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Blog Tour/Social Media Blast – The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Published April 18, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
 

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

What did I think?:

This book comes with a little bit of a story behind it and if you’ve followed my blog for a little while now, you might be aware that I’m fond of a bit of a ramble, especially when it involves a book that surprises me beyond all expectations or that I feel passionately about. I first came across The Flatshare in a bloggers event late last year for Quercus where they were celebrating some of the fiction they were most excited to publish in 2019. Now, I am painfully honest about the fact that I tend to judge books pretty quickly – sometimes on the synopsis, sometimes on the cover and whilst I’m not completely adverse to a little bit of romance, it has to be done just right otherwise I can end up feeling rather nauseated. I saw The Flatshare and initially I have to admit, I thought this book wasn’t for me at all. As part of the sought after “uplit” genre, it looked slightly fluffy and I wasn’t certain about it at all.

Beth O’Leary, author of the debut novel, The Flatshare.

This is where publicists and marketing peeps are all kinds of wonderful. I had a lovely chat with Bethan Ferguson, Marketing Director at Quercus Books and she spoke about this book so passionately that I was completely sold. Thank you to her, Ella Patel for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Quercus Books for the complimentary copy which was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. And honestly? I was blown away. The Flatshare is one of the most extraordinary and incredibly memorable books I’ve read this year and I connected with it in ways that I would never have expected prior to picking it up. I’m heartily ashamed of myself that I even considered letting it pass me by and eternally grateful for the opportunity to discover such a touching, amusing and feel-good novel that I’d be delighted to re-read again and again in the future.

What made The Flatshare so special? A few different things actually. Instantly, I was utterly charmed by both the characters and the author’s wry sense of humour but as the story continued, I appreciated the smaller details of the narrative, including the darker side of relationships and the importance of a strong support network. Tiffy and Leon became instant favourite characters of mine and I adored how we got to see challenging aspects of each of their lives and how their personal struggles are affected when they choose to open up and become vulnerable. There is a romantic element – sure, but it’s written in such a way that it becomes impossible to resist, melting this heart of mine that before now, I was convinced was starting to resemble a large, rather cold piece of stone!

Tiffy answers an advert for a room/bed in London to be shared with Leon yet the two seem destined never to meet as they work opposing shifts i.e. days versus nights.

Personally, there were points of this novel that I found quite challenging, mainly due to my own individual experiences with a specific man in my past. However (if this doesn’t sound too odd), this is one of the additional reasons why I want to rave about it so much. Readers need to find something in a novel to connect with to pronounce it a worthwhile, unforgettable experience. Obviously, that might be different for each reader, some might connect with the characters, the humour, or events that have happened in the characters lives that they themselves have gone through and relate to on an emotional level. For me, it was all these things combined that made The Flatshare such an engrossing and mesmerising affair. I experienced such an automatic click with the writing style and the delightful Tiffy and Leon that I tore through this novel in a very short space of time, gobbling up each word and momentous event with a ridiculous kind of fervour that I normally reserve only for my very favourite authors.

As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but compare it in my head to Bridget Jones’ Diary for a new generation. Although the plot and topics covered are not totally comparable, I could see the same humour, endearing characters and pivotal events that made Bridget Jones such a classic, well-loved piece of literature. The Flatshare is one of those wonderful books that sticks in your head. It makes you smile and leaves such a satisfying lump in your throat that was truly surprising, ESPECIALLY for a cynical, suspicious soul like myself! Please, don’t do a “me,” and think you know what this book is going to be about. You’d be wrong and I’d love you to give it a shot.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being within reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work.
You’ll usually find her curled up with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).

Find her on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13038484.Beth_O_Leary

on Instagram at: @betholearyauthor

on Twitter at: @olearybeth

Thank you so much once again to Ella Patel and Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. The Flatshare is published on 18th April 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/social media blast for some amazing reviews!

Link to The Flatshare on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36478784-the-flatshare?ac=1&from_search=true

Link to The Flatshare on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flatshare-Beth-OLeary/dp/1787474402/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=325SMIVPR2L7K&keywords=the+flatshare+beth+oleary&qid=1555615002&s=gateway&sprefix=the+flatshare%2Caps%2C338&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

 

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The Dollmaker – Nina Allan

Published April 13, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive but graceful, unique, and with surprising depths. Perhaps that’s why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector’s magazine.

Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped, and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her.

On his journey through the old towns of England, he reads the fairy tales of Ewa Chaplin–potent, eldritch stories which, like her lifelike dolls, pluck at the edges of reality and thread their way into his mind. When Andrew and Bramber meet at last, they will have a choice–to break free and, unlike their dolls, come to life.

A love story of two very real, unusual people, The Dollmaker is also a novel rich with wonders: Andrew’s quest and Bramber’s letters unspool around the dark fables that give our familiar world an uncanny edge. It is this touch of magic that, like the blink of a doll’s eyes, tricks our own.

What did I think?:

The whimsical nature of The Dollmaker was first brought to my attention during an event held by Quercus Books last year where they showcased some of the fiction they were excited to be publishing in 2019. The Dollmaker was one of these books and marketed in such a gorgeous display that not only was it immediately eye-catching but I was instantly intrigued to read the novel. Thank you so much to the publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wonderful display for The Dollmaker from the team at Quercus Books.

From the very beginning, The Dollmaker felt like a very “me” book. From the quirky subject matter to the inclusion of fairy-tales and the nods to magical realism, I was incredibly excited to read it, desperately hoping I would be instantly captivated and under the author’s spell. Now that I’ve finished it, I can finally report back with a mixture of both positive and more tentative thoughts that I’ll do my best to get across coherently. First of all, I don’t think this book is going to be for everyone. Stay with me though because that isn’t necessarily a negative statement. Very much like the dolls within the narrative, the story itself is quite disjointed and has a tendency to shift as you’re reading it, almost at times like a stream of consciousness.

Nina Allan, author of The Dollmaker.

We see most of the story through the eyes of Andrew and Bramber who have struck up a correspondence and are beginning to feel quite strongly towards each other, sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings through the letters they write and receive. When we begin the novel, we learn about Bramber, who has spent much of her life in an institution for reasons unknown and as she gradually opens up to Andrew, we learn more about the events that led to her present situation. Unknown to Bramber, her correspondent Andrew, who has mastered the fine art of doll-making is on his way to where she is to finally meet her face to face and build on their relationship. Interspersed between their stories and letters are fairy-tales from Ewa Chaplin (also a doll-maker) which Andrew is reading on his journey. However, as the stories continue, there appear to be some strange cross-overs between characters in Chaplin’s tales and events in Andrew and Bramber’s own lives.

I have to say, the fairy-tale aspects of this novel were one of my favourite parts. I didn’t enjoy all of them to the same degree but some of them were incredibly dark, delicious and gripping. However, this is also where the difficulty rose for me with this novel. I appreciated the beautiful, unusual style of writing and the clever way in which the author intertwined parts of the fairy-tales with the main narrative. Yet it was only when I read the fairy-tales that I found myself fully invested in the story. Sadly, I didn’t feel a connect with either Andrew or Bramber and although I was intrigued to find out what would happen if and when they met face to face, I didn’t get as much out of their characters or personalities as I would have liked. Sometimes it felt as if it went off in too many directions for me to catch hold of the thread and unfortunately, I found myself looking forward to the next fairy-tale rather than the story between the two main protagonists.

There’s no denying that The Dollmaker is a very unique and accomplished read and there are real sparks of magic, suspense and darkness that were wonderful to experience but it was just a shame I couldn’t find a connection with the primary characters or their individual stories. Nevertheless, I would still be interested in reading other works by this author on the strength of her storytelling ability.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Blog Tour/Social Media Blast – Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Published April 4, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A richly imagined novel that tells the story behind The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , the book that inspired the iconic film, through the eyes of author L. Frank Baum’s intrepid wife, Maud–from the family’s hardscrabble days in South Dakota to the Hollywood film set where she first meets Judy Garland. 

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.

What did I think?:

When Ella Patel from Quercus sent me a sampler of Finding Dorothy a month or so ago and asked me to report back what I thought and whether I would be excited to read the finished copy, I was all over it like a rash. Not only do I adore historical fiction and stories about strong, independent women but The Wizard Of Oz was (and probably still is) one of my favourite films and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched it. The prospect of finding more out about the wife of the author who wrote The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, Maud Gage Baum was too delicious to pass up and I was eager to report back to Ella that I was raring to go in reading and reviewing Finding Dorothy. A big thank you to her and to Quercus for the complimentary hardback in exchange for an honest review.

Elizabeth Letts, author of Finding Dorothy.

In essence, this novel was everything I would have hoped it would be. We follow our female protagonist Maud from a very young age as she learned how to become a woman, how to fight for the same level of education as men and how important it was for women to finally get the right to vote and start to make a real difference in the world. Her mother, Matilda, a staunch campaigner, public speaker and feminist has an inner strength and determination that shines through in her youngest daughter, Maud.

Maud goes away to study in a time where women were not encouraged to do so after some firm insistence from Matilda that she should make the most of the opportunity, and it’s fair to say that she struggles slightly. Unfortunately the expectations of society and her peers at the time regarding how a woman should behave weigh heavily on her, but in the end she makes the right decision for her own individual happiness, whilst not changing any of her personal beliefs. Enter L. Frank Baum and his Wonderful Wizard Of Oz.

Theatrical release poster for The Wizard Of Oz, released in 1939

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wizard_of_Oz_(1939_film)

You might be forgiven to think that it’s only when Maud meets Frank Baum that the story kicks into gear. For me, that was certainly not the case at all. I was fascinated by Maud’s early life, her suffragist mother, the clear differences between her and her older sister, Julia and how even though she was raised to be headstrong and unyielding (especially when it came to men), there was also a softness and gentleness to her nature that endeared me to her immediately.

I felt like I could connect with Maud and understand her as a person and I could certainly sympathise with her internal battles, particularly as a young woman about what or whom she really wanted to be in life. I adored her loyalty to her mother, her dogged determination to make Matilda proud and her worries that she would disappoint her if she made what might have been seen as the “wrong” choices. As it was, it only proved that Matilda had raised a young woman who was able to take charge of her own thoughts and feelings and make an informed decision to quiet the warring factions of her mind.

As well as Maud’s early life and her marriage to Frank, this novel also explores a present day thread, (which is still historical for the reader) but occurs when Maud is an older woman, visiting the set of The Wizard of Oz in the 1930’s to ensure the film makers are being faithful to the narrative of the original novel and to her husband’s memory. Personally, I can’t remember how many times I’ve read a historical novel told across dual timelines and preferred the historical to the contemporary thread. Not the case with Finding Dorothy – I thought BOTH were absolutely fantastic. It was particularly poignant to watch Maud meeting the characters, viewing the sets and worrying herself sick over a young and very vulnerable Judy Garland. Everything she wrote about I could picture so clearly from the film and it provided some fascinating, thought-provoking and quite startling insights.

This is definitely the sort of story you read, think deeply about and then feel spurred on to find out more and more from other sources. Finding Dorothy has only fuelled this hunger within myself, particularly when it comes to the life of Judy Garland and if anyone has any recommendations, I’d be so grateful to hear them! If you’re a fan of The Wizard Of Oz or just enjoy beautifully written and compelling historical fiction, I can’t hesitate but encourage you to pick up this novel. It’s well worth it and has been a wonderful, unforgettable reading experience.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

 

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

ELIZABETH LETTS is an award winning and bestselling author of both fiction and non-fiction. The Perfect Horse was the winner of the 2017 PEN USA Award for Research Non-fiction and a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller. The Eighty-Dollar Champion was a #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2012 Daniel P Lenehan Award for Media Excellence from the United States Equestrian Foundation. She is also the author of two novels, Quality of Care and Family Planning, and an award-winning children’s book, The Butter Man. She lives in Southern California and Northern Michigan.

Find Elizabeth on her Goodreads page at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/568672.Elizabeth_Letts

or on her website at: http://www.elizabethletts.com/

or on Twitter at: @elizabethletts

Thank you so much once again to Ella Patel and Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Finding Dorothy is published on 4th April 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/social media blast for some amazing reviews!

Link to Finding Dorothy on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40265841-finding-dorothy?ac=1&from_search=true

Link to Finding Dorothy on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Dorothy-behind-Wizard-incredible-ebook/dp/B07NCZWNST/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=finding+dorothy&qid=1554318836&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Beautiful Bad – Annie Ward

Published March 24, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

IN THE MOST EXPLOSIVE AND TWISTED PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER SINCE THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, A PERFECT LOVE STORY LEADS TO THE PERFECT CRIME.

‘Compelling. Filled with unexpected twists… a riveting read’ Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Wife Between Us

Maddie and Ian’s romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to the always wonderful Quercus Books for hosting a bloggers event at the end of last year where they showcased some of the fiction they were most excited for in 2019 and secondly, for providing me with a complimentary review copy in exchange for an honest review. As soon as I picked up Beautiful Bad, I turned to my blogger bestie, Janel @ Keeper Of Pages and told her that I NEEDED to read this book. The proof copy was beautifully simplistic and incredibly effective with just a few lines of text on the back cover that went like this:

“Things that make me scared:

  1. When Charlie cries.
  2. Hospitals and lakes.
  3. When Ian gets angry.
  4. ISIS.
  5. That something is really, really wrong with me…”

I mean – wow. Who couldn’t resist but pick this book up with a teaser like that?

Annie Ward, author of Beautiful Bad.

Now, I hope those of you who have followed my blog for a while understand by now that I will always, always give you an honest review. If I absolutely don’t like a book and DNF it (i.e. a one star rating), I won’t review it as I don’t think it’s fair to the author or his/her future readers to review a book that I haven’t read the whole way through. My two star ratings are for books I finished but I had a few problems with and didn’t really enjoy that much but can see why other readers might. I’m sure you also appreciate that I don’t revel in writing more critical reviews and even if I didn’t enjoy a book, I will ALWAYS try and find something positive to say about it rather than ripping all an author’s hard work and efforts to shreds. Three stars and above = I enjoyed the novel but to varying degrees depending on whether I rated it three stars, four stars or the big five stars. I feel that I had to put that little disclaimer in because I did enjoy Beautiful Bad in general but unfortunately, I did have a few problems with it that were purely personal to me and I completely understand that other readers might feel very differently.

My expectations were so high with Beautiful Bad, partly because of that intriguing taster on the back cover and there were just a few ways in which it didn’t meet those ridiculously high standards of mine. As it’s a psychological thriller, I don’t want to get too deeply into the nitty gritty but I want to assure readers that haven’t read this yet and are excited about it that it really is a very compelling and fascinating read. The reason I kept on reading was that I was curious to find out what exactly was going on and what happened on one terrible day.

The novel is told from both Maddie and Ian’s point of view and we hear in intricate detail about how they met, fell in love, the initial struggles of their relationship, where they are right now in the present as a married couple and what difficulties they continue to face. Annie Ward explores mental health and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in an assured, often saddening way and I was constantly gripped by the relationship between the couple and how they managed to navigate through their troubles, especially with the addition of a gorgeous little boy, Charlie to their family.

Iraq, one of the many settings we visit in Beautiful Bad.

Image from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/iraq-lawmakers-seek-timetable-for-withdrawal-of-foreign-troops-1519933363

Through the eyes of Maddie and Ian, we are taken to a multitude of different settings including Iraq, Kansas, Manhattan, England and the Balkans and piece by piece, their journey to becoming a married couple is slowly explored. With such a variety of locations to explore you may be wondering exactly what my issue was, especially as I normally thrive on learning about different places and cultures. However, in Beautiful Bad at times it felt like there was too much unnecessary detail within these settings. That is to say, I didn’t feel I learned much about the place in enough detail as I would have liked. I understand this might have been to explore the juicier details of Maddie and Ian’s relationship but even then, I don’t feel as if the right sort of things were explored. It just seemed to be them going for a drink, fighting with Maddie’s friend Jo, falling in love WAY too quickly and him calling her “Petal” far too much which became slightly sickening. As a result, I didn’t feel as if I connected with any of the individuals as characters because sadly, I just couldn’t find their relationships believable on any level.

This book has so many potentially great things going for it, it was such a shame I felt such a disconnect with the characters and parts of the narrative. It’s mysterious and puzzling and even though I found some parts a bit slow, by about the middle of the novel, I was gripped enough by the story that I wanted to continue and see how it ended. Additionally, I have already seen so many positive reviews for this book so please don’t let my variable opinion sway you towards not picking it up – it certainly has some incredibly thrilling moments and in the hands of a different reader, you might get the completely opposite reaction. If you’ve already read it, I’d love to chat with you in the comments, please let me know what you thought!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

The Night Tiger – Yangsze Choo

Published February 20, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

man and walk among us…

In 1930s colonial Malaya, a dissolute British doctor receives a surprise gift of an eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy. Sent as a bequest from an old friend, young Ren has a mission: to find his dead master’s severed finger and reunite it with his body. Ren has forty-nine days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth forever.

Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir that leads her on a crooked, dark trail.

As time runs out for Ren’s mission, a series of unexplained deaths occur amid rumours of tigers who turn into men. In their journey to keep a promise and discover the truth, Ren and Ji Lin’s paths will cross in ways they will never forget.

Captivating and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores the rich world of servants and masters, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and unexpected love. Woven through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.

What did I think?:

This review comes with an enormous thank you to the wonderful team at Quercus Books who hosted a blogger event just before Christmas where they were introducing a few exciting books coming out in 2019. I had an opportunity to snatch up a copy of The Night Tiger and even if the synopsis hadn’t given me goosebumps (which it did!) I would have been intrigued by that beautiful cover alone. I went into The Night Tiger having been familiar with the author’s work before after the beautiful journey that was her debut novel, The Ghost Bride but it had been a while since I experienced her writing style therefore this book came as a fantastic surprise. It instantly transported me into the world of 1930’s Malaya (now Malaysia) and possessed an edge of magical realism that had me entranced  with the plot development, variety of characters and the power of superstition and folklore.

Yangsze Choo, author of The Night Tiger.

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, particularly the kind that is set in a different culture and allows the reader to learn a little something about changing customs/beliefs through history that are perhaps quite unusual from their own. I’ve read a number of novels set in a similar location and time frame to The Night Tiger, just prior to the Second World War and I’m always concerned that I may tire of this particular era. However, I trusted enough in the originality of Yangsze Choo’s writing to bring something fresh and new to this period and without a doubt, that’s exactly what I got from this novel. Not only do we have a cast of stunning, interesting characters that you immediately want to know more about, but you have that fantastical element based on genuine superstitions that the populace had at that time regarding death and the importance of the body remaining whole when buried.

I adored the inclusion of the tiger in the novel who almost becomes a character in his own right. His ghostly presence is constantly used in the background to explain a series of suspicious deaths which are blamed upon a rogue tiger terrorising the community. Myth and superstition are rife and there is also a worry, especially in the minds of one of our young protagonists, that the deaths may be the result of a tortured soul able to return to our world and transform into an animal form until appeased, otherwise known as a “were tiger.”

Malaya in the 1930’s

Image from: https://specialcollections-blog.lib.cam.ac.uk/?p=10341

Everything came together in such a stunning way in The Night Tiger. The magical element of the narrative complimented the story perfectly and never felt over-done or unbelievable, helped by the fact that it was based on the actual superstitions of individuals living at that time, as I’ve mentioned. In addition to this, we have astounding characters like Ren and Ji Lin who both have their own compelling story arc and a captivating personal journey for both young people, which eventually leads to the amalgamation of their narratives and an incredibly satisfying resolution. The growth of our characters combined with what they learn about themselves and the other people they are close to is nothing short of enthralling and I loved the drama, mystery, suspense and creative nature of the entire story.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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):

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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

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