#Blogtour The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually by Helen Cullen @wordsofhelen @MichaelJBooks @sriya_v

The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually
The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually by Helen Cullen Michael Joseph August 8th 2020

Book Synopsis

On an island off the west coast of Ireland, the Moone family are shattered by tragedy.

Murtagh Moone is a potter and devoted husband to Maeve, an actor struggling with her most challenging role yet – being a mother to their four children. Now Murtagh must hold his family close as we bear witness to their story before that tragic night.

We return to the day Maeve and Murtagh meet, outside Trinity College in Dublin, and watch how one love story gives rise to another. And as the Moone children learn who their parents truly are, we journey onwards with them to a future that none of the Moones could predict . . .

Except perhaps Maeve herself.

The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually is a celebration of the complex, flawed and stubbornly optimistic human heart.

My Review

The Truth Must Gradually Dazzled definitely dazzled, with its wonderful narrative and examination of a family built on love and the darkness of mental illness.

The Moone families guiding light was the wonderfully complicated Maeve. On the surface fun, outgoing, a magnet to all around her, but as would be husband Murtagh discovered Maeve had a dark side, one that swallowed her up and dogged her relentlessly.

Cullen’s great skill was her ability to go inside Maeve’s mind, the agony and anguish leapt from the pages, the constant thoughts that she was never good enough both as a wife and a mother. You felt the suffocation of the darkness that often engulfed her, the imaginary brick wall that blocked her means of escape, but you also admired her coping mechanism, the requisite medication thrown out the window in favour of exercise, of busyness. I couldn’t help but feel that Cullen was representing women and, indeed men everywhere, that she truly got to the very essence of mental illness and in some ways it resonated with my own past struggles with mental health. In particular her role as a mother, rang so true, the expectation that it was an all encompassing love and total giving up of oneself, yet you held something back, if only to preserve some form of your own identity, afraid of the dependance another human being had over you.

Murtagh, her husband, was her rock, a man who tried and failed to understand, but accepted her for who she was, gave her the space she needed, loved unconditionally. Cullen showed a man marred by tragedy, almost stuck in a time warp, unwilling to move forward, afraid the wall he built around him would open wounds and feelings he couldn’t deal with.

Cullen gave us their four children, all so wonderfully different, their coping mechanisms varied and with varying degrees of success and failure. It was Nollaig, the eldest, that for me, encapsulated so well the ramifications of tragedy, the responsibility she felt to care for her brothers and sisters, to look after her father. She maintained the status quo, as Cullen showed a woman unwilling to change just in case, as time stood still and you waited patiently for the crash that you knew had to come.

The shift between the past and the present was seamless, the structure of the novel almost like a diary, a catalogue of a family as it navigated life, flash points that sparked events, individual reactions. You sensed it was building towards something as characters dangled over a cliff edge, their fall imminent, and indeed Cullen surprised me, took the novel to somewhere I didn’t see, the hints hidden so carefully.

Now Cullen, could so easily have set this novel in your average, town, city but she chose to take us to the small island of Inis Og. It offered a rugged landscape, the crashing of the sea against the cliffs, the isolation that so perfectly reflected the bleakness of Maeve’s mental health. The small community, lives led in each others pockets magnified the bad times, cast the spotlight on those involved, left them exposed with no place to hide. But it also showcased a community that pulled together, that enjoyed the good times, closed around and protected its inhabitants.

I really did not want to leave Inis Og, or the Moone family, so brilliantly had Cullen, engulfed me in their lives. I admit to shedding tears, to being so moved by one particular scene that I had to take a moment, to put the book down and reflect. It was a novel that resonated, that had feeling and just wonderful storytelling.

I would like to thank Michael Joseph for a copy of The Truth Must Dazzle to read and to Sriya Varadharajan for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London.

She worked at RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) for seven years before moving to London in 2010.

Her debut novel, The Lost Letters of William Woolf was published by Penguin in July 2018 in the UK, Ireland, Australia and South Africa and published in America by Harper Collins in June 2019. The novel is also available in translation in numerous foreign markets including Italy, Germany, Russia, Greece and Israel where it hit the bestseller charts. The TV option for the book has also been acquired by Mainstreet Pictures.

The first draft of this novel was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.

Helen was nominated as Best Newcomer in the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018. She is also a contributor to the Irish Times newspaper and Sunday Times Magazine.

Helen is now writing full-time. Her second novel, The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually, will be published in Ireland and the UK on August 20th, 2020 and as The Dazzling Truth in the USA and Canada on August 18th, 2020.

#Blogtour The Shadow Bird by Ann Gosslin @GosslinAnn @Legend_Press #TheShadowBird

The Shadow Bird.jpg
The Shadow Bird by Ann Gosslin Legend Press July 1st 2020

Book Synopsis

Three months into her new role as a psychiatrist at a clinic in New York, Erin Cartwright is asked to evaluate the case of a man who murdered his mother and sisters at the age of seventeen.

Found not guilty by reason of insanity and held in a maximum-security psychiatric facility for twenty-seven years, Timothy Stern is now eligible for release. Upon learning the crime occurred in the same village she once visited as a child, Erin is on the verge of refusing to take the case, when a startling discovery triggers memories she’d rather keep hidden, and a suspicion the wrong man is behind bars.

My Review

There were so many secrets, so much hidden in The Shadow Bird that it was impossible to put the novel down.

You already knew about the brutal murder of the Stern family, but not what supposedly drove Tim Stern to do it. And what about Erin, psychiatrist sent to assess Tim for imminent release from his psychiatric unit? Was she really all she said she was or did she have her own secrets to hide?

Gosslin, in Erin, gave us a complicated character, seemingly a woman who excelled at her job, a career on the up, but that was merely superficial. Gosslin took us deep into Erin’s own psyche as she wrestled with her own demons, small hints of tenuous connections between herself and Tim Stern. It piqued your interest, made you want to understand her own past trauma’s and difficulties, as you urged her on to pull all the various strands together and come up with the answers.

Tim Stern, our perpetrator was Gosslin’s jewel in the novel, so well did she portray a young man completely lost in a living hell. You could tell Gosslin had done her research, her knowledge of his supposed psychiatric condition presented in a scary, but heart wrenching way. You questioned his guilt, a man trapped, not only mentally but physically.

If the novel centred around Erin and Tim it also swirled around the murder of Tim’s mother and sisters. The circumstances confusing, brutal, his father, the friends who hovered at the periphery, as Gosslin gave you a community with a claustrophobic small town mentality everyone somehow connected via school, clubs, and events.

As Gosslin deftly switched between past and present the picture cleared, as Erin risked both her professional and personal life to unearth the truth.

I loved how she pushed the boundaries, as the need for answers outweighed the consequences, and the reader felt the tension, the premise that something had to give, that it wouldn’t necessarily be pleasant for Erin.

Gosslin left the best until last, a dramatic final, a few surprises, but clarity and satisfaction, no loose ends, no need for the reader to read between the lines, to assume.

The Shadow Bird was a fantastic examination of psychiatry, of what drives the human being to commit crime. It also examined the consequences of those involved, of the collateral damage. It was dark, and unsettling, but with chunks of light that provided that perfect balance.

A brilliant debut.

I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of The Shadow Bird to read and review and to Lucy Chamberlain for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Ann Gosslin.jpg

Ann Gosslin was born and raised in New England in the US, and moved overseas after leaving University. Having held several full-time roles in the pharmaceutical industry, with stints as a teacher and translator in Europe, Asia, and Africa, she currently works as a freelancer and lives in Switzerland.

The Shadow Bird is Ann’s debut novel. Her second novel, The Double, will be published by Legend Press in 2021.

Twitter: @GosslinAnn

#Blogtour Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce #RachelJoyce @DoubledayUK @annecater #RandomThingsTours #MissBenson’sBeetle

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce Doubleday July 23rd 2020

Book Synopsis

It is 1950, two unlikely women set off on a hare-brained adventure to the other side of the world to try and find a beetle, and in doing so discover friendship and how to be their best of themselves. This is quintessential Joyce: at once poignant and playful, with huge heart and the same resonance, truth and lightness of touch as her phenomenally successful debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Britain, post Second World War. I n a moment of madness Margery Benson abandons her sensible job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.
Enid Pretty, in pink hat and pompom sandals, is not the companion she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all expectations. They must risk everything, break all the rules, but at the top of a red mountain they will discover who they truly are, and how to be the best of themselves.
This is a novel that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.

My Review

To say that I loved and adored Miss Benson’s Beetle would be an understatement, I could sing its praises to the high heavens and I will be urging anyone and everyone to read.

What was to like? I have to say the characters, Miss Margery Benson and Miss Enid Pretty, two polar opposites who somehow travelled to the other side of the world, had the most amazing adventure and made a few discoveries about themselves along the way were the stars of the story.

Miss Benson was your typical spinster, large, unfashionable, who lacked self worth, believed the worst about others and herself, and needed that one event to kick start a rebellion and determination to search for a rare golden beetle. As Joyce unravelled her childhood, you felt an overriding sense of sorrow, of a life on hold, and an intense loneliness that emanated from Margery. You could see her internal struggle, her unwillingness to open up, to let another person close, afraid of the hurt and rejection it could unfurl.

Her madcap idea to travel to New Caledonia, felt like her time to shine, to search not only for the golden beetle but also to find out just who she was.

From the assistant interviews, to the mass stockpiling of spam and toilet paper her preparations to travel were at times hilarious, until Joyce ramped up the humour to another level with the arrival of Enid Pretty.

Oh how I loved this character, from the tight fitting pink travel suit, to the blonde coiffed hair, Enid Pretty was a truly inspired creation from Joyce. The images she conjured were beyond anything I have encountered in a long time and I absolutely adored her. Enid came with her own hang ups, and a glorious hint of mystery, a woman who was fleeing from something, but had the most wonderful heart and soul.

The relationship between Margery and Enid was like an never ending roller coaster, from Margery’s exasperation to Enid’s ability to sweep away any negativity, and her street wise commonsense approach that got them out of a few tight spots and encounters.

For all the humour Joyce also injected a more serious side, a side that saw Margery slowly unravel, but in a good way. Joyce used Enid brilliantly as the person who forced Margery to confront her past, to reassess who she was, but also opened up the possibility of friendship, of love not only for others but also herself.

Their journey to New Caledonia was full of incident, the rejected assistant Mr Mundic, fast on their heels, wrapped up in his own hallucinatory hell, as his war experiences pushed his mental state to the limit. It added that extra bit of drama, as you second guessed his purpose and also the consequences of his actions.

The island of New Caledonia was its own wonderful character, the tropical weather, the landscape and the expats that viewed Margery and Enid with such derision.

Their determined search for the elusive golden beetle was suffused with danger, and storms but it also cemented their friendship. The subsequent events were both heart warming and heartbreaking, as Joyce plied us with a myriad of emotions. One minute I was smiling, the next my heart would sink, and I wanted nothing more than for those two glorious characters to have a wonderful, happy outcome.

Joyce’s narrative was brilliant, the imagery superb, Margery and Enid the most amazing creations. In fact the novel is ripe for a drama series, and it would be interesting to see which actors would suit the roles of Margery and Enid.

Miss Benson’s Beetle will undoubtedly be one of my books of the year. Absolutely brilliant!

I would like to thank Doubleday for a copy of Miss Benson’s Beetle 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

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her books have been translated into thirty -six languages and two are in development for film. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and longlisted for
the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 201 2 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’201 4. Rachel was a Costa prize judge and
University Big Read author in 2019.
She has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire

#Blogtour If Looks Could Kill by Olivia Kiernan @LivKiernan @RiverrunBooks @QuercusBooks @MillsReid11 #IfLooksCouldKill

If Looks Could Kill: Innocence is nothing. Appearance is everything. (Frankie Sheehan 3) - Frankie Sheehan (Hardback)
If Looks Could Kill by Olivia Kiernan Riverrun July 23rd 2020

Book Synopsis

DCS Frankie Sheehan is experiencing a crisis of confidence – having become wary of the instincts that have led her face-to-face with a twisted killer and brought those she loves into direct jeopardy.

She is summoned to the rural Wicklow mountains, where local mother of two, Debbie Nugent, has been reported missing. A bloody crime scene is discovered at Debbie’s home, yet no body. Not only is foul play suspected, but Debbie’s daughter, Margot, has been living with the scene for three days.

Aware her team cannot convict Margot on appearances alone, Sheehan launches a full investigation into Debbie Nugent’s life. And, before long, the discrepancies within Debbie’s disappearance suggest that some families are built on dangerous deceptions, with ultimately murderous consequences.

My Review

You can always rely on Olivia Kiernan to deliver a cracking crime novel, and If Looks Could Kill definitely didn’t disappoint.

DSC Frankie Sheehan was back, her trusted sidekick Baz by her side as they investigated the disappearance of Debbie Nugent. Kiernan took us away from the bright lights of Dublin to rural Ireland, to Wicklow, a town where everyone knew everyone business or so you thought.

You loved the contrast in policing styles as Sheehan and her team swept in to the quiet, low tech, slowness of a rural police station. It’s Sargent Alex Gordon happy to tag along, to get involved, the crime seemingly straightforward, almost locked away. But this is a Kiernan novel, simple and straightforward not something you would associate with her.

She threw questions at Sheehan, little seeds of doubt, as we were submerged into a dangerous web of gang crime, and opposing family factions.

What was the connection, where was Kiernan taking Sheehan and us, the reader?

You were never quite sure who was telling the truth, where the leaks were, and there was the faint tang of corruption that didn’t seem to go away.

Sheehan was like a dog with a bone, relentless, determined in her need to discover the truth. You loved her intelligence, her ability to read people to put the varying clues and strands together, to put herself on the line, even if that meant failure.

Kiernan pulled us along, moved us into Sheehan’s headspace as you moved in step with the investigation, the fear tangible, as the need for answers hastened your reading. You read as the various characters manoeuvred themselves into position, the need to protect others and ultimately themselves. I loved the interplay between Sheehan and Sargent Alex Gordon, the cat and mouse games she played with the various players, as she placed herself in imminent danger.

The latter parts had you on the edge of your seat, Sheehans nerves pulled as tight as string as she did what she did so well, going out on a limb, willing to take a risk.

Kiernan’s narrative was as brilliant as ever infused with intelligence, the plot lines never over done, but based in reality, the use of poetic licence done with great skill.

I always feel hugely satisfied after reading Kiernan’s novel and Kiernan should feel equally satisfied and happy that this reader thoroughly enjoyed If Looks Could Kill and cannot wait for the next instalment.

I would like to thank RiverEun for a copy of If Looks Could Kill to read and review and to Milly Reid for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

Who is Olivia Kiernan?

Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer. In a previous life, she completed a diploma in anatomy and physiology then a BSc in Chiropractic before she succumbed to the creative itch and embarked on an MA in Creative writing. In 2015, she began writing Too Close to Breathe, a crime thriller that was published in 2018 and features Dublin detective, Frankie Sheehan.

The second in the series The Killer In Me was called a “captivating new thriller” by the Wall Street Journal, “a high-stakes noir page-turner” by Bookpage.com and “a nail-bitingly good read” by Mystery Scene. The third in the DCS Frankie Sheehan series will be released July 2020.

#Blogtour To Dare by Jemma Wayne @writejemmawayne @Legend_Press #ToDare

To Dare_High Res cover.jpg
To Dare by Jemma Wayne Legend Press July 1st 2020

Book Synopsis

Veronica and her wealthy husband George are unpacking boxes, hoping a fresh start in their newly refurbished Victorian terrace will help them heal from a recent trauma.
Next door, Simone returns to her neglected council flat. Miserable and trapped, she struggles to take care of her children under the watch of her controlling husband Terry.
When childhood friend Sarah re-enters Veronica’s life, things are thrown even further off balance. As tensions in their own lives rise, the painful memory that binds them threatens to spill into their present.
Three lives collide in this story of family, inequality and revenge.

My Review

I absolutely loved To Dare, with its fantastic characters, themes and a narrative that was just brilliant.

So what about the characters? Veronica, married to George, well off, a teacher who lacked the one thing she most desired, a child. Straight away Wayne made us feel empathy, an empathy that only deepened as their luxury refurbished home soon became beset with nightly loud music, and noise from their new neighbours.

Yet, as we know, people are not always as they sermon the surface as Wayne gave us a glimpse into a woman who endured an unhappy, lonely childhood. Way e managed to grasp Veronica’s need to belong somewhere, to have that closeness of a normal everyday family, not one where parents left you in boarding school or supposed friends during holidays. We saw Veronica’s flipside, manipulative, and bitchy as she pushed her supposed best friend to her limits.

Sarah seems to have it all, perfect upbringing, perfect husband and children, yet Wayne a woman who harboured a deep psychological hurt and grief one that threatened to upend everything she had.

Wayne’s interactions between Veronica and Sarah were superb, from childhood friends to their renewed relationship in adult life. You could feel the palpable tension, the sceptisim each had of the other, the fear felt by Sarah as opposed to the jealousy and need to destroy from Veronica.

But Wayne didn’t stop there as she threw in another character, Veronica’s neighbour Simone. She was everything Veronica and Sarah were not, downtrodden, trapped in an abusive controlling relationship, unable to protect her two children. Hers was a past of drug abuse, of making do, unable to see a way out of her predicament. I loved how Wayne used her as a tool within the novel, the conscience that sat on Veronica’s shoulder, that diverted attention, that events slowly spun around.

As each of the three women alternately told their story you couldn’t help but become completely immersed, your mind whirling as you tried to work out how each would find peace and closure on their present life’s.

To Dare was a brilliantly, intelligent read and one I will remember for some time to come.

I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of To Dare to read and review and to Lucy Chamberlain for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to a participate in the blogtour.

Who is Jemma Wayne?

Jemma Wayne.jpeg

Jemma Wayne is the author of two previous novels: After Before and Chains of Sand. She has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and shortlisted for both The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize and the Waverton Good Read Award.

Jemma’s journalism has appeared in The Spectator, National Geographic, The Huffington Post, The Evening Standard, The Independent on Sunday, Red Magazine, The Jewish Chronicle and The Jewish News, among others.

Born to an American musician father and English mother, Jemma grew up in Hertfordshire and lives in North London.

Twitter: @writejemmawayne

#Blogtour Spirited by Julie Cohen @julie_cohen @orionbooks @Leanne_oliver1 @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Spirited

Spirited by Julie Cohen Orion July 9th 2020

Book Synopsis

Three women carry unspeakable truths in their heart. At what cost will they find their freedom?

In Victorian England, Viola is an amateur photographer struggling with the grief of her father’s death and the sterile atmosphere of her marriage to her childhood friend, Jonah. When she discovers a talent for capturing ghostly images on camera, Viola comes to the attention of a spirit medium, and a powerful attraction between the two women is sparked… As each woman puts herself at risk, secrets are brought to light that will change their lives forever.

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters Cohen explores themes of sexuality, gender and prejudice, firmly establishing her as one of our best storytellers.

My Review

There was so much to Spirited it was hard to know where to start. What I will start with is the characters, Viola and Henriette, two women in Victorian England, where men ruled the roost, knew what women needed and what they should doing.

Viola, grief stricken after her Father’s death was fragile, vulnerable and what better place for her to find solace, comfort and stability than marriage to childhood friend Jonah. But what if Jonah was also troubled, nursed a heartache he could confide in no one. Cohen left us in no doubt of their sense of duty to Viola’s dead father, to carry out his wishes, but portrayed a marriage that whilst it had love, had no passion as Viola and Jonah pushed a wedge between them, pulled further and further apart. You could sense their need to maintain respectability as they made a new home on the Isle of Portland.

I have to confess they frustrated me, but I knew it was the Victorian way and it wasn’t until Henriette’s arrival that I knew somehow Cohen would make us and them begin to question their situation.

Henriette was the complete opposite to Viola, outgoing, colourful, a woman who defied the confines of the society she lived in. Did I like her? Not at first, as Cohen described her humble beginnings, from poverty, life as a maid, who used her intelligence and a need to better herself, to attain what the people she served had got.

Henriette’s occupation as a spiritualist I found extremely interesting, and Cohen had obviously done her research. The trickery, the intense feelings and ambience she created were brilliant as were the reactions of her audience. You had to ask yourself if you agreed with her motives, her wilful deceptions, and it wasn’t until she encouraged Viola to restart her photography and a chain of events that you had the sense there was something more than mere financial gain for Henriette.

Cohen cleverly used her narrative to unravel her characters, and you silently cheered as Viola became stronger, more resilient as she realised she didn’t have to settle for what she had, that happiness could be hers. Henriette seemed to find something she had always found lacking, and I found I began to like and indeed admire her.

What I didn’t like was the stuffy attitude of the men, men out to safeguard their own standing, determined to put women in the corner, destroy their reputations at any cost. And it wasn’t just England, as through the eyes of Jonah, Cohen transported us to India, and the lack of education denied to women, their place very definitely in the home.

Themes of British imperialism, the need to quash the culture of those it ruled, the disrespect and sheer self importance were stark, and made you feel slightly ashamed.

Cohen didn’t stop there, the realities of forbidden love, of same sex love drifted in, never in your face but subtle and understated.

How would it all unravel, what would be the outcome for Viola, Henriette and Jonah. Would Victorian society quash their rebelliousness, their feelings or would they be brave and strong and fight for what they truly wanted?

All questions Cohen answered in a novel that featured wonderful characters, interesting thought provoking themes and a compulsive immersive narrative that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I would like to thank Orion for a copy of Spirited 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

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for the Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold over a million copies; DEAR THING and TOGETHER were Richard and Judy Book Club picks. Her most recent novel is the critically acclaimed LOUIS & LOUISE. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.
You can find Julie on Twitter: @julie_cohen or you can visit her website: http://www.julie-cohen.com.

#Blogtour Turn To Dust by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett #SaxonPublishing @BOTBSPublishing #TurnToDust

Turn To Dust by Karen Amphlett Saxon Publishing

Book Synopsis

When the body of a naked man is found in the middle of a barren field, Detective Kay Hunter realises the investigation will test her skills to the limit.

With only one clue to the victim’s identity, her inquiries lead her to local charities for war veterans and the homeless – both of which are underfunded and overwhelmed.

Discovering that someone is offering money in return for information about the dead man and anyone connected to him, Kay realises that there is a disturbing and dark side to the victim’s past.

When a key witness disappears from a local temporary shelter, she fears the worst.

Can Kay and her team of detectives find out who is behind the man’s murder before another vulnerable person is targeted?

My Review

What I like about Rachel Amphlett’s crime is that it is often quiet and understated. That is not to say it didn’t have its dramatic moments, because it did it’s just Amphlett chose to use the slow burn route. She cleverly laid the foundations, a broken body, the unusual form of murder, and a trail that led to modern day slavery, it’s base in greed, power and money.

Detective Kay Hunter was our eyes and ears, methodical in her approach, no stone left unturned as she vowed to find answers and ultimately justice. She was a police officer with integrity that cared for the people she interacted with, yet became ferocious but fair in pursuit of those who had perpetrated the crimes. It was what made you like and admire her, a detective that wasn’t all hard core, but had feelings and a vulnerability. I always love to hear of the escapades of her vet husband, the myriad of animals that are paraded through their home, Amphlett’s way of giving the novel a lighter, less intense feel.

Amphlett showed a crime team that operates on respect, Cara, in particular valued, encouraged to better herself.

But what of the other side, those suspected of the crimes they investigated? Farming didn’t seem like the obvious place for crime, but Amphlett portrayed a rural community that worked hard in challenging times, money hard to earn. She gave us the traditional farmer, but also the new type of landowner, one that intensively farmed animals, as Amphlett spared none of the details, the poor, cruel conditions, the disgust you saw on Hunter and her teams faced.

She added in homelessness, the fate of so many military personnel who suffered form PTSD, who couldn’t maintain relationships or normal life. Amphlett showed their desperation to survive, their vulnerability, easy targets for those who wished to benefit at their expense.

Combined with the horrors of modern day slavery you read as Hunter unveiled the full extent of the crimes. You were never quite sure how it was done, who was ultimately responsible, as Amphlett pulled the various strands together, the truth finally exposed.

What I liked more than anything about Left For Dust was its intelligence, the slow burn as foundations were laid, the winding up of the cogs as the pieces slowly fell into place and the final drama filled conclusion.

Amphlett left us with questions, what next for Hunter’s team, what direction and what more would they encounter?

I would like to thank Saxon Publishing for a copy of Left For Dust to read and review and to Sarah Hardy of Books On The Bright Side Publicity to participate in the blogtour.

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a film extra and freelanced in radio as a presenter and producer for the BBC.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and is a bestselling author of crime fiction and spy thrillers, many of which have been translated worldwide.

Her novels are available in eBook, print, large print and audiobook formats from libraries and worldwide retailers.

A keen traveller, Rachel has both EU and Australian citizenship.

Email: info@rachelamphlett.com

http://www.rachelamphlett.com

Twitter: @RachelAmphlett

Instagram: @RachelAmphlett

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelamphlett.author/

#Blogtour Left For Dead by Caroline Mitchell @Caroline_writes @AmazonPub @BOTBSPublicity #LeftForDead

Left For Dead by Caroline Mitchell Amazon Publishing July 8th 2020

Book Synopsis

A victim on display. A detective on the rails.

Shopping with her sister, DI Amy Winter is admiring a Valentine’s Day window display of a perfect bride encrusted in diamonds and resplendent in lace—until she notices blood oozing from the mannequin’s mouth.

This is no stunt. A post-mortem reveals the victim was left to die on her macabre throne for all to see. When a second victim is found, it emerges that both women were ‘Sugar Babes’ arranging dates with older men online—and Amy finds herself hunting an accomplished psychopath.

As she tracks down the killer, Amy’s instincts go into overdrive when the charismatic head of the agency behind the display makes no attempt to hide his fascination with her serial-killer parents. What exactly does he want from Amy? With her own world in freefall as her biological mother, Lillian Grimes, appeals her conviction, Amy pushes the boundaries of police procedure when a third ‘Sugar Babe’ disappears…Is she as much at risk as the killer’s victims?

My Review

Oh my, Left For Dead was not for the fainthearted, I finished it in bed at night and wasn’t sure I really wanted to close my eyes and go to sleep.

Unusually for a crime novel we knew exactly who the killer was right from the first page. Samuel Black, successful business man, devoted family man, charismatic, good looking but Mitchell gave us a glimpse underneath of man who relished the dark side, who enjoyed the pain and suffering he inflicted on his unsuspecting victims. He was my type of killer, one who you saw when you closed your eyes, who you felt could be lurking behind you as you read.

But would he be a match for DI Amy Winter, a detective who didn’t necessarily do things by the book, a fact I loved as it made her so much more interesting. Her new boss Donovan added another dimension, a frisson of electricity that existed between them and you wondered how long it would take before both gave in to the inevitable. Donovan was her alter ego, the voice of commonsense that sat on her shoulder, tried to reign her in, but I was so glad that he never quite succeeded, as Amy trod her own path, relied on her instincts as she waited for Black to slip up.

You could feel the intensity Mitchell injected into the interactions between Black and Amy, as Black taunted Amy about her own gruesome past, her family locked in a show trial that might see her killer mother back on the streets. You almost felt that Black thought that underneath she was just like him, only a matter of time before she unleashed her own darkness. I knew and hoped that Mitchell wouldn’t let that happen, but loved that Amy had a dark past, so in conflict with the job that she did, admiration for her dignity and skill in handling such pressure and scrutiny.

The murders themselves, were gruesome and macabre, and I shall never look at a mannequin in a shop window in quite the same way again. It always amazes me where authors draw their inspiration, if you can call it that, for the imaginative and chilling way their murderers operate and Mitchell was definitely one that excelled.

Mitchell certainly knew how to ramp up the tension and drama, as my page turning picked up pace, as Amy drew closer to Black, yet it wasn’t that straightforward as Mitchell unveiled Black’s past and a wife who finally found the nerve and strength to step out of his shadow. The final scenes were superb, my imagination went into overdrive, and I was utterly exhausted at the end.

Phew, you thought, now I could relax, but oh no, Mitchell wasn’t quite finished and what a tantalising ending she left us with. It was chilling, brilliant, and left me wanting more!

I would like to thank Amazon Publishing for a copy of Left For Dead to read and review and to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blogtours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the bloftour.

About the author

An international #1 and New York Times, USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author, Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time, with over a million books sold.

As well as her crime series, Caroline also writes stand-alone psychological thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim reached the Amazon number 1 spot in the UK, US and Australia and won first place as best psychological thriller in the US Reader’s Favourite Awards. Her previous thriller, Witness, was shortlisted for the International Thriller Awards in New York. She has also been shortlisted for ‘Best Procedural’ in the Killer Nashville awards. Her crime thriller, Truth And Lies recently became a No.1 New York Times best seller and has been optioned for TV. Her works have been translated worldwide and her book, The Silent Twin, has been converted as an interactive app in the Chapters Interactive game. 

www.Caroline-Writes.com

F: www.facebook.com/CMitchellauthor

T: www.twitter.com/caroline_writes

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/IxsTj

#Blogtour Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner @taffyakner @Wildfirebks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #FleishmanIsInTrouble

Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner Wildfire

Book Synopsis

A blistering satirical novel about marriage, divorce and modern relationships, by one of the most exciting new voices in American Fiction.
Finally free from his nightmare of a marriage, Toby Fleishman is ready for a life of Tinder dating and weekend-only parental duties. But as he optimistically looks to a future of few responsibilities, his life turns upside-down as his ex-wife Rachel suddenly disappears.

While Toby tries to find out what happened – juggling work, kids and his new, app-assisted sexual popularity – his tidy narrative of a spurned husband is his sole consolation. But if he ever wants to really understand where Rachel went and what really happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider
that he might not have seen it all that clearly in the first place . . .

My Review

Fleishman Is In Trouble was absolutely brilliant. Brodesser-Anker stole two days of my weekend as I read and absorbed the story of a marriage of a man, who felt he never quite measured up, never had enough ambition for a wife who only seemed intent on pursing wealth, to keep up with the rich persons who would advance her career and her place in New York society

Their impending divorce and her disappearance ultimately led to Toby’s indepth analysis of his life of his feeling that he somehow deserved better. And indeed you did feel sorry for him as he catalogued the failings of his wife to see him for who he was and to notice and love their children as much as she loved her job.

It could very easily have come across as self indulgent, but such was the quality of Brodesser-Anker’s narrative it was addictive and immersive. She took us back to Toby’s upbringing. his short height that in some sense acted as his crutch until he met Rachel. Rachel was the woman who appeared to offer him love, didn’t think about his height, their marriage seemed happy, his position as a doctor secure, and then gradually you could see the chinks, the chasm that grew between them.

We got Toby’s perspective on the what went wrong, wholly one sided, as he seemed to wallow in self pity, but also enjoyed his sexual freedom, used dating sites, and sexual encounters with abandon. It all felt like a phase he had to go through before home truths kicked in, a stall in his career made him stop and take stock.

Brodessar-Anker injected some perspective, Libby, Toby’s age old friend, the outsider, objective yet troubled by her own restlessness, life as a house wife not enough. Did she want to go back to her career, did she love her husband or was the grass greener in the outside world, the city, the working world.

Her relationship with Toby came under close scrutiny, they acted as each other’s sounding board as slowly they worked through their issues, as perspective crawled in and finally you felt decisions and acceptance could be near.

It’s hardly surprising that Fleishman Is In trouble appeared on the Women’s Prize Longlist. I don’t think there is another novel out there that has scrutinised marriage and relationships as brilliantly as Brodesser-Anker. I felt it was a commentary on modern day society, of our high expectations, of wanting so much yet left disappointed and lacking when life doesn’t match upto what we want.

I would like to thank Wildfire for a copy of Fleishman Is In Trouble 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

Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine. She
has also written for GQ, ESPN the Magazine, and many other publications.
FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE is her first novel.
Twitter: @taffyakner
Website: taffyakner.com

#Blogtour Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld @csittenfeld @DoubledayUK @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Rodham

Rodham
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld Doubleday Books July 7th 2020

Book Synopsis

‘Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb.

Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader— and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm No.

How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?

My Review

Who was, is Hilary Clinton, or should that be Hilary Rodham. There is the public face, the one we see on the news, on social media, but how did she get to where she is today, a figure head in American politics, a woman who got so close to being the first woman President.

Now we know all about her marriage to Bill Clinton, but what if she hadn’t married him, what would our opinion of her and indeed her life have been like? Sittenfeld took this as her starting point and worked her way backwards to a Hilary still at University, a student in the midst of the feminist movement as they pushed themselves further up the career ladder.

Sittenfeld, gave us the impression that Hilary was one of a kind, resolutely focused, awkward in her relationships with the opposite sex, acutely aware her looks would not bag her the handsome man so many craved. Yet it was something she felt she did want, her brusque nature a barrier, but more importantly her intelligence seemed to scare them, men unused to a woman who could debate and compete on a level playing field.

It was her happiness in her relationship with the young Bill Clinton that delighted you, at last a man who accepted her on her own terms, in fact relished her intelligence and found her hugely attractive. Would she follow him as he chased his dream of becoming Senator of Arkansas and ultimately President?

Sittenfeld made you feel the electricity that existed between them, as you wondered if Hilary could settle for life as the other half, if love did indeed outweigh everything else. But that was what so great about Sittenfeld’s Hilary, she was a woman who resisted the urge to settle just for love, she wanted more, unwilling to accept Bill’s sexual failings, unwilling to be second best.

It made me cheer silently and that was indeed when the novel took a truly interesting turn. Hilary on her own, her drive to succeed took over and Sittenfeld brilliantly showcased an American political world that was mired in intrigue, in deals with surprising and recognisable characters. It made my mind whirl as I contemplated the what if’s, the realisation that it was all one game, of who held the power of information, who held their nerve, was patient as they bided their time, waited for that one perfect moment.

I loved Sittenfeld’s version of Bill Clinton, charismatic, ultimately a sexual sleeze machine, selfish, superficial, a real sense of his own importance. He wasn’t someone I liked, his attitudes towards women repugnant, almost as if Sittenfeld had lifted the lid on the real Bill Clinton the one that many chose to ignore instead hoodwinked by his charm and affable nature.

Other well known characters made a guest appearance, their actions and relationship with Hilary a little surprising but a brilliant twist on reality!

There was so much to Rodham, so much to admire in Sittenfelds narrative, themes and characters. The ultimate question she left me with, was has the real Hilary Rodham read it and what did she think about herself as she appeared in Sittenfelds world.

I would like to Doubleday for a copy of Rodham 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

Curtis Sittenfeld pulls no punches in her scathing and hilarious indictments of the American middle classes. Her Sunday Times bestselling novel American Wife was longlisted for the Orange Prize, as was her debut novel Prep. Her other books include The Man of My Dreams, Sisterland, Eligible, the acclaimed short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It and her latest novel Rodham. Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Oprah Magazine and the New York Times magazine. Sittenfeld is also the guest editor for the 2020 Best American Short Stories anthology. She lives with her family in the American Mid-West. Follow her on Twitter @CSittenfeld

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