The Stranger – Blog Tour

Cornwall, 1940.

In the hushed hours of the night, a woman is taken by the sea.

Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?

In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall.

Each is looking to escape her past.

But one of them is not there by choice.

As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface.

And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . .

In a house full of strangers, who do you trust?

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Was it simply a tragic accident? Or should the inhabitants of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?

If you’re pining for Poldark and love a historical epic, then The Stranger might be something to fill the gap. For decades, Penhallow Hall has stood frozen in time, protecting the secrets of its isolated inhabitants. I love books that transport me in time and place and I read this during the snow we’ve just had – totally losing myself in 1940s Cornwall and Kate Riordan’s fantastic sense of place in this immersive read.

But even beautiful Cornwall is no shelter from the war, and Penhallow must finally open its doors to strangers. This book is set in 1940 and we hear about the nightly blackouts and the constant fear of a Nazi invasion, as three land girls arrive to grow vegetables at Penhallow. I really enjoy it when books let me see a historical period through the eyes of characters from very different perspectives and the fact that the three new arrivals all have very different personalities and motivation for coming to Cornwall really kept me engrossed.

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The Stranger opens with a church bell clanging to announce the body of a young woman on the beach and we discover how this mysterious event came about as the novel unfolds. Each of the succeeding chapters form a timeline going back six weeks where we slowly learn more about how each of these characters’ backstories might have led to this mysterious drowning.  This narrative form was very more-ish and several nights kept me up much later than I’d intended with a real sense of ‘just one more chapter…’

 

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The strong plotting and skilful characterisation combine to draw you into a story bursting with secrets and Rose, Jane and Diana’s distinct voices all combine to keep you turning the pages. I really liked the fact that Diana was a really strong character whose persistence and headstrong nature certainly creates conflict in the story and adds to the feeling of suspense as we follow events to their tragic conclusion. It’s hard to write about The Stranger with no spoilers, but I’ve tried really hard as this is a book that you really need to experience for yourself. 

If you like Daphne du Maurier or Lucinda Riley, you’ll love this book and I know that my mum’s definitely going to be pinching it from me for her holidays. I’d like to thank Jenny Platt  at Michael Joseph for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour, I’m sure you’ll agree it looks absolutely gorgeous in my #OnTheShelfie

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Writer on the Shelf

Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist who was born in London and grew up in Warwickshire. She spent her first years in journalism as a staffer, first at The Guardian as an editorial assistant and later at Time Out London, where she went on to become deputy editor for the lifestyle section, covering everything from travel to property to beauty. After seven fantastic years of weird and wonderful assignments, she decided to go freelance in order to concentrate on writing fiction, which had for a long time been an ambition (not least when she was interviewing authors for Time Out).

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After moving to Cheltenham in the Cotswolds, she wrote Birdcage Walk, which was published by Diversion as an ebook in 2012. Her second novel sold to Penguin in the UK and HarperCollins in the US and Canada, and was published in early 2015 – as The Girl in the Photograph and Fiercombe Manor respectively. A German edition will follow in the autumn of 2015. She is now hard at work on her next novel, a dual narrative story full of secrets and intrigue and moving between the years 1877, 1910 and 1922.

Kate lives in the Gloucestershire countryside with her husband and their dog Morris, a Staffordshire bull terrier they adopted from a shelter in 2013.

Kate Riordan’s website

 

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Twin Truths Blog Tour

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What is the truth?

And how do you recognise it when you hear it?

Jenny and Pippa are twins. Like many twins, they often know what the other is thinking. They complete each other. When Pippa disappears Jenny is left to face the world alone, as she tries to find out what happened to her ‘other half.’ But the truth, for Jenny, can be a slippery thing.

 

As an English teacher, I was intrigued by the premise of a book featuring an English teacher too. Add that to the fact that I love books with twins in – probably blaming Sweet Valley High for that  – and I absolutely loved the last Shelan Rodger book I read, and it’s safe to say that I was really looking forward to Twin Truths…

This book grabbed me and pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the twin structure of the book: that we get to hear about events from both Jenny and her twin sister Pippa’s perspective and this really added to the story for me. Their childhood has had a massive impact on the way that they have developed as people and the childhood damage has affected them both very differently – we see that even though they are twins, they have developed very different coping mechanisms.

We see one sister losing herself in studying and pursuing a solitary academic pathway whereas her twin  chooses to lose herself more hedonistically,  seeking excitement and dangerous pastimes, in order to escape from the hurt which she has been exposed to.

Both sisters have very distinct voices which really emphasises the way that our early experiences can have hugely different effects on how we develop as adults. Even though Twin Truths deals with very challenging issues, they never threaten to dominate the story and the sisters feel very much like real people – rather than mechanisms to explore an issue – which I’ve often found in novels which want to look at the way we respond to trauma or tragedy.

Shelan Rodger is an excellent writer – it’s hard to talk about this novel without spoilers, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. You will be intrigued by  Jenny’s life in Argentina and want to read on and find out exactly what has led to Pippa’s vanishing and how Jenny will deal with this situation. Pippa’s ‘half’ of the novel goes a long way towards making us understand Jenny and the way she reacts to events as they unfold.

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I really liked the way that Twin Truths asks us to look at events from these ‘twin’ perspectives and re-see them, once we have a greater understanding of everything that the girls have been through in order for us to reevaluate our understanding of what ‘the truth’ actually is.

This isn’t just a straightforward thriller or mystery. Twin Truths goes a little deeper than that and asks us to think about the way that our personalities evolve through, because of and despite our experiences and who we can trust with our truths. The third part of the novel makes us rethink again everything that we’ve discovered in the first two sections and will leave you turning the pages, desperate to find out exactly how this fantastic read will end.

Anyone interested in family relationships, psychology and human emotions will love Shelan Rodger’s new novel. I loved Yellow Room and had really high hopes for Twin Truths and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. Even though this book touched on dark and difficult subject matters at times, it was dealt with very sensitively and never felt exploitative or sensational in the slightest.

Twin Truths was a book that I know I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally immersed in its characters, its pace and the way it really made me think. I can’t wait to see what Shelan Rodger does next. The idea that the opposite of truth isn’t necessarily a lie is a very intriguing one and I think that Twin Truths woud make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion…

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Twin Truths was published by Dome Press on the 15th March 2018.

Many thanks to lovely Emily from Dome Press for inviting me to join this blog tour and for my copy of the book for this review.

Writer on the Shelf

Shelan’s life is a patchwork of different cultures. Born in Nigeria, she grew up among the Tiwi, an aboriginal community in Australia, and moved to England at the age of eleven. After graduating in Modern Languages from Oxford, she travelled to Argentina, where she spent nine years teaching and setting up a language school. Another chapter in England was followed by six years in Kenya, where she got involved in learning and development, with an emphasis on anti-discrimination. She now lives in Spain, working in international education – and writing.

 

 

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Beneath the Water – Blog Tour

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Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past…

Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected.

At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by a string of tragic deaths. No less intriguing is its eccentric and handsome young owner, Jamie Munro, who hires Stella as his assistant while he pursues a seemingly impossible aim. Working through the great house’s archives, Stella soon finds herself drawn in by a cache of increasingly erratic letters from a young Victorian woman about her husband, Dr James Lockhart, a man whose single-minded ambition has strange parallels with Jamie’s.

Just as Stella begins developing feelings for Jamie, she discovers that the connection between the Lockharts and the Munros could have sinister repercussions for them both. She’s finally found the life she wants to live—but is it all an illusion?

 

As soon as I read the blurb from Anne Cater about Beneath the Water I was sold! I absolutely love reading books set in areas that I’ve visited and the fact that this book was set in Scotland, to boot meant that I didn’t hesitate for a minute. Receiving the book was a real pleasure as its gorgeous cover is absolutely stunning, like a Monet painting in its washed blue tones and its matt cover makes it tactile as well as beautiful to look at.

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I loved the character of Stella and thoroughly enjoyed this blend of modern-day mystery and historical flashes that permeate the story. I found the snippets from the perspective of Jessie Lockwood thoroughly intriguing and I was kept guessing about how the modern and the historic elements of this novel would come together by the end of this tale.

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This novel is set in the remote and beautiful Arisaig and all I can say is – if you have never been, you will definitely be tempted after finishing this novel. Life in the village is very vividly recreated and you definitely will feel like you’re immersing yourself in the life of the village alongside Stella as she heads north to get over her soul-destroying breakup.  If you’ve ever driven past a remote beautiful house and wondered what stories lie behind its gates then this is definitely the novel for you.

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Stella’s fascination with Munro House and its mysterious owner Jamie Munro are very credibly portrayed and even his stranger preferences – such as getting her to sign a non-disclosure agreement – are handled well and make him even more intriguing for the reader. Stella is a strange mixture of vulnerability and strength and I found this really appealing. Being holed up in your best friend’s house when your life has been turned upside down is a dreadful experience – because I’ve been there!

Sarah Painter develops her characters so well that you really begin to root for Stella whose heart condition meant that her early years were very uncertain – and hope that her heart will be healed in this beautiful and remote location. The local gossip and whisperings as soon as she lands a job with the mysterious Jamie are also very well handled and makes you very definitely rooting for Stella to make it out the other side of her disastrous breakup with Ben.

The historical element to the story is also very well handled. It really kept me wondering how the glimpses of the past would connect with present-day Munro House and I loved the insights we got from Jessie’s letters into how different things were in the past and how much for women has changed since Jessie’s time. As a personal side note, I was born in Simpson’s maternity hospital in Edinburgh, named after James Young Simpson so I loved hearing about him in the novel and felt that this has personal resonance for me

I absolutely loved Beneath the Water. I feel like the setting, the character of Stella and the connections I felt with the book all made this a fantastic reading experience for me. Romance isn’t a genre that I’m drawn to, but the historical dimension and the mystery of Munro House made this book a real page-turner for me.

I’d like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and I’m looking forward to seeing what my fellow bloggers thought of it later Sarah Painter has written several other novels so I’m off to decide which one to order next as I really enjoyed this my trip to Arisaig and I’ll be recommending it to my mum who’s a big fan of a historical read and I’m sure she has a few memories of Simpson’s Maternity hospital herself…

 

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Writer on the Shelf

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Before writing books, Sarah Painter worked as a freelance magazine journalist, blogger and editor, combining this ‘career’ with amateur child-wrangling (AKA motherhood).

Sarah’s debut, The Language of Spells, became a Kindle bestseller and was followed by The Secrets of GhostsThe Garden of Magic and In The Light of What We See.

Sarah Painter’s website

Sarah Painter on Twitter

 

Fabulous interview with Sarah by the lovely Joanne at Portobello Book Blog

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Zelda aged 10 weeks

 

Sarah lives in rural Scotland with her children, husband, and a grey tabby called Zelda Kitzgerald.

She drinks too much tea, loves the work of Joss Whedon, and is the proud owner of a writing shed.

The Dark Lake – Dive in at your peril!

The-Dark-LakeA hot summer. A shocking murder. A town of secrets, waiting to explode… A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses.

 

Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before.

But that’s not all Gemma’s trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim’s past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried.

The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths

The Dark Lake opens with a dead body in a lake – a body which is soon identified as popular teacher Rosalind Ryan.  The news shakes the town of Smithson to its core especially detective Gemma Woodstock who we discover was at school with Rosalind. Fans of  The Dry will already be loving the sound of Sarah Bailey’s debut novel and what’s not to love? A small Australian town, a mysterious death and buried secrets make for an engrossing and atmospheric read that will keep you gripped until its conclusion.

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The Beast from the East was a pain in the neck, but every cloud has a silver lining and three days at home to devote to reading meant that The Dark Lake has been read from cover to cover by all three members of this household with a resounding thumbs up from all concerned.  I loved the atmospheric writing and a sense that we are right alongside Gemma as she uncovers things lurking beneath the surface in Smithson.

It is a testament to Sarah Bailey’s writing that the small town atmosphere of rumour and grudges is vividly brought to life on the page and we follow Gemma and partner Felix McKinnon as they investigate the life of Rosalind to get a better picture of how she lived her life. They are curious about her decision to return to the small town in the first place – what or who has drawn her back and has this got anything to do with her demise? After all, why would anyone want to murder Rosalind?  Finding out what lurks under the peaceful outer appearance of Smithson was definitely one of this novel’s strengths and I very much enjoyed their efforts to get to the truth – no matter how murky things got.

We also discover that even back in the day, when they were students together, Gemma never really felt like she knew the ‘real’ Rosalind. There is a touch of the Laura Palmer here in the way that an ordinary small town can be hiding so much and the slow reveal was equally satisfying – if a little less bizarre, obviously.  Gemma and Felix are perplexed by a fair few aspects of Gemma’s life in the modern day too – why for example did she take up residence in a far from salubrious apartment when her dad was clearly very wealthy? For someone who seemed so beloved by the town the only thing that seems clear about Gemma’s investigation is that everything seems very unclear as far as Rosalind is concerned…

Add Gemma’s own secrets into the mix and the pressure soon begins to simmer as we follow her deeper and deeper into the town’s hidden heart. No-one here is entirely blameless and you will definitely enjoy working out whose version of events seems closest to the truth as the investigation gets more and more complex.

The Dark Lake is first and foremost a blooming good read.  Sarah Bailey’s debut novel reads like the work of someone far more established and her setting is fantastically well realised. It almost feels like True Crime at times – praise indeed from me – as you get so absorbed in the story and really want to see where it takes you and find the truth about Rosalind’s death.

 

I heartily recommend it and would like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour and sending me a copy, how cute does it look in today’s #OnTheShelfie?

If you fancy reading it yourself – and I really think you should then you can buy yourself a copy here

Can’t wait to see what Gemma investigates next and will be sure to keep an eye on Sarah Bailey as we all enjoyed reading it a great deal.

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Writer On The Shelf

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Sarah’s first novel, The Dark Lake, was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in May 2017 and in the USA and Canada in October.


Sarah lives in Melbourne, Australia and has two young sons.


She has fifteen years experience in the advertising industry and is currently a director at creative projects company Mr Smith.

Sarah’s second book, Into The Night, featuring Detective Gemma Woodstock, will be published in 2018.

 

Website http://www.sarahbaileyauthor.com/

Twitter: @sarahbailey1982

If you liked the sound of The Dark Lake, you might enjoy hearing what these fab fellow bloggers had to say about it…

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The Perfect Girlfriend – Take Off for Blog Tour!

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HER LOVE IS A DEADLY OBSESSION

Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight
attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.
Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she’ll make sure no one stops her from
getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

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The course of true love never ran smoothly, but the (flight) path of this novel is as twisty and skilful as any you’ve read this year. I guarantee that you’ll need to strap yourself in and get ready for an unforgettable read once you’ve checked in with Karen Hamilton for her debut novel…

If you love an unforgettable narrator who will really get under your skin and whose voice will stay with you for a long time after you’ve ‘safely landed’ after reading then look no further. Once you’ve boarded this novel, you won’t want the journey to end.

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Juliette – or Lily as Nate knew her when they were involved – is the kind of narrator that really comes alive for you as you read. In her relationship with handsome pilot Nate, she  explains how she did her very damndest to be indispensable. Whatever Nate wanted, Juliette obliged. She was a Stepford Wife in the making providing gourmet meals, fabulous dinner parties and being a scintillating and enthusiastic companion in all his hobbies to boot.

The prologue – set back in 2000 – really sets the scene and allows us to see glimpses of a much younger Juliette/ Lily. The earlier scenes allow us an insight into the way she thinks and paves the way for us to see how the novel unfolds.

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After all of her efforts, it’s not hard to see exactly why Juliette is so aggrieved to be shunted off to a rented flat miles away, paid for as a ‘parting gift’ now that Nate has decided that she hasn’t quite made the grade and has moved on without her.

Juliette’s decision to ‘seize the day’ rather than take things lying down and retrain as an air hostess for Nate’s airline is just the start of the adventures and believe me, there’s never a dull moment in this book! Juliette is a fantastic character, she’s totally lacking moral scruples but all the better a character for it! It’s hard to believe that this is Karen Hamilton’s debut novel as it’s such a great read. The plot zips along at a cracking pace and the dark humour here makes you – if not quite admire Juliette – certainly be impressed at her imagination as she seeks a way to make sure that she gets what she wants!

hand-airplane-air-lin-love-windowI’m no fan of books being painted as ‘The next…’ and we’re all sick I’m sure, of seeing books compared with The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. This definitely isn’t ‘The Girl in The Skies’ – it’s not trying to be anything else, it’s perfectly happy being its own dark delicious self.  I’d actually love to see it on screen and will be dragging people along with me to see Juliette in the flesh! If you like your heroines flawed, gutsy and full of drive, then you’re going to LOVE Juliette. Her endless resourcefulness and limitless imagination will certainly keep you entertained as you make your way through this novel – all too quickly, I might add as I could have certainly stayed on board with Juliette for the long haul!

Juliette’s character has stayed with me and I can’t wait for more people to read The Perfect Girlfriend so that I can chat about that ENDING with them. You know that I hate spoilers so I’ve tried hard to avoid mentioning exactly how this charming sociopath goes about winning Nate back – but suffice to say, there’s never a dull moment as Juliette’s motto might be ‘The sky’s the limit’ when it comes to getting back your man.

 

Thanks so much to Anne Cater for sending me this book to review for the blog tour – I absolutely love taking part in Anne’s tours and look forward to seeing what she thinks of the books too. If you haven’t read her review you can find it here

The other thing I have to point out here is how GORGEOUS the blog tour poster is – complete with our own fabulous wee aeroplanes highlighting our stops on the tour

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Here are some of the verdicts from some of my favourite writers – you can see how excited they are about The Perfect Girlfriend and I can only say they’re absolutely right!

“BRILLIANT AND TERRIFYING”

— FIONA CUMMINS

“ONE OF THE BEST TWISTED NARRATORS I’VE EVER READ. PERFECT INDEED!”

— C.J.TUDOR, AUTHOR OF THE CHALK MAN

“I GENUINELY COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN – JULIETTE IS SUCH A COMPELLING CHARACTER. TOTALLY GRIPPING AND THRILLINGLY DIFFERENT. I LOVED IT.”

— LAURA MARSHALL, AUTHOR OF FRIEND REQUEST
Writer on the Shelf:
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I caught the travel bug after an early childhood spent abroad (Angola, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy) and have worked as cabin crew for a major airline. In 2006, my husband and I put down roots in Hampshire and four years ago, I gave up flying to raise our three sons and concentrate on my writing. Now that they are a little older, I’ve begun travelling again (as and when it’s possible) and enjoy exploring places through their fresh eyes.

The Perfect Girlfriend is my first novel (due Spring 2018). It is a psychological thriller about a sociopathic flight attendant, Juliette Price. The book is rooted in my work experience, but not autobiographical! I realised early on in my flying career, that the moment I changed out of uniform, I became anonymous. It made me think about the identities behind uniforms and work personas and became an idea that would later help create my protagonist.

When Juliette is dumped by her pilot boyfriend, Nate, her dreams of a ‘happy ever after’ are thrown into jeopardy. She vows to win him back, whatever it takes. She surreptitiously embeds herself into his life by adopting a new persona and securing a position as a flight attendant with the same airline. However, these are only the first steps in her master plan as she reveals just how far one woman will go to achieve her dreams.

Treat yourself to a copy of The Perfect Girlfriend

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Karen Hamilton’s website

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