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.

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…

Remain Silent by Susie Steiner

4 Stars from me

There is a simple beauty within these pages – among the chaotic debris of Manon’s life, and the depravity, abuse, racism, squalor and disappointment in the story – that is found within the relationship based narrative. It is so acutely observed, so raw, so natural and so accurate. A truly wonderful and unexpected delight. The way Susie Steiner has captured the relationships and emotions is quite brilliant.

DS Manon Bradshaw is a great character, she leads us unflinchingly through every aspect of this book and she shares a lot along the way.

There is an uncomfortable truth in this story as the thread of the abuse of immigrants is all too close to home. The inhumane way in which these men are treated was captured perfectly and highlights a sad truth within our society.

I really enjoyed the setting of the book too as it is reasonably local to me which I guess made me connect with the book virtually from page one – ‘oooh I’ve walked through that park where the dead guy was hanging…’

I very much enjoyed this book although was saddened to read in the authors notes at the end of her own ill health. It made for very humbling reading and I hope that treatment is going well.

Synopsis: Newly married and navigating life with a toddler as well as her adopted adolescent son, Manon Bradshaw is happy to be working part-time in the cold cases department of the Cambridgeshire police force, a job which allows her to “potter in, coffee in hand and log on for a spot of internet shopping – precisely what she had in mind when she thought of work-life balance.” But beneath the surface Manon is struggling with the day-to-day realities of what she assumed would be domestic bliss: fights about whose turn it is to clean the kitchen, the bewildering fatigue of having a young child in her forties, and the fact that she is going to couple’s counseling alone because her husband feels it would just be her complaining.

But when Manon is on a walk with her two-year-old son in a peaceful suburban neighborhood and discovers the body of a Lithuanian immigrant hanging from a tree with a mysterious note attached, she knows her life is about to change. Suddenly, she is back on the job, full-force, trying to solve the suicide – or is it a murder – in what may be the most dangerous and demanding case of her life. 

The Murder House by Michael Wood

An easy 5 stars from me!

First things first, this is book 5 in the DCI Matilda Darke series so do yourself a favour and start with book one! Then book two… Then book three… Then book four

The opening scenes are brutal and set the stage perfectly for the rest of the story. I was utterly gripped from the very first page of The Murder House and I fell straight back in with DCI Darke and her team as they raced to find the killer who has seeming butchered a ‘perfect’ family in cold blood.

Michael’s writing style is sublime and the way he captures the differing personalities of characters within the book is an absolute masterclass in the craft. All of the characters, from a prostitute who fills a few paragraphs, to the individual members of the team are well defined, individual and believable.

There appears to be a plethora of potential suspects, virtually everyone is lying about something and Matilda should know better by now than to take risks! There are some proper spooky scenes in The Murder House, plenty of peril and a nice number of red herrings to boot!

In among the horrors of the murder and the inevitable ‘whodunnit’ there are some wonderfully woven relationships, personal problems, office politics all running alongside the backdrop of Matilda and her life.

I long for this series to be televised; it is just perfect for it.

I absolutely adore the character Matilda and hugely look forward to new books in the series when they come out. I simply cannot recommend this series enough. If you have a book lover in your life this series would truly make the perfect Christmas gift!

Synopsis: It’s the most disturbing crime scene DCI Matilda Darke has ever seen…

The morning after a wedding reception at a beautiful suburban home in Sheffield, the bride’s entire family are stabbed to death – in a frenzied attack more violent than anything DCI Matilda Darke could have imagined.

Forensics point to a burglar on the run across the country. But cracks are starting to appear in Matilda’s team, someone is playing games with the evidence – and the killer might be closer to home than they thought…

SHE by H C Warner

4 Stars from me

I blame Charlotte!

I loved the characters in SHE, even the horrid ones and there were a few, the family dynamics and relationships between friends felt really well constructed.

It was a difficult read in places as Warner pushes the reader to the edges of acceptability in terms of what constitutes ‘story’ and what constitutes ‘shock value’ and for me SHE is very firmly the right side of the line. An important subject matter seemed to me to be deal with in a very pragmatic manner.

I really thought I’d be giving SHE a 5 star rating but a couple of things just made that impossible for me – the part where the book flips to a different viewpoint, I have to be honest and say my heart sank, I really didn’t want to have to read everything all over again. Plus there just seemed too many occasions where in reality people would have spoken up or stepped in.

Otherwise – and I am hesitant because I can see from other reviews that a lot of people are wild for the bit where the POV flips so please don’t let my silly old opinion put you off – SHE is a great psychological thriller, I totally kept on turning the pages wanting to read more and see what would happen next.

Synopsis: She’s everything he dreamed of. Isn’t she? Ben can’t believe his luck when the beautiful Bella walks into his life, just when he needs her most.

Still bruised and vulnerable since breaking-up with long-term girlfriend, Charlotte, he falls head over heels in love.

But Bella isn’t quite the ideal partner that Ben believes her to be. She quickly decides that everything is better when it is just the two of them – making it harder for friend and family to stay in touch. And then a sudden death triggers a chain of events that throws Ben headlong into a nightmare…

Secrets, lies, vengeance, and betrayal are at the heart of this story about a family that is destroyed when their son brings home the perfect girl…

All The Rage by Cara Hunter

5 Stars from me

Well it is fair to say that Cara Hunter does not lack for imagination. All The Rage is chock-full of suspects and has at least eleventybillion potential different outcomes – all of which you try and compute as you race through the pages.

Beautiful Oxford comes to life within this story and in a way the Cambridge does during the Cambridge Blue series.

DI Adam Fawley is a complex little bunny isn’t he, even so I find him very likeable and he has that dogged determination that all the very best literary detectives possess – if you were a victim he’d be the guy you’d want investigating and if you were guilty of something you’d be hoping he wasn’t! That said, he has a strong team too and it was nice to read a book where it wasn’t just the lead detective who was worthy of glory.

As ever with Cara Hunter’s books there is a moral and social thread within this story and this made it all the more interesting for me. There are some disturbing elements and there is a lot to think about within this beautifully crafted story.

As great as this book was to read, I am utterly sure it would be fantastic televised – I can picture a lot of the scenes and really think the whole thing would make for a magic tv series.

Synopsis: A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.

DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?

And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back . . .

WHAT EVERYONE IS SAYING ABOUT CARA HUNTER
‘Your next riveting, twisty read’ Shari Lapena
‘A real gripper of a read’ Peter James
‘Fast paced and a fantastic cast of characters. Kept me guessing to the end – and I loved the final reveal’ Fiona Barton
‘Cancel everything. You’re not going anywhere until you finish reading this’ Emily Koch

Left For Dead by Paul J. Teague

4 Stars from me

I loved reading about Morecambe Bay and enjoyed the contrast of the vibrant holiday town from the past versus the now dilapidated and neglected holiday camp that is ripe for redevelopment today.

Will and Charlotte were a bit of a complex couple, seems to me they need to communicate better! It was a little bittersweet to read of them as a young couple and then see how much they’d lost each other along the way.

Lots of great characters throughout this book with a nice amount of attention paid to some of the non key characters too which I always think is a nice touch.

This is pretty much a mystery book and I was excited to learn that it is the first in a series – we desperately need some new crime thriller dramas on TV, could this be the next big thing?

My thanks to Paul J Teague and BOTBSPublicity for letting me take part in this blog tour.

Synopsis: A return to the past. Two guilty secrets. A memory that won’t stay buried…

When Charlotte and Will Grayson return to the seaside resort where they met as teenagers, they hope it’ll help to heal the wounds in their marriage.

But visiting the dilapidated holiday camp where their relationship began brings terrible memories back from the past.

The man who’d once made their lives hell has come back to find them – only, the last time they saw him, they’d left him for dead on the beach.

As the threats to their new life become more severe, Charlotte and Will discover that they were mistaken about what happened to Bruce Craven on that fateful night.

And now he’s returned to finish off what was started thirty years ago.

Sometimes the past is best left alone…

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaulTeagueUK

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paulteagueauthor/

Thriller website: https://paulteague.co.uk/

Left for Dead is the first book in the Morecambe Bay Trilogy.
Book 2 is Circle of Lies and will be published on Monday 9th December 2019.
Book 3 is Truth Will Out and will be published on Monday 6th January 2020.

Seven Days by Alex Lake

5 Stars from me

Wow, Seven Days is deeply disturbing and emotive read about a typical young girl who is snatched by a local predator and kept captive in his basement for years and years. He repeatedly rapes her resulting in three children and it is the third one who forms the focus of our story as she becomes determined not to let him die.

I couldn’t help but draw parallels with Room and I wonder if one inspired the other?

The whole family backstory was beautifully orchestrated and I really enjoyed the thought and creativity that went into the construction of their lives.

Seven Days is a brilliantly clever book and a captivating read, I had genuine trouble putting it down. Much like other books I have read by Alex Lake it is emotive, interesting and cleverly put together. Very much recommended.

 

 

Synopsis: The twisty new psychological thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author

A race against time to save her child…

In seven days, Maggie’s son, Seb, turns three. But she’s not planning a party or buying presents or updating his baby book. She’s dreading it. Because in her world, third birthdays are the days on which the unthinkable happens… she loses her child.

For the last twelve years Maggie has been imprisoned in a basement. Abducted aged fifteen, she gave birth to two sons before Seb, and on their third birthdays her captor came and took them from her.

She cannot let it happen again. But she has no idea how to stop it. And the clock is ticking…

Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara

4 Stars from me

This book is in part a fascinating peek into the world of the AA, the meetings, the ‘Big Book, the ‘twelve steps’, and the sheer risk and trust you are forced to have with a room full of strangers. I really enjoyed this part of the story and found it – and Astrid’s struggle not to drink – really interesting.

I read Who Did You Tell in a day and found it hard to put the book down as I struggled to work out who was stalking Astrid and why, who she could trust and whether her relationship with Josh was going to work as she tried her best to leave the past behind.

The small town vibe was hilarious, I loved all the nosy neighbours and busybodies.

And, who isn’t in love with Josh? What a sweetie.

Synopsis: It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around.

Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged.

But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected.

Some mistakes, you have to pay for…