Blog-Tour: House of Spines by Michael J. Malone

spines

Today is my stop on the Blog-Tour for the fabulous House of Spines by Michael J. Malone. Be prepared to be drawn in by this eerie mystery and you may even start to wonder about reality, dreams and hallucinations.What is real and what is taking place in his darkest corners of his mind?

About the Author

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Follow @michaelJmalone1 on Twitter or facebook.com/themichaeljmalonepage

Visit mjmink.wordpress.com

Buy The House of Spines

About the book

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman…

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

Buy The House of Spines

Review

Imagine not only inheriting a whole house and the kind of library every bookworm dreams of, imagine inheriting a lifetime of secrets and lies too.

Ran seems to be pleased, and yet at the same time unnerved by Newton Hall. The question is whether his gut instinct is warning him about some danger in the house or are his mental health issues starting to reappear now that he is off his medication. Instead of enjoying being the man of the manor he seems to be looking over his shoulder and jumping at shadows.

I’m just saying I wouldn’t be displeased if someone decided to give me a huge house with a massive library filled with books. I wouldn’t mind putting up with all the weird spooky stuff, the passive-aggressive relatives and the leftover staff from the Adams Family.

Newton Hall has secrets hidden in the walls and in the mirrors. The kind of secrets that haunt and torture people, especially the guilty. Ran is starting to unravel the mysteries or are they starting to slowly unravel him. He is losing his grip on reality, drifting back and forth from moments of lucidity and nightmare scenarios.

Mental health issues play a pivotal role in the plot, which is done in a subtle and a realistic way. The author manages to portray the illness and the way society, and loved ones react to the illness. The constant suspicion, doubt and lack of trust is a constant factor on both sides.

Malone invites the reader into his little shop of horrors and let’s them wrestle with the question of whether the nightmare is real or just the meanderings of a sick man. House of Spines may have a gothic feel to it, but it also has the interesting aura of a Hammer Horror. Some readers might not remember Hammer, however they were renowned for evoking an eerie and haunting sense of horror. The kind of hair on the back of your neck creepy you never quite forget.

The house will drag you in and may not let you go again, well at least not until she gets what she wants.

Buy House of Spines at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Visit orendabooks.co.uk  Follow @OrendaBooks

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The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

the word is murderIf you have read the Magpie Murders by Horowitz then this book won’t seem at all bizarre or unusual. He is an author who likes to think outside the box. His plots are wee bit like Conan Doyle does Schrödinger’s Cat in the form of a murder mystery. While I’m on the subject it is worth mentioning that in 2011 the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle gave Horowitz the official endorsement to write a continuation of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

The Word is Murder more or less features Anthony Horowitz as himself in the main role. It is an interesting way to approach a crime story. I’m sure readers will start to wonder how much is fiction and how much of the actual crime story is fact.

It isn’t until Horowitz actually mentions a few of his accolades that you realise just how accomplished and successful he is. In this scenario his diminishes his success, and plays with the fact he has prominent contacts.

A woman walks into a funeral parlour to plan and arrange her own funeral, and a few hours later she is ready to use the coffin she just bought. Is it just a huge coincidence or did someone end her life prematurely? Well the cord around her neck speaks volumes.

Horowitz is unaware of this particular event until an ex-police detective asks him to write a book about the murder with himself starring as the savvy detective. Horowitz finds it hard to work with this eccentric, obstinate and yet very observant detective, however he can’t help but be pulled into the intriguing story that unfolds in front of him. Hawthorne is like a grumpy Columbo with Sherlock’s deductive skills.

I enjoyed it, just like I really enjoyed the Magpie Murders, because the author isn’t afraid to mix it up and challenge his readers. Thinking outside of the crime and mystery schemata to create unusual and yet captivating reads. The word is murder, but in this case the word is also Horowitz and Hawthorne are the new Watson and Sherlock.

Buy The Word is Murder at Amazon uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @AnthonyHorowitz  @penguinrandom

Visit anthonyhorowitz.com

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

did you see melodyI do appreciate a story with a few hard facts or home-truths.The only downside is that I tend to want to go on about it when an author makes a particularly valid point.

We live in an era where the majority of media outlets is no longer focused on reporting the truth or any semblance of it. Instead fiction becomes fact, fame and notoriety are more important than reporting what really happened. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of celebrity.

The 21st century has seen the rise of TV showmen and women, as opposed to the revered journalists of the 20th century. Nancy Grace is a great example of this gaudy and dangerous phenomenon, and one that is mentioned in the story.

The character of Bonnie Juno is based on the Nancy Grace types of sensationalistic journalism. The facts are twisted to suit the narrative of whomever they have picked to be the target of the day. Interviews become as twisted as twizzlers and as sticky as a fly trap.

In this scenario the guilty party is discovered and proven guilty by trial via public opinion. In the end it doesn’t matter whether there isn’t enough evidence to prove they did it, because the TV viewers have already been told they are guilty. This anything but objective opinion continues on through to the courtroom.

Cara has decided to escape reality and the uncomfortable stress at home by treating herself to a few days in a five star spa hotel in the US. The tired and upset Cara accidentally stumbles upon a man and young girl, only to find out the next day that the young girl in question has been dead for quite a few years. Did she imagine it, is someone having a laugh or is it just a case of mistaken identity? Did she see Melody?

What emerges from this one simple question is a myriad of crimes and even more unanswered questions. Guilt isn’t a clear concept in this story. Would you commit a crime to prevent another? Do you believe the court of public opinion instead of checking all the available facts? Do two wrongs make a right?

I’m sure this story will make readers wonder about the choices they would make if confronted with the same situation. Begs the question whether, in a world full of police states and dictatorships, some of us have to be strong enough to be vigilantes, because the justice systems fails victims on a regular basis.

It’s a read that gives plenty of food for thought.

Buy Did you see Melody at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @sophiehannahCB1 @Hodderbooks

Visit sophiehannah.com #ISawMelody

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase

audrey wildeEve Chase has a thing for old houses and families, so it isn’t a surprise that this story has Applecote Manor smack bang in the middle of the plot. Everything is woven around the families who inhabit or used to inhabit this house.

Chase creates a very nostalgic atmosphere, which is part of the charm of this book. The story wanders from past to present, and the chapters in the past are especially good. They evoke a sense of familiarity, warmth and belonging. The reader basks in the sun next to the river and feels the cool water as the girls swim in the river.

Throughout the book there is a sense of a presence watching over every event and word. Audrey Wilde is as much a part of the story, as her disappearance is.

Although this is in every sense of the word a mystery it is also a book about identity and coming of age. It is also a story about non-typical families. The patchwork family of the present is also haunted by their very own personal ghost. In fact the ghosts need to be laid to rest for both families to finally get some peace.

One day Audrey Wilde suddenly vanishes into thin air, and the mystery of her disappearance is something that her cousin Margot never really gets over. At a time when everyone else has accepted the possibility they may never find out the truth, Margot is almost obsessed with discovering what happened to her.

I loved the feel of this story, especially everything about Margot and her sisters. I thought that element of the story was strong enough for the plot without adding Jessie and her family to the mix. I also thought it was intriguing how the crime element never overshadowed the rest of the story, despite it being the thread that held everything together.

The truth isn’t pretty at all, and perhaps that cold breath of brutality should have changed the whole feeling of the story, but it didn’t. It remains a charming tale until the end.

Buy The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde at AmazonUK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @evepchase @MichaelJBooks

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

lyinggameIsa, Kate, Thea and Fatima share an unusual bond. A friendship forged through the common denominator of being shoved off to boarding school. During their time at school the four of them keep themselves amused with what they call the Lying Game. Nothing is too outrageous or cruel, which is probably why decades later their fellow school chums still believe a lot of lies or are still hurt by them.

When one of them calls for help the others come running straight away, like anyone in a really close friendship would…right? Hello, this is the real world. Dropping anything at the drop of a hat only happens in the movies or when there is a completely different reason. They share the kind of secret that destroys lives. That is the real reason.

The story wanders from past to present, giving the reader a glimpse of the girls as teens and in the present as women. They have families, careers and responsibilities. There is not much left of the foolish and carefree youngsters, who bathed in the warmth of the sun and skinny-dipped in the cool water near Kate’s house.

The truth is buried beneath the subconscious desires, the careless youth and lack of boundaries they all shared.

Ware always manages to capture the intimate emotional depths of each character without making them appear what they are, which is a figment of her imagination. It is what draws the reader in and keeps them wanting more. This is especially evident with Isa and Freya. The moments between the two of them are spot on, as are the descriptions of Isa and her bond with Freya, and her constant doubts.

Running simultaneously alongside the mystery is a breakdown and analysis of Isa’s romantic relationship and the way it has changed since Freya appeared on the scene. Although the sub-plot was only a catalyst or platform for certain other scenes in connection with the main plot I felt the last chapter, indeed the last sentences, spoke the loudest and most poignant words about relationships in general.

Buy The Lying Game at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Visit ruthware.com Follow @RuthWareWriter

Read The Woman in Cabin 10

The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

Aside from being a Sunday Times top ten bestseller The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent has also been picked as a Richard and Judy Book Club Autumn Pick. So let’s give a little bit of well-deserved bookworm love to both Kent and the book.

About the author

Christobel Kent was born in London in 1962 and now lives in Cambridge with her husband and four children; in between she lived in Florence. She worked in publishing for several years, most recently as Publicity Director at Andre Deutsch. Her debut novel A Party in San Niccolo, was published in 2003.

About the book

Fran Hall and her husband Nathan have moved with their two children to a farmhouse on the edge of the Fens – a chance to get away from London and have a fresh start.

But when Fran wakes one night to find Nathan gone, she makes a devastating discovery. As questions about her husband and her relationships start to mount, Fran’s life begins to spiral out of control.

What is she hiding from the police about her marriage, and does she really know the man she shared her bed with?

Review

It is certainly planned out meticulously. Right to the very end, I certainly cannot fault Kent for that, and aside from a few blips it is a good read. Saying that, the beginning is a wee bit confusing and the random mention of the secret society was superfluous.

Fran lives a seemingly happy rural life with her two children and her somewhat distant husband. Everything appears to be perfectly normal until one evening she awakes to find her husband dead. The police find some bizarre inconsistencies in her statement, which places her firmly on their radar.

Kent has managed to weave quite a few hot topics in here, in particular one that has been in the media for the last few years. Without giving away part of the plot, all I will say is that the police and other investigative services charged with solving crime and protecting the public, often overstep the boundaries of what is deemed necessary. Leaving innocent victims and unknown emotional casualties in their wake.

Another element of the story is the blatant misogyny, sexism and sexual harassment in the police force. Regardless of whether it happens to fellow police officers or to suspects and/or victims. Ali is the Family Liaison Officer and finds herself harassed, insulted and black-balled by the men she works with. It isn’t anything personal, because they do it to every skirt on the force. If you say anything you find yourself marked as an informant, and if you keep quiet the abuse gets worse.

This misogyny is also in play in the investigation into Nathan’s death. It’s as if the police refuse to see any other person as a suspect other than Fran. Left with no other option she decides she wants to know the whole truth. No matter how dirty or terrifying.

It is a slow-burner with quite a few twists and turns, and Kent manages to keep it interesting until the end.

Buy The Loving Husband at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You can win a signed copy of The Loving Husband by retweeting this tweet or commenting below. The winner will be contacted after the 8th of December. Good Luck!

Murder on the Serpentine by Anne Perry

serpentine_hb_frt_v5rgbI felt as if Perry has finally got some of her mojo back. There were a few books in between that were sub-par from a Perry standard. I am happy to say that this one reminded me a lot of the first Pitt books.

I have to say I do find it a little bit of a contradiction where Pitt ends up. Part of the pull was always his being an underdog and his constant conflict with the elitist attitudes of the upper echelon.

On top of that Pitt has become more ruthless and often crosses the line. Again quite unusual for the man who prides himself on being the conscience of the entire British nation. Sorry, but Pitt can sit a bit high on his moral horse sometimes.

What has remained the same is the way Charlotte hovers between upstairs and downstairs. Telling herself and everyone around her that being part of the upper echelon and the ton isn’t what she secretly enjoys. You can be happy downstairs and still want to be part of upstairs.

I have to say Perry really does have the conversations, interactions and lifestyles of the ton down to a fine art. I would find it incredibly tiresome to watch every single word I say, just in case I offend someone. Having to wear the newest of new and abide by the strict rules of the hypocritical elite. Perry knows exactly what kind of fine nuances tend to cause ripples in society.

This is very much a return to the Pitt and Charlotte I enjoy.The Victorian Murder Mystery Perry is known for and excels at.

Buy Murder on the Serpentine at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.