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**BLOG TOUR** Remember Me by D. E. White

Returning to the village of her youth when she discovers that her ex, and father of her child, is dying, Detective Ava Cole soon finds herself reminded of a dark time from her past. Fifteen years ago, Ava’s best friend, Ellen, disappeared from the woods, never to be seen again. Somebody knows the truth and now, with the reappearance of Ava, questions are being asked: just what did happen to Ellen on that fateful night?

Told from two perspectives – the present and fifteen years ago – it soon becomes apparent that the whereabouts of Ellen is not the mystery; the circumstances behind her disappearance is. We meet a group of friends who each have their own secrets to hide, but who exactly is responsible for what happened to Ellen? The young characters are, on the whole, not a likeable bunch, their drug experimentation and promiscuity helping to muddy the waters as to what happened on that fateful night.

From the messages that Ava is receiving, we know that there is at least one untrustworthy character amongst the two friends, but who? I enjoyed the chapters written by the unknown person, and liked how clues were dropped in slowly until you knew who it was. By this point, I had already worked this out, but I was still taken aback when the truth was finally revealed. The book definitely took a sinister turn at this point and helped me to see some of the characters in a different light.

I found Remember Me quite a slow-paced read until I reached the halfway point and then I could not put it down. The tension definitely ramped up as all of the sub-plots tied together, the story ending with a satisfying and plausible conclusion.

Remember Me is a lesson in how we often don’t always know what those closest to us are doing and is certainly worth a read.

With thanks to Isabel Smith, HQ Digital and Net Galley for my ARC. Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

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Day of the Accident by Nuala Ellwood

After waking up from a coma, Maggie is told that the car accident that put her in hospital claimed the life of her young daughter, Elspeth. With no memory of the event, she is shocked to learn that Elspeth drowned after the car she was in plunged into the river. Refusing to believe that this could have happened, Maggie demands to see her husband Sean, only to discover that he was last seen on the day of their daughter’s funeral. Just what did happen on that fateful day and where is Sean? Also, why does Maggie seem convinced that her daughter is not dead?

Maggie is the ultimate unreliable narrator. Her pre-accident life has disintegrated and she has been left completely on her own to try to pick up the pieces. My heart went out to her as she tried to come to terms with her new life after realising that she no longer had anything she once held dear. I also had much admiration for her as, once her recovery began, she developed a new-found strength to uncover the truth behind the day of the accident.

Throughout the book, we get the opportunity to read letters from an unnamed child to their mother, and this definitely pulled at the heartstrings. It was horrible to read the words of this poor child, seemingly abandoned by her family and yet never losing hope that they were out there somewhere and would return for her one day. This definitely backed up Maggie’s theory that Elspeth was still out there somewhere but also helped to muddy the waters for the readers. Were the letters from Elspeth or was this part of some elaborate game?

It is obvious throughout the book that there are some unseen forces working against Maggie, but who? The author introduces several characters who we don’t really know too much about. Could one of these be responsible? There is also Sean, Maggie’s errant husband – what has happened to make him go or is his disappearance as a result of foul play? One of the minor characters, in particular, was a favourite of mine, and I was desperate to know that she was not involved in any subterfuge.

Day of the Accident is full of twists and turns, some of which I managed to figure out but some I didn’t get anywhere near! This made it an incredibly enjoyable read with a dramatic and satisfying conclusion. My Sister’s Bones by the same author was one of my favourite books of 2017 and I am so pleased that this book, too, was of the same quality.

With thanks to Penguin and Net Galley for my copy.

 

 

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

Joe Thorne is back in the town where he grew up. The town that everyone tries to escape from as soon as they can. The town that saw something strange happen to his little sister. One night, many years ago Annie Thorne went missing, taken from her own bed. Searches followed, but there was no trace of the child. Then, strangely, 48 hours later, she returned, refusing to say what had happened to her. Something was different about her, though, and she was no longer the same. Now, it looks as though it has happened again to another child…

C. J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man was one of my books of 2018 and so I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into The Taking of Annie Thorne. Set over two time frames, we meet Joe, an unreliable narrator is ever there was one! A teacher with a huge debt hanging over him, he has lied to get his current job and lives in fear of his past catching up on him. We see a different side of him, however, in the past when he is with his younger sister, Annie and also when he encounters a child being bullied. Then, he shows a caring, compassionate side, one that certainly endears him to the reader.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that all is not well in the village of Arnhill and that while some are intent on finding out the secret, there are some who will do anything to stop it from being uncovered. Joe appears to know something of what happened, but the death of another child in the area has stirred up memories of his sister, Annie, and the strange event that happened to her all those years ago. His interest in the case causes problems in Arnhill, with people stopping at nothing to express their displeasure. Just how are they connected and can it help to explain why Annie seemed different on her return to the family home?

The story is told in two time frames: the present and the time when Annie went missing. I always enjoy books that are written in this way as I feel that it helps you to fully understand the characters and explain their actions in the present. The story flows well and moves between the two times seamlessly, never once appearing confusing.

It is easy to see how much the author has been influenced by Stephen King and there is more than a nod to one of his books. Throughout the book, there are signs that there is some sort of supernatural force at play and so the conclusion wasn’t a huge surprise. If fiction involving the supernatural is not your thing, don’t be put off. I am not a big fan of this genre, but felt that the ‘ghostly’ references were minimal and the story was more of a thriller.

The Taking of Annie Thorne is an easy read and I can see it being another huge success for C J Tudor.

With thanks to Net Galley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for my copy.

 

 

 

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

51xSXTTs1CLRose and Bel Enright haven’t had the best start in life. After the death of their parents, they are sent to live with their grandmother who wastes no time in packing them off to boarding school, albeit the exclusive Odell. Heath and Sarah Donovan are also at Odell, but as teachers, starting a new life after a scandal threatened to tear them apart. All is not as it seems at the school, however, and one night there is a murder on campus. Who has been killed and who is the perpetrator? The lives of all involved will never be the same again…

The idea of a boarding school is quite an alien concept to those of us who have never experienced anything of the sort and Odell is definitely not the sort of school I am used to! From the outset, we see the rift beginning between the sisters when Bel, already beginning to go off the rails, ingratiates herself with the ‘cool’ crowd. Rose, on the other hand, is keen to experience all that Odell has to offer, working hard and befriending her tutor, Sarah Donovan. This is a stark contrast to Bel, who is more than keen to develop a friendship with Sarah’s husband, Heath…

From quite early on in the book, we learn that the murdered person is one of the sisters, but we do not know which one. This was very clever as, due to the way the story progresses, both had a motive to kill the other one, and, indeed, there may be more people who would want to see one, or both, of the sisters dead. As both of the sisters find themselves deeper into situations beyond their control, the tension mounts and there is a definite sense of foreboding. One part of the book, in particular, left a nasty taste in the mouth – the incident leading up to the major rift between the sisters. I do not want to go into detail as I do not want to spoil the plot, but I will say that I was incensed by the attitude of some of the adults in the book who did not seem to think that there was anything wrong with what happened.

Throughout the book, I had the most sympathy for Sarah Donovan, a woman trying to bring up her family and work in a particularly demanding job, not knowing if there is any truth to the whispers that are spreading round the school. I willed her to investigate further and found myself fearful that something untoward was going to happen to her.

She Was the Quiet One was a fantastic fast-paced read that shows how quickly life as we know it can change as a result of the decisions we make. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Joe Thomas at HQ / Harper Collins for allowing me to review this fantastic book.

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Forget My Name by J. S. Monroe

Today, I am pleased to be the latest blog on the Forget My Name tour, the latest book by J. S. Monroe, whose previous book, Find Me, was definitely one of the most shocking reads of last year! It is my pleasure to be able to share an extract with you.

How do you know who to trust…

…when you don’t even know who you are?

You are outside your front door.

There are strangers in your house.

Then you realise. You can’t remember your name.

She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.

Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.

One of them is lying.

Tony positions himself in front of the door as I walk past him and up the stairs, my legs heavy with adrenaline. I try to picture the bedroom where I slept, remembering the layout of the house outside, which is single storey at the rear. There’s a sloping roof below the window, above the kitchen. Tiles and a central skylight.

I rush into the bedroom and look at my suitcase. There’s nothing I need in there and I have no intention of taking it with me. Instead, I grab my handwritten notes from the bedside table, skim read them again and fold them into the back pocket of my jeans. My hands are shaking. Tony is still at the bottom of the stairs. I walk across the landing and stand by the bathroom door.

‘Won’t be a minute,’ I call out.

I pull on the light cord and let it ping. Its handle is a carved wooden seahorse. I watch it whirl around for a second, feeling dizzy, and then I shut the bathroom door with its noisy farmhouse latch and tiptoe back to my room, closing the door behind me. The sash window opens more noisily than I expect and I slip one leg out onto the roof, desperate to get away.

‘What the hell are you doing?’

I spin round to see Tony standing in the bedroom doorway, arms folded. I stare at him and then turn back to the window. A robin on a tree in their back garden looks at me as if I’m the most stupid human on earth.

‘Running away isn’t going to help anyone,’ he says.

I don’t move. He’s right. I’ve made a mistake, thrown by the Jemma Huish development and the fact that she lived in this house. I just need to relax, trust the system.

‘I’m worried they’ll think I’m her,’ I say.

‘Listen, I dislike the cops more than most, but if you run now, you’re guilty. Period.’

I pull my leg in from the window and drop back into the bedroom, leaning against the window ledge. I’m embarrassed by my attempt to escape. It was the wrong move. Even the robin has flown off in disgust.

‘I’m sorry,’ I say. ‘I don’t know what I was thinking.’

‘It’s OK. We’ve all run away. It never helps.’

The room suddenly feels airless, intimate. As I pass him at the top of the stairs, he steps into my way and wraps his arms around me.

‘Here, let me give you a hug.’

I suppress my gut response to push him away and allow him to hold me. One, two, three seconds. And then I remove myself from his embrace. My breath shallowing, I follow him downstairs in silence and tell him I need the loo. After locking the door, I rest my forehead on the cold wall in front of me, close my eyes and try to think of the bodhi tree.

Forget My Name can be purchased here for only £2.48.

With thanks to Jade Gwilliam at Head of Zeus for organising the blog tour.

 

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

Talgarth School teacher, Clare Cassidy, is an expert on the author R. M. Holland and teaches his short story, The Stranger, as part of a course every year. When the body of her friend and colleague, Ella, is found at her home, suspicions arise when a quote from Holland is found alongside her horrific injuries. For many years an avid diary writer, Clare commits her feelings about Ella to paper only to find that there is some strange writing in her journal, writing that is not hers…

As a huge fan of the Ruth Galloway and Stephens & Mephisto series by Elly Griffiths, I could not wait to read this new standalone novel. When you love an author so much, there is always some slight trepidation, however, as to whether something new will live up to your expectations. This is Elly Griffiths – of course it did!

Although many books have the story told by multiple characters, I enjoyed the way the author used this device to retell events from different perspectives. First, we have Clare, the main protagonist. As the book progresses, we see her becoming more and more unnerved as she realises how interested the killer appears to be in her. Then, there is her daughter, Georgie. With an older boyfriend and a hidden interest in creative writing, does she know more about the crime than she is letting on? Finally, there is the detective investigating the case, D. S. Harbinder Kaur. An ex-Talgarth pupil herself, she is a great character who, despite the seriousness of the case, provides some very light-hearted moments.

While this could definitely be described as a murder-mystery plot, the inclusion of the mysterious diary entries and the ghostly undercurrent at the school, gives it a slight air of the supernatural. I admit to not being a huge fan of ‘ghost’ stories, but Elly Griffiths has provided just enough of this genre to make it a completely believable read. I particularly enjoyed reading the snippets of R. M. Holland’s The Stranger which were included throughout the book. This provided a Gothic feel and certainly helped to ramp up the tension.

The end of the book had a credible conclusion and, with hindsight, it became apparent that clues had been dotted throughout. The Stranger Diaries has a well-crafted, enjoyable plot and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page. Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year!

With thanks to Net Galley and Quercus for my ARC.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Implant by Ray Clark

Implant - Ray Clark

I’m really happy to be the latest stop on the blog tour for Implant, the third book in the Gardener and Reilly crime series by Ray Clark. Today, I am able to share an extract from this grisly serial killer story, and one that definitely leaves me wanting to read more! Warning – the extract contains swearing!

The Blurb

Bramfield, near Leeds, a sleepy little market town nestled on the borders of West and North Yorkshire. Detectives Stewart Gardener and Sean Reilly discover the naked corpse of Alex Wilson, nailed to the wall of a cellar in his uncle’s hardware store. His lips are sewn together and his body bears only one mark, a fresh scar near his abdomen.

Within forty-eight hours, their investigation results in dead ends, more victims, no suspects and very little in the way of solid evidence. Gardener and Reilly have a problem and a question on their hands: are the residents of Bramfield prepared for one of history’s most sadistic killers, The Tooth Fairy?

The Extract

4.

3:30 a.m.

Alex Wilson still had no idea what was going on, or the length of time he’d been wherever he was. In fact, he had no idea how long he had been awake: it could have been minutes, it could have been hours.

It was still pitch black, but whatever thoughts he’d harboured about his possible non-existent carcass were disappearing as feeling had begun to return.

And fucking hell did it hurt!

His first sensation was the feeling of pins and needles overtaking his entire body, as if the circulation had been stopped and then started again. All his limbs had felt heavy, and he’d felt sick. Within minutes that had turned to pain, proper pain, and the level was increasing with each passing second.

But he still couldn’t move. Not fully anyway. He knew there was something hard against his back, and it felt like his arms were stretched out. The slight movement he was allowed seemed to create a gap between the hard surface and his limb. But that was as far as he could go. The same could be said for his legs, a little movement and no more, as if his feet had been pinned, but by what he could not see because it was still too fucking dark!

Furthermore, something was stopping him opening his mouth. It wasn’t a gag, and it hadn’t been taped up, but he still couldn’t open it. He could only breathe through his nose.

What the hell was going on?

He’d managed to work out that he was vertical, because if he moved his head, it hung forward very easily and it preferred to stay there. Returning it took an effort, and it wouldn’t have done if he’d been lying down.

Had Lance Hobson given him something? Was he under the influence of some new and untested hallucinogenic drug that only Hobson knew about? Was he a guinea pig?

If it was a new kind of drug they were going to knock out, they had better do something with it. People wouldn’t come back for any more if they suffered symptoms like these.

Hobson was a dangerous bastard, a very rich, dangerous bastard who had everything simply because he had everyone else do his dirty work. Wasn’t that the way with the people at the top of the drug chain? They never sullied their own hands.

Alex went into a spasm as his whole carcass was wracked with a pain equivalent to nothing he’d ever felt before. It filled his entire body from head to foot, as if someone had pulled his fucking nerves through his skin and plugged them into the mains.

Alex twisted and writhed and still could not break free of whatever held him in position.

As his body calmed, he could feel himself bathed in sweat. He was shaking, and although the pain had subsided, his hands and feet continued to throb incessantly.

And then he heard something that momentarily distracted his thoughts.

Footsteps from above.

5.

3:40 a.m.

After telling Richard Jones to stay outside and keep an eye open for his colleagues, Gary stepped inside the shop.

Armitage’s hardware store was a shrine to the past. Moving from the doorway into the main area was like walking through a tunnel. Display boards on either side were crammed full with Hoover bags and belts and other accessories. In front of him was a stand with gardening products and implements, ranging from plant food and compost, to small trowels and forks.

He moved forward slowly, peering into the dark shop. From his vantage point, he could not see anything untoward. He listened carefully for any movement. There was nothing.

He glanced to his right and saw the counter in front of the back wall of the room. On the extreme left side, near a window – looking out onto what he presumed would be a back yard – was a lift-up hatch, which was down at the moment. Behind the counter he saw a cabinet with hundreds of drawers with brass handles on them. God only knew what they contained.

The store probably hadn’t changed in years, and seemed to stock everything anyone would need: tools, paint, varnish, wood, and tiles. If you could name it, old Armitage had it.

A range of smells pervaded the building, comfortable aromas that DIY enthusiasts would soak up every time they entered. The fragrance of pine was the strongest, and beneath the frame holding the lumber, the excess shavings supported the fact. He could smell polish, and linseed oil.

The ceiling had beams with old-fashioned arc lighting and copper shades, none of which were lit, and couldn’t possibly be helping the environment when they were. But he doubted old Armitage would believe that.

The only illumination Gary could see was a floor lamp. It resembled an ancient, upright mantle, around six feet tall and gun metal grey in colour; the type used in London streets in the early nineteenth century that ran on gas and had to be manually lit.

In his opinion, the lamp had been placed there deliberately, and had probably come from Armitage’s stock.

He gazed back around the interior to see if he could confirm that. A sudden movement caused Gary to jump, which in turn made him lose his balance. From there he crashed backwards into a stand with dustpans and mops and buckets and other cleaning materials. The sound seemed louder than anything he had ever heard in his life, one that could have woken half of Bramfield.

Mops, brushes, and buckets fell to the floor all around him, along with brand-named containers like Flash and CIF Cleaner. As he was about to move, one struck the corner of his eye. He lost his temper and yelled an obscenity.

“Are you okay in there?” shouted Richard Jones from the shop doorway.

Gary allowed the dust to settle before he quickly found his feet, desperate to keep the man from entering.

“I’m fine, but don’t come in. It could be a crime scene.”

“You don’t have to worry about me, son. I know about this kind of stuff, I’ve watched them all. Morse, Frost, The Bill…”

Doubt you’ve learned much, then, thought Gary.

As he glanced around he realized what had caused him to react like a tit:  the appearance of his own reflection in a mirror.

Disgusted with himself, he straightened his uniform and ran his hands up and down his body, clearing the wood shavings from his clothes.

Gary jumped again at the sound of a phone receiving a text message. He reached into his inside pocket, only to discover it hadn’t been his.

So whose was it?

He moved toward the counter. Under the light was a retro mobile with the screen lit up. Gary recognized the phone as a Nokia 101, only because he’d bought one from a car boot sale earlier in the year. He didn’t have to touch the phone to be able to read the message.

“The station at Bursley Bridge holds the key to a terrifying secret.”

He grabbed his police radio and contacted Cragg.

Ray Clark Author ImageAbout the Author

The British Fantasy Society published Ray Clark’s first work in 1995 – Manitou Man: The World of Graham Masterton, was nominated for both the World and British Fantasy Awards. In 2009, Ray’s short story, Promises To Keep, made the final shortlist for the best short story award from The Tom Howard Foundation. Ray is based in Goole, and has set his Gardener and Reilly crime series in nearby Leeds.

Social Media links:

Website: http://www.thelordofmisrule.net/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/T1LOM

With thanks to Urbane Publications and to Kelly Lacey from Love Books Group for organising the blog tour. Take a look at the rest of the tour:

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I Know You by Annabel Kantaria

Having recently moved to the UK from her native USA, Taylor is lonely. Her husband is at work most of the time and with her being heavily pregnant, she is finding it hard to make new friends. All seems to change, however, when she is invited by a neighbour to join a book club and she decides to take part in a local walking group. Has she finally found the friends she craves for or is one of them not exactly what they seem?

Before going any further, it would be useful in sharing the book’s blurb with you:

You trust me.

You shouldn’t.

That picture you just posted on Instagram? I’ve seen it.
The location you tagged? I’ve been there.

You haven’t been careful enough, have you?
Because I know all about you.

But when I meet you, I won’t tell you that.
I’ll pretend. Just like you do.

You’ll like me though. You’ll trust me enough to let me into your life.

And then I’ll destroy it.

Throughout the book, which is mainly told from Taylor’s perspective, we are privy to the thoughts of another, unknown character: the character from the blurb. From the outset, then, we realise that someone in Taylor’s life is not who they say they are and the author does a good job in introducing several characters who could, quite easily, be candidates for this dubious role. Could it be her newly-found friends at the walking group or one of the women at her book club? Aspersions are cast on all of these characters at different times in the book, helping to keep you guessing until all is revealed.

I liked the way the story was written in that although we know that there is a threat towards Taylor, she is blissfully unaware of what is going on around her. In most books of this genre, we are used to seeing the main protagonist becoming more and more paranoid as their world starts to implode. Here, however, she has no clue as to what is about to happen to her, meaning that it is a huge shock when it finally does!

Although I Know You is a fast-paced book anyway, once the event that the unknown character is preparing for finally takes place, I found I could just not put it down! It is difficult to say too much without revealing any spoilers, so all I will say is that I found the ending satisfying and worthy of the build up.

I am a big fan of Annabel Kantaria’s writing after reading The One That Got Away and The Disappearance, so I am pleased that I Know You lived up to my expectations. Highly recommended.

With thanks to HQ and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Lisa is protective of her daughter, Ava. Maybe over-protective. That’s what Ava thinks anyway. All Ava wants to do is spend time with her friends doing the sort of things other teenage girls do. She has a secret, though, and it is one that spells danger. Lisa, on the other hand, prefers to keep herself to herself, classing Marilyn, a work colleague, as her only friend. Both of these women also have secrets but which of them has a secret so dark that its discovery could change the life of everyone forever?

Sarah Pinborough’s previous book, Behind Her Eyes, was one of last year’s most talked about books, partly due to the #WTFthatending hashtag that was all over social media. It was a book that certainly divided opinion but as someone who really enjoyed it, I was excited to see what Sarah would come up with next.

Lisa and Marilyn are all incredibly flawed characters and it was easy to see how they found themselves drawn towards each other. While Marilyn’s secret is not too difficult to figure out, Lisa’s is truly shocking and not one I saw coming at all. This reveal turned the book on its head and made me question everything I had read. It is hard to say too much without giving away the plot but it is very clever writing from Sarah Pinborough to make you like and loathe a character at the same time.

Ava’s story was probably the one that disturbed me the most as, from the start, there was a sense of foreboding as she communicated with an unknown ‘friend’ on Facebook. Although it was inevitable that this liaison would come to no good, it was not in the way I expected. Another clever piece of writing that, once again, highlights the dangers of social media.

While Cross Her Heart does not make you gasp in the same way as Behind Her Eyes, there are definitely enough twists and turns to keep you guessing due to all of the secrets being kept by the three main protagonists. I loved how the author dropped in a bit of information almost in a blasé fashion, making me wonder if I’d somehow missed a bit of the plot, only for it to be addressed later.

Cross Her Heart is a great read. With thanks to Harper Collins UK and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

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