Reasons to be Cheerful Blog Tour Nina Stibbe

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‘When people in the village heard I was about to start working in the city they tried to unsettle me with tales of woe. The sun, blotted out by the tall buildings, couldn’t shine and the rain was poisoned by the toxic fumes that poured from the sock factories. My skin would be covered in pimples from the hell of it all’

So begins a young woman’s journey to adulthood. Lizzie Vogel leaves her alcoholic, novel-writing mother and heads for Leicester to work for a racist, barely competent dentist obsessed with joining the Freemasons.

Soon Lizzie is heading reluctantly, if at top speed, into the murky depths of adult life: where her driving instructor becomes her best friend; her first boyfriend prefers birdwatching to sex and where independence for a teenage girl might just be another word for loneliness.

In Reasons to Be Cheerful Nina Stibbe shows her extraordinary gift for illuminating the vital details which make us human. She is that rare writer who makes us laugh whilst reminding us of the joy, and the pain, of being alive.

Am so happy to be on today’s Blog Tour of #ReasonsToBeCheerful today and it’s an actual tour today because I’m posting this from gorgeous Northumberland this morning on the Easter break. It’s wonderful to be curled up with a great book after a windy walk. The wood burning stove is lit and the rugby is scheduled.

I’m feeling in seventh heaven with an abundance of #ReasonsToBeCheerful myself. Thank you so much to Ellie Hudson from Penguin Books for inviting me on the tour, it has been a great way to kick off my holidays!

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I absolutely loved this book. It’s a warm and uplifting read that will genuinely draw you into its community and name you feel part of Lizzie’s crazy and memorable word as she tries to navigate adult life and all the curveballs that it throws her.

Lizzie was a fantastic character that you can totally believe in. When I was reading about her strike for independence and the many areas to navigate as she tries to throw herself into adult life, it’s an easy sentiment to connect with – I’m sure lots of you will have had that feeling when you think you’re a lot more grown-up than you actually are and end up in situations that you could never have anticipated. The job working for a dentist sounds very different on paper than the reality and you will be creasing up, hearing about some of the situations she finds herself caught up in.

Lizzie’s blossoming friendship with her driving instructor and other assorted oddities is one of the best things about this book. You will have had lots of these moments yourself where you’ve ended up finding things in common with people you’d never have imagined and this coming -of -age tale does it so much better than most. I loved Nina’s autobiographical writing and there is much here that will resonate here in her fiction if you are a fan of Love, Nina

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Even if you haven’t encountered her other fictional work, Man at the Helm and Paradise Lodge there is much to love here and since this is the period that I grew up in myself, I really loved the nostalgia I found in its pages. There were loads of moments in Lizzie’s stumbling towards adulthood that I really connected with – her odd reflections and off-the-cuff comments are totally unique and I found her absolutely hilarious. Her romance with Andy is sweet, engaging and laugh-out-loud funny and there are plenty of awkward and memorable moments as they try and engage in a grown-up relationship despite their shyness and uncertainties.

Even though this is the third in a trilogy, it can totally be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone too. Nina is one of my favourite writers of social comedy and I think that just like Adrian Mole absolutely  ‘got it’ in terms of capturing the teenage male voice – Lizzie is an absolutely pitch-perfect rendition of a girl coming of age with all its associated uncertainties and dramas.

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Nina Stibbe wrote this book from the heart, and it shows.  It presents a picture of a unique, hilarious and memorable young woman and captures a moment in time perfectly in 1980s adolescence. I would absolutely love to see this fabulous trilogy on our screens in the future. When you read the ‘roll of honour’ below, you’ll see that there are so many fans of her writing that are far more eminent than myself – so you don’t just have to take MY word for it…

 

Buy yourself a copy here and enjoy meeting Lizzie and her collection of weird and wonderful characters for yourself.

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My friends, you will UTTERLY ADORE Nina Stibbe’s latest novel Reasons To Be Cheerful . . .It is SO SO funny, charming, odd-in-the-best-way and gorgeously uplifting! A delight from start to finish(Marian Keyes)

I read all of Reasons To Be Cheerful last night in one GLORIOUS gulp and it’s SUCH a joy – Nina Stibbe turns out more perfect, sharp, unique sentences than anyone else in the game. It just CARTWHEELS (Caitlin Moran)

Reasons To Be Cheerful is just the read you need right now, seamlessly weaving together the big themes of life with charm and warmth (Stylist)

The true heir to Sue Townsend (Caitlin Moran)

Very few writers can find the delicate balance between heartbreak and hilarity like Nina Stibbe (Red Magazine)

This made me laugh and broke my heart, it’s a gorgeous, profound, tender book about growing up and discovering that other humans are charming, obnoxious, enlightening and odd. I think Stibbe is one of the all-time greats (Daisy Buchanan)

Writer On The Shelf

Reasons to be Cheerful is Nina Stibbe’s latest book. She is also the author of award-winning Love, Nina – which was adapted for TV by the BBC – and the much-acclaimed Man at the Helm, Paradise Lodge, and An Almost Perfect Christmas. Born in Leicester, she now lives in Cornwall.

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Disturbance Blog Tour

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You don’t know what’s going on in Sara’s house… Or in her head.
Sara is lonely. No one talks to her – not even her bad-tempered workaholic husband or her two beloved sons. Her solace is her house, the biggest in the village, hidden away behind high hedges.
Then she strikes up a friendship with Katie, a college student living nearby, and a new world opens up. Her neighbours have been dying to get to know her, and they rush to help when Sara is devastated by a terrible accident.
But nothing is quite what it seems. And when new betrayals and shocking revelations disturb her peace, Sara realises she has no choice: she must act to protect the safety of those she loves.

 

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“It is such a strange, uncomfortable, bleakly, horribly funny sort of book. It let me know something was frighteningly off kilter from the first page, but not what it was until very near the end. The voice is such a wonderfully odd thing – sinister and droll, arch and cold at the same time – I can’t quite see how she pulled it off. So subtly done, and well achieved, and horrifyingly, hilariously believable – just the blackest of delights.” Jenn Ashworth, author of Fell

“There’s such a powerful mood of unease about Disturbance. I read through my fingers, praying my suspicions weren’t true…” Louise Candlish, author of Our House

“A massively enjoyable book – creepy, funny, surprising and absolutely unputdownable. My only wish is that I hadn’t finished it so quickly.”Daisy Waugh

“I raced through it. Dark, tense and very twisty.” Tamsin Grey, author of She’s Not There

“The tension doesn’t let up – taut all the way through with a creeping sense of horror as it unfolds, and the end is positively chilling.” Harriet Tyce, author of Blood Orange

 

As a real fan of a Gothic read I was intrigued by the premise of this book featuring a mysterious house and shocking revelations. I was delighted to be invited on the tour by the lovely Kate Keehan and couldn’t wait to see if it was as twisty as I expected

This book definitely did not disappoint, it grabbed me and pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book: that we get to hear about events from both a scary and a darkly humorous perspective and this really added to the story for me. Sara’s loneliness has had a massive impact on the way that she perceives events and her coping mechanisms start to unravel as the novel unfolds.

I absolutely loved the unique voice in this novel and definitely found it quite addictive. It was intriguing to see which voice would come through as Sara could be equally darkly hilarious or menacing from one moment to the next

Even though Disturbance deals with domestic issues and village life, it does it in an original way which makes the story linger at the edges of our consciousness even when we aren’t reading it. The characters all  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.

Marianne Kavanagh is an intriguing new 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 Sara’s situation and want to read on and find out exactly what is behind these unfolding revelations . It’s not one of these ‘keep looking for the big twist’ stories that people are getting a little bored of now. It is just that things start to appear through the murk and you’ll not be able to believe you never noticed them before – a little like a magic eye painting…

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Disturbance goes a little deeper 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 secrets. The third part of the novel makes us rethink again everything that we’ve discovered in the first section and will leave you turning the pages, desperate to find out exactly how this clever portrait of an ‘ordinary life’  will end.

Anyone interested in family relationships, psychology and human emotions will love Marianne Kavanagh’s new novel. I  had really high hopes for Disturbance and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. Even though this book touched on dark and bleak  subject matters at times, it was dealt with very competently and originally and never felt derivative or ‘same old’ same old

Disturbance 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 Marianne Kavanagh does next. The idea that village life can be a lot darker than you might think on the surface  is a very intriguing one and look how long the Archers has been running – it’s clearly a rich mine of intrigue, drama and deception. and I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion…

Buy yourself a copy here if you want to get to the heart of the mystery 

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Writer On The Shelf

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Marianne Kavanagh is an author and journalist.

She has worked for Woman, the Tatler, the Sunday Telegraph magazine and British Marie Claire, and has contributed features to a wide variety of national newspapers, magazines and websites.

She has three grown-up children in their twenties – a journalist, a stand-up comic and a textiles designer.

She lives in south-east London with her husband Matt and two extraordinarily annoying cats.

The Taking of Annie Thorne

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Then…

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie.

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

Now. . .

The email arrived in my inbox two months ago. I almost deleted it straight away, but then I clicked OPEN:

I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again . . .

‘Confirms Tudor as Britain’s female Stephen King. There is a creeping dread on every page’ Daily Mail

‘Shows that her excellent The Chalk Man was no one-off in matching Stephen King for creepiness’ Sunday Express’s Bestseller Predictions 2019

‘Written with such skill it’s hard to believe this is only her second book. It gives King a run for his money’ James Oswald, author of the Inspector McLean series

‘Dark, gothic and utterly compelling’ J. P. Delaney, author of Believe Me and The Girl Before

‘Deliciously creepy . . . An absolute corker of a book’ Riley Sager, bestselling author of The Last Time I Lied 

‘Tudor’s 2018 The Chalk Man was a standout mystery novel with a fresh voice and a spooky plot. This is even better’ Washington Post

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If I were to tell you that I was excited to receive #TheTakingofAnnieThorne, it’d seriously be one of the hugest understatements of my life. I absolutely loved The Chalk Man and I could not wait to ‘tear open my bookpost and get straight into C.J Tudor’s next read. She has an incredible gift for grabbing you by the lapels and pulling you right into her stories and I literally barely looked up until I’d turned the final page.

I love the way that C.J Tudor’s books give us a diverse range of voices so that we build up a steady accumulation of detail, just like you would in real life. I’m a real true-crime junkie and this definitely filled the gap that Serial, S-Town and Making a Murderer have left in my life. Annie’s disappearance is another  fantastic tale that you really feel comes alive as you uncover more and more details about the background to it as the novel unfolds In the same way that I felt a strong connection with Adnan after reading Serial, I really felt like I’d come to know this family by the final page and although I’m firmly committed to my ‘No Spoilers’ rule, I can’t wait to have a good chat with someone else who’s read #TheTakingofAnnieThorne so that we can mull over it together and talk about what a fantastic creation it is.

It’s even the kind of book that is a physical pleasure to read – the gorgeous cover and the striking design mean that #TheTakingofAnnieThorne appeals to all of your senses at once – it’s not just the story that made me love it so much but the book as an actual physical object.  I loved the creepy paper doll and got loads of questions about it when I was reading it on the train.

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As a fellow teacher, I found Joe Thorne to be a fantastic character – and I felt like Arnhill really came alive for me through this story. I absolutely love the way that the mining town background added to the narrative and in terms of making the setting play a real part in the story, C.J Tudor has definitely succeeded.  I am a huge fan of Stephen King as a writer and like his novels, this feels absolutely real in every way and I almost feel like I am able to walk these streets with Joe and see the town and its secrets through his eyes – it really is so evocative and skillfully realised.

I also liked the way that like the very best crime novels– C.J Tudor allows space for our own feelings and responses. The circumstances around Annie’s disappearance are not tied up in a neat little package with the ‘why’ on top tied up with a pretty pink bow. There is enough room for us to ask ourselves questions about who we believe and why that makes #TheTakingofAnnieThorne such an involving and ultimately rewarding experience.  I found myself genuinely being convinced to see things from a constantly shifting perspective as the novel bore me towards the conclusion and this was a rollercoaster ride that I definitely didn’t want to get off…

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This book has a little bit of everything – mystery, a ‘true crime’ feel, a fresh and interesting structure, credible characters and a real sense of chill and menace. As you can probably tell, I loved #TheTakingofAnnieThorne and felt like sleeping with the light on for about four days after reading it. It is a book that you’ll want to pass on to other people so that they’ll have had the same experience you did, reading it for the first time.  Buy a copy here so that you can find out how brilliant it is for yourself

I’d like to thank the lovely Jenny Platt for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, it was such a privilege to spread the book love for a book that I loved reading so much. I bloody love this book and cannot recommend it enough. I’m really jealous of all the people who’ve still got the pleasure of reading it and The Chalk Man ahead of them. Get out there and experience these fabulous reads for yourself as soon as you can!

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Writer On The Shelf

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C. J. Tudor lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.

Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in thirty-nine territories

The Conviction of Cora Burns Blog tour

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To believe in her future, she must uncover her past…

Birmingham, 1885.

Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her.

Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood. Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?

With the power and intrigue of Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions and Sarah Schmidt’s See What I Have Done, Carolyn Kirby’s stunning debut takes the reader on a heart-breaking journey through Victorian Birmingham and questions where we first learn violence: from our scars or from our hearts.

I was so excited to receive a copy of Carolyn Kirby’s fantastic #TheConvictionOfCoraBurns after being obsessed with historical fiction this month that I literally read it in a single sitting…

Ever since seeing this gorgeous and eye-catching cover on Twitter, I felt a connection with this book and as soon as I knew Anne Cater was organising a tour for #TheConvictionOfCoraBurns, I was straight on to her to let me read and review it

The fact that #TheConvictionOfCoraBurns takes Cora’s story and weaves such a compelling narrative around it is something which I especially loved about this book. I read it straight after  The Confessions of Frannie Langton and I really enjoyed the exploration into the ‘story behind the story’ in both cases by dipping into actual history books to explore the background to these novels that feel real, even though their characters are fictional.

#TheConvictionOfCoraBurns is the kind of novel that draws you in and makes you inhabit its world for the whole time you are reading it.  Reading about women connected across time with lives and experiences that you are distant from yet drawn to and whose stories you can travel into effortlessly is so satisfying. Carolyn Kirby writes Cora and Violet so convincingly that you really feel that you’ve spent time in their worlds, making it very hard to pull yourself away. It’s a novel that I really got obsessed with and found it difficult to pull myself away from.

The fact that the novel mixes snippets of ‘factual’ extracts with the narrative that really helps to make you feel like you are reading a ‘True’ tale and made this a stand-out read for me. I got totally caught up in Cora’s tale and am recommending it to everyone!

Carolyn Kirby is such a talented voice. She draws the reader into her characters’ worlds and makes them live for us as we read. This gorgeous book took pride of place in my very own ‘TBR Bookshelf’  Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour and for my copy of this book which I received in exchange for an honest review. If you like gripping historical fiction then you’ll love this book. Treat yourself to a copy here

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Check out the AMAZING Booktrail to really lose yourself in Cora’s world.

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Writer On The Shelf

 

Originally from Sunderland, Carolyn Kirby studied history at St Hilda’s College, Oxford before working for social housing and then as a teacher of English as a foreign language. Her novel The Conviction of Cora Burns was begun in 2013 on a writing course at Faber Academy in London.

The novel has achieved success in several competitions including finalist in the 2017 Mslexia Novel Competition and as the winner of the inaugural Bluepencilagency Award. Carolyn has two grown-up daughters and lives with her husband in rural Oxfordshire.

 

 

The Silver Moon Blog Tour

 

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“What darkness lies in the past of a little witch, cursed into the shape of a giant? Who will save a magical unicorn, imprisoned for generations in the castle of a tyrant? As the silver moon rises in the sky, an enormous clown and a powerful siren join a humble weaver and other enchanting characters in these haunting tales of illusion, discovery and love.

An exquisitely illustrated bedtime story for the age of #MeToo, The Silver Moon Storybook transforms themes of modern feminism into touching fables full of the magic and shadows of traditional fairy tales.”

 

This stunning collection of feminist fairytales is definitely one of the most gorgeous books I’ve reviewed this year and I’m so happy that Kelly asked me to take part in the blog tour as I love discovering new reads that I might never have found otherwise.

I absolutely love Angela Carter and reading new spins on original tales so I was really excited to see what Elaine Gunn would do here The fairytales are all connected together in myriad ways and I loved the way that they chimed with one another and wove you into their spell as you turned the pages.

As well as being a physically beautiful book, it’s also a beautiful book to read as it’s so thought-provoking and really does make you think back to the tales you loved as a child and see them in a whole new light.  Elaine Gunn is a skilled writer and manages to balance her plots with memorable characters in such a way as to carry you into the story and make you believe – just for a moment – that you have fallen through the pages into their world

As a feminist and a teacher, I was delighted to introduce this book to some of my classes on International Women’s Day last week and I’m pleased to report that it really went down well.  I really believe that a good fairytale should transcend age and the senior students certainly found that to be the case.  We read The Weaver together – and it certainly wove its spell on them!

Although The Silver Moon Storybook is set in worlds that are set apart from everyday life,  it still connects with themes such as individuality, self-determination and freedoms – which many women still face today.  I sometimes think that looking at these issues through the prism of a fairy tale allows us a greater insight into these ideas and it certainly seemed that way last week in class. I will definitely be using this as a text again and hope that I’ve widened their idea about fairytales too, through introducing them to this beautiful and thought-provoking book.

Treat yourself to a copy here

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Writer On The Shelf

 

Elaine Gunn

Elaine Gunn has been writing more or less constantly since she first picked up a pencil in primary school. Years of unpublished literary genius languish in handwritten journals, high school English portfolios, corporate banking reports and various awful pitch documents full of impeccably written digital marketing jargon. Her first published work, The Silver Moon Storybook, is a collection of feminist fairy tales, written as an antidote to the passive princess culture that she became horribly aware of when her children started watching telly. Elaine is also a reiki practitioner and Dr. Hauschka esthetician; you can check out her website at http://somethinglovely.scot.

Twitter @Elaine_Gunn

Facebook @somethinglovelydotscot

 

She Lies in Wait Blog Tour

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Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust?

Six friends go down to the woods.

But one never comes home.

Now, a body has been found.

They thought they’d got away with it.

But now they’re all suspects.

Who do you trust?

“A dark, deep, terrific thriller and a scorching portrait of friendship and its betrayal” Nicci French

On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed to tag along.

Thirty years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what’s waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at long last.

But that’s not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.

It seems the killer has always lurked very close to home…

Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist and writer for video games and screen and it shows – you really see this tale unfolding as you read it and I’d love to see it being made into a film one day.  This gripping, fascinating and intriguing read never feels like a  series of characters in search of a story – it keeps you absolutely wrapped up in its narrative and it is definitely one of  Gytha’s strengths as a writer that I couldn’t stop turning the pages until I’d found out exactly what had happened all those years ago.  I’d like to thank Jenny Platt for inviting me onto the tour and introducing me to another fantastic new fictional detective – DCI Jonah Sheens

Having enjoyed the sound of the blurb and feeling intrigued to find out exactly what had happened to Aurora, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of She Lies in Wait as I loved the premise and was just in the mood for a book that would keep me hooked after reading some non -fiction before hand. Let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed and can honestly say that it kept my attention and let my marking pile grow higher and higher as I was so keen to get it finished.

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When we hear that a body has been discovered, it’s intriguing to wonder exactly what happened that night and speculate about who you think was involved and to what extent their actions – or lack of them – might be linked to the murder. It’s no surprise that lots of breadcrumbs are laid by Gytha Lodge in order to try and make sure we are intrigued to find out more about Aurora’s mysterious death and possibly get to the bottom of what exactly everyone is hiding

I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to dwell too long on the plot of She Lies In Wait – suffice to say that the skilful way that Gytha Lodge weaves the two time frames of both the past and present is superbly done and remains convincing throughout. I know at times it can feel like the fictional world is saturated with time shifts showing with two very different perspectives which collide pleasingly and create plenty of room for speculation and questions but this time it’s really well done. The ‘past’ allows you to get to know Aurora as a person, rather than just a victim and added another layer of enjoyment for the reader through this device.

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I loved the way that this novel wove both threads together – a convincing depiction of the friends’ camping trip juxtaposes nicely with the investigation in the present day and allows you to move between them and see both sides of the ‘event’ – and I also enjoyed the way that  we are introduced to  DCI Jonah Sheens and discovering that there is a lot more to him below the surface that we might at first have assumed. I definitely look forward to finding out more about him in subsequent novels and think he is definitely set to be one of my favourite fictional investigators.

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She Lies In Wait is definitely one of those novels that stays with you long after closing its final page and one that I will definitely be recommending to my friends – it packs a powerful punch; keeping you guessing throughout and firmly convinced by the fictional world it pulls you into.

If you enjoy an immersive and well-crafted piece of fiction that will keep you on your toes,  then you will love this book as much as I did.  I can’t wait to see what DCI Jonah Sheens does next and like I said, I’d love to see him on my screen one day. I’m a sucker for a great detective and feel like the characters in this book  feel like they’ve stepped right off the page and you’re following their exploits from inside the story alongside them.

If you feel intrigued and would like to order yourself a copy and find out for yourself what happened that night, click here to order a copy for yourself. 

 

I’ve changed my links to #Hive to support local bookshops

Can I choose which bookshop to support?

Yes. After you’ve bought something from us, you choose a bookshop and we give them a percentage of your money.

Follow the Blog Tour and find out what all these other fab bloggers thought

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Writer On The Shelf

Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist and writer for video games and screen. She is also a single parent who blogs about the ridiculousness of bringing up a mega-nerd small boy.

She has a profound addiction to tea, crosswords and awful puns. When not writing, she heads up a copywriting team at a global translation firm, where she generally tries to keep all the video-game writing to herself.

She studied English at Cambridge, where she became known quite quickly for her brand of twisty, dark yet entertaining drama. She later took the Creative Writing MA at UEA.

She has signed with Penguin Random House worldwide for the first three books in her crime series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens.

She Lies in Wait was released in January 2019.

 

Past Life Blog Tour – What a read!

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Waking up beside the dead girl, she couldn’t remember anything.
Who she was. Who had taken her. How to escape.
Detective Abigail Boone has been missing for four days when she is finally found, confused and broken. Suffering retrograde amnesia, she is a stranger to her despairing husband and bewildered son.
Hopelessly lost in her own life, with no leads on her abduction, Boone’s only instinct is to revisit the case she was investigating when she vanished: the baffling disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still.
Defying her family and the police, Boone obsessively follows a deadly trail to the darkest edges of human cruelty. But even if she finds Sarah, will Boone ever be the same again?

 

This was the first book I read on my birthday half-term trip to beautiful Budapest, where I used the hashtag #BooksInBudapest to highlight all of the amazing books that I read there. Past Life was definitely a stand-out read for me and I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the blog tour today. Thanks so much to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the Blog tour and introducing me to another fabulous new voice.

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Past Life definitely was a fantastic read. A stand-out in an increasingly competitive field – Dominic Nolan has crafted a book that you’ll take a long time to forget once you’ve finished it. It certainly had me well and truly hooked and I’ve thought about it a lot since I finished it as it had a really fantastic cast of characters that you won’t forget in a hurry.

One of the most striking things I’ll remember about Past Life – and there are many – is that although I was reading it in gorgeous Budapest – in my head, I was very firmly transported into the world of this book, experiencing all of the twists and turns alongside Abigail Boone in the midst of the trauma and degradation she was exposed to. The beauty of the place I was in served to emphasise the darkness that I was reading about and made the characters even more realistic as I got lost in its pages

 

Abigail’s determined nature really spoke to me and she definitely stepped off the page for me in her determination to get to the truth. Dominic Nolan definitely makes us ask ourselves exactly how far we ourselves would be prepared to get to the truth, despite the cost to ourselves and our family life.

The danger that Abigail finds herself caught in becomes increasingly terrifying – dealing with kidnapping and human trafficking is certainly a predicament that few people even dream of, never mind have to cope with. This was brought to life very vividly, without ever feeling sensationalist or insensitive and I think was one of the things that really made this book stand out for me. I often find that the darker the material, the more unrealistic it can feel – but in Past Life that was thankfully not the case.

I also thought that Roo’s character was incredibly deftly drawn and felt so real to me. Her sense of humour and survivor’s instinct shines through. Dominic Nolan is careful that we do not just see her as a one-dimensional character: as well as her humour, she also sees things more clearly than many of the professionals involved and I have thought about her often since finishing the book. This book is beautifully balanced and does not just cast stereotypical or one-sided characters that can so often appear in thrillers, but has a cast of nuanced and credible characters that definitely drew me in and held me tight.

I was so drawn into this novel that I was delighted to find my husband picking it up and reading it right after me so that we could talk about it together – Past Life is such an evocative read that it was fascinating to see if the visions that I’d been conjuring up in my head were similar to his and we certainly had a fair few heated conversations  about it. If this sparks your curiosity, you should definitely order yourself a copy so that you can see for  yourself

This will definitely appeal to fans of a dark and compelling crime novel and is another fantastic new voice from Headline that will hopefully encourage more people to choose books by debut writers and not just famous voices. It really is well worth your while to cast your net more widely in terms of crime and thrillers right now – there are some absolute crackers about!

I’d like to pass on my thanks to the ever-lovely Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour and sending me a copy of the book. It’s such a gorgeous cover that at least three people asked me what I was reading on the plane and in the hotel and the inside is definitely just as striking. Get your hands on your own copy here

 

Writer On The Shelf

Dominic grew up and still lives in North London. He worked various day jobs, ranging from call centre operator to fraud investigator, before selling his first novel, Past Life – the story of Boone, a detective who suffers a catastrophic loss of her memory and, struggling to reintegrate herself back into her past life with her husband and teenage son, decides to reinvestigate the missing person case that led to her getting hurt in the first place.

Boone will return in a follow-up to Past Life in 2020.
Find Dominic Nolan on Twitter – @NolanDom