My Favourite Books of 2018…

Hi everyone,

I’m sure you’ve all seen plenty of these posts in recent weeks, but I figure I may as well add my own favourites post to the list!

2018 has been a funny old year for me in terms of reading. In June I started experiencing anxiety and panic (more on that here), which meant I had to drastically change my reading and blogging habits in order to find something that worked for me. This involved changing up my genres, so while most of my previous Top Reads posts are predominantly crime/thriller books, this one has some non-crime 🙂

I found it hard to try to pick my favourite reads of the year this year if I’m honest. Not because I didn’t have a year of great books, moreso because I had a year of dodgy headspace and it changed my perspective a little. In saying that, I am pretty happy with my choices. The books on this list are books that I still think about and recommend on a regular basis, or books I get all shouty about on Twitter 🙂

As always, these are books that were my favourites, but reading is so subjective, so I wouldn’t expect anyone to agree with all of my picks. I’m also popping in a couple of books that are not out yet as 2019 recommendations, and an eBook that will be released in paperback in 2019 too. Hopefully you’ll discover a book here that you may not have heard about and decide to read!

So, without further ado, here are the books that I loved in 2018….

Don’t Make A Sound by David Jackson

Don't Make A Sound

You guys! YOU GUYS!!! THIS BOOK!!!! It definitely nearly broke me. I have such a grá (love in Irish in case you want to know!) for Nathan Cody. I never want to stop reading when I pick up any of David’s Cody series, and Don’t Make A Sound was no exception.

But I had to put it down… to catch my breath, because THINGS HAPPEN! And I wasn’t prepared for how it made me feel!!! I picked the book up again after a few deep breaths, but I was super tense until I turned those last pages.

What a bloody thrill ride!!!

There is no doubt that David Jackson is an awesome writer, but he is also a master manipulator after this one (Love you really, Dave!) because it really messed with my head, heart and emotions. I am NOT complaining though, because this knack that Dave has means that his books will keep me gripped from start to finish.

EVERY. DAMN. TIME.

Don’t Make A Sound, for me, is the best book in the series so far.  Without a shadow of a doubt. The plot is pitch perfect. The atmosphere is dark and nervy. The characters are so well-drawn (goodies and baddies) that the reader becomes immersed almost immediately and that denouement, perfection.

I can’t praise Dave or his books highly enough. Firmly on my favourites list for life, this series just keeps getting better and better.

Raw, dark and with an emotional gut-punch, Don’t Make A Sound is one thriller you DO NOT want to miss.

Highly recommended.

Always.

Don’t Make A Sound by David Jackson

Previous reviews for the series:

A Tapping at my Door by David Jackson

Hope To Die by David Jackson

The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson

The Darkness

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a huge fan of Ragnar Jónasson’s writing, so when I heard we were finally going to meet Hulda Hermansdottir in The Darkness, I jumped at the chance to read it, and I was definitely not disappointed.

Hulda is a Detective in the Reykjavik Police, and at sixty-four, is almost ready to retire. When she takes on the last case of her career, Hulda finds out that all is not what it seems. The case, a cold case, involved a young woman seeking asylum from Russia, who was found murdered on an isolated beach in Vatnsleysuströnd. Hulda thinks that if she can solve this one last case, she’ll go out on a high as she finishes her career, but life is never really that easy.

The Darkness is another fine example of Ragnar Jónasson’s ability to transfer the chilling Icelandic landscape into a character in the book. Unforgiving, dark and more than a little unsettling, I found myself thinking it sounds like a very harsh place to live. But I could easily conjure up the images he created.

Speaking of character, I really enjoyed reading about Hulda. It seems she is a little misunderstood by her colleagues, but when you get a glimpse into her thought processes you see she is lovely, just a bit standoffish. Her gruff demeanour does little to endear her to many of the people around her, but I warmed to her immediately.

By the end of the book, I genuinely didn’t want to have to turn that last page, so I’m really glad this is only the beginning. Or the end, because the books are going in reverse order.

To sum up, for me, The Darkness was a haunting portrait of the Icelandic landscape, with brilliantly drawn characters and a thoroughly chilling plot. It takes the reader on an unexpected journey, and I loved every minute of it.

Highly recommended, as always!

The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

To Kill a Kingdom

Buy the damn book.

Can I just leave it at that?! Because I can’t seem to find the words to describe how much I enjoyed To Kill A Kingdom…

I’ve been switching genres lately because I find I get sick of the same kind of stuff if I read a load of similar books, so when I saw To Kill A Kingdom on my kindle I figured I would give it a go. It is a YA fantasy with sirens, mermaids and pirates. It sounded like it would be a fun read, and its safe to say it was that and more!

To Kill A Kingdom kept me company on a flight to Prague recently. I spent the entire plane journey reading it, and found myself over halfway through by the time we landed, I just couldn’t stop reading.

Princess Lira is a siren. She collects the hearts of princes by ripping them from their chests. When Lira has to kill one of her own, her sea queen mother punishes her by making her into something that her kind hate. A human. Enter Prince Elian. A siren hunter, heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Lira must kill Prince Elian in order to be returned to the sea. And there begins the real story.

I don’t want to go into too much detail. Partly because I don’t want to spoil the story for you guys, but also because I’m still struggling to find all of the good words to explain how much I loved this book.

To Kill A Kingdom hooked me from the beginning. It has a great cast of characters, way more action than I was expecting, and Alexandra Christo has created a truly wonderful world for this book. I loved the story, how it all played out, how beautifully drawn the book is as a whole.

Captivating, magical and haunting, To Kill A Kingdom is definitely one of my favourite books that I’ve read recently. So much so, that I am actively looking for books that even come marginally close to this engaging gem, so if you know of any, shout at me in the comments!

Also, I raved about it so much that my husband (who isn’t actually a big reader) read it and he really liked it too! 🙂

I’ll end this review the same way I started it…

Buy the damn book!

🙂 🙂 🙂

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Furyborn

I’m months out from reading Furyborn and I’m STILL having trouble trying to formulate a review decent enough to convey just how much I loved this book. It has got everything I look for in a book. Strong main characters, a truly epic story line and excellent world-building. Once I picked it up, I knew I was on to a winner, and I could not stop reading!

Rielle and Eliana are two of the best female characters I’ve read in a fantasy book this year, and I found myself thoroughly invested in their fates throughout the course of the book. I am still thinking about them and its been two months since I read Furyborn!

I am reminded of the addictiveness of Sarah J. Maas’s Court books when I think of Furyborn. It evoked much the same feelings as I had when I picked those up, and its safe to say that I NEED MORE from Claire Legrand. More Eliana, more Rielle, more Corien, who reminds me of both Rhysand AND the Darkling (Leigh Bardugo’s creation).

I don’t know what else to say. No amount of raving can convey how I actually feel about this book. It left me breathless. Gasping for more. Bereft when I finished it. Lots of feelings, basically!

I absolutely loved Furyborn. Right from the beginning I knew it was going to be a great read. Excellent characterisation, clever magical-type aspects, great world building, I just loved it all. The power struggles, the action, the dual timeline narrative, it all worked really well for me. A perfect foundation for a trilogy. It left me with questions, and wanting more to read, but that’s the beauty of the first book in a series. I can’t wait for the next!

Highly recommended!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Aftershock by Adam Hamdy

Aftershock

If you follow my blog, you’ll know I’ve read and loved the previous books in the trilogy (review links are left below) so I had been eagerly awaiting Aftershock since I finished Freefall last summer. Which feels like a lifetime ago! So you can imagine my delight to find a copy waiting for me after I got home from Harrogate. I literally turned the last page of Aftershock a half hour ago, and I am shook, in the best possible way of course.

I’m mindful of the fact that I don’t want to go into too much detail in this review, so I will try to keep it relatively short because if I start rambling about the book, I probably won’t stop too easily!

Aftershock starts with a bang, and I swear the pace doesn’t let up for the entirety of the 500+ pages. If you’ve read the first two books, you’ll recognise Adam Hamdy’s innate talent for writing extremely cinematic thrillers, and this one is no exception!

We are back with the usual suspects, Wallace, Ash, Bailey as they try to deal with the fallout from the events that took place in Freefall. Each is trying to battle their own demons, and the internal guilt/struggles they are experiencing make for tough and emotive reading at times. The journeys that each one goes on, and the arc of their respective characters is so well plotted, and I found myself really rooting for them at various points in the book.

The Foundation has claimed so much of these people’s lives, and in Aftershock they try to claw back something for themselves. Destruction and force are The Foundation’s weapons of choice, but murder seems to be the order of the day and its up to Wallace, Ash and the rest to try to finally put a stop to this wide-reaching organisation.

I swear the tension and pacing in these books is designed to get your adrenaline pumping, but not in a bad way. I kept my reading of this one to daylight hours, but even then I was on tenterhooks while the action was unfolding. Lets not even mention the bits that made me tearful!!!

Aftershock is a pitch perfect ending to what has been one of the best action series I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Cleverly plotted, excellent characters and a truly terrifying reality made Aftershock a truly gripping read. 

If you like your thrillers with real heart, then I highly recommend you pick up Aftershock, and its equally impressive predecessors.

You will not be disappointed.

All the stars for this one!

Previous reviews:

Pendulum by Adam Hamdy

Run by Adam Hamdy

Freefall (Pendulum Trilogy #2) by Adam Hamdy

 

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

Skin Deep

I love a bookish baddie. You know the kind. Self-centered, narcissistic, just hateful in general. Well, yet again, Liz Nugent has created a truly terrible fictional human being in Cordelia Russell. Right from the beginning of Skin Deep I found myself disliking her as a character.

But. And there is definitely a but. When we are taken through Cordelia’s early life, the reader learns why she is the way she is. No excuse, I know, but it is a very insightful and eye-opening character development that left me wondering how many more layers Liz Nugent could possibly add to her character.

Skin Deep is a masterful exploration of character and circumstance. It is graphic, raw and unashamedly honest in its portrayal of the lengths to which someone will go to get what they need from others. Selfishness and greed are front and centre in this book, and as we learn more about Cordelia, it is difficult to not have some very real and often angry feelings towards her.

I had been eagerly awaiting this book, and it was most definitely worth the wait. A savage look at the depravity of the human condition, the lengths to which people will go for their own gain, it is a triumph.

Highly recommended!

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Caged Queen

The Caged Queen is one of the books I read during my hiatus from reviewing, so I don’t have an actual review to share for this one. What I will say is that I LOVED it. It’s the second book in the Iskari series, book one being The Last Namsara, and even though I hadn’t read the first book  I became completely immersed in it. So much so that I immediately went and bought The Last Namsara so I could read it.

Superb characters, a great plot and excellent world-building made this one a firm favourite. If you like fantasy, dragons and Young Adult fiction then I would highly recommend adding The Caged Queen to your TBR.

The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli

 

Next up, a book that is already available on Kindle, it will be released in paperback in January 2019. To be fair, Matt has featured on all of my Top Reads posts since he released Six Stories, so a list isn’t a list without my fave goth 🙂

And I’m going to get real here, nestled in the list, this book is the one.

My favorite.

It was one of my most anticipated books, and it didn’t disappoint, so it’s only right that it’s my top read…

 

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

Changeling

We’re beneath different trees this series, but our feet are sounding against the same darkness and once again we’re facing our fears head-on.

If ever a quote summed up the experience of reading Matt Wesolowski’s books, this chiller from Changeling is perfect.

I had been dying to read Changeling ever since I saw the beautiful cover on Twitter a few months back, and let’s face it, being a superfan means I have literally NO PATIENCE when it comes to waiting for these things. So huge thanks to both Karen and Matt for letting me read an early copy.

Reader, it does not disappoint.

In Changeling, Scott King is back investigating again. This time it is the disappearance of Alfie Marsden from his father’s car in the Wentshire Forest Pass on Christmas Eve 1988. Alfie disappeared without a trace and was officially declared dead seven years and three months after he disappeared. Scott sets out with his usual investigative zeal in search of answers.

I read Changeling over the course of today, making notes as I went, which I never do. And even with these notes, I still feel like I can’t do this book the justice it deserves.

Changeling is by far, my most favourite of the Six Stories books, and I love them all, I mean I REALLY love them. So just know I am not saying that lightly. Changeling got under my skin in a way the others didn’t.

The tension and sense of menace is there from the outset. It builds steadily, rolling like waves in a storm, until it crashes around your consciousness and leaves you almost breathless. Hidden and implied horror help to make Changeling a thoroughly bracing read, leaving the reader more than a little unsettled in its wake.

Much like the Changeling in old folklore, this book itself goes through a metamorphosis. But the author does this slowly, almost imperceptibly, and it creeps up on you gradually that what you are reading is a little different to what you started reading.

I PROMISE I will do a more in-depth review, but for now, know this;

Changeling is an intense, dark and utterly absorbing book. The pages crackle with tension, the characters have real depth and the writing is truly stunning.

Matt Wesolowski has to be one of the most imaginiative and talented young writers out there at the moment. His ability to make his writing current in terms of style, while still managing to write the perfect kind of crime/horror/psychological thriller mash-up, astounds me more with every book of his I read.

Highly, highly recommended.

Always.

Previous Matt-related posts:

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

*Blog Tour* Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

~COVER REVEAL~ Hydra by Matt Wesolowski

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski

 

Another 2019 release coming up next, I managed to read this one way back in February:

 

The Nowhere Child by Christian White

The Nowhere Child is simply unputdownable. I absolutely devoured this exquisitely written thriller in a couple of sittings. This is the kind of book that makes me want to shout about it from the rooftops.

It all started with the disappearance of 2-year-old Sammy Went in the 90’s. Gone without a trace, Sammy has never been found. Fast forward twenty eight years to where we meet Kim Leamy, who is approached by a man investigating little Sammy’s disappearance all those years ago. This meeting leaves Kim with enough questions to make her travel to Sammy’s hometown of Manson, Kentucky in the United States.

What follows is by far one of the best stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Packed with tension that winds its way towards an unexpected conclusion, The Nowhere Child is a triumph. A riveting tale of secrets and lies, and the lengths to which people will go to keep them hidden. Thoroughly engaging, you won’t be able to put it down until the bitter end.

The Nowhere Child by Christian White

 

And last, but by no meas least, a 2019 YA release that I may have been shouting about a little on Twitter…

 

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

This book had been languishing on my kindle for a while so I picked it up a month or two ago to read and I ended up absolutely loving it. It is billed as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I AM HERE FOR THAT! It was such a great read. I loved the characters, the whole idea, the premise, everything! I love anything to do with BATB so this book was everything for me. I can’t wait to get myself a hardcover for my shelves because I plan on reading it again in 2019. Can’t recommend it highly enough!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

 

And that’s it. Just like that,  I’m done.

 

Have you read any of my 2018 faves? Would you? Do let me know in the comments!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and my blog over the past year!

Until 2019, happy reading!

Kate x

Blog Tour-Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin by Hannah Lynn ~ Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Today, Ellen is taking part i the blog tour for Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin by award-winning author, Hannah Lynn. I’ll be sharing her review with you all just a little further down!

About the author:

Hannah Lynn

Hannah Lynn is an award-winning, genre-defying novelist. Publishing her first book, Amendments – a dark, dystopian speculative fiction novel, in 2015, she has since gone on to write The Afterlife of Walter Augustus – a contemporary fiction novel with a supernatural twist – which won the 2018 Kindle Storyteller Award and the delightfully funny and poignant Peas and Carrots series.

 

While she freely moves between genres, her novels are recognisable for their character driven stories and wonderfully vivid description.

 

She is currently working on a YA Vampire series and a reimaging of a classic Greek myth.

 

Born in 1984, Hannah grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps.
For up-to-date news and access to exclusive promotions follow her on

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HannahLynnAuthor/

Twitter @HMLynnauthor

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13830772.Hannah_M_Lynn

Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/hannah-lynn

Book Links:

Amazon.co.uk – Amendments

Amazon.com – Amendments

Amazon.co.uk – The Afterlife of Walter Augustus

Amazon.com – The Afterlife of Walter Augustus

Amazon.co.uk – Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin

Amazon.com – Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin

About the book:

Peas Book Cover

“A coming of age story for the mid-life crisis generation.”

When George Sibley dies, his only son, Eric, has no idea that his inheritance will come with conditions. Now, if Eric is to ever get his hands on his father’s treasured Aston Martin, he must somehow juggle his hectic career and family life in the city, with regular visits to the small riverside town of Burlam. Life for Eric quickly becomes a chaotic kaleidoscope of grumpy pensioners, wellington boots and vintage auto-mobiles, fraught with heavy machinery mishaps, missed deadlines and drug raids, the result of which leave his marriage, job and sanity hanging in the balance.
.

Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin is a light-hearted and humorous tale of a man who reluctantly goes digging amongst the weeds in order to discover his roots.

Ellen’s review:

Admit it – you’re intrigued by that title right!? What on Earth can a story called Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin be about? Well I can tell you it’s about a lot of things including family, friendship, loss, grumpy OAPs and an allotment (hence the peas and carrots).

When Eric Sibley’s father George dies, Eric dreams of what his inheritance will buy..a bigger house, fancy holidays perhaps? Nope, nothing like this. George aims to teach Eric a lesson, he doesn’t want Eric to miss out on the joys of family and friendship in pursuit of the finer things in life. So what does Eric get? His father’s beloved Aston Martin which comes attached with a proviso; in order to have full ownership of the car he must tend his father’s allotment every week. Sounds pretty simple right? But due to George’s ill health and inability to do what he loved the land isn’t in the best of shape, in fact it’s an overgrown, rat-infested death trap! Eric is not impressed, he’s a busy man working in the city and doesn’t think he has time for an allotment but George knows exactly how his son would react and there is no get out clause. After trying to flout the rules a few times, with hilarious consequences, Eric comes to the realisation that the allotment needs to be embraced. He is no Monty Don and he must win over the other residents as well as conquer his lack of gardening skills.

Throughout the book we see Eric’s opinions change and his understanding of what he wants out of life grow alongside the new life on his little plot. There are a lot of colourful characters along the way, all of who have something to add to Eric’s journey.

A lovely heart-warming tale and I look forward to book two in the series!

Check out the tour:

Peas Blog Tour Poster.jpg

Blog Blitz ~ Avian by Emma Pullar Ellen’s Review

Hi guys,

Ellen is taking part in the blog blitz for Avian by Emma Pullar today and I’ll be sharing her review with you all a little further down!

About the author:

Emma Pullar is a writer and book reviewer. Her picture book, Curly from Shirley, went to number four on the bestseller list and was named ‘best opening lines’ by NZ Post. As well as picture books, Emma writes online articles and speculative fiction. Her short horror story, London’s Crawling, which was published in the Dark Minds charity anthology, was a finalist for Twisted50 and shortlisted for the SJV Award.

Emma has been writing dark tales since she was a little girl. The first picture book she wrote was called ‘Attack of the Killer Wheelie Bins’ and was about wheelie bins getting sick of people stuffing them with rubbish and so they started eating people! She then wrote a particularly disturbing story about two kids who fell down a pit and were eaten alive by a beast. It was graphic, her primary school teacher was concerned and called Emma’s parents in for a meeting. It was agreed that Emma had a wild imagination and no intervention was needed.

Emma is from London but is also a New Zealand citizen and has lived in NZ and Australia, she now resides in a sleepy little village in Kent. When not writing, she can be found spending time with her three children, husband and naughty cat called Rupert. She also teaches Tai Chi. Emma loves dark stories and fantasy, and enjoys dreaming up twisted tales of torment and terror.

About the book:

Avian: a tense dystopian thriller you won't want to miss by [Pullar, Emma]

CENTRAL IS LOSING ITS GRIP ON THE CITIZENS OF GALE CITY.

Megan Skyla, who refused to play by Central’s rules and become a surrogate for her masters, has thrown the city into chaos. Corrupting those around her, she and her friends are forced into hiding – hunted by Central, the evil rulers of Gale City. Skyla’s desperate attempts to keep everyone alive ends when they’re kidnapped by feuding gangs.

Skyla cuts a deal and then betrays both gangs. Now there is nowhere left to run. It’s the desert or die. Her best friend, Crow, thinks she still wants to find a way to cure the Morbian masters of their obesity and finish what she started.

But Skyla has other plans. She’s sure there are settlements in the desert, there must be something out there … and there is. Something terrible.

Skyla is about to find out there’s more than one way to bring about change but one truth remains … Central must be destroyed in order to ensure her survival. There is no other way.

Click HERE to get your copy!

Ellen’s review:

Dystopian fiction has always been a favourite genre of mine and I couldn’t wait to get back into Skyla’s world in Avian. Skeletal is the first book in this series and I recommend reading it first although the author has done an excellent job in refreshing my memory of previous events which is important with this kind of book with SO much happening.

As we rejoin Skyla she is still reeling over the events of Skeletal and is more determined than ever to break free of Gale City, the only problem is it seems everyone wants a piece of her! There is a reward for her capture and she is caught between a rock and a hard place (or Gale City and the desert), as well as looking out for her own safety she has the added complication of her companions Andia, Cara and Dove who aren’t the easiest people to look after. In desperation Skyla joins a gang which involves completing life threatening rituals of initiation. During these trials she encounters the Mutils – hands down the most disgusting, depraved creatures you will ever meet! Enough so that I coined the phrase #mankymantils at a certain chapter and that was my PG rating version. *shudders* I loved the introduction of some mysterious new characters in Avian who Skyla and friends encounter in the desert, with their appearance comes more illumination on the facts Skyla thought she knew.

 

The Mutils aren’t the only abhorrent creatures you will meet in Avian, those flesh eating crows are back, there’s a Sand Kraken and some particulary vile Scrabs. Now I love this type of thing and the author’s descriptions really grabbed my imagination; I can totally see this series of books on the big screen….maybe not in 3D, even I have my limits.

We are also reaquainted with Crow who has now become my new book boyfriend, his and Skyla’s friendship isn’t as straight forward as she’d like to believe and life is about to get a whole lot more complicated for the pair of them. Knowing the author I won’t hedge my bets on a happy ending, I’ve been burnt too many times.

Avian features lies, deception, shocks, guts and gore. If you’re looking for a REALLY dark dystopian here it is and it’s definitely a firm favourite for one of my books of the year. I can’t wait to see what Emma Pullar thinks of next!

Check out the blog blitz:

Blog Blitz Extract ~ The M Word by Eileen Wharton

Hi everyone,

Today I’m taking part in the blog blitz for The M Word by Eileen Wharton and I’ll be sharing an extract with you all further down!

About the author:

31501118_1664430320342396_8895463327074058744_n.jpg

Eileen Wharton is not the naughty great-grandaughter of Edith Wharton. She is currently employed by MI5 but has had various jobs including: wigmaker to Donald Trump, Megan Fox’s stunt double and Ann Summers ‘toy’ tester. She also tells lies for a living.

She currently has five ‘lively’ offspring ranging from thirty to ten years of age and has no plans to procreate further much to the relief of the local schools and police force.

Her first novel, ‘Shit Happens’ was published in 2011 to worldwide critical acclaim. She’s also won awards for exaggeration. It did top the Amazon humour chart so she’s officially a best-selling author.

Her first children’s picture book, ‘The Shmoogly Boo’ was published in the same year and another is in the pipeline entitled, ‘My Dad’s Better than Your Dad.’

Her first crime novel, ‘Blanket of Blood’ was launched as a paperback on Friday 28th November 2016. She is now working on the sequel ‘Blood’s Thicker.’

 She teaches English to teenagers and lives on a council estate in Bishop Auckland. She has never eaten kangaroo testicles, is allergic to cats and has a phobia of tinned tuna.

Author links

https://www.facebook.com/eileen.whartonwriter

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eileen-Wharton/e/B00QQT2IKE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1525777837&sr=8-1

http://eileenwhartonwrite.wixsite.com/eileenwharton

About the book:

Eileen Wharton - The M Word_cover_high res.jpg

Roberta Gallbreath is middle aged and menopausal. She dislikes her children, detests her ex-husband and despises her colleagues.

When her mother dies, Roberta is left with a pile of letters and a mystery surrounding her son. The letters reveal Roberta’s heritage is not what it seems and she is soon on a mission to become a better person.

Told with humour and emotion, The M Word is the tale of one woman’s journey to find out where she came from. As she looks to the past for answers, more questions are raised. Will Roberta discover who she really is?

The M Word by Eileen Wharton

Extract:

Chapter 1

 

@RobertaGallbreath

#Restingbitchface

#Flissflop

‘Mother is dying,’ a voice on the house phone says.

‘Who is this?’ I ask.

‘It’s Fliss, who do you think it is?’

‘Let me see. It’s three years since I spoke to you last, Felicity, so I wasn’t expecting to pick up the phone and hear your voice.’

‘Are you coming or not?’ my sister snaps.

‘Where?’

‘Home, of course. She’s dying, Roberta. Even you must care about that.’ What’s with the even you shit? Why do people say that? My sister is good at emotional blackmail. ‘She’s asking for you. God knows why.’

‘How long?’

‘Days rather than weeks. Doctor said to gather the family. Can you tell Carolyn and Shoni?’

‘And Drew,’ I say. Silence. ‘He didn’t do it, Felicity.’

‘Whatever.’

‘I know my own son.’ Silence. ‘He might be a lot of things, but he’s not a thief.’

‘I didn’t ring to argue with you. Just get here, will you.’

‘I’ll come tomorrow,’ I say. She hangs up.

My sister’s a bitch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all sweetness and light myself, but Felicity is a witch and a martyr, and there’s nothing more unattractive than the smell of burning martyr. She stayed with Mother when she could have left to live in Bermuda with a police officer from Pocklington she had met on eHarmony. She’s bitter and twisted, and let’s face it, who wouldn’t be, living with Mother all those years?

 

#nilbymouth

Mother’s on form. Even on her deathbed, she can make me feel like crap. She sits up in bed, her grey curls flattened by the pillows she’s now propped on, winceyette bed jacket draped around her spiky shoulders, “ALICE GALLBREATH: NIL BY MOUTH” at her head.

‘Don’t know why you bothered coming all the way up here,’ she says.

‘It’s only twenty minutes up the road.’

‘Why do I never see you, then? There’s nowt for you in t’ will.’

‘I don’t want anything, Mother,’ I say.

‘That’ll be a first. Stand up straight and put your legs together. You couldn’t stop a pig in a passage.’

‘Stop with the compliments, will you?’ I say.

‘What you doing here?’

‘I came to see you.’

‘Want to watch me die?’

‘No, Mother. I came to say my goodbyes.’

‘Goodbye, then.’

‘Jesus, can you not just…’

‘What? Just what?’ Mother asks.

‘Just be nice,’ I say.

‘That’s rich, coming from you.’

‘Look, I know I haven’t been the World’s Best Daughter,’ I say.

‘Pah. Understatement of the year. Get one of those thingies from the nurse, will you?’

‘Thingies? Which nurse?’

‘The one that’s plain as a pikestaff. I need to say a decade of the rosary every time I look at her… A thingummy jig whatsit doodah…’ She sets off coughing, and I think she’s going to choke to death there and then. She waves her hand madly in the direction of the cupboard next to the bed.

‘In here?’ I ask. She nods. ‘A tissue?’ She nods again. I hand her a tissue, and she spits into it. Fresh red blood mixed with black swirls like a marble. She folds the tissue, shoves it into my hand and gestures to the plastic bag taped to her locker. I try not to retch as I stuff it in. ‘You haven’t exactly been Mum of the Year, either.’

‘Go on, kick me while I’m down.’

‘I’m not here to kick you, Mother. Felicity said you were asking for me.’

‘Yes, I wanted you to know that I know who took the money and your father’s watch, and I want you to get it back.’

‘Listen, if you’re going to accuse Drew again, I–’

‘I’m not.’

‘That was a terrible time for us…’

‘I wasn’t going to accuse Drew,’ she says. ‘I know it wasn’t Drew. He wouldn’t nick off his granny. I want you to get it back. I still want Drew to have it.’

‘Who was it?’

‘I don’t want it to cause trouble. I just want you to get it back.’

‘From where, Mother? Where do I get it from?’

‘Fliss,’ she says faintly.

‘I don’t understand. What about Felicity?’

‘It wasn’t your dad’s watch. Well, it was. But not the man you thought was your dad.’

‘What do you mean? What are you talking about? You’re talking in riddles. Whose was it? Mother?’

‘The letters explain,’ she says, her breath shallow and laboured.

‘Letters? What letters?’

‘In there,’ she says, pointing to the bedside cabinet. ‘They explain.’

‘Explain what?’

‘Everything. They explain everything. Forgive me…’

Her breath grows ragged, and the machine beside her beeps. A nurse comes running. It’s all a bit of a blur after that. Doctors run in. They shock her, and her heart starts again, then stops. They shock her again, calling, ‘Alice, Alice, can you hear me, Alice?’

When I’ve seen paramedics performing CPR on the telly, it’s so clean and clinical. This is brutal. Messy, noisy, the sound of ribs cracking, a blue mouth foaming, eyes rolling.

It seems like hours before a man in a white coat shakes his head and says, ‘Time of death, eleven twenty-two am.’

I can’t say that what I feel is sadness, but there is shock. Definite shock. Seeing Mother silent and not deadly. I wouldn’t say she looks peaceful or that she looks like she’s sleeping. She looks dead. Bitter Alice. Deceased. What did she want to explain? What did she want me to forgive?

I open her bedside cabinet and take out a brown bag. Inside is a bundle wrapped in red cloth. Unwinding the material, I can see letters, a huge bundle of letters, held together by elastic bands. I stuff them into my bag, intending to read them when I get home.

I sit beside the bed in a state of shock until Felicity arrives and blames me for killing our mother. ‘I think, in fact, that it was lung cancer that killed her.’

‘She was alright last night,’ she says. ‘She was chatting about Freda Birchill’s granddaughter being done for shoplifting.’

‘She wasn’t alright, though, was she? You called me up here because she was dying. You said to me that she didn’t have long left.’

‘Yeah, but I didn’t think…that she would really die.’ Her face crumples then, and I feel almost sorry for her. I put my hand on her shoulder, and she shrugs it off. ‘Do you think it’s been fun looking after her for the past twenty years while you swanned off to the city? You, the big I am.’

‘It’s Newcastle, Felicity, not New York. If you wanted a life, you could have chosen one.’

‘Chosen? Chosen?’ Her voice rises, and she beats her chest. ‘I didn’t have choices. My path was paved when you left. I couldn’t leave as well, could I? She’d have been on her own.’

I ignored her self-pity party. ‘She mentioned the money and Granddad’s watch. She said she knew Drew didn’t take it.’

‘If you’ve come here to cause trouble, I swear I’ll …’

‘Do what? Fliss, you invited me to come.’

‘Just go back to where you came from.’

‘I came from here, actually.’

‘So why do you talk as though you have a mouth full of marbles?’

‘What is it you want from me, Felicity?’

‘Nothing. I want nothing. Precisely what you’ve given me over the years.’

‘I’m going back,’ I say. ‘Let me know the arrangements for the funeral.’

‘Oh, yes, leave it all to me as usual. You can tell Drew to stay away, for a start.’

‘I’ll tell him no such thing. And I’ll tell you another thing, Mother wants him to have his granddad’s watch. Well, she said it’s not Dad’s. So, what do you know about that?’

‘Nothing. I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.’

‘She wants me to find the watch and give it to Drew, and that’s what I’m going to do.’ Her face turns red, then green, then white. She storms off, sticking her nose in the air.



Make sure to check out the other blogs taking part in the blitz:

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Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

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*Many thanks to Liz Nugent and Penguin for my review copy!

About the author:

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Before becoming a full-time writer, Liz Nugent worked in Irish film, theatre and television. In 2014 her first novel, Unravelling Oliver, was a Number One bestseller and won the Crime Fiction Prize in the 2014 Irish Book Awards. Her second novel, Lying in Wait, went straight to Number One in the Irish bestseller charts, remained there for nearly two months and won her a second IBA. She lives in Dublin with her husband.

About the book:

‘I could probably have been an actress.
It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else.
Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.

The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

My thoughts:

I love a bookish baddie. You know the kind. Self-centered, narcissistic, just hateful in general. Well, yet again, Liz Nugent has created a truly terrible fictional human being in Cordelia Russell. Right from the beginning of Skin Deep I found myself disliking her as a character.

But. And there is definitely a but. When we are taken through Cordelia’s early life, the reader learns why she is the way she is. No excuse, I know, but it is a very insightful and eye-opening character development that left me wondering how many more layers Liz Nugent could possibly add to her character.

Skin Deep is a masterful exploration of character and circumstance. It is graphic, raw and unashamedly honest in its portrayal of the lengths to which someone will go to get what they need from others. Selfishness and greed are front and centre in this book, and as we learn more about Cordelia, it is difficult to not have some very real and often angry feelings towards her.

I had been eagerly awaiting this book, and it was most definitely worth the wait. A savage look at the depravity of the human condition, the lengths to which people will go for their own gain, it is a triumph.

Highly recommended!

~Blog Blitz~ A Matter of Love and Death by Caron Albright

Hi everyone,

Today I’m one of a few blogs taking part in the blog blitz for Caron Albright’s A Matter of Love and Death, and I’ve got a great guest post from the author to share with you all!

About the author:

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Caron Albright fell in love with books as soon as she could read and never grew out of it. With one foot firmly planted in Fictionland ever since, she is moving from one adventure to the next (strictly on the paper of course).

She loves capers with feisty heroines, dashing heroes with a dangerous edge and thrilling locations and would gladly explore the world for the sake of research – preferably while tap-dancing, with a champagne glass in her hand.

Instead she spends her time in front of her keyboard, sipping herbal tea.

When she feels the need for a change, she switches to coffee and writing crime novels under the name Carmen Radtke.

Links:
 

 

About the book:

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Adelaide, 1931. Telephone switchboard operator Frances’ life is difficult as sole provider for her mother and adopted uncle. But it’s thrown into turmoil when she overhears a suspicious conversation on the phone, planning a murder.

If a life is at risk, she should tell the police; but that would mean breaking her confidentiality clause and would cost her the job. And practical Frances, not prone to flights of fancy, soon begins to doubt the evidence of her own ears – it was a very bad line, after all…

She decides to put it behind her, a task helped by the arrival of their new lodger, Phil. Phil takes her to a night club, where she meets charming but slightly dangerous club owner Jack. Jack’s no angel – prohibition is in force, and what’s a nightclub without champagne? But he’s a good man, and when Frances’ earlier fears resurface she knows that he’s the person to confide in.

Frances and Jack’s hunt for the truth puts them in grave danger, and soon enough Frances will learn that some things are a matter of love and death…

 

Guest Post:

Picking up the pen

By Caron Albright

 

Hands up if you, dear reader, ever wanted to be a writer. Odds are, your finger is either slowly pointing skywards, or you already have something finished, or a WIP (work in progress), or both.

Congratulations, you’re in good and, most of all, sympathetic company.

I don’t even remember the transition from voracious reader to budding writer; as a child it seemed logical that, if words on paper took you into another world, all I needed were pen and paper. No, don’t ask how many words I found that rhymed with spring (the poetry of an eight-year old). Let me say in my defence that the short story I wrote about the hamster and the stolen raw diamonds hidden among his food pellets could have become an instant classic, had I at age twelve not been blissfully unaware of the concept of a second or third draft. But at least it was original, and intended as an homage to Agatha Christie whose works already filled up a complete shelf in my room.

And that was it, for years, until I trained as a print reporter, constantly battling ever tighter deadlines. By then I was aware of the benefits of a second or third draft, but too time-strapped to do more than a five-minute polish.

This became my greatest obstacle when I finally found the courage to turn to fiction writing. I was so used to cranking out impressive numbers of words on a daily basis and coming up with idea after idea, if research on of them needed postponing, or events made them obsolete, that it was hard taking my time.

But – unless you are tied into a contract with strict deadlines – there’s no need for a mad rush, if your story isn’t quite there yet. By all means write, write as much as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if the words don’t flow. Or if what sounds utterly perfect in your head, doesn’t look as great on the page.

The best advice I ever had was, first get it written and then get it right. You’re allowed to type or scribble bad sentences, dig plot-holes large enough to hide an elephant in and let your characters wallow around in clichés (the same goes for poets, screenwriters, playwrights, novelists, non-fiction writers, diarists). It doesn’t matter if your work is never intended for the public or something that you will keep buried in a drawer. Allow yourself the freedom to write. Then read it, laugh, cry or bemoan you utter lack of talent (every writer I know tends to wallow in despair in between short-lived bursts of elation). And then get feedback.

There are more writers’ groups out there than ever, either meeting face to face (google them or ask at your local libraries), or join one of the many online groups.

Don’t ask your family or your best friends. Even if (that’s a big if) they possess all the qualities of a good reader and point out weaknesses, inconsistencies, logic errors, or praise your wit, sharp plots and lively dialogue, you will either feel hurt or insecure that they only want to spare their feelings.

Step away if critique turns into an attack of your work. Even the clumsiest effort deserves respect. Be respectful in return. Rejoice in your friends’ successes and support them in the low moments.

Don’t show your work to anyone if you can’t bear rejection. But most of all, love the writing. And please, please, please, whatever you do, stay a reader. There is no greater comfort escape, and means of enlightenment than a book. And if you have read Terry Pratchett’s ‘Carpe Jugulum’, you will find out that a book can save you in more ways than you probably dreamt of.

Follow the blog blitz:

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Watching You by Arne Dahl 

*Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for my review copy*

About the book:

Someone is watching.

At each abandoned crime scene there’s a hidden clue: a tiny metal cog, almost invisible to the naked eye. Someone is sending Detective Sam Berger a message, someone who knows that only he will understand the cryptic trail.

Someone knows.

When another teenaged girl disappears without trace, Sam must convince his superiors that they’re dealing with a serial killer. As the police continue the hunt to find the latest victim, Sam is forced to unearth long-buried personal demons. He has no choice if he is to understand the killer’s darkly personal message before time runs out.

Somebody is killing just for him.

Watching You by Arne Dahl

My Thoughts:

I’m a huge lover of Scandinavian crime so I was thrilled to be approved to read Watching You. I had no expectation as I’ve not read anything by him before, so I was hoping for greatness!

Watching You started out really well, as you would expect with a solid and gruesome premise. There were plenty of twists and turns along the way, some that were more shocking than others. There is a great sense of momentum at the beginning of the book and I was intrigued right from the beginning. 

I really liked Sam. Typically, he is a flawed and tormented lead detective. I’m drawn to characters like him so I definitely enjoyed his journey during the course of Watching You. I also loved the camaraderie he shared with one of the other characters in the book. 

 I found that towards the end I was less interested though, It seemed to become detail-heavy and lost its way a little for me personally. In saying that though, it’s an enjoyable read. Nothing new in the Scandinavian crime genre, but still a good read.
Recommended if you’re a new convert to Scandinavian crime thrillers!