Monday, 30 July 2018

Blog Tour and my review of An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

Blog Tour and my review of An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena. Published by Bantam Press at Transworld publishers it is out on 26th July in Hardback.

My Review:

Welcome to the blog tour for An Unwanted guest, the new book by Shari Lapena author of twisty thrillers including the gripping book The Couple Next Door.

Come in out of the snow, pull up a chair in front of a roaring fire and settle down for this twisty and puzzling thriller. (I know it’s still summer and this is a great holiday read, but its also one perfect winter read to look forward to as the nights draw in)

This book is like a game of Consequences (I hope you used to play that party game when you were young or this isn’t a great start to my review)

Cluedo meets Agatha Christie at the Hotel from the Shining, people die in mysterious circumstances, nobody knows who they can trust and the consequence is … everybody suspects each other of murder.

Well, that sums it up quite nicely I think. It’s an out and out Whodunnit, which don't always float my boat but the author does it so very well you just get sucked right in and go along for the scary ride.

The tension builds nicely as the guests arrive at the remote hotel amidst a whiteout blizzard and find the hostelry staffed only by the owner and his son. They are all rapidly stranded and as the electricity fails and the disparate bunch of guests get to know one another, we begin to feel shivers, not just from the bitter cold weather, or the beautiful but chilling ice house in the grounds, but as realization dawns that there is a killer amongst this small group.

We get just the right amount of background on each guest to feel we are getting to know them, yet enough is left out to make sure we harbour doubts and suspect everyone in turn as things so from bad to worse, to absolutely terrible.

Plenty of curved balls are thrown at the reader to divert and distract us and the whole book is delightfully entertaining and creepy.

Great for thriller aficionados and readers who like to examine characters motives and flaws, whilst trying to guess who did what to whom and why!

The Blurb

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance. 

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run. 

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

My thanks to #RandomThingsTours for my copy.

Buy yours now on Amazon and all good booksellers.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Advance Review - When Winter Comes by V.A. Shannon

My Review of When Winter Comes by V.A. Shannon.

Wonderful, epic, historical fiction, I loved it and couldn't put it down. I consider myself very fortunate to have been chosen as one of the recipients of a copy in advance of publication. My advance review copy is now well creased, as I read this remarkable novel in bed, on the bus and crammed it in my handbag to take to work, I was so engrossed in the story.

Quite recently I read another fictional book with a supernatural angle The Hunger based on the same true subject, the Donner party of pioneers who came to grief, back in the mid 19th century when thousands of brave and some plain foolhardy, folk set off with their wagon trains to cross the Sierra mountains from Cincinatti, headed West towards California to try and build a better life. What bravery, how hard it must have been in these days centuries before tripadvisor and google maps and without even any real trail or markers to follow.

Both these books are wonderful, yet rather different accounts of the same true journey.

When winter comes is told in the intimate first person voice of a young woman who leaves her poverty stricken feckless and violent family home, following a series of mishaps.

The book begins in 1859 when our narrator is a rather sedate married woman, living a quiet life of domesticity bringing up her girls, meeting up with her friends at a quilting bee, and looking after her husband, Jacob, who presents her with a journal as a gift. As she begins to put pen to paper she is unsure what she will write about as every day is the same. But as soon as she begins, memories of her past come flooding back and memories she had suppressed clamour to be told.

In a series of flashbacks to 13 years earlier when she was just 15, we learn how she became involved with the fated journey of the infamous Donner party and her version of events unfolds in all its grim pathos. As winter halts the travellers in their tracks terrible choices have to be made which will scar her for life.

We watch her grow and change from quite a selfish young madam into a reliable and stoic young woman. This is a coming of age born of necessity and hardship that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

The descriptiveness of being part of a legendary journey in times gone by are painted with a deftness and utter plausablity, that makes the reader experience rather than merely read the story. It reads like a memoir and gives you an insight into a fictional characters thoughts and actions around a true event.

It is captivating and harrowing by turn, beautifully thought out and well written with evidence of much in depth research.

If you like historical fiction with a literary quality and a whole host of characters all the more real for their flaws and foibles you'll LOVE this book, I did.

Pre-order now from Amazon

The Blurb

In the voice of an unforgettable heroine, V.A. Shannon explores one of the most harrowing episodes in pioneer history—the ill-fated journey of the Donner Party—in a mesmerizing novel of resilience and survival. 

Mrs. Jacob Klein has a husband, children, and a warm and comfortable home in California. No one—not even her family—knows how she came to be out West thirteen years ago. Jacob, a kind and patient man, has promised not to ask. But if she were to tell her story, she would recount a tale of tragedy, mishaps, and unthinkable choices—yet also sacrifice, courage, and a powerful, unexpected love . . .

1846: On the outskirts of Cincinnati, wagons gather by the hundreds, readying to head west to California. Among the throng is a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape her abusive family. With just a few stolen dollars to her name, she enlists as helpmate to a married couple with a young daughter. Their group stays optimistic in the face of the journey’s hazards and delays. Then comes a decision that she is powerless to prevent: Instead of following the wagon train’s established route, the Donner Party will take a shortcut over the Sierras, aiming to clear the mountains before the first snows descend. 

In the years since that infamous winter, other survivors have sold their accounts for notoriety and money, lurid tales often filled with half-truths or blatant, gory lies. Now, Mrs. Klein must decide whether to keep those bitter memories secret, or risk destroying the life she has endured so much to build . . . (less)

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Review - The Corset - Laura Purcell -

The Corset by Laura Purcell

My Review
WOW - brilliant, loved every word of this ravishing historical thriller.

I do wish I hadn't read this book!! Only because I'm pretty darned certain it's going to such a hard act to follow that I'm going to find each and every new book I pick up for months, lacking in comparison and I'm saddened and green with envy that everyone who is yet to read this, still has it's delights to look forward to.

The description had me chomping at the bit, the cover had me swooning and I KNEW without doubt that it was my kind of book to a T. Yet still I didn't know what absolute reading PERFECTION this completely spectacular book was going to be.

Reminding me very much of two of my all time favourite reads Affinity and The Observations I am almost lost for words, to describe my feelings adequately after reading this.

It is a historical twisty mystery which is deviously dark and devilishly delectable. Featuring two very different young women. Dorothea Truelove is a well off young lady who wishes to do good works, has an interest in reading the shape of the head, phrenology and in particular observing the characteristics displayed by criminals. She resists her fathers attempts to marry her off, wishing to choose her own suitor, though this is not an option of the well to do Victorian female.

Her choice of good works is to be a prison visitor in Oakgate womens prison, where she soon becomes intrigued and involved with the young murderess Ruth Butterham who is charged with murdering her employer. A talented seamstress, with self taught skills she hones creating herself a corset from scraps of left over fabric, Ruth falls on very hard times as a series of dreadful personal disasters leads her to believe she can cause death by sewing hatred and ill will into the garments she works on.

With her talent with a needle being the only way she can earn a living she ends up apprenticed to the vile and Dickensian sweat shop of the Metyard familys dressmaking business.

What follows is a life of drudgery which is revealed stitch by intricate stitch, as she slaves for the Metyards, crosses paths with the vile Captain, makes a friend in Mim and encounters the handsome Billy. The lives of these two women entwine as each struggles against the whims of others and the restrictions placed on women in this era.

Their are dastardly deeds aplenty, the writing is sheer poetry it has an eerie and compelling literary quality and the characters are sublime. It is worthy of comparison with the wonderful Sarah Waters writing and is a sensational follow up to the authors successful debut novel The Silent Companions and in my opinion is far superior to it.

Put this on your must read list. It will be published in September and you can pre-order it now so you have something to look forward to when the nights begin to draw in.

I received my advance copy of #TheCorset from #NetGalley
My thanks to Raven Books, home of deliciously dark books

The Description:

The new Victorian chiller from the author of Radio 2 Book Club pick, The Silent Companions.

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?

Dorothea and Ruth.

Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless.

Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Review - The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite - perfectly terrifying

My Review of The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite:

It's just what we all want isn't it? The Perfect Friend?

Barbara Copperthwaite has excelled herself, yet again, with this terrific, tense and terrifying, twisty thriller. My goodness, I just can't imagine how she manages to dream up characters capable of such dastardly deeds. Just when I think she can't possibly get any better, my favourite writer of dark and daring deeds blows my socks off.

The Perfect Friend, scared me so much I really don't think I'll ever dare trust anyone, ever again!

On the surface it's a novel about friendship, surviving and learning to live with your own failures. Beneath its a seething maelstrom of lies, deceit and corruption that made my head reel.

The perfect Friend introduces us to two lovely ladies who become friends through a support group which helps people who are finding it difficult to cope with what life has thrown at them.
Both are damaged and traumatised. Despite their difference in ages they have become firm friends.

Alex is the elder woman. In her struggle to cope with her husband leaving her and offspring she can no longer speak to she has succumbed to the debilitating condition of Anorexia. With a lot of love to give she is pouring her affection into her friendship with the younger woman Carrie, almost young enough to be her daughter, Carrie is sweet and bright and cheerful despite fighting cancer.

The two women are drawn together and would, it seems, do almost anything for one another.

And maybe, not the most reliable narrators to tell this story.

Alex feels there is something she must make up for and throws herself into supporting her young friend who has become like a surrogate daughter to replace the one Alex is unable to spend time with any more.

But nothing - absolutely NOTHING, is quite what it seems and secrets and lies are peeled back from this toxic friendship, to reveal deeper layers of deceit and confusion. Reading it, I was swept along so swiftly I didn't even see the rapids coming until I'd hurtled over them and rose from the deep spluttering and in denial.

A fabulous convoluted cornucopia of trickery which will have you looking at your best friend and wondering .... what if??

The Blurb

She’ll do anything for you…

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.
My husband has left me.
My children won’t speak to me.
My friend Carrie is the only person I have.
She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.
She’d never do anything to let me down.
Would she?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Sometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated. 

Blog tour The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker a #Randomthings #BlogTour

Blog tour The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker a #Randomthings #BlogTour Hello blog readers and book lovers. Today I am joining in t...