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**BLOG TOUR** The Woman Upstairs by Ruth Heald

When she finds out that she is pregnant, Katie feels apprehensive as she has not been with her partner, Ian, for long. Her fears are allayed, however, when he is thrilled about the pregnancy, even when it turns out that Katie is expecting twins. Alarm bells begin to ring, though, when the house she moves into isn’t the palace she was expecting, and Ian becomes difficult to contact. Paula, her new friend, seems like a godsend, providing her with care and support when she needs it most. With Ian and Paula at loggerheads and Katie caught in the middle not knowing who she can trust, she soon realises that someone is not being truthful. When the truth finally emerges, how will she protect her girls?

I am really happy to be on the blog tour for Ruth Heald’s latest book, The Woman Upstairs, even though I have just about got my breath back and my heart rate is beginning to return to normal! This is one of those books where there is that much happening on every page, you really don’t want to put it down! In The Woman Upstairs, practically every character in the book had a secret that they would prefer to keep hidden.

I found Katie to be an incredibly naive character and yet, at the same time, admired her courage as her world slowly imploded around her. In Ian, she feels that she has found someone who she can spend the rest of her life with, but the alarm bells were ringing right from the start. Disappearing when she is due to have her babies and leaving Katie to move into a dilapidated house when he is supposed to be a wealthy property developer, Ian was definitely not who he was claiming to be. I definitely had my suspicions, some of which were correct, but there was plenty more to be revealed about Ian and his past, much of it shocking.

If I had my suspicions about Ian, these were nothing compared to how I felt about Paula. Looking from the outside in, it was apparent that she was playing a huge game and that she was quickly getting under Katie’s skin. Acting as Katie’s doula, there was one scene, quite early in their ‘friendship’, that made me feel quite sick, and it was at this moment that I knew that Paula was not the woman she was claiming to be. As she slowly undermined Katie, driving a wedge between her and her loved ones, I could see how easy it was for the inexperienced new mother to be manipulated. At the same time, however, I yearned for Katie to just open her eyes and realise what she was allowing to happen to her!

Although there are many parts of The Woman Upstairs that can be predicted, this is a book full of so many twists and turns that just when you think you’ve got it, Ruth Heald hits you with something else to make you change your mind once again! This culminates in a shocking conclusion where Katie finally finds out the full extent of what has been happening around her.

If you are looking for a fast-paced read that will make you gasp out loud, The Woman Upstairs is the book for you!

With thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for my ARC and to Noelle Holten for organising the blog tour.

 

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**PROMO BLITZ** The First Lie by A J Park

I’m pleased to be one of the blogs taking part in the promo blitz for the new book by A. J. Park, The First Lie. If, like me, you’re a fan of a good psychological thriller then I’m sure this book will be right up your street. Take a look at the blurb and see for yourself:

We’ve all had sleepless nights thinking about it.
You’re home alone. Someone breaks in.
In defending yourself, you end up killing the intruder.
Now you’re the one the police want.

That is the situation that criminal barrister Paul Reeve arrives home to find.
His wife Alice stands in the bedroom, clutching a bloodied letter opener in her shaking hand.

“What have you done, Alice?”
“I didn’t have a choice…”

We would all believe the person we love most.
But would we all make the same choice Paul and Alice make next…?

If this has whetted your appetite, here is where you can pre-order the book, or you can download it now if you have an e-reader:

Pre-order Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Lie-addictive-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B07NLCMD44/

UShttps://www.amazon.com/First-Lie-addictive-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B07NLCMD44/

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-first-lie/a-j-park/9781409187424

Author Bio –

After studying literature, linguistics and Spanish at university, AJ Park trained as an English teacher and actor. He has edited magazines and taught English, Media Studies and Drama in secondary schools in England. He was also a competitive fencer for seven years.

 Social Media Links –

Twitter @AJParkauthor

Facebook KarlVadaszffy

www.karlvad.com

 

With thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources

One Year Later by Sanjida Kay

A year ago, Amy lost her daughter Ruby-May in a terrible accident. With the anniversary of her death looming, the family decide to go on holiday, away from the scene of the incident, to a place where, they hope, they can begin to heal the rifts that have happened since their loss. It soon becomes apparent, however, that all is not quite what it seems and there is at least one person hiding something that could change their perception of what exactly happened one year ago. Just exactly who caused Ruby-May’s death and what other secrets have been concealed over the years?

The tone is set from the very start when what seems to be the body of a woman is discovered. For the majority of the book, this is not mentioned, leaving me wondering who is was and how it fit in with the tragic death of Ruby-May one year earlier. By the time this is, again, referenced, we are aware that there is, indeed, a lot more to Ruby-May’s death than we realised and there has been a huge cover up to stop the real guilty party from coming to light.

We read the story from the perspectives of Amy, Ruby-May’s mum, and Nick, the dead girl’s uncle. Their grief is portrayed in different ways and was definitely one of the strengths of the book. In Amy, we see real visceral grief, struggling to come to terms with the death of her youngest child while trying to keep going for the sake of her two other children. The scene where she realises how much she neglected them in the weeks following the death was truly heartbreaking, more so because of the way the children dealt with the terrible situation.

Nick displayed his grief in a different way as he has been carrying around the guilt of not being there when Ruby-May died. His head full of ‘what ifs’, it is understandable why he is intent on trying to heal his family’s rifts, even if his good intentions often result in more unrest.

While it is obvious that the official version of the accident is not correct, and that there has definitely been a conspiracy of silence, I did not predict the ending. This is one of those books where you realise that you have been drip fed information throughout the plot, and the ending is completely in-keeping with what you have read. The several references to Dante’s The Divine Comedy are also very apt, with salvation and repentance being running themes in both texts.

I really enjoyed One Year Later and I thank Readers First and Corvus Books for my copy.

Take a look at my review of My Mother’s Secret, one of Sanjida Kay’s earlier books.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Home by Karen Osman

I am pleased to be part of the paperback blog tour for Karen Osman’s The Home. With plenty of 5-star ratings on Amazon, and with a previous book The Good Mother being such a fantastic read, this is definitely one to catch! It is my pleasure to be able to share a great extract with you.

 

 

It was the one place she should have been safe.

Angela was just a baby when she was abandoned, and a children’s home is no place to grow up. When manager Ray takes girls off to his ‘den’ in the garden, they always come back crying…

So, when wealthy couple James and Rosemary come to choose a child to adopt, Angela is desperate to escape.

Years later, Angela starts to search for her birth mother, Evelyn, hoping to heal the scars of her childhood. But strange and sinister events start to unfold. And Evelyn fears she may not survive her daughter’s return.

 

 

Angela

Angela squeezed herself onto the Tube, trying not to breathe in the smell of sweat from the bodies pressed up against her. This wasn’t where she wanted to be on the Friday night of the Summer Bank Holiday weekend, but her parents had invited her specifically. In fact, she had been slightly intrigued as to what may have prompted the invitation for her to spend the long weekend with them. Angela tried not to think too much about the Astoria nightclub. It would have been a brilliant night out and her friends had been talking about it for weeks. Angela wasn’t too bothered about the drugs, but she did like the music. When you worked in a stressful industry like law, you needed a release. Besides, she thought, she worked hard and she deserved a night out once every so often. Yet here she was, jammed on the Tube on the way to her parents’ home in Tetbury. It was a good two-hour journey from her office in central London and she was getting the 4.15 p.m. from Paddington, which had meant leaving work early. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been outside her law firm during working hours other than to grab a sandwich to eat at her desk. Normally, she’d be ensconced in her cubicle working at least a sixty-hour week, often going in on weekends as well.

Escaping the stifling odour of the underground at Paddington, Angela got on the mainline train, happy to have found a seat, and took a few moments to straighten her new Jaeger suit. The eye-catching shade of green was perhaps a little too much for the corporate environment of Kings Solicitors, but it went fabulously with her dark hair and she knew she pulled it off by the number of admiring glances she received. The tailored trousers and fitted jacket with shoulder pads were so flattering. Besides, she didn’t want to blend in with all the other associates in the office, and this was just one way to be remembered by clients and the senior partners. Satisfied with her appearance, Angela pulled out some papers from her bag and began to work.

*

Angela had her own key to her parents’ house, a pretty bungalow, built of traditional Cotswold stone, and as she let herself into her childhood home she inhaled the familiar aroma: a mixture of clean washing, fresh flowers, and the trailing scent of her mother’s Estée Lauder perfume.

It was a few moments before she became aware of the stillness. She was used to the television being on or her mum talking animatedly on the phone about one of her various committees. Leaving her key and overnight bag in the hallway, Angela walked curiously through to the living room. Her mum and dad were sitting next to each other on the sofa, holding hands, and talking quietly.

‘Hello, darling! We didn’t hear you come in!’ Her mum got up to embrace her and Angela gave her a perfunctory kiss on the cheek. Normally, she would drop down on the sofa, complaining about the journey, but there was something about her mum that evening that made her think twice.

Pre-order links:

 Amazon: https://amzn.to/2M50ma4

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2LmFsya

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2ErDoUc

iBooks: https://apple.co/2VZ8rRX

 

With thanks to Aria and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

**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:

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.

 

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