Friday, 19 January 2018

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

There is a lot of waxing lyrical, which leads to the assumption that the story is leading in a completely different direction to the one it actually takes.

The procrastination, albeit very beautiful procrastination, makes the first half of the book appear to be a lot slower and the second half of the book is faster paced, and the plot is focused in another direction.

Not that I think it was Carlin's intention for the beginning of the book to sound like a ghoulish mystery with a Gothic vibe, which then turns into a Burke and Hare venture with an underlying romantic connection.

I think the intention was for the relationship between Hester and Rebekah to always be at the centre of the story, regardless of what happens around them. Their blossoming friendship, sisterhood and finally the twinkle of something more.The discovery of their feelings, the confusion and acknowledgement of said feelings, and the realisation that society will never accept it, would have been sufficient as a storyline. The second half of the book, which ventures more into the deep dark secrets of Rebekah's family could have been an entirely new novel.

It felt a little like Holmes battling Moriarty, while Hetty Feather struggles to survive on the streets, with a modern twist on romance thrown in for good measure. I would like to see Carlin follow through with the relaxed beautiful style of the first half of the book. Both styles have their merits, just not when fused together as one.

Leaving all that aside for a moment, I enjoyed the friendship and emerging romance between the two of them. Neither of them willing to admit the attraction is there and perhaps not even fully comprehending what it is they are feeling, because it goes against all the conventions they know. Carlin also describes the worlds between the classes well and the invisible wall keeping them apart. The stark reality of poverty and the rules of the streets the poor have to abide by to survive.

I certainly wouldn't be averse to seeing Rebekah and Hester teaming up together again.

Buy The Wicked Cometh at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @Hodderbooks

Thursday, 18 January 2018

#BlogTour Fruit Woman by Kate Rigby

I am delighted to take part in the Blog-Tour for The Fruit Woman by Kate Rigby. The Fruit Woman is an exploration of faith, forgiveness, memories and family. Kate Rigby has mixed the potent with the light-hearted to create a memorable read.

About the Author
"I am a hybrid writer, which means I have been published in a variety of different ways; traditionally, by small press and now independently, or self-published.
I've been writing novels for over thirty years.  Some of my book are available in paperback and all are available as e-books.
Social networking sites and writing sites have opened up a whole new world to me and introduced me to some great new writers and books I wouldn't otherwise have discovered.
I love cats, singing, photography, music and LFC.
I'm also an avid keyboard warrior, campaigning against social injustice."
Subscribe here for news about my books and writing.

Visit  kjrbooks.yolasite.com and bubbitybooks.blogspot.co.uk
Buy Fruit Woman (ebook)
Buy Fruit Woman(paperback)


About the book
Fruit Woman is narrated by Helen Scutt, a quirky and naive twenty-seven-year-old. The image of the Fruit Woman has appeared to Helen at important times in her life, particularly in relation to her own sexual and spiritual awakening. But only now, while on holiday with her extended family, does she get her first warning message from the Fruit Woman.
Set in the l980s, Helen returns with her extended family, after a twelve year break, to spend a fortnight at their favourite holiday destination in Devon: Myrtle Cottages. Due to join them for the second week of the holiday are: Helen's old friend, Bella, Bella's brother, Dominic, and Helen's cousin, Les. But shortly after the family have arrived on holiday, Helen's mother announces that she has also invited along someone from church for the second week of their holiday: Christine Wigg, a friend of the family, and victim of a rape several years before. In the context of the family holiday, where games of cards, scatological worries, and deep discussions abound, the story centres on Helen's anxieties over the second week's 'guest list'. She's not seen Bella for years, she's attracted to Dominic in spite of his religious beliefs, and she thinks it a bad idea for her mother to have invited Les, who was originally accused of Christine's rape by her in-laws. Helen's concerns trigger off all sorts of childhood and adolescent memories, but as her anxieties mount, can she make sense at last of what happened years before?
Review
Helen reminds me of someone who can't ever find any peace or rest because their brain is constantly buzzing with information, and that is exactly the way she narrates this story. Flitting from one anecdote or childhood memory to the other, like a bee collecting pollen on a sunny spring day.

I hasten to add that the magic of the scribe is to encourage the reader to look beyond the mindless rambling, as the tales are often merely the key to unlock the subliminal messages. Rigby has Helen skim the surface of the issues, much like taking the cream off the top of the milk with a knife or a spoon.

The true essence of this book is family. The eccentricities of our relatives, the loyalties and wars within the walls of the inner sanctum of the small country called family. Helen is safe within those walls, but perhaps also too protected. Is she the only one who can't see what is right in front of her eyes?
I agree with Gran about Bella, and indeed my children have probably tired of me commenting on the fact that leopards don't change their spots. Granted, children who are bullies sometimes grow into adults who reflect upon their mistakes and bad choices, however it doesn't change the fact they made it their mission to destroy someone else's childhood. I have a long memory.

In the midst of the reminiscing, the story of Christine's rape is brought up again and again. She has been invited to the holiday retreat by Helen's mother. Religion and forgiveness is portrayed in equal measures to Helen's more emotional reaction to the rape. A lifetime of punishment is more up her alley. The subtle discussion begs the question whether the rapist deserves the hand of forgiveness and whether or not a sexual predator can change his life around completely. Can faith control base impulses and the need for power?

The other fascinating element of this book is the Fruit Woman. I think each reader will experience the idea of her in a different way, depending on their frame of reference. For me Fruit Woman represents womanhood, at the same time she is also Freud's Id, the inaccessible part of our personality. For Helen she is the magical element of life, the beauty and confusion of living, and the gut instinct that whispers warnings to her even when she doesn't want to listen.

Rigby writes about the mundane and makes it seem extraordinary. She wraps religion, sexual violence, bullying, alcoholism and low self-esteem in a warm blanket of the mediocrity of family life. I liked her approach. You have to look deep below the surface with this one.

Buy Fruit Woman at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
#RandomThingsTours


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

#BlogTour The Confession by Jo Spain

You're in for a treat with this cat and mouse game of a read by Jo Spain. The Confession is a the kind of read that keeps you on your toes and captivated till the last word.
About the Author
Jo Spain’s first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and went on to be a top-ten bestseller in Ireland. She has writte two further in the series, featuring DI Tom Reynolds. Jo has has worked as a party advisor on the economy in the Irish parliament and is now writing full-time. She lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.
Follow @SpainJoanne @Quercusbooks #TheConfession
About the book
Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal? This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who
- of Harry, Julie and JP - is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?
Review
Don't we all carry an element of guilt around with us, perhaps some more than others. Secrets can erode the foundations of relationships. Guilty secrets can destroy lives. This author takes us on a riveting journey of doubt, blame and meticulous planning in this well thought out crime story.

Spain has woven the criminal activities of the bankers involved in the financial crisis of 2007 into this story of a senseless violent murder without any real rhyme and reason. Risk-taking banks, and greedy bankers caused what many economists consider to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Harry is one of those bankers and Julie is his wife. The wife who sat and watched as a stranger bludgeoned her husband to death. Did shock and fear make her freeze or is there another more nefarious reason she didn't lift a finger to help him?

The reader follows the story of Julie and the killer, as the police try to connect the dots in this supposedly spontaneous crime. Their childhoods, their relationships and their past in general. There must be some reason why JP walked into that particular house and picked that man.

Spain presents the perfect game of strategy between her protagonists with no prior connection to each other. Whilst both are busy evading the truth in an effort to keep the police in the dark, they re-evaluate their choices in life and how they paved the path to murder.

With compelling characters and an engrossing premise, Spain plays the long game with her plot. She keeps her readers hooked until the very last word.

The Confession by Jo Spain will be published by Quercus in hardback on the 25th of January 2018.

Buy The Confession at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
#RandomThingsTour

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

#BlogTour Her Last Lie by Amanda Brittany

Today I am pleased to take part in the BlogTour for Her Last Lie by Amanda Brittany. It is a psychological thriller filled with trauma, suspicion and an erratic main character, who is just waiting for her 'killer' to strike again.
About the Author
Amanda Brittany lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two dogs. She loves travelling, and visiting Abisko in Sweden inspired her to write ‘Her Last Lie’.

She began writing fiction nine years ago, and has since gained a BA in Literature, a Diploma in Creative Writing, and has had 200 stories and articles published in magazines globally.

When her younger sister became terminally ill, Amanda’s hope was to write a novel where her royalties went to Cancer Research. ‘Her Last Lie’ is that book, and all of Amanda’s royalties for downloads will go to that charity. ‘Her Last Lie’ is her debut novel.
Follow @amandajbrittany @HQDigitalUK
Visit amandabrittany.co.uk or writingallsorts.blogspot.co.uk follow amandabrittany2 on Facebook
Buy Her Last Lie


About the book
She thought she was free of the past. She was wrong.

Six years ago Isla was the only victim to walk free from Carl Jeffery’s vicious murder spree. Now, Isla vows to live her life to the fullest and from the outside it appears perfect.

Determined to finish her book Isla plans her final trip to Sweden, but after returning from Canada and meeting a man she never thought she would, her life begins to derail.
Suddenly Isla is plagued by memories of the man who tried to murder her, and the threat that he could be back causes her to question everything, and everyone around her.

This debut psychological thriller will have you closing down social media accounts, looking over your shoulder, and hooked until the very last line. Perfect for fans of Sweet Little Lies, Friend Request and Louise Jensen.


Review
Isla has never really dealt with the trauma of nearly being killed. To her family and friends she appears to be fine, but they are unaware of the turmoil beneath her cool exterior. When her would-be killer gets the chance to be released her anxiety and fear resurfaces, which is when she starts to question her relationships and her life in general.

Suddenly the love of her life doesn't seem to be the perfect partner, and her eyes start to wander. She feels as if it is impossible to confide in anyone around her, because keeping up the pretence is much more important than relieving herself of her worries.

There seems to be a certain level of victim-blaming going on, aside from the obvious people who believe in the innocence of the perpetrator of course, it's subtle but it's there. Questioning her need to conquer her fears by travelling the world again, thereby in their minds putting herself in the direct path of danger again.

I can understand Isla wanting to take back control of her life again, however I didn't really understand her reluctance to discover the result of the appeal. Correction, I comprehend the denial and the fact that it isn't happening if she doesn't acknowledge it, but it is in direct contradiction to her taking back control of her life.

Towards the end of the book the author presents an interesting conundrum. Has Isla escaped a killer to return to a killer? Her blog appears to tell a completely different story about her personality. Who is the real Isla? The woman who fears the return of a killer and is supposedly content with her life and relationships or is it the risk-taker, the passion-seeker and the liar?

Brittany delivers a master class in red herrings and subterfuge to deliver a gripping story of recovery and survival. She highlights the dangers of social media and how laissez-faire our attitude is towards it. Adding names without faces and often complete strangers. Do we really know what or who is lurking behind every profile?

Her Last Lie is a lesson in secrets, lies and people who live double lives, especially the people who aren't the person they appear to be. It's an attempt to peer behind the masks we hide behind to keep ourselves safe.

Buy Her Last Lie at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Monday, 15 January 2018

#BlogTour Aphrodite's Tears by Hannah Fielding

Today @kraftireader and I are kicking off the Blog-Tour for Aphrodite's Tears by Hannah Fielding. It is a delectable delight of mythology, history and a passionate romance. My post also features a fantastic Q&A with Hannah Fielding, and my review of course.
About the Author
Following her huge success as one of the UK’s leading romance authors with total sales of over 130k, Aphrodite’s Tears follows the award winning success of Hannah Fielding’s previous novels Burning Embers, Echoes of Love, Masquerade, Legacy and Indiscretion. Echoes of Love won Romance Novel of the Year at the IPB Awards in 2012 and Burning Embers was Amazon’s book of the month in 2011, while Hannah’s novels have been translated into 13 languages. With its spectacular setting and deep emotional drama, Aphrodite’s Tears will appeal both to fans of her backlist, as well as lovers of atmospheric travel writing including Santa Montefiore, Penny Vincenzie, Victoria Hislop and Lucinda Riley.

Egyptian by birth Hannah is fluent in French, English and Arabic and has lived all over the world, she currently lives between her writing retreat in the South of France and her rambling family home in Ireland. Hannah’s grandmother, Esther Fanous, was the revolutionary feminist writer in Egypt during the early 1900s and helped found the Women's Wafd Central Committee in 1920.

Follow @fieldinghannah on Twitter or AuthorHannahFielding on Facebook
Visit hannahfielding.net
Visit London Wall Publishing
Buy Aphrodite's Tears

About the book
Summer 1977, Oriel Anderson finds herself on the charming Greek island of Helios hoping to fulfil a long held dream or joining an archaeological dive team. Broken hearted after her university fiancé left her for her best friend, Oriel is determined to prove she can make it in a man’s world heading up an all-male team on her first underwater dig.

Spending her days excavating a Roman shipwreck, surrounded by turquoise waters and scorching sunshine, Oriel thinks that she has found paradise, until she meets her employer and the owner of the Island, Damian Lekkas.

A widower, with a scarred face, Damian is a brooding presence on the island who instantly takes a shine to Oriel, but Oriel resolves to maintain a professional relationship between them.  But the mercurial Damian has other ideas, and Oriel’s stay soon becomes a battle between her head and her heart.

When strange things start happening Oriel doesn’t know what to think. She learns that no other women who had come to work on the dive had lasted more than a few weeks, then a young boy almost drowns on one of the dives, and one morning Oriel finds a dead songbird in her room, its throat slit, and out exploring the beaches on her own Oriel becomes trapped in a cave. Could these things just be a coincidence or is someone trying to send her a warning?

A modern retelling of some of the most popular Greek myths, Aphrodite’s Tears evokes the Legends of the Gods, their power and passion, playfulness and cunning.

Q&A
The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know)
I have just finished reading Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece by Stephen Fry. He is such an intelligent and considered writer; I am very much enjoying his take on Greek mythology. I only wish the book were more comprehensive – no Troy and Odysseus, no Jason and the Argonauts, no Theseus and the Minotaur, no Heracles’ labours. Perhaps he will publish a second volume.

Books or authors who have inspired you to put pen to paper?
I think it was the romantic writers like Victoria Holt, MM Kaye, Charlotte Bronte and Daphne du Maurier who inspired me and still inspire me the most: the romance, the detail in description, the beautiful, almost poetic prose. I am also deeply inspired by the French romantic authors of the 19th century, like Stendhal, Musset, Theophile Gautier, Leconte de Lisle and Victor Hugo, whose works formed the basis of my university degree in literature.

The last book you read which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet...you name it)?
Helen Dunmore’s collection of poetry Inside the Wave moved me deeply. She died this year, very soon after the publication of the book, which is about life and death and the borderline between. It was through her poem ‘Hold Out Your Arms’, published widely in the media after her death, that I discovered the book. It really is beautiful. You can read it here: 

Are you more of a movie night or series-binger kind of person? 
I love series, because just as I love thick books, I enjoy long, sustained stories on screen. Films can leave you wanting more, but series allow you to really get to know the characters, and there is plenty of scope for detailed, intricate plots with twists and turns that compel you to watch the next episode – and the next! Recently, I have been in a ‘royal phase’, watching The Crown about Queen Elizabeth II and Victoria about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
Margaret Mitchell, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gone with the Wind. I would love to know how the writing process was for her (supposedly, she wrote the ending of the book first, and then went back and wrote the story leading up to that ending) and how she enjoyed the epic movie based on the work. I’m also fascinated by her refusal, despite pressure, to write a sequel – and I wonder what she would make of the two sequels by other writers that were released many years later, after her death.

From where did you get your inspiration for Aphrodite’s Tears, and why did you pick Greece as the setting?
Quite simply, Greece is one of my favourite parts of the globe. It’s a very special place for me, because it is so romantic. I bought my wedding dress in Greece – and I felt like a goddess wearing it; and my husband and I honeymooned there. One of the best evenings of my life was spent in the Acropolis in Athens, watching a production of the Sleeping Beauty ballet under the stars.

Greek mythology plays an important role in Aphrodite’s Tears, in fact I would say it is the essence of the story. Do you think it is becoming a lost and forgotten subject?
The Ancient Greeks left such a rich inheritance of legends – stories full of wisdom, and a god or goddess for everything, from love and war to wine-making. It would be such a shame for those legends to fade from memory, I think.
Creative minds find all kinds of ways to reinvent old stories, whether legends or fairy tales.  In the 1960s, for example, colour films like Jason and the Argonauts brought the Greek myths to life. Fast-forward to the early 2000s and writer Rick Riordan’s ‘Percy Jackson’ series was enchanting children all over the world.
The Greek myths have timeless appeal, so I don’t think they will ever be lost. The main issue appears to be confusion between the Greek myths and the Roman ones, because there is considerable overlap between them.  

Leading on from the previous question, along with mythology there is also a heavy emphasis on history and the cultural identity of the Greek people. How important was it to you to try and give your readers a real sense and taste of all of those elements?
Absolutely essential. I don’t just want to tell readers a story; I want to draw them into that story. I want them to be sitting in their armchair in London or Kansas or Amsterdam and be transported to a little Greek island – to feel the sun on their face, to smell the fishermen’s catch of the day, to taste the tang of the salt air on their tongue. I so love to travel, I want to help my readers travel too. Only then can they really understand the context of the story that unfolds, and believe in the characters.

Helios sometimes appears to be an island lost in time, especially when it comes to the gender inequality. Women are still not treated the same as men when it comes to inheritance and marriage. Is this an imbalance so ingrained in their society that they refuse to let go of it, because the Greek feel that it would be like letting go of their historical past and traditions?
I think all cultures find change difficult, particularly when a way of being has existed for a very long time. As you suggest, granting women full equality would mean letting go of past traditions – and these are important for a people’s identity. The island of Helios is traditional, and that can have a downside for women; but it also has an upside in terms of men providing for and protecting their families. Just as ancient Greeks revered goddesses, so do men of this island appreciate women. 

There are occasional glimpses of the third eye, the divine instruments of fate and the connection between folklore and mythology.  The beliefs of the Greek are linked with all of those things. Do you believe in fate?
Yes, I do, which is why the concept appears in my most of my fiction in some way or another. I don’t believe that our futures are already written and we have no power over our destiny. But I do believe that something things are meant to be, and that if we are open to there being a guiding force, it can lead us to places where we can be our very best selves.

Will we be hearing from the inhabitants of Helios again?
I think not. It is never easy to part from characters; to leave them at a point in time in a story, even with the suggestion of a bright future ahead. But being an author is about writing the next story: a fresh story that will capture your heart and transport you to another world; a new set of characters about whom you will care deeply. I think my passion for travelling helps here: each new story is set in a new country, and I am always excited to let go of the last book and travel to the new place, where I can learn all about its people and culture.




Review
Aside from the fact the writing is beautiful, melodic even, Fielding manages to transport her readers straight onto the island of Helios. An island I would love to travel to and explore, despite it being a fictional one.

Oriel is hired in her capacity as an archaeologist trained in underwater excavation, to investigate a shipwreck on the island of Helios and catalogue any possible treasure or remnants of an ancient culture the team discovers. She is shocked to find that her employer isn't a stranger to her, well technically he is. let's just say they have yet to be formally introduced.

The spark between them is electric, despite the fact they are both fighting their attraction in different ways. Damian is a man with many female admirers, and Oriel is determined to only be with someone who wants her and her alone. Archaic views are quite normal in Helios, as are the traditions they follow, regardless of whether those traditions endanger the lives of the islanders.

The historical element made me want to take up scuba diving and treasure hunting. It is what makes this read more than just a romance with an intense relationship between two people in the throes of passion. The descriptive scenery, the islanders who seem to live by the rules of the middle ages, and the historical and cultural context, are what make this a beautiful read.
Helios sometimes appears to be an island lost in time. Lost in the history, the folklore and mythology of Greece. They adhere to the power of the divinities, the traditions set by the gods and of course the more mundane laws decided by man.
It is a delectable delight of mythology, history and a passionate romance. I admire authors who can transport their love of a culture and country onto the pages of a book, and in doing so inspire readers to experience new things. Not every scribe is capable of transporting their readers into the vivid imagery they create with words. Hannah Fielding is one of those authors.

Buy/Pre-order Aphrodite's Tears at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Aphrodite’s Tears is out in paperback on 25th January for £7.99

Watch the booktrailer for Aphrodite's Tears



Friday, 12 January 2018

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Fascinating premise, especially from a purely psychological point of view. The mental state of the sole survivors of massacres. The way they are hounded by the media, and considered both miracles for surviving and mistrusted because they did. They also often suffer from survivors guilt and PTSD.

Quincy has no memory of the event that took her innocence and fills her with constant fear. She can remember before and being saved afterwards, but the murderous middle bit evades her completely. She has no memory of how she lost a house full of friends to a murderous lunatic.

Therein lies the problem. She can't fill in any of the details, which makes the police suspicious. Perhaps not about her guilt, but about her hiding something. Then again you just don't know.

The press knows her as one of the three Final Girls. Now one of them is dead and the second has turned up on Quincy's doorstep. At first Quincy feels sympathetic towards Sam, but their new friendship starts to tear when Sam starts to show interest in the one person Quincy feels belongs to her. Coop is her saviour, her protector and just hers in general.

Sam starts to place Quincy in situations that make her act instinctively, unfortunately her instinct seems to indicate a predilection for violence. A survivor of violence, who has impulse control issues and the instinct to punish someone physically. Makes you wonder doesn't it?

Sager wants the reader to consider the psychological aspects of the trauma,but at the same time consider why only one out of many managed to emerge from such violent altercations. Casting a huge shadow of doubt over the lucky survivors.

Fear, guilt and anger make this psychological game of chess a gripping tale of suspense, which will make you question everyone and everything.

Buy Final Girls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @riley_sager  @EburyPublishing

Visit rileysagerbooks.com

Thursday, 11 January 2018

#BlogTour The Heights by Juliet Bell

Today it's my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for the modern retelling of Wuthering Heights. It is an ode to Emily Brontë and this larger than life classic. Get ready for a Heathcliff and Cathy in our society with 20th century problems.
About the Author
Janet Bell is the pen name for writing duo Janet Gover and Alison May.
Alison May:
I was born and raised in North Yorkshire, but now live in Worcester with one husband, no kids and no pets. There were goldfish once. That ended badly.

I’ve studied History and Creative Writing, and worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, and a freelance trainer, before settling on ‘making up stories’ as an entirely acceptable grown-up career plan. I’m a qualified teacher in adult education, a member of the Society of Authors, and an experienced creative writing tutor, and I’m currently Vice-Chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

I’m a published commercial fiction author. I write short stories, novels and novellas, including the Christmas Kiss series, Midsummer Dreams, and Sweet Nothing. I won the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge Trophy in 2012, and have been shortlisted in the RoNAs and the Love Stories Awards. I’m represented by Julia Silk (in association with MBA Literary).

Janet Gover:
After some fun-filled years at Queensland University (during which I passed the occasional exam), I became a television journalist, first in Australia, then in Asia and Europe. I got to see and do a lot of unusual things. I met some interesting people, including one Pope, at least three Prime Ministers, a few movie stars and a dolphin.

My first published novel, The Farmer Needs A Wife was released in 2009. It might not surprise you to learn that it was set in Australia and featured men on horses. I enjoying running workshops and teaching. Twice a year I lead writing retreats with fellow writer Alison May.

Janet Gover says:
This is a book I have dreamed of writing for years. I love Emily Brontë’s book and have read it many times. In doing this adaptation, I wanted to stay true to the darkness of the original book, and not be distracted by the common idea of Wuthering Heights as a great love story. Yes, it is a story of great passion – but it’s not love as we would know it, nor is Heathcliff a romantic hero.
I was so pleased to work with Alison on this book. She’s a terrific writer, and her background growing up not far from where the book is set was invaluable in doing justice to the time and place.
We’ve got another Juliet Bell book already underway – stay tuned for more on that.

Follow @JulietBellBooks the pen name for writing duo @janet_gover and @MsAlisonMay & @HQDigitalUK
Visit janetgover.com and alison-may.co.uk
Buy The Heights


About the book
Two hundred years since Emily Brontë’s birth comes The Heights: a modern re-telling of Wuthering Heights set in 1980s Yorkshire.

The searchers took several hours to find the body, even though they knew roughly where to look. The whole hillside had collapsed, and there was water running off the moors and over the slick black rubble. The boy, they knew, was beyond their help.
This was a recovery, not a rescue.

A grim discovery brings DCI Lockwood to Gimmerton’s Heights Estate – a bleak patch of Yorkshire he thought he’d left behind for good. There, he must do the unthinkable, and ask questions about the notorious Earnshaw family. Decades may have passed since Maggie closed the pits and the Earnshaws ran riot – but old wounds remain raw. And, against his better judgement, DCI Lockwood is soon drawn into a story.

A story of an untameable boy, terrible rage, and two families ripped apart. A story of passion, obsession, and dark acts of revenge. And of beautiful Cathy Earnshaw – who now lies buried under cold white marble in the shadow of the moors.

Review
A classic novel reimagined in a modern day setting, is perhaps not a new venture, but definitely an interesting one. As a reader you can either spend your time comparing one story to the other or you can cast aside the old and read the new with fresh eyes. Ask yourself if the new tale pulls you in or whether the old takes on a new life in the sort of futuristic setting.

Revamping an old tale, especially a classic one can be difficult. Generally the original source is one of great inspiration, which Wuthering Heights certainly is. The trick is keeping the essence of the story intact.

If you're familiar with both the original book and the very first films you may recognise some moments in the book. Here and there Bell replicates certain special scenes, perhaps in an attempt to connect the old with the new. An ode to Wuthering Heights if you will.

In The Heights, the modern day Cathy and Heathcliff live in a dump of a house, are subject to regular visits from social services, and their family is in the midst of the miner's strike and the battle between Thatcher and Scargill. Poverty, hunger, abuse and dysfunctional family dynamics are mirrored in this new retelling.
Wuthering Heights is often mislabelled as a great romance, in fact it is a tale of obsession. A destructive and possessive obsession between a neglected young man turned vengeful, and a young woman with a strong streak of narcissism.

Cathy is conniving and selfish, as per usual. She attaches herself to the first viable escape option she encounters. She cares nothing for those she leaves behind. They are but mere steps on her climb out of the hole she lives in. She doesn't even turn to notice that her companion in arms no longer walks beside her.

The narrator comes in the form of DCI Lockwood, who takes us through the story under the guise of solving crimes and finding some peace of mind when it comes to his own past with Heathcliff.

It perhaps lacks the intense obsession of the original book, however if you read this as a contemporary piece of fiction instead of the classic, everything is as it should be. The reality of the cold brusque 20th century in a town stripped of its identity, ravaged by poverty and conflict, the characters reflect the changes in modern society. There is no romanticism, instead in its place walk the Heathcliff and Cathy of today and not of times long gone.
Buy The Heights at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

Hybristophilia is a paraphilia in which sexual arousal is contingent upon the sexual partner having committed a serious crime. That explains a certain number of men and women, who are drawn to violent offenders. The majority of women (smaller number of men) are attracted to violent offenders simply because they know they are unobtainable.

Writing to someone you know will realistically never be released from prison makes them less of a threat. You can admire a serial killer from the safety of your sitting room without ever having to worry about them chopping you up into tiny pieces.

Samantha fits nicely into the above category. A schoolteacher in the UK with an obsession for a man on Death Row in the US. It's creepy, needy and far from the norm. She never expects her relationship with Dennis to become a living, breathing thing, and she is somewhere between panic and fear when she comprehends that Dennis is about to become a free man.

Lloyd draws some inspiration from a few controversial cases that have been plastered all over the media, such as the West Memphis Three. In 1994 three teenagers were arrested and later found guilty of the murder of three eight-year-old boys. In 2011 they were released on time served with 10 year suspended sentences based on new evidence. Due to media attention and quite a few major celebrities flying the innocence flag for these three men, they are now walking around as free men. At this time no one is serving a prison sentence or being investigated for the murder of those three young boys.

Lloyd turns the spotlight on the question of hype and crusades interfering with the judicial system. Although Dennis seems to be innocent of the murder of one young girl there is still question of what happened to all the other missing girls in his home-town. Is he really a victim of the wrong place and wrong time or do his friends and neighbours know something that isn't tangible, but is enough to convince them of his guilt.

These are the questions Samantha also has to ask herself, although to be perfectly frank she seems to enjoy the excitement of being right in the middle of all the controversy. She also has her own issues with impulse control, jealousy and being borderline criminal. One could say it is a match made in heaven.

If scenarios like this weren't happening all the time in real life I would probably say the author has a great imagination. Unfortunately this story is uncomfortably close to the truth, especially when it comes to the celebrity status given to violent offenders and the pedestals they are put on by other big names in the world of celebrity. Everything is a conspiracy. Nobody could possibly be capable of being an bad person, right? Well we all know that is just a simplistic way of looking through rose coloured spectacles to view the world and the people we are surrounded by.

Lloyd pulls this tale of suspense off with a set of truly unsympathetic characters. Can one feel any empathy with a woman who worships at the feet of a murderer? I guess that is the charm of The Innocent Wife, the feeling of 'what did you expect?'

It's a minefield of guilt and home truths. Many shades of grey instead of clear black and white scenarios. Is the innocent wife perhaps not so innocent?

Buy The Innocent Wife at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @AmyLloydWrites @PenguinUKBooks

#BlogTour Turning for Home by Barney Norris

I am absolutely delighted to be part of the #BlogTour for this incredibly talented author. Believe you me the hype is not only worth it, it is also absolutely accurate. Barney Norris has a knack for storytelling and is a scribe worth watching.
About the Author
Barney Norris was born in Sussex in 1987, and grew up in Salisbury. Upon leaving university he founded the theatre company Up In Arms. He won the Critics’ Circle and Offwestend Awards for Most Promising Playwright for his debut full-length play Visitors. He is the Martin Esslin Playwright in Residence at Keble College, Oxford. Barney’s new play Nightfall is one of the three inaugural productions at Nicholas Hytner’s new Bridge Theatre, beginning early 2018.
Follow @barnontherun @DoubleDayUK
About the book
Once a year, every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house in the country to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, grandchildren, distant cousins - it is a milestone in their lives and has been for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met - and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Robert is determined that this will be the final party. But for both him and Kate, it may also become the most important gathering of all.
As lyrical and true to life as Norris’s critically acclaimed debut Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, this is a compelling, emotional story of family, human frailty, and the marks that love leaves on us.
Barney’s debut novel, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain was bestselling and critically acclaimed – the Guardian called it a ‘state of the nation novel’, and ‘deeply affecting’, and the Mail on Sunday praised it as ‘outstanding…a moving, strangely uplifting novel…Superb’. It featured as Waterstones Book of the Month, and was shortlisted for prizes including the RSL Ondaatje Prize and Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards.

In Turning for Home, Barney tackles the issue of eating disorders, a very personal subject that has affected someone close to him. Barney has much to contribute to current discussion around how mental health and eating disorders in particular are handled by our health services.
Review
It isn't often one finds an author self-assessing their own novel at the end of said novel, and then pinpointing exactly what my thoughts are on the story in question.

Norris himself says that initially this started out as a story about the Boston Tapes. They started out as a series of frank interviews given by former loyalist and republican paramilitaries that chronicles their involvement in the Troubles, in an attempt to create an oral history of those times. In return for names, dates, places and details, the former paramilitaries made a deal that the interviews wouldn't be made public until after their deaths.

Including the frank admission that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams had his own squad within the IRA, who were responsible for the so-called 'Disappeared' of the Troubles. The people who were targeted, kidnapped, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA.

I digress.

Turning for Home is like reading two stories in one, and I am sure both would make excellent stand-alone novels. Together they become something special. A spark ignites and weaves its way through this poignant tale of pain, grief and control.

The reader follows Robert and Kate, grandfather and granddaughter. Their individual tales collide at the annual celebration for Robert's birthday. A family reunion that has an air of finality to it, especially since the loss of Robert's wife.

Robert is dealing with the implications of the Boston Tapes. The possibility of secrets being aired has some of his connections running scared, and after so many years the past has the power to insert itself into the future,

Kate's story is a wee bit more complex. She suffers from anorexia nervosa, which comes under eating disorders in the DSM. Norris gives the reader a candid look into the thought process of someone with an eating disorder, and how many misconceptions there are about how to help someone with the disorder. Even so-called mental health professionals have difficulty really comprehending the grip it can have, and the impact it has on entire families.

It's all about control and loss of control. When you experience loss of control it is a normal response to try and regain it. You start to look for the one thing no one else can control but you. Food, fat and calories become the enemy and you start to fight them with every inch of your body.

Aside from the obvious familial connection, the thread that connects both Robert and Kate, and their stories, is coping with loss and feelings of guilt. Unresolved emotional distress, trauma and conflict are the equivalent of malignant tumours in our bodies. Sometimes the inner enemy is evident and sometimes it is a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.

Norris writes with a finesse and wisdom beyond his years. He has the gift of gab, a knack for telling a story and pulling his readers along with him on a journey even he doesn't have the directions for. Eventually he brings himself and us home, regardless of wherever that may be.

Buy Turning for Home

Buy Turning for Home at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Monday, 8 January 2018

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

This is an ode to Hitchcock and the classic tale of suspense.

Anna's story is also indicative of the stigma and discrimination, which is prevalent in our society, that people with mental health issues have to deal with.

Regardless of your social status, professional background, age or gender, a mental health diagnosis brings an entire busload of baggage with it. Suddenly you are no longer considered competent enough to make decisions and are an unreliable source.

Anna finds herself going from respected professional to the lonely lady who lives in her bathrobe and survives on a few bottles of wine a day. Her perfect family is a thing of the past. Her husband and child no longer live under the same roof, and Anna holds on tightly to every phone call and every conversation she has with them.

Her agoraphobia holds her prisoner in her very large house. The only contact to the outside world is via internet forums, her lodger in the basement and the people she watches through her windows. The neighbours who don't know that she views them through her camera lens during the night, the day and any time she needs to feel a connection to the outside world.

The Hitchcockian aspect of the story starts when Anna meets one of her neighbours and later witnesses something horrific during one of her spying episodes, thereby starting a cycle of terror and mistrust. Suddenly everyone around her doubts each word she says and every action she takes. Anne becomes the crazy lady, who is scared to leave her own home.

The Woman in the Window is a story of grief, desperation, self-doubt and in the end of self-preservation. It's also about momentary lapses in judgement and choices that can destroy lives. I can understand why it has been picked up to be developed into a film.

Finn has infused the story with fear of self and the unknown, and given it an air of nostalgia. Fans of classic films will perhaps recognise certain scenarios or films that are mentioned throughout the story.

It's compelling and full of suspense, and Finn is definitely an author I look forward to hearing more from.

Buy The Woman in the Window at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @AJFinnBooks @HarperCollinsUK @KillerReads

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

Subtlety is what makes this an exceptional read. The dystopian element of the story is almost imperceptible, it unfolds slowly like flowers uncurling at the first sign of spring.

The solitude, the silence and the snow gives the story an aura of complete and utter isolation. The kind of isolation one would experience under normal circumstances in an area like that, let alone in the aftermath of a global disaster. Which is probably why the small community appears to be nothing more than a close-knit family unit living in the Yukon wilderness. Hence there being nothing unusual about Lynn hunting for her next meal, and going head to head with anyone who dares to cross her or her family.

Although it doesn't seem to be a priority, they are all aware that they are part of the small group deemed survivors of the disaster that ravaged and decimated the entire population. Lynn is also acutely aware of being a young woman with only minimal choices when it comes to romantic partners or viable partners.

So the arrival of new blood in the area is the beginning of new emotions, new threats and Jax also brings the key to Pandora's box with him. Lynn discovers something about herself and her past that will not only change her path in life, it also has the potential to change the lives of those around her.

Johnson has a knack for the minimalistic approach whilst creating vivid imagery, solid characters and the kind of story readers will want to follow to the end.

Hopefully readers won't have to wait too long for the sequel to The Wolves in Winter, and yes there really needs to be one, because I need to know what happens next.

Buy The Wolves of Winter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @tjohnso14 @HQStories

Visit tyrelljohnsonauthor.com

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Despite what people may have heard or read this book doesn't encourage teenage suicide nor does it romanticise the idea of suicide. I can't speak for the popular Netflix series inspired by this book, simply because I haven't watched it.

It's important to bear in mind that teenage brains aren't fully developed until they reach a certain age in adulthood. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain, which isn't fully developed until the age of 25. This is why a teen is more likely to make rash, illogical, dangerous and impulsive decisions. Everything is overly dramatic and every slight is the end of the world as we know it.

In the mind of a teenager every insult, imagined or real, is a reason to make a decision you can't just undo.

The reader meets Hannah after she has made the decision to end her life. After she has convinced herself that there is no other way out of her situation other than killing herself.

Ultimately in the midst of all the drama and overhyped teenage interactions Asher is trying to deliver an important message. When someone reaches the end of their tether, and leans towards jumping off the nearest cliff, they will send out subconscious signals. The signals are there for us to see, hear and read, we just need to acknowledge them. Instead of ignoring the changes in behaviour, appearance or the almost indiscernible cries for help, we need to open our eyes and try to help.

The story starts with Clay Jensen receiving a box full of tapes, a spoken testimonial from a dead girl. A girl he knew, a girl he kissed, and a young girl who somehow thinks he belongs on a list of people who pushed her towards suicide. He has to deal with the emotional upheaval caused by this unexpected accusation and the experiences Hannah has been through. Clay also has to deal with the fact he will eventually come face to face with the other people on the list. The people who ignored her, turned her away, ridiculed and assaulted her.

Suicide brings an element of desperation with it, but also one of selfishness. Suicidal thoughts are all encompassing, especially when depression is part and parcel of the equation. There is no room for thoughts of what those left behind will have to deal with. The why, the who and the fact they didn't see it coming and couldn't stop it. Even when there is light at the end of the tunnel Hannah is already so enveloped by her own darkness that she chooses self destructive behaviour instead of choosing a path other than death.

I could go on and on about this book. It isn't just a straightforward 'everyone was mean to Hannah and that's why she is dead' scenario. Hannah isn't exempt from criticism. She makes mistakes and some dodgy choices, especially in regards to Jessica and Bryce.

Hopefully this read will make someone reconsider their actions and behaviour towards their fellow humans. Teens really need to take on board that actions have consequences, rumours ruin lives, bullying is destructive and suicide is a one-way ticket with no return.

Buy Thirteen Reasons Why at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @jayasherguy @PenguinRHUK


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

What's interesting about the way the author has planned the story out is the way the intent is within reach, however it doesn't become really clear until closer to the end.

Alex likes the thrill of climbing and is perhaps guilty of becoming complacent with his safety, which is probably how he ends up in a coma after a serious fall. His head injury leaves him in a terrifying situation. Alex can hear and feel everything around him, but is unable to respond to anyone or anything. A nightmare scenario.

The medical condition is based on a pseudocoma also known as Locked-in syndrome, minus the blinking and vertical eye movements, although Alex is often able to see through the slits of his slightly opened eyes. Koch has clearly done a lot of research on the subject, which is reflected in the story.

The story is narrated by Alex himself via his inner dialogue and thought processes, and the one-sided conversations he has with his family, friends and the medical staff.

He has no memory of how he fell, and as the story progresses questions arise about the details of the accident. Was it more than just a careless incident? Did someone help Alex fall, and why?

The perspective of the possible victim is what gives this story a high level of suspense. The reader knows that Alex can't help himself in any way, regardless of what he remembers or discovers about his accident.

Kudos to Koch for the ending, and for not feeling the need to bow down to the candy floss brigade of happy endings. It's poetic injustice in a screwed up fictional kind of way.

Buy If I Die Before I Wake at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @EmilyKoch @vintagebooks @harvillsecker

Visit emilykoch.co.uk

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Okay I admit I thought the premise was fascinating. Not just because it is messed up in a culty oppressive kind of way, perhaps more so because it is a feasible premise. It is exactly the kind of big brother organisation people like to be a part of, especially if it makes them feel elitist.

Cults like Scientology spring to mind when I read books like this. Their self anointed title of omnipotent makes them believe they can do and say anything they want to. Abuse, torture, maligning reputations are right up their alley, and all whilst making their sheople pay for the privilege of being played for a fool.

It has both a masochistic and sadistic streak all the way through it. Alice almost seems to enjoy or thinks she deserves the punishment she receives. She also appears to want Jake to feel the same way. Take your punishment, enjoy it and learn from it. Talk about messed up brainwashing and playing on the vulnerabilities of people.

The goal of The Pact is to keep marriages sustainable, intact and supposedly happy. The Pact comes with a whole manual full of rules and punishments. You break a rule and you get treated to the equivalent of justice via cult dictatorship.

Richmond doesn't just question what makes a marriage work long-term she also shines a great big spotlight on groups, religious or otherwise, masking as havens for those who need to feel as if they are more important than others and those who just want to belong.

It's a compelling thought-provoking read.

Buy The Marriage Pact at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @michellerichmon @MichaelJbooks

Visit michellerichmond.com