The Pain Tourist by Paul Cleave #bookreview #blogtour @PaulCleave @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours #YeahNoir

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Paul Cleave, The Pain Tourist.

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How do you catch a killer…
When the only evidence is a dream?


James Garrett was critically injured when he was shot following his parents’ execution, and no one expected him to waken from a deep, traumatic coma. When he does, nine years later, Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent is tasked with closing the case that her now retired colleague, Theodore Tate, failed to solve all those years ago.

But between that, and hunting for Copy Joe – a murderer on a spree, who’s imitating Christchurch’s most notorious serial killer – she’s going to need Tate’s help. Especially when they learn that James has lived out another life in his nine-year coma, and there are things he couldn’t possibly know, including the fact that Copy Joe isn’t the only serial killer in town…

MY THOUGHTS

Paul Cleave has definitely become an auto-buy author for me, after reading his first two books, The Quiet People, last year and now The Pain Tourist.

Paul Cleave opens his new novel with a horrific opening where we see a family being attacked by a group of strangers in their own home. The outcome of the attack is devastating, with the parents both being shot dead, their son James left in a coma, and their only daughter, Hazel, the only member of the family to survive. What is even more horrifying is that the attackers got the wrong house and targeted a totally innocent family.

It’s been nine years since the attack. James has finally woken from his coma, and the full horrors of what happened to his family are revealed to him. For him, the day the attack took place, only happened yesterday. But the people who killed his parents and left him hospitalised in a coma, got away with what they did. Now, the police believe that with James regaining consciousness, they might have a chance of solving the case, and you can feel the detective’s determination to bring this case to a conclusion.

This was such an intense read, particularly the first few pages which throw you into the story and make sure you keep reading. The tension rises further as the police try to get to the bottom of what happened once and for all, and to bring those responsible to justice. Paul Cleave explores an intriguing idea in his book, in which he focuses on James, who the police believe may hold vital evidence. The only problem is, is that James dreamed this while he was in the coma. Paul Cleave also tells the story from the point of view of the people who were responsible for the attack. They know James is awake and this could potentially mean the police will catch up with them, and it appears they are willing to do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I really felt for James as he comes to terms with what has happened to his family, and as he struggles to cope with life after waking from his coma. You can see how difficult he is finding it when the police are keen to speak to him, about what he remembers from the day of the attack on his family.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Pain Tourist. It is highly addictive; and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. You will be turning the pages late into the night to finish this book. I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication: 10th November 2022

Print length: 300 pages

The Pain Tourist is available to buy:

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Red as Blood by Lilja Sigurdardóttir #bookreview #blogtour @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Lilja Sigurdardóttir Red as Blood. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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When entrepreneur Flosi arrives home for dinner one night, he discovers that his house has been ransacked, and his wife Gudrun missing. A letter on the kitchen table confirms that she has been kidnapped. If Flosi doesn’t agree to pay an enormous ransom, Gudrun will be killed. 

Forbidden from contacting the police, he gets in touch with Áróra, who specialises in finding hidden assets, and she, alongside her detective friend Daniel, try to get to the bottom of the case without anyone catching on.

Meanwhile, Áróra and Daniel continue the puzzling, devastating search for Áróra’s sister Ísafold, who disappeared without trace. As fog descends, in a cold and rainy Icelandic autumn, the investigation becomes increasingly dangerous, and confusing. 

Chilling, twisty and unbearably tense, Red as Blood is the second instalment in the riveting, addictive An Áróra Investigation series, and everything is at stake…

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve been really looking forward to reading Red as Blood by Lilja Sigurðardóttir, who is such an exciting writer, and it did not disappoint. Lilja’s writing is so fast paced, and I always fly through her books, often in the matter of a few hours. She opens Red as Blood with a tense opening, getting the action going right away, when Flosi, a multi-millionaire, returns home to discover his wife, Gudrun, has disappeared. A ransom note has been left behind, demanding a vast sum of money in exchange for his wife’s safe return, leaving him in turmoil.

Lilja’s detective, Áróra, is back in this book, and she has been through a very recent trauma with the disappearance of her sister, Ísafold, which remains unsolved, and she is still trying to work out what happened. I wondered how she would be able to cope taking on a missing person’s case, when her sister still hadn’t been found, and this adds a layer of tension to the plot as Áróra tries to work out what is going on. Although Lilja does revisit this part of Áróra’s past, you do not need to have read the first book in this series to read Red as Blood, as it can easily be read as a standalone. But I highly recommend that you do read the first book, Cold as Hell.

With any missing person’s case, when a ransom is demanded, it’s always risky for the victim’s family to contact the police for help, and the police know this as well, meaning they must work carefully, and not make any mistakes that would let the kidnappers know they are involved. This continues to add to the tension in the novel. But even though a ransom demand has been made, Áróra looks deeper into the case, and attempts to work out what happened in the lead up to Gudrun’s disappearance, and it seems as though there are definitely more questions here.

The further Áróra delves deeper, the more complex this case becomes, and the investigation takes a darker and surprising turn as she begins to work out what happened. I could feel her determination to get to the bottom of this case. I was kept invested as she tried to get to the bottom of things.

Lilja Sigurðardóttir kept me turning the pages and the pace really kept me gripped. Once again you get a brilliant, vivid portrayal of the Icelandic landscape, as well as the weather as they head towards winter, making this book even more immersive.

Red as Blood is a brilliant addition to this series, and I can’t wait to see where Lilja Sigurðardóttir takes her characters next, especially after the final chapter. If you haven’t read any of Lilja’s books yet, you really need to.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 13th October 2022

Print length: 276 pages

Red as Blood is available to buy:

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The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson #bookreview #blogtour @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the brilliant new novel by Johana Gustawsson, The Bleeding. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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1899, Belle Époque Paris. Lucienne’s two daughters are believed dead when her mansion burns to the ground, but she is certain that her girls are still alive and embarks on a journey into the depths of the spiritualist community to find them.

1949, Post-War Québec. Teenager Lina’s father has died in the French Resistance, and as she struggles to fit in at school, her mother introduces her to an elderly woman at the asylum where she works, changing Lina’s life in the darkest way imaginable.

2002, Quebec. A former schoolteacher is accused of brutally stabbing her husband – a famous university professor – to death. Detective Maxine Grant, who has recently lost her own husband and is parenting a teenager and a new baby single-handedly, takes on the investigation.

Under enormous personal pressure, Maxine makes a series of macabre discoveries that link directly to historical cases involving black magic and murder, secret societies and spiritism … and women at breaking point, who will stop at nothing to protect the ones they love…

MY THOUGHTS

I was told I would need to set an afternoon aside to read The Bleeding, and I definitely needed to. I flew through Johana Gustawsson’s latest novel in less than a single day. It feels like it’s been a long while since I read one of her books, which meant I was so exciting to read this one. I always find her ideas so interesting, and her books are so cleverly plotted, especially as they cover several time periods, sometimes spanning decades and hundreds of years. The Bleeding is a dark book; it does cover some heavy themes which may make some readers feel uncomfortable, but it is so compelling. It has all the makings of a classic.

Johana begins her novel in 2002 in Quebec, Canada, where a former schoolteacher has been accused of brutally murdering her husband. We meet Detective Maxine Grant, and from the outset, this is a very strange case, but just how is it connected to the disappearance of two young girls in 1899, and the life of a young girl, Lina in 1949?

I’m always left in awe at just how clever Johana’s novels are. I can only imagine that she must spend many weeks and months plotting her books. Her ideas are always so original, and there isn’t a writer, I can think of, that I can quite compare her work to. The murder in 2002 is very intriguing, particularly with the macabre discoveries Maxine makes at the home of the man who is murdered.

As I mentioned, Johana does cover some dark themes in this book, including black magic, and I have to admit these scenes did send a shiver up my spine as I was reading. I think this book is geared more towards fans of the horror genre, but the crime and mystery element was still there and so well done.

Maxine was a fascinating character, and her connection to the only suspect, who was once her teacher, was especially interesting as the investigation begins. It made me wonder how this would affect Maxine’s judgement of the woman.

The Bleeding is so well written and it instantly grips you. You definitely want to start this when you have a couple of hours to spare as you will not want to put it down. I really enjoyed it.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 15th September 2022

Print length: 300 pages

The Bleeding is available to buy:

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Black Hearts by Doug Johnstone #bookreview #blogtour @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Doug Johnstone, Black Hearts. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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Death is just the beginning…

The Skelf women live in the shadow of death every day, running the family funeral directors and private investigator business in Edinburgh. But now their own grief interwines with that of their clients, as they are left reeling by shocking past events.

A fist-fight by an open grave leads Dorothy to investigate the possibility of a faked death, while a young woman’s obsession with Hannah threatens her relationship with Indy and puts them both in mortal danger. An elderly man claims he’s being abused by the ghost of his late wife, while ghosts of another kind come back to haunt Jenny from the grave … pushing her to breaking point.

As the Skelfs struggle with increasingly unnerving cases and chilling danger lurks close to home, it becomes clear that grief, in all its forms, can be deadly…

MY THOUGHTS

I’m a huge fan of the Skelf series by Doug Johnstone, so I was really excited to hear that he was releasing a fourth book in the series. Black Hearts is the latest book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I finished it in a few greedy gulps. I’m always interested to see what the Skelf women are getting up to, the idea of meshing a funeral business, and a private detective agency, is an idea I’ll always love, and it’s part of what makes this series stand out to me, that, and the characters, and how Doug Johnstone brings Edinburgh to life.

Following the last three books in the series, tensions are still running high in the Skelf family, especially after what happened to them in the last book. You can feel the emotions they are experiencing following what has previously happened, and you experience the conflict and the guilt they feel. Doug Johnstone really knows how to draw you into the minds of his characters through their emotions, and this really makes you connect to them. I thought this particularly with Jenny in this book, as she definitely seems to be going through a tough time.

There are a few cases that the Skelf women become involved in, in Black Hearts. I particularly thought the case Hannah was investigating, was fascinating, after a grandfather, Udo, contacts her, who believes he is in touch with his dead wife’s spirit by using a Japanese wind phone. Spirituality is a key theme in this book and I liked how Doug Johnstone continued to explore this. I also liked how he explored Hannah’s line of work, and her interest in the universe further, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, is a topic I’m fascinated by. I particularly liked the scene when she was at a lecture focusing on exoplanets, and you can feel Hannah’s enthusiasm for the topic. Hannah is also facing difficulties with a stalker, which adds another layer of tension to the book.

This book does blend genres, and I think Doug Johnstone does this so well, by making me even more gripped by his writing and the lives of the Skelf women. I really hope that there a more books to come in this series, the writing is brilliant, and the characters will live in your mind long after you turn the final page. If you’re not yet reading this series, then you are really missing out on some of the best crime novels out there. I highly recommend them.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 29th September 2022

Print length: 300 pages

Black Hearts is available to buy:

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Night Shadows by  Eva Björg Ægisdóttir #bookreview #blogtour @evaaegisdottir @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the gripping new novel in the Forbidden Iceland series by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, Night Shadows. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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The small community of Akranes is devastated when a young man dies in a mysterious house fire, and when Detective Elma and her colleagues from West Iceland CID discover the fire was arson, they become embroiled in an increasingly perplexing case involving multiple suspects. What’s more, the dead man’s final online search raises fears that they could be investigating not one murder, but two.

A few months before the fire, a young Dutch woman takes a job as an au pair in Iceland, desperate to make a new life for herself after the death of her father. But the seemingly perfect family who employs her turns out to have problems of its own and she soon discovers she is running out of people to turn to.

As the police begin to home in on the truth, Elma, already struggling to come to terms with a life-changing event, finds herself in mortal danger as it becomes clear that someone has secrets they’ll do anything to hide…

MY THOUGHTS

I’m really enjoying the Forbidden Iceland series by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir. Icelandic Noir has become one of my favourite sub genres in crime fiction. What I love about this series is how Eva draws on the setting, and I think I have mentioned this before in my earlier reviews of this series. She creates such a chilling atmosphere using the landscape and it’s what always makes me bump these books to the top of my reading pile.

This time around, in Night Shadows, Detective Elma faces a complex, intriguing case starting when a young man burns to death in a house fire. But when they discover strange searches in his Internet history, a link is drawn to the disappearance of a young Dutch woman.

I was fascinated by the case Elma investigates in this book. I wanted to know what was going on in the life of the man who is killed in the fire. When it was revealed what he was searching for just before his death, my interest heightened, it really creates a much more chilling atmosphere to the book and it made me think that there was something far deeper going on here. There were so many intriguing aspects to his story and I wanted to know what the problems were he was facing shortly before his death. Eva Björg Ægisdóttir is a writer who really keeps you thinking about the possible motives and the possible suspects. Elma faces a difficult task in piecing together what happened in the days leading up to the fire and as Eva takes us back in time, she throws in many red herrings that kept me on my toes.

I also liked the added detail into Elma’s personal struggles in this book. It helped bring her character to life, especially as we delve into her thoughts and feelings about what she and partner, Saever face. I really connected to their relationship in this book as Eva explores it deeper. It made me wonder just how things were going to pan out for them and how their relationship would be affected in the long term.

The ending is tense; I was flicking through the pages at top speed to find out what was going to happen. I thought the reveals that came were so well done and chilling. If you haven’t yet read this series then you are really missing out, it’s becoming one of my favourite series in crime fiction and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 21st July 2022

Print length: 276 pages

Night Shadows is available to buy:

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The Daves Next Door by Will Carver #bookreview #blogtour @will_carver @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Will Carve, The Daves Next Door. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care.
 
An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white.
 
A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory.
 
Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows.
 
Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.
 
Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

MY THOUGHTS

Will Carver is a writer who never fails to impress me with the originality of his work. I always look forward to seeing what he has in store for us next, and his latest book The Daves Next Door, has left me wondering how on earth Will comes up with his ideas and his characters.

Will’s latest novel is told from the perspective of five individuals. The way how Will narrates the scenes told from their perspective is very unique and it draws you into the characters minds very easily. I especially found the chapters intriguing told from the point of view of a person who thinks they’re God.

There is real tension in this book as we get deeper and deeper into the mind set of each character. As one of the characters rides the Underground each day, he contemplates on his own state of existence, wondering if he is God, in control of the lives around him. He thinks about the possibility of a bomb being strapped to his chest. He is aware of all the other characters in this book as he observes their lives while riding with them on the London Underground. It feels as though this person does have a certain control over them. He gets to choose if they live or die. This is a terrifying aspect to this book and it made me think about the potential dangers we face every time we step outside the front door every morning. We know, in the book, that there will be a devastating series of terrorist attacks across London, and this is what turns the tension up a notch.

There is a real skill to the way how Will Carver writes that sets him apart from other writers. This is especially the case with how he tells the story from each different perspective. I got to know each and every one of the characters and they felt like real people. One of the other characters who I found particularly intriguing was the nurse, Vashti, who, in The Daves Next Door, is caring for an injured sportsman. I found these scenes featuring them really engaging and it was interesting seeing things develop between them over the course of the novel and seeing their personalities change.

The Daves Next Door is addictive, thought-provoking, and it makes for a captivating reading experience. Will Carver fans, you do not want to miss this book.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 21st July 2022

Print length: 335 pages

The Daves Next Door is available to buy:

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Nothing Else by Louise Beech #bookreview #blogtour @LouiseWriter @RandomTTours @OrendaBooks

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Louise Beech, Nothing Else.

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Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.

But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.

When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night … coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.

An exquisitely moving novel about surviving devastating trauma, about the unbreakable bond between sisters, Nothing Else is also a story of courage and love, and the power of music to transcend – and change – everything.

MY THOUGHTS

Louise Beech is a writer who really knows how to delve into the emotions of her characters. Nothing Else, her latest book, is a powerful read that will pull at the heartstrings. It’s not the type of book I normally read, but I was completely and utterly hooked by Heather and Harriet’s tragic tale. It’s really a novel to savour.

We meet Heather as she is contemplating taking a job on a cruise as a pianist, but she is reluctant about this at first. Only after some gentle pushing by her friends does she apply. Heather teaches piano, but she doesn’t perform herself in front of crowds. As Heather sets sail on the cruise, we begin to see just how tragic her backstory is, and how this adds a deeper meaning to the music she plays, particularly her own compositions.

I could really feel Heather’s loss. She hasn’t seen her sister in more than thirty years, after they were cruelly separated by social services, after the death of their parents. Their grandmother, who neither Heather, nor her sister Harriet liked, didn’t even offer to take care of them. You can feel Heather’s yearning to have her sister in her life again. I wanted to find out what had happened to Harriet after they were separated.

We also see what happened in Heather and Harriet’s childhood, and these are some tough scenes to read. But there is also some hope for the future in these scenes, especially as they both learn to play the piano together and you can see how much joy this brings them. This also helps strengthen their bond further and they both know they can rely on the piano in the times of darkness.

I really enjoyed the scenes when Heather is on the cruise and I loved the interactions that she has with the other passengers, as well as the other people in the same quarters as her. I particularly liked the friendship she developed with Frederica, a writer who is running creative writing workshops on the ship. I loved Frederica’s personality and I was glad that Heather had her as a friend on the ship.

Nothing Else is a deeply moving story. Heather and Harriet’s tale engaged me right from the start and I was rooting for Heather all the way through to find out what happened to her sister. If you’re a fan of Louise Beech’s work you need to read this book as soon as possible.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 23rd April 2022 (kindle) 23rd June 2022 (paperback)

Print length: 352 pages

Nothing Else is available to buy:

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Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald #bookreview #blogtour @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Helen Fitzgerald, Keep Her Sweet. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.

Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.

When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move. 

But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.

This is a murder, just waiting to happen…

Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but a startling look at sister relationships and they bonds they share … or shatter.

MY THOUGHTS

If you enjoy a family drama, then Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald should definitely be your next read. I’ve read Helen’s past two novels, and every time I’ve read something new by her, I’ve recognised her voice straight away, especially in the unique way she creates her characters. I think if you’d given me this book without telling me who it was by, I would have been able to guess that it was written by Helen from the first page.

In her latest psychological thriller, Helen Fitzgerald zooms in on one of the most dysfunctional families I’ve come across in crime fiction. We meet two sisters, Camille and Asha, and immediately we can see the tensions that there are between them. They’ve recently moved back in with their parents, Penny and Andeep, and right from the first few pages, I felt like I was a fly on the wall, listening in, waiting for something catastrophic to happen. It did feel as though the family were discovering more about each other for the first time, especially once a therapist gets involved.

All of Helen’s characters in this book are well rounded and I thought their individual personalities and backstories came through strongly on the page. They are people who you want to find out more about. Camille and Asha’s Dad, Andeep, is a disgraced comic, and his family are the ones who still have to put up with his jokes. The novel is also told from the point of view of their Mum, Penny, and Joy, The Therapist. I think I found the parts told from the therapist’s points of view the most intriguing. I thought it was interesting how Joy peered into the lives of Camille and Asha’s family. I immediately wanted to find out more about her right from the first line, “Unhappy families always cheered her up.” This had me hooked. What had happened to this family?

Asha and Camille’s relationship also kept me invested in the story. Helen Fitzgerald delves deep into their history, although we particularly see this from Camille’s point of view. I really like the scenes which were told through diary extracts as her voice came through really strongly. You can feel Camille’s emotions as she is describing events that have happened between her and Asha in the past. You can see clearly the rivalry that exists between them, especially from Camille’s view point. But you do also get a sense that Asha and Camille do care deeply about each other, particularly when Camille explores their past.

I really could not believe what I was reading as I reached the final closing chapters. It was such a dark and tense finale, and I’m sure I’ll be thinking about what happened at the end of this book for a long time. Helen Fitzgerald explores some tough themes in Keep Her Sweet that bring her characters to life in rich, vivid detail, and it makes for an absorbing and an utterly compelling read. Another excellent novel from Helen Fitzgerald.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 26th May 2022

Print length: 222 pages

Keep Her Sweet is available to buy:

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Faceless by Vanda Symon #bookreview #blogtour @vandasymon @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Vanda Symon, Faceless, on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Faceless by [Vanda Symon]

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Worn down by a job he hates, and a stressful family life, middle-aged, middle-class Bradley picks up a teenage escort and commits an unspeakable crime. Now she’s tied up in his warehouse, and he doesn’t know what to do.

Max is homeless, eating from rubbish bins, sleeping rough and barely existing – known for cadging a cigarette from anyone passing, and occasionally even the footpath. Nobody really sees Max, but he has one friend, and she’s gone missing.

In order to find her, Max is going to have to call on some people from his past, and reopen wounds that have remained unhealed for a very long time, and the clock is ticking…

MY THOUGHTS

I love Vanda Symon’s writing and her latest novel, Faceless is another utterly gripping read. It’s Vanda’s first standalone and I raced through it in just two days. It is so good and there is real emotional depth to Vanda’s writing. I had to know what was going to happen. It’s a really powerful piece of writing that will make you root for the characters. 

Max is a character who’ll really pull at the heart strings. I really felt for him, especially as he tried to express his concerns to the police that his friend, Billy, a teenage escort is missing. You can see that apart from one police officer, he is struggling to make his voice heard to those who should be taking his concerns seriously. I could really feel his frustration and concern for his friend.

The tension in this book does not drop at all. Vanda Symon writes some intense scenes, especially those which feature Max’s friend Billy. Billy’s story is a heartbreaking one. She is still a teenager and it is heartbreaking that she has been forced to work as a prostitute on the streets. It seems that Max is the only one who cares for her and when she goes missing it becomes his determination to find her, even if no one else is prepared to listen. I really admired Max and he comes across as person who would be a good friend for anyone to have around. I was rooting for him all the way through the book and I wanted him to succeed in finding Billy.

Vanda writes some very tense scenes from Billy’s perspective. We know what has happened to her which is why I felt so frustrated when the majority of the police officers showed little or no interest in finding her, despite Max’s protests. I was so desperate for them to take Max seriously as I had no idea if Billy was going to survive. Vanda Symon creates a real sense of danger and this kept me utterly gripped to the book.

Vanda’s characters are so well developed. Their emotions come through so strongly on the page. You get a real sense of what drives them, especially with Max. This is a real page turner of a novel. It is so addictive and the short snappy chapters kept the pace flying forward.

Fans of Vanda Symon’s novels, you are in for a real treat. Faceless will keep you utterly gripped right the way through. I loved it!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 17th January 2022 (kindle) 17th March 2022 (paperback)

Print length: 320 pages

Faceless is available to buy:

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Off Target by Eve Smith #bookreview #blogtour @evecsmith @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the gripping new novel by Eve Smith, Off Target. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Off-Target by [Eve Smith]

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A longed-for baby
An unthinkable decision
A deadly mistake

In an all-too-possible near future, when genetic engineering has become the norm for humans, not just crops, parents are prepared to take incalculable risks to ensure that their babies are perfect … altering genes that may cause illness, and more…

Susan has been trying for a baby for years, and when an impulsive one-night stand makes her dream come true, she’ll do anything to keep her daughter and ensure her husband doesn’t find out … including the unthinkable. She believes her secret is safe. For now.

But as governments embark on a perilous genetic arms race and children around the globe start experiencing a host of distressing symptoms – even taking their own lives – something truly horrendous is unleashed. Because those children have only one thing in common, and people are starting to ask questions…

Bestselling author of The Waiting Rooms, Eve Smith returns with an authentic, startlingly thought-provoking, disturbing blockbuster of a thriller that provides a chilling glimpse of a future that’s just one modification away…

MY THOUGHTS

I loved Eve Smith’s debut novel, The Waiting Rooms, and once again, she has explored a scarily realistic idea that doesn’t feel too far away in the future. Her latest novel is Off Target. In Eve’s version of reality, people are able to edit the genes of their unborn babies, which was specifically introduced to help prevent specific diseases. But people are now taking advantage of this science and are using it to create designer babies, and this sparks huge ethical questions about gene editing.

We meet Susan, who is facing an impossible dilemma when she becomes pregnant with her first child. She and her husband have been desperately trying for a baby, so she should be thrilled to learn the news that she’s pregnant. But Susan is sure that the baby isn’t her husband’s after mistakenly having a one night stand. But there are ways that she can get around this.

I loved the original spin that Eve Smith put on her idea. It’s what made this story so exciting, and so tense as it made me think that what she was planning to do would go horribly wrong. I’m sure this book will make many people wonder what they would do if they were in Susan’s position. What makes Eve’s idea so different as well is that she includes newspaper reports on different events, linked to the plot, happening around the world. You can see just how well Eve has researched this topic.

Following on from the drastic decision that Eve makes, we fast forward several years later, when her baby, Zurel, is now, almost, a grown adult. We can begin to see the consequences of the decision Susan took when she was pregnant, and we can see how Susan is plagued with guilt. But it is not clear if, what is now happening to Zurel is linked to what Susan did all those years ago. She is constantly living in fear, that someone will discover her secret, but she is also extremely worried about her daughter’s health and if she is to blame. The uncertainty about Zurel’s situation also drives the fear and the tension in Susan’s life. Zurel also has questions about what happened very early on in her life.

It was interesting to see the relationship between Susan and Zurel play out, now that Zurel is just about to reach adulthood. There is a lot of tension there and it made me wonder what would happen to their family if the truth about what Susan did came out. Eve Smith kept me utterly gripped as I waited to find out what was going to happen to them and how things would unfold.

I love books that blend genres and Eve Smith achieved that so well here. She has become a must-read author to me and I’m certain that I’ll read anything that she writes next. I highly recommend Off Target.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 17th December 2021 (kindle) 17th February 2022 (paperback)

Print length: 300 pages

Off Target is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

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