Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

*Many thanks to the publisher for my Netgalley review copy*

About the book:

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.

The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.

The choice he forces her to make is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

My thoughts:

Saw this one on Netgalley and I thought it would be an interesting break from the norm in terms of it being a medical thriller on top of everything else. That being said, I still didn’t know what to expect with this book.

Don’t Wake Up is a very fast-paced book with plenty of action. Set in a hospital environment, it follows Dr. Alex Taylor in the aftermath of a horrifying incident that has happened to her. When those around her think she’s lying, and things start happening, she finds herself in a very scary place. There is more than enough going on and then there is the added drama that Dr Alex Taylor seems to be bringing on herself.

I don’t want to say much more because I think it’s always better to let the reader see what the author is aiming to do. I quite enjoyed the book, although in parts I found it a bit far fetched. But then again, it was a fun read from start to finish. It will keep people reading and guessing for sure!

Recommended!

 

The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay

*Many thanks to Corvus for my review copy*

About the book:

Zoe and Ollie Morley tried for years to have a baby and couldn’t. They turned to adoption and their dreams came true when they were approved to adopt a little girl from birth. They named her Evie.

Seven years later, the family has moved to Yorkshire and grown in number: a wonderful surprise in the form of baby Ben. As a working mum it’s not easy for Zoe, but life is good.

But then Evie begins to receive letters and gifts.

The sender claims to be her birth father.

He has been looking for his daughter.

And now he is coming to take her back…

Buy the book:

The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay

 

My thoughts:

Having read and loved Bone By Bone, I was delighted to receive a copy of The Stolen Child to read and review.

The Stolen Child centers on Zoe, Ollie and their family. After having problems trying to conceive, they make the decision to adopt a child. Evie is their long awaited baby, and fast forward a few years, with the added surprise of Ben being born, they have settled into family life in Yorkshire.

All is not what it seems though. Evie has started receiving letters and presents, signed from her birth father. This obviously causes her parents to worry and wonder why ,after so long, this is happening now. And what if he does take her?

Every parents worst nightmare becomes a constant shadow on their lives. Zoe and Ollie are at their wit’s end wondering what could possibly come from these gifts and letters. The tension and worry they feel comes across really well in the writing, and more than once it made me feel uncomfortable while I was reading.

The Stolen Child is part domestic noir, part psychological thriller and it will definitely have the reader questioning the motives of the characters. It is a quietly gripping book that creates a sense of uneasiness that is hard to ignore.

Recommended!

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach 

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*Many thanks to the publishers for my review copy*

About the book:

Ava doesn’t believe it when the email arrives to say that her twin sister is dead. It’s not grief or denial that causes her scepticism – it just feels too perfect to be anything other than Zelda’s usual manipulative scheming. And Ava knows her twin.

Two years after she left, vowing never to speak to Zelda again after the ultimate betrayal, Ava must return home to retrace her errant sister’s last steps. She soon finds notes that lead her on a twisted scavenger-hunt of her twin’s making.

Letter by letter, Ava unearths clues to her sister’s disappearance: and unveils harrowing truths of her own. A is for Ava, and Z is for Zelda, but deciphering the letters in-between is not so simple…

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan Leach

My thoughts:

I had seen Dead Letters popping up on fellow bloggers social media pics as well as reviews, and I was intrigued by the sound of it so I was thrilled to receive a copy in the post from Corvus to read and review. 

Dead Letters follows Ava and Zelda, twin sisters, and Ava’s reaction to finding out that her sister has died in a fire at their childhood home. Upon receiving the traumatic email, Ava returns home from Paris to deal with the aftermath. When she arrives, her mother is in the throws of a degenerative brain illness and her father (now remarried) has returned from California as well.

The sisters had parted on less than friendly terms two years ago, with Ava fleeing to Paris and Zelda staying at home to mind the family vineyard. Not long after arriving home, Ava finds a note from her sister and what follows is a very unusual treasure hunt to discover the truth of what happened to her sister. 

Dead Letters has a dual timeline going on, as we get flashbacks to the sisters lives when they were younger, and we get an insight into their personalities back then. Zelda has always been enigmatic and wild, and it seems she is no different in the present. Ava must work through the letters to discover what happened and it leads her on an emotional journey for which she was thoroughly unprepared.

I enjoyed Dead Letters. It took me a few chapters to get immersed in the story, but it definitely kept me reading as I was eager to find out what was going on. It’s a clever take on a psychological thriller, questioning why we do what we do and so on. It will also keep the reader guessing as they race to the end.

Recommended!

*Blog Tour* The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Meija

Hello!

Today is my turn on the blog tour for The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia. I finally get to share my review with you all after reading this in early February. Totally worth it though! Here’s the usual bookish info first though!

About the book:

Eighteen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. When she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Sheriff Del Goodman, a close friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers: it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives, Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the Hattie behind the masks, and what happened in that final year of her life.

Click HERE to get your copy!

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My thoughts:

Ahhhh Hattie, how you broke my heart….

I had seen The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman on social media late last year maybe. I’m almost certain it was a quote from the book, and I knew instantly I had to read it. Something as innocuous as a twitpic was enough to make me covet this book, and I am so so glad I got to read it. So glad.

I tend not to read the blurbs on books when I’m starting them, purely so I go in relatively blind with regard to what I’m going to be reading so Hattie was a real surprise to me if I’m honest. It wasn’t what I remembered, and it was definitely an unexpected book in so many ways.

I hate going into detail with plots. Especially with books like this one, because there is a dual timeline and more than one character narrating the (alternating) chapters. Do not let this bother you though. It is so well told, and so exceptionally compelling that it will keep you turning those pages.

Hattie is found stabbed to death on the opening night of her schools production of Macbeth. This stuns the tight-knit community where she lives. What follows is a haunting and very evocative investigation with so many subtle nuances that leave the reader questioning everyone and everything in this book. The alternating timelines really add to this as we hear from Hattie, the local Sherriff (Del Goodman), and Hattie’s English teacher, and they all give their own versions of the different events leading up to the murder.

I’m not going to say anymore. There’s nothing I’ve said that you won’t have seen in the book’s descriptions. I will say that this book is a real treat. Terrible subject matter for certain, but it’s absolutely gripping. Small town claustrophobia coupled with secrets and lies make for a devastatingly haunting book.

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is a traumatic, emotional, chilling and hugely addictive book. The kind that you will want to keep going back to so you can read just another little bit. The kind that will stay with you after reading it.

Highly recommended!

Follow the blog tour:

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The Follower by Koethi Zan- Blog Tour Q&A

Hi everyone,

Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for Koethi Zan’s The Follower and I have a great Q&A for you all further down. First though, here is all the bookish info you need!

the-follower

About the book:

SHE’D DO ANYTHING FOR HER HUSBAND.

Julie has the perfect life

A kind boyfriend, loving parents and good grades. She has everything ahead of her.

Cora’s life is a nightmare

A psychopath for a husband, a violent father and a terrible secret. There’s no way out.

But one night, their worlds collide

Locked in an isolated house together, they must work out what has happened – and who they can trust to set them free.

The Follower is out tomorrow, and you can pre-order your copy by clicking HERE!

Q&A with Koethi Zan

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in rural Alabama, went to law school, and then practiced entertainment law in New York City for sixteen years before writing my first book. I spent the final eight years of my legal career at MTV, where I worked on reality and scripted television shows, dealing with all manner of crazy situations. When I started writing full-time, I moved to upstate New York where I live with my husband and two daughters. In addition to writing, I’ve gotten very involved in local politics and activism, which would be a perfect setting for a crime novel. I’m taking notes.

How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Writing fiction was a childhood dream of mine that got more or less swallowed up by my legal career. But I’ve always been a serious reader and, over the years, I became interested in crime fiction and true crime. A few years ago, I had the idea for my first book and decided to give it a try, so I got up at five in the morning before the kids were awake and wrote an hour each day until I finished my first novel.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I’m inspired by the psychological dimensions of true crime stories, as well as by writers I love. I tend to do a great deal of research into the psychological literature of my topic, in search of the questions raised for me by true events that I can’t understand. I love the challenge of taking a psychological question and spinning it into a narrative.

How would you describe your writing to anyone who hasn’t read your books?

My books are psychological crime thrillers with a feminist perspective. My intention is to write page-turners with gripping stories that also dig deep into the psyche of women going through difficult experiences and offer some kind of meaning, explanation, or connection.

Do you think social media helps in regard to promotion and drumming up publicity for a new book?

Yes, social media is the way we all communicate with one another now, and it’s so wonderful to be able to engage with readers in a different dimension.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

The actual act of writing. It’s exhilarating and intellectually challenging to try to find the words to express your feelings and ideas. When a phrase lands just right, it’s the most incredible satisfaction. There’s nothing in the world like the feeling when your characters take on a life of their own and you feel that you’re just along for the ride.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

At times it is a bit socially isolating not having an office job to go to every day. I miss my friends from work, and that feeling of camaraderie. Writing is definitely a lonely business.

Where do you see your writing career 5 years from now?

I’ll always write crime fiction, but I would like to branch out into historical novels as well. Hopefully I’ll have two or three more books out there in the world in five years.

What’s next for you?

I’m researching the next book now. It will be a crime novel but very, very different from my other books. Stay tuned!

I often wonder are authors voracious readers. Do you read much, and if so, what kind of books do you enjoy?

I read non-stop. It’s one of my greatest pleasures in life. I read literature, non-fiction, genre fiction, memoirs—you name it. I’ve been reading quite a bit of non-fiction lately. I recently finished STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN LAND by Arlie Hochschild and am reading Timothy Snyder’s BLOODLANDS right now. Sometimes truth is stranger (and more devastating) than fiction.

Can you tell me your all time favourite book, or if you have to, your top 5?

My all time favorite book is PALE FIRE, by Vladimir Nabokov. It’s obviously a literary masterpiece, but it’s also a cleverly crafted mystery with an unreliable narrator. I re-read it every couple of years and always discover something new.

Has there been any books you’ve read that you wish you had written?

So many. I’d say the one I most wish I’d written would be WE’VE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE by Shirley Jackson. Simply a perfect book. Creepy, evocative, and seamless.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I am very involved in local politics as I mentioned earlier, but I also spend a lot of time in my car, unfortunately. That’s the downside of living in the country with kids. Theater rehearsals and ballet classes always seem to be thirty minutes away in different directions.

Have you any hobbies that aren’t book-related?

Kind of boring, obvious ones: cooking, hiking, and watching movies and good tv. My books are more exciting than my life, that’s for sure!

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

We spend a week on an island off the coast of Maine every summer. I do absolutely nothing except read in a hammock next to the sea. It’s heaven.

Favourite food?

Anything with habanero sauce.

Favourite drink?

It’s a tie: red wine and strong coffee.


My thanks to Koethi Zan for taking the time to answer my questions and to Anna at Vintage for having me on the blog tour!

Make sure to follow the blog tour:

The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble


*Many thanks to Alma Books for my copy of the book*

About the book:

The Maguire brothers each have their own driving, single-minded obsession. For Jonathan, it is his magnificent, talented, and desirable wife, Harriet. For Roger, it is the elaborate universe he has constructed in a shed in their parents’ garden, populated by millions of tiny insects. While Jonathan’s pursuit of Harriet leads him to feelings of jealousy and anguish, Roger’s immersion in the world he has created reveals a capability and talent which are absent from his everyday life.

Roger is known to all as a loving, protective, yet simple man, but the ever-growing complexity of the insect farm suggests that he is capable of far more than anyone believes. Following a series of strange and disturbing incidents, Jonathan begins to question every story he has ever been told about his brother–and if he has so completely misjudged Roger’s mind, what else might he have overlooked about his family, and himself?

Click HERE to order your copy!

My thoughts:

I’ve had The Insect Farm on my TBR shelves for a year but I’ve just never gotten round to it. A couple of weeks ago I decided it was there long enough, and that I needed to get it read. 

I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up The Insect Farm, but what I read definitely wasn’t it! And not necessarily in a bad way either! Just in that kind of, what’s really going on here, way! 

I’m not going to dissect the plot, but I will say that the blurb above is not an accurate representation of what goes on in the book, in my opinion. While that is by no means a bad thing, in terms of pacing etc it left me starting off on the back foot a little. I had been expecting one kind of story and got another. 

The Insect Farm is most definitely a slow burner as regards any kind of thrilling element, but there is something and nothing happening all the time during the book. If I’m honest, the book didn’t pick up for me until maybe 2/3 of the way through, but from there on it definitely kept my attention. 

The titular insect farm almost became another character as it featured quite often. The dark, damp soil and mazes of tunnels were most definitely creepy to read about. If, like me, you don’t like bugs all too much, then this one will give you the shivers at times. However, the presence and almost hypnotic power of the insect farm and its effect on the characters is an interesting aside.

So, The Insect Farm. All is not what it seems with this one. Elements of the macabre, mixed with domestic noir make for a slightly more unusual take on a thriller. 

Recommended.

*Blog Tour* Lies by TM Logan

Hi everyone!

So today is my stop on the blog tour for Lies by TM Logan, which incidentally, is out today. I’ve got a great guest post from the author about his favourite opening lines, but more on that in a bit. Here’s all the important bookish info first:

About the book:

lies

When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.
And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that’s when Joe receives the first message…

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the author:

TM Logan was born in Berkshire to an English father and a German mother. He studied at Queen Mary and Cardiff universities before becoming a national newspaper journalist. He currently works in communications and lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children. LIES is his first novel – published on January 17th 2017 (ebook) and May 4th 2017 (paperback). Follow him on Twitter @TMLoganAuthor

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And now I’ll hand you over to the author…

Seven favourite first lines in fiction

‘An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.’

I didn’t say this (I wish I had) – it was Stephen King. As usual, he’s spot on. The first line is so important in hooking the reader, pulling them in and making a connection with them. The first line sets the stage, gives a hint to the reader about what’s in store – and why they should stick around to find out.

The first line of my debut novel LIES was inspired by my son, Tom. He was obsessed with cars from a very young age and would recite their names in traffic whenever he saw the badges – just like the son of my protagonist, Joe Lynch. In LIES, this seemingly innocent habit is the trigger for a terrifying chain of events that send Joe’s life spiralling out of control in a whirlwind of betrayal, obsession, lies and revenge.

Here are some opening lines that I love, from some of my favourite books.

  1. ‘You never meant to kill him.’

The Innocent, by Harlan Coben

Coben is the master. Just six words in his opener here, but he’s already given you situation, subject, death and regret. Not bad going. He’s written a lot of great thrillers – The Innocent is just one of many.

  1. ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’

1984 by George Orwell

One of the all-time classic openings, combining the familiar and the unfamiliar, hinting at a world that has somehow tilted on its axis. This was one of my favourite books as a teenager.

  1. ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.’

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Another one of my childhood favourites. For me it came after CS Lewis’s seven Narnia books (I still have the box set) and before the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’ve cheated a bit here because it’s two sentences, but Tolkien was a master at painting pictures with words.

  1. ‘I was arrested in Eno’s diner. At twelve o’clock. I was eating eggs and drinking coffee. A late breakfast, not lunch. I was wet and tired after a long walk in heavy rain. All the way from the highway to the edge of town.’

– Killing Floor by Lee Child

OK, I’ve cheated again here. This is the opening paragraph rather than just the first sentence. But he manages to convey so much about Jack Reacher in a few dozen words that we feel we’re on the way to knowing him already. This is the first time readers met Reacher, but 20 books later, he’s still going strong (and still drinking coffee).

  1. ‘We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.’

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

One of my favourite journalist-authors. Hunter S Thompson’s gonzo journalism style is way out there – part fact, part fiction, part drug-induced hallucination – and this opener gives you a taste of the craziness in store. You know right from the first line that it’s going to be a wild ride.

  1. ‘The old lady had changed her mind about dying but by then it was too late.’

City of Bones by Michael Connelly

I’m a massive Michael Connelly fan. To be honest I could have chosen almost any of his books, but the City of Bones opener is a fine example, taking us inside the mind of LA cop Harry Bosch.

  1. ‘I’m pretty much f***ed. That’s my considered opinion.’

The Martian by Andy Weir

This is a great adventure story. But it’s also got healthy doses of humour and a sheer bloody-minded refusal to give up in the face of impossible odds that makes you root for the hero from the very first line.

These are just a few of my choices, but everyone has their own favourites opening lines. What are yours? Let me know @TMLoganAuthor


Huge thanks to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre and TM Logan for having me on the blog tour!

Make sure to follow the blog tour!

I also read and reviewed Lies last year, you can click Lies by T. M. Logan to read it!