#BlogTour The Birthday Girl by Sue Fortin

The Blog-Tour for The Birthday Girl by Sue Fortin has been a whirlwind so far and I am stoked to be a part of it. It is a an excellent read with a spectacular plot. Fortin has a wicked imagination with an eye for the unusual and the courage to put it to good use.

About the Author

Published by Harper Collins’ imprint Harper Impulse, Sue Fortin writes mystery, suspense and romance. Sue is a member of both the Crime Writers’ Association and The Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Sue is a USA Today and an Amazon UK #1 best selling author, with The Girl Who Lied and Sister Sister both reaching #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Translation rights for both novels have been sold worldwide.

Lover of cake, Dragonflies and France. Hater of calories, maths and snakes. Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex.

Sue is married with four children, all of whom patiently give her time to write but, when not behind the keyboard, she likes to spend her time with them, enjoying both the coast and the South Downs, between which they are nestled.

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About the book

Dear Carys, Zoe and Andrea,

Come and join me for my fortieth birthday adventure weekend, full of mysteries and surprises the like of which you can’t imagine.

When Joanne’s friends reluctantly accept an invitation to her birthday party, it quickly becomes clear that there is more to this weekend than they are expecting. One of them is hiding a secret. And Joanne is planning to reveal it…

A weekend away in a cottage in the woods sounds like fun – until no one can hear your cries for help.

Four friends.

A party to die for. 

Who will survive?

Q&A

Can you please tell us a bit about The Birthday Girl? The Birthday Girl is about four women who have been friends for some time, but recently things have been strained between them for one reason and another. One of the women, Joanne, decides to throw a surprise birthday weekend away for the four of them but it soon becomes apparent that clearing the air is not on the birthday wish list. In fact, Joanne has something rather more unsettling planned.

The Birthday Girl is gripping, and also quite scary at times, despite being set in an idyllic cottage in the country. What do you think it is about the countryside that creates such a sense of fear? Town and city life is very much man-made, the infrastructure has been thought out carefully so people can benefit the most, it’s organised and there are lots of rules. In the countryside this is much less apparent, especially somewhere like the Scottish countryside where nature is the dominant force and outside our control.

The Birthday Girl also deals with secrets and the effect they have on friendship, what made you want to exploit those themes? Friendships are complicated and have many, many layers to them. My family moved around quite a lot as I was growing up, so every 3 years or so, I had establish new friendships. As I got older and hit my teens, I found this to be quite a challenge. As an adult and since having children, I’ve found that friendships come in tranches, depending on your circumstances, what you’re doing, what your priority is at that particular time. Some are quite transient whilst others can be lasting. Some friendships are rock solid and others, when you scratch the surface, have underlying tensions. It’s a totally fascinating theme to explore.

What’s currently on your reading list? Hundreds! I wish I could read faster. I’m actually reading a proof copy of ‘White Bodies’ by Jane Robins at the moment. I’m only a few chapters in but it’s got my attention already. Then I’ve promised myself ‘A Stranger’s House’ by Clare Chase and then ‘The Dry’ by Jane Harper. After that it will be around Christmas time, so I’ll treat myself to a few Christmas feel-good reads, Sue Moorcroft’s ‘The Little Village Christmas’ being one of them.

What would be your ideal birthday party? Going to someone else’s! I can honestly say, I’ve never had a birthday party of my own in my life and the thought of being the centre of attention makes me shudder. So, I suppose, my ideal party would be just my husband and children at home or in our cottage in France.

Review

My first thought when I finished this book was oh wow that’s so messed up, but in a this author has a knack for the twisted psychological fast-paced compelling read I really enjoy way.

Carys, Zoe and Andrea are invited by their friend Joanne to celebrate her birthday. Nothing strange about that until you take a closer look. The truth is each one of the invited girls seems to have some underlying issues with Joanne, so the invitation is a bit of a surprise. Her behaviour has been passive-aggressive and her running commentary quite snarky. The kind of snarky that makes you wonder if the woman is having a laugh or having a go.

One of them is hiding a secret from the others and Joanne plans to reveal it in a way they will least expect it. Perhaps Joanne has underestimated the lengths some people will go to, to keep their secrets hidden from the rest of the world. She feels like the cat that got the cream and is acting as if she has the power to do anything she wants, especially in the bizarre location she has chosen to celebrate her birthday.

Needless to say the best laid plans go completely awry and set a sequence of events in motion that are both bizarre and often inexplicable. Behind every door hides a different danger and behind each supposedly friendly face a potential threat.

Within the plot there is a focus on Carys and her personal story. It takes a peculiar and menacing turn a la being chased by an inner madness, and hearing whispers on par with the devil himself sitting on top of her shoulder. What is she hiding and why?

If there is anything you can expect from The Birthday Girl then it is to expect the unexpected. It has a subtle sinister feel to it. Just when you think you have it figured out Fortin throws a wrench in the middle of your theory. There is an intentional or perhaps completely unintentional clue smack bang in the middle of the book, which points towards the guilty party, but hey my lips are sealed.

It’s a compelling rule-breaker of a story. Fortin will make you question every detail you think you know and leave you with more unanswered questions than you started with. If you’re looking for a rollercoaster read then you have picked the right book, just keep in mind that it might send you full throttle into a cloud of doubt. Exactly the way I like it, I might add.

Buy The Birthday Girl at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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Blog-Tour: Ice Lake by John A. Lenahan

It’s my stop on the Blog-Tour for Ice Lake by John Lenahan. Be prepared to be entertained by his amusing and sharp-witted characters, and his environmentally driven assiduous crime story.

About the Author

John Lenahan is a popular TV magician who toured with Jack Dee, Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood. He starred on a prime time BBC1 TV show, had his own BBC2 series, and was the voice of the toaster in ‘Red Dwarf’.

His fantasy trilogy Shadowmagic, an award-winning podcast that received over 100,000 downloads, was published by HarperCollins and sold over 70,000 copies across all editions.

Ice Lake is his debut crime novel, the first in a new series featuring psychologist Harry Cull.

Read more about John Lenahan and his books

Follow @johnlenahan @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK

About the book

An electrifying debut crime novel and the first in a new series featuring psychologist Harry Cull.

An abandoned body…

Deep in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the body of a man is found – shot three times, dumped under the trees where the local kids will find him.

A haunted psychologist…

Psychologist Harry Cull, tormented by his past, arrives in the picturesque town of Ice Lake to help with the murder investigation. There he unravels a web of lies and deceit that leads to the dark heart of a community torn apart by fracking, drugs and murder.

A desperate killer…

It’s not long before the second corpse turns up, this time a lawyer left for dead in the forest, and Harry finds himself on the trail of a twisted killer – who will do anything to keep the town’s darkest secrets buried.

Review

Harry Cull is not only a trained polygraph examiner and psychologist, he is also a wee bit of a human lie detector. He can read his fellow humans like books. He also isn’t very subtle about telling them what he can read in their faces, voices and body language. His very direct approach often leads him into some uncomfortable and often contentious situations.

The interactions between Harry and Todd are especially funny, although Harry and Edward Cirba come a close second as a comedy duo. It is this light-hearted touch that makes the story flow in a way that distracts the reader from the dangerous elements of the story. It almost lulls them into believing it is safe.

Hidden behind the dry humour and sharp observational skills is a world of pain. Harry has been dealing with a personal tragedy. The kind of tragedy you don’t recover from. His personal problems make him a little bit paranoid when it comes to connecting the dots in perhaps completely unrelated crimes.

The author also tackles the issue of fracking, which is an important hot topic at the moment. He does this in a way even laymen can understand both sides of the argument. This definitely applies to the ‘loophole’ that was created, so fracking companies can get away with not only contaminating the water supply, but also being able to dispose of waste illegally in a completely legal way.

Lenahan infuses his crime with his very own brand of banter and wit. Sarcastic tongue lashings and cheeky comments are plentiful in this crime story driven by environmental topics. The author plays with the idiosyncrasies and eccentricities of small town people in a way that is beneficial to both the characters and the story. I always enjoy walking away from a read with the feeling that I have added to my pot of knowledge.

Buy Ice Lake at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @johnlenahan @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK

A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood

a room full ofAre some people born evil? A few of these kids may make you wonder about that question. Starling House is full of the worst type of offenders. Children who choose to torture, harm and even kill.

Unfortunately they all tend to end up in the same place, especially if they are still minors. It’s certainly debatable whether certain individuals should be allowed to associate with each other, and in doing so are perhaps more likely to encourage more criminal behaviour.

What makes this such a dark read is the fact these killers do exist. Children who commit the most heinous of crimes. The character profiles sail fairly closely to reality and real crimes. Killers with the faces of cherubs, but the minds of deviants.

DCI Matilda Darke is distracted by one of these young boys, to the point of endangering members of her team. She is almost obsessed by the thought one of the delinquents could actually be innocent.

The cynic in me wanted to shake her a little and remind her how manipulative some of these young boys can be. Has she been blinded by the cute face and the young age or perhaps been misguided by her own gut instinct? Killers can be highly intelligent and persuasive.

Wood has created a solid enjoyable main character in Matilda Darke. Much like the plot, she is unpredictable, but driven by her strong sense of justice and her instincts. It is sometimes an uncomfortable read, and yet also a compelling one.

Buy A Room Full of Killers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @MichaelHWood

The Santiago Sisters by Victoria Fox

santiagoThe bond between sisters is supposed to be strong, so the bond between twin sisters should be unbreakable, right? The truth is that the sisterly bond can also cause the kind of powerful emotions that can make or break a relationship.

Calida and Tess are close and yet at the same time they are worlds apart. Tess is like a wild caged bird trying to break free from the restraints of her environment and her upbringing.

Calida is the exact opposite, she is happy in her environment barring the fact her mother acts as if she doesn’t exist, but at least her father thinks she can walk on water. She feels second best to the absolutely stunning Tess, whereas she is merely just pretty.

The supposed inequality between the two of them leads to a parting of ways and years of built-up resentment.

The sisters make their separate ways into the world of the rich and famous. One of them behind the scenes and the other in the spotlight. Jealousy, anger and spite drives the two of them, which keeps them from building lasting and meaningful relationships. Whether they know it or not they miss each other and their special bond.

Fox writes with the same panache, glitz and glam of Jackie Collins. She also likes to mix up family and Hollywood dramas with more than a pinch of sensual spice. Her characters are not exactly coy.

If you’re looking for a read that caters for readers that like their books heavy on the drama, with a hefty portion of the horizontal tango and interwoven with strong emotions, then this is the type of book I would recommend.

Buy The Santiago Sisters at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.