4*, blog tours, book review, debut author

#BlogTour #BookReview The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen. @orlaowenwriting #TheLostThumb #RandomThingsTours @annecater

Today on If Only I Could Read Faster it appears to be twin day, because this is my second review today and both books have featured twins. Thank you to Anne Cater for asking me to be part of the blog tour for The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen.

My Review:

The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen is a quirky book, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it but it definitely wasn’t any of the options that I had thought about.

This is the author’s debut novel and it is a really impressive first novel in many ways. The story is set in Australia, although that is totally irrelevant because the setting has no part in the story. I only realised that the book was set in Australia when I was about half way through and I realised then that it is really unusual to read a book that is so insular that the outside of the story doesn’t matter.

The other unusual thing with this book is that I have absolutely no idea what year the book was set in. There were no mentions of mobile phones which could be an indication but other than that I really have no idea. I think it would be from the 1960s on, perhaps in the 80s but who knows.

Lara and Luella are twins who live with their mother who controls everything about their lives, the twins have no say in how they live, where they go, what they wear and what they eat. They have no friends and live a colourless life, both literally and figuratively, and this is why the outside world doesn’t seem to matter, because for Lara and Luella it is totally irrelevant.

At times the book was hard to read, the abuse from the mother is shocking and upsetting, the description of the characters emotions was also quite raw. I also felt as though some of what happened was somewhat predictable and that was disappointing, given how different the story and characters were I had hoped that the author wouldn’t follow some predictable storylines.

But that didn’t stop this book from being a very clever debut, one that I enjoyed reading even though at times it made me feel very sad. Orla Owen is an author to watch.

Blurb:

In a small town in New South Wales, Lara and Luella Jeffreys lead isolated lives until the night they are left alone for the first time, and Luella decides to have some fun. 

That evening goes horribly wrong. 

After Luella wakes up in hospital, she’s kept prisoner at home with her mother acting as her warden. Lara is sent to school to keep up the pretence that she is fine, her sister is fine, and the world is fine. Except they aren’t. The local storekeeper, sensing that something’s wrong, pushes her son to befriend Lara but the results of her meddling are deadly…

About The Author:

Orla Owen is a writer, online editor, and author of the novel The Lost Thumb. She’s been writing since she was a child, and in 2016 was picked to be mentored by Sarah Savitt at Virago.

Her writing focuses on the dark and macabre side of family life, the parts that go on behind closed doors.

Before she became a writer, she was an actress and drama practitioner, studying Theatre at Bretton Hall College of the Arts. She has performed at the Royal Court and Edinburgh fringe, as well as working on The Women’s Theatre Workshop mentoring scheme.

Supporting women in writing is important to her, and she was lucky enough to work on a writers’ mentoring scheme, as an assistant to the author Kerry Hudson, at the WoMentoring Project. 

She is currently working on her second novel, PAH, which will be released in early 2020.

The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, crime thriller

#BlogTour #BookReview The Essence of Evil by Rob Sinclair. @RSinclairAuthor @canelo_co @Tr4cyF3nt0n #PoliceFiction #TheEssenceOfEvil

I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for The Essence of Evil by Rob Sinclair. The first book in a new series about Detective Inspector Dani Stephens. Thank you to Tracy Fenton for asking me to be part of the blog tour.

My Review:

As a parent of twins I have to admit that I am drawn to read books that feature twins, especially boy/girl twins. This book might now sound like something that would appeal to a parent of boy/girl twins, given the boy in the story tries to kill his twin sister, but of course this is fiction and not something that could ever happen with my twins (obviously).

Dani Stephens is an unusual character, the consequences of the attack from her brother are something she continues to battle with, years after the attack occurred. I really liked how the author added details of Dani’s traumatic brain injury and the long term consequences on her and her behaviour. This added an element of drama, compassion, empathy, doubt, confusion and mistrust that is hard to achieve in believable fiction.

The book did feel a bit slow at times, and the last 15% was jammed full of action, which was great but I wish the pace had been quicker throughout and the majority of the book less of a slow burner.

But the scene is now set for a thriller series with a strong female lead who is vulnerable and flawed. Roll on book two.

Blurb:

He’s your attacker.

He’s a murderer.

He’s your twin. 

When D.I Dani Stephens returns to work after the attack that almost ended her life, she’s quickly plunged into a horrific new case, as dead bodies are discovered on the streets of Birmingham.

But with no link between the victims, Dani has to get inside a killer’s mind – so turns to the murderer she knows best. Her own twin brother…

But what makes a psychopath? Can understanding her twin help her find a murderer who leaves no trace? As the circle closes on Dani, the clock is ticking and she needs a breakthrough – before she becomes the latest victim.

A heart-stopping crime thriller that fans of Peter James and Mark Billingham won’t be able to put down.

About The Author:

@JigsawPhotographyUK

Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemyseries and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers. His books have sold over half a million copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn. 

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

The Essence of Evil by Rob Sinclair is out on 12th September 2019 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, book review, crime thriller

#BookReview Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson. @DorothyKoomson @HeadlinePG #TellMeYourSecret #bookblogger

It has been a long time since I read Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson, but I still remember it and how much I loved it. My heart then melted with My Best Friend’s Girl and so Dorothy Koomson earned herself a spot on my favourite author list. I haven’t read every book she has written but those that I have read I have really enjoyed. So I was excited to read Tell Me Your Secret, the author’s latest book.

My Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson, all I knew was that I had heard about it on various book groups on Facebook and everyone was saying good things. So I wanted to read it too.

This is the most crime book that I have read from the author, a lot of her books have crime elements but this one was totally focused around finding the man who called himself The Blindfolder, who was kidnapping women and forcing them to sit with their eyes closed for 48 hours. If they opened their eyes then he would kill them.

I don’t know about you but I find that concept incredibly creepy and unsettling, especially when I read about the experience from people who had survived the weekend.

I really enjoyed reading Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson, the characters are interesting and the writing is confident and believable. This book creeped me out in a way books don’t often do, and was full of twists and turns and happy and sad moments. I will definitely be catching up on the books by Koomson that I haven’t read yet.

Blurb:

The new emotional thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Ice Cream GirlsMy Best Friend’s Girl and The Brighton Mermaid. Dorothy Koomson, ‘Queen of the big reveal’, is back with a gripping page-turner full of twists and turns. Pieta has a secret.
Ten years ago, Pieta was kidnapped by a man calling himself The Blindfolder who said he wouldn’t kill her if she kept her eyes closed for 48 hours. She never told anyone what happened to her, vowing to move on with her life. But when The Blindfolder starts hunting down his past victims, Pieta realises she may finally be forced to tell her deepest secret to stay alive . . .Jody has a secret.
Fifteen years ago, policewoman Jody made a terrible mistake that resulted in a serial killer known as The Blindfolder escaping justice. When Jody discovers journalist Pieta survived an attack by him, she realises she may finally have found a way to catch him. But that would mean endangering at least two innocent people . . .They kept quiet to protect themselves.
Will telling all save or sacrifice each other?

About The Author:

Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 15 novels and has been making up stories since she was 13 when she used to share her stories with her convent school friends. Her published titles include: Tell Me Your Secret, The Brighton Mermaid, The Friend, When I Was Invisible, That Girl From Nowhere, The Flavours of Love, The Woman He Loved Before, Goodnight, Beautiful and The Chocolate Run. 

Dorothy’s first novel, The Cupid Effect, was published in 2003 (when she was quite a bit older than 13). Her third book, My Best Friend’s Girl, was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads of 2006 and went on to sell over 500,000 copies. While her fourth novel, Marshmallows For Breakfast, has sold in excess of 250,000 copies. Dorothy’s books, The Ice Cream Girls and The Rose Petal Beach were both shortlisted for the popular fiction category of the British Book Awards in 2010 and 2013, respectively. 

Dorothy’s novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation loosely based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton. 

For more information on Dorothy Koomson visit www.dorothykoomson.co.uk

Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, book extract

#BlogTour #Extract Zippy And Me by Ronnie Le Drew, Duncan Barrett, and Nuala Calvi. #ZippyAndMe @Punchand @unbounders #RandomThingsTours

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for Zippy And Me by Ronnie Le Drew, Duncan Barrett, and Nuala Calvi. I’m sure that most people around my age remember Zippy from the incredibly popular children’s tv programme, Rainbow. So I was excited about the book and I’m delighted to share an extract from the book. Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for having me as part of the tour.

To whet your appetite for this fabulous book I have an extract for you. Enjoy!

Extract:

Curtain Up

July 1961. Stockwell Gardens council estate, South London.
Crouched behind a cardboard box, I wait impatiently
for the audience to settle. I sneak a glance round the side
of my brand-new Pollock’s toy theatre. Rows of little girls
in knee-high socks sit cross-legged on the floor as their
brothers jostle for space at the back.
I have summoned them to a performance on the landing
of our block of flats, instructing them very clearly not to
cross the crack in the concrete that delineates the stage.
I clear my throat importantly, and the rabble quietens
down a little. ‘The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince
of Denmark, by William Shakespeare,’ I announce in
the lowest possible tones my thirteen-year-old voice box
can muster, prodding Bonnie, my twin sister, to start
the wind-up gramophone. I wince as the strains of ‘I’m
a Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch’ begin, to the
accompaniment of sniggers. Hardly the grand orchestral
music I would have wished, but since it’s the only record
we own, it will have to do.

I take a last, lingering glance at the shiny photograph
of Laurence Olivier, resplendent as the Dane in the 1959
film of Hamlet, in the book that Benjamin Pollock’s toy
shop has helpfully provided as part of its Regency Theatre
kit. It has taken me eight weeks to save the money to buy it
from the Pollock’s shop on Monmouth Street, and it is my
pride and joy. The wooden stage is exquisitely made, with
a little round pit containing a painted orchestra, a battery-
operated spotlight, and cardboard scenery and characters
lovingly cut out and coloured in by Bonnie and me.
With a nod from me, she now lifts the little wooden
curtain and the lights come up; down goes the ghost of
Hamlet’s father on a piece of cotton thread, uttering the
immortal line: ‘O horrible! O horrible! Most horrible!’
I’m soon well into my stride, moving Hamlet and Horatio
around the ramparts and concentrating hard to make
sure I get every word right. The audience is completely
silent, apparently transfixed by the drama onstage.
After a couple of scenes it’s too much – the desire for
applause overwhelms me and I pull the curtain down with
a flourish, announcing, ‘You may clap now!’
As dead silence greets us, Bonnie and I stand up and
look over the top of the theatre.
There is no one there. Each and every child has quietly
crept away and we have been performing to ourselves.
It is the best lesson I will ever learn as a puppeteer.

Blurb:

Over the course of almost half a century, puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew has worked with the greats – from David Bowie in Labyrinth to Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol. But the role that defined his career was Rainbow’s Zippy, who he operated for more than twenty years.

Zippy and Me
 is the first time a Rainbow insider has told the true story of what went on under the counter and inside the suits: the petty squabbles between performers, wrangling with TV executives, and scandals such as the ‘love triangle’ between musicians Rod, Jane and Freddy. Not to mention the now infamous X-rated episode shot for an ITV Christmas party, which subsequently found its way to the Sun.

Interweaved with the dirt on what really went on behind the scenes is the story of Rainbow’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s, when its stars found themselves catapulted into an exciting showbiz world – scooping a BAFTA award and even performing for the queen – and the story of a young lad from a south London council estate who defied his parents’ protests to became one of the most respected puppeteers of all time.

About the Author:

Ronnie Le Drew is one of the UK’s most respected puppeteers, and recipient of the prestigious Harlequin Award.
He has operated many of the most iconic children’s puppets of the twentieth century – Zippy, Sweep, Muffin the
Mule, Bill and Ben, Brains from Thunderbirds – as well as working on classic puppet films such as Labyrinth,
Little Shop of Horrors and The Muppet Christmas Carol. He continues to work regularly as a puppeteer in TV,
theatre and advertising and also teaches at the London School of Puppetry, which he founded in 1987.

Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew, Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, blog tours, book review, psychological thriller

#BlogTour #BookReview Rage by Netta Newbound. @nettanewbound @Juntionpublish @BOTBSPublicity #Rage #5*read

I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Rage by Netta Newbound. I’ve long been a fan of Netta Newbound’s books and her ability to suck the reader in and make her stories feel so real. So I was excited to read her latest book.

Thanks to Sarah Hardy for asking me to be part of the blog tour and to Netta Newbound and Junction Publishers for a copy of Rage. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

Before I start reading a Netta Newbound book I take a deep breath and ready myself for what is to come. Normally that involves getting to know characters who feel so real, that you get to know and care about and who get put through horrible things. The death count in Newbound’s books are normally also high.

Rage starts with doctors telling a woman that a man needs to be kept highly sedated for the rest of his life as he is such a risk to women. We learn that this man, Charles, is a very famous ex-footballer whose condition needs to be kept secret.

Lizzie is hired to nurse Charles, she has strict instructions to keep him sedated at all times and believing that he is in so much pain due to a brain tumour, she agrees. But it doesn’t quite sit right with her and so when she’s left alone with Charles she starts to wonder whether it is really fair to keep him so medicated.

Poor Lizzie really has a lot going on in this book, there are bodies turning up, creepy neighbours, a lovely neighbour and a patient who is very dangerous. I often kept reading, desperate to see what was going to happen next. would Lizzie meet a grizzly end because of the neighbour? The patient? Or someone else?

Although there was a lot going on it was easy to keep track of it all and the story definitely kept me hooked. It was different to other books by the author that I have read, but I really enjoyed reading it and was disappointed when I had finished it. All in all the sign of a great book!

Blurb:

Nurse, Lizzi Yates, is assigned to provide end-of-life care to Charlie Maidley, one of Britain’s footballing legends, on the condition she keeps his identity a secret. 

Unbeknownst to Lizzi, Charlie’s doctors have agreed to allow his sister, Miriam, to take him home to die on the strict understanding he remains in an induced coma, due to his history of assaulting women—a side effect of his brain tumour. 

Miriam goes away on business, leaving Lizzi in charge, but a mishap with Charlie’s medication has Lizzi questioning why he is spending his final days comatose. Deciding he is being sedated without just cause, she makes the call to wake him up. However, a string of events and the discovery of a girl’s body at the bottom of the garden lead her to wonder if she’s made the right decision. 

Who is the killer? 

Could Lizzi be his next victim? 

Don’t miss RAGE by bestselling author Netta Newbound – A gripping psychological thriller that will keep you turning pages long into the night.

About The Author:

Netta Newbound, originally from Manchester, England, now lives in New Zealand with her husband Paul and their boxer dog Alfie. She has three grown-up children and three delicious grandchildren.

As a child, Netta was plagued by a wild imagination, often getting in trouble for making up weird and wonderful stories. Yet she didnt turn her attention to writing until after her children had grown and left home.

Most of her inspiration comes from the horror greatsStephen King, Dean Koontz and Richard Layman.

Although she mostly writes psychological thriller novels, all of which consistently rank highly in the best seller categories, she has also written several non-fiction books with a close friend and fellow author under the names of Sandra Rose & Jeanette Simone.

Rage by Netta Newbound is out today and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, psychological thriller

#BlogTour #BookReview Stop At Nothing by Tammy Cohen. @MsTamarCohen #StopAtNothing @PenguinUKBooks @annecater #PsychThriller

As a big Tammy Cohen fan I was delighted to be asked to be part of the blog tour and jumped at the chance to read her new book, Stop At Nothing.

Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for asking me to be part of the blog tour. I received a copy of the book from the publishers, I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

Tammy Cohen is an author I love, but not all of her books have been great. Tammy has written under other names, including Tamar Cohen and Rachel Rhys so it is quite possible you have read a book by the author without realising it.

I was excited to read Stop At Nothing, not only did the blurb sound good but I have read some crackingly good psychological thrillers from the author before.

As parents we want to protect our children, so I could totally empathise with Tess who struggled when her daughter was attacked on her way home late one night. A horrible situation and as Tess was already fragile thanks to her recent marriage breakdown and redundancy.

There was a lot to like about Stop At Nothing but I really disliked Tess, sure she had been through a tough time but she was full of self pity and self obsession that at times I wanted to shout at her. Not to mention how blinkered and obsessive she was.

I also thought that had it all figured out quite early on and wanted the book to hurry up and tell me whether I was right or not.

But, having said that, I enjoyed reading Stop At Nothing, it was well written, well researched and was an interesting story that was even more interesting after I read the acknowledgments at the end.

One more thing I will say about Tess is that she has very good taste in dog names, her dog is called Dotty which is the same as my dog. It was a bit strange reading about her Dotty, especially at certain points but you’ll get that when you read the book.

If you like psychological thrillers then Stop At Nothing by Tammy Cohen is a good book for you. I do think the author has written better books but don’t let that put you off.

Blurb:

A mother’s job is to keep her children safe.

Tess has always tried to be a good mother. Of course, there are things she wishes she’d done differently, but doesn’t everyone feel that way?

Then Emma, her youngest, is attacked on her way home from a party, plunging them into a living nightmare which only gets worse when the man responsible is set free

But what if she fails?

So when Tess sees the attacker in the street near their home, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. But blinded by her need to protect her daughter at any cost, might she end up putting her family in even greater danger?

There’s nothing she wouldn’t do to make it right . . .

About The Author:

Tammy Cohen (who previously wrote under her formal name Tamar Cohen) has a growing backlist of acclaimed novels of domestic noir including:The Mistress’s Revenge, The War of the Wives, and Someone Else’s Wedding. 

Her break-out psychological suspense thriller was The Broken, followed by Dying for Christmas, First One Missing and When She Was Bad. 

She lives in North London with her partner and three (nearly) grown children, plus one badly behaved dog. 

Chat with her on Twitter @MsTamarCohen

Stop At Nothing by Tammy Cohen is out on 18th July 2019 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, series

#BlogTour #BookReview The Girl In The Grave by Helen Phifer. @helenphifer1 @bookouture #TheGirlInTheGrave #BooksOnTour

When I heard that Helen Phifer had a new series coming out I knew that I wanted to read it, although I was slightly miffed that she was not writing another book in the Detective Lucy Harwin series that I enjoy reading! But all is forgiven.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

This book starts with a bang when what should be a routine exhumation turns into something far more sinister when they find a body that had been under the now removed coffin. Detective Josh Walker is called to investigate the unexpected body, aided by Beth Adams, the pathologist who will examine the body.

Things quickly take a turn for the worst when another young woman goes missing and it is clear that the two were taken by the same man. Will they manage to find the second woman before it’s too late?

We quickly find out that there is more to Josh and Beth than a working relationship, after Josh helped rescue Beth from an attack that changed her life in many ways.

I really liked Beth as a character, there was something about her that I really liked and identified with. We found out less about Josh but he seems to be a promising character.

As always with Helen Phifer books, The Girl In The Grave is fast paced, easy to read and thrilling. It always takes a few books in a new series to properly settle in and become part of a the readers lives and for the characters to feel like part of our world, but I can see Beth settling into my character family very quickly.

I will most definitely be reading more books in this series and pretty much any book by Helen Phifer.

 Blurb:

At least they’d found her. Once the site was processed and the girl’s body removed, they’d be able to identify her so that her family could give her the burial she deserved. This innocent girl was far too young to be lying in a grave, crushed under the weight of someone else’s coffin…

When the body of a teenage girl is found hidden inside a stranger’s grave in a small-town cemetery in the Lake District, an urgent call is made to Forensic Pathologist Beth Adams. One look at the beautiful girl’s broken body is enough to bring Beth out of hiding for the first time since an attempt on her own life…

Beth doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence that the victim was found the same day a threatening gift was left on the doorstep of her secluded home. Her instincts are telling her that it’s a trap, that she should run for safety. But she knows she’s the only one with the expertise to help her trusted friend, Detective Josh Walker, crack the most shocking case of his career.

The tiny traces of material Beth finds beneath the victim’s fingernails is the break in the case the team need to chase down this twisted killer. But this critical lead comes at a dangerous price, exposing Beth’s whereabouts and dragging her back into the line of fire once again.

With Beth’s own life on the line, the investigation is already cracking under the pressure. Then another local girl goes missing… Can Beth stay alive long enough to catch the killer before he claims his next victim?

An absolutely gripping new crime thriller that will grab fans of Patricia Gibney, LJ Ross and Angela Marsons from the very first page and leave them gasping for breath by the last.

 

 

About The Author:

Helen Phifer lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children. 

Helen has always loved writing and reading. Her love of horror films and novels is legendary. Helen adores reading books which make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Unable to find enough scary stories to read she decided to write her own. 

Author Social Media Links: 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Helenphifer1

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/helenphifer

Twitter:      https://twitter.com/helenphifer1

Website:     https://www.helenphifer.com

 

Amazon: https://geni.us/B07QQ34JBXSocial

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2Phxl95

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2IE3SEY

Googleplay: http://ow.ly/APUL30osVA4