Welcome to my book-blog. I've spent the last 22 years as a teacher of English Literature and running a Stage School and Theatre. Alongside that, I spend as much time as I can within the pages of a book and hope you'll get some reading inspiration from my library. Catch me on Instagram as well as books.tea.and.me – I'm always looking for recommendations!
I’m very excited and grateful to be a part of the Blog Tour for Erin Kinsley’s Innocent – many thanks to Anne for the invite and Headline for sending the book. I love a good thriller with a large dose of drama, and this was billed as great for people who enjoyed LIAR and BROADCHURCH. As soon as I started reading, I could see this as a TV drama, and please do keep reading to find out why…
The pretty market town of Sterndale is a close-knit community where everyone thinks they know everyone else. But at a lavish summer wedding a local celebrity is discovered slumped in the gardens, the victim of a violent assault that leads to a murder investigation.
As the police search for answers, suspicion and paranoia build – and the lives of the locals are turned upside down.
Secrets that lurk beneath the pristine façade of Sterndale come to light as detectives close in on the truth…
This book from the start was so easy to visualise as a TV series, I could picture the mix of close and long shots, and the switches in perspectives, as all the central players come into focus. In all good thrillers, you need a great location and great diverse characters, and Innocent provides all of this in abundance. I really enjoyed it.
The book is set in the small town of Sterndale, and begins with a brutal assault of a celebrity, Tristan Hart, who lives in the town with his wife, Izzy and their young daughter. This novel certainly begins with ‘the calm before the storm’, as the perfect couple leading a perfect life, fractures within the opening pages and is pulled apart over the course of the novel. Secrets, lies and betrayals take centre stage as the reader is tasked with working out what’s behind the surface and who could possibly have acted so violently.
From the start, there are plenty of suspects to choose from, and this only builds as the investigation progresses. I enjoyed the Police investigation perspective as those who knew Tristan Hart are investigated, and secrets are revealed. The investigation and interviews are written in detail, and sometimes repeated back, some may find this a repetitious, but I enjoyed the reflection time to wonder about the suspects.
This is not a fast-paced book, it takes its time to describe this community and the events that shake it up, I enjoyed taking my time reading it as well, and loved the heart behind the story. I enjoyed the tensions, the reveals and the emotional depth within this thriller. With some smart red herrings to put you off the scent, there’s some super plotting in this book that makes you want to keep reading.
A emotionally charged, intelligently designed thriller that demands you keep turning the pages. Highly recommended.
It’s lovely to be a part of this blog tour for Megan Miranda’s ‘The Girl From Widow Hills’, with thanks to Anne Cater for the tour invite, and to Corvus Books for the gifted copy. Please keep reading for some bookish chat…
Everyone knows the story of the girl from Widow Hills.
When Arden Maynor was six years old, she was swept away in terrifying storm and went missing for days. Against all odds, she was found alive, clinging to a storm drain. A living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book, and fame followed. But so did fans, creeps and stalkers. It was all too much, and as soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and left Widow Hills behind.
Now, a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden is known as Olivia. With the twentieth anniversary of her rescue looming, media interest in the girl who survived is increasing. Where is she now? The stress brings back the night terrors of Olivia’s youth. Often, she finds herself out of bed in the middle of the night, sometimes outside her home, even streets away. Then one evening she jolts awake in her yard, with the corpse of a man at her feet.
The girl from Widow Hills is about to become the centre of the story, once again
I do love a good mystery thriller, and ‘The Girl from Widow Hills’ is a hurtling page turner that I devoured in one sitting. This is the story of Olivia, well actually Arden, before she decided to change her name and begin again. This is a mystery at its core, but it’s also a tale of trauma, greed and murder.
During the story of this carefully plotted novel, we join Olivia as she tries to make sense of what’s happening around her – via sleep walking blackouts, blood-covered hands, missing weapons, strange behaviours and figures from her past. There’s not much time for pause, as the reader begins to piece together events from the past, told via transcripts, interviews, press reports, voicemail, 911 call logs, and stirring memories. I enjoyed these snippets and they created additional interest to the main narrative.
I really enjoyed this book, it’s atmospheric, well-plotted and from the opening pages I was immersed into Olivia’s story, and the puzzle of the girl from Widow Hills. There’s a hard to spot twist, (always welcome) some disquieting psychological interplay, and a compelling group of suspects to track to the nail-biting climax of the dramatic closing pages.
I was hooked, so definitely a recommended read from me.
Megan Miranda is the author of All The Missing Girls, The Perfect Stranger, and The Last House Guest, which was the August 2019 Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine pick. She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.
Follow @MeganLMiranda on Twitter and Instagram, or @AuthorMeganMiranda on Facebook.
It’s lovely to be able to share an extract from ‘Thirty One Bones’ today as part of the Random Things Blog Tour for Morgan Cry’s new novel. With thanks, as always, to Anne for the invite. Please keep scrolling…
When Daniella Coulstoun’s estranged mother Effie dies in Spain under suspicious circumstances, she feels it’s her duty to fly out for the funeral.
On arrival, Daniella is confronted by a dangerous group of expat misfits who claim that Effie stole huge sums of cash from them in a multi-million property scam. They want the money back and Daniella is on the hook for it.
When a suspicious Spanish detective begins to probe Effie’s death and a London gangster hears about the missing money, Daniella faces threats on every front. With no idea where the cash is and facing a seemingly impossible deadline, she quickly finds herself out of her depth and fighting for survival in a strange and terrifying world.
Extract – Thirty-One Bones
At right angles to the bar sits a pool table that can be wheeled away to provide room to play darts on an ageing dartboard. In older days it also allowed a band or a DJ to set up. Not any more. The rest of the pub’s furniture is a job lot of chairs and tables that Effie picked up when the Carnes Frías restaurant in the old town had gone tits up. It was the first replacement furni- ture the bar had seen in twenty years. The regulars had been stunned into silence. Not so much by the surprise of the change. More by the lurid pink colour that both the tables and chairs were painted in. The colour scheme choice of the owner of Carnes Frías going some way to shortening the restaurant’s lifespan. Effie reckoned the colour added some brightness to her place. The regulars thought it looked like shit, but still came in for drink.
Beneath her feet the wooden floor, a decade out from its last polish, is seven parts wood and three parts alcohol. The air conditioning is the same ratio on the working to not working axis.
To her right she looks on a row of booths, the last one occu- pied by the young investor. She returns to the booth, dropping the beer glass on the table before heaving her bulk into the chair opposite Paul. She eyes him up. If he chooses to reject her offer to invest he will pay for the two beers and the packet of cheese and onion crisps she’s already given him. But she doesn’t expect him to have to pay.
‘How was the apartment?’ Effie asks. ‘Stunning,’ Paul replies. ‘The new ones will be even better.’ Paul sweeps at the long hair cascading over his face. Effie thinks
the shoulder-length mane, scruffy goatee and flea-bitten Afghan coat a crock of crap. It marks Paul out as a prick. But a prick with twenty grand in his account. Twenty grand earmarked for Effie’s bank.
‘When do you break ground?’ Paul says. Effie smiles. The dick is trying to use building-developer terminology. Good luck with that. I’m right in the mood for this.
‘We need full planning first,’ she says, winding up the well- practised pitch. ‘But that’s not proving to be straightforward.’
‘Nothing to worry about,’ she replies. ‘It’s just, since the Gürtel scandal, in Spain the local authorities are a lot warier over approving developments.’
‘I read something about that,’ Paul says. ‘A massive issue here. Bribery, wasn’t it?’
‘And the rest,’ says Effie. ‘And it’ll rumble on for years. It’s changed the whole political landscape in Spain. It’s why we have to show the Ayuntamiento that half of our investors are not connected to us.’
‘They want to ensure we don’t have any controlling interest. Especially when we are talking a couple of million per property. It’s a pity because we’d love to put all the cash in ourselves. It’s such a sweet deal – but rules are rules.’
Paul rubs his nose, ‘I have to say I couldn’t find anything about any fifty per cent rule.’
That’s because it doesn’t exist, dickwad. Let’s get this done soon. I’m up for another pill.
‘It’s new,’ Effie says. ‘George Laidlaw can explain it. He’s the legal beagle on this. But it’s good news from your end. You only have to front up twenty k as a deposit. The rest would normally be payable when we complete – but, by then, we’ll have sold out, be a lot richer and you won’t have had to fork out the balance. Twenty k for a million plus – how can that not be the deal of the century? This is better than a lottery win for you.’
Like hell it is.
Paul scrubs at his forehead. ‘Why so little cash up front? Seems too good to be true.’
Effie smiles, a crooked beast at best. ‘The new rule requires us to deposit a hundredth of the estimated final sale price with the Ayuntamiento on application. We’re not allowed to take any more than twenty thousand per investor until planning is approved, at which time, before any more money is needed, we will sell it on to a bigger developer.’
Take it easy, Effie, take it easy. Now for the tricky part.
Gordon has seven crime and thriller books published to date, along with a number of short stories. His latest novel, Highest Lives, published by Strident Publishing, is the fourth in the Craig McIntyre series.
Under a new name, Morgan Cry, Polygon will be publishing Gordon’s new crime thriller, set in Spain. Called ‘Thirty-One Bones’ it will be available in July 2020.
Gordon also helped found Bloody Scotland, Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival (see http://www.bloodyscotland.com), is a DJ on local radio (www.pulseonair.co.uk) and runs a strategic planning consultancy. He lives in Scotland and is married with two children.
In a former life Gordon delivered pizzas in Toronto, sold non-alcoholic beer in the Middle East, launched a creativity training business, floated a high tech company on the London Stock Exchange, compered the main stage at a two-day music festival and was once booed by 49,000 people while on the pitch at a major football Cup Final.
Jess Walker, middle child of a middle-class family, has perfected the art of vanishing in plain sight. But when she arrives at a concrete university campus under flat, grey, East Anglian skies, her world flares with colour.
Drawn into a tightly-knit group of rule breakers – led by their maverick teacher, Lorna Clay – Jess begins to experiment with a new version of herself. But the dynamic between the friends begins to darken as they share secrets, lovers and finally a tragedy. Soon Jess is thrown up against the question she fears most: what is the true cost of an extraordinary life?
This is a twisty coming of age drama, and follows the story of Jess as she begins to study English under the tuition of the complex and unorthodox Dr Lorna Clay, an English teacher with an original flare and academic drive; a person who becomes both muse and mystery to Jess. This is also a murder mystery and a study of human behaviour; there’s a gripping interplay between all the characters, that pulls and lulls the reader throughout the story and into the final climax. With themes of power, dominance, infatuation and more there’s plenty of depth to pull from this story.
For a debut, it’s impressive and despite not overly liking any of the characters, I was compelled to keep reading as Jess gets caught up with obsession, first love, desire, identity and ultimately murder.
Emotionally intricate, pleasingly plotted, and a confident debut.
A recommended book for people who enjoy slow burn mysteries with complex characters and relationship drama.
Kate Weinberg was born and lives in London. She studied English at Oxford and creative writing in East Anglia. She has worked as a slush pile reader, a bookshop assistant, a journalist and a ghost writer. The Truants is her first novel.
With huge thanks to Anne Cater #RandomThingsTours for the invite and to Kate Weinberg for the story. Happy Reading!
Thank you to Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan @OrendaBooks for the invite onto the #Sister blog tour. I hadn’t read the other books in this series, so was excited to find out all about the Oslo Detectives in this Nordic Noir thriller.
Oslo detective Frølich searches for the mysterious sister of a young female asylum seeker, but when people start to die, everything points to an old case and a series of events that someone will do anything to hide… Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death. Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run… A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart, cementing Kjell Ola Dahl as one of the greatest crime writers of our generation.
I really enjoyed this Nordic Noir, what begins as a seemingly straightforward investigation becomes increasingly more complex. A topical issue of asylum seekers and deportation introduces themes of abuse, the immigration system, twisted truths, and murder. I loved the plotting and the drip feeding of clues as our investigator, and suspended detective, Frolich pieces the clues together in missing persons case that develops into murder and heart-break.
I haven’t read the previous books in this series, but it didn’t matter at all and ‘Sister’ works perfectly as a standalone. It’s an atmospheric novel, that is grounded in realism; the contours of the novel are meticulous and authentic. The social aspect is the standout message, rather than the crime aspect, and through the asylum story-line the reader is immersed into harrowing corruption and cover-ups. The core of this novel is dark and it forces you to open your eyes to the world that is often hidden.
Addictive, dark and complex.
One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.
Blog Tour Dates
With thanks to Orenda Books for the gifted book and Blog Tour invite!
I’m delighted to share an extract from ‘Deep State’ as part of the #RandomThingsTour for this debut thriller by Chris Hauty. With thanks to Simon & Schuster, and Anne for the invite. I’m looking forward to reading ‘Deep State’ and chatting about it soon.
THE DEEP STATE – noun A covert state hidden within a government; a secret organisation of high-level operatives; exerts control through manipulation and a culture of pain and fear.
About the book
Hayley Chill isn’t your typical West Wing intern. Ex-military and as patriotic as she is principled, she is largely vilified by her peers and lauded by her superiors – it’s a quick way of making enemies. It is Hayley who finds the body of the White House chief of staff, Peter Hall, on his kitchen floor having died from an apparent heart attack. It is also Hayley who notices a single clue which suggests his death was deliberate, targeted. That he was assassinated. Unsure who to trust, Hayley works alone to uncover a wideranging conspiracy that controls the furthest reaches of the government. And Hall is just the beginning – the president is the next target. Hayley must now do the impossible: stop an assassination, when she has no idea who the enemy is, all while staying hidden, with Peter’s final words to her ringing in her ears: Trust no one. Because the Deep State will kill to silence her. And they are closing in.
It is entrenched. It is hidden. It is deadly. Who can you trust?
EXTRACTfrom the PROLOGUE of the novel
She can remember every fight. Whether childhood brawls back home in Green Shoals, West Virginia, or organised bouts as an amateur fighter since enlisting in the army, physical combat is the fierce memoir of a hardscrabble life. The oldest of six children—her single mother laid low by multiple cancers—Hayley defended herself and her five siblings with savage determination.
Losing her first four fights, she absorbed hard lessons with each defeat. Eight victories followed those early routs, a dozen fights in total before graduating first in her class from high school. Hayley has fought as many times as an army boxer and remains undefeated.
Tonight, she defends her regimental title.
After thirty minutes of steady jogging, her muscles have become elastic beneath a sweat- drenched T- shirt and shorts. Her thoughts are as measured and orderly as her heart rate. Barely winded, Hayley stops and checks the time on a Citizen Eco- Drive Nighthawk Black Dial watch she took off an army pilot who challenged her to a barroom arm- wrestling match. At her feet is the loose stone and gravel of the construction site for a new PX. Hayley bends down and picks up one of the jagged rocks, clenching her fist tightly around it. The stone’s sharp edges send jolts of pain through her body, acute and clarifying. She maintains the intensity of this clench for ten seconds, then twenty more. Finally, Hayley takes a deep breath and drops the stone to the ground. Studying the palm of her hand with clinical detachment, she sees blood seeping from multiple quarter- inch lacerations. There is nothing to fear. Blood has been drawn. Now she can fight.
The Author – Chris Hauty
Chris Hauty is a screenwriter who has worked at all the major movie studios, in nearly every genre of film. He currently lives in Venice, California, in the company of a classic Triumph motorcycle and a feral cat. Deep State is his first novel.