The Jinx @ernestlancast [cover reveal] @FierySeasPub

Today I am excited to show you the cover for The Jinx, the new novel by Ernest Lancaster!

Title: The Jinx
Author: Ernest Lancaster
Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing

[Synopsis]

Disaster strikes and innocents die as police sniper Rick Munro is plagued by a first-call jinx. As his career takes off, he must overcome his rookie mistakes, and keep his team members safe.

When Munro returns to TACT as a newly promoted lieutenant, the jinx torments him still. He must contend with team members’ rival agendas around every turn. Munro finds himself in a battle he can’t escape as corruption and death unfold around him.

Who can he trust? Will Munro break the streak or will it destroy everything he believes in?

And here’s the cover…

The Jinx

The cover fits perfectly with the genre of this suspense novel – it’s released 24 July 2018 so keep an eye out for it!

Find out more…

Social Media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ernest.lancaster.98
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErnestLancast

Ernest’s website: http://www.ernestlancaster.com/www.ErnestLancaster.com/Welcome.html

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No Turning Back [audiobook review]

No Turning Back

Title: No Turning Back
Author: Tracy Buchanan

[Synopsis]

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens.

While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby. But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt.

Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the ‘Ophelia Killer’, a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago-and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life?

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[My Review]

I wasn’t sure what to expect from No Turning Back; from the synopsis it sounded like a bit of a thriller/mystery read but the first half of the book is, I’d say, just about Anna and her way of dealing with that awful day on the beach when she protects her daughter and ends up killing a schoolboy. There’s a lot about the aftermath and how Anna feels, but not much mystery – and I was eagerly awaiting some elements of suspense because there was the mention of an ‘Ophelia Killer’ from years ago which peaked my interest. Although I can always appreciate a novel that is just character-based, I felt this story wasn’t gripping enough without the mystery element, so I struggled to stay hugely interested for the first half.

The tension does ramp up after that, when we find out more about what actually happened all those years ago and on that fateful day, and there were some more interestinfg partsbut to be honest the plot felt a little ridiculous towards the end. However, at least it did get a little more engaging, and there were some surprises which I definitely did not see coming.

The narration is quite easy to listen to, though at the beginning I did find Anna’s voice grating a bit! However I am overly picky when it comes to audiobooks so I suppose that’s my own problem!

Overall I found this an enjoyable read but quite unpredictable; some parts really kept my interest whilst others felt like they dragged and/ or were a little unbelievable at times.

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The Feed [review]

The Feed - Nick Clark Windo

Title: The Feed
Author: Nick Clark Windo
Publisher: Headline

[Synopsis]

It makes us. It destroys us. 

The Feed is everywhere. It can be accessed by anyone, at any time. Every interaction, every emotion, every image can be shared through it.

Tom and Kate use The Feed, but they have resisted addiction to it. And this will serve them well when The Feed collapses.

Until their six-year-old daughter, Bea, goes missing.

Because how do you find someone in a world devoid of technology? And what happens when you can no longer trust that your loved ones are really who they claim to be?

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[My Review]

The Feed is a really unique, interesting dystopian-style novel (I won’t say ‘thriller’ as I don’t think it’s really that kinda book, and I’ll explain why) which I enjoyed reading.

I felt that it was fairly slow to start with, taking time to build characters and a sense of this world that Tom and Kate (and the people around them) live in. Because a lot has changed between the real world of today and the fictional world that the story is set in, there’s a lot to take in with regards to details and occurrences as things begin to fall apart. We then skip forward 6 years and see how things have developed.

I struggled to warm to the main characters, but there’s kind of a reason for that as you read on. There are some interesting developments and surprises which took the book, for me, from a fairly slow read to suddenly a much more interesting one – I really like the way the author ramps up the tension as the book goes on. The second half of the book definitely features more ‘action’ but I still wouldn’t categorize this as a thriller, as it’s much more about the characters and the setting they live in, rather than what they’re doing – though of course this does play a key part too, as they desperately try to search for their missing daughter.

I loved the idea of humans becoming reliant on a kind of social network which is embedded inside us; with our seemingly growing reliance on social media and technology, this is a very pertinent story which makes you sit back and consider how realistic this is. Worryingly, I can actually imagine this kind of thing happening one day.

I don’t want to say any more as I don’t want to give too much away, but this is definitely a recommended read for anyone who enjoys a different and intriguing dystopian read.


Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Woman in the Window [review]

The Woman in the Window - AJ Finn

Title: The Woman in the Window
Author: A.J. Finn
Publisher: HarperCollins

[Synopsis]

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

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[My Rating]

The Woman in the Window is an intense, suspenseful thriller which I hugely enjoyed, from the very first page to last. The characters, though odd in their own ways (main protagonist Anna certainly has her quirks, and at times I was a little frustrated at her decisions, but I loved reading about her anyway) made for really great reading; there are plenty of characters whose integrity come into question, which I loved – in fact, even Anna, whose eyes we see the whole story through, made me doubt her at times. I felt bad doing so, because that’s exactly what everyone else is doing, but she’s certainly not helping herself – and there’s some strange underlying themes which can be a little uncomfortable to read about, but which only intrigued me more!

The story itself is slightly surreal at times, with strange things occurring and lots of ‘half-truths’ and ‘sort-of-seen’ things from Anna’s point of view to confuse the reader as you try and work out what is really happening – is she uncovering something very important in her neighbourhood or is it actually all in her head? Again, I loved this element of uncertainty; it only made me want to read on and try to work out what was happening…

I sort of guessed some aspects of the story, but there were also some fun twists and surprises along the way. I ended up racing through this in no time and would certainly like to read more from Anna.

Overall I found this a hugely absorbing and fun read which I couldn’t put down! The pacing is just right and I feel it definitely holds its own among the various heavyweights in this genre; it’s different enough to stand out but with enough mystery and twists to keep it classed as an excellent psychological thriller!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to HarperCollins for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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WWW Wednesday [24 January 2018]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments. I’d love to see your answers too!

The three W’s are:

    1. What have you finished reading?
    2. What are you currently reading?
    3. What will you read next?

What have you finished reading? 

It’s been a good week for finishing off titles I’d previously started!

Veronica’s Bird – Veronica Bird & Richard Newman [review to follow as part of the blog tour on 1 February]
The Dry – Jane Harper [my review here]
The Feed – Nick Clark Windo [review to follow]
No Turning Back – Tracy Buchanan [audiobook] [review to follow]

What are you currently reading? 

Our House – Louise Candlish [almost finished!]
The Woman in the Window – A.J. Finn

What will you read next?

Trying – Emily Phillips
Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton


 

What have you been reading recently? Any exciting books you’re looking forward to reading next?

If you do your own version of this tag please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your answers too!


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The Dry [review]

The Dry - Jane Harper

Title: The Dry
Author: Jane Harper
Publisher: Little Brown UK

[Synopsis]

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

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[My Review]

FINALLY I got around to reading this much-loved book, and wow – I was not disappointed!

The Dry is a force to be reckoned with because it ticks so many boxes for me – brilliant, three-dimensional characters that I want to read more about (lucky we’ll see more books with Aaron Falk in, then!) mixed with a gripping storyline full of mystery and surprises AND the truly atmospheric setting, where each page made me feel more and more like I was actually there, dealing with the heat from not just the sky but the heightened tension.

The writing is excellent, bringing every conversation and every dark look alive for the reader so effortlessly right from the off. We see some of the present day narrative and some of what happened ‘back then’, in fragmented pieces which the reader can slowly start to put together.

The storyline also combined various ‘mysteries’ without following a traditional crime/thriller ‘police procedural’ setting; it’s more about the investigation from Aaron without all the red tape and procedures of the police investigation which was refreshing to read. Plus we never quite know how trustworthy Aaron himself is, despite the fact that I hugely like him as character – some of the story he recalls has that element of doubt around it, and that only added to the intrigue for me!

The ending was also just perfect for me; not too ‘tied up neatly with a box’ but with enough conclusion to satisfy. I started to suspect who it might be towards the end but I could never have guessed why, and I loved that there were essentially two ‘mysteries’ to unearth- one long in the past, and one only a few months ago.

Anyway, so as not to give anything away I’ll just finish by saying I HUGELY recommend this stunning debut, so if, like me, you’ve somehow not read it yet, go and buy it NOW! I now can’t wait to read the second book by Jane Harper, Force of Nature!

[Rating: 5/5]

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Goodreads Monday [Force of Nature]

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!]

Having just finished The Dry (and LOVED it), my pick for this week is Force of Nature. It’s on my to-read list and my review will be up as part of the blog tour on 11 February!

Title: Force of Nature
Author: Jane Harper
Publish date: 6 February 2018

Force of Nature

[Synopsis]

Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.

But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

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Have you heard anything about this book, or have you got it on your TBR list? 

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The Confession by @spainjoanne [blog tour review] @QuercusBooks

The Confession - Jo Spain

Today I am lucky enough to be on the blog tour with a review for the amazing new novel by Jo Spain called The Confession. It’s a corker! Read on to see what I thought, and make sure you follow the rest of the blog tour as well!

Title: The Confession
Author: Jo Spain
Publisher: Quercus

[Synopsis]

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

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[My Review]

If you value your sleep, beware… The Confession is very likely to keep you up all night thinking “just one more page”. I couldn’t put it down! However this will be a no-spoiler review, so don’t worry 😀

Though there are many books with a similar theme, The Confession feels a little different because you know who has attacked Harry from very near the beginning of the novel, but you don’t know why – and why he handed himself in. The plot has lots of gripping narratives, each from a different point of view. We hear from Julie, whose husband Harry is the man who is violently attacked at the start of the novel, and JP, who handed himself in and is proved to be the man who attacked Harry. We also, interestingly, hear from Alice, a detective who will do anything to find out why JP attacked Harry. Can it just be coincidence or is there far more to this story? I think you know the likely answer! This novel slowly teases the reader with snippets of the three characters’ lives, both the present day and the events leading up to the day of the attack. This means I was absolutely desperate to find out what had happened.

There are plenty of twists, turns and surprises along the way, and I found myself doubting almost every character at some point (my favourite kind of novel!). I loved Alice – she was a great character who I really warmed to , and would love to see her featured in future books – but also couldn’t help myself really liking JP from quite early on, despite what he’d done. The characters in The Confession are multi-layered and never portrayed as strictly ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – they have different issues and/or quirks which make them convincing characters, and even the people you know are horrible people are not horrible 100% of the time! It also shows how the images that people portray can be very different behind closed doors…

The Confession is clever, gripping and deliciously dark, with characters you can’t help but want to know more about – highly recommended. Will definitely be reading anything Jo Spain releases in the future, and am determined to read her Inspector Tom Reynolds series as well!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Quercus and Anne Cater for providing an ARC of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for my place on the blog tour!

The Confession is out now in ebook format and out in paperback on the 25 January!

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Blog Tour poster 6

Hydra by @ConcreteKraken [blog tour review] @orendabooks

Hydra - Matt Wesolowski

Today I’m excited to have a review for Hydra, a fantastic new novel by Matt Wesolowski, as part of the blog tour. Read on to find out what I thought, and keep following the tour to see what some fantastic book bloggers also thought!

Title: Hydra
Author: Matt Wesolowski
Publisher: Orenda Books

[Synopsis]

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the “Macleod Massacre.” Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden “games,” online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.

[My Review]

Hydra is such a unique, interesting story that I’m not entirely sure where to start talking about it! The premise is brilliant; set out like the transcript of a podcast which explores a shocking murder case (in which 21 year old Arla Macleod murdered her mother, father and sister), it consists of 6 main ‘sections’, each representing an episode of a podcast. Each ‘episode’ features investigative journalist (and podcast presenter) Scott King as he chats to various people who knew Arla or her family, and tries to find out more about the case and the people involved.  Because we get these multiple views, the listener learns more about the case through various perspectives, instead of just one, and in such an intriguing way. Each character is interesting and/ or mysterious in their own way, and I couldn’t wait to find out what they might know – or not know, as it happens.

We find out plenty of information from Arla herself, and the reader peeks further into what appears to be a very damaged state of mind… but why did she end up this way? Was there actually any ‘reason’ she ended up killing her family? As Scott says at the start of the podcast, he aims to explore the case and try to find out more about the smaller details which might not have been talked about much before – he’s not necessarily setting out to find out ‘whodunnit’ because we already know! I really liked this element as it felt more realistic and added to the worryingly realistic feel of the novel.

The narrative fizzles with tension and creepiness – I don’t very often experience a genuine feeling of uneasiness when reading a novel, but Hydra delivered exactly that, and in just the right amounts to keep me wanting to read on. It’s never too ridiculous, despite there being seemingly odd elements due to the strange nature of Arla’s life and personality (I won’t say anymore than that as I don’t want to give anything away).

I absolutely love crime podcasts and have listened to many myself, so this really struck a chord with me – and it’s very topical as podcasts (and in particular true crime podcasts) are really growing in popularity. Hydra also includes topical subjects and information, such as social media and the digital world as well as the unfortunate rise of internet trolls, which makes it even more relatable.

I should also point out that you don’t need to have read Six Stories to enjoy this novel; even though I’ve heard SO MANY amazing things about it I just haven’t got around to it, but I didn’t feel it was necessary to enjoy this one (though I’ve no doubt it would reveal more about Scott King and his podcast which would be really interesting). So if, like me, you’ve bought Six Stories but haven’t yet got around to reading it due to a towering ‘to read’ pile, don’t let it put you off diving into this one! I am now even more excited to go back and read it!

Hydra stayed in my head long after I finished it, and I love how original, atmospheric and utterly absorbing the story is. It’s a testament to Matt’s writing, and I can safely say Hydra is a novel that you’ll struggle to tear yourself away from.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for my place on the blog tour!

About the Author

Matt W Picture 3Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio.

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Hydra blog poster 2018 FINAL

Fear [review]

Fear - Dirk Kurbjuweit

Title: Fear
Author: Dirk Kurbjuweit
Publisher: Orion

[Synopsis]

YOU’D DIE FOR YOUR FAMILY.

BUT WOULD YOU KILL FOR THEM?

***

Family is everything.

So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.

You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there?

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[My Review]

This is a slow burning, atmospheric novel which I enjoyed but found a little too slow at times.

The writing itself is great; Dirk Kurbjuweit conjures up a real sense of unease around their neighbour, and the threat level is realistic enough that you can imagine it actually happening. At times the novel is really immersive and at those points I felt myself drawn into the story. Unfortunately, this didn’t often last for long as the story switches between modern-day and the past, and I found the stories about Randolph’s past to drag on a bit.

I was definitely expecting more of a tense, ‘thriller’ style story and Fear really isn’t. I think this is more an issue around the marketing and synopsis; to me I definitely felt it made the book seem like it fits more into a thriller genre but in actual fact it is much more about narrator Randolph and his childhood/ adult life leading up to the event which takes place at the start of the book. I found some of the descriptions quite interesting but overall I just felt a bit frustrated because I wanted to get back to the here and now. There was a lot of info that I felt just didn’t advance the story at all, or even provide any useful information in reading it, and so I found myself losing interest a bit.

The story is still fairly interesting, and some parts really intrigued me, but it just didn’t hold my attention properly unfortunately.

[Rating: 3/5]

Many thanks to the publisher, Orion, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Fear is out in the UK on 25 January.

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