Twisted by Steve Cavanagh | Blog Tour Review | #ThisBookisTwisted

Published by Orion
Available in ebook and paperback (4 April 2019)
352 pages
Source: Review copy from publisher

About the Book

BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK

I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.

2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.

3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted

My Thoughts

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the tour invitation and to the publisher for the copy to review.

Twisted is one of those thrillers that the less you know of the story beforehand, the more thrilling the ride. It’s difficult to go into detail about the plot without giving away spoilers, so this review will be a brief one. I should mention that this is a standalone and although lawyer Eddie Flynn does get a mention, it is not part of that series.

J T LeBeau, the author of Twisted, is a multi-million dollar best-selling author, hiding behind a veil of secrecy. Their publisher doesn’t even know his or her true identity and they will go to any lengths to keep it that way.

Twisted is the perfect title for this book. Just when you think you have a handle on what’s happening, the rug is pulled from under you and you are spun around, again and again.  I lost count of how many times I thought I’d worked out the ‘who and the what’ only to then find out that everything had turned completely on its head. 

With multiple narrators moving the story along, the book has a slower pace to begin with whilst the scene is set but then reaches a point where there is barely time to pause for breath before each rollercoaster ride begins again.

Twisted is a thoroughly entertaining and addictive read with the suspense just racking up right until the very last page, it will certainly mess with your head until you won’t know which way is up.  I think it’s fair to say that the emphasis is more on the plot and the twists than on any depth of character but in this case, that didn’t bother me.  To my shame, this is the first book I have read by Steve Cavanagh – I’ve seen so many positive reviews for his previous books and now I can see why. 

Twisted was such a fun and suspenseful read. I really enjoyed it.


About the Author

Steve Cavanagh is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of the Eddie Flynn series and lawyer. His third novel, The Liar, won the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the year 2018. He is also one half of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. His latest novel, Thirteen, is out now.

His first standalone book, Twisted, is released in the UK in April 2019.

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The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook | Blog Tour Extract

Published by Avon
Available in ebook and paperback (4 April 2019)
400 pages

About the Book

1943: The world is at war, and the villagers of Tyneham are being asked to make one more sacrifice: to give their homes over to the British army. But on the eve of their departure, a terrible act will cause three of them to disappear forever.

2018: Melissa had hoped a break on the coast of Dorset would rekindle her stagnant relationship, but despite the idyllic scenery, it’s pushing her and Liam to the brink. When Melissa discovers a strange photograph of a woman who once lived in the forgotten local village of Tyneham, she becomes determined to find out more about her story. But Tyneham hides a terrible secret, and Melissa’s search for the truth will change her life in ways she never imagined possible.

Extract

When she’d asked this morning if they should do something together, something touristy, he’d simply said ‘maybe another day’. Alone and bored and on the umpteenth walk around the chocolate-box village of Kimmeridge, she’d popped into the newsagent, hoping to pick up a couple of glossy magazines to read while Liam was out. The woman behind the counter had been reading the story on the front page of the local paper.

‘Not before time,’ she’d said as Melissa approached the counter. ‘Utter disgrace, keeping it out of bounds this long. They’re still not allowed back there to live.’

‘Who aren’t?’ Melissa had enquired, simply out of politeness.

‘The residents of Tyneham, of course. Ex-residents, I should say.’ The woman tapped the front cover. ‘The village is reopening today.’ She shook her head. ‘After all this time. That’ll be a sight to be seen.’

The bell above the door had sounded as another customer entered and queued politely behind Melissa. And so, without really thinking, Melissa reached over to the newspaper rack and took a copy out for herself, glancing quickly at the headline: Forgotten Village Returned. She paid for her magazines and the paper and stepped out into the sunshine to read the lead story. She was no longer interested in the celebrity gossip and overpriced fashion; instead it was the potted history of a long-abandoned village that kept Melissa’s eyes on the page. Perhaps it wasn’t her usual kind of holiday activity, but it was something to do.

Armed with the paper and the crumpled map she kept in the glove compartment, Melissa had ventured into the countryside expecting a quiet day wandering around the so-called forgotten village, perhaps with a handful of pensioners doing the same. But by the time she finally parked, guided into a makeshift parking bay, Melissa fancied she might have made a mistake coming to Tyneham. If the hundreds of cars were anything to go by, it was going to be busy.

The launch day was evidently a big deal to the local area. She wondered if anyone here had been among the people who, the paper had reported, had felt robbed every single day since the winter of 1943 when the army had requisitioned the entire village, every single home and all the surrounding farmland.

Melissa fell in to step with the other tourists along the gravel path and down to a small stage, where she was handed a leaflet and welcomed warmly by a kindly elderly man wearing his luminous yellow jacket with an air of pride. She returned his smile as she took the leaflet and he moved on to the myriad people behind her to offer the same.

My thanks to Sabah of Avon for the invitation to take part and for providing the extract.

If you’ve been tempted by this extract, The Forgotten Village can currently be downloaded from Amazon UK for 99p

About the Author



Lorna Cook lives in coastal South East England with her husband, daughters and a Staffy named Socks. A former journalist and publicist, she owns more cookery books than one woman should, but barely get time to cook. The Forgotten Village is her first novel.

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When Winter Comes by V A Shannon | Book Review #DonnerParty (@vashannon01)

Published by Kensington Publishing
Ebook and paperback (30 October 2018)
304 pages
Source: Review copy received from the author

About the Book


In the voice of an unforgettable heroine, V.A. Shannon explores one of the most harrowing episodes in pioneer history—the ill-fated journey of the Donner Party—in a mesmerizing novel of resilience and survival.

Mrs. Jacob Klein has a husband, children, and a warm and comfortable home in California. No one—not even her family—knows how she came to be out West thirteen years ago. Jacob, a kind and patient man, has promised not to ask. But if she were to tell her story, she would recount a tale of tragedy, mishaps, and unthinkable choices—yet also sacrifice, courage, and a powerful, unexpected love . . .

1846: On the outskirts of Cincinnati, wagons gather by the hundreds, readying to head
west to California. Among the throng is a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape her abusive family. With just a few stolen dollars to her name, she enlists as helpmate to a married couple with a young daughter. Their group stays optimistic in the face of the journey’s hazards and delays. Then comes a decision that she is powerless to prevent: Instead of following the wagon train’s established route, the Donner Party will take a shortcut over the Sierras, aiming to clear the mountains before the first snows descend.

In the years since that infamous winter, other survivors have sold their accounts for notoriety and money, lurid tales often filled with half-truths or blatant, gory lies. Now, Mrs. Klein must decide whether to keep those bitter memories secret, or risk destroying the life she has endured so much to build . . .

My Thoughts

When Winter Comes is a fictional story inspired by the true historical events of the Donner Party in the 1800s.

Our narrator throughout the journey remains nameless. We only know her as a 15 year old girl, running away from a poor abusive family who joins a wagon trail heading west from Cincinnati to California to find land and settle for a better life. She finds a young couple willing to take her with their wagon, to be there as a helper to them and their young daughter and full of optimism and hope, the travellers set off. At some stage, in their haste to beat other wagons to California and not to be last to arrive with all the best land gone, the wagon trail splits with one half taking the originally agreed and safer route and the other, a more riskier but supposedly quicker route through the passes. Our narrator and her companions end up in the second party. Not the best decision they made!

Told in two timelines, our narrator as a married woman is Mrs Jacob Klein. As she writes her journal, thirteen years after that ill-fated venture we find out the details of that journey.  Who her travelling companions were, how they lived and fought for survival. Mrs Klein has never told her story, not even to her husband, but tired of the never ending lies and misrepresentations which still abound, she decides the time has come to write the story as she experienced it.

When Winter Comes is a harrowing and at times heartbreaking story of immense suffering.  The author writes beautifully and no detail has been spared about the danger and the hardships they faced.  There are so many characters who do not come out of this tale well and many lives were lost because of their ignorance and ruthlessness.  When facing desperate situations, some people showed their true characters with kindness and compassion nowhere in sight.

Everything about the book was so vividly described including the landscape and the characterisations – our young narrator initially seemed rather entitled and selfish; she resented doing tasks to earn her keep but as the journey progressed she matured and I was in awe of her strength of character in such testing circumstances. There are many characters, both adult and children and it wasn’t easy to keep track of the familial relationships however in the overall picture, this wasn’t really important and it certainly didn’t affect my reading of the story in any way.

As well as learning about the past, we learn a little of Mrs Klein herself and how the experience has affected her.  Now married to a carpenter with a young family, she seems to have a settled and comfortable life albeit not one of riches, but there is no doubt that the experience has left its scars.

Despite being totally engrossed in the story, there were times when I had to put it down, especially when the hopelessness of their situation got too much. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom and there were examples of resilience and strength of character and at times, even hope and happiness.

When Winter Comes is a compelling and emotive read that shows the strength of human endurance.  I very much enjoyed it and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction.

My thanks to Vivienne Shannon for the paperback copy to review.

About the Author

V.A. Shannon trained originally as an artist, in the United States, and then requalified as a lawyer in the UK, but her first love has always been writing. In 2011, she was lucky enough to be accepted on the prestigious Faber Academy novel-writing course where she embarked on the first draft of the novel that was ultimately to become When Winter Comes. She subsequently left the security of full-time paid employment to concentrate on her writing, supporting herself by taking on a variety of temporary and part-time roles, including working in the cloakroom at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, selling Titanic memorabilia, and cleaning houses! She has two beautiful daughters and a gorgeous granddaughter, and lives in Welwyn Garden City, just north of London.

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The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon | Blog Tour Guest Post |#TheRingmaster #SamShephard

The Ringmaster (Sam Shephard #2)
Published by Orenda Books
ebook (18 February) | paperback (18 April 2019)
320 pages

About the Book

Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for the tour invitation and to Karen of Orenda and Vanda for providing the guest post.

When life imitates art…

As a writer I spend way too much time in my own head, inventing scenarios, imagining weird and wonderful ways to knock people off, finding intriguing places to dump bodies, doing nasty things to my characters. These imaginings bounce around in my skull until they coalesce into something that resembles a story that I can then hone and craft until that moment where I think yes, I’m as happy as I can be with that, I’ve told the tale I wanted to tell, and I get brave and send it off to my publisher.

Sometimes these ideas are entirely dredged from my imagination, sometimes they are triggered by an event in real life, but all in all, they are fiction – and that is the way it is supposed to be…

But then sometimes, later, the fiction starts to get a bit real, and it all gets a bit weird.

Of all of my books The Ringmaster has provided a number of moments where life imitated art – uncomfortably so.

The Ringmaster, surprise, surprise, involves a circus, and among the many animals in the circus was Cassie, the elephant. When I wrote the novel, I thought, wow – it would be great to have animal rights activists protesting about the animals and their conditions in the circus, it would create a lot of tension and some interesting potential scenarios. Soooo, imagine my surprise shortly after when The Loritz Circus visited Dunedin, set up at The Oval, and animal rights activists protested Jumbo the elephant being on Council grounds. Consequently Jumbo was banned from The Oval, and after some negotiating, was moved to the neighbouring pub’s carpark – hardly an improvement in conditions.

In The Ringmaster there is a scene where Sam looks at the front page of the Otago Daily Times newspaper and there is a great big photo of Cassie the elephant. I was rather disconcerted when one day I went out to the letterbox one to collect the newspaper, and there on the front page of the ODT was a bloddy great big photo of Jumbo the elephant. Hmmmm.

The most upsetting example of all though, involved murder. In The Ringmaster a young female student at the University of Otago was murdered. The Ringmaster was in the galleys stage of publication and was shortly going to go to print when in Dunedin, University of Otago student Sophie Elliott was murdered. It was a murder that utterly rocked the city. As you can imagine, it also caused a lot of anxiety from my perspective, and also for my publisher, Penguin. In fact, they had a meeting to discuss whether they pull the book altogether. In the end they decided there was enough difference for them to feel comfortable going ahead. That didn’t stop me worrying that readers would think that I had written the story after the murder and had been, for want of a better word, inspired by it. Those fears were not allayed by a relative who rang me and asked exactly that! Fortunately, I have never had any negative feedback from readers about the timing.

There have been other examples with later books too. In my third novel Containment, shipping containers wash up onto Aramoana beach near Dunedin. Shortly after it was published I had a rash of email and phone calls from friends excitedly telling me that some containers had fallen off a ship in Otago harbour, just like in Containment!

So when I recently drove past the Oval, only weeks after The Ringmaster had come out in ebook in Britain with Orenda Books, I was only mildly surprised to see this circus tent set up, looking exactly like the circus tent on the gorgeous cover of the new edition…

About the Author

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

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Turn the Other Way by Stuart James | Blog Tour Guest Post |#TurntheOtherWay

Independently published (8 February 2019)
ebook and paperback
421 pages

About the Book

Sometimes revenge is the deadliest game of all.

A derelict farmhouse in the Essex countryside.

A deranged family.

Innocent victims picked at random.

If you’re chosen, Turn The Other Way.

Simon Bairstow is a top London surgeon. He’s performed dozens of life-saving operations. But something goes horribly wrong. The machine Eve Johnson is attached to flatlines, and suddenly her parent’s world has collapsed.

They’re hellbent on revenge, someone to answer for the horrific error that’s been made.

Noah and Jess are driving home on a busy dual carriageway and stuck in traffic. They hear thumping coming from the back doors of the transit van in front of them. When Noah steps out onto the road, he hears muffled screams.

He opens the back doors and what he sees shocks him to the core.

The van pulls off, spilling Noah onto the road.
Ignoring his wife’s plea to leave it, he hits the accelerator in pursuit of the van.

Chloe’s parents are missing. She hasn’t seen them since they left the party in Hampstead on Friday night. She needs answers, deciding to take matters into her own hands.

A serial killer is stalking the streets of Islington in North London late at night leaving his victims in a horrific way.

The press have dubbed him the Angel Attacker.

A terrifying tale of revenge with a twist that will hit you like a sledgehammer.

Guest Post

I have always loved scary stories, especially ones that shocked me, left me terrified, looking under my bed or in the wardrobe before going to sleep.

There was just a fantastic buzz whenever I watched or read something that took my breathe away.

I remember going to my nan’s house in Ireland as a youngster with my mother and sister, on the West Coast, staying in a cottage, surrounded by miles of fields and my family sitting around the table in the kitchen at night telling ghost stories. Going out and exploring derelict farmhouses in the middle of nowhere. I remember clearly the field at the end of the road was supposed to be haunted by headless nuns.

My cousins often remind me of the great times we had, frightening each other and running for our lives whenever we’d see something that didn’t look right.

This is why I love nothing more than to tell a story.

I started writing two years ago, penning The House On Rectory Lane.

I got the idea from something that has often seemed scary to me. I know that a terrifying story has to be something that you’re frightened of doing, something that makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck, something that fills you with dread, yet also with excitement.

To me, the thought of going to a house in the middle of nowhere, upping and leaving a busy town and moving to the country is something that scares lots of people and me: the seclusion, the quiet, the darkness.

That’s what inspired me to write my first novel.

My second thriller is called Turn The Other Way.

I have multiple stories running, past and present. A family who want answers from the surgeon responsible for their daughter’s death.

A young woman looking for her parents after they go missing from a party.

A couple driving home and hearing screams for help from the back of the van in front of them.

A serial killer on the loose in North London, dragging victims off the street.

I’m so grateful when people not only read my thrillers but also take the time to get in touch and leave a review. To me, that is the greatest feeling, hearing from people that have enjoyed my work. I know then that I’m doing something right.

I’m currently working on my new thriller, Apartment Six, which should be released later this year.

My thanks to Sarah of BOTBS Publicity for the tour invitation and to Stuart for the guest post. I’ve already purchased a copy which unfortunately I didn’t have time to read before the tour. If you like the look of Turn the Other Way, its currently available to download for 99p on Amazon UK


About the Author

I’m 45, married and have two beautiful children. Currently, I’m a full-time plumber but would love nothing more than to make a living from my writing.

I hope I write stories and people continue to enjoy them for years to come. That would be completely amazing and a dream come true.

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