Sunday, 23 July 2017

#BlogTour: The Ludlow Ladies' Society by Ann O'Loughlin @annolwriter @bwpublishing @FMcMAssociates

Published by Black and White Publishing on 20th July 2017. My thanks to Sophie at FMcM Associates for the review copy and having me on the blog tour.

Connie Carter has lost everyone and everything dear to her. Leaving her home in Manhattan, she moves to Wicklow, Ireland hoping to heal her broken heart, and in search of answers: why did her husband plough all their money into the dilapidated Ludlow Hall before he died?

Although Connie initially avoids the villagers, she meets local women Eve and Hetty, who introduce her to the Ludlow Ladies' Society, a crafts group in need of a permanent home.

Eve Brannigan is also struggling with pain from her past. After her husband's suicide, it become clear the he had bankrupted them, and her beloved home Ludlow Hall was repossessed. Now, seeing the American Connie living there, the hurt of losing her house is renewed. But as she and Hetty begin stitching memory quilts in order to remember those they've lost, can she let go of her past and allow herself some happiness? And can Connie ever recover from the death of her much-loved daughter Molly?

My Thoughts:

The Ludlow Ladies' Society is a book that came along at the right time for me, and was a much needed change from all of the crime books I have been reading lately. It was full of warmth and compassion, and sucked me up into it, like being wrapped up in one of the infamous quilts the ladies of the society produce. 

In this story the ladies have known loss, but they have each other. Some are at transitional stages in life particularly Connie who has moved to Ludlow Hall from America. She is in a strange place, coping with her grief and not sure how she is going to fit in to the village. 

Ludlow Hall is wonderfully and descriptively written about, I could imagine that I was standing outside. There is a great sense of place here and the author manages to draw the reader in. 

The Ludlow Ladies' society is not a story all about threads and quilts though. There is real grief amongst the ladies and at times it is palpable as it threatens to overwhelm the ladies. Unusually all of the characters were all likeable and I enjoyed spending time with them all. 

Ultimately this a story of friendship and compassion, a group of ladies that support each other come what may. I found it to be absorbing, warm, witty and very moving. 

Much like the patches on a quilt, lives are made up of various moments and memories to create a jumble of the good and the bad. Friendships that stand the test of time are those that make it through the good and the bad. 

A really great read!

About the Author: 

A leading journalist in Ireland for nearly thirty years, Ann O’Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with independent newspapers where she was Security Correspondent at the height of The Troubles, and was a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and Evening Herald. She is currently a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper covering legal issues. Ann has also lived and worked in India. Originally from the west of Ireland she now lives on the east coast in Co. Wicklow with her husband and two children. Her debut novel The Ballroom CafĂ© was a bestseller, with over 250,000 copies sold in eBook. Her second novel The Judge’s Wife was an Irish bestseller for 5 weeks and was shortlisted for a Romantic Novel Award (RoNA) in February 2017. 

You can find the Author on Twitter: @annolwriter

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

#BlogTour: The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan @NoExitPress @AusmaZehanat

Published on 27th July 2017 by No Exit Press. My thanks to the publisher and Anne Cater for the review copy and having me on the blog tour.

One man is dead.
But thousands were his victims.
Can a single murder avenge that of many?
Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak, head of the Community Policing Unit, and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton s role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when the victim is a man with so many deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?
In this important debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.
My Thoughts:

The Unquiet Dead is the debut novel of Ausma Zehanat Khan. It is a crime novel but it is also a mystery novel. It is packed full of research and information about the Bosnian War, a subject I am ashamed to admit that I know little about. 

Set in Canada, Detective Esa Khattack and Rachel Getty are investigating the death of Christopher Drayton. It soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems when evidence suggests that Drayton is a War Criminal. 

Detective Esa Khattack is a muslim and it was refreshing to read about a central character particularly a Detective that was Muslim. He was by far my favourite character in this book. 

The Author writes with great style and I was entranced throughout, I would love to hear more from Khattack and Getty in the future. 

Due to the subject matter The Unquiet Dead is not an easy read, but nonetheless it is an important one. As a reader I was left richly rewarded and I was left with much to think about. 

Whilst based around historical matters, some of which are horrific and deeply moving, this book is also made current by the fine and eloquent writing of this author. 

I feel that I have stepped outside of what would be my usual type of genre and took a leap of faith by reading this one. However I am the one that has been left all the better for reading this remarkable debut. 

Thank you to the Author for making me open my eyes, my mind and my heart. 

About the Author:

Photograph by Athif Khan
  Ausma Zehanat Khan is the author of The Unquiet Dead which won the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel. 
A frequent lecturer and commentator, Ms. Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with a research specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. Ms. Khan completed her LL.B. and LL.M. at the University of Ottawa, and her B.A. in English Literature & Sociology at the University of Toronto.
Formerly, she served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine. The first magazine to address a target audience of young Muslim women, Muslim Girlre-shaped the conversation about Muslim women in North America. The magazine was the subject of two documentaries, and hundreds of national and international profiles and interviews, including CNN International, Current TV, and Al Jazeera "Everywoman". 
Ausma Zehanat Khan practiced immigration law in Toronto and has taught international human rights law at Northwestern University, as well as human rights and business law at York University. She is a long-time community activist and writer, and currently lives in Colorado with her husband.
You can find the Author on Twitter: @AusmaZehanat  

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

#BlogTour: Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy @PenguinUKBooks @VikingBooksUK

Published by Penguin on 6th July 2017. My thanks to publisher for the review copy and having me on the blog tour.

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship's comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship's safety.
One minute the children are there, and the next they're gone.
What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents - now turning on one another and blaming themselves - try to recover their children and their shattered lives.

My Thoughts:

Do Not Become Alarmed is the first book I have read by Maile Meloy, and I have no doubt that it will become one of the books to read this summer. It has been marketed as the biggest thriller this summer. That created a certain expectation, and sadly whilst being well written, it fell slightly short of being a thriller in the sense that I would expect. 

The story starts off with two families, who are taking a cruise for Christmas, the ship is opulent and the families are well heeled. The cruise is for two weeks and the ship will travel down the Coast of Mexico and Central America. On board the ship they make friends with a third family who are Argentinian. 

An excursion day arrives and whilst the husbands go off the play golf the others including the children all go off to explore and a this is where things begin to turn sinister. A series of unfortunate events lead up to the children's disappearance. The story is told from the parents and the children's perspective. The latter I enjoyed the most. 

The prose in this story is great but I just felt the pace was slightly off. I was however interested enough to read on to find out how things would play out. I think my biggest problem however was that I didn't feel emotionally invested in the outcome. I didn't find some of the characters believable, particularly the behaviour of the parents after the children went missing.  

An interesting read, and premise but not one I found tugged at my heartstrings and made me gasp at the end. I would have liked more emotional depth to the characters. 

About the Author:

Maile Meloy is the author of the novels Liars and Saints (which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and chosen for the Richard and Judy book club) and A Family Daughter; the short-story collections Half in Love and Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It; and the award-winning Apothecary trilogy for young readers. She has received the PEN/Malamud Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was chosen as one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists. She lives in Los Angeles.

You can find her on Twitter: @mailemeloy

Saturday, 8 July 2017

#BlogTour: The Other Twin by @LucyVHayAuthor @OrendaBooks #TheOtherTwin

Published by Orenda Books on 3rd July 2017. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater for inviting me on the blog tour.

A stunning, dark and sexy debut thriller set in the winding lanes and underbelly of Brighton, centring around the social media world, where resentments and accusations are played out, identities made and remade, and there is no such thing as the truth

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India's death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India's laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its wellheeled families, The Other Twin is startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth...

My Thoughts:

I am really excited to be able to share my review of The Other Twin today, which is highly original, very current and unlike anything else I have read. 

The Other Twin opens with Poppy returning home as her sister India has died after falling from a railway bridge. The official line is suicide, but Poppy isn't convinced. She has a need and a want to get to the truth, what unravels is a very dark, disturbing and high octane thriller. As the search for truth plays out, it is not originally clear what is real and what is not and who can be trusted.

We are wound down the darker sides of Brighton. The author makes this novel current with the use of social media and this a real reflection of the positives and negatives of this faceless society. 

The Other Twin is full of mysterious, flawed characters. A lot of whom were unlikeable, but this only added to the intrigue and the suspense elements. The Author has created a very believe and highly current novel. 

The pace is fast and short sharp chapters interspersed with online entries keeps the reader right in the middle of the action. There is a great sense of place captured here and the author has managed to bring the location to life for the reader. 

The Other Twin is gripping, fascinating and I can't wait to hear more from this author in the future. 

About the Author:
Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters' Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

You can find her on Twitter:

Please do have a look at the other stops along the blog tour.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

#BlogTour: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell @Sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks #Exquisite

Published on 1st June 2017 by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater for inviting me on the blog tour.

A chilling, exquisitely written and evocative thriller set in the Lake District, centring on the obsessive relationship that develops between two writers…

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. 
Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. 
When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… 
Or does it?
 Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

My Thoughts:

Delighted that I am finally able to share my review of Exquisite. An absolute page turner of a novel that kept me up for hours and left me thinking for days after finishing it. 

Exquisite is a story of obsession told from the perspectives of both Bo Luxton and Alice Dark. Bo is a well known Author who runs a writing retreat and Alice is a writer just starting out, who sees the retreat as a way of furthering her writing hopes and dreams. 

The ladies have an immediate connection, sharing emails etc when they both return home, but  it soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems. From here on in the plot is tense and riveting and sucks the reader in, never quite sure what is going to happen next and what the final outcome will be. Two damaged women that are both at points in their lives where they are not particularly happy. At 250 pages, Exquisite is relatively short but it manages to deliver on so many fronts. Thought provoking, scary, exciting and really disturbing. 

Tension mounts throughout as an unease and sense of foreboding falls on to every page. Exquisite is also beautifully written with wonderful prose and a real sense of place. The writing about the Lake District was particularly good. Short, sharp chapters help to keep the pace of the story moving and as the main protagonists are both unreliable narrators makes this book so special.

I will not forget this book in a hurry. One of the best in the genre and most certainly it will be one of my favourites this year. 

About the Author:

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

You can find her on Twitter: @Sarahlovescrime

Please do have a look at some of the other stops on the blog tour.