#Blogtour Pilgrim by Louise Hall @LouHallWriter #TheMerciaPress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Pilgrim

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Pilgrim by Louise Hall  The Mercia Press Ltd  September 14th 2018

In Dublin, fourteen-year-old Jen and her father, Charlie, are struggling to cope with the death of their mother/wife. Charlie, in particular, seems to have given up on life. When Jen’s aunt, Suzanne, convinces them to go on a pilgrimage to a strange village in Yugoslavia, there is hope that some solace or healing may be brought to their broken lives. On their arrival, however, they find a village in upheaval. An influx of pilgrims have swarmed into the village, each looking for their own miracle. Then there are the local police, who aim to suppress this so-called `revolution’. Amid all this, Jen makes a friend, Iva – one of the children who claims to have seen the Virgin Mary. Told with a deep humanity and grace, Pilgrim is a story about a man who feels he has nothing to live for, and a daughter who is determined to prove him wrong. A nuanced and moving exploration of grief and faith. Unique subject matter based around the famed Medjugorje apparitions. The author already has a dedicated readership built up from her two non-fiction books on Medjugorje. This is her first fictional take on the story.

My Review

Whats you opinion on visions, pilgrimages, shrines? I have to admit to being sceptical and am not a religious person. I remember visiting Lourdes as a child and even at such a young age, I was struck by the commercialism, by the need to make money, the religious intentions almost secondary.

For some despite all this it means everything, the last ditch attempt to find a cure or indeed a miracle to heal the physical or the mental soul. For Jen it’s her only chance to bring back her Dad, Charlie, the man she loved before Mum died tragically, leaving Charlie adrift, drinking too much and unwilling to wake up and realise what was happening around him.

Told in the alternating voices of Jen, Charlie, Suzanne and Iva, Hall gave us a multi perspective view of their pilgrimage to the remote, small village in communist Yugoslavia. It allowed Hall to immerse us in their feelings, their hopes and in some cases their scathing sceptisim.

My heart belonged to Jen, Hall’s portrayal both tender and poignant, a young teenager lost in a world with no Mum, who totally immersed herself in the whole experience. You could sense her hope, see here grow up and mature in front of us, but also gain acceptance for the way things were. I loved the friendship she forged with Iva, one of the six who saw the vision, the Gospa, their mutual loss, and longings was touching and endearing.

I felt utter frustration with Jen’s father, Charlie, to the point I wanted to scream and shout, but Hall also made us feel some empathy, as she took us back into his earlier years, his grasp of the realities of life only tangible, almost like he had never grown up, never accepted or met the challenges that life threw at him.

One character that did stand out was Iva, the young village girl, one of the visionary six. The contrast between her and Jen’s life were huge, but Hall created similarities, that you knew would draw them together, and create a bond. I wondered how such a young girl dealt with the pressure of being one of the chosen, of being paraded in front of pilgrims on a daily basis, but you knew that that was how it was, that their vision was all encompassing, almost like a drug that pulled at them, never letting them go.

Having visited Yugoslavia before the Balkan War, I felt an affinity with Halls’ vivid descriptions of the military presence, the fear felt by its citizens. What I loved more than anything was Hall’s wonderful imagery, of the hazy heat, the lush and greenness of the vineyards, and the imposing mountains that towered over the village.

There were the thronging pilgrims all desperate to touch the visionary six, their fervent belief that a miracle would happen, that their prayers would be answered and that life would change. The descriptions of the Gospa were almost magical and ethereal, you could sense the joy it gave to the six, the absolute belief that what they saw was real. Hall never pushed the religious angle, never let it take over the narrative, but used her characters to give us that balance, to give us two opposing sides. It almost didn’t matter if you didn’t believe, that theories might exist to explain the Gospa, it was the impact that it had on the six, on the pilgrims, on the small village that shone through.

You could easily see how people cling to visions, to religion especially when dealing with grief, with illness and if even if they didn’t get the cure or miracle they wanted they still went away with something, with acceptance and a lightness that helped them in their everyday lives.

It was Hall’s insight and ability to get this across to her reader that I admired, her characters relatable, and ordinary that made Pilgrim a hugely impressive novel.

I would like to thank Mercia Press for a copy of Pilgrim to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

LouiseHall

Louise Hall is from Malahide, Co. Dublin. She has previously published two works of non-fiction, Medjugorje: What it Means to Me and Medjugorje and Me: A Collection of Stories from Across the World. Her fiction has been published in The Irish Times and been shortlisted for numerous competitions, such as the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story Award, the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Competition and the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards. Pilgrim is her debut novel.

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#Blogtour The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon @vandasymon @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheRingmaster

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The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon  Orenda Books April 25th 2019

Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand… Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon
discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…
Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…
Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

My Review

There was no hanging around in Vanda Symon’s The Ringmaster. Straightaway we knew there had been a murder, but what we didn’t know was the culprit.

In Symon’s careful hands she pulled us along as new recruit Detective Sam Shephard set out about her investigation but it obviously wasn’t without a few obstacles and red herrings.

I loved Sam, she was just like the girl next door, down to earth, immensely likeable, someone who you could sit down and have a cup of tea with. She was witty, and fun but with a steely determined side, who wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself to raise her head above the parapet, even if that meant clashing with her bully of a boss. I liked that she could stand up for herself, didn’t need anyone else to fight her corner, and ultimately  through hard work and intelligence, able to make her boss finally take notice of her and treat her with the respect she deserved.  Yet Symon didn’t push Sam to the extreme or push the fact that she was a woman in a male dominated environment, she maintained Sam’s femininity, and her slight fragility.

We saw the professional and personal side of Sam which gave the novel a nice balance  giving softer edges to what was ultimately a crime novel. In someways I felt that the crime was almost secondary, a tool to show off the various facets of human nature at its best and its worst. The circus provided us with the moral and ethical dilemmas of captive animals being used for our entertainment and the divisions it created within the community.  Symon didn’t labour the point, but provided both sides of the story and the poignancy of the relationship between Sam and Cassie the elephant was an absolute highlight of the novel, the vivid descriptions created wonderful cinematic scenes that were utterly heartrending.

The murder investigation pulled us one way and then the other, suspects came and went and the drama fuelled final pages did not disappoint. I have a feeling that Detective Constable Sam Shephard will be destined for bigger and greater things and I for one cannot wait.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of The Ringmaster to read and review and to Anne Cater of Randon Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

 

About the author

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Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

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#Blogtour The American Agent by Jacqueline Winspear #JacquelineWinspear @AllisonandBusby @EmmaFinnigan @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheAmericanAgent

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The American Agent by Jacqueline Winspear  Allison and Busby  March 26th 2019

When an American war correspondent’s murder is concealed by British authorities, Maisie Dobbs agrees to work with an agent of the US Department of Justice to help an old friend discover the truth. With German bombs raining down on London, Maisie is torn between the demands of solving this dangerous case and the need to protect a young evacuee. And what will happen when she faces losing her dearest friend and the possibility that she might be falling in love again?

My Review

I have resisted Maisie Dobbs for a long time, despite being urged to read by my library colleagues and customers. I always thought gentle crime would not be for me, not able to satisfy my quench for blood and gore. When I was invited to take part in the blogtour for The American Agent , I thought, what the heck, let see what Maisie Dobbs was all about.

To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement, as I found myself completely enthralled by Winspear’s narrative and her characters.

So, who was Maisie Dobbs? There was obviously a lot of Maisie’s past adventures that I had missed and the odd bits of background information, but that made no difference to my enjoyment of the story.

What I did like about Maisie was her stoicism, her pedantic doggedness in pursuit of a murderer . She more than stood up for herself in a male dominated environment but not to the detriment of her femininity, as her emotions and struggles lingered just below the surface, making Maisie immensely likeable.

What you couldn’t get away from were the horrors of the London Blitz, of the constant fear experienced by its inhabitants, nor the hardwork of the volunteers, Maisie included, who worked tirelessly day and night to rescue and save those affected. Winspears, descriptions were wonderfully vivid,the images lit bright in your mind, the acrid smells and smoke tangible on the pages.

The murder of the young American journalist wasn’t straightforward, a myriad of characters all possible suspects, and Winspear left you on tenterhooks, kept you guessing until the last possible moment before revealing the culprit.

It reminded me very much of an Agatha Christie novel, each suspect carefully weighed up, each with their own motive, you decision made as to the culprit before all your theories are unceremoniously thrown out of the window.

Did I miss the blood and gore?Absolutely not! It was an absolute pleasure to read a crime novel that used its characters and its narrative to tell a mesmerising and fantastic story.

I would like to apologise to my library colleagues and customers for my reluctance and dismal of the wonderful Maisie Dobbs, I have been converted!

I would like to thank Allison and Busby for a copy An American Agent to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in Kent and emigrated to the USA in 1990. She has written extensively for journals, newspapers and magazines, and has worked in book publishing on both sides of the Atlantic. The Maisie Dobbs series of crime novels is beloved by readers worldwide – always going into the New York Times top 10 on publication. Jacqueline will be available for interviews, events and written features.
More info at: jacquelinewinspear.com

The American Agent Blog Tour Poster

#Blogtour Turn The Other Way by Stuart James @StuartJames73 @BOTBSPublicity #TurnTheOtherWay

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Turn The Other Way by Stuart James   Independently Published February 9th 2019

Sometimes revenge is the deadliest game of all.
A derelict farmhouse in the Essex countryside.
A deranged family. 
Innocent victims picked at random.
If you’re chosen, Turn The Other Way.
Simon Bairstow is a top London surgeon. He’s performed dozens of life-saving operations. But something goes horribly wrong. The machine Eve Johnson is attached to flatlines, and suddenly her parent’s world has collapsed.
They’re hellbent on revenge, someone to answer for the horrific error that’s been made.
Noah and Jess are driving home on a busy dual carriageway and stuck in traffic. They hear thumping coming from the back doors of the transit van in front of them. When Noah steps out onto the road, he hears muffled screams. 
He opens the back doors and what he sees shocks him to the core.
The van pulls off, spilling Noah onto the road.
Ignoring his wife’s plea to leave it, he hits the accelerator in pursuit of the van.
Chloe’s parents are missing. She hasn’t seen them since they left the party in Hampstead on Friday night. She needs answers, deciding to take matters into her own hands. 
A serial killer is stalking the streets of Islington in North London late at night leaving his victims in a horrific way. 
The press have dubbed him the Angel Attacker.
A terrifying tale of revenge with a twist that will hit you like a sledgehammer.

My Review

Oh my, this novel was not what I was expecting. It was definitely not a cosy crime thriller, this was a full on horror story that somehow I found addictive and couldn’t put down. In some ways I enjoyed the macabre and fascinating tale of blood, gore and ultimate revenge and I think it was because it was so far out of my comfort zone, and not the type of book that I would usually read.

James did not ease you in, there was no slow preamble before he plunged straight into what I can only describe as a bizarre chain of events. There were two distinct strands, almost two different stories that had you wondering just what the connection could be. Would James combine them at some point,  and how would he do it? I think that is what I found so fascinating and ultimately so addictive.

The myriad of characters were a veritable mix of the ordinary who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and those who seemed determined to carry out their murderous blood thirsty intentions on the unsuspecting.

I loved James’s descriptions of the isolated farmhouse, its various rooms like a neverending maze, its contents vile and decaying, the aromas intense and overpowering. You could sense the chill, the fear, the anticipation that something was about to happen and the surprise when it wasn’t what you thought it would be but something far worse than anything you could have imagined.

I’ve not read a book quite like this for a very long time and in some ways it took me back to my teenage years when I would immerse myself in the horrors of Stephen King and James Herbert. It felt good to take that step back, to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy the thrills and spills of a modern and most excellent horror/thriller novel.

I shall be back for more of Mr Stuart James.

I would like to thank Stuart James for a copy of Turn The Other Way and Sarah Hardy of Books On The Brightside Promotions for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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I have always loved scary stories, especially ones that shocked me, left me terrified, looking under my bed or in the wardrobe before going to sleep.

There was just a fantastic buzz whenever I watched or read something that took my breathe away.

I remember going to my nan’s house in Ireland as a youngster with my mother and sister, on the West Coast, staying in a cottage, surrounded by miles of fields and my family sitting around the table in the kitchen at night telling ghost stories. Going out and exploring derelict farmhouses in the middle of nowhere. I remember clearly the field at the end of the road was supposed to be haunted by headless nuns.

My cousins often remind me of the great times we had, frightening each other and running for our lives whenever we’d see something that didn’t look right.

This is why I love nothing more than to tell a story.

I started writing two years ago, penning The House On Rectory Lane.

I got the idea from something that has often seemed scary to me. I know that a terrifying story has to be something that you’re frightened of doing, something that makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck, something that fills you with dread, yet also with excitement.

To me, the thought of going to a house in the middle of nowhere, upping and leaving a busy town and moving to the country is something that scares lots of people and me: the seclusion, the quiet, the darkness.

That’s what inspired me to write my first novel.

My second thriller is called Turn The Other Way.

I have multiple stories running, past and present. A family who want answers from the surgeon responsible for their daughter’s death.

A young woman looking for her parents after they go missing from a party.

A couple driving home and hearing screams for help from the back of the van in front of them.

A serial killer on the loose in North London, dragging victims off the street.

I’m so grateful when people not only read my thrillers but also take the time to get in touch and leave a review. To me, that is the greatest feeling, hearing from people that have enjoyed my work. I know then that I’m doing something right.

I’m currently working on my new thriller, Apartment Six, which should be released later this year.

I’m 45, married and have two beautiful children. Currently, I’m a full-time plumber but would love nothing more than to make a living from my writing.

I hope I write stories and people continue to enjoy them for years to come. That would be completely amazing and a dream come true.

stuartjamesthrillers.com

@StuartJames73

https://www.facebook.com/stuartjamesauthor/

BLOG TOUR (2)

#Blogtour The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby @novelcarolyn @noexitpress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheConvictionOfCoraBurns

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The Conviction Of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby  No Exit Press  March 21st 2019

To believe in her future, she must uncover her past…

Birmingham, 1885.

Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her.

Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood. Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?

With the power and intrigue of Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions and Sarah Schmidt’s See What I Have Done, Carolyn Kirby’s stunning debut takes the reader on a heart-breaking journey through Victorian Birmingham and questions where we first learn violence: from our scars or from our hearts.

My Review

Sometimes it’s hard to write a review for a novel straight after closing that final page. You often need to take a step back and think about your feelings and thoughts, to process what you have read before arriving at an opinion and to be able to write. The Conviction Of Cora Burns was one of those novels, instantly immersive and compelling, with an abundance of historical detail that left you in awe of the authors narrative skills. It took me sometime to process how I felt about it’s main character Cora Burns, and discover who she was.

I don’t think Cora really knew herself, all she knew was that life had never been easy, in fact it had been damned hard, and oh how Kirby excelled in her portrayal of Cora’s life. The descriptions of a life brought up in the Victorian poor house, time spent working in an asylum laundry before the degradation and horrors of a prison cell were truly astonishing. The attention to detail was just superb and you could feel yourself recoiling in horror at the squalor of her stay in prison.

You could hear the loud agonising screams and see the behaviour of the so called lunatics in the asylum. Kirby’s narrative bombarded, and assaulted your senses as you read.

What I loved was the sharp contrast of Cora’s newest employment as she baulked at the lovely food, the warmth and normality of the people around her. Her confusion jumped out of the pages as she tried to discover who she was. Was she a good person or a bad person, was she destined for more of the hardships or was there something else out there waiting for her. Kirby took us on Cora’s journey, we glimpsed what she saw in others, the wayward human experiments of her employer Mr Jerwood, the growing realisation of what was right and wrong.

If Cora came to understand what was medically and morally right and wrong then so did we and this is what was so brilliant about Kirby’s novel. She challenged our senses, our own morals she made us think about what was important to raise a sane and balanced human being.

Kirby’s structure was equally interesting, a mixture of the present and the past, neatly interspersed with the thoughts and findings of Jerwood and the asylum doctor. Their medical reasoning and endeavours questionable but simply put, easy to understand, medical terms presented in layman’s terms requiring no need of a medical dictionary.

The historical detail was utterly brilliant, it never bogged down the narrative, but enhanced it and made for fascinating reading.

Above all it was the story of a young woman, a woman who you grew to admire, for her tenacity, determination and sheer will to survive.

If this was the quality of writing for a debut then I cannot wait for Kirby’s next novel.

I would like to thank No Exit Press for a copy of The Conviction Of Cora Burns to read and review and to Anne Cater Of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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Originally from Sunderland, Carolyn Kirby studied history at St Hilda’s College, Oxford before working for social housing and then as a teacher of English as a foreign language. Her novel The Conviction of Cora Burns was begun in 2013 on a writing course at Faber Academy in London. The novel has achieved success in several competitions including as finalist in the 2017 Mslexia Novel Competition and as winner of the inaugural Bluepencilagency Award. Carolyn has two grown-up daughters and lives with her husband in rural Oxfordshire.

 

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#Blogtour Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #CallMeStarGirl

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Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech  Orenda Books  April 18th 2019

Tonight is the night for secrets…
Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago –
and her killer hasn’t been caught.
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her
yours, and she’ll share some of hers.
Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the
mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you
about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …
What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the
station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…
With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive
and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears,
providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be
deadly…

My Review

Louise Beech has done it again, her talent knows no bounds as Call Me Star Girl showcased an author at the top of her game.

What made the novel so special was undoubtedly her characters, none more so than Stella. Oh how she got underneath my skin, a young woman abandoned by her mother at the age of 12, yet somehow there was understanding and forgiveness. Stella didn’t seek revenge, accepted it for the way that it was, but blamed herself for not being the excitement her mother craved, for being in simple terms, boring. It was interesting to see how Beech portrayed the adult Stella, how her past seeped into her relationships, especially with her boyfriend, Tom. It was almost as if she had to take things that one step further in what she was prepared to do to make sure Tom never left her, to make sure she wasn’t boring. In some ways it was sad and as the story unfolded the narrative ached with poignancy, none more so when Stella seemed to drown in her emotions, and the murder of Victoria Valbon.  You couldn’t breath as Stella’s actions, plunged her deeper and deeper into despair and you wanted to scream at her to stop, but knew you couldn’t. Beech’s descriptions were just wonderful, almost cinematic as you watched in full colour as this brave, vulnerable young woman fell apart in front of you.

I loved Beech’s structure as she alternated between past and present between two sides of a story that of Stella and Elizabeth.

Did I feel sorry for Elizabeth, did I have any sympathy? In some ways yes, what young woman trapped at home with a young baby wouldn’t crave excitement, nights out with friends and boyfriends. It was fascinating to see how Beech portrayed their renewed relationships, the tension, and trepidation and the questions that somehow were left unsaid until it was too late. It wasn’t your usual cliched reunion, it had a uniqueness about it, the usual questions never asked until events forced secrets out into the open.

That is what made Call Me Star Girl so good, its unpredictability and reluctance to adopt the usual Mum abandons child, then reunion scenario. The added mystery surrounding Victoria Valbon’s murder was perfectly interwoven and pushed the boundaries of the novel’s uniqueness that little bit further. How was her murder connected to Stella, to Elizabeth, to Tom? It was all handled with complete ease, with all the great skills of a psychological thriller writer complete with twists and turns but with a greater empathise on human emotion.

Beech showed us how emotions, feelings and perceptions can be pushed to the extreme how it can force us to do things that we would never normally do. Our mind wanders in different directions, the edges can become blurred, until we think we find the clarity we need and act on them even if in the end those actions may be wrong.

Call Me Star Girl was a deeply moving, just wonderfully, brilliantly written novel. In my eyes Louise Beech can do no wrong. Bravo!

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Call Me Star Girl to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Louise Beech Author Photo

 

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most
Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

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#BlogBlast The Killer In Me by Olivia Kiernan @LivKiernan @RiverrunBooks @MillsReid11 #TheKillerInMe

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The Killer In Me by Olivia Kiernan   Riverrun  April 4th 2019

Old skeletons and fresh corpses confront DCS Frankie Sheehan in her latest Dublin-based case. Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan does not wish to linger on the grisly scene before her eyes. Two mutilated corpses. In a church. In Clontarf. Her profiling background screams one fact: this is just the beginning of a sickening message.
Meanwhile, a 17-year-old case is playing out on a TV documentary, the convicted professing his innocence and historical police errors being exposed daily in the media. Frankie’s superior, commissioner Donna Hegarty, makes no bones about who she expects to clean things up – both in terms of past mishandlings and the present murders.
But not everyone working the cases wants the truth to come out. And the corridors of power have their own vested interest. Soon Frankie pinpoints just what is making her so nervous: the fact that anyone could be the next victim when justice is the killer.

My Review

The Killer In Me was one of those novel that demanded your attention, that had you glued to the sofa, incapable of moving until you turned the last page.

We met Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan, a woman at the top of her profession, dedicated and good at what she did. You felt that had come at a price, no relationship and few friends, a practicability about her, emotions buried deep, until Kiernan gave us the odd glimpse. You doubted that she would have achieved so much without the focus and the dedication and it was the one thing that I admired about her, how she managed to maintain that balance of professional and personal. It was only when the personal began to creep into her murder investigation and her cold case, that we saw a blurring of the lines as the personal slowly crept in and it was interesting to see what direction Kiernan would take Sheehan, how she would handle it.

If Sheehen excelled at characterisation she was equally brilliant with her storylines. Her skilful handling of a current brutal murder investigation alongside that of a long ago potential injustice sat perfectly side by side, they made you want to read faster, to wonder if there were any connections, if the two would finally merge.

Nothing, is ever straightforward in the world of the murder novel and The Killer In Me was no different, but it had a distinct human element and explored themes of domestic abuse, of secrets hidden. It explored the psychological damage it can cause by what we see, what it can make us do and the repercussions it might have for us in the future. It allowed Kiernan to give the novel that extra edge as she plunged deep into the minds of the characters and I found it utterly fascinating. There were times when I thought I’d worked out what would happen next, who did what, only to have my theories thrown back at me as Kiernan almost seemed to do the opposite, teasing the reader with her little clues littered throughout.

When the truth was finally revealed it wasn’t far fetched nor unrealistic, it all made perfect sense and you could clearly see Kiernan’s reasoning and process. It certainly wasn’t a quiet ending but a deeply satisfying, one that tied up all the loose ends and left no stone unturned.

Having never read Kiernan before I was suitably impressed. The quality of writing, the structure was fantastic and I cannot wait to read the next instalment.

I would like to thank Riverrun for a copy of The Killer In Me to reas and review and to Millie Reid for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer living in the UK. She was born and raised in County Meath, near the famed heritage town of Kells and holds an MA in Creative Writing awarded by the University of Sussex.

The Killer In Me is her second novel.
@LivKiernan
oliviakiernan.com

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#Blogtour The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris @Joannechocolat @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #TheStrawberryThief

 

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris  Orion April 4th 2019

Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even, perhaps, a murder.

My Review

There is always something comforting about returning to somewhere you know so well, to characters, that over the years you have grown to love and cherish. When the author also happens to be Joanne Harris you knew you were in for a real treat and The Strawberry Thief did not disappoint.

So, off I went to the sleepy French village of Lansquenet-Sous-Tannes and back into the lives of Vianne, Rossette, Roux and Reynaud. I could almost smell the luxurious aroma wafting from Vianne’s chocolatiere shop, my tastebuds salivating at the thought of the taste of her wonderful chocolate creations. Yet you sensed there was something not quite right, a gentle undertone of disquiet, the possibility of change lingering in the air.

Told in the alternating voices of Vianne, Rossette and Reynaud, Harris’s beautiful narrative captured the very heart of their emotions, their thoughts and their inner turmoil.

For Vianne, it was what every mother dreads, as her children grow up and want to spread their wings, it was the realisation that we cannot hold them close, cannot clip their wings but must give them flight and send them on their way.. You knew from the beginning Vianne’s need to prevent Rossette from finding her own voice was wrong, but that Harris would take you on a journey, that you would witness Vianne’s struggles, even if that meant hurting those around her.

Rossette, Vianne’s youngest daughter, was just the most wonderful character, unlike other children, her strange quips, her silence wonderfully endearing yet loaded with meaning. Harris brilliantly conveyed her feelings, her insights into the minds of those around her, that made your heart melt and want to reach out to her. She gave the feeling that she was special, unique, that bigger things were waiting for her yet you didn’t know what they would be and more than anything you wanted to discover what they were and where the story would take her.

Reynaud, the Priest, hid a secret that tore him apart that weighed him down, that burden getting heavier as he carried around the deceased Narcisse’s final confession, and you sensed his trepidation as he slowly read his story, his fear as he prepared to turn the next page.

Harris’s skilfully wove a mystery, a murder through the voices of her characters and what I liked was that although it was a big part of the novel it didn’t drown out the individual characters, but sat at their side, used as a tool for them to discover what they wanted, how they would resolve their own issues.

One character I did love was Montane, the newcomer. I loved her colour, her insight and Harris’s ability to use her to spark rumour, unrest, and division amongst the the villages.

The Strawberry Thief wasn’t about high drama and confrontations instead Harris used her narrative and characters to create gentle ripples that undulated throughout, that took the characters through the process and acceptance of change.

It was beautifully written, almost ethereal with a  little sprinkling of magic dust that carried you along and I absolutely loved it.

I would like to thank Orion for a copy of The Strawberry Thief to read and review and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris (MBE) was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels, including Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche .

Since then, she has written 15 more novels, two novellas, two collections of short stories, a Dr Who novella, guest episodes for the game Zombies, Run, the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a musical and three cookbooks. Her books are now published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, has honorary doctorates in literature from the universities of Sheffield and Huddersfield, and has been a judge for the Whitbread Prize, the Orange Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science, as well as for the Fragrance Foundation awards for perfume and perfume journalism (for which she also received an award in 2017) .

Her hobbies are listed in Who’s Who as: “mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion of the system”, although she also enjoys obfuscation, sleaze, rebellion, witchcraft, armed robbery, tea and biscuits. She is not above bribery and would not necessarily refuse an offer involving perfume, diamonds, exotic travel or pink champagne. She works from a shed in her garden, plays bass in the band she first joined when she was 16, is currently co-writing a stage musical and lives with her husband in a little wood in Yorkshire.

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