#Blogtour Still Water by Rebecca Pert

 A little late, and just catching the tail end of this fabulous Blogtour – it’s my turn to talk about  Still Water by Rebecca Pert.

About the Author

Rebecca Pert was born in 1990, the youngest of four siblings. She grew up in a small town in Devon before attending Cardiff University, where she received an MA in Creative Writing. Rebecca was the winner of the first Cheltenham Festival First Novel Competition in 2018. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, son and dog. Still Water is Rebecca’s first novel. Follow @Rebecca_Pert, Visit linktr.ee/rebeccapert

About the book

When Jane Douglas returns to the Shetland Islands, she thinks she has escaped the dark shadows of her childhood. She carves out a simple life on the bleak, windswept island, working at the salmon fishery and spending quiet evenings at home. And for the first time in her life, she’s happy.

Then the body of Jane’s long-missing mother is found in a flooded quarry. Her mother disappeared when Jane was a teenager, following the death of Jane’s baby brother. Jane has spent her life running from her past, living in fear that she has inherited her mother’s demons. Now, Jane must face what actually happened on that fateful, tragic day twenty years ago…

Review

I think it’s safe to say Jane lives in a bubble of self-motivated confinement, due to her past trauma. She carefully navigates the world by engaging at the bare minimum with her surroundings. Her work, her lover and her neighbour. Never too close.

The bubble starts to deteriorates when a cold blast from the past brings all the trauma back to the present, and Jane finds it increasingly hard to cope. The body of her missing mother brings everything to the point of teetering on the edge.

For me the core of this premise is the way women are perceived, judged and ultimately treated according to certain misconceptions. The go-to language and judgement always veers towards the negative and the dark side. It’s important to keep that in mind, especially when it comes to Jane’s mother.

Also, even after so many decades and more understanding surrounding women, childbirth, and the subsequent experience of motherhood – there are still plenty of misunderstood areas when it comes to the aforementioned and women’s health in general. Still very much second class citizens, who are fobbed off as hysterical, weak, emotional and misdiagnosed. 

This is a poignant reminder of all of the above, whilst simultaneously speaking truth and why it is always a matter of individual subjective perception when it comes to the often difficult relationships between mothers and daughters. It’s a remarkable read.

Buy Still Water at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: The Borough Press pub date 23rd June 2022 | Hardback, eBook and audio £14.99. Buy at Amazon com.  

#BlogTour The Safe House by Louise Mumford

It’s my turn on the Blogtour The Safe Place by Louise Mumford.

About the Author

Louise was born and lives in South Wales. From a young age she loved books and dancing, but hated having to go to sleep, convinced that she might miss out on something interesting happening in the world whilst she dozed – much to her mother’s frustration! Insomnia has been a part of her life ever since.

She studied English Literature at university and graduated with first class honours. As a teacher she tried to pass on her love of reading to her students (and discovered that the secret to successful teaching is… stickers! She is aware that that is, essentially, bribery.) 

In the summer of 2019 Louise experienced a once-in-a-lifetime moment: she was discovered as a new writer by her publisher at the Primadonna Festival. Everything has been a bit of a whirlwind since then. 

Louise lives in Cardiff with her husband and spends her time trying to get down on paper all the marvellous and frightening things that happen in her head. Follow @louise_mumford on Twitter

About the book

She told you the house would keep you safe. She lied. – Esther is safe in the house. For sixteen years, she and her mother have lived off the grid, protected from the dangers of the outside world. For sixteen years, Esther has never seen another single soul.

Until today. – Today there’s a man outside the house. A man who knows Esther’s name, and who proves that her mother’s claims about the outside world are false. A man who is telling Esther that she’s been living a lie. Is her mother keeping Esther safe – or keeping her prisoner?

Review

Esther can barely remember a time before the isolation, the bubble and the extreme fear. A fear of the world around her and especially of the outside – the air that can and will kill her given half the chance. Luckily she has a mother who fights ferociously for her daughter’s safety, health and life.

The innate trust she has in her mother, the woman who puts her safety above all else, slowly starts to crumble. Living in a bubble in isolation for the majority of her living years, well it means she can only judge and make decisions based on the information she has at this moment in time. It’s the difference between life and death for Esther, right?

It is until Esther starts to question the world around her, and her eyes are opened to some inconsistencies. Perhaps it’s time to face up to her fears and take small steps in the right direction or straight in the direction of death.

It’s an interesting doomsday scenario, which isn’t that farfetched in our day and age. There are plenty of people living off-grid and keeping loved ones isolation in the hopes of keeping them safe. The question is whether they are right to do so or in this case have the right to make those decisions for the more vulnerable.

Buy The Safe House at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: HQ Digital pub date 12 May 2022. Buy at Amazon com. 

#Blogtour Tell Me Your Lies by Kate Ruby

It’s my turn on the Blogtour Tell Me Your Lies by Kate Ruby.

Inspiration for the novel

Tell Me Your Lies was partly inspired by the true story of practicing therapist Anne Craig who was accused of tearing a number of young women apart from their high profile families. Craig was reported to have set herself up as a ‘spiritual healer’ with no formalised qualifications or professional supervision. 

Using highly unconventional methods such as dream analysis, Craig encouraged her clients to recover memories of past traumas and cut contact with their parents. In one of her most notorious disputes, the family of heiress Victoria Cayzer had Craig arrested and investigated (no charges were brought). Their daughter remained under Craig’s thrall, giving up her trust fund and refusing to resume contact with her family.

Kate has extensively explored therapy herself – via both conventional and unconventional modalities – and weaves these experiences into Tell Me Your Lies.

(Author pic – credit Simon Annand)

About the Author

Kate Ruby is a producer and screenwriter, with a highflying career in television. Tell Me Your Lies, a psychological thriller, is her debut novel and is currently in development for a major TV show. As an executive producer for drama, she spent a decade at the BBC, working on shows including Spooks and Being Human. Currently Head of Television for a global production company, she has worked on major Netflix shows including Watership Down, Traitors and The English Game. She has recently worked on the BBC/HBO adaptation of JP Delaney’s bestselling thriller The Girl Before, starring Gugu Mbatha Raw and David Oyelowo. Follow @katerubybooks on Twitter

About the book

You think she wants to help. You’re wrong. – Lily Appleby will do anything to protect the people she loves. She’s made ruthless choices to make sure their secrets stay buried, and she’s not going to stop now.

When her party-animal daughter, Rachel, spins out of control, Lily hires a renowned therapist and healer to help her. Amber is the skilled and intuitive confidante that Rachel desperately needs. But as Rachel falls increasingly under Amber’s spell, she begins to turn against her parents, and Lily grows suspicious.

Does Amber really have Rachel’s best interests at heart or is there something darker going on? Only one thing is clear: Rachel is being lied to. Never quite knowing who to believe, her search for the truth will reveal her picture-perfect family as anything but flawless.

Review

Trace the lie to its source – but what if the entire premise, ergo the source is based on a falsehood. What if you base your entire existence, traits, personality and actions on the words and memories of others. Specifically when the source is someone you trust implicitly. Why would someone entrusted with your care and wellbeing try to skew the way you and others perceive yourself.

What if the person you trust with your most intimate and inner feelings had something other than your health and sanity in mind. If they used their control, power and knowledge to steer you in a specific direction?

The inspiration, and indeed the reality of faux professionals, wellbeing and therapy gurus or fully certified professionals who aren’t capable of leaving their bias and personal agendas out of their work life – what a deep well of abuse and manipulation to draw from.

I think for me the actual core of the plot was the relationship between Rachel and her mother. The way two people can have such differing views about the same experience, especially when it comes to childhood. There is the issue of subjective views and different frame of references, but in this case the differences cement the negative opinions of one and allow for a sliver of doubt for the other.

It’s a dark domestic thriller, one that could have gone two ways – the twisted thriller it is, and the family relationship dynamics, which in itself is worthy of a solitary story. Nicely done.

Buy Tell Me Your Lies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Simon & Schuster UK pub date 28 April 2022. Buy at Amazon comVia Simon & Schuster.

#BlogTour The Coffin Club by Jacqueline Sutherland

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Coffin Club by Jacqueline Sutherland

About the Author

Jacqueline (Jack) Sutherland worked in corporate PR and marketing for over twenty years and now works part time as a copywriter. A few years ago, she bought her husband a beehive for his birthday, and she draws on her knowledge of beekeeping in her debut thriller, The Coffin Club. She began writing the novel on the 2020 Faber Academy course. Jack lives in Guildford with her husband and their four boys. Follow @writerjac on Twitter

About the book

Everyone deserves a second chance. Don’t they? – After losing her husband in a car accident, leaving her permanently scarred, wealthy widow Kat Alexander moves to the countryside to start a new life. Mourning not only her husband, but her last chance of motherhood, Kat is distraught.

Encouraged by her new and only friend Ginny, owner of the local animal sanctuary, Kat joins Young and Widowed, dubbed ‘The Coffin Club’ by its members.

There she meets young Spanish widower, Nico. Instantly drawn to each other, Nico seems like Kat’s perfect match. He is kind, caring, handsome, eager to settle in the UK, and most importantly, a father to five-year-old Magdalena, ‘Midge’.

This could be Kat’s shot at the one thing she has always wanted: to be a mother. But sometimes, be careful what you wish for…

Review

This is probably a less is more kind of review – to ensure the true nature of the twist and characters remain a bit of a mystery, although the blurb is a hint of what lies ahead.

Kat is still fully present in her trauma. Losing her husband and also the chance of fulfilling a dream she has had forever – it has changed her and made life difficult to cope with. A friend introduces her to a group of people who are trying to cope with similar trauma, and another door opens in her very closed door life.

I think Kat is the kind of character readers will be on the fence about – what’s wrong with having a bit of direction in life. Okay, here and there we may have a bit of collateral damage, but it might all come together in the end, and that’s the most important thing – right?

Kudos to the author for the ending – it was just right. Nice and prickly, satisfying and left open to the vast realms of further plans, err accidents. It works as a standalone, but wouldn’t it be fun to hear from Kat again in the future.

It’s a deliciously dark read with a main character who knows no boundaries when it comes to her expectations and her agenda, she plans long-term and has no regrets. What’s not to like?

Buy The Coffin Club at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Point Blank; pub date 7 April 2022 – Hardback £14.99. Buy at Amazon comAt Point Blank – One World Publications.

#BlogTour The Replacement by Melanie Golding

 It’s a pleasure to review this unexpected little gem and take part in the BlogTour The Replacement by Melanie Golding.

‘Weaving together the trademark folklore inspiration that readers loved in Little Darlings, with the procedural narrative force of a brilliant mystery, this is the excellent and unnerving new novel from Melanie Golding.’

About the Author

Melanie Golding has a master’s in creative writing from Bath Spa University. She has taught writing in prisons and institutions for young offenders, as well as music in a school for boys with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Her novel Little Darlings has been optioned for film. A full-time, registered childminder, Golding splits her time between her childminding duties and her writing. 

Follow @mk_golding on Twitter and @melaniegoldingauthor on Instagram

About the book

When a small child is found wandering alone, the local shopkeepers call the authorities immediately. Twenty minutes later, the girl’s mother turns up, panicked and distraught. It doesn’t take long to clear things up, and mother and daughter are soon reunited and sent on their way.

Miles away, the body of a man is discovered, floating in a bathtub, but the most surprising discovery of all is that he isn’t dead. Despite his injuries, he is very much alive.

Two seemingly unrelated events. But as DS Harper begins to investigate, disturbing truths start to come to light that connect the man to the mother and child, and suddenly it’s not clear where the danger truly lies. Harper must find out, and quickly. Because someone, or something, is closing in and she needs to uncover the truth before it’s too late…

Review

This wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It hooked me, reeled me in, and I loved it.

What kind of mother just leaves her toddler? A desperate one or one that changes her mind and comes back ten minutes later, by which time the police and social are involved. It takes some convincing, but eventually mother and daughter are reunited and allowed to leave.

Elsewhere DS Harper is investigating another crime, which at first glance is completely unrelated, until a connection is made between mother, child and man. A simple mystery and possible crime, becomes a taut psychological read with added element, which absolutely makes the story.

I think this is definitely becoming a trademark style of Golding, the way crime and human nature is merged with folklore and myths to create the kind of read that never quite lets you go. Merging the emotional fragility, the underlying violence, the unconditional love and the instinct for survival with the shimmer of belief we carry in our core – the result is a great story.

This is an author to watch, there is natural knack for creating tension, weaving threads and compelling storytelling.

Buy The Replacement at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ pub date 11 Nov. 2021. Buy at Amazon comAt Harper Collins.

#BlogTour The Woman in the Woods by Lisa Hall

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Woman in the Woods by Lisa Hall.

About the Author

Lisa loves words, reading and everything there is to love about books. She has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl – either that or a librarian – and after years of talking about it, was finally brave enough to put pen to paper (and let people actually read it). 

Lisa lives in a small village in Kent, surrounded by her towering TBR pile, a rather large brood of children, dogs, chickens and ponies and her long-suffering husband. She is also rather partial to eating cheese and drinking wine. Readers can follow @LisaHallAuthor on Twitter, Visit lisahallauthor.co.uk

About the book

She’s out there. Waiting for you. – When Allie moves to a quaint old cottage with her husband, it’s their dream home. Nestled in the village of Pluckley, it seems a perfect haven in which to raise their two children. But Pluckley has a reputation. It’s known as England’s most haunted village. And not long after the birth of their new son, Allie begins to notice strange things…   

 What’s the flash of white she sees moving quickly through the woods to the back of their house? And what’s the strange scratching noise from the chimney?

 As Allie discovers more about the history of their new home, she uncovers a story of witchcraft and superstition, which casts a long shadow into the present day. And not everything is as it seems. Her family might well be in danger, but it’s a danger none of them could have foreseen…

Bestseller Lisa Hall’s The Woman in the Woods is full of creeping unease and nerve-wracking tension, and will have readers on the edge of their seats…

Review

Allie has moved into a old place with a dire history she is as yet unaware of. She has a husband who is a bit of a workaholic and two young children – one of which is a new baby. She is tired, stressed and a little fed-up with people interfering with her life in general. Out of every corner the question of how she is coping is being forced upon her. 

Popping Co-codamol while you’re breastfeeding  also isn’t the done thing and certainly wouldn’t be prescribed by health professionals to a nursing mother due to the codeine, but perhaps that is indicative of the downwards spiral Allie is heading towards. The question is whether she is being pushed in that direction by malevolent forces or is there something in the world around her with nefarious intentions?

I thought this was a cracking read, especially because Hall takes you in multiple directions and as a reader you quite willingly follow where she leads you, only to be confronted with something else entirely. I have to say this story made me angry – a lot. Angry for Allie and the way she was treated. Angry at Allie for not telling people to get stuffed. 

The author delivers a great plot with an important message, and yet in the end the reader is also left with questions. Is the solution really that simple or is it just a temporary plaster? 

Buy The Woman in the Woods at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ; pub date 30 Sept. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Chateau by Catherine Cooper

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Chateau by Catherine Cooper. The twisty new thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chalet

About the Author

Catherine Cooper is a freelance journalist writing for many national newspapers and magazines, specialising in travel. She also makes regular appearances as a talking head on daytime TV. She lives in France with her husband and two teenage children.

Her debut thriller The Chalet was a top five Sunday Times bestseller and spent three weeks in the Kindle top 100. The Chateau is her second novel. 

Follow @catherinecooper on Twitter, Visit catherinecooper.net

About the book

A glamorous chateau – Aura and Nick don’t talk about what happened in England. They’ve bought a chateau in France to make a fresh start, and their kids need them to stay together – whatever it costs.

A couple on the brink – The expat community is welcoming, but when a neighbour is murdered at a lavish party, Aura and Nick don’t know who to trust.

A secret that is bound to come out… Someone knows exactly why they really came to the chateau. And someone is going to give them what they deserve.

Review

A new life under the slightly shabby interior and slightly pompous exterior of the chateau, what’s not to envy? And yet Nick and Aura have their reasons for leaving a perfect life behind, so when death comes calling they think it’s just bad luck on their part. Why would it be anything other than that?

The hook of this plot is the incident, which is vaguely referred to throughout and the details are drip fed to the readers as we get deeper into the story. It creates this kind of two-tiered experience of the characters. The before and after versions of Nick and Aura – you may find them pleasantly agreeable at first without the extra information, but the vision of the two is slowly corrupted bit by bit. 

That’s part of the draw and the fact the read has almost early 20th century life of the privileged expat about it at times. One does like to buy oneself a chateau  – purely for entertainment purposes don’t you know, right darling?

Without giving too much away about this dark domestic thriller, I think Cooper actually tackles a really valid and current topic within the darkness of the plot. How the actions of one can set a sequence of events in motion, which could have been avoided and yet ultimately ego and misinformation drive a decision towards tragedy.

Buy The Chateau at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins | pub date 2nd September 2021 | PBO Ebook AUDIO. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Secret Keeper’s Daughter by Samantha King

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Secret Keeper’s Daughter by Samantha King.

About the Author

Samantha King writes psychological suspense novels and lives in west London with her husband and two young children. Follow @SamKingBooks on Twitter

About the book

Holly Mayhew has the perfect family set-up. But when her seven-year-old daughter, Marley, begins to act strangely, refusing to speak and rushing off to hide in her room, she knows something isn’t right.

Desperate to understand why Marley has become so withdrawn, Holly creates a worry box, where Marley posts her thoughts each day.

At first, the messages seem innocent. But when Holly finds a note saying secrets make me sad, she begins to question everyone entrusted with her care… Including her family. Once the truth is out… there’s no going back.

Review

Holly is increasingly concerned about her young daughter Marley. She seems fearful, worried and has secrets. Secrets she is being asked to keep by the people who are supposed to keep her safe.

The stigma of mental health is firmly embedded in the read. Once you admit to having any kind of ill health or MH issue it will always be the go-to thing people think of when it comes handing out blame or used as an excuse for any kind of behaviour deemed unusual. Holly finds herself being gas-lit by both her husband and her sister.

Is she paranoid or is there something nefarious going on? It’s not as if she hasn’t already lived through being the scapegoat and called a liar by her family – it’s not a stretch to imagine being boxed into a similar situation again. Is her husband a threat to her child or herself? Is her sister part of some grand conspiracy?

It’s certainly an ambitious dark domestic thriller, a story of family secrets and about being stereotyped by the world and the people around you. It’s not paranoia if they are really out to get you, right? perception is absolutely everything in this story.

Buy The Secret Keeper’s Daughter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ HQ Digital pub date 10 Sept. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour A Mother Never Lies by Sarah Clarke

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Mother Never Lies by Sarah Clarke.

About the Author

Sarah Clarke is a copywriter and lives in London, UK. In 2018 she enrolled on a course with Faber Academy and fell in love with fiction, particularly the dark and twisty kind. A Mother Never Lies – out in August 2021 – is Sarah’s debut novel. Her second psychological thriller will publish in February 2022.

Follow @scwwriter on Twitter, Visit sarahclarkeauthor.com and linktr.ee/sarahclarkewriter

About the book

Some Truths Can’t Be Told. I had the perfect life – a nice house, a loving husband, a beautiful little boy. But in one devastating night, they were all ripped from me.

It’s been fourteen years, and I’m finally ready to face the past. I’m taking my son back. He just can’t know who I am…or why we were torn apart.

Review

Phoebe is searching, albeit in secret, for the person who means the most to her – her son. He was taken from her, there is no way she would willingly give up her greatest treasure. Even years later her family, the state and everyone else are convinced the two of them should be kept apart.

Phoebe is an interesting character, one who will probably divide opinions. Is she someone who refuses to acknowledge the past and her accountability, especially when it comes to her son. At the same time there is also the Phoebe who has experienced trauma, anxiety and is a victim of her own dysfunctional and neglectful childhood.

The two sides often collide, which then leads to the division. Nature vs nurture plays a major role in this premise. Born evil – inclined to certain behaviour or raised to respond to certain stimuli with specific behaviour? And more importantly if it has a genetic component is that why Ben lacks impulse control and has anger issues.

This is a really compelling domestic thriller with a psychological component. Clarke balances the story well by straddling the grey areas of this premise – some things are neither white nor black. Life is unpredictable and messy, and the victims of an inadequate system will often fall through the cracks. Everyone believes they are making the right choice for their loved ones or are they?

Buy A Mother Never Lies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ Digital pub 27 Aug. 2021. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Waterstones

#BlogTour Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena. 

‘The new unputdownable thriller from the ‘queen of the one-sit read’ and multi-million-copy bestselling author of The Couple Next Door. Her most original and twisty book to date. When an elderly couple are found murdered, could their children be responsible?’

About the Author

Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before writing fiction. Her debut thriller, The Couple Next Door, was a global bestseller, the bestselling fiction title in the UK in 2017 and has been optioned for television. Her thrillers A Stranger in the House, An Unwanted Guest, Someone We Know and The End of Her were all Sunday Times and New York Times bestsellers. Follow @sharilapena on Twitter, Visit sharilapena.com

About the book

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets – even the dead. In the quiet, wealthy enclave of Brecken Hill, an older couple is brutally murdered hours after a tense Easter dinner with their three adult children. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions? That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you’d know. Wouldn’t you?

Review

When a wealthy couple is viciously murdered their immediate family members fall under suspicion, especially the adult children they had dinner with a few hours before their death. Far from being an example of close loving relationships, the family is a snake pit of envy, desperation and a lack of genuine positive interaction.

The general vibe, both dysfunctional and malevolent, reminded me a lot of what family can disintegrate into. It’s this realistic imagery of often contentious relationships between siblings and parents that gives this read an extra bit of spice, and the ending is exactly right and on par with the malicious intent that runs through the story.

Lapena always gives readers an uncomfortable window seat into human nature. It’s not always pleasant or morally correct, but it is an honest representation of what we are capable of and the way some of us conduct ourselves. When you combine that thought with the general idea of family the majority tends to have, then it’s will be no wonder if this raises some eyebrows.

It’s a delightfully dark and menacing domestic thriller, and the author gives the story the ending this family absolutely deserves.

Buy Not a Happy Family at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Transworld Digital pub date 27 July 2021 – Bantam Press; pub date 5th August 2021 / Hardback / £14.99. Buy at Amazon com.