#blogtour #TheSeduction @JoannaBriscoe @BloomsburyBooks #RandomThingsTours @AnneCater #readers #bookchat #newbook

Hugely excited to be a part of this blog tour, and many thanks to Anne Cater for the tour invite! I haven’t read any Joanna Briscoe books, so it’s lovely to be introduced to a new writer with a backlog of books to discover. Keep reading to find out more about ‘The Seduction’.

The Blurb

Beth lives in the tree-shrouded no-man’s land by Camden with her partner Sol and their daughter Fern. Life is peaceful, but Beth is troubled by increasing unease. It could be the uncertainty of her mother, who disappeared when Beth was a child. Or it could be the sense that Fern is keeping secrets from her.

So she goes to therapy. Dr Tamara Bywater is there to help her patients. But what if the very person who is meant to be the solution becomes the most dangerous problem of all? And why is what’s bad for us so enticing?

My thoughts

It’s certainly true that this book embraces the beauty and flexibility of language in its descriptions. I was hooked in early; the narrative weaves its spell and pulls you into the lives of Beth, Fern and Sol, as Beth’s troubled past brings her to the attention of Dr Tamara Bywater. There follows a story of obsession, manipulation and the power of paranoia.

What I enjoyed about this book is its study of human behaviour and the dark undertone in the writing, it’s certainly an addictive concept. I also enjoyed the theme of mother-daughter relationships, which lie at the core of this novel. What makes this book more than a relationship drama, is how it explores the role of the therapist; a person who is privy to your inner thoughts and, who has the ability to manipulate that closeness if they choose to do so. That’s where this novel’s tone is more disturbing as slowly Beth’s relationship with Dr Bywater becomes sexually charged, and draws her into a complex situation to the detriment of her family life.

Overall, a beautifully crafted, darkly drawn story of human psychology and dysfunctional personalities, colliding in a toxic and emotional journey of a book.

The Blog Tour

The Author

Joanna Briscoe

Joanna Briscoe is the author of five previous novels, including the bestselling Sleep With Me, which was adapted for ITV by Andrew Davies. She has been a columnist for the Independent and the Guardian, is a literary critic for the Guardian, and broadcasts regularly on Radio 4.

joannabriscoe.com
@JoannaBriscoe

#blogtour THE SPLIT by Sharon Bolton and published by Orion Books

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Sharon Bolton’s ‘The Split’, I’ve not read a Bolton book or series that I haven’t loved, and this is no exception. With thanks to Alex for the tour invite! Please read on for more information and bookish chat…

SHE’S GOT NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE.

A year ago, in desperation, Felicity Lloyd signed up for a lengthy research trip to the remote island of South Georgia.

It was her only way to escape.

AND NOW HE’S COMING FOR HER.

Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder. Out at last, he’s on her trail.

And this time, he won’t stop until he finds her.

BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU RUN, SOME SECRETS WILL ALWAYS CATCH UP WITH YOU…

My thoughts

If you like a puzzle, then this is the book for you. From the extreme, isolated landscape of South Georgia, to the city of Cambridge nine months earlier, the reader is taken on a journey through a multi-layered narrative with a fascinating unreliable narrator: Felicity Lloyd.

The narrative seems disjointed for a substantial part of the book, but stick with it, it mirrors the central plot and the narratives will come together in a tense climax that will have you holding your breath!

I love the setting of South Georgia. It provides a harrowing and unforgiving landscape that opens and closes ‘The Split’ and provides the setting for an intriguing opening and a nerve-wracking finale, there is also a final twist for the reader that is hard to see coming.

This the story of Felicity, who is a glaciologist and a young woman on the edge; she is living in fear and we first meet her when she is working in the freezing waters of South Georgia with her colleague Jack. What soon becomes clear is that Felicity is running from someone, and that person is close on her trail. Before we can learn more, the narrative shifts back to the past. It is here the reader must adjust to a new setting; it seems like a completely different book and the reader is introduced to a new set of characters and an unsettling mystery.

There are several interesting characters, some more mysterious than others, I liked the character of Joe, the psychologist and councillor; he is not without flaws, but it makes him a more realistic character. I enjoyed finding out about his work, his relationship with this police officer mum, and the difficulties he is dealing with. Both he and Felicity have suffered trauma, and both are battling with their demons.

Also embedded into this story is a murder investigation in the rough sleeping community, this adds yet another dimension to a multi-layered plot and narrative voices. There are several subtle clues along the way, and I would recommend using a notebook and working on your inner Sherlock! I read 80% of the book with the Pigeonhole reading community (the book is split into 12 sections over 12 days, and you read with others and can leave digital comments in the margins), there are advantages and disadvantages reading this book with the group. The advantage is you are forced to read slowly, this enables you to think more about that section. I think I would have missed several clues if I had been reading in my usual pace, so this is your disadvantage of the book club, if you can call it that, as you’re forced to slow down.

This was not the expected read from the blurb, in fact it is completely different story to what you’d be expecting, but it’s a super puzzle of a novel. I always enjoy Sharon Bolton books, and this was no exception.

‘The Split’ is a puzzle of a thriller read, it’s emotional, challenging and meticulously plotted! Highly recommended.

#BlogTour THE MURDER GAME by @RachelAbbott #RandomThingsTour #BookReview with thanks to @Wildfirebks @headlinepg

A thank you to Anne Cater and Wildfire Books for the invite to the blog tour for #TheMurderGame by Rachel Abbott. Welcome to some bookish chat…

A year ago today, we all gathered for Lucas’ wedding at his glorious Cornish home overlooking the sea.
But no one was married that day.
Now Lucas has invited us back to celebrate the anniversary. But the anniversary of what? The wedding that never happened, or the tragedy that occurred just hours before the ceremony was due to begin?
He’s told us that tonight he has planned a game. We have our costumes, we have our parts, and everyone must play. The game, he tells us, is about to begin.
What does Lucas want from us? What are we not being told? And what’s going to happen when this terrible game is over?

My thoughts

I had such a great time reading this book! I hadn’t realised it was the second in the Stephanie King series, but it didn’t matter one bit. Abbott’s narrative places the central characters at the heart of the story, so King arrives later, when the police become involved, to lead the investigative aspect of this psychological thriller.

This is one of those books that has shades of an Agatha Christie novel. The careful line up of characters, from the charming to the acerbic, the desperate to the fragile. I loved the backdrop of lazy summer living at Polskirren, a beautiful manor house next to the Cornish coastline; a house where a group of friends meet, and where tragic events quickly unfold. It’s a joy to be introduced to all the players and the set-up is a delicious mash of furtive glances, eye gestures, huddled conversation and ambiguous comments.

The narrative is split between several of the female voices, so the perspectives change, which is a great way the book plays with the reader. I absolutely loved trying to work out the puzzle Abbott provides in this thriller story: the drip feeding of information; the slow unfurling of the central characters; the introduction of the ‘game’ in the prologue, and the female voices all slowly building the jigsaw pieces from the past. It is genuinely hard to put this book down!

This is a highly recommended psychological thriller read where an old mystery has woken up, as past friends meet on the cusp of a new wedding. Memories are stirred and questions answered, questions that some people desperately want to remain buried. With themes of trauma, forgiveness, friendships, secrets and love, this is an immersive read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Check out the other fabulous bloggers on this tour:

The author

Rachel Abbott began her career as an independent author in 2011, with Only the Innocent, which became a No.1 bestseller on Kindle, topping the chart for four weeks.
Since then, she has published eight further psychological thrillers and sold over 3 million copies. She is one of the top-selling authors of all time in the UK Kindle store, and her novels have been translated into 21 languages.
Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.

‘The Library of the Unwritten’ by A.J. Hackwith published by @TitanBooks

Snap review and chat today is about ‘The Library of the Unwritten’, a first in series book, written by A.J. Hackwith. Described as:

“It’s like The Good Place meets Law & Order: Bibliophile Crime Unit. This book is so much fun.”

Seanan McGuire

“A muse, an undead librarian, a demon, and a ghost walk into Valhalla… what follows is a delightful and poignant fantasy adventure.”

Kit Rocha

The blurb

Every book left unfinished by its author is filed away in the Unwritten Wing, a neutral space in Hell presided over by Claire, its head librarian. Along with repairing and organising books, her job consists of keeping an eye on restless stories whose characters risk materialising and escaping the library.

When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto. But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong, in a chase that threatens to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell… and Earth.

Stories want to change, and it is a librarian’s job to preserve them; that’s the natural order of things… it is a story’s natural ambition to wake up and start telling itself to the world.

My thoughts:

I loved the idea of this book: the library setting in Hell; an Unwritten Wing for unfinished books; a librarian watching and hunting book characters; an escaped Hero! Merging the undead, ghosts, book characters, demons and fallen angels in a fantasy adventure seemed great escapism.

And it was, for the most part. I’d certainly recommend this book to fantasy bibliophiles, it’s full of what we delight in: musty and bountiful shelves of books in Gothic underworld arches; there’re battles between good and evil, with an extreme amount of blurring the lines; a potentially catastrophic battle keeping the boundaries intact between Heaven, Hell and life on Earth, and some fabulous characters with bucketful depth between them. I loved the idea of book characters coming to life, every bibliophile’s dream. Hackwith certainly plays about with this idea and our perceptions.

Overall, this books does get a thumbs up from me for its creativity. I did enjoy the descriptive escapism it provided, and the biblio-fantasy world; it would make a great film! Looking forward to seeing how the ‘Hell’s Library’ series develops. It’s fun, creative, some great humour and a solid mystery at its core. Oh and I love the book cover design it’s a fabulous addition to my little library.

With thanks to Titan Books for the gifted copy.

#BookChat ‘Mud’ by Chris McCabe and published by Henningham Family Press

‘Remind me never to date a wizard’

BLURB

Borak and Karissa must search the 24 types of mud until they find a trapped bubble of air. Only then can they be released from their relationship.

Chris McCabe’s macabre version of Orpheus and Eurydice brings its themes into the present day as we follow a couple whose quest forces them to resist throttling each other, and falling in love all over again.

Illustrated with Orphic sculptures and prints.

My thoughts

mud (noun)

1.
soft, sticky matter resulting from the mixing of earth and water:
“ankle deep in mud, we squelched across a meadow”
2.
information or allegations regarded as damaging, typically concerned with corruption:
“they are trying to sling mud at me to cover up their defeat”

I was fascinated by this little book called ‘Mud’; the blurb told me to expect a ‘descent into subterranean London’ where our focus characters, Borak and Karissa, would ‘chance upon bones, bricks and a talking mole’ and then the additional hook of a ‘macabre version of Orpheus and Eurydice’. Well okay…

So I popped the book on my kitchen shelf, next to my rather sad (and if my track-record has anything to go by) dying orchid plant. And there it sat…watching my kitchen life go by for weeks, getting the odd splash from a rather vigorous washing up session and absorbing smells of several dinners and the odd burnt pan. Until one day, I had the house to myself, I’d just come in from a cold walk with my dog down the fields, and I’d brought back at least half a bucket of mud back on my shoes. So, I made myself a cup of tea, put my boots on the radiator to dry, left the mud trail to dry and turned to Part One – Break-Up.

There’s no denying, this is an odd little book. It’s also charming. There’re several threads to take hold of during this experimental and somewhat confusing narrative. A journey seeking 24 different types of mud and releasing little bursts of air upon discovery before ending a relationship – it’s a surreal theatre watched by a small film crew following Borak and Karissa. It’s a stage of mud, tunnels, caves and roots; told via narrative, dialogue, snippets, images and emails.

Overall, there’s a distinct story-line to follow, but it’s consistently interjected with the surreal, the bizarre, the strange. It’s a creative literary puzzle, pushing language and imagery to question. An odd little, artistic puzzle of a book.

…and there my review of this little book sat, in my drafts…until a pesky, deadly virus contained me to my house, and where I realised, with horror, that this post wasn’t actually published. Well, finally I’ve posted and hope you’ll pick up this surreal little piece of literature one day and start traipsing through the mud with Borak and Karissa.

With thanks to Henningham Family Press for the gifted copy! I got there at last!

Mud

Blog Tour for ‘SOOT’ @danvyleta and published by @orionbooks #CompulsiveReaders

Wishing ‘Soot’ every success on its blog tour and with the publication. I’m really pleased to be contributing today with some content into the characters of the novel, and the world they inhabit. With thanks! Check out the tour list below for other fabulous contributions from the book loving community.

Book Blurb

Welcome to a world where every desire is visible, rising from the body as a plume of Smoke. A world where bodies speak to one another and infect each other with desire, anger, greed. It is 1909 and this world stands on a precipice – some celebrate this constant whisper of skin to skin, and some seek to silence it forever.

Enter Eleanor, a young woman with a strange power over Smoke and niece of the Lord Protector of England. Running from her uncle and home, she finds shelter in a New York theatre troupe.

Then Nil, a thief hiding behind a self-effacing name. He’s an orphan snatched from a jungle-home and suspects that a clue to his origins may lie hidden in the vaults of the mighty, newly-risen East India Company.

And finally Thomas, one of the three people to release Smoke into the world. On a clandestine mission to India, he hopes to uncover the origins of Smoke and lay to rest his doubts about what he helped to unleash.

In a story that crosses continents – from India to England’s Minetowns – these three seek to control the power of Smoke. As their destinies entwine, a cataclysmic confrontation looms: the Smoke will either bind them together or forever rend the world.

I. The Story


Imagine a symphony made up of distinct themes and melodies.
It starts with a young woman, Eleanor, afraid that the long reach of her uncle will at last discover her in her Canadian exile and summon her home. She has a ‘talent’—a special relationship to the Smoke—that she fears others will want to put to use. Then she meets a playwright, a master of the new art of Smoke Theatre, and he offers her shelter within his troupe.
Then there is Nil—No-One, Nothing—a thief and confidence man, getting by on his wits. His latest mark is the New York City branch of the mighty East India Company, a trading corporation that controls the Indian Raj and is one of the dominant economic powers in this world after the ‘Second Smoke’, for they hold a monopoly on the only substance that can supress the Smoke. Nil is an orphan who does not know where he was stolen from when still a young child. He suspects that somewhere in the Company vaults slumbers the truth of who he is.
And then there is Thomas, hero of Smoke, who has travelled to India to learn what really happened in the revolution he helped to start ten years ago. He meets the Singhs, a local couple who themselves are revolutionaries of sorts, dreaming of freedom from Company rule. Will what Thomas finds lay to rest his guilt and doubts about what he helped to unleash?
These three melodies soon begin to intertwine, tying together events in North American and on the Indian subcontinent, and leading back to Britain, that sundered, Gale-haunted ‘Isle of the Smoke’, where the Smoke-affirming North of Minetowns and the Smoke-denying South under the stewardship of its Lord Protector are fighting over the country’s future.

About Dan Vyleta

Dan Vyleta is the author of four previous novels: Pavel & I, which gathered international acclaim and was translated into eight languages, The Quiet Twin, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, The Crooked Maid, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and winner of the J.L. Segal Award, and the critically-acclaimed Smoke.

His is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. After growing up in Germany, Dan left to attend university in the US, where he completed a PhD in History at King’s College, London.

He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Praise for Dan Vyleta

‘For once both comparisons (with Harry Potter and Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights) are apt . . . this is a novel that stays in the imagination long after it has been read’

  • The Guardian

‘It’s detailed, multi-layered and feels authentic – and might just win over historical fiction fans too’

  • The Pool

‘Mr. Vyleta writes with intricacy and imagination and skillful pacing’

  • New York Times

‘Vice is made visual in Vyleta’s sprawling, ambitious novel, a Dickensian tale tinged with fantasy’

  • Entertainment Weekly

‘One of the most original and enthralling books I have read in a long time.’

  • Shelf Awareness