BLOG TOUR: Look At Me Now by Simone Goodman

This is a funny, feel-good and totally unique book, with characters that are full of personality!

Gracie Porter’s life is in a tangle. Her television cookery show is flailing and her boyfriend’s affections are waning. It’s time for a change…
Best friend Faith rescues her place on the small screen when she unwittingly lands them both starring roles in a steamy spin-off that becomes an instant hit. The new show is more about relationships, sex and stonking big vegetables than cooking.
Throw in a fluctuating crush on her surprisingly irresistible agent, Harry Hipgrave, an unlikely friendship with a pair of D-list models and a gossip journalist intent on making her life miserable, Grace wonders if becoming famous is all it’s cracked up to be?

Gracie is a truly hilarious character, I love the way she’s described throughout. She’s vulnerable but strong and independent, very caring and full of hilarious and witty comments.

The plot itself is a lot of fun. It may not be the most detailed or intense plot, but it’s amusing, feel-good, romantic and different. Gracie’s traditional cookery show is failing, so the revamped show is sexy, bizarre and full of innuendos. It’s a great concept and I’ve not read anything that treads the line of sexual and funny so brilliantly.

All the characters in this are really strong though. Gracie’s romantic life is very up and down, but it’s always amusing or easy for the reader to feel connected to her. She’s a very personable character, and her drunken antics certainly felt very real and emotional. Her relationship with Jordan, while funny at times, again had parts that the reader could connect to. This is why I liked her so much as a character, because a lot of the things she did or things that happened to her had a spark of reality about them. Not everything was totally and outrageously funny, she seemed very real throughout and so it was easy for the reader to feel connected to her.

Faith was another greatly written character. She wasn’t just the ‘best friend’, she had her own depths and her own romantic issues going on. Her and Gracie were a brilliant pair and I really liked seeing the development of their friendship throughout. Poppy was unique, bold and a strong friend to Gracie through some difficult time.

The romance is the real heart of this book. It combines an unusual plot with the usual delightful elements of a traditional rom-com and it’s truly a great combination. I loved this book, I tore through it in the space of the day, enjoying the genuine laugh-out-loud moments, the hilarious characters and witty innuendos and the satisfying ending.

Look At Me Now
Simone Goodman
Boldwood Books, 5th Nov 2019

BLOG TOUR: In My Mother’s Name by Laura Elliot

I LOVED this!

A swallow flutters its wings into a dimly lit attic as Adele Foyle stumbles across the secret diary of the mother she has never met, and a shocking account of a crime committed over twenty-five years ago…
With her mother’s words etched in her mind and in the pages tucked into her jacket pocket, Adele delays joining her fiancé for a new life abroad and returns to Reedstown, the last place her mother, Marianne, was seen alive. She has one purpose: to find those who carried out the devastating attack on her mother.
Born into a Mother and Baby home run by Gloria Thornton, Adele needs to first unlock the disturbing chain of events that led to her own birth if she is to understand what happened to her mother.
But news of Adele’s arrival and the diary spread like wildfire amongst the small close-knit community. Old memories are stirring up fresh wounds.
No-one wants the truth to be told. The diary is just a story, they say. Yet as Adele begins to unravel the layers of deceit, the tissue paper lies begin to fragment and her own relationship starts to break down.
Her mother was telling the truth. Adele just has to prove it, even if it puts her own life in terrible danger.

I absolutely loved this book. It was fast paced, unusual, emotional and full of historical intrigue which I loved. This combination of genres was really unique and kept me hooked throughout. 

Adele was such a great character. She was determined, passionate, and full of love. I really liked her connection with her mother, despite never having met her. I thought that the brief flashbacks with Marianne, via her diary, really worked as they helped to connect both Adele and the reader with Marianne. 

The plot was easy to follow and yet full of action. There was both the present and the past to understand, but the writing is so clear that it kept me hooked the whole time. It started off with a brilliantly sudden and shocking beginning and to be honest, it ended the same way. 

I would definitely recommend this for someone who wants a book with great characters, a story full of intrigue and a blend of some of the best genres. 

In My Mother’s Name
Laura Elliot
Bookouture, 24th October 2019

BLOG TOUR: Reckless Girl by Emma Tallon

I have loved this entire series so far, and this book was once again a brilliantly fast-paced, intricate and emotional plot!

She’s back and this time she has a score to settle.
Anna Davis and Freddie Tyler are finally getting their lives back on track when an unexpected face turns up on Freddie’s doorstep. Someone from the past. And she delivers a blow that will tear their lives apart.
Reeling from the news, Anna throws herself into her work. Her clubs are doing well and she’s opening a new business venture with best friend, Tanya. But she’s worried that her relationship with Freddie could be about to fall apart.
Freddie’s got big problems with the business. A new gang is in town, and they’re muscling in on Tyler turf and need to be dealt with. Plus, he’s still being closely watched by a Met detective determined to bring him down.
As Freddie plots to take out his rivals, tensions between him and Anna grow. Could this spell the end of their relationship? And will the rogue detective finally get the chance to arrest Freddie – burning the empire he’s built from scratch to the ground?

What an emotional rollercoaster this book was! Just before reading Reckless Girl I re-read the entire rest of the series, so I was totally in the zone to enjoy this even more than I would have done anyway.

I just love the characters in this series. Anna is a really strong, fierce and independent woman, and I’ve always liked the way her and Freddie’s relationship is written. They are not presented as a couple with all the power in one half, they are written as equals, with a great working relationship and real emotion between them romantically as well. Anna uses her emotions to motivate herself through difficult times, and it’s really powerful. I’ve always really liked Freddie as well, he’s a typical strong man, but very attuned to Anna’s emotions and needs. I love the way his morals are investigated at times, and there are clear do’s and don’t’s for him and his family.

The story in this book hits the reader deep. It plays on Anna’s deepest needs and wants, and it’s so emotional at times. It’s particularly interesting seeing how Freddie reacts to Anna. After the last book, where Anna was 100x more vulnerable and fragile, it’s great to see her coming back to her normal self, and how Freddie gives her the space she needs to do this. Their relationship isn’t perfect all the time, but that’s why I like them both so much, as it feels real.

The ending to this totally took me by surprise. It had sort of been building for a while, but I didn’t think Tallon would actually go there and do it! But this is why I like this series, is that it’s different and often unexpected. I would definitely recommend this book, and the whole series, as I love them.

Reckless Girl
Emma Tallon
Bookouture, 8th October 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Keeper by Diane Saxon

This is such an intense, fast-paced and wonderfully creepy psychological crime novel!

Responding to reports of deadly screams in the Ironbridge Gorge, Detective Sergeant Jenna Morgan is first on the scene to investigate.
As the search intensifies, Jenna soon discovers her sister Fliss’s severely injured Dalmatian, Domino and the naked, tortured body of an unknown woman.
Who is the dead woman and where is her sister Fliss?

This book really does kick into action from the start. We see the crime happen from the perspective of Fliss, and it’s genuinely quite terrifying. The intensity, creepiness, and sheer horror of the situation really does come through the pages to the reader.

I really liked Jenna. She’s so determined, and yet her emotions do still come through. Somehow she manages to be a clearly independent and capable woman, as well as vulnerable, and I really liked these depths to her character. The team she works with is brilliant as well, and they all work great together. I loved Mason in particular, his strong attitude and kind personality were so likeable.

I had my suspicions about who was behind the horrific crime, but it turned out I was totally wrong, and it wasn’t until nearer the end that I finally got it. It was a great ending, I felt like all the loose ends were tied up well without being too neat, and it provided the reader with a big sense of relief after such a tense novel!

I’d definitely recommend this for someone wanting a fast-paced, extremely tense, creepy psychological crime novel.

The Keeper
Diane Saxon
Boldwood Books, 1st October 2019

BLOG TOUR: Lake Child by Isabel Ashdown

Carry on reading for a sneak peek extract from Lake Child

Eva

When I open my eyes, I know it is morning, because the snowreflected light makes its way through the shutters, casting white bars across the attic wall. Mamma is exactly where she was when I drifted back to sleep last night, curled around me, my head nestled into the crook of her neck. I can smell the scent of her favourite perfume, am comforted by the familiarity of her body, the soft brush of her hair against my cheek. It is warm beneath the covers, but the air of the room is cool, my breath a white mist. ‘We’ll have to get you an extra heater up here,’ she says, alerting me that she’s awake. ‘I think the radiator must be on the blink. No wonder you woke up last night.’ I hold my breath as my mind leaps around, searching for explanations as to what’s going on. Beyond the window a fox screeches, its cry childlike as the sound drifts and trails away. ‘Why am I—’ I start to say, but Mamma pulls me closer, her warm hands covering my ears as she kisses the top of my head.  ‘How are you feeling this morning?’ she asks, releasing me and slipping out of bed, tucking the covers around my shoulders. She crosses the room, flipping on the desk lamp as she goes, and places her hand on the radiator, holding it there for a second or two. She’s wearing a cream cable-knit sweater and flannel jogging pants, and her strawberry-blonde hair hangs down her back, fuzzy after a night’s sleep. She bends to fiddle with the dial. I blink, captivated by her casual movements, and try to find the right words. ‘Why am I here, Mamma? Why am I in the attic?’ She turns to me and smiles, but I see sadness there and I know she’s working hard to hold it together. ‘We’ve talked about this, haven’t we, darling? Remember?’ ‘Have we?’ I reply as I stare at her, terrified by the fact I have no idea what she is talking about. ‘I don’t – I don’t remember.’ And then I recall that blank impression I’d woken with last night, the sense that I’d been wiped clean, that my completely and utterly empty. ‘Yes, we’ve been over it several times now – but you’re still struggling to retain information. It’s not uncommon after this kind of trauma, you know? You mustn’t be afraid – it’s temporary, we’re sure.’ ‘Trauma?’ I ask, and I try to sit up, but a stabbing sensation pierces my ribs and I swallow a yelp. ‘What’s wrong with me?’ I push back the sheets, my hands shaking now. Mamma comes to me and unfastens the last two buttons of my pyjama top, and that’s when I see it for the first time. A criss-crossing of scars which starts at my sternum and runs down past my ribcage, to disappear into my pyjama bottoms. I glimpse the damage, and turn my head away, wide-eyed, horrified at the sight of my own mutilated skin. ‘Oh, God – oh, no. Mamma? What is this? What happened to me?’ I push her hands away, panicked, tugging at the sheets and wanting to cover myself up. Wanting to make it all go away. ‘It looks fine,’ she murmurs. ‘The scars are tightening up a bit, that’s all. We must keep using that special cream, to keep the skin soft – it’ll help with the healing.’ I’m crying now, but I barely feel the tears, and when Mamma looks up my eyes seek out hers, silently pleading with her for some answers I can make sense of. This confusion feels like madness; I’m both inside and outside of myself, looking in and looking out.

Again, she sweeps me into her embrace, and, despite the physical pain it causes me, it’s where I want to be. ‘Please, Mamma,’ I cry into her shoulder. ‘Tell me.’ Before she is able to reply, we’re interrupted by the tread of footsteps on the wooden staircase beyond the door, and Pappa’s bearded face appears, smiling and bright. He’s already dressed for work, in his thick plaid shirt and cargo trousers. I find I can replay a scene, like frames from a movie I’ve watched a hundred times. In it, we’re in the kitchen, preparing supper, and it’s dark beyond the window, and warm inside. Pappa comes in through the back, kicking off his snow-dusted work boots before padding across the flagstones to kiss Mamma on the cheek. I look up from chopping onions and tell him he looks like a lumberjack; he says he only dresses like that to please Mamma; Mamma says she wouldn’t change a thing. It’s a love scene, I think now, and it makes me happy, except I have to leave it, because someone’s saying my name. ‘Eva?’ Mamma says, giving my shoulder a little shake, and I’m aware that she’s said it a few times now. ‘Pappa’s here.’

Slowly, my mind returns from the past to the present, to me sitting in this strange bed with my mother at my side, and my father standing in the low doorway, the desk lamp casting his shadow huge across the ceiling. His expression is – what? Expectant? Hopeful? It’s hard to tell. ‘Hello, sweetheart!’ he says, and for a moment I feel as though I’m looking at a stranger. ‘How are you doing this morning? You gave us quite a fright last night.’ I open my mouth to speak, but Mamma answers for me. ‘She’s feeling much better now, aren’t you, Eva? I think it must have been another bad dream – you know, you’ve been plagued by them since we got you home.’ ‘Where’ve I been?’ I ask.

BLOG TOUR: Perfect Stranger by Jake Cross

This was creepy, unsettling and had an epic ending.

You let her in. You’ll wish you hadn’t.
Following a whirlwind romance, Rose and Chris’s marriage has been unshakeable for twenty years. But when teenager Katie turns up on their doorstep, blonde, wide-eyed and beautiful, their perfect life threatens to crumble to pieces. Because Katie says she’s Chris’s long-lost daughter, the product of a forgotten summer fling.
The couple is still reeling from shock when Katie tells them she has nowhere to go. The couple is her only hope. Kind-hearted Rose invites Katie to stay, despite Chris’s protests. The poor girl has only just lost her mother – they can’t leave her out on the street.
But soon after Katie moves in, strange things start happening. Someone crashes into a neighbour’s fence. An unexplained fire starts in the couple’s kitchen. And a family friend coming to visit disappears on the way to the house. Chris insists Katie has to go. But it’s Chris who won’t explain where he was at the time their friend went missing…
The couple’s dream life seems to be turning into a nightmare. With dark secrets about Chris’s history with Katie’s mother coming to light, Rose no longer knows who to trust. Soon, she isn’t sure whether she’s invited a dangerous stranger into her home, or whether she’s been living with one all along…

What an epic and creepy thriller this is. Chris and his family seem settled and happy, when a shock letter and almost-mugging begins the path of something that will rock their whole life. Every event simply ups the ante, and increase the tension and questions.

Katie is a very unsettling character. To the reader it seems there really is something wrong, but it’s impossible to put your finger on what exactly. Her lies and stories simply don’t add up, but there’s no way to know what’s true or not. Chris seems naturally a bit suspicious of her, but Rose and Julia are such kind people that Katie quickly integrates herself in their family.

As the book goes on, there are a myriad of unexplainable events, such as a beating, a fire and more, and it just keeps escalating. If it’s even possible, the tension rises even further when it seems that Chris is hiding the truth as well, and halfway through the book I genuinely couldn’t put it down as I was desperate to know who was genuine and who was the real monster.

The ending to this was probably one of the busiest but most epic endings to a thriller I’ve read in a while. There was a LOT going on, but it meant that I just simply couldn’t put it down. It was chilling, tense, dark and quite frightening at points. Katie was at her best in these scenes, and the writing was magnificently creepy. The very final scene finishes the book off perfectly, it’s calm, calculated and the final truths all come to light.

This is such a satisfyingly creepy book, with brilliant characters and a tense atmosphere throughout.

Perfect Stranger
Jake Cross
Bookouture, 21st August 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

This was a claustrophobic, fast-paced and clever book, with characters who were explored in lots of detail.

Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.
In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.
When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.
Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on theprecipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one more final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?

The concept of this was really fascinating. This is an escape room like no other, with obscure clues and a real sense of claustrophobia throughout. At first, it’s slightly confusing, with a prologue that seems to make no sense, and the introduction of a character who seems to be unconnected. It’s confusing but ultimately fascinating, and I was hooked immediately. The beginning works well because it seems to be disjointed – the scenes are cleverly shocking, and entices the reader to keep going to find out what exactly is going on.

It’s hard not to give too much away about this book… The scenes in the elevator offered insight into the four characters, and showed their twisted relationships with each other as well as their own personal battles. As time went on, it was clear they were losing hope, becoming frustrated and getting increasingly desperate. The emotions were right on the surface, and these scenes were written so well.

There are also chapters that don’t take place in the elevator, and these were actually some of my favourite scenes in the book. They were clever, seemingly not linked, and kept me really hooked until I knew how it all worked together. I don’t want to give too much away, but these chapters become more intense as times goes on and it’s so clever.

Although I partly predicted one aspect of the ending, I definitely didn’t get any of the details. The ending was less about the sudden shock factor, and more about a slow, tense and twisted ending that left the reader feeling both shocked and satisfied. I’ve not read an ending that had so much going on in a while, but it really worked with the tone of the novel, and I couldn’t have put the book down if I tried.

I read this in the space of a day, it was frightening, tense, clever and definitely twisted. Each of the characters brought a lot to the book, especially the women, and I loved the strong personalities. I’d definitely recommend this if you want something different to read!