Blog Tour: Being Simon Haines by Tom Vaughan MacAulay @RedDoorBooks

#WhoIsSimonHaines @TomMacAulay80 @RedDoorBooks

Hello and welcome to one of the final few stops on the Being Simon Haines blog tour.

About the book:

Meet Simon Haines.
BeingSimon_FrontCover

For a decade he’s been chasing his dream: partnership at the legendary, family-run law firm of Fiennes & Plunkett. The grueling hours and manic intensity of his job have come close to breaking him, but he has made it through the years and is now within a whisker of his millions: in less than two weeks, he will know the outcome of the partnership vote. He decides to spend the wait in Cuba in an attempt to rediscover his youthful enthusiasm and curiosity, and to clear his mind before the arrival of the news that might change his life forever. But alone in Havana he becomes lost in nostalgia and begins to relive his past…

Set against the backdrop of an uncertain world, and charged with emotion, Being Simon Haines is a searching story about contemporary London and aspiration, values and love. Painting a picture of a generation of young professionals, it asks the most universal of questions: are we strong enough to know who we are?

Author: Tom Vaughan MacAulay
Paperback: 425 pages
Published by: RedDoor Books, 22 June 2017

My thoughts…

Frenzied, stressful city life is at the heart of this novel as Simon Haines works ridiculous hours at Fiennes & Plunkett – on the brink of propelling his career further, he decides to have a trip to Cuba.

The narrative is beautifully descriptive, full of anecdotes and humour, with flashbacks delving into Simon’s past. We see how his relationships have panned out, and influenced him personally, including that with his ex-girlfriend Sophie. The characters are well developed and complex; my perception of Simon changed as the story progressed. I didn’t warm to him at first, but as we learn more about him I grew to like him. As his backstory unravelled he became more human and thus easier to connect to as a character.

I particularly enjoyed the sections in Cuba, where Simon spends time rediscovering himself – this offered a much-needed, fantastic, calming contrast to his frenetic, chaotic corporate life.

If you’re looking for an intelligent read which is something a little bit different then I highly recommend Being Simon Haines – it is a refreshing take on what sacrifices are made in order to pursue lifelong happiness, as well as the consequences these actions can have along the way.

About Tom Vaughan MacAulay: 

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Tom Vaughan MacAulay was born in Chester in 1980. Tom is a solicitor and has worked both in London and Milan during his career. He currently lives in North London and is in the process of completing his second novel.

You can see the other posts on the Being Simon Haines blog tour here:

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I was sent an advanced review copy of Being Simon Haines from RedDoor Books in exchange for a fair, unbiased and honest review. Thanks RedDoor!

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour: Two Lost Boys by L.F. Robertson

#TitanBooks #BookReview #BlogTour @TitanBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Two Lost Boys by L.F. Robertson. A big thank you to Philippa at Titan Books for organizing, and including me, on this blog tour.

About the book:

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Janet Moodie has spent years as a death row appeals attorney. Overworked and recently widowed, she’s had her fill of hopeless cases, and is determined that this will be her last. Her client is Marion ‘Andy’ Hardy, convicted along with his brother Emory of the rape and murder of two women. But Emory received a life sentence while Andy got the death penalty, labeled the ringleader despite his low IQ and Emory’s dominant personality.

Convinced that Andy’s previous lawyers missed mitigating evidence that would have kept him off death row, Janet investigates Andy’s past. She discovers a sordid and damaged upbringing, a series of errors on the part of his previous counsel, and most worrying of all, the possibility that there is far more to the murders than was first thought. Andy may be guilty, but does he deserve to die?

Paperback: 400 pages
Published by:
Titan Books, 16 May – you can order a copy here

My thoughts…

As with any crime book I will keep my review brief as I don’t want to give away any spoilers, ruining the twists and turns of the book for you!

Two Lost Boys is a legal thriller that grips hard as we follow Janet Moodie’s progress during the sentencing of Andy Hardy.

If you’re interested in learning more about the justice system and US prisons then this one is for you. Whilst the characters in Two Lost Boys are complex, the plot and narrative is a little simple, but that’s no bad thing as the story flows exceptionally well. For me, Robertson’s career and legal insights bring the story to life and are what make it.

Justice sits at the heart of the novel; with a man on death row, will a fair trial be had? Innocence, guilt, mercy and grief are also explored throughout, with Robertson’s writing making the legal technicalities easy to digest and understand.

Overall, Two Lost Boys is a compelling, brooding novel full of dark, intense pockets – to the point where it felt quite oppressive at times. I found it fascinating how Robertson drew on her professional experiences to write the book; this made it an authentic, detailed read, with real insight into the criminal justice system.

About the author:

L.F. Robertson is a practising defense attorney who for the last two decades has handled only death penalty appeals. Linda is the co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Unsolved Mysteries, and a contributor to the forensic handbooks How to Try a Murder and Irrefutable Evidence. She has had short stories published in the anthologies My Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: the Hidden Years and Sherlock Holmes: The American Years.

You can see the other posts from the blog tour here:

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I received an advanced copy of Two Lost Boys from the lovely Philippa at Titan Books for an honest and unbiased review – thank you, 

 

 

 

Blog Tour: Obsession by Amanda Robson

 

@AvonBooks UK @HarperCollinsUK @LadySion #BlogTour #BookReview

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Obsession by Amanda Robson.

About the book… 

Obsession

One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: who else would you go for, if you could?

It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.

Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenny. They’re lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman’s husband and another man’s wife ever just be good friends?

Little by little, Carly’s question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?

Paperback: 1st June 2017 – you can pre-order here
Published by: Avon Books

My thoughts…

I absolutely raced through Obsession. A fast paced read, the story is full of twists and turns and is told from four perspectives by the two couples, Rob, Carly, Jenny and Craig, which I loved. The story is made up of a tangled web of deceit, domestic unhappiness, sexual deviance and bad decisions. Obsession is a dark domestic thriller that I definitely recommend reading.

4/5

Give it a go if you enjoyed: One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis or What Alice Knew by TA Cotterell

I’m also lucky enough to be able to share a short extract with you today – I hope you enjoy it!

Rob is away. Jenni is away. The children are all at my house for a blast – as much fun as it is possible for young people to have. I have taken them to Snakes and Ladders again. I hope they don’t get fed up of it. I can’t cope with looking after so many children if I have to do anything more strenuous. I’ve taken them to McDonalds, too. I have let them choose a bag of sweets each at the sweet shop on Church Street, the old-fashioned one with a bow window, black and white floor tiles and rows of jars containing everything from aniseed balls to toffee bon-bons. Now they are wide-eyed with exhaustion, ready for bed, sitting in a row on our sofa watching a weird cartoon, a cross between Pokémon and Frozen. If Jenni knew about the sugar they’ve eaten I know she wouldn’t approve. Her nose would wriggle in that strange way I used to think was cute. I am sick of the bitch-whore’s tricks – wriggling her nose like Samantha in Bewitched.

I open a bottle of wine while the children watch the end of the cartoon. Just one glass before Craig arrives. It slips down so quickly; I can’t have poured as much as I thought, so I top it up. Melon and blackcurrant. Perhaps a hint of raspberry. As soon as the cartoon is over, I snap off the TV. I stand up and try and look jovial, smiling like one of those inane CBeebies presenters.

‘Race time. Upstairs and into bed. The winner gets a surprise tomorrow.’

And so they hurtle past me, squealing and shoving. I have to intervene as Luke is almost pushed down the stairs. Pippa is the winner. Matt and John whinge. Mark and Luke don’t complain; they have been well trained by Jenni. They clean their teeth and snuggle into bed like a pair of little angels. As soon as I’ve got them all settled, the doorbell rings.

Craig.

He is here. Stepping into my hallway, handing me a bottle of Merlot and a bunch of pink carnations. He plants a kiss on each of my cheeks, irradiating me with the scent of his after­shave. I thank him and he follows me into our compact, candlelit kitchen where the table is laid for supper. I retrieve the opened wine from the sitting room, surprised to see that only half of the bottle is left, and pour us two large glasses. He watches me serve up the oysters I nipped off to buy while the children were choosing sweets. I’ve never liked them, they taste of seawater, but Jenni once told me they were Craig’s favourite. So tonight, oysters it is.

You can see the other bloggers posts here:

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Blog Tour: The Search by Howard Linskey

#BlogTour #BookReview @PenguinUKBooks @HowardLinskey @JennyPlatt90

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Search by Howard Linskey – I’ve got a review of the book for you today. Enjoy!

A bit about the book…

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Someone knows where the bodies are buried…

Little Susan Verity went missing during the heatwave of 1976. An unprecedented amount of police resource went into finding her, but to no avail. Until now. 

Convicted serial killer Adrian Wicklow was always the prime suspect. In the past, he’s repeatedly lied to the police about where Susan’s body is buried – playing a sick game from behind bars. But this time, he says, he’ll tell the truth. Because Adrian Wicklow is dying.

Detective Ian Bradshaw works with investigative journalists Helen Norton and Tom Carney to find the body. However, this is Wicklow’s life’s work. Would a murderer on death’s door give up his last secret so easily…?

The Search is the third book in the series, with No Name Lane and Behind Dead Eyes preceding it. If you’ve not read any of Linskey’s previous books, don’t fear as The Search works wonderfully as a standalone novel.

Paperback: 4th May 2017
Published by: Penguin Books

My thoughts… 

Set in Durham and centred around the case of missing Susan Verity, The Search is told from multiple perspectives – which I’m a huge fan of – as Detective Ian Bradshaw teams up with investigative journalists Helen Norton and Tom Carney to solve the 20 year old, re-opened mystery.

Early on, Bradshaw is sent to the prison where the terminally ill, suspected murderer Adrian Wicklow is locked up. The mind games begin as Wicklow gives Bradshaw an audio recording of his ‘real story’, promising that it would lead him to the missing bodies. This game of cat and mouse made me squirm; it was intense and angry, played out so well by the two characters, making my heart beat and my blood boil.

Wicklow is an intriguingly devious character, with a complex and troubled disposition. I found it fascinating how Howard Linskey portrayed him, as well as the affect that his personality had on DS Bradshaw – the more that he is exposed to Wicklow’s evil side, the more the case starts encroaching on his personal life, with the onset of night terrors. I was also fascinated by Helen and Tom’s relationship and was hoping for a different outcome (I won’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil any of the plot!). The parallel storyline of the mystery woman meant there was always lots going on, keeping me thoroughly interested throughout the book.

Whilst the story is a slow burner, it is also full of great dialogue and accurate descriptions. The Search is full of plot twists and the clues slowly unfold into a surprising conclusion. This book has everything I love (and want!) from a crime thriller: gritty characters, multiple perspectives, a shifting time narrative and parallel plots.

The Search gets a big thumbs up from me!

4/5

Give this a go if you enjoyed: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole or Ashes to Ashes by Paul Finch

About Howard Linskey: Howard Linskey is the author of the David Blake series, the first of which, The Drop, was selected as one of the ‘Top Five Crime Thrillers of the Year’ by The Times, and he has been called “one of the most commanding crime fiction practitioners at work today” by the Financial Times. His latest, The Search is out next week. Perfect for fans of gritty BBC Drama’s Broadchurch and The Fall, The Search is completely gripping and works brilliantly as a standalone title.

The Search blog tour has one more stop tomorrow (11th May), but you can find the other stops here:

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I received an advanced copy of The Search from the publishers in exchange for a fair an unbiased review. 

Book Review: Diary of an Oxygen Thief by Anonymous

“Romance has killed more people than cancer. Okay…maybe not killed but dulled more lives.”

The story of Holden Caulfield is one of a sociopath.

Hurt people hurt people. Say Holden Caulfield was an alcoholic and Lolita was a photographer’s assistant and somehow they met in Bright Lights Big City. He’s blinded by love. She by ambition.

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As a result of years of pain and abuse the narrator is trapped inside his own head – after years of alcoholism, Caulfield turns to a life of sobriety. Whilst desperately trying to get his life back on track, it later gets turned upside down once more by a preying female. His world comes undone.

Written in first person, this tale is full of misogyny, arrogance and narcissism. Throughout the book the voice of the narrator got on my nerves, as he didn’t feel like an authentic character. In fact, I think the main purpose of the book was to make the reader dislike him; he wants us to pity him.

Penned by an anonymous author, I’m unsure if the story is fiction or non-fiction – the lines are blurred. It is simplistic in places, whilst being raw and full of sadness in others. Some of the things are true-to-life, whilst others are hard to ever imagine being real. Overall, I think this is a bit of a marmite book – you’re likely to either love it or hate it, sadly it just didn’t do it for me.

2/5

Author: Anonymous
Published by: NLVI Publishers
Paperback: 143 pages

Book Review: Love Me Not (DI Helen Grace #7) by M.J. Arlidge

#Penguin #BookReview @MJArlidge

This review contains a couple of small spoilers – beware!

As a long-time fangirl of DI Helen Grace I’ve been super excited for the next instalment in the series; it was almost time to get my next fix. Being an eager beaver I’d pre-ordered a copy of the seventh book as I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, however in the end the book Gods were looking down on me and I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy for review from the publicist (Thank you Angela, you made my day!).

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Set over a single 24-hour period, Love Me Not is a fast-paced thriller with short, punchy chapters that are punctuated by time as the action bounds in. Early in the morning DI Grace is confronted with a brutal death – an innocent woman has been killed on her way to work. Soon the team is called out to the next crime, which is when they realise they have more on their hands than originally thought. Once again a serial killer is on the loose. I won’t say too much else about the plot as I don’t want to give anything major away.

I read Love Me Not in two short sittings – from the first page I was on the edge of my seat and eager to know the conclusion. Like the others in the series it doesn’t disappoint, it’s a crime thriller full of adrenaline, action, gore and suspense. Arlidge’s writing is succinct and snappy; it never fails to hook me in.

Love Me Not didn’t contain as much of Helen Grace’s backstory and personal life as the other six, which makes it great as a stand-alone novel if you’re yet to read any others in the series. She shows a lot more humility and lightness, with little focus on her dark past. As usual, the characters were dark and brooding – I was convinced that Arlidge was going to kill off the pesky, determined journalist Emilia Garanita, but sadly not this time!

If you are new to M.J. Arlidge’s work I heartily recommend that you start at book number one: Eeny Meeny. You won’t be disappointed!

I can’t wait to see what is next for Helen Grace!

 4/5

Give it a go if you enjoyed:  The DS Heck series by Paul Finch or Jo Nesbo

Author: M. J. Arlidge
Published by: Michael Joseph (Penguin)
Hardback: 352 pages

Love Me Not will be published 18th May and can be pre-ordered through my book depository link, here.

Book Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

#BookReview @IKillNovel #SeeWhatIHaveDone

Lizzie Borden took an axe,

And gave her Mother forty whacks,

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her Father forty-one.

See What I Have Done is a gripping retelling of the Lizzie Borden murders, that took place in 1892. Living in the UK I wasn’t too familiar with this rhyme, but apparently it is very well known in the US (perhaps I’ve just been living under a rock?).

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The tale is cleverly told from multiple perspectives, which I’m a huge fan of, and is predominantly set over the 3rd and 4th August 1892. We hear from a range of characters including Lizzie Borden, her sister Emma, the family’s maid Bridget and Benjamin – an acquaintance of Lizzie’s Uncle. As the story unfolds we start to question who is telling the truth and whether Lizzie was alone during her killing spree and if it was even her that committed the murder of her Father and step-mother!

As a character Lizzie is chillingly dark and devious, with a wicked streak painted through her. We see this during her interactions with her sister and father. As a thirty-two-year-old living at home, the book makes us question her – why is she a spinster living in the family home, unmarried and without children? In the late 19th Century this would have been something of an oddity.

The narrative is effortless to read and brilliantly claustrophobic. I felt like a fly on the wall in the Borden household seeing the sadness and madness erupt from within. Schmidt’s writing is vivid, an absolute assault on the senses; you see, hear, feel and taste everything that happens at 92 Second Street, from the juicy overripe pears that the characters devour to the molten blood that is congealing on the floorboards beneath her Father’s head.

One thing to remember is that this is a story about a crime, and a literary historical thriller, so fans of more hard-core, gory, detective mysteries might find this a lighter, easier read (but I should add that it’s one that’s well worth it!).

This is a well-researched true crime story that really gets under your skin; I was utterly absorbed from the first page to the last. A fantastic debut to keep an eye out for!

4/5

Give it a go if you enjoyed: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet or The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

Author: Sarah Schmidt
Published by: Tinder Press
Hardback: 336 pages

See What I Have Done will be published in the UK on 2nd May 2017 – you can pre-order through my book depository link here.