Happy Friday Bibliophiles! Today I’m thrilled to have the honour of taking part in the cover reveal for The House Guest, the new book from Robin Morgan-Bentley.
THEY HAVE YOUR CHILD. THEY WILL KEEP HIM SAFE. SO LONG AS YOU DO WHAT THEY SAY…
Jamie and Victoria are expecting their first baby.
With a few weeks to go, they head off for a final weekend break in a remote part of the North Pennines. The small and peaceful guesthouse is the ideal location to unwind together before becoming parents. Upon arrival, they are greeted by Barry and Fiona, the older couple who run the guesthouse. They cook them dinner and show them to their room before retreating to bed themselves.
The next morning, Jamie and Victoria wake to find the house deserted. Barry and Fiona are nowhere to be seen. All the doors are locked. Both their mobile phones and car keys have disappeared. Even though it’s a few weeks early, Victoria knows the contractions are starting.
The baby is coming, and there’s no way out.
How amazing does that sound? And I just love the eerie cover. I was a big fan of Robin’s debut novel, The Wreckage, so I’m excited to read this one.
The Guest House is out June 23rd 2022. You can pre-order it here*
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Robin Morgan-Bentley was born and grew up in London. After studying Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University, he went on to work for Google before moving to Audible, where he has been working since 2014. His debut thriller, The Wreckage, was nominated for the CWA Dagger John Creasey New Blood Award, the CrimeFest Specsavers Debut Crime Award and Capital Crime’s Debut Book of the Year Award. Robin lives in Buckinghamshire with his husband and son.
Published: September 14th, 2021 Publisher: Bookouture Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Cozy Mystery, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this lively cosy mystery. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.
When Lady Swift is invited to her old school, she walks through familiar classrooms, finds her favourite books in the library… and surely that’s not a body? Time for a lesson in murder!
Autumn, 1921. Lady Eleanor Swift is invited to her old school, St Mary’s, as a guest speaker. Her favourite teacher, Mrs Wadsworth, has asked that Eleanor talk about her intrepid travels around the globe – travelling the Silk Road by bicycle, crossing the Himalayas and even befriending the Maharaja of India. But in the circumstances, perhaps it would have been a good idea to talk about her career as a daring detective…
Because no sooner has Eleanor brushed up on her times tables then she is greeted by terrible news: Mrs Wadsworth has been murdered. Eleanor is utterly devastated but she owes it to her dearest teacher to find out who killed her and why. So, alongside Gladstone the bulldog, it’s best paw forward to track down a villain.
But when the art teacher is also found dead, Eleanor is sure someone is trying to do away with the people who taught her everything. As Eleanor delves into possible motives, she discovers a clue in the most unlikely place: her mother’s old school diary. Does the route to the murderer lie within a secret passageway her mother uncovered? Can Eleanor nail the culprit in time or is the killer coming for her next?
A totally gripping and glamorous 1920s cozy! Fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Rhys Bowen are in for a treat.
“I’ve learned that a wrongdoer never gives one reason to mistrust them until they seize the opportunity they’ve been waiting for.”
A Lesson in Murder is another entertaining adventure in the Lady Eleanor Swift series. This time the ameteur sleuth finds herself embroiled in the hunt for a killer after a body is found in the Library of St Mary’s Boarding School for Young Ladies, Eleanor’s former school. Originally there to deliver an inspirational speech to the students, she is asked to investigate when the police determine that Mrs. Wadsworth’s death was not merely a tragic accident. Officials don’t want it publically known that there’s a murder investigation, so it is decided she will poses as Boarding mistress for Holly House, stepping into the late Mrs. Wadsworth’s shoes and secretly investigating while she does so.
This series has become a real comfort read for me this year. I was late to start, beginning with book five back in March, but Verity Bright is adept at succinctly catching you up on any important information throughout the books so that you never feel lost. It means you can start this series at any time, or read just one as a standalone. But I have found myself so fond of these fun historical cosy mysteries, that every book is now an auto-read for me. In fact, I’ve already signed up for the blog tour for the next book in December.
Lady Eleanor Swift is an unorthodox woman for her time. It is unusual enough to be thirty and unmarried, but add to the fact she has travelled the world and is a part-time ameteur sleuth, and you have an unusual lady indeed. But I love her. She is a breath of fresh air; strong, feisty, determined and impetuous. I love watching her do all the things she isn’t supposed to but I did like the glimpse into her more vulnerable side in this installment. Her time at St. Mary’s was lonely and painful, and she finds all these difficult memories and emotions assail her when she’s back in its halls. But she once again has her trusty butler, Clifford, on hand to assist her. Their great dynamic and witty banter are always the highlight of these books for me.
Lively, refreshing, humorous and authentic, this quick read was just the tonic I needed between darker mysteries.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery.
I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for this book, so keep an eye out for my review the day after publication.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.
Happy Publication Day to Dark Things I Adore. I’m delighted to be celebrating publication day with an exclusive extract from this haunting novel.
Thank you to Titan books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
Audra FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2018
“That’s what I’m saying. My work should go there. Architecture of Radiance should go there.” I can hear the fight in him. The thinly veiled frustration. I’ve come to know his energies and emotions well over the many months we’ve been working together. “I’ve earned it. In all the years I’ve been here, I’ve never made it into the Polk Room at all, forget about the Warhol spot. I know there is precedent for faculty art being shown in the Polk Room. You can’t tell me there isn’t precedent.” “There is precedent, yes, but faculty art hasn’t been hung in the Polk Room in more than ten years. It just isn’t done anymore. You know that, Max. I’ve been here a long time, but so have you. You know how it works.” She sounds tired. Like this is an argument they’ve had many times before. “Trust me,” she sighs, “nearly every one of your colleagues has asked for that coveted spot. None of them will get it. It’s not personal. We have the Warhol, those few Picasso sketches in there, and the new Amy Sherold—” “I am the institute’s most renowned faculty member and artist,” Max steamrolls her, his voice echoing down the corridor. I press my fingers to my lips, amused by his pluck. “It’s my faculty picture you push to the front of our website during admissions season every year. It’s my paintings and awards and write-ups and reviews you feature in alumni newsletters. Not Okende or Grant or Fitzherbert.” I smirk. He has got some name recognition, and they use that to maximum benefit around here, it’s true. But he’s not the only one. And, to be honest, most of his notoriety is two decades behind him—and everyone knows it. Even Max. Especially Max. He was short-listed for the Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Award in 1995 and hasn’t let anyone forget about it since. Most of what he’s done since then have been…lesser versions of those evocative works. As one of my crueler classmates put it, Max is an artist somehow derivative of himself. “Max—” Switzer hisses, their voices echoing into the vacant corridor. “Stop this. You’re overstepping. We have a full roster of dazzlingly talented and well-regarded faculty here at our school. This is not the Max Durant Institute for the Visual Arts. This is the Boston Institute—” “May as well be the former, and you know it.” I have to cover my mouth to keep from laughing my astonishment out loud. My eyes dart around the empty, gaping maw of the pinned-back double doors. They must be just off to the side. I can imagine Max, hands on hips, defiant, glowering down at the petite, choppy-haired Switzer, who no doubt is giving him as weary a look as he is giving her a ferocious one. “I helped make this place what it is. I’ve been here fifteen years. Fifteen years.” “Yeah, I know how long you’ve been here, my friend. I got you the job, if you’d care to remember.” She sighs. I can imagine her rubbing the bridge of her nose, trying to ward off a growing headache. I hear her starting to move toward the exit. I spring up lightly and jog down the hall a little, leaning into a dark alcove so I can watch them unseen. What a fun bit of theatre my Max is constructing. She breaks into the hall first, followed hotly by Max. “What a fucked-up thing to say,” Max says. “You didn’t get me anything.” “You know what I mean. I’ve been here for twenty-four years, Max. I was instrumental in getting you a position here—” Max starts to growl in protest. “Which I was happy to do because you are a credit to this institution,” she says firmly but quickly, trying to head off his anger. “But this institution is also a credit to you. None of us should ever forget that.” Max runs his hand through his black hair. It’s flecked with gray and long enough to have a handsome, foppish part. He tries another tack. “Think of the renaissance this place has undergone during my tenure.” “Without a doubt. But you did not do it alone.” It’s like she’s talking to a petulant child. “But I’m why you manage to get your grubby little hands on Picassos and Warhols and Sherolds in the first place. The Polk Room has the exclusivity it has because of people like me who have worked to make this place a destination. Even you must see that!” “My grubby little hands,” Switzer growls, her voice dropping to something more secretive, angrier. “Max,” she says with barely contained rage, “we have known each other for many years. Many, many years. You are, somehow, one of my best friends. And that is the only reason I am not going to formally reprimand you. But remember yourself, man. I am the president of this school. I am your boss. So you’d better chill the fuck out.” Switzer has her laptop pressed to her side under one arm and is pointing directly in Max’s face with her other hand. Max’s jaw grinds. “If I don’t get the Warhol spot in the Polk Room in our own Boston Institute Gallery over the summer, there will be hell to pay. And you will pay it. You.” He points right at her. “Is that a threat, Max?” Switzer stands a little taller against his increasingly out-of-control tone. A wolfish smile curls onto his lips. “No, Dana. No, of course not.” His voice softens, almost seductive. An about-face. “I—” He takes a breath, shakes his head out. It relaxes his countenance, makes him handsome and almost gentle again. “I’m sorry I lost my cool.” He breathes in through his nose, puts his fists on his hips. “You’re right—we are good friends. Excellent friends. We go way back. Which is why I know you will do the right thing here—” “Max…” she groans, rubbing her eyes. “I just feel that after all this time,” he pushes on, “and after all I have meant to the school, my body of work should speak for itself. That if there were ever a time for this institution to make a gesture on my behalf, after all I have done to bring acclaim to this place, that time would be now. That gesture would be this.” The two painters and professors look at each other. Switzer softens minutely at Max’s deep-blue eyes. I know the power of those eyes, of what they can do. I barely remember to breathe. Max and I have discussed this very thing many times at this point—his work going in the Polk Room. I know what it would mean to him. A silence has fallen between them, and Switzer seems to be relenting. “It would cost you nothing,” he goes on gently. “Nothing but a little humility. Which I know for you is asking a lot.” His tone shifts sharply, venomous. Oh, Max. So close. “You know what, Max, Professor Durant, why don’t you go take a flying leap.” Switzer turns away from him and storms around the corner. She’s completely disappeared within seconds. I look at Professor Durant, astonished at what I have just so publicly witnessed. To talk to the president of the institute that way—even if they do consider themselves friends. He looks pleased with himself. I study him in this secret moment, in this hidden frame in the film reel, and I see that he is relishing the small pain he has caused her. He made her fight him, soften, and then take a sucker punch. But then the bright glimmer of pleasure on his face drops away as quickly as it came. Something stormy moves in within seconds. The pleasure of the snipe is gone. He’s left only with his failure. With that empty wall in the Polk Room. He grabs the edge of a nearby table and violently lifts and slams its legs once, twice, three times into the floor. I jump at the noise as it echoes around the hall. He lets go, sucks in air sharply between his teeth, and pulls his hand up—it must be bleeding. He sucks on the skin between his thumb and forefinger. His eyes finally fall on me. Max Durant sees me. He removes his hand from his mouth, and like a mask, slides the charming smile I have come to know so well back on his face. His brow loses its storm, his vague snarl clears. Seeing me brings him back to himself. Oh, yes, Max sees me. And I see him, too.
If that has tempted you, here is more info to whet your appetite…
Three campfire secrets. Two witnesses. One dead in the trees. And the woman, thirty years later, bent on making the guilty finally pay.
1988. A group of outcasts gather at a small, prestigious arts camp nestled in the Maine woods. They’re the painters: bright, hopeful, teeming with potential. But secrets and dark ambitions rise like smoke from a campfire, and the truths they tell will come back to haunt them in ways more deadly than they dreamed.
2018. Esteemed art professor Max Durant arrives at his protégé’s remote home to view her graduate thesis collection. He knows Audra is beautiful and brilliant. He knows being invited into her private world is a rare gift. But he doesn’t know that Audra has engineered every aspect of their weekend together. Every detail, every conversation. Audra has woven the perfect web.
Only Audra knows what happened that summer in 1988. Max’s secret, and the dark things that followed. And even though it won’t be easy, Audra knows someone must pay.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Katie Lattari [Luh-tairy] holds degrees from the University of Maine and the University of Notre Dame. Her first novel, American Vaudeville, a small indie press work, was published in 2016 and had previously been a semi-finalist in Subito Press’s annual fiction contest in 2013.
Her short fiction has been published in such places as NOO Journal, The Bend, Stolen Island, Cabildo Quarterly, Pennsylvania English, The Writing Disorder, and more. Her short story “No Protections, Only Powers” was a finalist in the Neoverse Short Story Writing Competition and later anthologized in Threads: A Neoverse Anthology.
This coming September 14, 2021, her debut thriller Dark Things I Adore will be published by Sourcebooks Landmark.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Katie now lives in Bangor, Maine, with her husband Kevin, and their cat, Alex.
Published: September 2nd, 2021 Publisher: Harper Collins UK Genre: Literary Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins UK for the gifted eBook ARC.
Five people. Five chances. One woman’s search for happiness.
Allegra Bird’s arms are scattered with freckles, a gift from her beloved father. But despite her nickname, Freckles has never been able to join all the dots. So when a stranger tells her that everyone is the average of the five people they spend the most time with, it opens up something deep inside.
The trouble is, Freckles doesn’t know if she has five people. And if not, what does that say about her? She’s left her unconventional father and her friends behind for a bold new life in Dublin, but she’s still an outsider.
Now, in a quest to understand, she must find not one but five people who shape her – and who will determine her future.
Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from modern Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and of growing into your own skin.
“They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Cecelia Ahern has done it again. Freckles is like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day: warm, comforting and uplifting. A story about finding yourself and your tribe, it was a joy to read, reminding me why she is one of my auto-buy authors.
Allegra Bird longs to fit in but has always felt like an outsider. Known as Freckles because of the freckles that scatter her arms like stars from the sky, she has moved to Dublin from her small town to make something of her life. Only it’s not going to plan. Instead of the Garda job she’d always dreamed of, she works as a parking warden. And she hasn’t mustered up the courage to fulfill her main goal since moving there. So when a stranger tells her that we are all the average of the five people we spend the most time with, it hits her right in the heart. What if you don’t have five people? Who shapes who you are then? So Allegra set out to find her five people, taking us on her journey of self-discovery.
“Even though it may feel like it, this is not where it ends. I’m not dead. I’m crushed and oozing. A smithereened Allegra Bird. You can’t fix the broken outer shell. But you can rebuild.”
Allegra is a great protagonist. As someone covered in freckles myself, I felt an instant connection with this quirky, warm and endearing young woman. She’s a lonely soul who feels like she’s on her own in the world apart from her beloved father, and thrives on rules and a rigid routine. Unfortunately, these things only serve to make her appear ‘strange’ to others and she struggles to make the connections she longs for. I think most of us know the pain of feeling like an outsider. And we all just want to fit in and find those people in life who love and accept us. Through this and that special spark that Allegra has, the author expertly creates a connection between her and the reader, making her someone you really care about. The background characters were also well written and had some interesting stories to tell. I loved her sweet and close relationship with her father, her bumpy relationship with Tristan, and thought Spanner was always entertaining when on the page.
Fresh, witty, compelling and achingly real, Freckles is a magnificent story that goes straight to your heart.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
After completing a degree in Journalism and Media Communications, Cecelia wrote her first novel at 21 years old. Her debut novel, PS I Love You was published in January 2004, and was followed by Where Rainbows End (aka Love, Rosie) in November 2004. Both novels were adapted to films; PS I Love You starred Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler, and Love, Rosie starred Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.
Cecelia has published a novel every year since then and to date has published 15 novels; If You Could See Me Now, A Place Called Here, Thanks for the Memories, The Gift, The Book of Tomorrow, The Time of My Life, One Hundred Names, How To Fall in Love, The Year I Met You, The Marble Collector, Flawed, Perfect and Lyrebird.
To date, Cecelia’s books have sold 25 million copies internationally, are published in over 40 countries, in 30 languages.
Along with writing novels, Cecelia has co-created the US ABC Comedy Samantha Who? and has created many other original TV projects.
Cecelia’s next book is a collection of 30 short stories about 30 women, titled ROAR. ROAR will be published in the UK and Ireland in Autumn 2018 by HarperCollins UK, and in Spring 2019 in the US by Grand Central Publishing.
“At the age of 19 I experienced a difficult time in my life, and as I have done since childhood and throughout my teenage years, I turned to writing to process my feelings. PS I Love You was born from my feelings of sadness, fear and loss of my identity. I poured my heart into the story of a woman suffering from grief after the loss of her husband, a woman who had hit the lowest point of her life and was struggling with both the desire and the ability to find her way out of the fog. Writing Holly’s journey helped me find my own path, writing PS I Love You brought both Holly and I to a more positive place in our lives and that is what I continue to do with my novels.
The thread that links my work is in capturing that transitional period in people’s lives. I’m drawn to writing about loss, to characters that have fallen and who feel powerless in their lives. I am fascinated and inspired by the human spirit, by the fact that no matter how hopeless we feel and how dark life can be, we do have the courage, strength and bravery to push through our challenging moments. We are the greatest warriors in our own stories. I like to catch my characters as they fall, and bring them from low to high. My characters push through and as a result evolve, become stronger and better equipped for the next challenge that life brings. I like to mix dark with light, sadness with humour, always keeping a balance, and always bringing the story to a place of hope.”
Happy Monday Bibliophiles! I’m thrilled to be starting the week by taking part in the cover reveal for an exciting debut out next Spring.
Liv has a lot of secrets. Late one night, in the aftermath of a party in the apartment she shares with two friends in Ålesund, she sees a python on a TV nature show and becomes obsessed with the idea of buying a snake as a pet. Soon Nero, a baby Burmese python, becomes the apartment’s fourth roommate. As Liv bonds with Nero, she is struck by a desire that surprises her with its intensity. Finally she is safe.
Thirteen years later, in the nearby town of Kristiansund, Mariam Lind goes on a shopping trip with her eleven-year-old daughter, Iben. Following an argument Mariam storms off, expecting her young daughter to make her own way home . . . but she never does. Detective Roe Olsvik, new to the Kristiansund police department, is assigned to the case of Iben’s disappearance. As he interrogates Mariam, he instantly suspects her – but there is much more to this case and these characters than their outer appearances would suggest.
A biting and constantly shifting tale of family secrets, rebirth and the legacy of trauma, Reptile Memoirs is a brilliant exploration of the cold-bloodedness of humanity.
Reptile Memoirs is translated into English by Alison McCullough and will be published on March 17th, 2022. You can pre-order the book here*
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Silje O. Ulstein (b. 1985) has a master’s degree in literature communication, and has previously attended the Academy of Writing and the School of Crime Writing. In 2017, she published three short stories in her debut anthology Signals . Reptile Moors is her first novel.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this moving story. Thank you to Legend Press for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.
Can we ever truly escape our past?
The Ghostlights is the poignant story of a family of Irish women who are each looking for the real meaning of home. This is a novel about family, obligation, identity and small-town life, written with deftness and sensitivity by the author of Where the Edge Is.
When a stranger checks into a family B&B – in a small village in rural Ireland – no one takes too much notice… at least until his body is found in the lake four days later.
The identity of the unknown guest raises questions for polar opposite twin sisters Liv and Marianne and their mother Ethel, all of whom feel trapped by the choices they made earlier in life. They each find themselves forced to confront their past, their present and what they really want from their future.The new novel from Gráinne Murphy, whose short fiction has been longlisted for 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award.
Can we choose to be forgotten? And just how do we want to be remembered when we’re gone? Those are the questions at the heart of this story.
Four days after checking into the B&B in Coolaroone, Fred Stille’s body is found in the lake. The discovery and mystery surrounding him forces the family that runs the B&B to evaluate their own lives and legacy in this poignant tale.
This is a story about family, home and identity that explores love, guilt, resentment and forgiveness. Beautifully written, it tackles serious issues such as alcoholism and suicide in a way that is honest but sensitive, and adds a dash of humour to lighten the mood.
Filled with very real characters who are easy to relate to, I felt like they could be any family on any street. The author explores familial relationships and the complexities surrounding them; the deep seated resentments and jealousies, the way they talk to and relate to each other and the bond they share that ultimately overcomes everything else. Narrated by Ethel, Liv and Marianne, we soon learn they are flawed women who are haunted by their personal demons. The death of a guest magnifies everything, forcing them to really look at how they can move forward instead of being held back by regret.
Set in rural Ireland, it has a great sense of place, vividly portraying the sense of community and claustrophobia of small town life. I think that it was an ideal setting for this story as immersing the reader in a place where religion, folklore and superstition are at the core of village life, adds to the atmosphere of the story. When Fred’s body is found, it impacts the entire community. They claim him as one of their own and there is a genuine outpouring of grief for this stranger. It is a reminder that we are all part of the same community and that there is kindness to be found even in the darkest of moments.
The Ghostlights is a very human story. One that I’m sure will resonate in some way with most of us. Warm, witty, compassionate and contemplative, this was an enjoyable read from a talented storyteller. I’ve enjoyed both of her books and am looking forward to seeing what she writes next.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Gráinne’s debut novel Where the Edge Is will be published by Legend Press in September 2020, with The Ghostlights to follow in 2021.
Gráinne’s stories are about family and identity, about staring life down and choosing the kind of person you want to be. Earlier novels were shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award 2019, the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair 2019, the Luke Bitmead Bursary 2016 and the Virginia Prize for Fiction 2014.
In short fiction, her story Further West placed third in the Zoetrope All-Story Contest 2018, with other stories appearing in Nivalis 2015 (Full of Grace), Irish Literary Review Issue 5 (Frank & Alfie) and RiPPLE 2016 (The Agatha Christie Bookclub).
Gráinne’s several lives to date include stints in forensic research, human resources, training, volunteering and editing. No matter what she did, it always came back to words. After spending several years struggling to eavesdrop in Belgian cafes, she now lives and writes in a gloriously rainy corner of West Cork.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.
The rain hammers the glass outside. My husband has stoked the wood burner with a fresh supply of logs, and I’ve just put a joint of beef in the oven. It’s the most clichéd Sunday afternoon ever, and it’s the most heavenly one, too. Little do I know that days later, the ash in the fire will be all that remains of us…
My perfect life…
I thought I had it all – a dream job as a doctor in small town, a stunning home and a family I adore – but that illusion shattered the moment my husband Jeremy left on a work trip and vanished without a trace. Now my son and I are all alone in the world.
My missing husband…
My best friend thinks Jeremy had an accident up in the mountains, that I’ll never see him again and need to move on. I know he loves us too much to ever abandon us, but my head is still spinning with the texts I found on his phone before he left. Did I ever really know the man I married?
The night I can’t remember…
Everything changed the night of the medical conference weeks before Jeremy disappeared. I wrack my brains for answers, but my memory goes blank after my first drink. Ever since, I’ve felt like I’m being followed and can’t explain why panic thunders in my chest every time I see my newest patient. If he’s not local to the village, then why does he seem so familiar? And so dangerous?
As I piece together the shards of what really happened that fateful evening, only one thing can possibly be true: everyone is lying, even me…
Samantha Hay is the queen of misdirection, red herrings and curveballs. And her latest book, The Trapped Wife, is just as tense and twisty as her others. And that ending? I did NOT see it coming. Not one bit. After being so sure I had it figured out she totally blindsided, leaving me with my jaw on the floor trying to figure out how on earth she’d done it yet again.
Jennifer Miller is trying to piece her life back together after the recent death of her husband in a tragic accident. The golden couple seemed to have it all. But behind closed doors was a different story, one that Jen is still trying to conceal after Jeremy’s death. She hasn’t even confided these secrets in her best friend, especially the dark secret about the night she can’t really remember; the night that echoes in her memory through fleeting flashbacks. But then one of those secrets comes back to haunt her in person and Jen finds herself in a living nightmare.
In a second timeline we meet a young, troubled boy full of dark thoughts. He forms a bond with a kindred spirit, creating a club where they fantasise about revenge on those who have hurt them. It’s all harmless fun, until one day when he decided to make the fantasies a reality. But just how are the two timelines connected? What could this troubled boy have to do with the respectable widow? I had so many suspicions and predictions, but were they right?
Ms. Hayes is one of my auto-read thriller authors. When you pick up one of her books you know you’re getting a gripping thriller and, once again, she did not disappoint. Cleverly plotted, intricately woven, and full of crazy twists, the author has filled this book with emotion, yet there is a coldness that lingers over the pages. An emptiness that doesn’t only surround the loss of Jeremy, whose presence is always felt despite his death happening before the story begins. There is a pervading atmosphere of malice and foreboding; a powder keg just waiting for a spark. And when it did, it exploded many lives in the process. I tore through the pages, not wanting to put it down or even sleep. Though I eventually forced myself to sleep at 2am and finished it the next day.
The characters are brilliantly written and compelling. There’s an increasing sense of claustrophobia as Jen’s world closes in around her, her stress and anxiety rising as she tries to stop it from crumbling even more. Scott is such a fantastic villain that he sent shivers down my spine each time he was on the page, the feelings he gave Jen radiating from the pages into my own body. He oozesmalevolenceand I had no doubt he’d stop at nothing to get what he’d set his sights on. I really liked Rhonda, Jen’s best friend. She was a great character who went out of her way to help her friend, and I was shouting at the book for Jen to just confide the truth to her so they could work together to figure things out and escape his clutches.
But nothing, and no-one, is what they seem in this twisty story. There are secrets much darker than you imagine lurking in the shadows. Revelations that will make your head spin. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, and I’m still reeling from that final twist that hit out of the blue.
Fiendishly dark, surprising and suspenseful, The Trapped Wife is a must read for any thriller lover.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Samantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.
When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.
Published: August 19th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this breathtaking thriller. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.
SOME LESSONS CAN BE DEADLY . . .
Teddy Crutcher won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant. Only you know the truth.
They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud. But no-one has seen her in a while.
They’re impressed when he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent. Even when the whispers start, saying it was murder.
You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day.
You’re sure you can prove it.
But you didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind . . .
Dark academia, deadly secrets and a dash of poison. A teacher who will do anything for his students. Entitled rich kids and their parents who will do whatever it takes to guarantee their success. But it’s all for your own good…
Samantha Downing is one of the freshest and most outstanding voices in thriller fiction today. So when I heard her latest book was dark academia and has been optioned by HBO Max and Robert Downey Jnr, I was there with bells on. As a huge fan of this author, my expectations were high, and she blew them out of the water.
Unnerving, atmospheric and intriguing, For Your Own Good is a Russian doll of a book; so many hidden layers, secrets, twists and turns just waiting to be revealed. And every time you think you have it figured out, you find something else nesting inside. Exquisitely written, cleverly crafted, and deftly told, Ms. Downing just gets better and better. She had me so transfixed that I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and felt desperate to get back to it when I wasn’t reading.
The story is told from multiple points of view, taking us inside the minds of students and teachers at Belmont Academy, a private prep school full of entitled rich students under pressure to be the best of the best. Only the elite attend. And kids find themselves caught between demanding teachers and parents who will accept nothing but the best from them. It’s for them, they are told. For their futures. So they don’t complain or argue. They endure and survive.
This is a book filled with deeply flawed characters. Even the most likeable ones are not always what they first appear to be; something darker lurking beneath the surface. They all have their masks they wear to make it through each day: whether it’s Teddy and his perfect teacher mode, Sonia telling herself that “today will be a good day” and talking herself down from her competitiveness, or Zach plastering on a smile and nodding in agreement with his parents or teachers while dying inside. They are all brilliantly written, the author once again using her skill of bringing characters to life to evoke a visceral reaction in the reader.
Our main protagonist is Teddy Crutcher. Recently crowned Teacher of the Year, Teddy is a petty, bitter man with a superiority complex. He seems to dislike everyone, thinking the worst of them, and delights in doing anything possible to pull them down or take revenge over the smallest perceived slight. But he tells himself he’s helping them, making them better people and teaching them life lessons. And he’s willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do that. Including murder. Teddy is brilliantly written. He’s instantly unlikeable, though the true depths of his villainy are hidden behind a mask of professionalism and delusion. Cold, callous and calculating, the truly frightening thing about him is that he is totally unapologetic of his actions, even proud of them, and sees himself as these people’s saviour. All while plotting their downfall and demise.
Deliciously dark, devious and menacing, the tension rises with every shocking twist in this propulsive thriller. It will make your jaw hit the floor and leave you reeling. But the author balances that with moments of dark humour and emotion that enhance the charm of this book. If you love a well-written and atmospheric thriller, then this is for you. Read it now!
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Samantha Downing is the author of the bestselling My Lovely Wife, nominated for Edgar, ITW, Macavity, and CWA awards. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel. Her second book, He Started It, was released in 2020 and became an instant international bestseller.
For Your Own Good was released on July 20, 2021. It has been optioned by Robert Downey Jr. and Greg Berlanti for HBO Max.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this outstanding legal thriller. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.
ON AN ORDINARY WORKING DAY…
Leila Syed receives a call that cleaves her life in two. Her brother-in-law’s voice is filled with panic. His son’s nursery has called to ask where little Max is.
YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE…
Leila was supposed to drop Max off that morning. But she forgot.
Racing to the carpark, she grasps the horror of what she has done.
IS ABOUT TO COME TRUE…
What follows is an explosive, high-profile trial that will tear the family apart. But as the case progresses it becomes clear there’s more to this incident than meets the eye…
A gripping, brave and tense courtroom drama, Next of Kin will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final, heart-stopping page.
Next of Kin examines a truly devastating tragedy: the accidental death of a child caused by his loving aunt. She claims she forgot he was in the back of the car but the prosecution says she left him there deliberately. Who is telling the truth?
Authors take note, because THIS is how you write a gripping legal thriller. Once again, Abdullah takes a shocking crime and puts a thought-provoking spin on things. This trope is proving to be her signature and forte; executed to perfection each time as she makes you ponder the grey areas of a crime, holds you hostage in breathless anticipation, and throws in some shocking twists.
The book opens with a normal family get together that quickly gives way to crushing and heartbreaking scenes as three-year-old Max dies after being left in a hot car by his Aunt, Leila. As we learn his fate the pain and anguish is palpable. It is like you can actually feel their hearts shattering. Tears stung my eyes and my heart ached as I read. The emotions continue to leap from the pages as the family try to deal with Max’s tragic death, Leila’s possible guilt, the impending court case, and an array of family secrets lurking in the shadows.
Every facet of this book is spectacularly written. The story and characters are nuanced, compelling and full of depth. As with all this author’s books, this is a story that has many layers and deals with a multitude of topics, going beyond simply the crime that took place. At the heart of this book is a family who have been visited by tragedy many times. She explores the effect this has on mental health and how trauma and jealousy can affect our perception of people and events, often clouding our ability to see things clearly. She asks just how much someone can take before they break and examines the complicated threads that can both hold a family together and threaten to tear it apart.
Another aspect of Ms. Abdullah’s books I admire, is how she uses them as a social commentary, focusing on a different issue in each one. In Next of Kin it is childless women. Leila isn’t a mother, and through this she explores how it feels to be a childless woman in our society. She shows how these women are scorned, viewed as cold and selfish and looked down upon. In Leila’s case, her childlessness is even used against her as a reason she’d want to kill her nephew, adding to the already pervading sense of injustice you feel on her behalf.
Sizzling with tension, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat right until the last page, the author slowly peeling away the layers to reveal the hidden truth. And just when I thought I’d got it all figured out… Holy twist, Batman! In comes a curve ball that hits like a bomb and blows everything I thought I knew into pieces. Days later I’m still reeling from the shock.
Gritty, hard-hitting and addictive, this is one of the best legal thrillers I’ve ever read. Ms. Abdullah just keeps getting better and better and is now my go-to author recommendation in this genre, overtaking John Grisham, who I’ve been a huge fan of since my mid teens. If you haven’t read her books, then what are you waiting for? Do it now!
MEET THE AUTHOR:
From the author’s website: Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. Her novel Take It Back was named one of the best thrillers of the year by The Guardian and Telegraph and was selected for an industry-first audio serialisation by HarperCollins and The Pigeonhole. Her follow-up novel, Truth Be Told, is out now (Mar 2021, HarperCollins).
Born in Tower Hamlets in East London, Kia was raised in a family of eight children. As the most stubborn of six daughters, she constantly found herself in trouble for making choices that clashed with her parents’, a habit they came to accept when she became their first and only child to graduate from university – with a degree in Computer Science.
In 2007, Kia left her job in tech to pursue the one thing she had always wanted: a career as a writer, taking a 50% pay cut in the process. She worked as sub-editor and later features editor at Asian Woman Magazine where she interviewed British-Asian luminaries like Riz Ahmed, Meera Syal, Nitin Sawnhey and Anoushka Shankar.
Kia went on to join global publisher Penguin Random House where she helped grow digital readership at Rough Guides to over a million users per month. In 2014, she quit her day job to found Atlas & Boots, an outdoor travel blog now read by 250,000 people a month.
Today, she splits her time between London and the Yorkshire Dales town of Richmond, and spends her time writing, hiking, mentoring pupils from Tower Hamlets and visiting far-flung destinations for Atlas & Boots.
Kia loves to travel, hates to cook and periodically highlights that, in actual fact, she is one of nine children (one passed away), making her Seven of Nine… which is cool but only if you’re a Star Trek fan… which she is. But please don’t hold it against her.