#Blogtour Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry @jessbarryauthor @HarvillSecker @JazminaMarsh #Don’tTurnAround

Don't Turn Around
Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry Harvil Secker July 30th 2020

Book Synopsis

An addictive, fast-paced thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for fans of LISA GARDNER and CLARE MACKINTOSH.

‘A novel like razor-wire…part chase thriller, part psychological suspense’ AJ Finn, author of #1 bestseller The Woman in the Window

Two strangers, Cait and Rebecca, are driving across America. Cait’s job is to transport women to safety. Out of respect, she never asks any questions. Like most of the women, Rebecca is trying to escape something.

But what if Rebecca’s secrets put them both in danger? There’s a reason Cait chooses to keep on the road, helping strangers. She has a past of her own, and knows what it’s like to be followed.

And there is someone right behind them, watching their every move...

My Review

Don’t Turn Around was good, in fact it was very good. It was tense, urgent and at times made me feel quite cross and angry, a sure sign that the author had tapped into my emotions, and really made me think about what I was reading.

At the novels heart were two brilliant but flawed women, Cait and Rebecca, both at opposite ends of the economic and social spectrum. Cait, young, a struggling writer, who worked in a bar to make ends meet. Rebecca, beautiful, poised, married to an upcoming politician, with an ice maiden exterior, but something something deeper and vulnerable hidden within.

The reason for their meeting and subsequent road trip was at first subject to conjecture, reasons that swirled around until Barry slowly peeled away the layers and revealed a reason that you couldn’t quite believe.

Barry used the voices of Cait and Rebecca and the characters they encountered to tell the story, enabled us to see the version of events, the reasons from all angles, that gave a balanced viewpoint on the themes raised.

Indeed the themes raised were deep, current and relevant. For Rebecca she had to question, decide how far she was prepared to sacrifice her own happiness and principles and, to some extent her own identity for the love of a man, for the furtherment of his career. Would she allow those around her husband dictate and take away her right to what happened within her own body, make her suffer unimaginable torment and anguish for political gain. As her husband and those around them plotted, strategised I found myself getting angrier and angrier, how dare they assume, belittle, threaten.

For Cait, an article written after a sexual encounter, provoked outrage, but not as you would have thought, as she found herself vilified online and indeed in public. Again Barry provoked thought, the interpretation of sexual experiences from a male perspective wildly different from those of a woman. Who was right, was the old stereotype still in play, a woman’s sexual encounters frowned upon, a man’s seen just as a bit of fun?

As their road trip continued as the danger to themselves increased, you watched as the two wildly different women, found common ground, camaraderie, and renewed strength to believe in themselves, to take control and stand up for what they wanted.

For all its myriad themes, Barry didn’t forget that we were actually reading a crime/psychological thriller. I loved the darkness of their road trip, the glaring headlights in their rear window, the sense of fear, of being watched, of not knowing which one of them was the target. Their resourcefulness was admirable, as they gained strength and confidence from each other, the final encounter surprising, hugely dramatic and tense.

The ending was………. Definitely not for me to say as this is a book I want you to read. A novel where the author balanced her thought provoking and current themes with that of a crime psychological thriller brilliantly.

I would like to thank Harvil Secker for a copy of Don’t Turn Around to read and review and to Jasmine Marsh for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Jessica Barry is a pseudonym for an American author who has lived and worked in London for the past fifteen years. Look for Me, previously published as Freefall, her debut thriller, has sold in more than twenty-two territories around the world and has also secured a major Hollywood film deal.

#Blogtour The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah @SaharMustafah @Legend_Press #TheBeautyOfYourFace

The Beauty Of Your Face bu Sahar Mustafah Legend Press August 3rd 2020

Book Synopsis

Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter―radicalized by the online alt-right―attacks the school.
As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.
The Beauty of Your Face is a profound and poignant exploration of one woman’s life in a nation at odds with its ideals. 

My Review

This wasn’t quite the book I thought it would be, as I expected the author to concentrate on the aftermath of a school shooting. And perhaps that was the whole point of Mustafah’s book, to challenge our preconceived ideas, the stereotypes we have of situations and people within our society.

It started with the schools shooting, not in your everyday multiracial school but the Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school, its headmistress Afaf, who hid in an old confessional as the shooter ran amok. It was almost as she listened to the screams, to the random shots that she saw as the phrase goes, ‘her life flash before her’. Mutsafah, cleverly looked back, to Afaf’s childhood, to her family and what made her the woman she was today.

It was an utterly fascinating and honest portrayal of the conflict religion can cause, of the comfort and sense of belonging it can give to a person.

Afaf at the outset was just an ordinary young girl of an immigrant family, a family whose roots stemmed from Palestine, who hoped to find riches in the suburbs of Chicago. Their family wasn’t perfect, a mother, who really didn’t want to be there, an older sister, the apple of her eye, a father who worked hard and a younger brother,Majeed. As so often happens a major event can set off a reaction, a future that was perhaps not the one anticipated and so it was that the disappearance of older sister, Nada became the catalyst. Afaf was the onlooker, the one who watched as her family fell apart, a mother who recoiled within herself, a father who turned to alcohol.

Afaf, herself was completely lost, the buffer between her warring parents, a sense of responsibility towards her younger brother. It wasn’t until her father found his own religion, took her to a meeting that Afaf finally found a place she belonged, something that brought her comfort and peace.

Story ended you might have thought, but no for me this is where the real crux of the novel lay. Mustafah didn’t give us the happy ever after, she carefully considered what being a Muslim in America actually meant. Did people still view you the same as everyone else, was there general acceptance and how did it change Afaf’s life.

In so many ways, Mustafah gave us an Afaf who on the one hand found life easier, the rituals, the comraderie a comfort, a place where she finally had friends. Yet outside the confines of the mosque, she was met with scorn, derision, the hajib, the outward facing symbol that marked her as different, foreign, not a true American. The twin towers terrorist attack amplified her difference, all Muslims terrorists, unwanted even if she was a born and bred American.

It was a devastating, thought provoking narrative, the shooting the climax, the representation of true hate, of ignorance. Mustafah was careful to maintain a balance, religion at its heart but also the consequences of our upbringing, the role of the media and those around us, another contributing factor to attitudes, and actions.

The Beauty Of Your Face was an important book, it’s themes serious but Mustafah retained the most important essence of a novel, to tell a story, to immerse the reader in the life of Afaf, a life that will be hard to forget.

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

About the author

Sahar Mustafah_photo credit Rebecca Heal

Sahar is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, a richly complex inheritance which she explores in her fiction. She is a member of Radius of Arab American Writers, as well as a 2015 Voices of Our Nation fellow (VONA). She currently writes and teaches in Illinois.
Follow Sahar on Twitter @SaharMustafah

#Blogtour Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver @will_carver @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsBlogtours #HintonHollowDeathTrip

Hinton Hollow by Will Carver Orenda August 6th 2020

Book Synopsis

It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard
about if none of this had happened. Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120. Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home
before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label
around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from

Hinton Hollow. Because something was coming.
Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the
history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its
residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their
insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence
suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.

Making them cheat.
Making them steal.
Making them kill.
Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the
things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not
alone. Evil had a plan.

My Review

Hinton Hollow was the novel that just kept on giving, its macabre, murderous, and dark subject matter pulled us in to a black hole that at times seemed never ending.

It made me think where and how Carver found his inspiration, what universe his brain flew to when he wrote his novels. If you thought his previous novels were bleak then Hinton Hollow was just as bleak, its narrator, Evil, a genius stroke that burrowed and wormed its way into the minds of the residents of Hinton Hollow.

Hinton Hollow itself, a model of respectability, its inhabitants all known to each other, their lives enmeshed until Carver threw in a human bomb, one that continued to let off timely explosions throughout the pages. Sargent Pace, no newcomer to Carver’s fiction, and to Hinton Hollow, was the man sent back to uncover the culprit of such hideous crimes.

Carver didn’t make it easy, as he gave us glimpses into Pace’s own past, his attempts to reconcile his own wrong doings neatly laid alongside Evil’s actions, actions that became more harrowing and distressing as the novel progressed.

I loved how Carver singled out the various residents of Hinton Hollow, how they all represented varying backgrounds and social dynamics. There were the married couples, trapped in the minutiae and often tedious life of raising children, the young couple embarking on their own wedding and new life, the widowed, the resident lothario, and my absolute favourite Mrs Beaumont. She was the matriarch of the town, revered, old, a woman who could be described as a busy body, with a sometimes unhealthy responsibility to protect the town and its residents.

Of course, Evil was the character of the novel, the little voice that pushed, that whispered to its victims, that drove the narrative, but in my opinion, it had another purpose. I very much thought it was also our social conscience, as it questioned how we viewed others, the jealousies that existed between perceived wealth or happiness. Most importantly it looked at motherhood, the choices we make, the way in which we raise our children, the knock on effect on those children as adults.

Carver brilliantly highlighted the Jekyll and Hyde features of human nature, good versus evil, the surprise that someone is just not who you thought they would be. Indeed, the outcome was a surprise, but on reflection made perfect sense, the ending shocking, disturbing.

Not for me you may think and yes it’s bleak, dark, violent and doesn’t hold back but please do not let that put you off. You cannot not read Hinton Hollow with out admiration for Carver, for his ability to think out of outside the box, to venture where other authors fear to go.

The narrative was exemplary, words used sparsely, sentences short and snappy instilling tension, and fear. But most of all it was crime at its best and for me Carver can do no wrong.

I would like to thank Orenda for a copy of Hinton Hollow to read and review and to Anne Cater for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

About the author

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series.
He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven,
when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby
contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he
set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and
nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans
was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number
one on the ebook charts.

#Blogtour The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheBigChill

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone Orenda Books

Book Synopsis

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.
While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter
the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.
But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?
Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief
.

My Review

The Skelf women were back and oh how pleased I was to see them. When we first met them they were reeling from the death of Jimmy, husband, father, Grandfather and head of Skelf funeral and Private Investigator business. If that wasn’t enough they were also recovering from the murderous antics of Jenny’s ex husband Craig. Would Johnstone have moved them on and did he have anymore adventures in store for them?

The answers were mixed and Johnstone used the Skelf women’s individual voices, a brilliant tactic Johnstone used to great effect, to delve deep into their individual psyche’s uncovering their own personal anguish and worries.

Dorothy, was as wonderful as ever, caring, compassionate, her thoughts of others before herself. Johnstone still showed her vulnerabilities, often bashed out to the rhythm of her drumming, which still makes me smile as I imagine a seventy plus year old beating her worries away.

Jenny, I wasn’t too sure about, I felt she was still processing events, still unsure of her place and her future and had a long way to go before finding peace.

Her daughter Hannah was, perhaps the most mixed up, the one who needed girlfriend Indy to prop her up, cast adrift in the maelstrom of past events.

So, we had three women all with their problems, and they only grew tenfold as Johnstone opened the novel with one of the most dark, and slightly humourous openings I have encountered in a novel. Who an earth would think of a car crashing into an open grave, resulting in a dead body and the acquisition of a one eyed dog named Einstein, who was, for me, the underlying star of the novel.

If the search for the identity of the dead man wasn’t enough, Johnstone also threw in a missing girl and father, a professor and the ultimate villain of the novel, Craig. Jenny’s ex-husband, Craig, was the ultimate pantomime villain, nice on the outside, cold, calculating and utterly murderous on the inside, a constant pain in the life’s of Jenny, and Hannah. I liked the way he didn’t take up the whole of the novel, just lurked on the sidelines, a volcano that bubbled away until Johnstone chose a time for him to explode across the page,

As the women each pursued their own investigations, it became clear that Johnstone had cleverly matched them to their own personal issues, a way for them to examine who they were, what past events had meant for them and how the future might look. He touched on issues prevalent in today’s society from homelessness, to broken families, the idea that wealth didn’t necessarily mean happiness, and indeed sexuality and the unwillingness of some to accept the path we chose.

For all its seriousness, The Big Chill had those wonderfully dark humorous moments that Johnstone is so good at, the macabre backroom workings of a funeral home, that for me were totally fascinating and the traditional good old private investigations. Johnstone’s ability to balance the myriad plot lines was admirable, with the subtle blurring of lines that built to an unending crescendo that left us slightly hanging, with the knowledge that Johnstone had more instore for the Skelf women.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of The Big Chill 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

Doug Johnstone is the author of more ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.