Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen |Blog Tour |Book Review

Published by Orion
Available in ebook and hardback (24 January 2019)
304 pages
Source: Review copy received from publisher

About the Book


Louis and Louise are the same person born in two different lives. They are separated only by the sex announced by the doctor and a final ‘e’.

They have the same best friends, the same red hair, the same dream of being a writer, the same excellent whistle. They both suffer one catastrophic night, with life-changing consequences.

Thirteen years later, they are both coming home.

A tender, insightful and timely novel about the things that bring us together – and those which separate us.

My Thoughts

I’m delighted to be starting off the blog tour for the publication of Louis & Louise together with fellow blogger Kerry of Herding Cats, my thanks to Orion for the review copy and to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to take part.

One life, told two ways.

Meet Louise. A red haired daughter born in 1978 to Peggy and Irving Alder.

Meet Louis. A red haired son born in 1978 to Peggy and Irving Alder.

We follow both Louis and Louise from childhood through to adulthood. They have the same friends, the same ambitions to be a writer, they go into and out of relationships and have the inevitable parental issues to deal with in later life. However they are not really treated equally.  Because of that ‘e’ and their gender, society and their families treat them differently, not only in emotional and practical terms, such as inheritance, but in expectations.

Aged 18 on graduation night, something happens to Louis and Louise which will have a life changing effect, the memory of which they will never forget. It’s enough to make them leave the paper mill town of Casablanca. Maine and not return for many years until they are called back by family.

Told by Louis and Louise in their separate voices, with other chapters being non-gender specific (‘Lou’) and which relate to both of them, I was completely absorbed by both their stories and the path that they had taken.  There are some dark times for Lou and some quite emotional moments.

It’s a Sliding Doors type of book – some of the characters are not necessarily in the same situations in both realities and although initially, this threw me a little once I’d got my head round it, it wasn’t an issue at all.

There is a real sense of place in the setting of the story, not only in the vivid description of the location but also that of the townspeople and you really have that feeling of small-town America with its prejudices.  The paper mill, owned by generations of male (not female) Alders, is the town’s main employer and although it enables people to live, its foul smell poisons the atmosphere.

Aside from Lou, there are some excellently drawn supporting characters who are integral to the story, including Dana, Louise’s petulant teenage daughter, Irving their father, Allie the best friend – they all stood out for me.

I’ve always loved Julie Cohen’s writing and this book is possibly one of her best.  It’s beautifully written with a narrative that is both poignant and thought provoking. She says in an introduction that it could be the most personal book she has written – this certainly comes across in the novel for me.

There are many themes explored here, including gender, sexuality, and forgiveness. I enjoyed it very much indeed and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

About the Author

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for The Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold nearly a million copies; DEAR THING was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.

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The Liars Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard | Book Review | Blog Tour |#TheLiarsGirl

Published by Corvus Books
Available in ebook, audiobook and paperback (3 January 2019)
336 pages
Source: Review copy

My thanks to Anne Cater and the publisher for the copy to review and for the place on the tour. Having reviewed Catherine’s debut thriller, Distress Signals in 2016 (was it really that long ago!) I was looking forward to this and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m delighted to share my thoughts below, but first here’s a little about the book.


Her first love confessed to five murders. But the truth was so much worse.

Dublin’s notorious Canal Killer, Will Hurley, is ten years into his life sentence when the body of a young woman is fished out of the Grand Canal. Though detectives suspect they are dealing with a copycat, they turn to Will for help. He claims he has the information the police need, but will only give it to one person – the girl he was dating when he committed his horrific crimes.

Alison Smith has spent the last decade abroad, putting her shattered life in Ireland far behind her. But when she gets a request from Dublin imploring her to help prevent another senseless murder, she is pulled back to face the past – and the man – she’s worked so hard to forget.


29 year old Alison Smith has spent the last 10 years living in the Netherlands trying to forget that she was once the girlfriend of a serial killer.  Nobody there knows about her past and that’s how she would like it to stay until she suddenly finds two Irish detectives at her door, with a request that she accompany them back to Ireland to talk to Will; the man she hasn’t seen or spoken to for 10 years after he had been jailed for killing five young women.

Another woman has been found dead, killed in what looks like the same manner, however Will has been incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital. Will lets it be known that he has some information but insists that the only person he will speak to is Alison.  The last thing she wants is to return to the past but if it will stop other girls being killed, she feels she has no option other than to at least speak to him. 

The story moves between the past to when Alison was a student at St John’s College in Dublin and how she came to meet Will, and the present time. Will appeared to be the perfect boyfriend and I can quite understand why Alison never suspected that he could be a killer. She has never really recovered from that period of her life, she thought that her and Will would have a life together and then it was taken away so brutally, it’s not surprising that she has trust issues and keeps people, even female friends at arm’s length.

I really enjoyed this. It doesn’t have a fast moving plot but there is tension and intrigue, both with the current killings and also from the story of Will and Alison.  There are also chapters from the killer’s perspective which racks up the suspense. As much as I felt sympathy for Alison, she did frustrate me at times. Despite her earlier protests about not wanting to be involved, she did actually involve herself a bit more than she should have done and at times you just knew she was about to do something that she absolutely shouldn’t! Just don’t go there Alison!

The Liar’s Girl is a story of murder, manipulation and deceit and of course there is a twist in the tale!  I was a fan of the author after reading Distress Signals, and this has certainly made sure that I will read her next book.


Photo Credit: Steve Langan

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin. Her debut novel Distress Signals was published by Corvus in 2016 and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger

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The Disappeared by Sibel Hodge |Guest Post #TheDisappeared

Published by Bloodhound Books
ebook and paperback (10 January 2019)
318 pages

About the Book

The Widow. The Secret. The Liar. 

The Disappeared… 

On a routine flight from Africa to England, Dr Mason Palmer is tragically killed when the light aircraft he’s travelling on crashes and disappears in dense bushland.

The Widow…

Ten months later, Nicole Palmer is still trying to block out the grief of her husband’s sudden death. Until one morning she receives a photo of Mason through the post, along with a cryptic message. A message only he could’ve written.

The Secret…

But when Nicole tries to find out if Mason is really alive and what actually happened to him in Africa, everyone she turns to for answers ends up dead.

Determined to find the truth, Nicole uncovers a conspiracy that spans the globe, and discovers there are powerful people who are prepared to kill to keep her silent.

Who’s lying? Who’s watching Nicole? And can she expose their murky secrets before they catch up with her?

Sibel Hodge is the international bestselling author of multiple thrillers including Look Behind You and Duplicity. The Disappeared is a twisty and suspenseful mystery thriller which will appeal to fans of authors like Caroline Mitchell, Mark Edwards and John Marrs.

To plot or not to plot? That is the question!

I often get asked whether I plan out my plot in advance before I start writing. Urgh, the dreaded P word, I think! I hate plotting. Absolutely hate it!

There are some authors who won’t type a single letter until they’ve got every inch of their plot structure finely tuned in advance. Some authors know their characters intimately before they begin writing, down to what they just had for breakfast. And I wish I could be like that, I really do. I think it could make my job a whole lot easier. But I’m definitely a fly by the seat of my knickers kind of girl! If I get too hung up spending a lot of time plotting in advance, I tend to lose my creativity. I start thinking about it too much and get nowhere. I think I must suffer from some kind of plot dyslexia, because as soon as I pull out a pad and pen and start trying to come up with vast plot notes, the words swim in front of my face in a blur and my brain turns to mush. Is there such a thing as plot-o-phobia?

But unfortunately, plotting is a necessary evil if you want to write a novel. Without a plot, it’s just words on the paper. Your plot should encompass all sorts of things: goals of the characters, conflict, crises, turning points, climax, resolution. And everything you write should advance the plot, although I personally think when writing comedy, you can get away with a few extras in there!

When I wrote my debut romantic comedy, Fourteen Days Later, I didn’t have a clue about any kind of plot, or characters, or structure. All I knew was that my heroine had to do a fourteen-day life-changing challenge, where she completed a new task every day. I knew my ending, but I didn’t have a clue what happened anywhere else. Hmm…slight problem, I hear you say! Well, yes, but as soon as I started tapping out the words on the keyboard it all developed naturally. My characters invented their own plot as they went along.

So far, so good, but what about the next novel? Surely this must’ve been some bizarre fluke, and I’d have to actually think of a plot in advance for the next one. Well, yes and no. My second novel was a comedy mystery. Because of the mystery element, I did need to know a few things before I started. Otherwise how would I weave in all the clues? So this time I did actually write an eency weency plot before I started. It was about three lines for each chapter of things I needed to happen. That was it, though, and I still didn’t have hardly any of my “clues” in there. But again, it all seemed to come together as I wrote it. Creative or crazy? I’m not sure which.

With my third novel, I was getting really stressed trying to plot. I read about different techniques like the Snowflake method and using index cards or graphs, even plotting software, but the plot-dyslexia was kicking in big time! Robert McKee’s Story is an excellent book, by the way, for plotting. (It’s for screenplays but works just as well for novels). But none of it helped me in writing a plot in advance. I wrote a few lines for the first two chapters and after that, nada! So once again, I just started to write and my characters invented their own story. The voices in my head just tell me to do things. 

My fourth novel was also a mystery, so again I thought I’d need to at least write some lines of plot to allow for my clues. And this time I did it! Hurrah, I wrote out my plot in advance, doing a storyboard of a paragraph per chapter of things I needed to include. In a lot of ways it was easier to write in this way, but that was the only time I’ve ever managed it.

In my world (which is sometimes scary!) my plot advances on its own, with one scene logically following on from the next. I’m very much character driven. And what works for one author won’t work for another. Even what works for one novel won’t always work for another. However you choose to write a novel or story is very personal. Who knows whether I’ll finally get to write an advanced detailed plot for another novel. Watch this space and I’ll let you know!


My thanks to Emma Welton of Bloodhound Books and to Sibel for the guest post.

About the Author

Sibel Hodge is the author of the No 1 Bestsellers Look Behind You, Untouchable, and Duplicity. Her books have sold over one million copies and are international bestsellers in the UK, USA, Australia, France, Canada and Germany. She writes in an eclectic mix of genres, and is a passionate human and animal rights advocate.

Her work has been nominated and shortlisted for numerous prizes, including the Harry Bowling Prize, the Yeovil Literary Prize, the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition, The Romance Reviews’ prize for Best Novel with Romantic Elements and Indie Book Bargains’ Best Indie Book of 2012 in two categories. She was the winner of Best Children’s Book in the 2013 eFestival of Words; nominated for the 2015 BigAl’s Books and Pals Young Adult Readers’ Choice Award; winner of the Crime, Thrillers & Mystery Book from a Series Award in the SpaSpa Book Awards 2013; winner of the Readers’ Favorite Young Adult (Coming of Age) Honorable award in 2015; a New Adult finalist in the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America’s International Digital Awards 2015, and 2017 International Thriller Writers Award finalist for Best E-book Original Novel. Her novella Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave has been listed as one of the top forty books about human rights by Accredited Online Colleges.

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Skin Deep by Liz Nugent | Book Review | #SkinDeep #PsychologicalThriller

Published by Penguin
Available in ebook and paperback (15 November 2018)
384 pages

   About the Book   

‘I could probably have been an actress.
It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else.
Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.

The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .

   My Thoughts   

I’m a huge fan of Liz Nugent. I’ve reviewed both her previous books here (Unravelling Oliver) and (Lying in Wait) and loved them both. Skin Deep has only served to confirm her place on my list of ‘must read’ authors.


‘I wondered when rigor mortis would set in, or if it already had.’

What on earth!  Liz Nugent has gained rather a reputation (in a good way) for her killer first lines and now we have another.  Who wouldn’t keep reading on?

As a young girl, Delia O’Flaherty was a precocious child. She was a beauty; everyone told her so. Adored by her father who could see no wrong in her, she got her kicks by playing her parents off against each other and causing as much trouble as she could with her lies. Until one day it all backfired on her.

Cordelia as an adult hadn’t learnt from her mistakes. I didn’t feel that she had any redeeming qualities at all – she was completely self-centred, utterly selfish and only did something if it was for her benefit – I don’t think that anyone who came into contact with her ended up a better person because of it. For all her faults however, I couldn’t help but feel a slight grudging respect for her – and dare I say it, there were times (ok, just a few) when I couldn’t help but like her.  What does that say about me for heavens sake!

As Cordelia grows older and can no longer rely on her looks to get her what she wants, her actions become ever more desperate and ruthless. She seems to be devoid of any feelings of empathy, remorse or shame for her actions but it is this aspect to her character that makes her so intriguing. I think it’s fair to say that the bad guys are always the most interesting of characters.

The story travels from Ireland to England to the South of France – whether the scene is set on the desolate Irish island of Inishcrann where sinister folklore tales occasionally interrupt the story or in the sunnier climes of the Cote d’Azur – each location is so vividly described.

Skin Deep is another fantastic book from Liz Nugent. I never fail to be impressed at how much depth and insight there is to her characters – many of whom you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near in real life.  The one thing you never get from a Nugent book is unnecessary waffle or over description.  Every sentence is carefully constructed for maximum effect.  The prose is succinct and often brutal in its simplicity.

Skin Deep is a dark and quite disturbing read with a final denouement that chilled to the bone. The sheer callousness of the main character may be rather too much to bear for some.  Me – I loved it.  Another stunning book from this very talented author.

   About the Author   

Before becoming a full-time writer, Liz Nugent worked in Irish film, theatre and television. In 2014 her first novel, Unravelling Oliver, was a Number One bestseller and won the Crime Fiction Prize in the 2014 Irish Book Awards. Her second novel, Lying in Wait, went straight to Number One in the Irish bestseller charts, remained there for nearly two months and won her a second IBA. She lives in Dublin with her husband.

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Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb | Blog Tour three book #Giveaway @OrendaBooks @crimethrillgirl

Published by Orenda Books
Ebook (5 November 2018) | Paperback (24 January 2019)
320 pages

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the paperback publication of Deep Dirty Truth, book number 3 in the Lori Anderson series. My thanks to Karen of Orenda and Anne Cater of Random Thing Tours for the opportunity and invite.

I have an extra special giveaway. One super lucky person can win a set of all 3 paperback books – this giveaway is open worldwide. Please see the Rafflecopter box at the end of the post.


A price on her head. A secret worth dying for. Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

With North due in court in forty-eight hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family. Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined. In this race only the winner gets out alive…

Brimming with tension, high-stakes jeopardy and high-voltage action, and a deep, emotional core, Deep Dirty Truth is an unmissable thriller by one of the freshest and most exciting voices in crime fiction.

Here’s what you could win:

Lori Anderson Book #1

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest amusement parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

Lori Anderson Book #2

Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but the little girl’s cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking.

Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row.

Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free.This is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything…

and of course, book #3 (see details above)


Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. She is also a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California, which inspired her Lori Anderson thrillers. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018 

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At the time of this post, Deep Dirty Truth is available to download from Amazon UK for just 99p.


*Terms and Conditions – On behalf of the publisher, I’m delighted to offer one paperback copy of Deep Down Dead, Deep Blue Trouble and Deep Dirty Truth to one winner. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to entrants aged 18 or over Worldwide. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winner’s information. This will passed to the publisher for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data I hold. My Reading Corner is not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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