Blog Tour: Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman

How far would you go for revenge on your ex? Welcome to the blog tour for Jo Jakeman’s debut thriller, Sticks and Stones.

About the book: 

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Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.

In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?

 

  • Published by: Harvill Secker
  • Published: 12th July 2018
  • 368 Pages

My thoughts:

Sticks and Stones is a sharp, dark and engrossing read full of twists and turns. It’s a solid debut novel and perfect if you want to get stuck in to a good domestic thriller. The book is fast paced and full of complex characters – as the plot unfolds, it switches time periods between the past and present, which keeps you intrigued and interested in the action throughout. At times it is a little over the top and farfetched, however I was still gripped throughout and couldn’t get through it quick enough – particularly the second half of the book. I’m looking forward to seeing what Jo Jakeman does next. If you’re keen to read an original thriller, then I highly recommend Sticks and Stones.

About the author:

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Jo was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. Sticks and Stones is her debut thriller. Find out more at http://www.jojakeman.com

You can read the other posts on the blog tour here:

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Blog Tour: A Breath After Drowning by Alice Blanchard

Today, I’m on the blog tour for A Breath After Drowning by Alice Blanchard, published by Titan Books.

About the book:

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Child psychiatrist Kate Wolfe’s world comes crashing down when one of her young patients commits suicide, so when a troubled girl is left at the hospital ward, she doubts her ability to help. But the girl knows things about Kate’s past, things she shouldn’t know, forcing Kate to face the murky evidence surrounding her own sister s murder sixteen years before. A murder for which a man is about to be executed.

Unearthing secrets about her own family, and forced to face both her difficult relationship with her distant father and the possibility that her mother might also have met a violent end, the shocking final twist brings Kate face to face with her deepest fear.

Paperback: 400 pages
Published by: Titan Books
Author: Alice Blanchard

My review:

A Breath After Drowning is a tense, page-turner of a book – a psychological thriller that really packs a punch.

Kate, the central character, is complex – full of guilt, mental health struggles and intelligence. At times, she is dark, brooding and intense, so it was refreshing to see other light-hearted relationships alongside this – her boyfriend’s character added depth and a little humour to the book. This juxtaposition was very much needed amongst the grief and darkness that plagued the rest of the novel. Whilst ABAD is character-led, the author has done a great job ensuring you’re invested in the plot, making sure you want to know how every element of the story unfolds.

The book is a little slow in places, but that by no means detracts from the plot, as the pace later increases, with tension firing up on all cylinders.

I’m also a huge fan of books set over multiple time periods – Blanchard creates a rich puzzle of past and present events, overlapping wonderfully. I love discovering new authors and this has definitely intrigued me, leaving me wanting to read more by Alice Blanchard. I highly recommend ABAD – engrossing from the first page, to the last.

You can catch the other blog posts on the tour, here:

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Thank you to Philippa, from Titan Books, for sending me an advanced copy of the book – this is an honest and unbiased review. 

Blog Tour: The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl

Another day, another blog tour – today, I’m here with The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl, published by the wonderful Orenda Books.

About the book

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The Oslo Detectives are back in another slice of gripping, dark Nordic Noir, and their new colleague has more at stake than she’s prepared to reveal…When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated. Not only is she dealing with a cancer scare, a stalker and an untrustworthy boyfriend, but it seems both a politician and Norway’s security services might be involved in the murder.

With her trusted colleagues, Gunnarstranda and Frølich, at her side, Lena digs deep into the case and finds that it not only goes to the heart of the Norwegian establishment, but it might be rather to close to her personal life for comfort. Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmeris the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.

Publisher: Orenda Books
Paperback: 276 Pages
Translated by: Don Bartlett

A brief overview of my thoughts…

The Ice Swimmer is a wonderfully written Police Procedural, fronted by Lena who is a whip smart and strong female detective. Gripping from the start, it works wonderfully as a stand alone novel – this was the first book I’d read in The Oslo Detective series and I didn’t feel lost, or like I was missing any information.

Full of plot, twists and tales this kept me intrigued from the first to last page – I wanted to keep going until I found out what had happened. If you’re into your Nordic Noir, I’d recommend this clever, twisty tale.

About the author

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One of the godfathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjovik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frolich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

You can keep up with the other posts on the blog tour, here:

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As ever, a HUGE thank you to the wonderful Anne for organising another wonderful A Random Things Tour.  

March Reads

I would say ‘how has another month passed?’ but I seem to say the same thing every month, so I’ll save the spiel.

I had a real bumper month of reading and got stuck into some amazing books, so without further ado here’s an update

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – 4/5

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This one is nominated for the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction and is such a memorable read. Loneliness, depression and friendship are all explored through Eleanor’s wonderfully quirky and bereft character – Gail Honeyman has created such a complex, deep and believable character in Eleanor, one who is set in her ways until one small accident changes everything for her. There were bits of this book which weren’t perfect, however overall I absolutely loved it and would heartily recommend it to friends and family. 

An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato – 4/5

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When Katharine is found dead at the foot of her stairs, it is the mystery of her life that consumes her daughter, Laura. The book highlights that although, as we discover from her autopsy, Katherine has an unremarkable body she’s had a life full of hidden secrets. This book is a trip down memory lane, Laura longs for her dead Mother as she tries to figure out if she ever really knew her at all.

The F Word by Lily Pebbles – 3/5

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A modern-day tale of female friendship and its complexities, written by YouTuber Lily Pebbles. This was an easy read, but felt more like one long journal entry, than a study on friendship and was a little repetitive in places. For me, it lacked real substance and I think  it is probably better suited for a younger audience.

These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper – 4/5

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An absolute powerhouse of a book. These Dividing Walls starts as a cosy look at the people behind four walls in Paris and ends up being an explosive look at race, politics, terrorism and relationships. I’m not going to say much about the topic, or what happens, as I implore you to read it. Fran Cooper’s second novel – The Two Houses – is out now and I’ve made sure I’ve requested it at my local library.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell – 4/5

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Denmark is officially the happiest nation on Earth. When Helen Russell is forced to move to rural Jutland, can she discover the secrets of their happiness? This book is split into months of the year, with the writer exploring one element of Danish life in each chapter – covering everything from traditions to the harsh Danish winters. This was such an enjoyable, cosy read which made me question what makes me happy in my life, but most of all it made me want to move to Denmark. Sign me up, when do I leave? 

We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard

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A lyrical, literary crime story. – a poetic ode to the sea. At times I struggled with the flow of this book – it has a certain lilt to it and a very distinctive voice rhythm and style. Unfortunately, on this occasion I just think it was the wrong timing for me to read this.

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth – 4/5

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Described as a female version of Withnail and I, Animals is a raucous read from start to finish – it leaves you tired from Laura and Tyler’s high-octane escapades. However, underneath the drink, drugs and whirlwind lifestyles, it questions how we want our lives to pan-out, asking us when is the right time to grow up, as well as understanding what we might need to leave behind to achieve a happy life. A tale of female friendship, love and belonging.

Blog Tour: Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir (Orenda Books)

Hello and welcome to another blog tour! Today I’m taking part in the tour for Snare by Icelandic author Lilja Sigurdardóttir (translated by Quentin Bates). Thank you to Orenda Books for sending me an advanced copy and to Anne Cater for setting up the tour.

About the book:

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After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Orenda Books

My thoughts:

I love Iceland as a location for crime novels, so I was already excited about this one before I picked it up. The novel focuses on the drug trade in the country, as Sonia is caught up in smuggling drugs to make end meets as a single Mother. Told in short chapters the story has multiple narrators, changing perspective frequently, which is something I absolutely love – it keeps me hooked, interested and invested in a story.

I really enjoyed the different characters in Snare, from Sonia’s strength and straightforward thinking, to Bragi, the Customs Officer’s, warmth. For such a short book it certainly packs a punch – it’s fast-paced, concise and engaging from the first page. Full of tension and threat – particularly when Sonia travels through customs with a stash of drugs on her – Sigurdardóttir’s writing makes us look at what sacrifices we would make for family as well as questioning if we ever truly know the people we love. It shows us how ordinary people act differently when thrown into extraordinary circumstances in life.

The film rights have been bought for it and I can’t wait to see the creative treatment it receives. If you’re looking for a quick but compelling crime read, full of complex characters then check this one out (and read it before the movie comes out). I can’t wait to see what’s next in the series.

Verdict: 4/5

About Lilja:

Lilja Sigurðard.

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

You can catch the other posts on the blog tour here:

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I was very kindly sent an advanced copy of Snare in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review. Thank you Orenda Books. 

Blog Tour: The House by Simon Lelic (Penguin UK/ Viking)

Hello, welcome to my stop on The House blog tour – I’m very excited today to be able to share what I thought of the book with you today!

About the book:

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What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake. Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…  

Author: Simon Lelic
Paperback: 340 pages, Penguin UK (Viking) – published 3rd November 2017, available to pre-order here.
E-Book: Published 17th August, available here

My thoughts:

For some reason I was expecting The House to be full of supernatural mystery, with a ghost story linked to it. Spoiler: It isn’t. Looking back at the blurb I’ve got absolutely no idea where I got that from as it definitely sounds like a thriller, which is exactly what it is!

First of all, I love the way The House is narrated – I tend to gravitate toward books that are told through multiple perspectives and The House unfolds from both Jack and Syd’s points of view, so this immediately got a big tick from me. They recount the story to us, the reader, through their written account of what had happened at The House; the way they’ve documented the weird goings on is used cleverly as a plot device later in the book as we find out why they wanted to write everything down.

There are moments of extreme tension in The House; at times I had to read a couple of chapters more to a) find out what was happening because I was hooked and b) it creeped me out and I didn’t want to switch my light off! There was one section in particular that had me listening out for every sound in my house. The themes running through The House are dark and brooding, touching on family, love, trust and revenge.

Simon Lelic’s writing is great, every chapter reels you in inch by inch. As each layer peels away, we learn the truth – or deceit – behind The House, however every time I thought I had it sussed, I was wrong. I hadn’t heard of Simon before, but I’ve now added some of his other books to my TBR and I’m excited to see what he does next.

I massively enjoyed The House and raced through it in a couple of evenings – I highly recommend giving it a read if you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller full of suspense.

About the author:

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Simon Lelic was born in 1976 and has worked as a journalist in the UK and currently runs his own business in Brighton, England, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

You can read the other posts on the blog tour here:

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Book Review: Did You See Melody by Sophie Hannah (Hodder & Stoughton)

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About the book:

Pushed to the breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied – by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist – but Cara’s fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn’t know what to trust: everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Hardback: 336 pages, to be published 24th August 2017

My thoughts:

My friend Melissa introduced me to Sophie Hannah a few years ago and since then I’ve been a huge fan of her books – particularly the Culver Valley Series – so I was more than excited to get my hands on an early copy of Did You See Melody.

Cara Burrows flees to the US to escape her family and not before long she’s embroiled in the historic murder case of the infamous Melody Chapa. The drama slowly unfolds amongst the inhabitants of five-star spa resort, as we find out what really happened to Melody that fateful day. The characters are memorable, and drawn so colourfully, with a range of conflicting personalities that help bring the story to life. The mixed formats used in the book – from the narrative and Melody’s book to TV dialogue and interviews – kept it fast paced and built the intrigue and mystery.

Although the story is farfetched in places it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the book, as Sophie Hannah is such a great storyteller. Did You See Melody is a compelling read, full of dark humour and twists – I highly recommend this for an easy Summer read.