The Closer I Get by Paul Burston #BlogTour

Some info on the book

Tom is a successful author, but for the first time in his life, he has writer’s block.  His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.  Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her sick father and her social media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.  When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world collapses, whilst Tom is free to live his life again, and to concentrate on writing.

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My thoughts

The author sets this story up nicely and as we get to know Tom and Evie the lines are drawn quickly – he is the hunted and she is the one hunting. But we can also see that there is more to Tom than meets the eye.  I loved trying to work him out!

This is what I’d call a compulsive read.  It’s very difficult to step away from and I think that’s due to the fact that the subject matter is relevant to today’s world. I wanted more and more. It made me take a step back and question my time on social media and how I interact with people as well who I’m interacting with.  I also had to ask myself how do I portray myself and what does the information I’m putting out there say to others.

The Closer I Get is hugely unsettling and is precisely what a psychological thriller should be in that it is full of tension, superb writing and plenty of alarm bells that are ringing out warnings constantly. If you listen hard enough I’m pretty sure they’re saying “DON’T POST THAT!”.

It’s very easy for any of us to hide behind a monitor or phone screen. It’s easy to hide behind a made-up profile name.  Trolls are part of everyday life online, unfortunately, and every now and then I do wonder who these people are and what their life consists of outside of their online presence.

Who is behind the profile pictures that smile back at us from the accounts we follow and those that follow us? We grow relationships with people online but do we stop to think if they really are who they portray themselves to be?  Do they ask themselves the same questions about us?  I’m often wary online but possibly not enough and I tend to take people at face value.  After reading this book there’s a very big chance I’ll ask more questions and be more mindful of my usage.

I could talk about social media all day.  I think it’s such an interesting subject and a great experiment in human nature, which lays out all of our flaws (and positive attributes) for precisely what they are.

This book is a perfect showcase of how people misinterpret the simplest of things over social media or in person. It’s such an easy thing to do and I think we’ve all come across different variations of it whether on Twitter or the comments section on an interview.

I read The Closer I Get in the form of an eBook on my phone. This isn’t the way I usually read books and I thought I’d find it quite difficult but it was the complete opposite. It allowed me more reading time than usual which is exactly what was needed for this book!

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Anne Cater, as well as Karen at Orenda Books

 

Some info on the author

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Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel The Black Path, was a WHSmith bestseller. His first novel, Shameless, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, Lovers & Losers was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, The Gay Divorcee, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including Guardian, Independent, Time Out, The Times and Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world”. He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair of The Polari First Book Prize for new writing and the newly announced Polari Prize.

 

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One Night of Temptation by Darcy Burke

About the book 

Faced with a marriage she can’t abide, Lady Penelope Wakefield takes drastic measures to preserve her freedom. Her brilliant plan is foolproof until a sexy but imperious rector “rescues” her.

Rector Hugh Tarleton has no patience for the Society philanthropists who seek to bestow their pity—and not much else—on his oppressed flock in one of London’s worst neighbourhoods. When the daughter of a marquess is kidnapped and brought to the rookery, he vows to protect her, but the temptation to surrender to their mutual desire will certainly ruin them both.

My thoughts

Okay, this is my first book by this author and I flew through it.  It’s a very short book.  Typically of me, I’ve come in on Book 6 of a series so I’ll have to go read the others now – what a hardship!  NOT!

Due to me coming in at the end, I didn’t know any of the characters and that might have been a help but it definitely didn’t hinder me at all.

Being completely honest, I don’t read too many books in this genre but I’ve made a promise to myself that I’d like to try to read everything that falls into my lap – or onto my Kindle in 2019.

It’s a fun, light regency romance. Hugh is a hottie, Penelope is so cute and if it shows me anything (it showed me LOTS of things but … I digress!) it’s that family doesn’t always have to be the one you’re born into and that’s not a bad thing to come away with at all.

I’ll be reading more from Darcy!

Thanks so much to Darcy Burke Publishing and Netgalley for my copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

The Bad Place – M K Hill

The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.

Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl.

First thoughts?  Deep joy – it’s part one of a series!  For me, there is nothing worse than finishing a book and wishing there was more to come.  This time, there will be.

Sasha Dawson rocks!  Her home life is messy and chaotic and I just loved her.

The Bad Place is addictive and dark.  It is darker than I’d usually read but like I said above, I hoped for more once I reached the end so that alone speaks volumes.

The opening scenes of the first chapter set the storyline and you know straightaway all is not okay – even before DI Dawson makes her first appearance.

This book is out in September 2019, which thankfully isn’t that far away.  Keep note of the book as it’s definitely one for those who love mystery/thrillers.  You’ll be hearing lots about it, of that I’m sure.

Thanks so much to the lovely crew at Head of Zeus for my copy, via Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

 

The Missing Wife by Sam Carrington

About the book

Imagine turning up to your own party, and recognising no one. Your best friend has just created your worst nightmare.

Louisa is an exhausted, sleep-deprived new mother and, approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing she wants to do is celebrate.

But when her best friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Lou’s Facebook friends, she’s faced with a new source of anxiety altogether: a room full of old college classmates who she hasn’t spoken to in twenty years. And one person in particular she never expected to see again is there – her ex-boyfriend from college, the handsome and charismatic Oliver Dunmore.

When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers what happened that night differently. It could be the alcohol, but it seems more than one person has something to hide.

Louisa is determined to find the truth about what happened to Melissa. But just how far does she need to look…?

One simple Facebook invitation unfolds into something both tragic and monstrous; a story of obsessive love, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.

My thoughts 

This is the my second review this week that references social media.  Sign of the times maybe?

I’ve read two other Sam Carrington books – one I loved and one I struggled a little with.  I’m so happy to report that The Missing Wife did not disappoint.

It is well written and plotted out to perfection, which makes for a very easy read.  I had issue with Louisa’s character at times but to me it’s plain to see she’s struggling after the birth of her second child – and that’s definitely something I can relate to on a very personal level.  Although, I can’t say I’ve ever forgotten to feed my child no matter how exhausted I got!

When the past comes knocking (literally!) is it ever a good thing?

A book full of secrets and lies – you’ll enjoy it if you love a good psychological thriller!

Thanks so much to Avon Books UK for a copy of The Missing Wife, via Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

Don’t Tell The Teacher by Suzi K Quinn

School should have been the safest place…

For Lizzie Riley, switching her six-year-old son Tom to the local academy school marks a fresh start, post-divorce. With its excellent reputation, Lizzie knows it’ll be a safe space away from home.

But there’s something strange happening at school. Parents are forbidden from entering the grounds, and there are bars across the classroom windows.

Why is Tom coming home exhausted, unable to remember his day? What are the strange marks on his arm? And why do the children seem afraid to talk?

Lizzie is descending into every parent’s worst nightmare: her little boy is in danger. But will she be able to protect him before it’s too late?

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This book is told from the point of view of Lizzie, Kate the Social Worker and Tom.

Not at all what I expected, this book knocked me for six.  It gets off to a slow start but don’t be tempted to give up.  It’s a gripping thriller full of twists and turns.  When the pace picks up, it’s a buckle-your-seatbelt and off-we-go type of pace!

I always find books like this hard to review because … SPOILERS!  I do not want to be the one to spill them all over the place.

One thing that I would like to say is that I really appreciated how the author showed a real understanding of the professions featured in the book, which isn’t as common as it should be.  I work quite closely with our Social Services in Ireland and I see how tough their job is.  It just gave the book an edge over some others I’ve read recently.

It’s beautifully written and I really loved it.

Don’t Tell Teacher is out on 11th July 2019 and is available for pre-order here

Thanks so much to Joe Thomas at Harper Collins for my copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The Red Word by Sarah Henstra #BlogTourReview

The Red Word captures beautifully the feverish binarism of campus politics and the headlong rush of youth towards new friends, lovers and life-altering ideas.

The Red Word asks a bold question:  what if women weren’t content to wait for the next assault to take action?  What if they got tired of the his-word-against-hers stalemates?  Set against the sex wars of the 1990s and the birth of third-wave feminism, the result is a smart, dark, take-no-prisoners look at the extremes to which ideology can go.

As her sophomore year begins, Karen enters into the back-to-school revelry – particularly at a fraternity called GBC.  When she wakes up one morning on the lawn of Raghurst, a house of radical feminists, she gets a crash course in the state of feminist activism on campus.

GBC is notorious, she learns, nicknamed “Gang Bang Central” and a prominent contributor to a list of date rapists compiled by female students.  Despite continuing to party there and dating one of the brothers, Karen is equally seduced by the intellectual stimulation and indomitable spirit of the Raghurst women who surprise her by wanting her as a housemate and recruiting her into the upper-level class of a charismatic feminist mythology scholar they all adore.  As Karen finds herself caught between two increasingly polarized camps, ringleader housemate Dylann believes she has hit on the perfect way to expose and bring down the fraternity as a symbol of rape culture – but the war between the houses will exact a terrible price.

Firstly, I’d like to point out that this book deals with issues surrounding consent and rape culture.

If you’ve read the blurb above, you’re probably heading to purchase the book already!  There’s not a whole lot more I can tell you that will do the book any justice.  I’ve got to be honest and say I found this review really difficult to write, for fear of not doing the book the justice it deserves.

I felt many things and I cried, laughed, cheered but what I did more than anything else is think, really think, about the themes that are covered within the covers of The Red Word and how urgent they are – consent, rape culture, the male gaze and sex-positivity.

There’s so much thinking to be done during this read and amongst other issues, how rape culture is perceived on campus and also the way rape culture is debated, which is something that isn’t leaving my mind.

The author openly talks about and gives us a credible picture of the aftermath of the stuff that goes on in GBC – of how girls and women are accused of “asking for it” or at least contributing in some way, both of which are just an excuse for the behaviour of the aggressors. Nothing is ever black and white and there are many shades of grey between the lines and I believe that Sarah Henstra brings these to us in a very convincing manner.

Does the end always justify the means? The lengths to which people will go in self-protect mode and the lengths others will go to make a point is under examination here.

I didn’t enjoy this book.  But I knew going in that I wouldn’t and that’s okay.  It’s not necessary to enjoy books to appreciate that they are essential.  It’s a sobering, discussion-provoking read.

Sincere thanks go out to Anne Cater for including me on this blog tour and for bringing this book to my attention.  Thanks also to Sarah Helstra and Sarah & Lisa of Tramp Press for my copy, which will now wait patiently on my bookshelf until my own children are old enough to read it.

Tramp Press is an independent publisher based in Dublin; recent successes include Notes to Self by Emilie Pine, Sara Baume (Spill Simmer Falther Wither, A Line Made by Walking) and Mike McCormack (Solar Bones).  More information can be found here

This book was awarded the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction.

You’ll also find them on Twitter @TrampPress and Instagram at trampress.

 

The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.

Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room. Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives.

 

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I’ve been so looking forward to reading this one and it didn’t disappoint.  It got right under my skin from the get-go.  You’re in for a treat.  It’s everything I want in a crime novel – it’s fast-paced, atmospheric, tense and really well crafted.

I had to remind myself to come up for air at times and read it over the course of two evenings.

The July Girls manages to maintain suspense and it’s quite difficult to predict what’s coming next.  Trust me, I tried!

I thought that, since we are about to step into July – this might be a perfect time to recommend you go buy it!

Thanks so much Netgalley for my copy of the The July Girls.

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The Doctor by Lisa Stone

When Emily and Ben move in next door to Dr Burman and his wife Anita, they are keen to get to know their new neighbours. Outgoing and sociable, Emily tries to befriend the doctor’s wife, but Anita is strangely subdued, barely leaving the house, and terrified of answering the phone.

When Emily goes missing a few weeks later, Ben is plunged into a panic. His wife has left him a note, but can she really have abandoned him for another man? Or has Emily’s curiosity about the couple next door led her straight into danger?

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It’s sinister and gripping from the first chapter. I loved it.

The thing gave me pause for thought was when the realisation hit that this stuff could actually be happening out there in the world right now!

That’s a scary thought.

The Doctor is a well-written and addictive read with a truly unique plot.  I know you’ll read lots of reviews about different books that claim you’ll never see the twist coming.  Most of the time,  I see the twist coming. I didn’t this time so I feel I can say to you “You won’t see the twist coming!”   (I actually don’t think I’ve ever said that in a review before!)

Many thanks to Avon Books and Netgalley for my copy of this book.

 

A Walk in Wildflower Park by Bella Osborne #BlogTourReview

A Walk in Wildflower Park was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

Life’s not always a walk in the park…

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves in to her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

Fantastically funny, this irresistibly heart-warming novel will charm fans of Milly Johnson and Jill Mansell.

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A Walk in Wildflower Park is another gorgeous read from Bella Osborne.

As mentioned above, this was originally published as a four-part serial but, in my opinion, having the whole story in the one place is definitely the best way to read it.

I thoroughly enjoy Bella’s books and this one is no different.  It’s beautifully written and it’s engaging with really relatable, well developed characters alongside heaps of fun and laughter, as well as drama, twists and turns.  I’m not sure what else you could ask for!

This book is the perfect accompaniment to summer.  What’s not to love about handsome colleagues and accidental texts!

Thanks so much to Avon Books for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I loved it!

About The Author: I’ve been jotting down my stories as far back as I can remember. Somehow life took over, I got a sensible job in project management and the writing has remained a passion. I live in The Midlands with my lovely husband and our wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept me as I am (with my mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

You can follow me on Twitter
@osborne_bella

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky #TeaserExtract

I was lucky enough to read a teaser extract of six chapters tonight thanks to Netgalley.

It’s unlike anything I’ve read before and my heart hasn’t raced like that whilst reading opening lines in a long time.

What I read was extremely engaging and thrilling. Is it too early to wish for this to be adapted to the big screen? I could visualise every single scene in my head very, very easily.

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If it feels like it’s been a long time coming, that’s because it has. It has been 20 years since The Perks of Being a Wallflower. What!?!?!

Publication date of 1st October suddenly feels YEARS away!

Thank you Netgalley!

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