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Blog Tour – Do No Harm by L V Hay

Published July 18, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…
Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the always fabulous Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of Do No Harm in exchange for an honest review. I’m adoring the new wave of psychological/domestic thrillers that are coming out at the moment and although sometimes I worry that they’re going to be too similar, so far I haven’t found any yet that aren’t both unique and thrilling reads. This is definitely the case with Do No Harm, it has so much to recommend it – a compelling, twisty plot, fascinating and very readable characters and of course, those unexpected moments (I call them “gasp out louds”) that cement the book in your memory and make it more likely you’ll remember the story months down the line.

L V Hay, author of Do No Harm.

This is the story of a marriage, as you might have guessed. Actually, hang on a second, this is the story of TWO marriages. We have our main female lead, Lily and her new husband Sebastian who have recently married and are attempting to achieve full wedded bliss but are being hampered slightly (understatement of the year!) by the spectre of Lily’s previous marriage with ex-husband, the very intense Maxwell. Lily and Maxwell both share a son and although they share custody fairly amicably, the boy becomes a perfect pawn for both finding out what is going on in the newlyweds’ household and manipulating that situation for some other, more venomous motives. Lily and Sebastian are desperate to enjoy their new life as man and wife and Sebastian, to forge a relationship with his stepson but it’s not long before the cracks start to show and the family are at breaking point. However, what they don’t realise is exactly how out of hand and dangerous their lives are about to get.

Do No Harm is a gripping tale where you really never know what’s coming next. I’ve read so many novels in this genre and I can’t help myself trying to predict what’s going to happen but with this novel? I failed miserably. I kept thinking I had figured it all out and feeling quite smug and clever then my bubble was well and truly burst when L V Hay pulled that metaphorical rug right out from under me and completely twisted everything round beyond all recognition. I thought it was going to be obvious. It’s not obvious. I thought it was going to be predictable. Nope, definitely not predictable. I love when an author surprises me and refuses to submit to a cliché and Do No Harm does this time and time again. I’ve also had the misfortune to be in an obsessive, negative and manipulative relationship and the author describes the uncomfortable, confusing nature of this perfectly. Expect the unexpected with this exciting novel and just enjoy being taken along for a ride where ANYTHING could happen.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

L. V. Hay is a novelist, script editor, blogger, and head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival. She is the author of Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays and the thriller The Other Twin.

Check out L V Hay’s website HERE

Thank you once again to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Do No Harm was published on the 30th June 2018 and is available as a paperback and an e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Do No Harm on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39215628-do-no-harm

Link to Do No Harm on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Do-No-Harm-L-Hay-ebook/dp/B079YWK3GK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531663434&sr=8-1&keywords=do+no+harm+lv+hay

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Blog Tour – Love And Death In Shanghai by Elizabeth J. Hall

Published July 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A young man’s search for love in Shanghai, set during a time of gang warfare, drug running, prostitution and Japanese invasions.

“This is a riveting account of a compelling and erotic story.” Jill Dawson, author of The Great Lover

Shanghai 1924. Sam Shuttleworth joins the Municipal Police to escape his working class roots in Lancashire. He is looking for good pay, adventure and beautiful women.

Shanghai is torn by gang warfare, political instability and violence. After erotic affairs, and seeking stability, he marries his glamorous Russian lover. The relationship is tumultuous, with infidelities on both sides.
In the 1930s, Japan invades China and moves into Shanghai with consequent pillage, rape and cruelty. Sam has to negotiate between warring sides, and wonders if he will ever find peace amidst the chaos of his relationships and the bloody events of his career.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater for emailing me and inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for kindly sending me a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. I have to say the synopsis of this novel had me instantly intrigued to read it. I’m always a huge fan of a story set in another country, especially China which I have a particular soft spot for. Then if you throw in a historical setting, a character struggling with the instability of the country and the Japanese invasion of the 1930’s, it’s pretty much a sure thing that I’m going to want to read it! Generally, this novel was a sumptuous fictional imagining of characters and events that occurred within the author’s own family and this only served to make it a more authentic and fascinating read. It was beautifully descriptive and so detailed that I could almost imagine I walked the same streets as our lead character and those he comes into contact with.

Elizabeth J. Hall, author of Love And Death In Shanghai.

Lancashire born and bred Sam Shuttleworth escapes to Shanghai with a sense of adventure and to try and live and work in a culture so incredibly different from his own. He lands a job as a police officer in Shanghai and is tasked with keeping peace in the very fractured city between a number of different gangs, communist and nationalist uprisings, petty arguments that become violent, murderous acts due to the general instability and uncertainty of the country and the eventual Japanese invasion that changes everything irrevocably for the inhabitants of Shanghai. He has a number of affairs as a single young man then meets a few individual women that each alter his outlook on life forever, in very different ways. He finally begins to learn that work and having a good time outside of work means nothing if you don’t have the support of a loving family behind you.

Love And Death In Shanghai is a perfect title for this novel. It does exactly what it says on the tin. There are erotic, even more graphic moments which I wasn’t quite expecting, but luckily, they don’t overwhelm the reader and the narrative is much more focused on the dark side of Shanghai and how our male lead has to cope with the horrifying and shocking things that he has to see every day, things that most inhabitants take in their stride. Some of it did make for difficult reading but I’m so pleased the author had the courage to go there and show us the real, very brutal Shanghai in the 1920′-30’s. I was also fascinated to read about the stark contrast between these poorer, crime-led areas and the rich side of Shanghai where food, drink and entertainment was in abundant supply for those who could afford it, of course.

1930’s Shanghai, where part of our story is set.

I found the characterisation of this book extremely intriguing and I’m not sure if other readers would have the same or different opinions to mine. Let me explain what I mean – I didn’t find there were many likeable characters in this novel. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I love an unreliable character, a person with flaws, an intensely horrible one that you can have strong hateful feelings towards….all these things are great. However, I didn’t know how to feel about our male lead, Sam. At times I loved his bravery and nobility, in fact my favourite moments of his is when he was back in England for a visit seeing his family where I felt the real “Sam” came out. It was just all the affairs though. Fair enough when he was a single man of course, he has no responsibilities or attachments, but then he meets Lulu, discovers what responsibility really means and er…..doesn’t really change!

As I’m working this all out in my head as I’m writing, I’m considering the fact that perhaps Sam just hasn’t met the “one” in Lulu, they certainly seemed to have quite a volatile relationship and although I can’t really excuse his behaviour, there is an opportunity for them to have mutual contentment by the end. I don’t want to go too much into the ending for fear of spoilers, I felt it quite bitter-sweet but entirely accurate and I have to be honest, I definitely wasn’t expecting it. Elizabeth J. Hall writes a comprehensive and exquisite tale of a country in turmoil, I loved the attention to detail and appreciated the vast research that must have been completed to tell a compelling story.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Elizabeth J.Hall works in politics in the UK. Love and Death in Shanghai, her debut novel was inspired by the life and death of her uncle who worked in the Shanghai Municipal Police in the 1920s and 30s. Elizabeth’s first memory is of her mother crying when she received a telegram reporting his assassination.

Elizabeth lives in East Sussex with her husband. After a degree in French, she trained as a teacher with a particular interest in social and health education. She worked in the USA, West Africa and London before becoming a consultant, developing programmes of health education abroad, including Central Asia and Russia.

Find Elizabeth on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17679768.Elizabeth_J_Hall

Elizabeth’s website is http://www.elizabethjhall.com/

Thank you once again to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Love And Death In Shanghai was published on the 18th January 2018 and is available as a paperback and an e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Love And Death In Shanghai on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38352086-love-and-death-in-shanghai

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Death-Shanghai-Elizabeth-Hall/dp/1999784278/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Blog Tour – I Never Lie by Jody Sabral

Published June 26, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Is she the next victim? Or is she the culprit…?

Alex South is a high-functioning alcoholic who is teetering on the brink of oblivion. Her career as a television journalist is hanging by a thread since a drunken on-air rant. When a series of murders occur within a couple of miles of her East London home she is given another chance to prove her skill and report the unfolding events. She thinks she can control the drinking, but soon she finds gaping holes in her memory, and wakes to find she’s done things she can’t recall. As the story she’s covering starts to creep into her own life, is Alex a danger only to herself – or to others?

This gripping psychological thriller is perfect for fans of Fiona Barton, B A Paris and Clare Mackintosh. 

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Ellie Pilcher for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Canelo Publishers for the free digital copy of I Never Lie in exchange for an honest review. As soon as I received the invitation to review this novel from Ellie and read the synopsis, I immediately knew I had to accept. It felt a bit “Girl On The Train-esque” and I do adore an unreliable narrator so this novel was a must read in my eyes. Now I normally hate comparisons to famous books like Gone Girl and Girl On The Train but let me assure you, the publishers have not promoted it in any way as being similar to these blockbusters, it’s completely my own interpretation of an alcoholic female character as being somewhat familiar territory. Luckily, I was delighted to discover that the alcoholic lead is the only thing that I Never Lie has in common with Girl On The Train. This book stands completely on its own as a gripping story of a troubled woman trying to get back on her feet (and being hopelessly in thrall to her addiction) and it was a thrilling, highly enjoyable read.

Jody Sabral, author of I Never Lie.

As with most mysteries/crime fictions, to say too much more about the synopsis would be giving far too many spoilers about the novel and I’m certainly not one to ruin things for everyone! Our female protagonist is Alex South, journalist flying high in her career until one live drunken report which threatens to ruin everything for good. You see, Alex is an alcoholic who was already drinking excessively when living in Manchester with her boyfriend but after a devastating miscarriage and break-up, she moved to East London where she continues to deny she has a problem at all. When a body is found in a park close to her home, she seizes the opportunity to revive her career and begs for the opportunity to investigate and get involved. Then the bodies of further women are found who have been killed in the same manner and when Alex continues to be lead journalist on the story and begins to blackout from drinking binges, she begins to realises that there may be far more demons that she has to face other than the ones in the bottle.

London, England, February 27, 2015: The River Thames meanders through the cityscape of East London as seen from the Docklands Canary Wharf Tower.

Jody Sabral has had a lot of experience working as a journalist and this completely shines through in her writing. Not in that it’s matter-of-fact and quite clinical in the story-telling but in her knowledge of the industry and how processes work, particularly in the field of crime reporting. The narrative itself is intriguing and although it isn’t action-packed, I don’t think it needs to be to tell an exciting story. The whole novel is much more character focused which I really love in a good mystery and is much more about Alex’s internal struggles and colourful past rather than vivid descriptions of murder scenes. Alex is not particularly likeable and sometimes I did get frustrated and just wanted to shake her but she felt completely believable as a normal person with flaws and a seemingly unconquerable addiction.

One of my favourite parts of I Never Lie had to be the diary extracts from an unknown woman which are interspersed with Alex’s story. Who is she and what connection does she have to Alex and to the murders in East London? Jody Sabral is an expert at slow, gradual reveals, red herrings and unexpected twists and just when you think you have it all figured out – you find you’re completely wrong. I’m definitely excited to read something else by this author!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jody Sabral is based between the South Coast and London, where she works as a Foreign Desk editor and video producer at the BBC. She is a graduate of the MA in Crime Fiction at City University, London. Jody worked as a journalist in Turkey for ten years, covering the region for various international broadcasters. She self-published her first book Changing Borders in 2012 and won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2014 for her second novel The Movement. In addition to working for the BBC, Jody also writes for the Huffington Post, Al–Monitor and Brics Post.

Find Jody on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6648584.Jody_Sabral

on her website at: https://jodysabral.com/

on Twitter at: @jsabral

Thank you once again to Ellie Pilcher and Canelo Publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. I Never Lie was published on the 11th June 2018 and is available as a e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to I Never Lie on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40046711-i-never-lie?ac=1&from_search=true

Link to I Never Lie on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Never-Lie-compelling-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B07CV8KK49/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529840996&sr=8-1&keywords=i+never+lie+jody+sabral

Blog Tour – A Dead American In Paris (Salazar Book 2) by Seth Lynch

Published June 12, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Arty Homebrook lived and died in a world of sleaze which stretched from Chicago to Paris but never beyond the gutter. He’d been sleeping with Madame Fulton, which is why Harry Fulton promised to kill him. So far as the Paris Police are concerned it’s an open and shut case. Harry’s father has other ideas and hires Salazar to investigate.

A Dead American in Paris places Salazar in the midst of an unpleasant underworld of infidelity, blackmail, backstreet abortions and murder. It’s enough to make you want to chuck it all in and take a job cleaning out the sewers. But Salazar is far too inquisitive to walk away and far too stubborn to know what’s for the best. So he wakes up each hungover morning, blinks into the sunlight, and presses on until it’s his life on the line. Then he presses on some more, just for the hell of it.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Emma Welton, amazing blogger extraordinaire at damppebbles, all round good egg and now blog tour organiser who invited me to take part in this blog tour via email. Thank you also to Fahrenheit Press who provided me with a copy of A Dead American In Paris in exchange for an honest review. I have a great love for crime fiction although I sadly, I don’t read it half as much as I used to as I felt that what I was reading was getting a bit “samey.” I tend to reserve reading the genre for books my fellow bloggers have got me really excited about, something out of the box and a bit different where I’m not going to predict the outcome halfway through. That’s why I’m so pleased that I read this book. Although it’s the second in the series and I haven’t read the first, A Citizen Of Nowhere, I genuinely believe that it can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone. A Dead American In Paris is different in that it reads like a classic book in the genre. This is not only because of the time period it is set in, the early thirties in Paris but the writing style feels vintage, almost as if the author had placed himself directly within the 1930’s and is writing about it as he sees it at that moment – if that makes any sense?

Seth Lynch, author of A Dead American In Paris, the second book in The Salazar Mysteries.

Our male lead for the narrative is private detective, Salazar who has become embroiled in a very interesting case that looks remarkably like a murder carried out in a fit of jealous rage. The victim is Arty Homebrook, a rather shady character who sleeps around with a number of married women and appears to live quite a meagre existence in a shady, dirty flat. One of the aggrieved husbands, Harry Fulton is the main suspect in this case and is currently in jail pending trial. However, Fulton’s father has recently employed Salazar to find out the truth about what happened that night and of course, the real story behind the murder, is much murkier and more convoluted than anyone directly or indirectly involved in the case could ever have suspected.

An image of 1930’s Paris, where our story is set.

A Dead American In Paris was such a pleasant surprise. As I read the synopsis, I instantly knew that I was interested but I still wasn’t prepared for the journey that Seth Lynch would take me on. Not only were the characters wonderfully drawn but they felt incredibly authentic and after a very short time of reading, I wanted to know everything and anything about them. We have a wonderful and intriguing male lead in Salazar who is sarcastic, determined, impulsive but also tormented by his experiences during the First World War and by other, more individual worries and mental issues which plague him from time to time. In my eyes, this made him both a delight to read (in the way of his snide comments and that you never knew what he was going to try next!) and that he was undeniably human, with all the anxieties we all suffer at certain points in our lives.

I completely fell in love with this story. The plot, the characters, the way it moved steadily and slowly, each reveal happening methodically and intelligently. However, my favourite part had to be how it ended. As I alluded to in the first paragraph of my review, I hate the predictable and it’s a relief to know that Seth Lynch isn’t just going to rest easy on his laurels with a cliche….that’s all I’m saying!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Born and brought up in the West of England, Seth has also lived in Carcassonne, Zurich and the Isle of Man.

With two daughters, his writing time is the period spent in cafés as the girls do gym, dance and drama lessons.

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SethALynch

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seth-Lynch/e/B00E7SZ3FS/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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

Buy Seth Lynch’s book direct from Fahrenheit Press:

A Citizen of Nowhere (Salazar Book 1): http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_a_citizen_of_nowhere.html

A Dead American in Paris (Salazar Book 2): http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_a_dead_american_in_paris.html

The Paris Ripper (Chief Inspector Belmont Book 1): http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_the_paris_ripper.html

 

Thank you once again to Emma Welton and Fahrenheit Press for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. A Dead American In Paris was published in August 2017 and will be available as a e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

 

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39788613-a-dead-american-in-paris?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-American-Paris-Salazar-Book-ebook/dp/B07BSB9KBB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528650141&sr=8-1&keywords=a+dead+american+in+paris

Blog Tour – The Log House by Baylea Hart

Published June 5, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The forest is a deadly place.

Nobody knows this better than Penny. She has spent her whole life hiding in the darkness, shielding herself from the terrors that watch and wait within the trees.

When Penny is abandoned and left for dead in the forest, she is forced to navigate this terrifying labyrinth in order to return home to her son and take revenge on the woman who tried to kill her.

But the murderous creatures with the false smiles aren’t the only monsters to lurk in the forest, and some demons may be closer than she thinks.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Unbound Publishers for sending me a copy of this astonishing novel in exchange for an honest review. I haven’t read any horror stories for a little while now and as it’s one of my favourite genres, it was about time that I re-visited it once more! So when the email from Anne flew in and I read the synopsis, I couldn’t have be quicker in replying to her with an ardent: “Yes please!” Horror can be a bit hit and miss sometimes. For me, an author has to really get under my skin, build up that tension and drama and the terrifying moments have to be convincing and genuinely scare me. I mentioned in a review recently that events in a horror novel or film are often a lot more frightening if the creature/monster/villain is not completely seen, in other words – if it is only hinted at and left in shadow.

Has anyone seen the film Jeepers Creepers? As soon as I saw the monster in all its glory, I wasn’t scared anymore. (To be perfectly honest, I found it quite funny and not in the least scary but that says more about my sense of humour than the creature in the film, I think!!). Anyway, I digress – back to The Log House. What I’m trying to say is that Baylea Hart pulled off the scary moments in her novel wonderfully well. She doesn’t completely unearth the creature, there’s mention of the colour grey, and long, claw like hands but we don’t ever get the full detail about what it looks like. For me, this made it MORE frightening and definitely ensured my thorough enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

Jeepers Creepers – you don’t scare ME! The Log House? Umm…. you do!

So, the synopsis above already does a wonderful job of explaining what this novel explores and I don’t think I could do much better. Basically, we follow a young mother called Penelope who lives in a safe house with a number of other residents, including Mary whom she has had a bit of history with. Penny ends up in the forest on her own because of the bad blood between Mary and herself. She has a head and ankle injury and is quite far away from home but that’s the least of her problems. A safe house is necessary for the inhabitants of this world because of the creatures that stalk around, attracted by light and invoke instant death if you’re unlucky enough to come across one. Penny must fight to avoid these creatures as she treks through the forest to get back to her son and to avenge herself upon Mary. It’s not long though before she discovers that there may be worse things out in the woods then these monsters.

Baylea Hart, author of The Log House.

I had a sneaking suspicion that I might enjoy this book just from the dedication alone, where I felt a certain kinship with the author as soon as I read: “To my family, for giving me Stephen King books to read as a child. This is all your fault.” I thought to myself if the author of this novel has taken any inspiration from the Master Of Horror himself, (who just happens to be my all-time favourite author), I’m in for quite the ride and I was certainly correct in my initial assessment! This book is disturbing, graphic, horrifying and tense in equal measures and I was absolutely gripped by both the character of Penny and the electrifying plot. Penny is not a particularly likeable character and has made a couple of shady decisions in her past which has led to her fractured relationship with Mary but I couldn’t help but admire her gutsy, determined nature. She goes through absolute hell in those woods, not only in hiding/avoiding these awful monsters but struggling through the pain of a horrific injury combined with how she deals with several dangerous situations with some very different kinds of monsters along the way.

This is a richly imaginative tale of horror from a talented writer that made me catch my breath and provoked multiple shivers down my spine. I was particularly unnerved by the fact that Penny realises that when everything goes deathly silent, the creatures are near and she has no other option but to hide. No bird song, no leaves rustling – just utter silence.

“Watch for the silence, said the voice in her head. It’s the only warning you’ll get.”

Personally, I found this incredibly frightening and I could instantly see this being played very well in a film. As the narrative continues, we learn much more about Penny and her past, the creatures themselves and how one simple, distorted sound: “Haaaaa,” has the potential to chill your blood.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Baylea Hart is an IT Technician by day, horror writer by night and a reader everywhere in between. In 2013 she wrote, directed and edited the short film Behind the Door, which won a Top 50 spot in the Bloody Cuts “Who’s There?” competition and as of 2015 has over 410,000 views on YouTube. In October 2015 she won the Bristol Horror Writing Competition with her short story Jack in the Box, and her short story Eyes Open was published in the 12th issue of 9Tales Told in the Dark. Baylea’s debut novel The Log House was published by Unbound in 2018.

She can be found on Twitter @bayleahart and on her website http://www.bayleahart.com/

Thank you once again to Anne Cater and Unbound Publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. The Log House was published in January 2018 and will be available as a paperback and e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to The Log House on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36502696-the-log-house

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Log-House-Baylea-Hart/dp/1911586467/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528041732&sr=8-1&keywords=the+log+house

Blog Tour – Days Of Wonder by Keith Stuart

Published June 4, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A story about family, love and finding magic in everyday life, Days of Wonder is the most moving novel you’ll read all year.

Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.

But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah’s diagnosis with a heart condition that will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen, that time is coming.

Hannah’s heart is literally broken – and she can’t bear the idea of her dad’s breaking too. So she resolves to find a partner for Tom, someone else to love, to fill the space beside him.

While all the time Tom plans a final day of magic that might just save them both.

Days of Wonder is the stunning follow-up to Keith Stuart’s much-loved debut A Boy Made of Blocks – and a book to fall in love with.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Clara Diaz and Sphere Publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I first came across Keith Stuart when I read his incredible debut novel, A Boy Made Of Blocks which completely captured my heart. So, it’s safe to say not only was I stupidly excited when I received my copy of Days Of Wonder but my expectations for the novel were astronomically high. Luckily, I was in no way disappointed. Keith Stuart writes with passion and intelligence but most importantly of all, with real heart and this novel was a touching, beautifully realised piece of contemporary fiction with an emotional edge that had me laughing and tearing up in equal measure.

Keith Stuart, author of Days Of Wonder.

This novel explores the special relationship between single dad, Tom and his fifteen year old daughter, Hannah. His wife and Hannah’s mother, Elizabeth left when her daughter was quite young and since then, it has been them against the world. This is particularly poignant when Hannah begins to get ill and heart-breakingly, is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. In other words, her heart just isn’t strong enough to pump blood around her body. The cold, hard reality of this condition is that she could die at any time and more recently, her normal, teenage exertions have caused her to black out, indicating that she could be getting worse. Tom, manager of the local Willow Tree Theatre, has been trying to keep her spirits up ever since she was diagnosed, by introducing her to the theatre and encouraging the troupe of actors he employs to put on small plays for her each year on her birthday – these he calls “days of wonder.” The rest of the narrative follows Hannah and Tom as they struggle with her condition and the potential closure of the place that they love the best. They learn the importance of leaning on their friends within and out of the theatre and explores the beautiful bond between father and daughter as they deal with the terrifying situation where they never know whether one day may be her last.

This picture illustrates the thin walls of Hannah’s heart compared to a “normal” heart.

Oh my goodness, this book. It was so moving and brilliantly written, by the end I felt as if I knew all the characters intimately, as if they were in my own life. Keith Stuart expertly blends the happy and devastating moments of Hannah’s life with wonderful, laugh-out-loud humour and painful, gut-wrenching moments so that one moment you can be smiling and by the next page you’re horribly upset. My favourite part of the whole novel has to be the characterisation which is simply fantastic but in particular, that father-daughter relationship between Tom and Hannah which filled me with a sort of aching longing for a relationship I sadly have not experienced myself. Besides this, there are multiple other characters, like fiesty pensioner Margaret and their close friends at the theatre: Sally, Ted and James amongst others who are all beautifully drawn and all feel startlingly authentic. Additionally, all these characters have their own problems in their lives, for example, Callum’s struggles with mental illness, Sally and Ted’s independent marital issues, James’ private and internal battle with his own feelings….. I could go on.

Told in alternate chapters between both Hannah and Tom’s point of view, this is a stunning story of a father and daughter who forge a stronger and more meaningful relationship through their tough times. It highlights the importance of family and friends and the magical consequences of fighting for something you desperately believe in. As the saying goes – read it and weep. I certainly did.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Keith Stuart is an author and journalist. His heartwarming debut novel, A Boy Made of Blocks, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and a major bestseller, and was inspired by Keith’s real-life relationship with his autistic son. Keith has written for publications including Empire, Red and Esquire magazine, and is the former games editor of the Guardian. He lives with his wife and two sons in Frome, Somerset.

Find Keith on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/441866.Keith_Stuart

on Twitter at: @keefstuart

Thank you once again to Clara Diaz and Sphere publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Days Of Wonder is published on the 7th June 2018 and will be available as a paperback and e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34460802-days-of-wonder?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Days-Wonder-most-magical-moving/dp/0751563315/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528039280&sr=8-1&keywords=days+of+wonder+keith+stuart

Blog Tour – Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

Published May 29, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery. On a clandestine trip to The Inch – the new volcanic island – to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body. Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and providing me with a copy of Fault Lines in exchange for an honest review. Well, honestly, I’ve never read anything by Doug Johnstone before but after this little blinder of a novel, I will certainly be reading more. This is a relatively short read at 300 pages in paperback form but it packs so much intrigue, betrayal and secrets into the narrative that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a much longer novel. At the same time, it doesn’t feel long at all. I sped through this in about a 24 hour period because I did find it so difficult to put down, I had to know what happened. Being set in Edinburgh (hailing from that fair city myself), was just the icing on the cake for me and the author backed up his alternative setting with intriguing characters and an exciting plot.

Doug Johnstone, author of Fault Lines.

The author chooses to set his story rather alternatively, as I’ve already alluded to, in a modern Edinburgh with a difference. There has been a fault in the tectonic plates which make up the shell of our planet and it has caused a volcanic island to erupt in the Firth Of Forth. Our female lead, Surtsey (named after a volcano in Iceland) is a scientist who makes regular trips to the island to collect and analyse soil samples, carry out research etc. When we meet her, she is travelling to meet her boss and married lover, Tom on the island for a rendez-vous but she is shocked to discover his body instead with violent evidence that he might have been murdered. From this time on, we follow Surtsey as she makes decisions about what to do next and learns to cope with what she has discovered and her own actions following the gruesome find. Then somebody texts her on Tom’s secret phone that he only used to contact her. They know what happened and they have no qualms about making her life a complete misery, even resorting to drastic measures when the threats have little effect.

The Firth Of Forth with the Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh.

What a great read this was! I adored the re-imagining of Edinburgh and it was strange, even though this volcanic island is obviously imaginary, Doug Johnstone describes everything so beautifully that I could almost picture it in my mind, from the boat ride over to the island itself. Coupled with this new entity in the middle of the estuary, the residents of Edinburgh also have to deal with regular tremors which funnily enough, have become part of everyday life. It was really interesting that as the tension and action gradually increased in the novel, so too did the intensity of the tremors which only made for a more powerful reading experience.

I just have to mention the characters as well, particularly Surtsey who at times, was quite unlikeable but unlike other books I’ve read recently where the character put me off the entire book, this wasn’t the case at all with Fault Lines. I think it’s because Surtsey felt really believable to me. She wasn’t an angel, she made some AWFUL decisions where as a reader, you just want to scream at her to “stop! go back! be careful!” but of course, we all make mistakes. She drinks too much, she smokes too much marijuana and of course, the ill-advised affair with her married boss but something about her still made me want to carry on reading. It might have been the relationship with her terminally ill mother and her wayward sister but I don’t know, in the end I just ended up feeling sorry for her.

The Icelandic volcano Surtsey, from where our main character takes her name.

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by my first novel from Doug Johnstone. It was a thrilling read that had obviously been methodically planned and although I guessed the perp behind the mysterious texts to Surtsey, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel in the slightest. If all the author’s books are like this, I want to be reading them!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His fourth novel, Hit & Run, is published by Faber and Faber on March 15th 2012. His previous novel, Smokeheads, was published in March 2011, also by Faber. before that he published two novels with Penguin, Tombstoning (2006) and The Ossians (2008), which received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin and Christopher Brookmyre.Doug is currently writer in residence at the University of Strathclyde. Hes had short stories appear in various publications, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature.He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children. He loves drinking malt whisky and playing football, not necessarily at the same time.

Find Doug on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/758942.Doug_Johnstone

or on Twitter at: @doug_johnstone

Thank you once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Fault Lines was published on the 22nd May 2018 and will be available as a paperback and e-book. In fact at the time of writing it was on Amazon UK for the bargain price of 99p! If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37849000-fault-lines?from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fault-Lines-Doug-Johnstone/dp/1912374153/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527355288&sr=8-1&keywords=fault+lines