Mystery

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Blog Tour – The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Published February 9, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland, in this stunning new standalone novel from New York Times bestseller Jane Harper

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Dark, suspenseful, and deeply atmospheric, The Lost Man is the highly anticipated next book from the bestselling and award-winning Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature.

What did I think?:

I’ve been so amazingly lucky to be involved with the blog tours for Jane Harper’s first two books in the Aaron Falk series, The Dry and Force Of Nature so I was delighted when Caolinn Douglas contacted me via email and asked me to be part of the tour for Jane’s new book. The Lost Man is a thriller set once again in the author’s home country of Australia but this time, it’s a stand-alone novel that introduces us to brand new characters and once again, an impossibly mysterious situation. In this story, we follow Nathan Bright and his family as they struggle to deal with the discovery of his brother Cameron’s body. As I’ve come to expect with all of Jane’s novels, nothing is quite what it seems and Cameron’s death is much more complex than originally expected.

I was excited to read The Lost Man as a buddy read alongside blogging bestie, Jennifer from Tar Heel Reader and boy, did we have a lot to talk about? This book really got under my skin in the most unexpected manner and the second half of the novel in particular had me on tenterhooks throughout, to the point where I actually had to message Jennifer and just squeak acronyms at her i.e. OMG, OMG!

Jane Harper, author of The Lost Man.

Jane Harper is an absolute wizard at creating atmospheric settings and using the harsh climate of the Australian outback to her advantage in developing a tense, nail-biting narrative that I found it difficult to tear my eyes away from. The seclusion of the area, the isolation of family members and the way that they are forced to interact, communicate and work together as the nearest neighbours are three hours drive away was nothing short of brilliant and I could almost smell the unease in the air. The thought of being in such a remote area where it would be difficult to get prompt help in an emergency is absolutely terrifying to me and the idea of having to be prepared with survival materials every time you take a drive was quite difficult to wrap my head around but completely fascinating and only served to heighten the drama of the situation.

The Australian Outback – road trip anyone?!

Personally, I felt this book was very much a novel of two very different halves. Let me stress that this isn’t a bad thing at all. I found the first half of The Lost Man to be slightly slower in pace. We were introduced to the Bright family, we experienced their confusion at losing their brother/son/husband etc and we began to see bits and pieces of Nathan’s private investigation into uncovering the reasons behind Cameron’s death. At this time, I appreciated the intricate detail that Jane Harper presented us with, allowing the reader to become familiar with the setting and the situation. In fact, I felt as if I was eased into a situation delicately and methodically so by the time I was halfway through, I was entirely comfortable (although obviously intrigued) with what was happening.

Holy Moley, by the second half of the novel does she pull the rug out from under your feet or what?! I was genuinely thrilled by the direction the narrative took, the secrets that were uncovered and the meaningful way in which the reader gets to know each individual personality a bit deeper. Jennifer and I had a lovely chat about halfway through and as with all of our little talks, we tried to analyse the plot and figure out what might be going on, voicing our predictions for the rest of the book. I’m over the moon to announce that we were wrong and I couldn’t be happier telling you that.

I honestly feel that Jane’s literary writing style is almost one of a kind. There’s not many other authors out there that I can think of that manage to create such literary, intelligent work that combines beautiful characterisation with a plot that you can’t help but become heavily invested in. As a result, I simply HAVE to give it nothing less than the full five stars!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jane Harper is the international bestselling author of The Dry and Force of Nature. Her third book, The Lost Man, will be realised in February 2019.
Jane has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year.
Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea.
Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

Find Jane on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/556546.Jane_Harper

on her website at: http://janeharper.com.au/

on Twitter at: @janeharperautho

Thank you so much once again to Caolinn Douglas, Grace Vincent and Little Brown UK for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. The Lost Man is published on 7th February 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to The Lost Man on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863488-the-lost-man

Link to The Lost Man on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Man-Jane-Harper/dp/1408708213/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549469849&sr=8-1&keywords=the+lost+man+jane+harper

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Blog Tour – Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

Published February 7, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Death stalked the Vale.
In every corner, every whisper.
They just didn’t know it yet.

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

What did I think?:

This review comes with an extra special thank you to the powerhouse that is Quercus Books who drew my attention to this novel when they hosted a Word-Of-Mouth event for bloggers just before Christmas, showcasing the books they were most excited for in 2019. Also, many thanks to Milly Reid for accepting me onto the blog tour this week in order to promote this surprisingly fantastic book. I say surprising as I haven’t actually read any of Jo Spain’s work before and so I went into Dirty Little Secrets with very little expectations at all. I always find the best kinds of books and certainly the ones that stay with you long-term are the ones that come out of nowhere, knock you for six, have you tweeting and raving about them and then automatically recommending it to anyone who will listen. That’s what Dirty Little Secrets was like for me and I’m stupidly excited to share my thoughts with you all today.

Jo Spain, author of Dirty Little Secrets.

So what can I tell you about this book while remaining suitably vague and mysterious? It’s an absolute must read, in my opinion, particularly if you like unreliable narrators, multiple points of view, intriguing and unlikeable characters, a plot that just won’t quit coupled with a remarkably literary and focused writing style. I was genuinely bowled over by how invested I got in this story within such a short space of time and I fully believe this was purely because of the way in which the characters were written. We hear from numerous individuals around the gated community of Withered Vale who are all being interviewed about the police regarding the suspicious death of one of the members of their community, Olive Collins. None of the neighbours are particularly personable, they all appear to have their own little secrets and skeletons in the closet and additionally, each harbours a potential motive for wishing harm on Olive.

I adore a decent psychological thriller, especially one that can keep me on my toes and have me gripped throughout, constantly feeding my curiosity without giving the game away too early. Dirty Little Secrets does all that combined with a unique focus on the characters and their individual stories to whet our appetite as a reader and have us wondering exactly what might be going on here. I loved that literally ANYONE could have had a hand in Olive’s death and it left me scratching my head on numerous occasions wondering how the author was going to wrap it all up. Well, she wraps it up gloriously I assure you and I’m delighted to report that I was left in complete darkness and ignorance until the very end.

Why have I not read any Jo Spain before? How is that even possible that a talented author has been writing books like this and I haven’t even realised?! Her writing came completely out of nowhere, sucked me in and left me truly hungry to go and peruse the rest of her back catalogue. I may have been woefully ignorant of this author in the past but thankfully, that’s no longer the case and I can’t wait to get stuck into more of her work, especially if the brilliance of Dirty Little Secrets is anything to recommend her by.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jo Spain is the author of the Inspector Tom Reynolds series. Her first book, top ten bestseller With Our Blessing, was a finalist in the 2015 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller. The Confession her first standalone thriller, was a number one bestseller and translated all over the world.
Jo is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, a former political advisor in the Irish parliament and former vice-chair of InterTrade Ireland business body.
She now writes novels and screenplays full-time. Her first co-written TV show TAKEN DOWN was broadcast in Ireland in 2018 and bought by international distributors Fremantle.
Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and four young children. In her spare time (she has four children, there is no spare time really) she likes to read. Her favourite authors include Pierre Lemaitre, Jo Nesbo, Liane Moriarty, Fred Vargas and Louise Penny. She also watches TV detective series and was slightly obsessed with The Bridge, Trapped and The Missing.
Jo thinks up her plots on long runs in the woods. Her husband sleeps with one eye open and all her friends have looked at her strangely since she won her publishing deal.

Find Jo on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14190033.Jo_Spain

on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/JoSpainAuthor/

on Twitter at: @SpainJoanne

Thank you so much once again to Milly Reid and Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Dirty Little Secrets is published on 7th February 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Dirty Little Secrets on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38120306-dirty-little-secrets

Link to Dirty Little Secrets on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dirty-Little-Secrets-Jo-Spain/dp/1787474321/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549467094&sr=8-1&keywords=dirty+little+secrets+jo+spain

The Last – Hanna Jameson

Published February 4, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Breaking: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

Breaking: London hit, thousands feared dead

Breaking: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilization, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?

What did I think?:

This review comes with an enormous thank you to Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books who were very kind to send me a proof copy of this extraordinary novel in exchange for an honest review. I was actually supposed to attend the launch of this book in Shoreditch, London on Friday night but unfortunately due to some pesky snow affecting the rail network I was unable to get there. From what I’ve heard though, a great night was had and congratulations to the author and publisher on the recent release of this book.

Apart from being an aesthetically pleasing novel with some of the most gorgeous endpapers I think I’ve ever seen, I don’t think any fans of speculative or science fiction (with a remarkably realistic edge) could resist the pull of that glorious synopsis. I certainly couldn’t. Lucky for me the story inside the pages completely matched that stunning outside cover and I was hooked from page one with an endlessly fascinating plot and set of characters.

Hanna Jameson, author of The Last.

The Last is Jameson’s fourth novel after her debut, award-nominated novel, Something You Are and two further novels in the series, Girl Seven and Road Kill and even though I haven’t had the pleasure of exploring these works yet I can tell she is a writer to be reckoned with. The Last immediately pulls you in with its quirky first-person narration in the form of journal entries from historian Jon Keller and ensures you remain gripped with the discovery of a body in a Swiss hotel after a nuclear bombing that has devastated an unknown portion of the world.

It appears to span a mixture of genres from the Agatha Christie like murder mystery to a thrilling, almost dystopian end of the world scenario topped off with a unique, modern twist in terms of style and how the story is presented to the reader. There are a variety of interesting characters to get to grips with and in similarity to another novel I’ve read recently, not a single one of them are reliable or appear completely innocent which only heightens the drama and tension of the narrative.

Switzerland, a beautiful setting for a wonderfully gripping story.

I don’t believe I warmed to a single one of these characters – even Jon, our main protagonist and story-teller. However, I don’t think we were meant to. Each individual we meet within the hotel could have a reason for committing murder and although the reader is never told every single character’s circumstances in intimate detail, we are left with the air of mystery that makes us question whether it in fact, could have been them. I adore unlikeable characters, it’s always fantastic in my opinion to have an emotion connected to a person you’re reading about and if this emotion is a strong one, it’s the bait on the end of the line to keep you reading, desperate to know what’s going to happen with their story.

The scariest thing about this novel? Perhaps that it has the potential to actually happen with the management (or mis-management?) of nuclear weapons around the world at the moment, something I have very strong opinions on. It’s an event not entirely out of the realms of possibility and it really makes you think about how you would cope if you were in the position of being one of the survivors of a nuclear attack. More than that though, I feel the author wrote in a very insightful manner about how certain characteristics and behaviour would be forced to emerge if you were going to survive something like this. I know I certainly couldn’t be as ruthless and emotionless as some of the characters in this novel but it was really interesting to see how people coped, which personalities came to the forefront and how plans were made/roles were developed within a group to make the best of such a horrific situation.

After eager anticipation in waiting to read this novel, I’m delighted to say it didn’t disappoint. It gave me everything I wanted in terms of character, plot development, thrills and chills and unexpected incidents. I’ll certainly be checking out Hanna Jameson’s back catalogue of work and am excited to see what she’ll bring out next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Village Of The Lost Girls – Agustin Martinez

Published January 30, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A breath-taking missing persons thriller set under the menacing peaks of the Pyrenees

Five years after their disappearance, the village of Monteperdido still mourns the loss of Ana and Lucia, two eleven-year-old friends who left school one afternoon and were never seen again. Now, Ana reappears unexpectedly inside a crashed car, wounded but alive.

The case reopens and a race against time begins to discover who was behind the girls’ kidnapping. Most importantly, where is Lucia and is she still alive?

Inspector Sara Campos and her boss Santiago Bain, from Madrid’s head office, are forced to work with the local police. Five years ago fatal mistakes were made in the investigation conducted after the girls first vanished, and this mustn’t happen again. But Monteperdido has rules of its own.

What did I think?:

This review comes with a big thank you to Quercus Books who drew my attention to this book when they hosted a bloggers event just before Christmas that showcased some of the works they were most excited about for 2019. Now I’m a big fan of thrillers, especially those with a literary edge like Village Of The Lost Girls but I’m also constantly hungry to read novels that are set outside the countries that I normally associate with thrillers i.e. Scandinavian/Nordic and Tartan Noir or even those set in Germany, America and my home country of Great Britain. As a result, this novel left me with a wonderful sense of place for the remote village set in the Pyrenees with all the drama, tension and politics that living in a small community can offer, especially with a potential kidnapper in their midst.

Agustin Martinez, author of Village Of The Lost Girls.

As with all good mysteries, it’s best to go into this novel knowing as little as possible so I’m afraid I’m going to keep the remainder of this review annoyingly vague and just let you know my thoughts about the story. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think it’s going to be a book for everyone, especially if you prefer a faster paced plot. Village Of The Lost Girls is very much a slow burner of a read and instead, appears to focus much more on the study of various different characters within the community rather than what happened to the two missing girls. There is still an investigation of course, and we hear much more from specific characters like our lead female protagonist, Sara Campos and the parents of the missing girls but events occur much more slowly and deliberately than you might expect when compared to your average thriller. This isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, I feel like if you enjoy novels by Tana French, you’re really going to enjoy this but on the other hand, if you prefer your plots fast and furious, you might get a little frustrated with the pacing of this one.

Village Of The Lost Girls is set in a village near The Pyrenees mountain range.

Where do I sit with this novel? Somewhere firmly in the middle. There were parts of the narrative and characters that I absolutely loved and just wanted more from. Sara and Ana were particular favourites of mine and I was quite impressed at how well they were written from a male point of view. However, this story does involve a vast array of different characters, some of whom we learn a lot about, others appear sporadically. Normally, I enjoy a large cast of individuals in a novel but for some reason, in this story, I found it at times to be a bit too overwhelming and slightly confusing. Perhaps it was just me! As a result, I found becoming fully invested in the story as a whole a bit difficult as I constantly had to keep reminding myself who was who in the grand scheme of things.

Saying that, I really cannot fault the author’s writing style or ability to create such a stunning setting for his story just by using words. The forests, mountains and desolate environment play such a huge part in this novel and are almost characters themselves in their own right. Gradually, piece by piece, the puzzle begins to make sense but it’s not until the very end that you finally find out exactly what has been going on. I was delighted that I didn’t guess the person responsible but strangely enough, it wasn’t as big a shock as I would have hoped for. Nevertheless, there is one surprising incident that I wasn’t expecting so I was pleased that Martinez managed to pull the rug from out under me in that respect. Would I read another book by this author? Yes, I think I would for the descriptive writing style alone and additionally, I would be much better prepared in the future for a larger cast of characters.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Talking About Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh with Chrissi Reads

Published January 26, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to question her parents’ deaths. But by digging up their past, she’ll put her future in danger. Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…

The stunning, twisty new psychological thriller from number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go and I See You.

What did we think?:

CHRISSI: This is the third book we’ve read from Clare Mackintosh. Did you have any preconceptions before you started reading it?

BETH: I’ve just checked and we’ve read and reviewed all three of her books in this format so I think we’re setting a kind of pattern here! As you already know, I’ve enjoyed both of her previous novels with her debut novel, I Let You Go standing out as my ultimate favourite. With Clare Mackintosh’s writing, I always know I’m going to get a compelling story, a fantastic female lead and more twists than….er….. a very curly piece of pasta! With Let Me Lie, that’s exactly what I got. I always knew I was going to eventually read it but I was delighted that Richard and Judy put it on their recent book club list as where we normally head to “talk about” most of the choices as it pushed me to read it that bit sooner.

BETH: How do you think this book compares to others in the genre?

CHRISSI: I truly think that Clare Mackintosh’s books stand out in the genre. They’re particularly twisty and gasp-y. I also think they’re quite a lot darker than some others in the genre. I definitely think Clare stands out in her own right, for the right reasons!

CHRISSI: Did you have a favourite character? If so, who and why?

BETH: As I mentioned in the previous answer, I always enjoy Clare’s female leads. In Let Me Lie, although Anna felt slightly more vulnerable than her previous protagonists, I still thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about her character, what she had been through in her life and as the narrative continued, unravelled the mysteries behind her parents deaths with her. I always find her characters so personable and easy to like and you do find yourself rooting from them from a very early stage.

BETH: What did you make of Anna’s relationship with Mark? Were you optimistic/pessimistic for their future and why?

CHRISSI: I always like to be optimistic if I can. With this relationship though, I’m neither one or the other. I don’t think it was an ideal relationship. They had a child very fast and although that doesn’t mean it won’t work, it’s a huge commitment and Anna was particularly vulnerable at the time. I do think they genuinely cared about one another. However, they don’t really know each other that well, they’d discover new things all the time…so who knows what the future will hold for them?

CHRISSI: Did you think the narration was reliable?

BETH: I had no idea what to think! You never know what you’re going to be getting with a Mackintosh novel, that’s the beauty of it and as a result you don’t quite know who to trust. I tried to keep an open mind and take in all the information that we were being given at different points of the novel and by different people.

BETH: What did you think of the alternative story-line with Murray and his wife Sarah? Did it add anything extra to the narrative for you?

CHRISSI: A tricky one. I did really enjoy the alternate story-line, but I think if it wasn’t there, there wouldn’t be a gap missing in the story. However, I always appreciate when mental health is addressed in literature, so I was super happy to read about this story-line. I think it was tackled sensitively and it was nice to take a break from what else was going on! I also thought Murray was an incredible character. I loved his devotion to his wife- no matter what she was going through, he wanted to be there for her.

CHRISSI: Without spoilers, at any point, did you work out what was going on?

BETH: I love a good “gaspy” moment in a thriller or crime novel. Let Me Lie definitely has that a few different times and the author is a master at leading the reader down a particular path just to trip them up when they least expect it! I tried not to think too hard about what might be going on to be honest, as I really do love to be surprised with this genre. By the end, I had my suspicions but it wasn’t until right at the end. There was still one small surprise though waiting in the wings that I hadn’t anticipated.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Definitely! She’s one of my favourite writers in the genre.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Published January 21, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Grace Vincent for drawing my attention to this book and inviting me to read a complimentary copy from Corsair Publishers in exchange for an honest review. Where The Crawdads Sing is one of those books where you read the synopsis and instantly know that you have to be a part of whatever this novel is offering. However, I still wasn’t prepared for such a lyrically gorgeous and beautifully descriptive love song to nature, to harsh and difficult living environments and to outsiders living on the cusps of communities which is what this novel provided in abundance. I’ve mentioned in reviews relatively recently that I love being transported to new places in fiction/nonfiction and the author has done exactly that with Crawdads. Throughout the narrative, I felt an expert blend of the wild and unkempt (both in nature and within our characters) and careful, considered plot development that made me constantly want to keep turning the pages.

Delia Owens, author of debut novel, Where The Crawdads Sing.

When I read that this was the author’s debut novel, I couldn’t help but be blown away. Her background as a wildlife scientist stands her in extremely good stead for the creatures she describes and they certainly flew off the pages for me as a reader due to her vivid and colourful way with words. As a bit of an animal nut myself, I very much appreciated the nods to nature in all its glory but the author clearly proves that she can write her human characters just as well, if not better. We hear the heart-breaking story of Kya, a vulnerable young woman who is left to fend for herself on the marsh land with very primitive accommodation after her family start to disappear one by one. Locally, she is known as Marsh Girl and very much mocked and looked down upon, to the point where she only attends one day of school in her life after being teased mercilessly.

However, Kya is far from stupid and as the story continues and she learns to interact, connect and trust certain individuals we discover a new side to her character – an intelligent, knowledgeable and caring woman whose daily experiences surviving on the marsh mean that there isn’t much she doesn’t comprehend about the creatures she shares her life with. Sadly, her eagerness and child-like naivety to find a replacement family and perhaps someone to love again becomes her cross to bear and having always been on the periphery of the town, Kya becomes a figure of fun and potential target for other, unscrupulous individuals.

The Roanoke Marshes of North Carolina, similar to where our female protagonist Kya may have spent all her time searching for food and observing the wildlife.

Image from: http://www.ncwetlands.org/scene-marsh-channel-roanoke-marshes-game-land-ncwetlands-kg-3-2/

This is such a stunning piece of work that perfectly encompasses the raw beauty of nature and the innocence of childhood and really made me stop to think and appreciate my own surroundings compared to material things that I might own. The author is obviously fond of nature and this really comes across throughout the narrative where the environment was described in such minute detail that I could picture myself there completely. Delia Owens doesn’t shy away from tough subject matters, especially regarding Kya’s family and at times, my heart broke for what she had to suffer and then soared when she became such an independent, strong young woman despite her hardships, bitter disappointments and unconventional start to life.

Kya is one of those fantastic characters that go on a real “journey” through the novel. We see her as a scared young girl, a determined, gullible young adolescent and then when she learns to read and unleashes her talent for painting, the world *almost* becomes her oyster. I really felt for Kya throughout this story – mainly because if she had been born in a different place to perhaps a different family, her life could have been a lot different. She is treated horrendously by members of her family and occasional other individuals she comes across as she grows up and at times, it all began to feel a bit hopeless for her ever getting a happy ending, purely because of prejudices she faced due to her impoverished upbringing. I found myself really rooting for her throughout Crawdads, desperately hoping she’d come out the other side but one of the things I most adored about this novel? NOTHING is ever guaranteed, expected or black or white. Delia Owens is fantastic at providing both the realistic and the surprise elements for the reader and I was really excited to find out at the end of this novel that I still had questions.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Blog Tour – Changeling (Six Stories #3) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 20, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…
Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought provoking, Changeling is an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, taking you to places you will never, ever forget.

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 Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing the free digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I’ve become a huge fan of Matt Wesolowski’s work after thoroughly enjoying both novels in the Six Stories series – Six Stories and the prequel, Hydra and was so delighted to get my spot on this blog tour that I might have given a very loud “whoop!” Now, I’ve sat down three times and tried to compose my thoughts about this novel for you all and each time I’ve failed miserably. Does anyone else really struggle with talking about stand-out books like I do? I feel like there’s only so many adjectives I can use that adequately describe how fantastic this series is and with Changeling, I’m seriously running out of words. How does it stand out for me? The answer is, in every way possible. The structure, the writing style, the individuality, the imaginative (yet realistic) story-telling, the horror, the tension and the intense emotions that accompany this story that left me utterly enraptured.

Matt Wesolowski, author of Changeling, the third book in the Six Stories series.

One of the beautiful parts of this series, which follows the format of a true crime podcast hosted by Scott King, is that each novel can easily be read as a stand-alone. Personally, I always love to start from the beginning of a series but if you pick up Changeling on a whim, you’re not going to be spoiled for anything which occurs in the previous two books. This particular episode of the podcast Six Stories focuses on the unsolved disappearance of a child, Alfie Marsden in the 1980’s and some peculiar goings-on in the forest where he was last seen. Once again, the author manages to combine elements of true crime, mystery, fantasy and horror so effortlessly and fluidly that it will have you questioning everyone and everything concerned and as Scott King interviews six different individuals connected with the Marsden case, slowly but surely, parts of the puzzle start to slot into place with unexpected and scandalous consequences.

Changeling is set near the English-Welsh border shown in purple on this particular map.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/England%E2%80%93Wales_border

Matt Wesolowski is such a gifted story-teller and wordsmith that it’s always a genuine pleasure to sit down with one of his novels and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want this Six Stories series to ever end. I may have mentioned in a previous review that I was initially wary when I heard this series was structured as if you were reading a podcast transcript and I really wasn’t sure if it would work but believe me, it works like a dream. The author manages to capture the drama and the authenticity of real people living normal lives with an other-worldly, more fantastical element. It sits so neatly and comfortably that if you were a previous paranormal sceptic, you’d start looking over your shoulder and listening a bit more to those bumps in the night. There were occasions in Changeling where some of the scenes or even suggestive moments made me quite glad I was reading this book a) in the daytime b) around other people. I’ll certainly never listen to tapping again the same way….that’s for sure!

With this latest offering in the Six Stories series, I feel Matt has “tapped” (sorry, couldn’t resist!) into a far more deeper, emotional component of his style which I fully welcomed and embraced. I appreciated the more vulnerable, heart-breaking aspects of the narrative and although it made for incredibly difficult reading at times, it’s all completely worth it by the end, I assure you. I genuinely believe that the brilliance of this series just cannot be rivalled and even potential copy-cats would have a tough job emulating all the aspects that the author manages to bring together to make this such a unique, thought-provoking and unforgettable reading experience. Will there be more? I really do hope so but even if there isn’t, Matt Wesolowski still has an immovable fan in me for whatever he decides to do next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is
an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in
horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an
US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End
of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror
story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a
winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing
Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the
USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV
rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published
in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

Find Matt on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5303620.Matt_Wesolowski

or on Twitter at: @ConcreteKraken

Thank you so much 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. Changeling will be published on 24th January 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Changeling on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40885780-changeling

Link to Changeling on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Changeling-Matt-Wesolowski/dp/1912374579/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1547922413&sr=8-2&keywords=changeling