguely interested at first, only as much as duty binds them to be.

As the days continue and Alex doesn’t return, the police delve into the Southwoods private life. Dr Marc Southwood is obviously expecting this. But what he isn’t expecting is the suspicion targeted at his wife.

Her disappearance must surely be an abduction or worse. She simply would not disappear of her own accord. It is incomprehensible.

I have to say that for a novel described as a thriller, exhibit Alexandra runs at a fairly slow pace, but it’s final few chapters more than make up for that.

Exhibit Alexandra isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea. But if it is yours, then you are in for interesting read.

Exhibit Alexandra is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who invited me to read an advanced proof copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Review - Estoril by Dejan Tiago-Stankovic

Estoril by Dejan Tiago-Stankovic
(Translation by Christina Pribichevich-Zurich)
Publisher: Apollo
Release date: 8 March 2018
Back cover blurb: Set in a luxurious grand hotel just outside Lisbon, at the height of the Second World War, Estoril is a delightful and poignant novel about exile, divided loyalties, fear and survival. The hotel's guests include spies, fallen kings, refugees from the Balkans, Nazis, American diplomats and stateless Jews. The Portuguese secret police broodingly observe the visitors, terrified that their country's neutrality will be compromised. The novel seamlessly fuses the stories of its invented characters with appearances by historical figures like the ex-King Carol of Romania, the great Polish pianist Jan Paderewski, the British agent Ian Fleming, the Russian chess grandmaster Alexander Alekhine and the French writer and flyer Antoine de St Exupery, who forms a poignant friendship with a young Jewish boy living alone in the hotel.

Estoril is described as a “war novel” but it so much more than that.

Estoril is quite an unusual novel in the way that it’s written. Although most definitely historical fiction at times it reads like a spy thriller.

It reads also quite simply, however it is a complex novel with many hidden layers and should not be underestimated.

Portugal is the home of Estoril, the name of the town rather then the hotel. During World War Two the town was a hotbed of espionage activity, as well as a hiding place for many war refugees.

The hotel Palacio houses an exotic mixture of all of these and more. Mr Black, hotel manager has the ultimate responsibility for the guests and their safety. And what a responsibility that is!

Estoril houses a curious blend of fictional and real historical figures, all with one common goal. For the war to be over as quickly as possible and lives to ge back to normal.

Estoril is difficult to describe further without giving anything away. It is a great novel and an interesting read.

Estoril is Amazon now via online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publisher who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Review - The Visitor by K.L. Slater

The Visitor by K.L. Slater
Publisher: Bookouture
Release date: 2 March 2018
Back cover blurb: You can never know what goes on behind closed doors. Or can you? Holly never thought she’d move back to her home town, but then something terrible happened. She doesn’t know if she can recover. But she knows she can never tell another soul. People say her neighbour, David, is “different”. He doesn’t go out much, and never after dark. But in David Holly finds just what she needs: a friend. Someone who’s always there. No one knows Holly’s secret, or where she lives. She has left the past behind. She is sure of it. So why does she feel as though she’s in terrible danger?

The Visitor is the latest psychological thriller from KL Slater. Holly is a timely visitor to Cora Barrett, a lonely old lady in Holly’s hometown of Nottingham.

After the death of Cora’s husband, she has been lacking companionship. Holly’s misfortune is her gain, as she takes her in as a lodger after taking pity on her following an incident at the local post office.

Holly needs a break. 

After escaping her troubled family life as a teenager and fleeing to Manchester with her friend Marcus, Holly hadn’t ever imagined she’d return to her hometown of Nottingham.

But that was before she met Geraldine and Brendan and everything changed.

David is Cora’s next door neighbour. He is intrigued by Holly’s arrival at the house and vows to get to know her better despite his own personal reservations about befriending a stranger. His Mother and those close to him don’t think he should get close to Holly but David doesn’t care.

Holly and David begin to tentatively strike up a friendship. Holly feels safe with David, but she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her. Someone trying to track her down from her past. Someone that she doesn’t want to see ever again.

I can’t say much more about The Visitor without giving anything away, so I’ll just this. The ending I didn’t see coming in a million years. Another brilliant K.L. Slater novel.

The Visitor is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Review - Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh
Publisher: Sphere (Little Brown Book Group)
Release date: 8 March 2018
Back cover blurb: The police say it was suicide. Anna says it was murder. They're both wrong. One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since. Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents' deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it's safer to let things lie . . . The stunning, twisty new psychological thriller from number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh, author of I LET YOU GO and I SEE YOU.

Anna Johnson is still trying to come to terms with death of her Mother twelve months on from her shocking suicide, when she receives an anonymous note that makes her question her Mother’s passing.

She has never fully believed that her Mother would commit suicide, particularly not after Anna’s Father did the same. Both of Anna’s parents plummeted to their deaths from the infamous suicide spot, Beachy Head.

But could it be that they were murdered?

Anna has always wondered. 

The arrival of the anonymous note prompts her to do something about it. Retired Detective Murray Mackenzie is on the reception of the local Police station when Anna finally plucks up the courage to report the suspected crime.

Murray is usually a stickler for rules, as he is no longer a serving detective he should pass the note and the information that Anna has given him on to his serving colleagues. 

But there is something in Anna’s story that brings the detective in him back to life and he decides to keep the information to himself so that he can begin his own investigation. What they go on to discover is something that can’t be reviewed for fear of giving too much away!

I didn’t think that Clare Mackintosh could top her first two books, but somehow she has managed it. Let Me Lie is so cleverly plotted that every time I thought I knew what was happening I was thrown in another direction entirely. Another masterpiece by this author!

Let Me Lie is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

[Blog Tour] Guest Extract - Scorched Earth by David Mark

Today I’m delighted to be hosting an extract from Scorched Earth by David Mark.

Scorched Earth by David Mark
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Release date: 25 January 2018
Back cover blurb: A murder and a missing person case puts McAvoy on the track of a man whose desire for revenge is unstoppable - but who may not be the worst criminal involved. Detective McAvoy investigates a murder and a missing person case in this dark and compelling thriller, for fans of Stuart MacBride and Peter May. The police think Crystal Heathers isn't missing.  The trainee detective assigned to the case isn't so sure. McAvoy thinks someone was being held at the derelict building where they just found a body pinned to the wall...and that all the signs point to it being a little girl. But why would anyone not report a kidnapping? And how far would someone go to get revenge? The case will test McAvoy to breaking point - as the crimes of the present lead him to a final violent confrontation with an enemy from his own past.

This cold is a living thing. It hungers. It hunts. It feeds. When Manu first felt its bitter kiss he feared to look upon his bare arms lest they appear denuded of flesh: chewed to stark white bone.
How strange, he had thought. How strange that fire and ice should have the same desires; the same craven lust for meat.

Manu is wrapped around himself; his arms blanketing a body as flimsy as the shelter in which he squats, trying to keep his backside above the muddy floor. His eyes are pennies; two perfect circles that stare at the flapping wing of canvas that serves as the doorway of his feeble shelter.

Manu shares this patch of scrubland on the outskirts of Calais in northern France with thousands of other men. There is no running water.The ground where he sleeps has the appearance and stench of an open sewer. Most mornings he wakes up semi-submerged. There are times when he has almost drowned himself during one of his midnight hallucinations; plunging nose and mouth into the shallow pool of filthy, fetid water.

He blinks. Stops it all. Cleanses himself in the absolute dark- ness behind his eyelids.The scene before him is so desolate that to look upon it for too long is to allow cold water into the soul. The image threatens to saps him of the murderous fury that has propelled him this far. And yet he considers himself fortu- nate. His tent is more luxurious than many. His neighbours protect themselves against the ceaseless rain within a nest of sticks, bin-liners and scavenged pieces of wood.

Manu could not say for certain how long ago he arrived here. Weeks certainly. Perhaps months. He has no recollec- tion of his first few days in camp. He knows that the last leg of his journey almost killed him. He has been a passenger on many vehicles during his gruelling passage from his home- land and has long known the dangers of falling from his hiding place to be crushed beneath the great wheels of the wagons on which he stowed away. He has witnessed such gruesome incidents many times. But he had never expected to arrive in Calais as an effigy, a sculpture built of frost. Icy water had splashed up and coated him as he clung to the axle of the last lorry on its journey north.The water had turned to ice upon him; holding him fast, arms outstretched; Christ- like in the freezing dark.

Manu has never known the names of his saviours. He remem- bers only the sensation of strong hands as they unpeeled him. There was rain upon his face and a burn upon the back of his leg where his skin had touched hot metal. His shivers were feverish, like the malarial convulsions that shook his sister to her miserable death. But kinder, better men gave him warmth. Treasured sweaters and waterproof coats were bundled up to serve as pillow and blanket. He was fed soups that tasted a little like meat. He was given clothes of his own: a sporty jacket of a flimsy, shiny material; American jeans, canvas shoes. A woollen hat that he could pull down to hide the ugly semicircle of risen flesh where his ear used to sit . . .

He did not deserve such kindness. He, who had done such wicked things. But he took it because it was offered and because he had no wish to die.

Scorched Earth is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.
Thank You to the publishers who invited me to take part in the blog tour.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour: