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Published: 18 May 2017

 

Description:

No one in Carniskey has ever truly understood what led Sean Delaney, a seasoned local fisherman, to risk his life in a high storm in the dead of night. Now, three years on from that tragic night, his wife Alison is still struggling with her unresolved grief and increasing financial worries.

After three difficult years, Alison has grown distant from her daughter and estranged from her friends and fellow villagers, particularly her best friend Kathleen who harbours a deeply guarded secret of her own. Isolated by its stunning yet often cruel surroundings, this is a community used to looking after its own but the arrival of an outsider – artist and lifelong nomad, William – offers Alison a new perspective on life and love that threatens to unearth the mysteries of the past.

A story of courage and enduring humanity, Finding Alison follows the community through their struggles in love, loss and betrayal, each coming to understand that only in truth can we find the peace and liberation essential for true happiness.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Finding Alison” is one of those books that instantly appeals to me as soon as I’ve read the description, it’s a lovely change of pace from dark and gritty crime thrillers but it’s still an emotional rollercoaster ride.

The reader is faced with one of the most heart wrenching openings, Alison Delaney is wakened by a knock on the door that will change her life forever, her husband Sean was seen taking his fishing boat out late at night on stormy seas and it has sunk.  Alison is dumbfounded with grief, she struggles to cope with the idea that Sean is gone, wandering the beach and harbour in hope.  As time passes and no sign of Sean or his boat appear washed up on the shore the search is called off and Alison is forced to accept he has gone.  Alison is not the only one in mourning, their young daughter Hannah essentially loses both of her parents that stormy night, Sean’s mother Maryanne stepping in to care for the youngster when Alison is unable to cope.

As years pass, Hannah steps into her teenage years and rebels, perhaps a telling sign of her years but she cannot understand why her mother has sunk to the levels she has, not taking care of her appearance or her health and developing an alarming reliance on a bottle of wine or two to get through an evening.  Alison struggles to connect with Hannah, finding that the gap between them has become too wide, she relies on the help of her best friend Kathleen and her sister Claire.  There are also financial struggles for the Delaney family, the insurance payout from Sean’s accident cannot be released until 7 years have passed so that he can be legally declared dead.
A burglary gone wrong in Maryanne’s home one evening leaves her suffering a massive knock to the head, and she is moved to a nursing home to be cared for and Alison feels duty bound to visit everyday.

Deep rooted in this tale is a connection with the sea, it almost becomes a character in its own right.  The descriptions of the seascape are utterly hypnotic and the poetry used to portray the movements of the waves make it easy for a reader to “see” the alluring appeal of the sea.  It’s whilst seeking solace beside the sea that Alison meets William and from there she steps into the light and embarks on a journey to find herself.
 

At the heart of it, this is a story of growth, finding yourself and reminding us of the lasting impact people leave on each other.  This is a powerful and evocative read, and at times it’s heart wrenchingly sad, there were moments I could feel tears threatening to spill out but equally there were moments I laughed out loud.  There were also revelations which I genuinely did not see coming and gasped in surprise before reading on eagerly to find out what happened next.
This is very much a book that lingered on in my mind after I’d read it, the writing is so wonderfully rich.  The descriptions of settings, characters, relationships all felt so real and authentic.
My absolute heartfelt thanks to Joanne – Portobello Book Blog and Lina at Black and White Publishing for bringing this book to my attention, I cannot thank you both enough!
You can buy a copy of “Finding Alison” via:
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Published: 15 May 2017

Description:

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light. Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

My Thoughts & Review:

Block 46 is quite possibly one of the most magnificent books I have read, it’s absolutely flawlessly plotted, rich in characters and has an astounding level of detail woven into it.  There are so many layers to this novel that it’s hard to begin to describe just how powerful this is.

The uppermost layer of the plot is a murder investigation, one which sparks tangents shooting off like electrical currents in several directions.
Linnea Blix is a much loved and talented jewellery designer so her failure to appear at the grand unveiling of her latest collection is worrying.  When her naked and mutilated corpse is discovered is Sweden, red flags are raised because of the resemblance to a case being investigated in London.  The best friend of Blix is writer Alexis Castells, who soon ends up working with profiler Emily Roy in a bid to discovering her killer.

From here the reader is drawn into a dark thriller that is rife with tension and utterly unnerving.
Johana Gustawsson then adds in another layer to “Block 46”  by incorporating a timeline from 1944 where a young man named Erich Hebner is incarcerated in Buchenwald Concentration Camp.  It is through glimpses of the horrendous and torturous conditions that the reader experiences some of the most harrowing storytelling.  The skill that Gustawsson exhibits in her writing is immense, she details the abhorrent conditions so that the audience is fully aware of the violence, lack of humanity and evil that emanated from the Camps and the ruling forces.

And if this wasn’t enough to make this book standout, then take a look at the characters involved.  A colourful collection of personalities make for some incredibly interesting reading, Alexis Castells and Emily Roy are superb characters, both strong in their own ways, and have qualities that are vital to the roles they play.  Alexis Castells is caring and warm, she is a calming influence on those around her but underneath it all she bears the scars of her past.  Emily Roy on the other hand is a wonderful contrast to this, her clinical approach to her work and interactions can be seen as blunt and cold but she almost needs to be that way in order to do the job that she does.
The glimpses into the mind of the killer that are sprinkled throughout the narrative give an insight into a truly twisted and chilling persona.  There is no doubting that this is a very dangerous individual who enjoys the thrill of the hunt when it comes to victims, and the sheer elation felt when a kill and torture sequence has been complete.

If shock value is what you are looking for then this is the book for you, there are some moments in this that you almost need reminders to keep breathing, the urge to hold your breath in anticipation is high.  The way that Johana Gustawsson plants the seeds of suspicion in the heads of her readers is cleverly done, many will read this book and all the while be trying to guess ahead as to who the killer is, what the motive is etc and good luck is all I can say.  This was a book that well and truly caught me off guard, there were aspects of the plot that I would never have guessed.

I want to offer my thanks to Maxim Jakubowski for the wonderful translation of this book from French into English, it takes incredible skill to translate any document from one language to another and here I feel that the skills of the translator deserve a round of applause as this book reads to well that you could be forgiven for thinking it had originally been penned in English.

My heartfelt thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for sharing this epic novel with me and for having me host this stop on the blog tour.

 

You can buy your copy of “Block 46” via:

Amazon
Orenda Books eBookstore
Wordery
The Book Depository

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

FINAL block 46 blog tour poster

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Published: 18 May 2017

Description:

A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. The only clue to his identity is an admission stamp for the local gay club.

DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man’s death draws the attention of the local gay rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.

Things become more complicated with the emergence of a far right group targeting immigrants in a local working-class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.

Hatred and complicity abound in the days leading up to the Brexit vote in McGilloway’s new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner.

My Thoughts & Review:

Bad Blood is the fourth book by Brian McGilloway to feature DS Lucy Black, and thankfully for me this can read well as a stand alone book, although after reading this I am very keen to go back and catch up on the previous three books.

There is a very current feel to this, the plot incorporating the Brexit referendum as well as issues of racism, immigration and homophobia.
DS Black and her superior officer, DI Tom Fleming are members of the Public Protection Unit which requires them to assist on numerous investigations including the murder of a gay teenager.   With the influx of crime on the Greenway estate, racist attacks and and building unrest it soon becomes clear that their investigations will be far from easy, the PPU having to sensitively navigate round certain figures within the communities to get the answers they need.  The way that Brian McGilloway manages to weave threads of different factions and their grievances is very interesting.  From those who would fight in favour of bakeries discriminating against homosexuality for religious reasons all the way through to people retaining anger at the injustices of the Troubles, the author manages to incorporate details that add to the plot but never overshadows the main storyline.

As a police procedural this is a good read, there are enough twists to the plot to keep a reader interested and keep them guessing as to what may happen.  There are some incredibly well created characters that will delight readers.  DS Lucy Black is a refreshing change from the usual detective, she does not appear to be damaged or have a horrendously sordid backstory and instead works well with others to do her job well.

My thanks to Hayley Camis and Corsair for the opportunity to read and review this book as well as for being part of the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “Bad Blood” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour for reviews and extracts!

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Published: 4 May 2017

Description:

How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and Lie With Me.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Night Visitor” is the first book by Lucy Atkins that I’ve read, and if I’m honest I really had no idea what to expect when I picked this up.  I’d seen a fair bit of praise for this book and was curious to see if it lived up to the hype.

Following two characters, Olivia Sweetman and Vivian Tester, the author expertly weaves an intricate plot that will leave readers stunned, the story makes for uncomfortable reading in places but it is also spectacularly clever.  The way in which this book has been written is magnificent, each word, each phrase, each nuance is used for maximum effect and is perfectly placed to ensure that readers are entranced under Atkins spell.
Olivia Sweetman is an interesting character who on the surface appears to have the quintessential perfect life.  She is a highly successful academic, a minor celebrity, has a happy marriage and three children.  But below the surface there is tension bubbling, from the very beginning it is clear there is something bothering her, and the relationships around her are not as stable as they might seem.
Vivian Tester, well there’s a character that I found incredibly difficult to work out.  A true hat tip to Atkins here, as this must have been a character that took time and work to get just right on paper.  Vivian Tester is cold, distant, blunt and for want of a better word, strange.  She likes routine, and does not like anyone upsetting it.  She clearly has a secret or two to hide, but what could be behind her sinister aura.
Both of these women make for unreliable narrators, but it’s up to the reader to decide which is the most unreliable……

At times there is a claustrophobic feel to reading this book, suspicion runs rife throughout the plot, there are secrets being kept that could potentially ruin the lives of many and there is an underlying menace that presents in many forms – the book perfectly titled when you consider the events in the tower in France and Vivian’s terrifying nightmares.  All of this combines to form an incredibly rich and atmospheric read, and one that is filled with intrigue.

The attention to detail in the writing absolutely blew me away, Lucy Atkins has clearly spent a lot of time researching her subject matter, intricate details given about dung beetles, the publishing world and academia add a real feeling of authenticity as well as providing fascinating in-depth reading.

A wonderfully gripping thriller, that haunts the reader long after they’ve turned the final pages.

My thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou and Quercus Books for the opportunity to read this book and take part in the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “The Night Visitor” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, guest posts and extracts!

 

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Hello and welcome to one of the two stops on the blog tour for “Watching You”, the third instalment of the Detective Kerri Blasco series by J.A. Schneider.  I am honoured to be sharing the tour spot with one of my favourite bloggers, the lovely Chelsea over at The Suspense Is Thrilling Me, don’t forget to head over to her blog & check out her reviews!

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Published: 25 April 2017

 

Description:

A serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.

In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Kerri isn’t convinced.

Until another random young woman is killed in the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?

Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life. 

My Thoughts & Review:

“Watching You” sees the much anticipated return of one of my top detectives, Kerri Blasco.  For fans of The Quiet Knitter you will know that I have followed this series since the publication of book one, “Fear Dreams” and have eagerly waited for updates from J.A. Schneider on the following books and thankfully she’s been frantically writing and weaving a tale that will wow her readers in the latest book of the series.

Kerri Blasco is a fantastic character who has developed well through the books so far, she’s tough and hard working, determined to catch the killers that prey on innocent victims and never thinks twice about putting herself in harms way to ensure the safety of those around her.  This plays well into the hands of the serial killer she’s hunting in this case, his next target is her.

The plotting of this feels very current, the advancements of modern technology and social media make it easier for people to find out information about others and Schneider uses this to her advantage, highlighting vulnerabilities of her characters as well as giving the reader a chilling idea of how realistic this storyline could actually be.
Combined with the riveting plot are short and snappy chapters which keep the pace brisk and intense, making this a book to become utterly immersed in.  Red herrings and plethora of possible culprits keep readers guessing throughout this thrilling novel.  I’m loathe to say too much about the plot, it’s a book you really need to read without any spoilers from me!  I will say that the alternation between the investigation and the point of view of the killer is brilliant and had me sitting on the edge of me seat, frantically reading on to find out what happened next!

Although this is book three of a wonderful series, this can be read as a stand alone book, but I would definitely recommend reading the books in order.

Now I just need to sit patiently and hope for more Kerri Blasco……..

You can buy a copy of “Watching You” via:

Amazon

About the Author:

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J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek. Once a Liberal Arts major (French Literature), she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and human psychology. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means that there’ll be medical angles even in “regular” thrillers that she writes. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

Connect with Joyce:
Website: http://jaschneiderauthor.net
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832782.J_A_Schneider
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoyceSchneider1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joyce.schneider.142?fref=ts


Check out the other stops on the blog tour!

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Published: 23 March 2017

Copy provided by Urbane Publications & Netgalley

 

Description:

Ireland’s gone bust, and with it Aisling Finn’s life.

She flees austerity for adventure in the desert.  But the Arabia she finds is not that of her dreams.  Everyone is chasing a fast buck, a fast woman and another G&T.  Expats and locals alike prickle with paranoia.
Debonair fixer, Brian Rothmann, charms Aisling with champagne brunches and nights at Bedouin camps.  But is Brian a hero or a desperate expat prepared to go to any lengths to get what he wants?  Is this Aisling?  Or is he using her as bait?
Her only hope is Hisham, a local activist.  But where do his loyalties lie?  Aisling faces severe peril when the sleazy expat and blood-lusting desert worlds collide, as the Arab Spring erupts. 

She has to ask, whom can she trust?  Can she trust her instincts?  Humanity blisters in this haunting, lyrical thriller about trust and treachery.

My Thoughts & Review:

For once a book has left me speechless, I finished reading “Electric Souk” over a week ago and have struggled to put into words just how brilliant this book is.  Even then I don’t think that brilliant is a word that does this book justice.
I first heard about this book when I featured the lovely Rose McGinty over on my “Celebrating Indie Publishing” post at the beginning of March and was so intrigued by the sound of her book I knew I needed to read it as soon as I could.

The reader is plunged into a tale of an adventure almost instantly when they encounter Aisling heading to the Gulf to start a new job and a new life.  But things aren’t as easy as she hopes, life doesn’t run as smoothly in the desert and danger lurks in the shadows.

The reader is submersed in such authentic and realistic surroundings, the details that Rose McGinty pours into her writing are absolutely amazing.  I felt that I could smell the fragrances, feel the intensity of heat, taste the sand that surrounded Aisling.  I also found the cultural details fascinating to read, the customs and traditions that are observed there were new to me and so I felt that I could take some knowledge from this book.  McGinty writes with such a flair that it is evident that she has spent a lot of time in the Middle East and understands the culture and lifestyle.

I particularly enjoyed the thriller element to this tale, the clever way that the tension was wound tighter and tighter meant that my attention was held fast.  Aisling is in a difficult position, there are people who would manipulate her at any opportunity for minimal gain, even if it were to make another person look bad.  She is also in a dangerous position as she can’t really be sure who is safe to trust.  The friendships she forms are interesting, Angie the lively Liverpudlian is one character that made me laugh and smile.  Moazah on the other hand, oh how I felt so much frustration towards this character.  The levels of manipulation and greed that this character would stoop to in order to further her own agenda were shocking.
Brian Rothmann was a character I struggled to work out initially, he seemed almost “too good to be true”, appearing to be almost too saccharine.

Trust and the lack thereof is the overarching theme in this book, and as the tension rises so too does the creeping paranoia.

For a debut novel I am considerably impressed, Rose McGinty writes with an ease that hints towards years spent writing.  Not only does she bring settings alive, but she creates characters who develop fantastically throughout the novel, creates an atmosphere that is serene yet dangerous and manages to give her readers something that shocks, entertains and delights.

A book I would absolutely recommend to others, and I can already see myself reading it again before the year is out!  It’s definitely one that will be on my list of “Top Indie Books for 2017!”

You can buy a copy of “Electric Souk” directly from the publisher here or via Amazon | Wordery

About the Author:

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Rose McGinty was born with itchy feet, which she has yet to decide is a blessing or a curse.  Certainly, surviving Hurricane Sandy, an earthquake, a spider bite, jumping 192 metres off the Sky Tower in Auckland, and nearly being arrested for inadvertently smuggling a rocket in Vietnam, make her wonder about locking up her passport.  But then, it was her adventures in the Middle East that gave her the itchy fingers to write.

Rose lives in Kent, where as well as enjoying writing short stories, flash fiction and poetry, she also paints.  She works in community health services and has worked overseas in Ireland, Canada, Sweden and the Middle East.  She completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, under the guidance of Richard Skinner, in 2015.  Electric Souk is her debut novel and Rose says of her story, ‘The parts of the story that are true, I probably wish were not; while the parts that are not, I probably wish were true.’

If you’d like to know more about Rose and her books you can check out her  website or follow her on Twitter @rosemcginty

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Published: 6 April 2017

Copy provided by Bonnier Zaffre & Netgalley

Description:

My Thoughts & Review:

Having loved “Little Bones” I was absolutely frantic to find out when book two would be published and thankfully the good folks at Bonnier Zaffre were on hand with that information as well as a review copy of “In Deep Water”.

The return of my favourite member of an Garda Síochána and her superior comes in the form of a very personal case.  Following on from the explosive events of “Little Bones” Cathy Connolly is fighting fit, she’s back at work and has returned to her beloved training in the gym, but the no show of her training partner and best friend is cause for concern that soon spirals into a full blown police investigation that will have far reaching consequences for many. 

With this case being of such a personal nature, this allows Sam Blake the opportunity to give readers a wonderfully in-depth look at Cathy.  The exploration of this character builds upon the knowledge from the first book, and so the development means that readers see a new side to this character.  This coupled with the way in which her PTSD is detailed really show a vulnerable side of her, and gives insight into the importance of relationships for her.  The stability that O‘Rourke brings to their relationship is key to her survival, almost like her guardian angel…albeit one that’s pleasing on the eye.  This book did nothing to dampen my crush on this fictional character…..
The importance of her relationship with Sarah Jane is also vital, the cornerstone of their friendship is another stabilising factor in her life and the motivation that Cathy needs to track Sarah Jane down.

A complex and rich plot masterfully weaves together from several separate strands throughout this novel, culminating in quite possibly one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year.  The suspenseful narrative drives the reader to keep reading (even if it means they end up burning the supper), and with so many clever deceptions in plain sight it’s hard not to feel a “facepalm” moment when certain revelations are uncovered, I certainly found that I was so wrapped up enjoying the thrilling tale that I didn’t guess what was coming.

Whilst this book can be read as a stand alone, there is ample detail given to keep readers informed about what has happened previously as well as give readers a good grasp of characters and their relationships, I think this is a series that should be read and enjoyed from the start where possible.  Sam Blake has given fans of the series a treat with this latest instalment, has definitively answered certain points that may have seemed unanswered at the end of book one, and has opened up some fantastic options for where Cathy Connolly could go next.

You can buy a copy of “In Deep Water” via Amazon here or via Wordery here

 

About the Author:

Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the hugely popular national writing resources website Writing.ie. She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication. Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book.

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