Blog Tour~ Attend by West Camel~ Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Today, Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for Attend by West Camel, and I’ll be sharing her review with you all a little further down!

About the author:

Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda Books with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghostwriting a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres,
A highly anticipated debut, blending the magical realism of Angela Carter and the gritty authenticity of Eastenders
and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.

About the book:

When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters and set against the unmistakable backdrop of Deptford and South London.

Ellen’s Review:

How to review a book like Attend by West Camel?? On first thoughts it seems pretty impossible and I have spent a long time after finishing it wondering about the words I could use that would do this extraordinary piece of writing the justice it deserves. Attend is like nothing I have read before and it is difficult to pin a genre on.

The main characters are Sam, Anne and Deborah – three very different people that are linked together by a familiar thread of loneliness. Sam is a young man looking for love and finding it in all the wrong places, Anne is a former addict struggling after returning to her home town with it’s bad memories and unforgiving family members, and Deborah…? Deborah is the magic thread that links them all together and helps Sam and Anne to see beyond their problems and resolve them. It appears that Deborah has been on her own for a very (very) long time and is surprised that the others can even see her! She is a calming influence in their turbulent times and they soon come to look to her for comfort and a listening ear. As much as Deborah is there to absorb she also imparts her fascinating life story; at times we are left wondering if they are the ramblings of an old lady who has lived on her own for too long but it soon becomes obvious there is far more to Deborah than meets the eye.

A truly magical read that will weave its way into your heart and soul!

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Blog Tour~ The Lingering by S. J. I. Holliday Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Today Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for The Lingering by S. J. I. Holliday and I’ll be sharing her review with you all!

About the author:

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly) featuring the much-loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination and fear of ghosts. She is proud to be one of The Slice Girls has been described by David Mark as ‘Dark as a smoker’s lung.’ She divides her time between Edinburgh and London and you will find her at crime-fiction events in the UK and abroad.

About the book:

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history. When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution… At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

The Lingering by S. J. I. Holliday

Ellen’s Review:

If you’re looking for a modern Gothic thriller you can’t go far wrong with The Lingering by SJI Holliday! I was immediately drawn in by the cover which is so atmospheric, I’ll give you a moment to check it out again….…gorgeous isn’t it!? I can totally see myself arriving at Rosalind House (then getting straight back in my car and leaving again), such an imposing building which exudes, and contains, so much character.

Jack and Ali Gardner sell up and move to a commune that inhabits Rosalind House – former asylum and source of rumours in the local village. Whispers of witchcraft, ghosts and historic abuse of patients are rife and I think a lot of people would enter that environment with a sense of trepidation. I did wonder why Jack (a former policeman) and Ali (a psychiatric nurse) would move to such a place. I was immediately suspicious of their actions and obviously the spirits of the house are too as ghostly activity steps up a notch or is it all the figment of someone’s imagination? Is this a case of them finding the house at the right time or the other way around? With each page turned the tension grows and grows.

The Lingering is such a perfect book to read at this time of year as the nights are drawing in and the moon is high. You will definitely be more aware of the slightest creaks and groans your house makes as you’re reading. I’d maybe keep the lights on a bit longer at bedtime if I were you, you definitely didn’t just see what you thought you saw from the corner of your eye…Oh, and you’ll never get a bath again once you’re done. Showers all the way!

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Blog Tour~Good Samaritans by Will Carver Ellen’s Review

Hey all,

Today Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for Good Samaritans by Will Carver and I’ll be sharing her review with you all!

About the author:

View More: http://razialife.pass.us/vanessa-and-brendans-wedding

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series (Arrow). He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

About the book:

GOOD SAMARITANS AW PR1.indd

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans. But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home… And someone is watching… Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.

Good Samaritans by Will Carver

Ellen’s review:

Instructions on how to read Good Samaritans:

1. Buy the book 

2. Read the book as quickly as possible while pausing to pick dropped jaw from the floor repeatedly.

3. Finish and question what a dark genius Will Carver is.

4. Spread the word – seriously shout about it from the rooftops!

5. Glance around furtively when buying bleach…..

Seth Beauman is an insomniac. He stays up late into the night, calling strangers from his phonebook, desperate to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A troubled, suicidal Hadley Serf thinks she is speaking to The Samaritans but a crossed wire means she ends up pouring her troubles out to Seth. This seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. Soon this dysfunctional love story evolves into something altogether darker when Seth brings Hadley home. Add into this volatile mix actual Samaritan call handler Ant searching for lost souls to save and you have a deeply tangled web of troubled relationships and dark secrets.

I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure if Good Samaritans was going to be my kind of book with all the talk about it being sexy/steamy, I have an issue with “sexy tension” in books and sex scenes in general. I’m no prude I’m just not a fan of those lingering, when-will-it-end paragraphs! Thankfully Good Samaritans contains more wham bam thank you ma’am/sir scenarios and I’m cool with that…take from this insight into me what you will!

I tore through this book in two sittings, loving the shocks, thrills , spills and revelations. I don’t like to compare books to others but I was reminded of American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and You by Caroline Kepnes (two books I am a massive fan of). So if obsession, attention to detail and stalking are your bag you’ll love this book. Yes there are shocking scenes and heinous acts committed but Carver draws you in making you an observer to these depraved things and desperate to know where the games will end.

It is difficult to reveal much about Good Samaritans you really need to experience it for yourself. So, follow the rules I’ve set out and enjoy!

Five stars and #sixbottlesofbleach from me.

Check out the tour:

Final Good Samaritans BT Poster

Blog Tour~ Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir Ellen’s Review

Morning all,

Today, Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir and I’ll be sharing her review with you all a little further down!

About the author:

Lilja author photo.jpg

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

About the book:

TRAP cover.jpg

Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi, on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Ellen’s Review:

Having read Snare the first in this trilogy I was delighted to get tangled up in the next book Trap. I absolutely adore the covers for both books, so simple but eye catching and would look a treat together on your bookshelves! Although this could be read as a standalone I would recommend reading Snare to fully enjoy Trap.

In the beginning of the book Sonja and Tomas are in Florida after escaping from the drug smuggling trade that her ex husband Adam had embroiled Sonja into. However this freedom is cut short when Tomas is kidnapped and Sonja is forced to return to the clutches of Adam and the drug gangs and back to Iceland. You can really sympathise for Sonja and her situation; she is desperate to get Tomas back and resorts to agreeing to once more return to the drug smuggling with the help of her friendly, look-the-other-way customs officer Bragi. Sonja is not going to give in without a fight and is soon caught up in a risky plot involving the deadliest criminals to ensure her family’s safety.

Meanwhile Sonja’s lover Agla is struggling with her own problems; awaiting trial for financial misconduct and attempting to pay back some massive debts. Once more I struggled to warm to Agla, she just appears so fragile and needy when it comes to Sonja and I worry how she would cope if their relationship came under pressure and she was rejected altogether.

I really enjoyed Trap and look forward to reading the final book in the series.

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Blog Tour ~ The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech and I’ll be sharing her review with you all in just a little bit!

About the author:

thumbnail_Louise Beech.jpg

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be
Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in
My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in
the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has
won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the
Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport
Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of
Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre,
where her first play was performed in 2012

About the book:

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Be careful what you wish for…
Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he
wishes it hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve.
When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems
to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

Ellen’s Review:

Louise Beech has once more broken me with her beautiful writing, her intention must be to crush my usually stony reading heart to dust! The Lion Tamer Who Lost is primarily a love story about Ben and Andrew but their journey was never going to be an easy one. Ben is 23 years old and living at home with his brash and bigoted father. Ben is struggling with his sexuality and fears of rejection by his family. Andrew is an older man that enters Ben’s life and turns it upside down. Can they make their relationship work? I really enjoyed the coincidences that occurred in TLTWL, this is a subject that fascinates me in real life so I never struggled to believe it’s place in the book.

The story is told over different timelines; Ben/Andrew in the past and the present where we find Ben working in a Lion sanctuary obviously trying to get over something. This “something” is gradually revealed throughout the novel and there is not much more I can say without spoiling the reading experience for others.

I loved the Lion Sanctuary setting of The Lion Tamer Who Lost; Louise’s descriptions are so vivid that I was immediately transported to Africa. The relationship between Ben and his lion cub Lucy was a delight and really gave an insight into Ben’s determination and strength of character. He refused to give up on Lucy and was obviously so attached to her and her success in becoming part of the pack. I think Lucy was actually my third favourite character after Ben and Andrew!

Louise’s writing is so powerful that in my mind Ben and Andrew are real people. For days after I’d be thinking about them before catching myself and remembering it wasn’t a film I’d watched or anyone in my life that actually existed. To be able to create that depth of emotion and recognition in a character from a reader takes some doing.

A gorgeous book which deserves all the stars!

Check out the blog tour:

The Lion Tamer Blog Tour Poster Final.jpg

Blog Tour Review~Absolution by Paul Hardisty

Hi all,

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Absolution by Paul Hardisty today and I’ll be sharing my review with you guys a little further down!

About the author:

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Canadian Paul E Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an
engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs
in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey
(where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the
wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was
bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their
families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a.
Paul is a university professor, visiting professor at Imperial College, London, and
Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation
research programmes. His debut thriller, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, was
shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger and Telegraph thriller of the year, and the sequels, The Evolution of Fear and Reconciliation for the Dead were both ebook bestsellers. He lives in Western Australia.

About the book:

ABSOLUTION COVER AW-1_preview.jpeg

It’s 1997, and vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker has fled South Africa after his
explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission. On an isolated island off the African coast, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.
In Paris, Claymore’s former lover, journalist Rania LaTour, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human-rights lawyer, have disappeared.

As Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, events lead them both to Egypt, where an act of shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible.

Absolution by Paul Hardisty

My thoughts:

It’s hard to believe we’re already onto the fourth Claymore Strayker book, but here we are with the explosive Absolution. It follows on from the events in Reconciliation For The Dead, so if possible, I recommend that you read them in order because they are all linked in some way.

There is something about these books that really capture my imagination as a reader. I become fully immersed in them immediately, and Absolution was no exception. Paul Hardisty is an excellent writer, and his experience really shows in his ability to capture the horror and violence of war and conflict.

In Absolution, Clay is living in self-imposed isolation on an island off the African coast. Afraid to surround himself with people for fear that they would get caught up in the danger that shadows him like a hunter stalking his prey. Sadly, this is exactly what happens.

Concurrent to this, Rania is living in Paris with hr husband and young son. When she comes home to find they have disappeared, this sets in motion a chain of events that will have devastating consequences, reaching far wider than she could have imagined.

Absolution is an emotionally charged thriller from beginning to end. It deals with some of the most horrific acts of terrorism and brutality at the time and it leaves the reader reeling as the events unfold. I found myself feeling very tense at various points in the story, fearful for the outcomes and worried for the characters.

I don’t want to say much more, because I am afraid I may give away something if I go into too much detail. Absolution is a heartbreaking instalment in the series, for many reasons. It is tense, emotive and at times, shocking. I couldn’t stop reading it from once I started, and I can’t wait to read more Straker books!

Highly recommended!

Previous reviews:

The Evolution Of Fear by Paul E. Hardisty

Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul Hardisty

 

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FINAL Absolution blog poster 2018.jpg

Blog Tour: Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Today Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone and I’ll be sharing her review with you all a little further down. First though, the all-important bookish information!

About the book:

Faultlines final Cover aw_preview (1).jpeg

A little lie … a seismic secret … and the cracks are beginning to show…

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, where a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery.
On a clandestine trip to new volcanic island The Inch, to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery, a secret. Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she’ll be exposed, Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…

Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

About the author:

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Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His seventh novel, The Jump, was published by Faber & Faber in August 2015. Gone Again (2013) was an Amazon bestseller and Hit & Run (2012) and was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. Smokeheads (2011) was nominated for the Crimefest Last Laugh Award. Before that Doug published two novels with Penguin, Tombstoning (2006) and The Ossians (2008). His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.

In September 2014 Doug took up the position of Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. Doug was writer in residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. Doug is currently also working on a number of screenplays for film and television. He is also a mentor and manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy.

Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released two solo EPs, Keep it Afloat and I Did It Deliberately.

Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars.

He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

For more info:
dougjohnstone.wordpress.com
dougjohnstone.bandcamp.com

Ellen’s Review:

Murder, volcanoes, explosive and toxic relationships – Fault Lines contains all of this and so much more. This book is set in a reimagined Edinburgh where a volcanic island (The Inch) has been produced in the Firth of Forth and volcanologist Surtsey navigates her tumultuous life while studying the island. Along the way she has become embroiled in a relationship with her married boss Tom, is visiting her dying mother in the hospice and trying to control her sister.

Her life is turned upside down when she arranges to meet Tom on The Inch but instead finds him dead; he has obviously been murdered and rather than face the shame of their affair being made public she leaves his body and returns home without informing the police. From this point she really is on shaky ground morally and mentally and then begins to receive texts from someone who claims to have seen her and knows about the affair.

Surtsey’s life appears to be spiralling out of control and it’s no surprise she turns to drink and drugs to get through it all. I have to say she wasn’t necessarily a likeable character but she was intriguing. I admired her strength which became apparent and her dedication to make her mum’s last moments perfect. I loved how her life mirrored The Inch – simmering away, unstable and getting ready to POP!! This is the first book I have read by Doug Johnstone and would definitely read more from him.

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