A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

5 Stars from me

So good, so good, so good, so good!

Another masterpiece from Linwood Barlcay, A Noise Downstairs is a fine example of the Hitchcockesque style that I absolutely raced through it and loved every moment.

Haunted typewriter – check
Average Joe murderer – check
Plot holes you can drive a truck thru – check
Accidental hero – check
Crazy old guy – check
Inappropriate psychiatrist – check
Infidelity – check
Red herrings – check
Dysfunctional families – check

It’s all there, I mean come on what more do you want from a fabulous, kitsch, creepy little thriller?

I think Never Saw It Coming will forever remain my favourite Linwood Barclay novel but this one is coming a pretty close second.

Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbye returns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation.

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s “normal” existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can…

Eat Happy Too #GlutenFree by Anna Vocino

EatHappyToo

I’m thrilled to share this gorgeous cook book, Eat Happy Too, by Anna Vocino! Check out all 160+ of her delicious recipes!

High Res EH2 front coverEat Happy Too: 160+ New Gluten Free, Grain Free, Low Carb Recipes for a Joyful Life

Anna Vocino is back with Eat Happy Too: 160+ NEW delicious grain-free, gluten-free, low carb recipes that are also free of processed sugars. Get back to cooking and retrain your taste buds to love food again. You’ll be shocked at how good food can taste!

Eat Happy Too has 160 more starters, mains, sides, soups, casseroles, slow cooker AND Instant Pot recipes, plus breakfast and a chapter to learn how to make sauces and dressings from scratch and not be stuck buying chemical laden versions from the grocery store. There is also a desserts chapter which has some SPLURGE recipes made from the finest ingredients, so that when you have something to celebrate, you can do it with minimal metabolic effect on your body.

Half of the recipes have dairy, half are dairy free, and most of the recipes with dairy can be made dairy free for those who want to limit their dairy intake. The book ends with a few lower carb cocktail recipes for those who want to play mixologist.

Diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002, Anna Vocino struggled to manage the effects of autoimmune disease and middle age weight gain while still being able to eat delicious and satisfying foods. In 2012, she started podcasting with Vinnie Tortorich and changed her way of eating to not only be gluten free, but also grain and sugar free. Her first cookbook, Eat Happy, is an Amazon best seller, and her audience made it very clear MORE RECIPES, PLEASE!

Add to Goodreads

Amazon | B & N | Nook | IndieBound

About the Author

Anna Vocino

Anna is the author of Eat Happy and Eat Happy Too. Her cookbooks are filled with gluten and grain free recipes that celebrate her half Southern, half Italian-girl heritage. She hopes you enjoy every tasty recipe from cover to cover.

Anna Vocino | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest| Tumblr| IMDb

Stay tuned, because Eat Happy Too will be going on tour this February!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Blitz Organized By:

R&RButto200x200

R&R Book Tours

Are You Watching by Vincent Ralph

5 Stars from me

This little belter of a book had me utterly hooked. I read it in one day and found it incredibly hard to put down.

Jess is a likeable character and her little family are filled with charm despite the obvious hole in their lives left behind by Jess’ mum who was murdered by ‘The Magpie Man’.

There is a nice balance of tension, emotion, relationships, peril and intrigue throughout the story and a good solid whodunnit with a few clever red herrings, some clues and satisfying outcome!

I loved the use of the YouTube reality show as the platform for Jess to try and find her mother’s killer and thought the concept was very well described and enacted – perfect for the YA audience but I have to say I read this book without realising its target market and I absolutely loved it. So I would say it is perfect for the not-so-young-adult market too!

Synopsis: A page-turning new YA thriller for the social media age, perfect for fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and One Of Us Is Lying.

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man. She was the first of his victims but not the last. Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

5 Stars from me

Oh my god – this book, this book, this book!

#ThreeHoursNovel by Rosamund Lupton is absolutely breathtaking. I really can’t recommend this book enough. Every page is powerful and beautifully crafted and I read most of the story with my breath held and my heart in my mouth.

The emotions within the book are captured perfectly and I was taken through the whole gambit from joy to fear to heartbreak and back again.

My heart broke for the poor mum who was waiting for news of her son, her emotions were tangible, palpable and I lived them with her. The emotive feelings from this stayed with me for days after I had finished the book.

The breaking of the story via Twitter and YouTube was cleverly delivered and again utterly believable and compelling.

Without wishing to give the story away or drop any spoilers, the brain washing and manipulation was terrifying and heart breaking again in equal measure.

However, among the horror and awfulness of the hatred and intolerance a bright light of love and warm shone out. The spirit and strength of the school staff, the resilience and protectiveness of the students, the faith in each other was beautiful.

I had high hopes owing to the sheer brilliance of Sister and can definitively confirm that I was not disappointed. Three Hours is a must read of 2020 and I am truly honoured to be kicking off the blog tour for Penguin Books.

Synopsis: The extraordinary new novel everyone is talking about from the Sunday Times best-selling author of Sister

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

Joining Blogging Book Tours – pros and cons

2019 has proved to be a wonderful year for me from a book blogging perspective. I have read some incredible books (I’ve read 72 according to Good Reads but I know it is a few more than that!).

I have always been a keen and regular reader – escapism at it’s finest!

During 2019 I’ve really embraced taking part in blog tours for books and I’ve hugely enjoyed it, it feels really good to be tiny part of the publicity and promotion for an author and to feel like I might in some small way have contributed to their sales 🙂

At this point, I would like to offer very genuine and heartfelt thanks to those who have welcomed me into their reviewers fold:

Damp Pebbles Blog Tours – got to start with Emma and Damp Pebbles as this was the first blog tour I joined and I have read some fabulous books thanks to Emma and the excellent service she offers to authors and reviewers.

Tony Marturano – next I move to Tony who introduced me to the fascinating and hugely exciting world of being invited to join a readers panel with a view to being an early reader to provide honest feedback intended help shape the editing process prior to publication. I was honoured to be able to this for Tony with his own books and also with Eye for Eye by J K Franko.

Book on the Bright Side Publicity – then there is the lovely Sarah from BOTBS who again I have taken part in some brilliant tours with and is super lovely to deal with too.

R&R Book Tours – now the lovely Shannon from R&R tours… Not only do I get to discover new books with her but she sends me MAGIC content that is all whizzy and HTML codey wizardry!

Random Things Tours – the most recent sign up for me is with the lovely Anne from Random Things Tours. Anne is great to deal with and super organised – thanks again for letting me take part.

Last but by no means least, I have also done a couple of reviews with Mirror Books and have a couple more lined up for the New Year. They are also great to work with and have some really exciting publications.

Also a nod to NetGalley, I absolutely love NetGalley!

So again, huge thanks to you all.

Now to Pros and Cons

I’ll start with cons as then they are out of the way. It can, at times, feel pressured. It can, sometimes, feel as though you are reading to meet a deadline rather than reading for enjoyment. There will be times when you don’t like the book. You will need to be clear and strong with your own opinions – without damaging the tour. You will need to be organised and meet the commitments you have made in terms of reviews – people are relying on you to publish on the right date. Never ever do it for the ‘free’ books, they aren’t free, think about the cost of your time!

Phew, now, on to the pros! So many positive aspects here, you get to read some amazing books – for me personally I’ve read books that I would probably not have ever encountered and a lot of them have been brilliant! You get to make connections with other people who love books 🙂 it’s a beautiful thing giving someone a book recommendation and then getting a tweet in a couple of weeks time to say they loved it. Reading an advance copy of a book for a nerd like me is exquisite! And, for me, the best thing is knowing that I’ve helped an author or made them smile when I can honestly say ‘I loved your book’.

So thank you all once again and I look forward to reading and reviewing many more fabulous books in 2020.

Lisa x

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

3 Stars from me

Yes, 3, unpopular opinion I know. I do feel conflicted over this as it is not owing to the quality of the writing which, for the record, is excellent.

For me, My Dark Vanessa should have ended at about the 55% mark. Even up to this point I found the book a little laborious but I distinctly recall looking up to see how much of the book was left as I couldn’t believe it hadn’t ended, and it then being 58%. I truly felt the book had reached it’s natural conclusion. (I did go on to finish the book but felt it really dragged after that point.)

The subject matter isn’t great but that’s not to say it wasn’t a good story and an important story. This level of grooming and abuse goes on far too frequently and it is important that attention is drawn to the issue so that people can stop turning a blind eye out of misplaced politeness. However, having said that the books goes to great lengths to stress that both Stane and Vanessa see it more as a love story which, for me, muddies the waters massively on this being a positive message.

I would very much read something else by the same author as the depth and quality of the writing really was great, the characters were all credible and scenes and places were are well described.

Synopsis:

An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher

ALL HE DID WAS FALL IN LOVE WITH ME AND THE WORLD TURNED HIM INTO A MONSTER

Vanessa Wye was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, and as riveting as it is disturbing, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age is grappling with.

Victim of Innocence: a DCI Matilda Darke short story by Michael Wood

5 Stars from me

Victim of Innocence is a prequel to the incredible DCI Matilda Darke crime series.

This, short story, is a must for fans of the series and you get to meet a slightly different Matilda. In this book her beloved husband is still alive and she is more fun, flirtatious and coquettish. It’s a little bit heartbreaking to know just how things are going to end up, yet still wonderful to see them together.

The story shows Matilda having to work alongside DI Ben Hales as they have to work together to find a killer before he strikes again.

There are some great scenes of tension and peril, particularly during the undercover section and it is a cracking plot.

Not everything is quite as it first seems…

If you have a book lover in your life and know that they enjoy crime thrillers – then this book is a must buy for their Christmas list!

Synopsis: The nightmare is just beginning…

A short story and prequel featuring DCI Matilda Darke, star of Michael Wood’s darkly compelling crime series. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Patricia Gibney.

She invited the killer into her home…
 
The body of a young woman is found in an apartment block in a Sheffield suburb. She was attacked at home, in a sudden moment of violence that sends shockwaves through the community.
 
DCI Matilda Darke has no choice but to work with her rival, DI Ben Hales, as the investigation takes them undercover into the dark world of a serial rapist targeting innocent women on the streets of the steel city.

But can Matilda and Ben finally put their grievances aside and work together? Or will this case be their last?

Perfect Murder by Rebecca Bradley

4 Stars from me

Dark humour and silliness abound throughout these pages, it is a great little standalone thriller which closely follows the introverted life of a crime writer, Alice Friend, while she tries to decide if she could commit the perfect murder.

There are some very sweet little touches, including her genuinely love for her ex mother in law and her bafflement when a stranger reaches out and demonstrates concern for her wellbeing.

All in all, Perfect Murder, is a fast and absorbing read which indulges in a little bit of quirkiness along the way.

 

Synopsis: Could you commit the perfect murder?

Alice Friend thinks you can, and she’s going to prove it. But perfection is elusive, and the body count rises as she pursues her aim, changing MO with each kill.

It should be easy. After all, Alice is perfectly suited for the task. As a crime writer she leads a solitary life and has little to get in her way.

Until it does.

Can she really kill and walk away, or will her actions have consequences closer to home than she could have imagined? Suddenly it looks like time may be running out for Alice…

Dark and quirky, download Perfect Murder to see if the perfect murder really can be committed.

For fans of Peter James and Angela Marsons

The Dinner Party by R J Parker

4 Stars from me

What a great read – would make for a fab film – think along the lines of Shallow Grave!

The Dinner Party jogged along nicely to start with and then you find yourself on a bit of a roller coaster ride as the story gathers pace. Both dangerous and silly in equal measures and definitely a book to be devoured in two sittings.

Ok so none of the characters were overly likeable, except maybe Ted, maybe, but that just means you don’t get attached to them which is good for a standalone.

I don’t think I’ve read anything by R J Parker before but I will certainly look out for his books now!

Synopsis: All your friends are invited. But which of them will survive?
An addictive and twisty psychological thriller about the dark secrets that lie within a peaceful neighbourhood.

Eight friends. Eight secrets. One killer.

A group of old friends gather in a peaceful suburban street for a dinner party.

They are expecting a fun evening of wine, food and pleasant company. But then they start to play the game…

It’s about trust and dark secrets – it tests marriage to its limits – and none of them can begin to imagine its consequences.

Because the next day, two guests are dead and the others are trapped in a nightmare…

Who’s There? by Kerena Swan

5 Stars from me
County lines are of serious concern in the UK right now and Who’s There? really taps into this current and troubling issue. Kerena’s history of working in the sector shone through and added a breadth of credibility to the story.
For me, (I work in a secondary school and live in a town that is on a main line from London) this book is highly insightful and deals with a contemporary and very real issue in a sensitive way. Safeguarding of young and vulnerable people is high on the agenda for schools and government agencies and Who’s There? really shines a light on just how easy it is for someone to fall foul of these gangs of drug dealers.
This book is worth reading for that alone. So much so that I would actually recommend this to anyone who was seeking to gain an understanding of how the county lines work and why they are of such a risk to our children and young people.
Chip was a sweet character and again all too familiar to me as it is young, disconnected kids who are often targeted by these gangs to be their drug runners – kids like Chip who aren’t being closely monitored by their families and who are desperate either for attention, money or even just a sense of belonging.
Arnold is a superb character, I loved him so much for his straight forward view of things. What lovely eyes to see the world through – I felt quite jealous of his naive ability to see just the good in things. His view of the housing estate was so different to the cynical first impression gathered by his mum. Sadly this also meant he was the perfect person for them to ‘befriend’ and abuse. Yet, in among on the awfulness, I loved his little obsession with Clint Eastwood and the cowboy films, that was a nice touch.
Poker and Spider – ugh. Awful people with literally no morals.
I felt for the poor girl who lived next door to Arnold. Saskia was clearly a very genuine and kind girl – she was very sweet to Chip and Arnold on several occasions, yet her own dark past had led her to become hooked on drugs. Such a shame how the story panned out for her.
The parallel story of Arnold’s family would have been just as intriguing as a book on it’s own and showed a real depth of understanding of family dynamics and the complexity of the relationships within. Arnold’s mum, sister, stepdad and of course the dog were all excellently crafted and served to bring the story to life.
The fear for Arnold’s mum as she let go enough for him to leave home and live on his own was tangible and beautifully written.
I really enjoyed Who’s There? and am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour.
Synopsis: Appearances can be deceptive… Arnold Eastwood is thrilled when social services allocate him a flat all of his own. Independence hasn’t come easily to a young man with Downs Syndrome but now he has the chance to live free from his mum’s nagging, find a girlfriend, watch endless movies and make new friends. Meanwhile a London drug gang is setting up a supply line in Arnold’s town. They’re looking for someone to deliver drugs for them and somewhere to set up a base of operations. Soon Arnold and his flat are in the drug gang’s sights. Drawn into the dark underworld of crack cocaine and modern slavery, Arnold soon discovers that friends can in fact be deadly enemies. The question is: can he break free?  
Author Bio:
Kerena Swan trained as a Social Worker and worked for Social Services for over 25 years. For the past 14 years she has owned and managed an ‘outstanding’ rated agency for children with disabilities.  Following serious illnesses she decided to fulfil her long-held ambition of writing a book and getting it published. ‘Dying to See You’, published by Bloodhound Books, was her debut novel. 

After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration and deep joy of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer. Her second novel ‘Scared to Breathe’ is now available and her third book, ‘Who’s There?’ will be released on December 13th 2019.

Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, UK and her books are set in the surrounding areas.

Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience of the problematic world of social work and social studies, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir and crime genre.

If you would like to hear more about new releases, read Kerena’s blogs and download a free short-story – the prequel to Dying to See You – then visit www.kerenaswan.co.uk   and join her mailing list.

Facebook – Facebook.com/kerenaswan

Twitter- @kerenaswan

Instagram – kerenaswan

Goodreads link – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48763828-who-s-there

Amazon link – https://www.amazon.com/Whos-There-Kerena-Swan-ebook/dp/B081D5JWXG/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Kerena+Swan&qid=1573648513&s=digital-text&sr=1-2