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07/01/2021

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins #BlogTour @LadyHawkins @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #TheWifeUpstairs

 

The Wife Upstairs was published by HarperCollins on 5th January 2021 in E book. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on to the blog tour. 

A girl looking for love…
When Jane, a broke dog-walker newly arrived in town, meets Eddie Rochester, she can’t believe her luck. Eddie is handsome, rich and lives alone in a beautiful mansion since the tragic death of his beloved wife a year ago.
A man who seems perfect…
Eddie can give Jane everything she’s always wanted: stability, acceptance, and a picture-perfect life.
A wife who just won’t stay buried…
But what Jane doesn’t know is that Eddie is keeping a secret – a big secret. And when the truth comes out, the consequences are far more deadly than anyone could ever have imagined…
 
My Thoughts: 
 
 Well, Happy New Year to you all in these troubling times we find ourselves in. I have not been here for a little while. I had to have a little break as I was a little burnt out with life in general but I am back and The Wife Upstairs was the perfect first book of the year to get me going. 

What a clever little thriller this is. I haven't turned the pages so quickly in a long while and I am so partial to unreliable characters and these drive this story along at a fair pace. Jane is trying to move up in the world and escape from a past she would rather forget. So when she stumbles into dog walking in a well to do neighbourhood it would seem that Jane has achieved her wishes. 

It seemed almost too tidy then that she should meet the handsome and intriguing widower Eddie Rochester. Jane definitely sets her sights on him straight away. Glimpsing a lifestyle she has dreamed of having. Eddie is not all he seems though, he is also keeping a secret.

The plotting and pace were just right here, the element of mystery created caused just the right amounts of foreboding. I hadn't realised at first that this was a modern retelling of Jane Eyre. I don't know too much about that as I have never read it. As you can imagine though all is not as it seems. 

The story is told from chapters by Jane, Eddie and Bea. This allows the story to slowly unravel and what would a thriller be without a few twists?

Thoroughly entertaining read.


 
 
 
 
About the Author:
 
Rachel Hawkins is the New York
Times bestselling author of multiple books for
young readers, and her work has been
translated in over a dozen countries. She
studied gender and sexuality in Victorian
literature at Auburn University and currently
lives in Alabama with her husband and son.
The Wife Upstairs is her first adult novel.
 
You can find the author on Twitter: @LadyHawkins

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



21/11/2020

Feral Snow by Mark Lowes @MJLAuthor @RandomTTours #BlogTour #FeralSnow

 

Feral Snow was published on 1st October 2020. My thanks to the author for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on to the blog tour. 

 

Alone and stranded in the Arctic wasteland, would you risk your life to save a stranger or try to get home?

Paul is a father-to-be; traumatised by his past, he's terrified of becoming a father after his own beat him until he was unilaterally deaf. While working as a freelance cameraman in the Arctic, he's caught in a blizzard, separated from his crew, and falls into a chasm. Alone, and waiting for death to come, personal demons plague his mind.

When a young native girl falls into the chasm with him, Paul must learn how to accept responsibility and what it takes to give your life for a child.

FERAL SNOW, while a tense and action-packed story, is an intimate journey between two polar opposites and how love can be forged in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

It has been compared to The Revenant, 127 Hours, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

 

Behind FERAL SNOW:

I began writing FERAL SNOW with the idea of writing a commercial thriller. Slowly, over time, it morphed into something more though. Paul’s layers began to unravel and his true colours came to the surface. His history of abuse became so much more important than I had first intended. I fell in love with all of the characters and I’ll admit I had a tear in my eye while writing the ending.

My Thoughts:

I was tempted in to reading this book by the blurb of course but also the fact that The Road by Cormac McCarthy is one of my favourite books. I can understand the comparisions, whilst Feral Snow doesn't have the sparsity of language that The Road did, the landscape and environment have been perfectly captured. Even I felt a bit chilly whilst I was reading. So engrossed was I that I curled up under a blanket and read this in one sitting. 
 
At the outset Paul is arriving in the Arctic to do some filming. A blizzard means one thing and that is danger. Paul becomes separated from the rest of his colleagues and he falls in to a chasm. He finds himself alone and with only his thoughts for company and most of them aren't good. It doesn't look like he is ever going to see his child now.  He is struggling to grasp for the best ways to keep himself alive when a native girl Nanny falls into the chasm too. 
 
Nanny seems to be completely different to Paul personality wise. She seems strong where at first Paul seems weak. Can they find a common ground and ultimately is it going to become clear who is helping who. It has taken a lot of skill from the author to make these characters so engaging as for the most part it is just them. 
 
There are important points to be take from reading this book surrounding the environment and global warming and the author has layered these points in well. There is also a theme of abuse that threads through the story. This is a survival story with a difference. 
 
I quite simply found this book stunning. I thought it was original, with a setting that is brought to life with the effortless descriptive nature. There is a lot of monochrome in this book with the amount of snow etc but the writing here is not one shade it is kaleidoscopic. Riveting stuff and a richly rewarding read.


About the Author: 

Mark Lowes is a former teacher, current early childhood educator, and future dad. He lives in Cardiff, Wales, UK, and is sometimes found lamenting over how awful his football team is. While he's not working with deaf children and their families, he's writing dark and twisty fiction.

His writing, so he's told, is a mix between Chuck Palahniuk Josh Malerman and Ernest Hemingway (although Mark retains, all this praise is too much too high). He loves edge-of-your-seat fiction, novels that make you think deeper about the world but will also terrify you and live the world through the protagonist, experiencing every detail. He’s a fan of description, somewhat a lost art nowadays, and has a soft spot for a dark, unreliable narrator.

You can find him on Twitter @StrugglingMJ where he would be excited to hear your views.

Mark is the winner of Litopia's Pop-Up Submissions and of a pitch contest at the Cardiff Book Festival. Publication Date: 1st October, 2020

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15/11/2020

Open House by Jane Christmas #JaneChristmas @RhodaPR2013 @Harper360 #OpenHouse #BlogTour

 

Open House was published by Harper 360 on 12th November. My thanks to the Publisher for the review copy and Rhoda Hardie PR for the invitation. 
 
Jane’s reflections on her 32 house moves explore what ‘home’ really means to us today, with themes including restlessness, parenting, friendship, marriage breakdown, xenophobia, rape trauma, and more
 
 ‘I love moving house. I love the search for a new house, the packing up and the subsequent assessment and decluttering of all that I am, when old and new face off in a fight to survive the charity shop box. I love planning a new space, designing and styling the interior, thumbing through stacks of paints and fabric swatches. I love the ruminating, the budgeting, the logistical organisation… I love the pulse-quickening chaos of the move, the settling in and discerning if, finally, this is the right place. The words ‘in need of improvement’ are click bait to me. Buying a home has never frightened me or kept me awake at night; buying a car, yes; perhaps an item of clothing; but never a house… I have sat on the sofa in a home I have just moved into and immediately started swiping left and right on Rightmove.’ Jane Christmas
 
 Studies have consistently reported that moving is one of the most stressful life events. On average, Britons move house 3 times in their lives, Canadians move house 7 times in their lives, and Americans move house 11 times in their lives. At the age of 63, Jane Christmas has moved house an incredible 32 times! She admits to being a ‘serial adulterer’ when it comes to homes. ‘To some people, 32 house moves looks like recklessness; to me, 32 moves looks like life,’ she writes in her new book Open House. ‘Houses and renovations and moving are an addiction to me; I desperately want to settle, but as hard as I try, I just can’t.’ 
 
By the age of 9, Jane had lived in 3 different houses and attended 5 different schools. Her mother was the driving force behind the constant uprooting. ‘People are important but they will not get you ahead in life,’ she told Jane. ‘Only property can do that. Property first, people second.’ Open House explores Jane’s childhood as a ‘property nomad’ and how this pattern continued into her adult life. She reflects on marital homes, homes where she has lived as a single parent with her children, and most recently, on her search for the elusive ‘perfect home’ with her third husband - ‘a creature of routine and stability’ who lived in the same 2 bedroom flat in London for 25 years before he met Jane. After viewing 60 potential homes, Jane describes how she and her husband succumb to emotional fatigue and buy an overpriced house in Bristol in dire ‘need of improvement’, which requires more money to renovate than they can afford and that neither of them really even like. As Jane’s nightmare renovation begins, memories of her past resurface - a strict and peripatetic childhood, lost friends, rape trauma, divorces, suicide attempts - and threaten to shake the foundations of her marriage. As she contemplates her life and her many homes along the way, ultimately Jane realises that our loved ones are ‘the vital joists that underpin our lives’. Hilarious, moving and thought-provoking, Open House: A Life in Thirty-two Moves wanders through the front door for a peek into the places we call home. 
 
My Thoughts

I was initially completed intrigued when Rhoda Hardie contacted me about Open House by Jane Christmas. I mean how many times have I used the expression 'I would love to be a fly on the wall of that house', and here I was being given the opportunity to be a fly on the wall not once but thirty-two times. You see thirty-two moves is the number of times that Author of this memoir Jane Christmas has moved house. 

My intrigue was piqued straight away and my initial thought before diving too deep was that it is surely more than a little frivoulous and disruptive to move house so many times and surely a life of such transcience and disruption is damaging in some way. I mean when I was a child I moved a few times too as my father was in the Army. Upon reading this book I firmly conclude that the moves were essential and necessary and culminate in making the author Jane Christmas who she is today. 
 
You might think that this is all going to be about cushions, applicances and trips to Ikea but this couldn't be further from the truth. This is about the author and her life across the house moves, the good, the bad and the indifferent. Jane Christmas candidly discusses trauma and the nuances of a life being lived. 
 
I feel that there is a certain parallel in the need to find the perfect home and one's expectation of oneself and of course parental expectations too.  The need to always be better, the need to appear better. The desire and ambition to not settle is admirable. 
 
Of course there is no such thing as a perfect life, the ups and downs are to be expected but is there such a thing as a perfect home or is it the people that are in it that make it perfect. 
 
Jane Christmas writes with a warmth and an underlying core of strength and humour that I found infectious and even sometimes a hint of sarcasm that I found endearing. She and her writing are certainly memorable. I would love to read some of this authors other works in the future and I am thankful that I have been introduced to her books. 


About the Author:

Jane Christmas is the author of several bestselling books, including Incontinent on the Continent and And Then There Were Nuns. Born and raised in Toronto, Jane moved to the UK in 2012. She has lived in Walthamstow, Brixham and Longwell Green, and now lives in Bristol with her husband. Jane’s website can be found at www.janechristmas.ca.
 
You can also find the author on Instagram @janechristmasauthor.
 
Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour. 
 

 

 

 

31/10/2020

The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir @evaaegisdottir @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours #TheCreakontheStairs #IcelandNoir #BlogTour

 

Published in paperback on 1st October 2020 by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on to the blog tour
 
The first in the electrifying new Forbidden Iceland
series, The Creak on the Stairs is an exquisitely written,
claustrophobic and chillingly atmospheric debut thriller by
one of Iceland’s most exciting new talents
When the body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in
the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that
she’s no stranger to the area.
Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes
following a failed relationship, and her colleagues Sævar and
Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers
a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to
reverberate in the present day…
But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries,
they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake
the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the
townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge
increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it ’s too
late.
 
My Thoughts: 

The Creak on the Stairs is the first in a new series Forbidden Iceland and has been wonderfully translated by Victoria Cribb. Nordic Noir and most certainly the nordic countries are fast becoming an obsession of mine. The settings somehow provide so much atmosphere and tension and this one was no different. This is definitely a series I am going to be hooked to. 

Elma is a Chief Investigating Officer and she has left the city of Reykjavik behind to return to her hometown of Akranes. She feels out of place and at odds with those around her, the breakdown of her relationship has perhaps made her wary and the return home not entirely wanted. 
 
Elma is thrown in at the deep end with new colleagues to contend with, the feeling of being an outsider. So when a body of a woman turns up at a lighthouse, it is all hands to the deck. Somebody in the town must know what happened to her. 
 
The woman found at the lighthouse is called Elisabet and Elma must unravel who she is and about her past in the search for answers. The Creak on the Stairs is told across two timelines and was a great way to allow the story to unravel bit by bit. 

There are some particularly serious and extremely dark themes but none of this is gratuitous. It is woven into the plot like the many years of secrets of the people of Akranes. I am looking forward to reading the next in the series immensely, the character of Elma shone and I am intrigued to see how she develops in the next book. 

There are red herrings here to keep the sharpest of readers guessing but for me the biggest sellling point was the place, atmosphere and the sense of claustrophia and darkness that crawled across every page.

Wonderful writing that cannot be ignored.

About the Author:  
Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc
in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed
her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted
to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest
in Iceland.
Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first
novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an
Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in
Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.



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

 

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