#blogtour Race To The Kill by Helen Cadbury. @AllisonandBusby #RacetotheKill

Race to the Kill tour poster

My Review:

Race to the Kill is the first book by Helen Cadbury that I have read. I wish that I had read her previous books, and I very much hope to rectify that, but Race to the Kill can easily be read as a standalone.

I didn’t know the author personally, but I knew Helen Cadbury in the online book world, I didn’t know her well but I knew her to be kind and funny. The news of her death sent shockwaves through the community, not only had a lovely lady died but also a fabulous author.

I really enjoyed Race to the Kill, it was well written and I loved the character Sean Denton who the book is centred around. The book kept me guessing and I really enjoyed the journey that it took me on. I did also feel incredibly sad reading Race to the Kill. I was enjoying it so much and really felt that Sean Denton would have made a brilliant crime series that would have given readers many great reads, if only the author had lived longer.

If you like your police crime thrillers then you’re bound to enjoy Race To The Kill. I wish that I could be looking forward to the next book in the series.

Blurb:

It is the middle of a long night shift for PC Sean Denton and his partner PC Gavin Wentworth when they are approached by a dishevelled-looking woman desperate that they follow her. She leads them to the old Chasebridge High School where they find the dead body of a Syrian refugee. The investigation which points to the neighbouring greyhound stadium finds Denton caught up in a world of immigration, drugs and sexual abuse, and one in which his private life becomes increasingly entwined.

About The Author:

Helen Cadbury was a York based writer whose debut novel, To Catch a Rabbit, was joint winner of the Northern Crime Award. 
 
Helen was born in the Midlands and brought up in Birmingham and Oldham, Lancashire. 
 
Helen died in June 2017.

 

Race To The Kill by Helen Cadbury is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.  

Q&A with author MJ Arlidge! @mjarlidge @angelaontour #graceland

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When I got an email asking me whether I wanted to be one of seven bloggers to interview Matt Arlidge about one of his books I jumped at the chance. Regular readers of my little blog will know how much I love Arlidge’s Helen Grace books and that he is one of my absolute favourite authors so you might be able to imagine just how excited I was. I was asked which book of his I wanted to ask Matt vabout and I didn’t have to think twice, Eeny Meeny was the first book in the series and my absolute favourite. I first read it in January 2015 after hearing some buzz about it, two and a half years later I can tell you a lot about it, not just the shocking storyline but also how I felt reading it. I very much doubt that there is another book that I read in 2015 that I could say the same about.

I’ve found two different blurbs for Eeny Meeny, one I found when I was trying to come up with my questions for Matt but the other seems to be more prevalent so I’ll put that one here, but the one that I read gave me question two, as that is a question asked in the blurb. I just love that Matt thought that it was an enjoyable unpleasant question! So, without further ado, here’s the blurb of Eeny Meeny followed by my Q&A with M.J. Arlidge.

Blurb:

The “dark, twisted, thought-provoking” (#1 New York Times bestseller Tami Hoag) international bestseller–first in the new series featuring Detective Helen Grace.

Two people are abducted, imprisoned, and left with a gun. As hunger and thirst set in, only one walks away alive.

It’s a game more twisted than any Detective Helen Grace has ever seen. If she hadn’t spoken with the shattered survivors herself, she almost wouldn’t believe them.

Helen is familiar with the dark sides of human nature, including her own, but this case–with its seemingly random victims–has her baffled. But as more people go missing, nothing will be more terrifying than when it all starts making sense….

Q&A:

Hi Matt! Thanks so much for joining me on If Only I Could Read Faster. Regular readers of my blog will know how much I love your Helen Grace series and how excited I am to have you stopping by.

  1. The premise for Eeny Meeny was shocking, how did you come up with the storyline and did you find it difficult to write about the characters in such an awful situation?

I was interested in writing a story about competition culture. When I came up with Eeny Meeny, reality shows were in their pomp. Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity and other shows were actively encouraging us to judge other people – who do we like more, who’s hottest – and then discard those found wanting. I thought it would be interesting if a serial killer did something similar, raising the stakes so it became a case of life and death. The point was to ask questions about how we value people. If a woman was imprisoned with a man, the gun lying between them, should the man be chivalrous and let the woman live? Likewise, if a mother was imprisoned with a woman who doesn’t have kids, should the latter spare the former, because her life is somehow worth more? It’s knotty, moral territory and something I was keen to explore. I was also interested in serial killer’s calling cards – this is a trope in fiction and in real life – and I wanted to play with this notion. Wouldn’t it be interesting, I thought, if in Eeny Meeny the calling cards were not a glove or a printed letter or what have you, but rather living breathing beings. I loved this idea, so in my debut novel the survivors – tortured by guilt and the knowledge of what they’ve done to survive – are effectively the killer’s calling cards.

  1. Would you rather lose your life or lose your mind?

What an enjoyably unpleasant question. And not an easy one to answer. I’d like to be dramatic and say my life, but I suspect I’d plump for the latter, in the fond hope that I would one day recover my senses. In terms of the Eeny Meeny dilemma, I’ve always suspected I would kill, rather than be killed.

  1. Do you have any regrets of how you have treated any of your characters? Anything that would change if you could?

Absolutely not! Not because everything I write is great – far from it! – but because I never flinch from making tough decisions. There have been times during the writing of the novels, when editors etc have said “Are you sure you want to kill that character? People really like them.”, but I have generally ignored them, favouring the honest, logical conclusion of a story, rather than a fudged decision made for the wrong reasons. Everyone gets rocks thrown at them in my stories – I treat everyone equally!

  1. I have heard that Eeny Meeny is being made into a tv series. As you used to write screenplays why have you decided not to be involved with adapting your own book?

For the simple reason that I’d already told the story once and wasn’t keen to rehash it in a screenplay. I was – and remain – far more interested in moving Helen’s story forward, than in going over familiar ground.

  1. Why did you decide to have a female lead detective? How did you find it as a man writing a woman’s character?

Three reasons. First, because I think women are more interesting than men both in life and fiction. Men are predictable and relatively simple in their desires, women are much more complex and nuanced – and thus more interesting to write. Second, because life is harder for women, which is good in terms of creating an interesting protagonist – you want to be able to throw as many rocks as possible at your main characters. And lastly, because it just feels like the hour of the woman in crime fighting fiction. All the interesting crime fighters of recent years – Lisbeth Salander, Sarah Lund, Saga Noren – have been female. How do I find writing them? No different from writing male characters really – I just imagine what might be going through their head and off I go…

  1. Helen has an interesting way of dealing with the stress of her job, can you tell me a bit more about why that became part of the story?

I guess we’re talking about the S&M element! Well, I wanted to avoid a lot of the cliches of the genre – hard drinking male cop with marital problems etc etc. So I created a female copper who was tea total and allergic to relationships. However, everybody needs a pressure release, Helen more than most given her traumatic back story, so I opted for pain. Whenever Helen feels the dark clouds descending she heads to her dominator and manages her feelings through the controlled use of pain. I wanted to make Helen different and I thought that it would be interesting if the person she had the closest personal relationship with was the man she paid to beat her.

  1. You pitched seven Helen Grace books to penguin, who thankfully got very excited. Have all the books you pitched stayed as you set out or did you make changes as you wrote them? How many more Helen Grace books do you have planned?

Some of them made it into print, but several fell by the wayside as I came up with better ideas! My point in pitching the seven books was not to faithfully follow those ideas, but more to show that both Helen and the series had legs. There are many more Helen Grace books planned – as long as people keep buying them, I’ll keep writing them!

  1. Do you have any strange writing quirks?

Not really, I’m quite boring. If I have a quirk, it’s my tendency to wave a wand around when searching for inspiration. My kids gave me a replica of Voldemort’s wand for my birthday and occasionally I find a touch of Slytherin aids the writing process.

  1. Can you tell us one thing about Eeny Meeny that we, your readers, won’t know?

It was originally called “Nemesis” – a truly terrible title. I have my agent to thank for coming up with a better one.

Quickfire questions:

Favourite music while you write?

Classical music, especially choral religious music. Very sinister.

Favourite snack while you write?

Wasabi peas or jelly babies. It’s a mood thing…

Favourite place to write?

Anywhere where I can people watch.

Strangest feedback or review comment?

Someone once gave a copy of Eeny Meeny to a friend who he feared was trying to starve himself to death, in order to try and jolt him out of it. I wasn’t convinced of the wisdom of this and was slightly freaked out by it.

Book you’ve read that you wish you wrote?

The Silence of the Lambs. I think it’s a near perfect crime novel.

 

Well, I hope that you enjoyed that! If you haven’t read any Helen Grace books then why not??!! Definitely start with Eeny Meeny and then Pop Goes The Weasel. I’ve reviewed the rest of the books from the series on here, The Doll’s HouseLiar LiarLittle Boy Blue, No Way Back, Hide and Seek,  and Love Me Not. You can buy all of the Helen Grace books on M.J. Arlidge’s Amazon UK and Amazon US author page.

 

#blogtour House Of Spines by Michael J Malone @MichaelJMalone1 @OrendaBooks #HouseOfSpines

House of Spines blog poster 2017

My Review:

House of Spines by Michael J Malone sucked me right in from the very beginning. Who hasn’t daydreamed that one day they found out that they had an inheritance from some very rich relative that they had never known about?? So when Ran, who was down on his luck and trying to make a living as an author was told that he now owned a very large home in the posh part of town, complete with swimming pool, housekeeper and a very large library, I couldn’t help but be drawn into the story.

Ran was very isolated before his inheritance, his wife left him after he suffered a breakdown and was diagnosed with bipolar, with both parents dead the only people that he had regular contact with were his agent and his neighbour. So a move was something that Ran was happy and able to do and short notice, so short that he didn’t take his medication with him. So when he started to see strange things in his new home and becomes convinced that there is a woman who lives in the lift of his new home we are never quite sure whether the woman is real or whether Ran is suffering another bipolar relapse after stopping his meds.

Malone writes Ran’s descent into madness very well, and it was hard not to get caught up in it at times. Suspicion and paranoia cause Ran to isolate himself further and soon isn’t sure who he can trust. When his cousins attempt to manipulate Ran into agreeing to sell the mansion that has become his home will Ran have the strength to stand up to them?

I really enjoyed reading House of Spines, it’s a cleverly written book that I’m still trying to work out!

Blurb:

House of Spines front

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman … A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

About The Author:

Michael Malone Photo

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

 

House Of Spines By Michael J Malone is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

#blogtour Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys. @MsTamarCohen @PenguinRHUK #RachelRhys #ADangerousCrossing

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I was very excited when I got an email asking me if I would like to be part of the blog tour for the paperback release of Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys. I’m a big fan of Tammy Cohen. author of psychological thrillers including When She Was Bad and the brilliant First One Missing. When I heard that she was releasing a historical fiction book under the name Rachel Rhys I was disappointed as this would mean that she would be taking time out from writing psychological thrillers and because I did not want to read historical fiction. When Dangerous Crossing was released on Kindle it got great reviews and I was slightly tempted but I’d never been interested in reading historical fiction. But then I read a book, Block 46which had parts set in the past and I found that I actually really enjoyed those bits and figured that I was probably missing out by discounting all historical fiction books and I knew that Dangerous Crossing was the book that I should read to change that.

My Review:

I’d heard a lot of positive things about Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys aka Tammy Cohen whose psychological thriller books I loved, so I was excited to read this book.

I found that I was quickly pulled into the story of Lily, a young English woman who was travelling to Australia for what promised to be an exciting adventure. With some trepidation, Lily boarded the Orontes, a large boat that would take Lily and many others on the long journey. Lily was travelling under the assisted travel scheme which was set up to encourage young women to move to Australia to work in the houses of those rich enough to afford staff.

Although travelling standard class Lily found herself thrown into a world where she lived among others who had much higher social standings than she did. She soon found herself drawn to Edward and his sister with whom she shared the dinner table. Things didn’t always go smoothly though, with the threat of war back at home people were divided and the Jewish travellers found themselves shunned by many, although no by Lily. Lily herself was popular on the boat and even Max and Eliza, an extravagant couple travelling in first class, were drawn to Lily and Edward and keen to spend time with them.

Dangerous Crossing is beautifully written, I felt so drawn into life on the boat and could picture the scenes and imagine myself right there with Lily. There were many different characters in the book who all added a richness to the story and showed how people from many different walks of life were thrown together on board and how they coped with this.

As Australia draws closer Lily realises that she had let herself get caught up with life on the boat and that once she was on land she would soon be working for the very people that she had been socialising with. I loved this bit, society was so different then and the expectation that people would socialise and marry within the same circle and class that they were born into, it really was fascinating to think about.

And Rhys hasn’t totally left her psychological thriller past behind, we know from the start that something happens on the boat, that a woman leaves it in handcuffs, but we’re never quite sure until right at the end exactly what had happened. A great twist to end a superb book.

Blurb:

 

Dangerous Crossing Cover

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys.

 

England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.

What has she done?

About The Author:

Rachel Rhys+©+Johnny Ring

I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria where my anthropologist father happened to be doing fieldwork at the time. Sabbatical years in far-flung places were a feature of my childhood and I attended school in both Sierra Leone and California. Otherwise, I mostly grew up in the suburbs of London where my adolescence was spent either in the local library or waiting for the last tube home.

After taking an American Studies degree at Manchester University I taught English in Madrid. While working as a secretary back in London, I started writing features and hand-delivering them to the magazine publishing house around the corner. The day the first one got accepted, I packed in my job and declared myself a freelance journalist, which is basically what I remained for the next twenty years, writing features for national magazines and newspapers, such as Marie Claire, The Times and The Telegraph, and then moving on to non fiction books. My dream was always to write fiction but it wasn’t until I was forty-seven that I finally conquered the self doubt and my first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge was published.

These days I live in North London with my partner and three (nearly) grown children and one very badly behaved dog. Together with my family I spent four happy years living in Spain from 2004 to 2008 and I live in fear of people finding this out and asking me something in Spanish at which I remain shamefully inept.

My first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge, was followed by three more contemporary fiction titles under the name Tamar Cohen – The War of the WivesSomeone Else’s Wedding and The Broken.

In November 2014, my first crime novel, Dying For Christmas was published under the name Tammy Cohen, followed by First One Missing a year later, and When She Was Bad in April 2016. My latest, They All Fall Down is published in July 2017.

Writing as Rachel RhysDangerous Crossing, my first foray into historical mystery was published in March 2017.

I am a member of the Killer Women collective of London-based female UK crime writers.

 

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

#BlogTour Our Altered Life by Charlene Beswick @ouralteredlife

 

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Our Altered Life by Charlene Beswick.

 

My Review:

When I saw that Charlene Beswick was looking for people to read and review her book, Our Altered Life, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. For the story of a mum who had twins with one of them having a life-changing disability could have been my story. I have twins and when I was pregnant I was told that there was a very high chance that one of my twins had a disability. Further testing showed that this wasn’t the case, but it had really made me think about how I would manage twins when one had a profound disability.

So, intrigued and also keen to support a fellow twin mum I agreed to read Our Altered Life. I was a little bit unsure, the author was writing this book about her life and her experience, she hadn’t written anything published before so I really wasn’t sure how the book would read. Would it have grammatical errors and spelling mistakes? Well, thankfully the answer to that was no. I don’t know what process the author went through prior to publishing Our Altered Life, but the book has clearly been proofread and edited.

Our Altered Life is very readable, the author’s writing is almost chatty so it often felt like I was sitting and chatting with her over a cup of tea. At times I felt that she went out of her way to insist and perhaps convince us that although she had been shocked when Harry was born, she did still love him and wouldn’t change him. It was clear from reading the book that she loved Harry and that she would do anything and everything to help him, so she really didn’t need to keep telling us that.

The other niggle that I had when reading the book was that her second husband seemed to come and go at random through the story, at one point we were told that he had moved in and his children from a previous relationship were often there too, but then we heard many stories and events that made no mention of him being there. I wasn’t sure what happened and why he was excluded like that, it was almost like the author had forgotten that he had even been there.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Our Altered Life, it wasn’t always an easy read but it was heartwarming and made me want to hug my children just that little bit tighter. Charlie Beswick is clearly a very strong and resilient woman, I can only wonder whether I would have coped half as well as she has.

Blurb:

GRS MACHIN13

After a healthy twin pregnancy, Charlene and Mark were shocked to be told that one of their boys had been born with half of his face undeveloped. In seconds, the happy family future they had been planning disintegrated into turmoil and uncertainty.

Laugh out loud funny in places, heart-wrenchingly sad in others, and refreshingly honest at all times, Our Altered Life is Charlene’s wonderful account of how she struggled to forgive herself and bond with a baby she didn’t expect. Follow her transition through grief and anger, challenges and triumphs, loss and acceptance, to love for the life she has now with two children she wouldn’t change for the world.

About the Author:

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Hi, I’m Charlie, mum to twins Oliver and Harry and I am blogging about life as a parent of a child with special needs at Our Altered Life. I chronicle the highs and lows of a life less ordinary and the challenges and adventures we all face. When I’m not writing or working you will find me drinking gin, eating my own body weight in cheese and laminating stuff (you can take the girl out of teaching but you cant take the teacher out of the girl!).

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ouralteredlife/?hl=en

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ouralteredlife

Our Altered Life by Charlene Beswick will be released on 29th September 2017 nd will be available to pre-order soon.

#review The Foster Child by @JennyBlackhurst @headlinepg

 

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The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst.

 

My Review:

I have enjoyed Jenny Blackhurst’s previous books so I was looking forward to reading The Foster Child.

When Imogen reluctantly returns to her childhood home with her husband she is apprehensive about her new start in a town that she hated and a home that never quite felt like a home. To make matters worse she is also starting a new job, one that she was forced to take after leaving her previous role after something happened with a child that she was treating.

When Imogen is assigned Ellie, a young girl who lost her family in a fire who is now being looked after in a foster home, we know that all is not as it seems when Imogen discovers that her teachers are scared of her and her foster mother thinks that when Ellie gets angry things go wrong and people get hurt.

Imogen defends Ellie and soon oversteps her boundaries, seeing Ellie outside of work hours and taking her shopping for new clothes. While everyone is suspicious of Ellie, Imogen becomes more determined to help her and to show everyone that they are wrong. But are they?

I thought that The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst is brilliantly written and woven, the characters are all believable and the reader is never quite sure what is really going on with Ellie.

What I liked most was that everyone’s behaviour and actions had a reason which helped to make it all so much more real and believable, the author had thought about everything and I couldn’t help but be impressed.

Overall, The Foster Child is a great read that takes the reader on a real journey where you won’t be sure what is really happening, then you’ll think that you worked it out before you realise just how cleverly written The Foster Child is.

Blurb:

The brilliant new novel from Jenny Blackhurst , the #1 eBook bestselling author of HOW I LOST YOU , which Clare Mackintosh called ‘utterly gripping’ and BEFORE I LET YOU IN If you love Louise Jensen’s THE GIFT or SK Tremayne’s THE ICE TWINS you will love this.

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.

Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she’s just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger…

About The Author:

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Jenny Blackhurst lives in Shropshire with her husband, two sons and their dog, Woody. Until recently she worked at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, resigning in August 2017 to follow her dream of becoming a full time writer. These days she watches Netflix in her pjs until mid day and eats chocolate (whilst working on her fourth novel of course).

The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst is out on 21st September 2017 and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US to pre-order.

#review The Fox In The Box by @AmandaGeeAuthor illustrated by Lee Holland.

 

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The Fox in the Box by Amanda Gee.

 

My Review:

When author Amanda Gee was asking for people to read and review her children’s book, The Fox In The Box I thought that it was probably a bit young for my almost seven year old children, but the cover was so adorable that I couldn’t resist.

And I’m so pleased that I didn’t. We all loved the book, the cute illustrations by Lee Holland work so perfectly with the story, it was fun to read and made my children think about animals and their homes. This really is a wonderful book, it is short but perfect and the rhyming words work really well. The font is clear and easy to read, although my children regularly ask me to read it to them they are both able to read it themselves too.

After reading this book I will definitely be looking out for more from Amanda Gee and I will definitely be buying The Fox in the Box as presents.

Blurb:

When Lydia finds a lost baby fox outside her back door, they set off together to look for his family. But on the way, they discover a terrible disaster is about to overtake their village. Can they stop it…..and will the cub find what he’s looking for?

About the Author:

I have lived in Suffolk all my life and have had a passion for the environment and wildlife for a very long time. In my books for children as well as teaching them about friendship and kindness, I am trying to help educate them about the fantastic world we live in and the amazing animals we share it with.

The Fox In The Box by Amanda Gee and illustrated by Lee Holland is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.