Sunday 29 January 2017

Sister, Sister - Sue Fortin

Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.

Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.

Two sisters. One truth.

What did I think?

This was a proper page-turner and although I admit to working some of it out quite quickly, it still had a few surprises up its sleeve so it didn't spoil my enjoyment in the least.  I love the suspenseful and gripping writing of Sue Fortin and think Sister, Sister is as good as, if not better than, The Girl Who Lied, Sue's previous book which I absolutely loved.

Clare is happy with her life but a part of her has always been missing since her dad took her little sister Alice on holiday to America and never returned.  Clare and her mother were devastated and tried desperately to find Alice, to no avail.  They never gave up hope that one day they would be reunited, so it's a dream come true when they receive a letter from Alice.  Alice proposes to visit England with her friend and Clare counts down the days until she can see her sister again.  At the airport, Alice arrives alone and has conveniently forgotten her photo album which makes Clare a bit uneasy.  Clare tries her best to welcome Alice into her family but something just doesn't feel right and Clare's family put it down to jealousy.

As Alice gets her feet more firmly under Clare's table, it is Clare who is pushed out into the cold and even Clare's husband take's Alice's side.  The only person who will listen to Clare is her colleague and old friend, Tom, but Tom is harbouring unrequited feelings for Clare so it suits him just fine when Clare is ostracised from her family.  Clare won't give up without a fight so she starts to dig into Alice's background, but she has no idea what skeletons she is about to unearth.

Sue Fortin has such an enthralling writing style that it makes the pages turn effortlessly.  The reader can't help but become engrossed in the story as you follow the trail of breadcrumbs that are scattered throughout the pages.  Many times I thought I knew what was going on, only to find that the story took a swerve in a completely different direction.  Although Sister, Sister has some similarities to other books in the psychological genre, there are enough surprises in store to make this a 5 star read.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Hold Still - Tim Adler

'I photographed the moment of my husband's death...' So begins HOLD STILL, a nerve-twisting thriller from bestselling author Tim Adler. How much do we really know about those we love? Kate is visiting Albania with her husband Paul, a much needed break from Paul's stressful website business. 'Hold still,' says Kate, taking a picture as Paul steps onto the hotel room balcony. 'We'll always be together,' Paul responds. Suddenly there is screaming below and a blaring car horn. Kate stares down from the balcony at the broken body of her husband lying lifeless in the street. Overcome with grief, Kate can't accept the truth of Paul's tragic death, and replays the incident over and over again, searching her pictures for a vital clue to what really happened. When she meets the enigmatic Priest at a grief support group, they journey together into a dangerous world of violence and secrets as Kate realises what Paul really meant when he said he would never leave her......

What did I think?

Why oh why did it take me so long to read this book?  It was such a fast-paced rollercoaster of a read that I could hardly bear to put it down.  It may be my first Tim Adler book but it certainly won't be my last.

Paul and his wife, Kate, are visiting Albania in order to attend his uncle's funeral.  I had read the blurb but I still let out an involuntary gasp of shock as Paul jumped off the hotel balcony.  Seconds before this happened his wife, Kate, had taken a photo of him and Paul had promised that they'd always be together.  Why would he say that then commit suicide?  When Kate examines the photo more carefully, she notices a face in the background on her hotel balcony.  Who is he and what does he have to do with Paul's death?

Kate starts to ask questions about Paul's death and has an even closer look at her photographs where she notices one of her neighbours.  What on earth is her neighbour doing in Albania?  When she confronts him, her neighbour confirms that he was in Albania and he did see someone jump from the 6th floor balcony of the hotel that Kate and Paul were staying in.  Kate and Paul, however, were staying on the 7th floor...

Understandably, Kate is struggling to cope with Paul's desk so she turns to grief counselling and meets a man called John Priest - a man whose face also appeared in her Albanian photographs.  Who is he?  What's going on?  My mind was in a complete whirl as I tried to work out what was going on but nothing could have prepared me for the journey that this book took me on.

A real page-turner of a read, Hold Still will have you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday 28 January 2017

The Good Mother - A. L. Bird

The greatest bond. The darkest betrayal.
Susan wakes up alone in a room she doesn’t recognise, with no memory of how she got there. She only knows that she is trapped, and her daughter is missing.
The relief that engulfs her when she hears her daughter’s voice through the wall is quickly replaced by fear.
The person who has imprisoned her has her daughter, too.
Devising a plan to keep her daughter safe, Susan begins to get closer to her unknown captor. And suddenly, she realises that she has met him before.

What did I think?

The style of writing took a bit of getting used to at first but once you do get used to it, The Good Mother is such an addictive read.  The reader is thrust inside the minds of Susan and her captor.  I must say that it's a bit crazy at times and I almost felt like I was descending into madness myself.  It was almost a relief to put the book down and blink to see my familar surroundings infront of me.

Susan finds herself held captive in a strange room, her only source of comfort is that her daughter, Cara, is also being held in the room next to hers.  Susan knows that she has met her captor before...if only she could remember where, but her memories are held tantalisingly out of reach.  Susan and Cara devise a means of communication and they hatch a plan for escape but their captor still has more than one surprise up his sleeve.

The Good Mother really plays with your mind as you think you have it all worked out then a surprise jumps out and smacks you in the face.  I found it quite hard to get into at first as it's never pleasant to see inside somebody's mind and you really get to read Susan's darkest innermost thoughts in this book.  It's a relatively quick read and one that will appeal to all psychological fiction lovers.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Thursday 26 January 2017

BLOG TOUR: The One - John Marrs

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. 

One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner - the one you're genetically made for. 

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. 

Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking - and deadlier - than others...

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

What did I think?

Many people have turned to online dating to find their other half, but in The One, John Marrs takes online dating to the next level.  A gene responsible for love at first sight has been identified and through a website called 'Match Your DNA' you can take a test to discover your perfect match.  What if a simple DNA test could match you with the person you are meant to be with, The One?  Would you take the test?  The characters in The One have all taken the test and as we follow them on their journey it quickly becomes clear that not everyone is destined for a happy ever after.

Each chapter is based on one of the 5 main characters and their matches.  At first I thought it would be confusing, but the chapters are so short that you quickly come back to each character and you get to know them all very quickly.

Mandy can't believe her luck when she is matched with Richard and she can't stop looking at his handsome photos on Facebook.  But why has he not responded to her email?  As Mandy digs a bit further into Richard's private life she discovers the reason for his lack of response but she still has a chance at happiness.

Christopher has just murdered a woman when he gets the results of his Match Your DNA test.  Can a psychopath ever feel love and how long can he keep his secret killing spree hidden from his match, Amy?  Especially when Amy is a policewoman...

We then meet Jade who is living with her parents in Sunderland and is matched with Kevin, also living with his parents but in Australia. Do the pair have a future together, living so far apart?  When Jade decides to take a spontaneous trip to Australia she is shocked to find that Kevin doesn't want to meet her.  She won't take no for an answer so turns up at his front door to discover the devastating secret that Kevin has been hiding from her.

Nick is happily engaged to Sally but, after pressure from their friends, they decide to take the test to make sure that they are meant for each other.  Of course, the test comes back with a match for Nick and it's not's not even a woman.  Can their relationship survive now that they know they aren't matched?  What would happen if Nick decided to meet his match?  Nick can't resist the temptation to meet Alex just to prove that he's not gay, but he could never have imagined the burst of feelings that he'd get when their eyes met.

Ellie is a successful businesswoman who only ever comes into contact with rich, shallow men.  When her match comes through and it's nice, normal Timothy, Ellie shrugs off her rich, successful persona and decides to take a chance on Tim.  Ellie is surprised when she doesn't feel sparks flying but Tim feels an immediate connection and wears his heart on his sleeve.  As they spend more time together, Ellie's feelings for Tim grow but is it because of the match gene or is she falling in love the traditional way?

Put on your virtual running shoes as you will absolutely race through The One.  I couldn't put it down and it really gets you thinking about how we approach love and relationships.  In this 21st Century world, where people have little time to meet their partner, it is no surprise that online dating is big business.  As you can be anybody you want to be in the virtual online world, there are perhaps more sharks than fish in the sea.  I started The One thinking, 'Yes, I'd take the test'.  It would certainly save some time wading through the fake facades that people wear.  As I read on and the pitfalls and dangers of the DNA test became clear, and knowing my luck I'd be matched with a psychopath in Australia, I would definitely leave meeting my 'one' up to chance and risk being crazy lonely old book lady.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the Author

John Marrs is a freelance journalist based in London, England, who has spent the last 20 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines.

He has written for publications including The Guardian's Guide and Guardian Online; OK! Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World's Sunday Magazine.

His debut novel The Wronged Sons, was released in 2013 and in May 2015, he released his second book, Welcome To Wherever You Are.

In July 2016 came his third novel A Thousand Small Explosions.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

BLOG TOUR: Burned and Broken - Mark Hardie

An enigmatic policeman - currently the subject of an internal investigation - is found burned to death in his car on the Southend sea front.

A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery that surrounds their colleague's death, they're under intense pressure to crack the case without damaging the force's reputation.

When a dramatic turn of events casts a whole new light on both cases, the way forward is far from clear. Were the victims connected in some way? And just how much should Pearson and Russell reveal to their bosses as they begin to unearth some dark secrets that the force would rather keep buried?

Mark Hardie's stylish and gripping debut introduces a brilliant new detective duo to the world of crime fiction, weaving together two suspenseful stories that end in a breath-taking finale.

What did I think?

With a gripping prologue, we are launched straight into Burned and Broken with the suspicious death of DI Sean Carragher.  DI Carragher is under investigation and when he doesn't turn up for work, it is his partner, DC Cat Russell, who is put under the spotlight, being asked questions about Carragher.  When Carragher's body is found in his burned out car, DS Frank Pearson heads up the investigation into the death of one of their own.

The story is two-fold, with a young girl, Donna, trying to get somebody to listen to her about her friend's death.  Alicia and Donna met in a children's care home and due to their troubled past, Alicia's death was not seen as suspicious.  Donna is haunted by Alicia's death and together with her new strange friend, Malcolm, they try to piece together what happened.

Both stories appear completely unrelated but they come together superbly at the end, and I certainly didn't see it coming.  I think perhaps that sometimes there was too much going on to throw the reader off the scent, as I occasionally felt that the story was a bit disjointed and didn't flow as well as it should have.  On the other hand, I loved the dynamic of Pearson and Russell and the sneaky peaks into Pearson's private life showing that he is well and truly married to the job.  

Burned and Broken is a good introduction to Pearson and Russell, however, it only manages to scratch the surface of these characters. Although perhaps not quite in the same league as Peter James, it's a good start to a series and I'd be keen to read more books starring this duo to see where the story takes them.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the Author
Mark Hardie was born in 1960 in Bow, East London. He began writing fulltime after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction.

Mark lives with his wife Debbie in Southend-on-Sea. 

Thursday 19 January 2017

BLOG TOUR: A Boy Made of Blocks - Keith Stuart

A beautiful, funny and surprising story of family and love, perfect for fans of The Rosie Project, David Nicholls’ Us and Nick Hornby’s About a Boy.
MEET THIRTY SOMETHING DAD, ALEX… He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn't understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.
MEET EIGHT-YEAR-OLD SAM… To him the world is a puzzle he can't solve on his own.
When Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other… When life starts to tear one family apart, can they put themselves back together, one piece at a time?
A Boy Made of Blocks is a beautiful, funny and heartwarming story of family and love inspired by the author’s own experiences with his autistic son.

What did I think?

No amount of words will ever do this book justice.  I simply can't stop thinking or talking about it and, although it's only a few weeks into the year, I can guarantee that A Boy Made of Blocks will appear in my top reads of 2017.

This is a book that very quietly worked its way into my heart.  I was upset and disappointed in Alex at first - how could he leave his wife, Jody, to cope on her own and how could he walk away from his beautiful son, Sam?  Having never experienced autism, it's probably easy for me to say.  Getting to know Alex, it's what he does - run away from things.  So does his sister, Emma, for that matter - planning her next adventure around the world to avoid spending time at home.  Alex and Emma's brother, George, died when he was just a child and it's certainly something that Alex has never gotten over.  I don't think Alex even realises just how much George's death still impacts on his family life.

Alex doesn't know how to communicate or connect with his autistic son, Sam.  Then one day Sam discovers the computer game Minecraft and Alex buys a copy to learn how to play it.  Alex is having a little play around when he notices Sam online.  Hearing Sam's voice through the headphones in 'Sam and Daddy's world' left me with an ache in my heart and a huge grin on my face.  As father and son build their castle they forge a connection that Alex would never have dreamed of, culminating in a trip to London for a Minecraft competition that left me in floods of tears.  

I would recommend that A Boy Made of Blocks is published with waterproof pages; I've cried at books before but never to this extent.  A couple of chapters from the end, I had to put the book down to dry my eyes and that's the only good reason to put this book down at all.  It's an absolutely amazing story - think of any word to describe something magnificent, flawless and breathtaking and it goes part way towards describing the deeply moving triumph that is A Boy Made of Blocks.

Do not hesitate, just go out and buy this book - Ok, GO!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Monday 16 January 2017

BLOG TOUR: Relativity - Antonia Hayes

Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.

His single mother Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can’t shield him forever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.

Now age twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father’s absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three together again.

Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.

What did I think?

Ethan captured my heart so very quickly as he's such an inquisitive and gifted little boy but, like every child who is different, he is a magnet for bullying.  He can see physics: sound waves, shifting air and light refracting that is invisible to the naked eye.  The boys at school call him Stephen Hawking, which is certainly not an insult, although the boys are not bright enough to realise this.  It is perhaps in Ethan's genes as his dad, Mark, was a theoretical physicist but Ethan has never met him.  His mum, Claire, protects him from his own history, a history where Mark was accused and convicted of an unthinkable act and served time in prison.  Now Mark has returned and he and Ethan are drawn to each other like they have their own magnetic field.

Antonia Hayes completely enveloped me in such exquisite narrative that I couldn't bear to put the book down and found myself reading far later than planned.  Relativity is filled with beautiful poetic lines such as: "pink light scattering through the window, making the white kitchen tiles blush", leading me to double check that this was actually a debut novel.  The common thread running throughout is physics and I actually felt like I was learning things along the way, with subtle explanations and examples of physics being woven into the story.

Relativity is a book that is as special as the boy who stars in it.  As Ethan's story unfolds and we find out what really happened with Mark, it sometimes becomes difficult to read.  I did involuntarily gasp out loud and felt an icy grip around my heart at the pain and horror this little family had to go through when Ethan was a baby.  So heartbreaking, beautiful and poignant yet terribly funny at times, Relativity is an amazing debut that once you pick it up, has its own gravitational pull causing you to hold on and never let go.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion. I am releasing my review as part of the blog tour.

My rating:

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Saturday 14 January 2017

The Loving Husband - Christobel Kent

Fran Hall and her husband Nathan have moved with their two children to a farmhouse on the edge of the Fens - a chance to get away from London and have a fresh start.
But when Fran wakes one night to find Nathan gone, she makes a devastating discovery. As questions about her husband and her relationships start to mount, Fran's life begins to spiral out of control.
What is she hiding from the police about her marriage, and does she really know the man she shared her bed with?

What did I think?

I had high hopes for Christobel Kent's The Loving Husband after seeing it on social media, but sadly it didn't really deliver for me.  I felt quite indifferent about the whole story and unfortunately as soon as I turned the last page it became a forgotten story for me.  That's not to say it's all bad, as there is enough of a hook to keep a bit of interest and it's a reasonable enough story but the characters are so flat and unemotional that I wasn't bothered what happened to them.

It is clear from the start that Fran and Nathan Hall have a bit of a strange marriage.  It would appear that Nathan has only shown affection to Fran twice, resulting in their two beautiful children.  Fran remembers Nathan coming to bed one night and apparently completely out of character snuggles into her and one thing leads to another.  A few hours later Fran wakes up to find the bed empty and she finds Nathan dead in a ditch outside.  The police investigate and predict Nathan's time of death prior to the time that Fran said he came to who was in the bed with her and how the devil didn't she know it wasn't her husband?  Fran becomes the prime suspect in Nathan's murder and she doesn't help herself by keeping things from the police.  As the events surrounding Nathan's death and the story of his marriage unfolds, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems. 

All in all, it was a reasonable story with a satisfactory outcome but nothing really to write home about.  I think I have read so many great psychological books lately that the bar has been raised quite high and therefore many books will fail to deliver.  Although I'm sure some people will love this book, it left me feeling flat, apathetic and disappointed.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Friday 13 January 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Dry - Jane Harper

I just can't understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn't rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke's death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend's crime.

What did I think?

What an absolutely outstanding debut; I even had to double check that it was actually a debut novel as it is such an accomplished work of fiction.  2017 has certainly got off to a fantastic start as The Dry raises the bar for all future debut novels.  It is a stunning piece of literature and one that I know I will be recommending time and time again.

The story starts with the death of the Hadler family and what appears to be a seemingly loving husband and father, Luke Hadler, killing his wife and son before turning the gun on himself, leaving a massive question unanswered: if a man decided to kill his family and then himself, why would he leave his baby daughter unharmed in her cot?  This is a question that Luke's childhood best friend, Aaron Falk, asks on his return to his hometown for the funeral.  It is clear immediately that Falk isn't welcomed back with open arms and we learn that this isn't the first mysterious death to hit Kiewarra.

Falk, as a teenager, was previously questioned over the mysterious death of his school friend, Ellie Deacon, when Ellie pointed a finger from beyond the grave.  A piece of paper with Falk's name written on was found in Ellie's bedroom, leading her family to jump to conclusions and harass the Falk family into leaving town for good.  Startling similarities to Ellie's case appear when a piece of paper is found in the last reading book of Luke's murdered wife.  Written on the paper is a name and phone number that raises more questions than answers for Falk.

Never have so few words in a sentence been so tantalising and causing of a reading frenzy than the four words that are repeated throughout The Dry:

"Luke lied. You lied."

Obviously I wanted to know what had happened to the Hadler family, but equally intriguing was the death of Ellie Deacon from years earlier.  A double mystery, both as captivating as each other as you naturally wonder if they are linked.  Not only do we have the mysterious deaths, but the town is being affected by a terrible drought.  The literary canvas is painted with exquisite narrative as we read of the children's paintings showing brown fields and Falk suddenly realising it's eerily quiet because the roar of the river has been silenced.  The lack of water does indeed make everyone crazy and Falk's poor car seems to experience the worst of the town's craziness.

With each captivating page making you thirsty for more, The Dry creates a reading thirst that is impossible to slake until you have turned the final page.  A breathtaking, outstanding and mesmeric debut by Jane Harper that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

I have released my review as part of the blog tour and I know who really killed the Hadler family - make sure you find out too.

Wednesday 11 January 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden

The beautiful cover of The Bear and the Nightingale gives a little hint as to the magic that is hiding within the pages.  Based on Russian fairytales and myths, it is an outstanding fairytale for adults and you can read my review here.  As part of the blog tour, I am thrilled to be able to share the first chapter with you.  Happy reading!

Now wrap up warm and enjoy a brief frosty visit to Russia (click on the arrow in the top right corner to read full screen).

You can buy The Bear and the Nightingale from Amazon by clicking here and I recommend that you treat yourself to the beautiful hardback.

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Sunday 8 January 2017

BLOG TOUR: Lying in Wait - Liz Nugent

I am delighted that my first blog tour of 2017 is for the fabulous Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent.  I was very lucky to get the opportunity to ask Liz Nugent some questions and I'm sure you'll find her answers as entertaining as I did.  Firstly I'm sharing my review so you get a feel for what the book is about and the reason for some of my questions.  Happy reading!

From the award-winning author of the No 1 bestseller, Unravelling Oliver
'My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.'
Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must - because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants ...
This is a dark, twisty and utterly gripping domestic noir that you won't be able to put down from the author hailed as Ireland's answer to Gillian Flynn.

What did I think?

Lying in Wait must have the best opening line EVER!  It is on the cover and in the blurb so I'm not releasing any spoilers by stating it again here:

'My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.'

I had little doubt from this most excellent first sentence, that this book was going to be slightly on the dark side, but I could never have guessed how deliciously dark it was going to be.  Talk about a dysfunctional family - Lydia reminded me of the fabulous Bette Davis in one of my favourite films, The Anniversary.  A cruel and clever matriarch ruling her family without them even realising they are being ruled.  Tremendous!

Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons are doing very well for themselves.  They live in a huge house with their son, Laurence, but beneath the perfect facade lies THE most dysfunctional family I have ever read about.  Lydia is absolutely crazy as a coconut and Andrew and Laurence do everything they can to please her.  Just how far they go on behalf of Lydia is enough to make your hair curl, and does she appreciate it?  Not one little bit.

When Andrew kills Annie Doyle, Annie's family register her as a missing person and her sister, Karen, never gives up hope of finding out what happened to Annie.  Annie was estranged from her family so when she sends mysterious letters reassuring her family that she's ok, they breathe a sigh of relief.  Wait a moment, wasn't she killed in the first sentence?  Aha!  I told you this book was dark.

There is so much I could say about this book but I fear I may spoil some of the story if I continue, needless to say a brilliant opening line deserves an outstanding ending and Liz Nugent doesn't fail to deliver.  I have read so many fabulous reviews of Liz Nugent's debut, Unravelling Oliver, but I have not yet had the chance to read it; if it's half as good as Lying in Wait, it will be money well spent.  

Lying in Wait is a deliciously dark and constantly surprising story.  Never has the well used line 'hooked from the start' fitted so well; you can't fail to be hooked from the start with this one and Liz Nugent definitely reeled me in.  A fabulous book - I loved it.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Now for my Q&A with Liz Nugent.

Q: What inspired you to write Lying in Wait?

A: A man once told me that he strongly suspected his father had murdered a prostitute in the 1960s. He had no evidence or no way of proving it. He never had the courage to challenge his father and went to his grave wondering. He told me this story about 25 years ago and he is long dead now. I always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a house where you suspect your father is a murderer.

Q: Lying in Wait has an amazing first line. Did you come up with that first and build the story around it or did you think of it as the story went on?

A: Originally, in the first draft, Laurence was the main character and the first line was ‘We were all liars in my family but Mammy was the best liar of all of us’. Then in the second draft when I had decided that Lydia was the main character, the first line was ‘Technically, it was manslaughter’ but it didn’t tell the reader enough about the character so I cut that first line and made the second line the first line ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’ This way, the reader knows exactly what kind of person they are dealing with.

Q: As reviews often show that readers were 'hooked from the start', how important do you think first lines are?

A: I like to grab the reader from the get-go and I like to write first person narratives so that the reader is automatically in the head of the character. The first line should set the tone for the book and let the reader know immediately what kind of book they are reading. I’ve only written two books and the first lines of each are so often quoted that I have quite a challenge ahead of me now for how to start book 3!

Q: I had a mental picture of the fabulous Bette Davis as Lydia whilst reading Lying in Wait. If Lying in Wait is made into a film who would you like to see playing Lydia?

A: That’s a great suggestion! I think it does have that film noir feel about it. If they were to cast an Irish actress, I would suggest Cathy Belton who can do charm and menace equally well, but if we’re talking international, I think Julianne Moore would be great.

Q: If you only had one chance to sell Lying in Wait, what would you say to encourage people to read it?

A: The strap line on the front cover is designed exactly for that purpose and my editor and I came up with lots of suggestions but in the end they went with the opening line which I hope is a good selling point!

Q: Lying in Wait is often very dark; how does the mood of your book affect you when you're writing?

A: It really doesn’t at all. As soon as I close the laptop, I am back to my humdrum suburban life and my mood is completely unaffected. My friends are so surprised that I write such sinister stories because in real life, I am fairly light-hearted and up for a laugh.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing?

A: Inhabiting another character’s head for a while can be very liberating particularly when they are really despicable. You get to say things you wouldn’t dream of even thinking!

Q: When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

A: I love going to the theatre and I love tv drama series. I just inhaled Peaky Blinders and I’m catching up on Line of Duty. So, so good.

Q: I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading Unravelling Oliver but which book did you enjoy writing the most and why?

A: That’s like asking me to choose between my children! But I have to admit that writing isn’t always enjoyable. It is work and like any job, you can have good days and bad days. I wrote Unravelling Oliver over the course of about six years while I held down a fulltime job, whereas Lying in Wait was written in two years when I had no other commitments.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and what we can look forward to from you in the future?

A: I’m 48 years old, married, no children. I live in Dublin. My background is in theatre and television production. I am number 5 of nine children. I am an atheist. I don’t like cats or coffee. I am more comfortable in jeans than dresses. I love roast chicken dinners. I read across all genres. I hate ironing but I don’t mind supermarket shopping. I am very tidy. I love sunshine and wish we got more of it in Dublin. I love France. I love going to the theatre. I’d like to live closer to the sea. I have seventeen nieces and nephews and I adore them all.

Hopefully, I will keep writing books with a sinister edge though sometime in the future, I’d like to write a stage play.

Thanks so much Michelle for the great questions and for taking part in this blog tour!

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About Liz Nugent

Liz was born in Dublin in 1967, where she now lives. She has written successfully for soap opera, radio drama, television plays, short stories and animation for children.

Liz’s first novel Unravelling Oliver was published to critical and popular acclaim in March 2014. It quickly became a firm favourite with book clubs and reader’s groups. In November of that year, it went on to win the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year at the Bord Gais Energy Book Awards and was long listed for the International Dublin Literature Prize 2016. She was also the winner of the inaugural Jack Harte Bursary provided by the Irish Writers Centre and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Dec 2014. Her second novel, Lying in Wait, was published in July 2016 and went straight to number 1 where it remained for seven weeks. Liz won the Monaco Bursary from the Ireland Funds and was Writer in Residence at the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco in Sept/Oct 2016. In Nov 2016, Lying in Wait won the prestigious RTE Ryan Tubridy Listener's Choice prize at the Irish Book Awards.

Aside from writing, Liz has led workshops in writing drama for broadcast, she has produced and managed literary salons and curated literary strands of Arts Festivals. She regularly does public interviews and panel discussions on all aspects of her writing.