2018 Watchlist: If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch 


About the book:

HOW DO YOU SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER? Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen. But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go. 

My thoughts:

I know I said I’m taking a break, and I am. But I couldn’t wait to get my thoughts out on If I Die Before I Wake. 

IIDBIW is billed as a psychological mystery, and it is, but it is so much more too. 

When we meet Alex, he’s lying in a hospital bed, with all those around him believing he’s in a coma. Yet he can still hear, and feel, and think for himself. He just can’t move. He is trapped in his own body. 

We see everything from Alex’s perspective, and along with him, we learn that his climbing accident may have been something more sinister. As his visitors come and go, we all learn a little bit more about them all and how they fit into Alex’s life before the fall.

If I Die Before I Wake is a very clever novel. I loved the fact that the main character was male, as it’s not the usual thing in the psychological thriller genre lately. The narrative is brilliantly told, and with each new piece of information gleaned, the tension rises.

I found myself unable to put the book down. So much so that I read almost all of it in one day. Today, in fact. The characterisation is excellent. We learn a little about everyone. Family members, friends, their various experiences. All of this lends itself really well to how I felt about Alex. I was rooting for him from the very beginning. Willing him to move, to talk, to do anything.

I loved how the author built tension throughout the book. More than once I had to remind myself to relax. I was getting so caught up in the story that my body was rigid! It also makes the reader feel a range of emotions for all of those involved too. 

Compulsive, engaging and thoroughly gripping, If I Die Before I Wake is most certainly a book to watch out for in 2018. I can’t wait to see where this author goes next!

Highly recommended!

~Blog Tour~ There Was A Crooked Man by Cat Hogan #Review #Q&A

Hi all,

Today, I’ve got the lovely Cat Hogan answering some questions as part of the blog tour, and I’m also  going to be sharing my review!

 

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About the book:

Scott makes enemies everywhere. Powerful people want him dead. He’s coming back to Ireland to finish what he started. But first, he must make it out of Marrakech alive.

Jen knows Scott will come back. Every day, she waits. He almost killed her last time and, fuelled by hate and arrogance, he’s not a man to ever just move on. He will kill her and he will kill her young son. But her husband and friends believe she has spiralled into paranoia.

So she knows, when he returns, she’ll face the psychopath alone.

Published by Poolbeg, There Was A Crooked Man is out now and you can grab your copy by clicking HERE.

About the author:

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Cat has worked for many years in the hospitality industry training hotel management. She earned a bachelors degree in business from Galway Mayo Institute of Technology as well as an honors degree in law from Carlow Institute of Technology. When she is not bringing her imaginary friends to life, she offers a freelance writing service to business start-ups.

You can follow Cat on Twitter at @Kittycathogan

My review:

Having read and enjoyed They All Fall Down earlier this year, I was thrilled to be asked to review There Was A Crooked Man as part of the blog tour. I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading it, but I was quickly hooked and ended up having it read in 24 hours!

TWACM (Yep, I’m doing that, because its a long title to keep typing, haha!) begins with a bang and the pace genuinely doesn’t let up for the rest of the book. Scott is most definitely back, and he is badder and more arsey than before, if that is even possible! The author has chosen to have chapters from Scott’s POV at the beginning and they make for tense reading. Going into the mind of a psychopath is no easy feat but these chapters are gripping.

Its a little way into TWACM before we meet the rest of the characters, but it is plain to see how the events of They All Fall Down have impacted their lives. I really like how the author tries to capture the various issues that Jen, her friends and family are all dealing with. There is more than enough drama going on within the pages to keep the reader more than a little intrigued.

TWACM is quite a different book to They All Fall Down. It is much darker, and much more of a departure for Cat Hogan than her debut. I think it was a risk worth taking though, because the reader gets a gripping and completely enthralling story with plenty of red herrings thrown around the place.

There Was A Crooked Man weaves a tangled narrative that leaves the reader questioning the characters and their motives. It is dark, compelling and thoroughly riveting.

Highly recommended!


 

If you were to cast your characters from They All Fall Down, who would you pick and why? (Add in pics if needed!)

 

 

When I was about 20 thousand words in to writing the first draft of They All Fall Down (in the spirit of dreaming big), I sat down one night to write the cast list for the Hollywood block-buster this (unwritten) book would clearly become. I’ve changed my mind a thousand times over – with one exception. Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones, Queer as Folk, Love/Hate, The Dark Knight Rises, The Wire) was the only choice for my anti-hero, Scott. As I continued with the novel, it was his face I saw as I wrote the scenes for my everyone-loves-to-hate-bad boy. His voice remained in my head as I wrote the sequel, ‘There Was A Crooked Man.’

Through a series of bizarre chance encounters, I finally got to meet Aidan. I told him the back story and he agreed to read the manuscript for book two- and if he liked it, he would give me a quote for the cover. He loved it – in particular Scott’s character and I now have a brilliant quote on the cover from the man himself! Next step is the screen play so watch this space 😊  

 

 

 

How has your year been since They All Fall Down was published?

 

Since then, I haven’t had a chance to draw breath! TAFD hit the shelves in July 2016- it quickly became an Irish Times best seller and a best seller on Amazon in the UK and in the US. We were delighted with the response the novel was getting and that’s when the fun started. I had started a stand alone novel- another dark tale of death, destruction and misery but the characters from the first novel wouldn’t leave me alone. Then the readers started- and the question on everyone’s lips was ‘When is the sequel?’ Scott had to come back and so too did the rest of the characters. I started writing the first draft of ‘There Was A Crooked Man’ in late September/ early October 2016 and the pressure was on. If this one didn’t work- I had just knocked myself back by about half a year. Luckily, it did work and the novel was launched this week!

It was a fast and interesting year and a very steep learning curve. You learn fast on your feet and now I feel as though I’m getting to grips will all the different facets of this busy industry. There has been loads of high lights over the last 12 months or so. I love it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you balance your writing life with a young family? Do you stick to a strict routine?

 

 

I am incredibly organised and structured. I always have been. I survive on very little sleep and I’m not one for procrastinating. If I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it- end of story. I like to be busy and I like to get shit done. ( #gsd) I take my professional life very seriously and I don’t waste a minute. That said, I’m fierce and protective of my time when it comes to my children too. Nothing interferes with that. Joey is in primary school and Arthur is in Montessori. I work in the morning when they are away, I spend my afternoons after school with the boys doing the mammy thing- homework, dinner, and all the lovely normal things and when they go to bed, I go back to work. I rarely work past midnight and I’ll either go to bed with a book or wind down with a movie. It works for me (for now!)  It is so important too, to have a bit of down time- coffee/drinks with friends and the odd duvet day.

 

 

 

 

What has been your proudest writing achievement so far?

 

 

They All Fall Down was nominated for The Annie McHale Debut Novel of the Year award, shortly after publication. It got really amazing reviews and all in all, it has been flying off the shelves. Already, ‘There Was A Crooked Man’ has been getting great reviews too- and of course, was endorsed by Aidan Gillen and Jackie Hayden. It’s a big deal to have their names associated with the novel. The biggest thing for me though, was at the two back to back launches last week. It was the look on my mother’s face and the faces of my close friends. They were about to burst with pride. They are all the people who have been in my life, through thick and thin, and seeing that look on their faces is more precious to me than all the tea in China. That’s the moment of magic for me and it will never get old.

 

 

 

What kind of research do you do for your books? Have you come across anything weird or crazy while researching?

 

Researching is one of my favourite parts of writing. I’m a bit of a nerd like that- I’ll start off researching one topic and the end up going down the rabbit hole of internet searches and YouTube. I often wonder how my contemporaries did it years ago, without the monstrosity that is Google at their fingertips. A lot of my research was done through Wexford Library too- with good old-fashioned books. A couple of people have asked me about when I was in Marrakech- a good portion of ‘There Was A Crooked Man’ is set there. I’ve never been. Good research and a wild imagination can take you anywhere.

The second novel touches on the sex-industry and human trafficking. That was difficult to research. When you are looking at the darker side of human nature, it’s hard to comprehend the depths of evil sometimes.

On a lighter note though, while researching They All Fall Down, I came across an interesting fact I had never heard before….

On November 1st, 1755, a series of tsunamis lasting more than seven hours tore at the south west coast of Ireland, “wrecking fishing boats around Kinsale” and “even damaging coastal buildings as far north as Galway Bay. In Kinsale Harbour between 3 and 4 pm, the water came over the quay with such violence as to throw many people down” – Now, I’ve just taken that from a piece online but there’s very little documented evidence about the actual events. I was told this story by a local and there’s a brief reference to it in the first book. If anyone would like to furnish me with more details- get in touch!!

 

 

 

If you had to choose a different career, what would you pick and why?

 

I trained and worked for many years in the Hospitality industry and it was a career I loved, but it’s difficult to have anything outside of that career because of the long, and very anti-social hours (and the mediocre pay). But, I loved it. I’m very much a people person, always have been.

In a voluntary capacity, I’m a trained Emergency Medical Technician with the Wexford Unit of The Order of Malta Ambulance Corps. I often thought about going on and training to be a full-time Paramedic. Maybe I’ll just write a novel about being one instead. That’s the beauty of story-telling, you can be whatever you want to be!

 

 

Whats the hardest scene you’ve had to write?

 

 

I think writing all the scenes from Scott’s perspective proved interesting. He’s male, he’s a psychopathic killer and he’s a real misogynist.  A few of the scenes made me a little bit uncomfortable while writing them- but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? It’s fiction for me!

In They All Fall Down, there’s a scene where Jen’s little boy is in real danger. That was hard to write as I had to put myself in her shoes and imagine if it were me and my boy, Joey. I felt the same things she felt as I walked though that scene.

In There Was A Crooked Man, one of the characters shuffles off their mortal coil (no spoilers). I cried the whole way through writing the scene. There’s a piece of music associated with that character and I played it on loudspeaker the whole time. I was a wreck at the end of it!

 

 

 

What lessons have you learned as a writer?

 

I’ve learned many lessons in the last twelve months in particular, more about the industry I’m now in, rather than the creative side of my profession. I take what I do very seriously, but I don’t particularly take myself very seriously (in a positive way). And the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to stick with the people who bring the magic out of you, and not the madness.

I’m a dreamer as well as a grafter- I’ll always keep my eyes open for signs and my ears open for good advice. If people can’t cheer for me while I’m on this journey, they can shag off and go cheer for someone else.

Roald Dahl sums up my approach to life perfectly with this quote:

 

‘And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’


 

Huge thanks to Cat for answering my questions, and for having me on the blog tour. Make sure to check out these other fab blogs taking part:

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~Blog Tour Review~ The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith @GrahamSmith1972 @Bloodhoundbook

Hi everyone,

Thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for The Kindred Killers today, and I’ll be sharing my review with you in a bit, but here’s the all-important bookish information first!

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About the book:

Jake Boulder’s help is requested by his best friend, Alfonse, when his cousin is crucified and burned alive along with his wife and children. As Boulder tries to track the heinous killer, a young woman is abducted. Soon her body is discovered and Boulder realises both murders have something unusual in common.

With virtually no leads for Boulder to follow, he strives to find a way to get a clue as to the killer’s identity. But is he hunting for one killer or more?

After a young couple are snatched in the middle of the night the case takes a brutal turn. When the FBI are invited to help with the case, Boulder finds himself warned off the investigation. When gruesome, and incendiary, footage from a mobile phone is sent to all the major US News outlets and the pressure to find those responsible for the crimes mounts. But with the authorities against him can Boulder catch the killer before it’s too late?

About the author:

A time served joiner Graham has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and now two books in the crime series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor/?fref=ts

https://www.grahamsmithauthor.com/

https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972?lang=en-gb

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1491159376&sr=8-1

My thoughts:

The Kindred Killers is the second installment in the Jake Boulder series, and dare I say, even better than Watching The Bodies. Something about this one got under my skin from the get go and I genuinely could not put it down.

In this book, Boulder is tasked with helping Alfonse, whose cousin was found crucified and burned alive along with his wife and kids. This horriffic crime seems to only be the beginning though. What follows is a speight of crimes that, though heinous and horriffic, are not gratuitous in their depictions. I found myself feeling anxious for Boulder with every new report because he just couldn’t catch a break in terms of evidence and catching whoever was responsible.

I’m not going to go into the plot any more than that. But I urge you, if you are looking for clever, well-plotted American crime writing with a thrilling edge, then this book (let’s be honest, the series!) should be on your list.

These books are pure escapism, in the best way possible. The Kindred Killers has it all. It is packed to the rafters with action, has a male lead that could stand proudly with the Reachers and the John Miltons of the world, and plenty of heart to boot.

Highly recommended!

Previous reviews:

Watching the Bodies by Graham Smith

Follow the blog tour:

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Blackwing by Ed McDonald~ Mini Review!

 

*Many thanks to Stevie at Gollancz and Ed McDonald for my signed and doodled proof copy!*

About the book:

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

Out now from Gollancz, you can get your copy of Blackwing by clicking HERE!

About the author:

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Ed McDonald has spent many years dancing between different professions, cities and countries, but the only thing any of them share in common is that they have allowed him enough free time to write. He currently lives with his wife in London, a city that provides him with constant inspiration, where he works as a university lecturer. When he’s not grading essays or wrangling with misbehaving plot lines he can usually be found fencing with longswords, rapiers and pollaxes.

Ed’s debut novel Blackwing is the first part of The Raven’s Mark trilogy. Blackwing will be published on July 20th 2017 by Gollancz in the UK, and October 2017 by Ace in the United States. German, Spanish, French, Hungarian and Russian translations will be available from 2018.

My Thoughts:

Awesome. Absolutely awesome book. That’s a mini-review right?! 🙂

Loved Blackwing! I’m new to this whole fantasy book reading thing, but I’m starting to figure out what I enjoy and Blackwing is just amazing! It has epic world-building, a damn fine main character, a band of supporting characters that is both motley and brilliant, and an absolutely insane plot!

The concept of the Blackwings is one of my favourite things about the book. I mean, what’s not to like about ravens ripping themselves out of your arms to deliver you a (usually bad) message?! I jest, but I do like the gruesomeness of Ed McDonald’s mind. Its dark, and messy and the exact kind of thing I enjoy reading about.

Special mention to The Misery, because to be air, it is bleak as f***. Riddled with dangers, seen and unseen, and just a generally rubbish place to find yourself. Not least when a war is coming. I really enjoyed the magic system in this one. How it was made, maintained and described was super cool as imagining the horrors made the book even more immersive and dark.

So yeah, Blackwing… superb! I cannot wait for the next one!

Highly recommended!

Give Me The Child by Mel McGrath~ Mini Review

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About the book:

An unexpected visitor.

Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.

But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own…

Published by HQ in July 2017, Click HERE to get your copy!

About the author:

Melanie McGrath is an Essex girl, cofounder of Killer Women, and an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction. As MJ McGrath she writes the acclaimed Edie Kiglatuk series of Arctic mysteries, White Heat, The Boy in the Snow and The Boneseeker, twice longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and picked as Times and Financial Times thrillers of the year. As Melanie McGrath she wrote the critically acclaimed and bestselling family memoir Silvertown. As Mel McGrath she is the author of the psychological thriller Give Me The Child.

She has been a documentary TV producer for Channel Four and presenter of Trailblazers for The Discovery Channe. She has written for The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, The Mail on Sunday and The Wall Street Journal and has taught creative writing at Arvon and at UEA, Roehampton, City Universities in the UK and the University of North Carolina. She won the John Llewellyn-Rhys-Mail on Sunday award for Best British writer under 35 for her first book, Motel Nirvana.

She is a regular visitor to prisons and has run a reading and writing group for women over 45 in HMP Holloway.

The New York Times called her ‘wickedly talented.’

Melanie is an experienced journalist, broadcaster, teacher, event organizer

My thoughts:

I devoured this book when I read it. There was something very compulsive about Give Me The Child, almost like you know something bad is about to happen but you cant look away. That’s how I felt when I was reading it anyway!

Is it just me, or are kids possibly one of the creepiest plot devices in books lately?! I don’t know about you guys, but the mere mention of a quiet or distant child in a book sets of all of the warning bells in my head and I want to put the book in the freezer. I have two of my own, so it freaks me out to read about children in books these days.

Anyway, I digress. Give Me The Child is an interesting take on the psych thriller genre. The main character,  Cat, is a child psychologist researching psychopathic indicators (!!!!) in young vulnerable children, which in itself is tough enough. Add to that the arrival of Ruby Winter, tension at home and you’ve got more than enough to keep the reader interested to see where the story will go.

Highly recommended!

 

Review~ Rubicon by Ian Patrick and Author Q&A!

About the book:

Two cops, both on different sides of the law – both with the same gangland boss in their sights.

Sam Batford is a corrupt undercover officer with the Metropolitan Police who will stop at nothing to get his hands on fearsome crime-lord Vincenzo Guardino’s drug supply.

DCI Klara Winter runs a team on the National Crime Agency, she’s also chasing down Guardino, but unlike Sam Batford she’s determined to bring the gangster to justice and get his drugs off the streets.

Set in a time of austerity and police cuts where opportunities for corruption are rife, Rubicon is a tense, dark thriller that is definitely not for the faint hearted.

Published by Fahrenheit Press, you can get your copy here.

About the author:

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Educated in Nottingham, Ian left school at sixteen. After three years in the Civil Service he moved to London for a career in the Metropolitan Police.

He spent twenty-seven years as a police officer, the majority as a detective within the Specialist Operations Command. A career in policing is a career in writing. Ian has been used to carrying a book and pen and making notes.

Now retired, the need to write didn’t leave and evolved into fiction.


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

 

I spent many of my, younger, years travelling as my father was in the forces. My secondary education was in Nottingham where I scraped through the education system and left school at sixteen. After a short spell in the Civil Service I moved to London, aged nineteen, for a career in the Metropolitan Police. I spent twenty-seven years as a police officer, the majority as a detective within the Specialist Operations Command. I had a varied career mainly investigating sexual offences within Operation Sapphire, child protection and, pro-active, paedophile investigations. I retired as a detective sergeant. I now live in rural Scotland with my family enjoying life by the beach!

 

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

 

I’ve written for fun for over twenty years. A life in policing is a life of writing! I had never considered turning my hand to novel writing until a few years ago. Rubicon is my second book, I have another one down, but unsure whether it will see the light of day.

 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

 

Life. I have seen so many sides to the human psyche that it became impossible for stories to cease arising in my head.

 

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

Raw. I seem to have found a voice that I enjoy writing in and wish to develop this as far as I can. I don’t dwell on unnecessary description. I know readers want concise language not words for words sake. As a reader it’s something I notice, so figured my writing would reflect that. I also like a book to keep me gripped. It’s my hope my writing will achieve this goal, but I will have to await the response from those reading it!

 

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

 

I have a love hate with social media. I have returned to Twitter after deleting an old account that just seemed to draw me in too much and detracted me from writing. This is a personal thing though. I tend to operate in extremes and need to find a middle way with it. I really enjoyed being back on Twitter for publication day and it’s great connecting with readers here. It has to help in drumming up publicity but I do believe in moderation and not ramming your book down people’s timeline every few tweets. That becomes tedious and unnecessary.

 

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

 

I have been in public service since I was sixteen and see this as another branch of it. The best thing for me is that I can, hopefully, give people a break from everyday life and immerse them in a decent read. We all need space every now and then to just enter an alternative world.

 

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

 

I haven’t found one yet! Being an author is a privilege and I feel very humbled to have the chance to be one.

 

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

 

Great question! One of my old DCI’s asked the same thing when I was accepted onto a child murder, investigative, team. I was always looking at the next way I could develop as a detective and I wish to see how much I can develop my writing over this time. It’s a major achievement to be taken on by Fahrenheit Press. If I can still be with this publisher in five years time then I’ve done very well as he doesn’t take on poor writing regardless of whether you’re an author with him or not.

 

What’s next for you?

 

I’m working on the next Batford novel and at the editing stage of a first draft.

 

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

 

You can’t write unless you voraciously read. I read a book a week and that’s voracious enough for me. I read across genres although I draw the line at romance! I love books that make you want to invest your time in connecting with the pages. If I don’t like a book I’ll stop reading it. I’m not one for carrying on in the hope it gets better. I love books by Cormac McCarthy, Ed McBain, Phillip K Dick and George Orwell. Sven Hassel was my favourite author as a youth. I read Epiphany Jones by Mike Grothaus, recently, and really enjoyed his writing.

 

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

 

The Road by Cormac McCarthy followed by Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.

 

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

 

The Road. An incredible book that evokes fear, and anxiety, with every page. A superb example of human struggle and love. McCarthy defies convention in the way he writes. Be your own voice.

 

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

 

I have a young family so they’re a priority. We have a springer spaniel that requires a significant amount of attention too! We live on the coast so walks are a joy.

 

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

 

I’m passionate about photography so indulge in this whenever I get the opportunity. I never leave the house without my camera; it’s become a part of me.

 

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

 

I loved going to Bali. Such a beautiful place, and full of culture. I can recommend Scotland too.

 

Favourite food?

 

At the moment it’s the venison meatballs at The Clachan Inn in Dalry.

 

Favourite drink?

 

Coffee!

 

Last but not least, why writing? Why not something else?

 

I had to retire from policing due to a diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy. This is a rare, degenerative, disease that affects the muscles. Aside from mobility problems it comes with fatigue and pain that can mean a day in bed. At these times I found that if I didn’t have a decent book to read, the pain was worse. You’re focused on the pain and not distracted by words. I chose to write in the hope that my writing will provide some escape for those having a bad day and just want to escape into another world and spend some time there.

*Huge thanks to Ian for answering my questions! 🙂


My thoughts:

I don’t know where to start with this review to be honest. I’ve written and deleted it more than once. Not because I didn’t enjoy Rubicon, but because I couldn’t put the bloody book down once I started it, I was hooked!

Rubicon is quite a book. It is dark, gritty and packed with action. The main characters, Sam Batford and Klara Winter are like chalk and cheese, so I really enjoyed their brief interludes during the course of the story. Both after the same thing, but for wildly different reasons, their story arc was really fun to read!

Batford is an undercover officer, corrupt as you like, and not one bit sorry. This attitude translates really well into his story as it makes him almost a bit of a lad, in terms of his cockiness and general devil-may-care approach to certain things. He’s a bit of a renegade, let’s be honest, but he is also my favourite part of the story!

I really enjoyed reading Rubicon, not least because the author’s previous experience in this line of work really shines through, but also because it’s not my usual kind of crime read. I tend not to read these gangland-y (not a word, I know!) books but I am SO glad I got to read this little gem.

Ian Patrick has a great writing style. Short, pacy chapters mean you’re constantly turning the page to see what the hell Batford is going to do next, and because he’s a bit of an asshole, you know he’ll be up to no good. Can’t wait to see where the author takes us with his next one.

Highly recommended!

 

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

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*Many thanks to the publishers for my stunning hardback review copy*

About the book:

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael,
who are inseparable.
And the boys become men,
and then Annie walks into their lives,
and it changes nothing and everything.

My thoughts:

I tend to avoid books that deal with love, loss, romance, grief and so on. I don't know why, I just don't like to read them. Lately though, I have been reading books that challenge my perceived notion of the genres I avoid, and Tin Man has been on my radar for a while now. I was lucky enough to get a copy from the publishers so I added it to the July TBR, and it broke my heart…

For such a small, colourful, beautiful book, it packed an emotional gut punch. I genuinely wasn't expecting it, and I was left more than a little shook when I finished it.

Tin Man begins with a painting won at a raffle. This may sound innocuous, but it is the beginning of a haunting and evocative narrative that takes the reader on quite a journey. At less than 200 pages, it is not a long book, so its hard to discuss it fully as I don't want to take away from it.

Sufficed to day, the story is truly captivating. The characterisation is perfect. Ellis, Michael and Annie are beautifully written and fully developed. I loved reading about them, and I was sad to close the book at the end. I got completely immersed in the book while I was reading it.

Tin Man is an eloquent and highly descriptive book. It is full of colourful and flowing prose, which made it a joy to read. In terms of books outside of my comfort zone, this is definitely one of those, but I am so glad I read it.

Highly recommended!