Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews

I Know You’re There by Sarah Simpson #BlogTour @aria_fiction @sarahsimpson

I Know You’re There by Sarah Simpson Blog Tour

Hello everyone and thank you so much for stopping by! We are so excited and it’s our absolute pleasure to be a part of the blog tour for I Know You’re There by Sarah Simpson and share our individual reviews with you. Thank you so much to Victoria Joss at Aria for inviting us to be a part of this blog tour.

Today we are sharing Brenda and Lindsay’s reviews with you!

The Traveling Sisters ~ Norma, Brenda & Lindsay! xxoo

SARAH SIMPSON – About the author
Sarah Simpson has a first-class honours degree in Psychology and has experienced working at a Brain Rehabilitation Hospital. She has spent time as a family consultant for Warwickshire and Oxfordshire solicitors and gained knowledge of the Family Court System. She now lives in Cornwall with her husband, three children and animals.

Follow Sarah
Twitter handle: @sarahrsimpson
Facebook: @sarahsimpsoncornwall

About the book

Is your house as safe as you think?

Natalie spent most of her childhood feeling afraid. So when she moved into her cosy little flat in St Ives and met her three friendly neighbours, she knew at once it was somewhere she’d feel safe.

Before long, Natalie’s neighbours have become the family she never had. Kind, motherly Morwenna, serious, reliable Nigel, and sweet, anxious Daniel. They collect each other’s mail, water each other’s plants, and share each others lives.

But as Natalie knows all too well, the people who are closest to you can also be the most dangerous. And this house is not as safe as she thinks…

Lindsay’s Review

This story had me on edge from start to finish!

Natalie lives in an apartment in a house shared with three others.   She has good relationships with the other tenants, considering a couple of them close friends.  Having escaped a violent and abusive childhood, Natalie has always lived in fear of facing her past.   She can’t seem to shake the feeling of being watched and having her past catch up with her.  Mysterious notes begin to appear causing everyone to question how well they really know one another.

I applaud the author, Sarah Simpson, for creating such an intense feeling of tension throughout this entire novel.   I truly felt Natalie’s fear and anxiety, feeling as though I was worried about what I would find out on the next page.   This chilling sense of dread built a very strong and palpable atmosphere.  

The characters were intriguing, each carrying a sense of secrecy that had my suspicions jumping all over the place.  The novel changes perspectives between the house tenants, each chapter ending with a small cliffhanger which left me eager to read further.   The pace did waver slightly as there were times I felt the plot dragged a bit, however, my curiosity and interest was piqued throughout.  

Brenda’s Review

I Know You’re There starts off slow as we get to know our main characters who live in different flats in the same building. It seems like a good set up for Natalie and she thinks she has found her people here however not everything is as it appears with her new friends. Each character has their own personal conflicts and secrets and they are slowly revealed as we get to know the characters.

I know You’re There delves into the mental health of the characters and a few conditions are explored here with our characters. Sarah Simpson does a great job here delving into each character and their personalties as we learn each of the characters conflicts and secrets from their past and how that has affected their dynamics here in the story. The characters and dynamics are complex and at times I did become a bit confused with the dynamics.

The pace picks up around the middle of the story and the tension rises as the mystery starts to unfold right to that very satisfying ending that wrapped up so well.

Thank you so much to Victoria Joss at Aria and Sarah Simpson for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

Fiction Books Guest Post

Why Do I write Psychological Thrillers?

This is something I am frequently asked. I Know You’re There is my third psychological thriller, it’s a good question and to be honest, not one I ever really ask myself. I honestly, haven’t ever considered writing in a different genre, other than an idea and a will I have for a children’s book, totally at the other end of the spectrum.

Why did I choose this particular genre? Possibly because my mind naturally thinks, feels and ticks in this way and this is also why I have never questioned it. Probably not something I should admit to but my mind naturally errs on the dark, evocative, twisted side, when I am deep in my imagination.  I am not, for the record, a narcissistic psychopath, or anything remotely dark in nature but I do have an intrinsic, enquiring interest in the conditions and traits that provoke such tense states. The good old question, nature or nurture, what is it? that can flip people to show an unflattering side of the personality coin.

I guess, if I think about where my ideas come from it is a combination of people watching, personal and professional experiences. I watch people (again not in a stalker type fashion) and I wonder what is happening behind the sometimes fragile surface, because the psychology of human behaviour is fragile and exposed, and are things really as the surface would have it seem? What conflicts could be happening behind the scenes, we are not privy to? Causing and instigating ever rippling consequences?

​I have always had a deep fascination in the mind and how it can become so iniquitous and then what happens. I love to explore what ensues when people’s emotions are tested, strained, torn, when life throws its stuff at them as it so often can. How come some people will cope, remain relatively unchanged and others will struggle or hit out?Understanding, it’s not always the events in life to determine emotional state but more how people have learned or chosen to react and manage the events. There’s sometimes a human arrogance to assume we know how we would respond to given experiences as really – we have no idea. Because context and perspective are everything, always. It’s these ambiguities I love to write about. 

​What any of us take from any story is always influenced and so determined by our own life experiences, state of mind, learned behaviours and individual biology. I can only hope to leave readers with a certain emotional feeling, in this respect I am unable to influence the effect of the story. For me, this is what makes writing and reading so incredibly special, understanding each and every individual will take something different from each page turn, each chapter.

So, I write within the psychological thriller genre, and I see it more that I write about life and behaviours. Rarely is life plain sailing without evocative moments, without times of sadness, of fear and times of clinging to the edge of the seat. All I hope to do is push this notion, these emotional states to the ambiguous limit and sometimes, twisting them that little bit further, squeezing out the questions – what if? What then?

Book Addict Rambles Q+A

1: can you introduce yourself and your books for everyone please? 

Sarah is relatively late to the writing scene, despite a love of books and writing from when she was very young, it wasn’t until 2016 that she sat down to put pen to paper. Her Greatest Mistake was then some twelve months in creation, followed by some vigorous re-writing. In June 2017, she signed with her current agent Broo Doherty and shortly after was offered a three book publishing contract with Aria, Head of Zeus.

She has written three psychological thrillers. Her Greatest Mistake, a domestic noir look behind closed doors which reached an overall eBook chart position of 16 in the UK. Who I Am, a complex and taut look at friendships and much more and her latest – I KNOW YOU’RE THERE and I know you’ll let me in….

I Know You’re There.

Is your house as safe as you think? 

Natalie spent most of her childhood feeling afraid. So when she moved into her cosy little flat in St Ives and met her three friendly neighbours, she knew at once it was somewhere she’d feel safe. 

Before long, Natalie’s neighbours have become the family she never had. Kind, motherly Morwenna, serious, reliable Nigel, and sweet, anxious Daniel. They collect each other’s mail, water each other’s plants, and share each other’slives. 

But as Natalie knows all too well, the people who are closest to you can also be the most dangerous. And this house is not as safe as she thinks…

Sarah lives in a small coastal town in beautiful Cornwall with her husband, three children, German Shepherd and cat. 

•What inspired you to write this book?

I Know You’re There was inspired by my natural interest for complex psychological conditions and the general vulnerabilities of the workings of the human mind. I loved the idea of four strangers coming together, taking up residence in an old Victorian house, divided into flats. All the characters with their own back stories and emotional baggage, all of them in some way, burying darker times from earlier years. I think it has always interested me – how well do we ever know anyone, to understand what it is driving responses, emotions and thought processes. How easy it is to only see what we want to see based on these conditions. Sometimes the most obvious scenarios are the most difficult to spot. As with all my books, this rides on the understanding none of us truly know how we would react and feel in any given circumstance. So life, professional and personal life experiences have inspired me with a sprinkling of fascination of the often unknown capabilities of the mind.

•Did you base any of the characters on anyone you know personally? 

No, not anyone I personally know. But I would say the characters all derive from an amalgamation of people I may have crossed paths with at some point in time. Certainly, my characters have individual traits I have at some point encountered, be it – personally or professionally. 

•What can we find you doing when you’re not writing? 

I enjoy the simple things in life. A glass of something cold, watching the sunset is good for me. I live in Cornwall, so being outdoors is really important. I am most happy when I’m literally anywhere near or in the sea, whatever the weather. I love walking with my family and Arthur our German Shepherd, particularly exploring new stretches of the coast line. Naturally, I am a people watcher, so I could happily sit at one of my favourite spots, with a mug of coffee or a chilled glass of wine and soak up the life around me. It probably goes without saying, I spend many hours, when I am not writing, catching up on reading. 

•Are you currently working on anything new? 

I have just finished writing my fourth book. So I am at the editing stages all over again with a strong idea for book five hovering somewhere in the background.

•Have you ever considered writing a different genre? Have you ever written a different genre, if so what was it? 

So far, I have concentrated on the psychological thriller genre, this is my comfort zone area, dark, evocative and twisted. That doesn’t make me as scary as it sounds, honest! However, at the other end of the spectrum, I have had an idea for a children’s book whirring around my mind for some years. Occasionally, I jot down the ideas that randomly pop up and I really hope to make this a reality at some point in the next year or so. 

•What books have you recently read and enjoyed? 

So many wonderful books. To name a couple – I Invited Her In by Adele Parks and Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan. Both of these books, I found to be beautifully written with compelling plots and believable characters.

• Have you done any other jobs than being an author? What was your favourite? 

Aside from all the many varied part-time jobs as a teenager, I have worked within marketing and I have also worked as a mental health clinician for many years. But, I am never happier than when I am writing. Not in any way does it feel like work, I even love the editing process, so this answer is categorically, a really easy one.

•How did you celebrate your first book being published? 

I think I was working on this day and so creeping on to the internet at every possible opportunity to soak up the buzz from all the generous people sharing the word. In the evening, I celebrated at home with a glass or two of Prosecco, with my husband and family. It all felt a little surreal to be honest, I simply couldn’t believe I had written a book worthy of publishing!

•What does your typical day look like when you’re writing? 

I begin as early as possible because I am best free-writing in the morning and editing in the afternoon or evening, both sometimes. I wake early, see my son off to school, prepare a meal for the evening, usually something that can be slow-cooked in the oven that I have to smell all day long. Then, I begin writing between 7.30 and 8.00. I will t write through to around 13.00, then deal with any household necessities and usual distractions that cannot be ignored. In the afternoon, normally, I see to any emails and if I am not heading towards a deadline, I tend to research and edit. or if I am feeling naughty – I read. As everyone begins to return home in dribs and drabs, I do the family thing, we walk our dog a couple of miles across the sand dunes, then at some point we all eat together. I set myself personal deadlines and I am really strict about sticking to them. For example, during these last few weeks, many days, I have written or edited for ten hours plus a day and for seven days a week. Finally, somewhere, I make time, dipping in and out on the social media platforms. I read mostly before bed, usually knocking myself out with my kindle or book, falling asleep. 

•Finally, my out of the box question. Would you rather explore a new planet, or the deepest parts of the ocean? Why? 

Definitely, the deepest parts of the ocean. I would love to do this, deep sea diving and then some. It completely fascinates me, such incredible, mythical and beautiful creatures, organisms and plant life. It’s kind of amazing, another entire world existing beneath our reach in our oceans, most the time we have no idea about or any connection to any of it. This is one of my dreams, to explore the depths of our fabled oceans.

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If you would like to read a copy of this book for yourself, it is available to pre-order from the following retailers:

Pre-order links:

Amazon Kobo iBooks GooglePlay

Follow Aria
Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Please check out these other fantastic blogs that are participating in the blog tour!

Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews

The East End by Jason Allen #BlogTour @EathanJason @parkrowbooks

The East End by Jason Allen Blog Tour

Hello everyone and thank you so much for stopping by! We are so excited and it’s our absolute pleasure to be a part of the blog tour for The East End by Jason Allen and share Norma’s review with you. Thank you so much to Justine Sha at Park Row Books for inviting us to be a part of this blog tour.

The Traveling Sisters ~ Norma, Brenda & Lindsay! xxoo

The East End by Jason Allen is available now!

Book Summary:

THE EAST END opens with Corey Halpern, a Hamptons local from a broken home who breaks into mansions at night for kicks. He likes the rush and admittedly, the escapism. One night just before Memorial Day weekend, he breaks into the wrong home at the wrong time: the Sheffield estate where he and his mother work. Under the cover of darkness, their boss Leo Sheffield — billionaire CEO, patriarch, and owner of the vast lakeside manor — arrives unexpectedly with his lover, Henry. After a shocking poolside accident leaves Henry dead, everything depends on Leo burying the truth. But unfortunately for him, Corey saw what happened and there are other eyes in the shadows.

Hordes of family and guests are coming to the estate the next morning, including Leo’s surly wife, all expecting a lavish vacation weekend of poolside drinks, evening parties, and fireworks filling the sky. No one can know there’s a dead man in the woods, and there is no one Leo can turn to. With his very life on the line, everything will come down to a split-second decision. For all of the main players—Leo, Gina, and Corey alike—time is ticking down, and the world they’ve known is set to explode.

Told through multiple points of view, THE EAST END highlights the socio-economic divide in the Hamptons, but also how the basic human need for connection and trust can transcend class differences. Secrecy, obsession, and desperation dictate each character’s path. In a race against time, each critical moment holds life in the balance as Corey, Gina, and Leo approach a common breaking point. THE EAST END is a propulsive read, rich with character and atmosphere, and marks the emergence of a talented new voice in fiction.

Author Bio: Jason Allen grew up in a working-class home in the Hamptons, where he worked a variety of blue-collar jobs for wealthy estate owners. He writes fiction, poetry, and memoir, and is the author of the poetry collection A MEDITATION ON FIRE. He has an MFA from Pacific University and a PhD in literature and creative writing from Binghamton University, and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches writing. THE EAST END is his first novel.

Social Links:

Author Website Twitter: @EathanJason Facebook: @jasonallenauthor Goodreads

Q&A with Jason Allen

Q: How would you describe your writing process? (Do you write at night? During the day? Alone or out in public at a cafe?)

A: On the best of days, I’m a marathon writer. I’m always most productive when I can devote an entire day to novel pages, ideally starting the moment I wake up, or right after the coffee is in the cup anyway, and then working until at least dinner time. I used to write very late at night, sometimes all night until the sun had risen and the birds reminded me I should finally sleep, but in the past few years I’m more a morning writer overall. I also teach at a university and have a heavy teaching load, so some days I can only spend an hour or so working on my writing before grading papers or heading to campus. I’ve found that I can’t work on a novel in public. I have to be in total solitude and quiet, at least when working on a novel. For shorter pieces, especially essays or poems, I sometimes like the energy in a coffee shop or a diner because it can spark a new thread of strange associative thoughts or odd metaphors, but as far as the novels go, I need to be a hermit for large blocks of time in order stay immersed in the prolonged dream of the fictional world.

Q: What physical settings do you find most conducive to writing?  Where did you write the bulk of this novel?

A: I wrote a lot of the early draft of The East End while living in Upstate New York, mostly while on my old couch, looking out the window throughout a few full cycles of the seasons and many days while snow was falling. I revised it while living in Atlanta and renting a first floor apartment in an old decrepit house that had a porch. I usually brought my laptop outside to the couch that was on the porch. During the hottest, most humid, most mosquito-thick parts of the year in Atlanta, I worked way more at night when it was cooler and less buggy and quieter.


Q: How did writing a novel compare to your previous experience writing poetry?

A: Writing poems is much more spontaneous for me than the novel writing process. The scale is also so dramatically different. A poem is a distillation of image and emotion, sort of like carving and polishing a figurine of a baby elephant from a palm-size piece of limestone, while writing a novel takes years of chiseling marble slabs, and then rearranging and questioning how all the animals in an acre of the African savannah should be positioned to tell their larger interconnected story. Most of the poems in my collection A Meditation on Fire connect to personal experience, the initial drafts written with a sense of urgency. The East End was a constant process of exploration, until the characters felt so real to me that I truly cared about each of them.

What I love about writing poetry is that I can spend one day on a first draft and feel I have something that is at least close to finished. What I love about novel writing is that I can only plan so much, and at a certain point during the years it takes to reach the end, there is sure to be at least a hundred ah-ha moments, so many surprises, and overall it’s so satisfying to complete a work that took hundreds of days, sometimes thousands of hours, and to discover something about the characters’ journeys that makes me think more deeply about my own experience in this world. Whether it’s through the short form with poems or essays or short stories, or the long form with novels, I can’t consider a piece finished in any form until I feel the same sense of emptiness—and I mean that in a good way. Each medium allows me to empty my consciousness to a certain extent, to empty out the static of daily life that we all cope with in our own ways.

Q: What inspired you to write THE EAST END?

A: Initially, I mainly wanted to illuminate the inner lives of the working class people of the Hamptons. I grew up there, and as a working class person in a seasonal resort area that attracts the wealthiest of the wealthy, as the Hamptons does, it’s impossible not to compare what “they” have versus what “we” have. I’d always been fascinated by just how extreme the disparity was between the multi-millionaire visitors and those of us who scraped by year after year, and that tension played out in so many ways each summer season. So I wanted to explore class, but also addiction, secrecy, obsession, and to do my best to write a complex story that highlights that tension among the disparate classes of people in the Hamptons. What I found over time, after delving into the depths of each character’s psyche, is that I truly believe that we are all more than the assumptions others might impose upon us.

Q: What are some of the main themes in the book or some of the key takeaways?

A: The main themes are class (specifically class-divide), alcoholism and addiction, secrecy, obsession, loneliness and longing, and identity (including sexual orientation/ identification). The key takeaway, I hope, is that we should try our best not to judge any book by its cover. I had an easy time empathizing with the teenaged character, Corey, even as he starts breaking into houses, and also for his mother, Gina, even as she’s hitting bottom with alcohol and pills and is relatively absent from her two sons’ daily lives. I was surprised to find how much I cared about the billionaire character, Leo Sheffield, when in the past I could have easily written him off as just another greed-driven destroyer of the world, someone who deserves no empathy—but it was gratifying to care about them all, despite their flaws and bad decisions.

Q: What are the commonalities you discovered between the elite and the middle-class characters?

A: Everyone suffers. Everyone loves. Everyone longs for something or someone. We’re all so flawed, all bumbling along through our lives; we’re all having a human experience, no matter our socioeconomic status. It just so happens that it will always be a bit harder for working class people in general—hardest of all for the poorest of the poor.

Q: What was the hardest part about writing your debut book?

A: Maintaining relationships, maybe? It’s understandable that it might not be easy for most people to be in a relationship with someone who wants to spend days off from work in their pajama pants, shut away in a room for hours at a time. The work itself, I honestly love it—even when it feels like hard work. It’s incredible that after many years of writing, now I get to work on my next novels as others are reading The East End. I guess the hardest part is what happens after the writing is finished. I want everyone to like it… haha.

Q: Your author bio says you grew up in the Hamptons and worked a variety of blue-collar jobs for wealthy estate owners.  How much did you draw from personal experience when writing this book?

A: I mined lots of lived experience for both the setting of the novel and the characters. My mother worked for a millionaire family at their summer estate in Southampton for more than a decade, and while the plot and characters are fictional, the setting is closely based on the estate where she worked (and where I worked with her for one summer). I also worked for the mega-rich in the Hamptons as a pool guy, a carpenter’s helper, lots of labor jobs in my teens and twenties.

Q: What is your favorite genre to read?  Have any authors you’ve read influenced your work?

A: Literary fiction is definitely my favorite, but all of the best genre fiction always transcends its genre, so I love discovering an especially strange novel with magical realism elements, or one that introduces a dystopian world in a new and fascinating way (think the original Twilight Zone episodes, Rod Serling’s brilliant social commentary through sci-fi). Whatever the genre, the characters will always matter most to me, but also I find that I’m most grateful when an author obviously took the time to pull me through the story with relatively constant plot complications and tension—all the books I love, all the ones I just couldn’t down, have so much character complexity and tension throughout. I’m sure that every author I’ve read has influenced my work to varying degrees, and I’m always looking for that next book that will trick me into forgetting that I’m reading—the best novels always achieve this seemingly impossible magic trick.

Q: What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

A: I’m currently reading an advanced reader copy of a debut novel called The Tenth Girl, by Sara Faring, which is a brilliant, funny, twisted gothic story that takes place in a haunted girls’ prep school in Argentina, and at the same time I’m in the midst of another advanced copy of a wonderful literary debut novel Goodnight Stranger, by Miciah Bay Gault. I’ve also just finished Winter Loon, by Susan Bernhard, and loved it for its rich characters and the author’s bravery to show the true struggles of working class characters. Some other recent favorites include: The Boat Runner, by Devin Murphy (if you haven’t read that yet, buy it immediately—it’s amazing); Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh (so unique, both dark and funny in all the most interesting ways); and I just reread All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, which I can only describe as a masterpiece, a novel in my top two or three of all-time.

Q: Do you have plans to write more novels in the future?

A: Yes, absolutely. I plan to finish my second novel this summer. It’s a story set mostly in Portland, Oregon, where I also lived for ten years. It takes place during the winter of 2008, during the start of the Great Recession and the Housing Crisis, also during an especially cold winter. The characters are all down-and-outers, with addiction and family and desperation as the central themes. I’m also looking forward to revising my first memoir manuscript, as well as my first feature-length screenplay, and in the next year or so I will begin fleshing out my third novel. I have the novel-writing bug, and realize now that I always have. I’m not hoping for a cure, either.

Now onto Norma’s review

Atmospheric, messy & scandalous!

THE EAST END by JASON ALLEN is a disturbing, wicked, suspenseful, evocative and entertaining novel that was filled with quite the unusual and interesting characters. This was definitely a rapid-paced read for me but there was something about it that didn’t always sit all that well with me though. I was loving it one moment and then the next not so much.

JASON ALLEN delivers quite the atmospheric, gripping, compelling and well-written read here that was extremely vividly descriptive. I’m not normally a visual reader but this one definitely gave me a lot of visual scenes throughout that I could easily see playing out in my mind.

There is lots going on here and plenty of themes to ponder. I’m not sure if there was a little too many for me or if certain themes affected me in an unfavourable way. I’m thinking it was the latter.

This was an entertaining, wild and frantic read from start to finish! 

I’m extremely honoured to be a part of the blog tour for THE EAST END. Thank you so much to NetGalley, Park Row / Harlequin and Jason Allen for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

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If you would like to read a copy of the book for yourself, it is available now from the following retailers:

THE EAST END
Author: Jason Allen
ISBN: 9780778308393
Publication Date: 5/7/19
Publisher: Park Row Books

Buy Links: Harlequin Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-A-Million Powell’s

Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews

The Heart Keeper by Alex Dahl #BlogTour @HoZ_Books @alexdahlauthor

The Heart Keeper by Alex Dahl Blog Tour

Hello everyone and thank you so much for stopping by! We are so excited and it’s our absolute pleasure to be a part of the blog tour for The Heart Keeper by Alex Dahl and share our individual reviews with you. Thank you so much to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting us to be a part of this blog tour.

The Traveling Sisters ~ Norma, Brenda & Lindsay! xxoo

The Heart Keeper by Alex Dahl is available now!

The heart-breaking, heart-pounding new thriller from the author of The Boy at the Door.

How do you mend a broken heart?

It’s been three months since Alison Miller-Juul’s world fell apart when her six-year-old daughter, Amalie, died in an accident. Three months of sympathy cards, grief counselling and gritting her teeth, but it’s still only the vodka and pills that seem to help.

Across town, Iselin Berg’s life is finally looking up. Her seven-year-old daughter, Kaia, has survived a life-changing operation. After years of doctors, medication and hope, they can now start thinking about the future.
When Alison uncovers a dangerous secret, she is left in turmoil. She can now see a way to heal her broken heart, but will she risk everything to do so?

About the author

Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian author. Born in Oslo, she studied Russian and German linguistics with international studies, then went on to complete an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University and an MSc in business management at Bath University. A committed Francophile, Alex loves to travel, and has so far lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Sandefjord, Switzerland, Bath and London. Her first thriller, The Boy at the Door, was a Sunday Times Crime Club star pick.

Follow Alex:  
Twitter: @alexdahlauthor
Facebook: @alexdahlauthor

Now onto our reviews!
Norma’s Review

Moving, heart-wrenching & raw!

THE HEART KEEPER by ALEX DAHL is an interesting, enjoyable and entertaining read that had quite the emotional, profound and unique premise. I haven’t read too many books in regards to organ donation and I found that quite intriguing. I wouldn’t necessarily say though that I was totally immersed in this story but I did definitely feel at times an intense emotional pull. 

The story itself is a scary, horrific and heartbreaking one that definitely plants you right into the storyline with all of its dramatic highs and lows. But I wouldn’t say that it was all that thrilling or had me on the edge of my seat in anticipation until maybe towards the end. Then I was breathlessly awaiting the outcome.

ALEX DAHL delivers an intriguing and well-written read here with determined, honest and relatable characters. I especially enjoyed Kaia and she had me totally loving and rooting for her. The concept and the actual things all heart related was pretty palpable and extremely touched me as a reader. You could definitely feel the author’s heart here within this story. 

Brenda’s Review

Two Mothers, one grieving, two daughters, one gone and the other given a second chance

The Heart Keeper is an emotional, heart breaking story that explores a mother’s grief and guilt that turns into an obsession.

Alex Dahl does a great job capturing the grief of a family after the death of their daughter and sister. Each dealing in their own way that really pulled me into their lives. I was turning those pages as fast as I could to see how this story comes together in the end. We see how grief and guilt start to unravel our grieving mother and she starts to become obsessed with the idea of having a second chance with her daughter through her daughter’s heart keeper.

The ending had me on the seat of chair, holding my breath and rooting for the characters and feeling very satisfied with how the story wrapped up. I highly recommend!

Lindsay’s Review

Alison is lost in her grief after her five-year-old daughter, Amalie drowns in the lake.  She is consumed by guilt, as she was the one watching her that day. Alison and her husband decide to donate Amalie’s organs, feeling comfort that Amalie can help to save other children.  Iselin’s seven-year-old daughter, Kaia, is the recipient of Amalie’s heart. Being born with a heart condition, Iselin has watched Kaia struggle to survive for her entire life. Shortly after, Alison stumbles across a magazine article outlining Kaia’s miraculous recovery through the heart transplant.  Could part of Amalie be living within this young girl? Would she recognize any signs of Amalie in Kaia?

The emotional impact of this book hit me hard.  Alison’s grief completely consumed me. It was a gut-wrenching, impossible to ignore sadness that reached my core and had me shedding countless tears within the first several chapters.  I felt so deeply for her character and situation that I had to take breaks from reading to dry my eyes and regroup my thoughts. The power behind this author, Alex Dahl’s, writing is undeniable.   I had deep sympathy for Alison from start to finish, hoping for her to somehow find comfort and peace and be able to move forward in life.

This book is separated into three parts.  Part 1 was the most powerful for me, leaving a devastating and unforgettable emotional impact.  I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book, but found that Part 2 and Part 3 lost some of the emotional intensity, focusing more on the storyline, rather than the emotions involved.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Intriguing, heartfelt, moving and an extremely fitting and meaningful representation to storyline. 
Title: An intriguing, interesting, meaningful and extremely fitting representation to storyline. I absolutely love the title of this story! Perfection!
Writing/Prose: Well-written, sincere, captivating, moving and readable. 
Plot: Slow-building, steadily paced, interesting, heartfelt, moving, touching, and unique. 
Ending: Intense, heartfelt and satisfying. 
Overall: I think this book will be much better perceived if you go into it knowing that it is more of a strong family drama rather than a full on heart-pounding thriller. This book definitely resonated with me as a mother. Would recommend! 

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus and Alex Dahl for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

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If you would like to read a copy of the book for yourself, it is available now from the following retailers:

Buy links:
Amazon
Kobo
Google Play
iBooks

Follow Aria:
Website: www.headofzeus.com
Twitter: @HoZ_Books
Facebook: @headofzeus
Instagram: @headofzeus

Please check out these other fantastic blogs that are participating in the blog tour!

Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews

Who I Am by Sarah Simpson #travelingsistersread #BookReview #BlogTour @Aria_Fiction @sarahsimpson

WHO I AM BY SARA SIMPSON BLOG TOUR

 

 

Hello everyone and thank you so much for stopping by! We are so excited and it’s our absolute pleasure to be a part of the blog tour for Who I Am by Sarah Simpson and share our individual reviews with you. Thank you so much to Victoria Joss at Aria for inviting us to be a part of this blog tour.

The Traveling Sisters ~ Norma, Brenda & Lindsay! xxoo

img_7038SARAH SIMPSON – About the author
Sarah Simpson has a first-class honours degree in Psychology and has experienced working at a Brain Rehabilitation Hospital. She has spent time as a family consultant for Warwickshire and Oxfordshire solicitors and gained knowledge of the Family Court System. She now lives in Cornwall with her husband, three children and animals.

Follow Sarah
Twitter handle: @sarahrsimpson
Facebook: @sarahsimpsoncornwall

About the book

I know everything about you

And you know everything about me… except

WHO I AM.

Andi met Camilla at university. Instantly best friends, they shared everything together. Until their long-planned graduation celebration ends in tragedy…

Years later, Andi is living a seemingly perfect life on the rugged Cornish Coast with her loving husband, happy children and dream home. Yet Andi is haunted by a secret she thought only she knew. Someone out there is bringing Andi’s deepest fears to life. And she knows there’s no escaping the past that has come back to haunt her…

You trusted me with your secrets, you told me everything, you thought I was your best friend… but you have no idea WHO I AM.

Gripping, unputdownable and packed with twists and turns from the first page to the very last, this stunning psychological thriller will make you question whether we can ever really trust the ones we love.

Web_L339-4_brunette_brown eyesNorma’s Review

Gripping, twisty & totally mind-boggling!

WHO I AM by SARAH SIMPSON was quite the engrossing, intense, entertaining and unputdownable psychological thriller that necessarily didn’t grab my attention right away but it definitely had me totally consumed with curiosity in trying to figure out what the heck was actually going on with these characters.

I really struggled in the beginning because I didn’t really connect with the authors writing style but with that being said there was definitely a purpose for the way that this story was written which becomes quite apparent as the story progresses. Regardless of my struggles the storyline definitely was filled with lots of suspense which was so intense that I was anxiously swiping through those pages as fast as I possibly could.

SARAH SIMPSON delivers a dizzying, twisty, suspenseful, and well-written read here that had my head spinning in circles pretty much throughout most of this read. The story is told in multiple perspectives with a past and present timeline which definitely kept me on my toes in trying to figure out how all the perspectives were related. At times I was getting pretty frustrated and antsy eagerly awaiting for some of those subtle clues. But boy of boy it was definitely worth the wait!

As always I like to play detective and my detective skills were on the right track but let me tell you I had no idea how the author was going to pull it all off. Well, I am actually totally floored and truly impressed in the author’s ability to pull this one together in such a way that was so cleverly plotted bringing the whole story together in the end. This is one that those little pieces of puzzles definitely fit together perfectly. And those are probably one of my favourite techniques that an author chooses to use when telling their stories.

Web_L367-4_brunette_green-eyesBrenda’s Review

Things started off a little rocky for me at first and I wasn’t sure if this one was going to be one that I read through quickly just to finish it.  Well things really started to pick up for me and I started to pick up on some of those clues and I raced through most of this one in one evening to find out how it ends.  I was completely engrossed and entertained in this story and nothing was stopping me till I found Who I Am really is in this story. Things got quite twisty as I tried to piece things together and my head started to spin and at times I forgot who I was while trying to figure out how everyone fitted into this story.

Sarah Simpson does a great job here developing some interesting characters and we were quite intrigued with one character who seemed to have some background to her. After we finished reading we realized there is a previous book Her Greatest Mistake with that character in it. We will be adding that one to our list in the new year and looking out for her next book I Know You’re There, that will be released April 16, 2019.

Now here is the best thing about this story for me I can’t say I really liked the ending but I sure enjoyed the story.  I don’t think I ever felt that way about an ending before. Usually, how I like the ending is deal breaking for me.  Well, this ending was just perfect and brilliantly written. We highly recommend.

Web_L355-4_blonde_blue eyesLindsay’s Review

Twisty, TWISTY, T W I S T Y!!!!!!!!!

Wow – this was really good! I devoured this delicious treat of a novel like a child eating candy. Sneaking in minutes here and there when I should have been doing household chores. It was a thrilling, edge-of-my-seat, highly entertaining adventure that left my brain spinning when finished.

Andi and Camilla, raised in opposite ends of society, meet in university and become roommates. Each girl finds intrigue and allure into the background and lifestyle of the other and they become best friends. The night of their graduation party ends in tragedy, ending the bond that held their loyal friendship. Twenty years later, Andi is living a privileged life but feels a creeping suspicion that something from her past is coming to threaten her. Will the secrets she thought were long ago buried come back to haunt her?

I was glued to the pages of this clever, tension-filled thrilling ride! The story unfolds through multiple characters perspectives with Past and Present timelines which kept me engrossed and anxious from start to finish. There were times that I had to pause to reassess which character’s perspective I was reading, however, this didn’t deter from my overall enjoyment. (This confusion was most likely due to the author being so clever and brilliantly worded that things slipped by my not-so-clever brain). The writing was excellent! Some of the characters’ inner thoughts had a brilliant snarkiness that had me giggling to myself. The conclusion is a twisty, mind blowing whirlwind of pieces of an intricate puzzle being put together. Loved it!

This was a Traveling Sister read with Brenda and Norma which we all really enjoyed. It was an excellent book to discuss and try to figure out. Norma and Brenda’s detective skills far surpassed mine (no surprise there!).

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Eerie, forbidding, gloomy, suspenseful, intriguing and a fitting representation to storyline.
Title: Intriguing, impressive, suspenseful, and an excellent and fitting representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, engaging, captivating, and mysterious.
Plot: Complex, suspenseful, twisty, bewildering, engrossing, fast-paced, held my attention and extremely entertaining.
Ending: An intricately plotted ending that left me feeling totally satisfied, elated and thoroughly impressed.
Overall: The psychological aspects, revelations, suspense and thrills along with those shocking twists and turns definitely made me one happy and totally satisfied reader upon finishing this book. Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Victoria Joss at Aria and Sarah Simpson for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

Who I Am is available now!

img_7039CONNECT WEBSITE – AUTHOR Q&A

1. Tell us about your novel, Who I Am.
Who I Am, is my second novel, it’s a dark character driven psychological thriller which plays on the old adage – the grass is always greener on the other side. Isn’t so easy for us all to believe this, especially when times are, let’s say – challenging. I have two main female protagonists who first meet at Edinburgh University, they form a tightly knit relationship very quickly. The novel is set over two time periods so it leads us from these university days in the 1990’s up to the present day. The two characters couldn’t be more different in terms of their backgrounds and their means but when it comes to their emotional needs, they have much in common. Both seek to make fundamental changes to reflect their discontentment which leads them along a twisted, tragic path. They struggle to come to terms with the consequences of some life defining events. This novel also deals with issues of alcoholism, anxiety and depression and their far reaching consequences.

2. What was the most difficult part about writing this book? And what was the most fun part?
Hmm… this is a difficult one to answer without giving the twists away. But fundamentally it was – providing the reader with enough information without revealing the main plot, I know this is true of most psychological thrillers but it was particularly difficult with this one, for reasons I cannot say – sorry. The most fun part has to be visiting some of Cornwall’s most beautiful spots where I set the scenes for my characters. Gosh – this was hard work, to wander the beaches with my imagination 😉

3. Did you do any specific research for the book?
Who I Am is set between Edinburgh and Cornwall, Edinburgh is a city I love and I have had the pleasure of visiting many times and Cornwall is where I live – so the location research was relatively easy. The psychological aspects were very much dependent on my background and experience as a psychologist to be honest. Other technical content (again I can’t be too specific) I mainly researched online, hoping to goodness – no one ever checks my hard drive as it doesn’t make for a sound mind.

4. Do you see yourself in any of the characters in your novel?
Interestingly, no not in this novel, and as I did with Her Greatest Mistake. I certainly recognised the characters traits in other people I know, or have met though as is usually the case with all fictional characters.

5. Can you describe Who I Am in 3 adjectives?
Evocative, twisted and delusive.

6. How long did it take to write the novel and how many drafts did you write?
I began this novel last year but then put it down for quite a while to concentrate on Her Greatest Mistake. I would say about six months and a lot longer in my mind. I edit as I write so it’s difficult to say how many true drafts my novels go through. I would say I did four rigorous edits and then a lot of tweaking.

7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
This is such a difficult question to answer because I have read so many fantastic books. So, I guess I have to say those books that made a difference at certain times of my life. And books feel different depending on our stage and state of life at the time, but for now I will say – The Song of Pentecost W.J. Corbett.

8. When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
I decided to write when I was little more than eight years old, and I used to write all the time at this age and into my teens. For some reason that I still trying to fathom I then followed a totally different life path which took me away from my writing on paper at least. So it was many, many more years before I began writing again which wasn’t until two years ago.

9. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I now live in Cornwall with my husband, three children (not so little anymore),German Shepherd – Arthur and moggy cat – Thomas. I love the simple things in life. Being with my family and being outdoors, walking the coastlines and anything really to with and being close to the sea. I probably, no definitely think too much and I’m a terrible people watcher!

10. What projects are you working on now?
I am currently half way through my third book which is set mostly in St. Ives in Cornwall. This is another character driven, taut, dark and twisted psychological thriller. But it’s all top secret at the moment…

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If you would like to read a copy of the book for yourself, it is available now from the following retailers:

Kobo  iBooks  Amazon  Google Play

Follow Aria
Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Please check out these other fantastic blogs that are participating in the blog tour!

 

 

Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews

Promise Me by Jade Beer #BlogBlitz @JadeBRIDES @bookouture #travelingsistersread #BookBloggers

PROMISE ME BY JADE BEER BLOG BLITZ

Hello everyone and thank you so much for stopping by! We are so excited and it’s our absolute pleasure to be a part of the blog blitz for Promise Me by Jade Beer and share our individual reviews with you. Thank you so much to Kim Nash & Noelle Holten of Bookouture for including us in this blog tour.

The Traveling Sisters ~ Norma, Brenda & Lindsay! xxoo

Promise Me cover

About the book:

Jenny lost her beloved mother as a teenager, and was left devastated. As a parting gift she left her daughter a bundle of letters, one for each significant day of Jenny’s future. First date, first broken heart, graduation day… and one for the day Jenny meets the love of her life.

Her mother’s letters are everything to her, but how can Jenny ever become the confident, successful woman her mother wanted her to be when her heart is broken by her loss? When an unexpected meeting has Jenny mistaken for somebody she’s not, Jenny learns that sometimes pretending is the easiest way to tell the truth and that loving someone can mean letting them go…

An absolutely unforgettable book club read that will break your heart. If you love Jojo Moyes, Cecelia Ahern and Nancy Thayer you will love this unputdownable page-turner.

Jade BeerAbout me by Jade Beer:

Hello!

I’m Jade. I’m a novelist, mother to two young daughters and the editor of Conde Nast Brides.

I love writing about women and all the challenges we face in our daily lives. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented women throughout my career as a journalist and editor – ones who juggle the most all-encompassing careers with family and friendships and everything else that life throws at them. They often make it look so easy. But we all know it’s not. And that need to present one version of yourself to the world, while keeping the grittier, less polished reality under wraps, is a thread that runs strongly through my debut novel, The Almost Wife.

In my day job as the editor of Conde Nast Brides, I share my working life with editors of some of the glossiest, luxury brands in the world – Vogue, Tatler, Glamour – and I have the enormous privilege of travelling the world and sitting front row at beautiful fashion shows and working with the world’s leading florists, cake makers and stylists. But I also take a daily peek into the lives of young women who are engulfed in one of the most exciting times of their lives – planning their wedding days. This, above everything else, is the really fun bit. Being on the front line if you like. Hearing their thoughts, fears, worries and ambitions for the future. This really powerful cocktail of glamour and reality dances across every page of The Almost Wife and is currently being poured into my second novel which is due out in October this year.

I’m not sure I could have written The Almost Wife without making it personal too, feeding some of my own quiet fears into the mix. I’ve sat in important meetings, dropping huge clangers that years later still make me cringe. I’ve got more than my fair share of self-doubt and suffer like many other women from the dreaded imposter syndrome. I worry constantly about my family. How much time I have left with them. Am I doing any of it right? Will I be riddled with regret in later years? Will my daughters be critical of the choices I made? Am I failing the people I love the most?

Although work places me full time in London, my heart is in the countryside where I live with my husband and our two daughters. The Cotswolds is where my husband and I used to spend romantic weekends plotting our future together long before children came along and is now where I watch them both run free, hoping I will keep them close for many years to come.

Take a peek inside my life on Instagram @jadebeerbrides &/or Twitter

img_6779Norma’s Review

Heartwarming, touching, & delightful!

This was my first book that I have read by JADE BEER and will definitely not be my last. I hope to read her first book sometime some, The Almost Wife!

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book and what an absolutely lovely read it was. Normally I would read the authors previous books beforehand because without realizing that this one features some of the same characters that were in her first book sort of makes me feel a little sad that I didn’t get to know them sooner. Well not in this case though as I didn’t realize that and this one can definitely be read as a stand-alone. It does make me even more excited to read The Almost Wife now though.

PROMISE ME by JADE BEER is a captivating, touching and beautiful read that I was immediately drawn into and had me emotionally interested in all of these ladies lives right to the very end. It took me on an emotional journey that I absolutely loved which was filled with some tears of happiness and sadness.

JADE BEER delivers an engaging and beautifully written story here that was filled with lovely characters, an interesting setting, and a heartfelt storyline. I enjoyed each of these ladies individual stories equally and they complimented each other so well. I absolutely loved how their stories connected in the end. I definitely wanted all of these ladies to have their happy ending.

There were plenty of moments throughout that had me laughing, cheering, smiling, and feeling such admiration and love for this book.

Web_L367-2_brunette_green-eyesBrenda’s Review

Promise Me is not my normal type of read.  I do like to step out of my normal reads for a change of pace and Promise Me was just that change of pace that I needed.

Promise Me is a tender and emotional story that explores four very different women through their own emotional journeys. Their lives become intertwined as each woman is somehow involved in weddings.

Jade Beer does a great job exploring the emotions of the four women in this story.  Each has different conflicts and relationships that are explored. I loved the dynamics between the characters and I was drawn into each of their storylines.

There is a lot of drama going on here.  Sometimes this can cause a story to be weighted down for me however I thought the drama here was needed to move the story forward. I loved the ending and thought it all wrapped up so well for a satisfying ending. I recommend for a light yet emotionally satisfying reading experience.  

Web_L355-2_blonde_blue eyesLindsay’s Review

An emotional, charming and lighthearted romp with a touch of romance.  Not my usual genre of choice, but extremely refreshing to branch out and try something different.

This novel revolves around four women who are each at a turning point in their lives.  Jenny, Nat, Betsy and Helen are four independent, hard-working women who each face a life decision/struggle that they are challenged by.  Their lives intertwine and intersect in surprising ways that lead them toward figuring out their path toward true happiness.

My favourite part of this novel was the letters from Jenny’s mom who passed away when Jenny was sixteen.  Before cancer took Jenny’s mother, she wrote several letters to Jenny with notes on the envelopes explaining when she wanted her to open and read them.  These were extremely emotional thoughts and reflections from mother to daughter that I found deeply touching.

While I enjoyed branching out and exploring a different genre, I also felt reminded of why I don’t often read lighthearted chick-lit.  A little too much drama and predictability for me.

Norma’s Stats:

  • Cover: That lovely cover definitely caught my eye and definitely allured me into requesting and reading this book.
  • Title: The cover and title fit so well together. They are both extremely fitting and an excellent representation to storyline.
  • Writing/Prose: Well-written, fluid, beautiful and engaging.
  • Plot: Engrossing, interesting, heartwarming, gratifying, perfectly-paced, and entertaining.
  • Ending: Completely satisfying, pleasing & gratifying!

Overall: This was an all around fabulous feel good story that left me feeling contented and completely satisfied! Would recommend!

Thank you so much from all of us to Bookouture, NetGalley & Jade Beer for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review!

If you would like to read a copy of the book for yourself, it is available now from the following retailers: 

Amazon     iBooks     Kobo     Googleplay

Please check out these other fantastic blogs that are participating in this tour!

Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews

Kiss Her Goodbye by Susan Gee #travelingsistersread #BookReview #BlogTour @Aria_Fiction @SusanGeeWriter

KISS HER GOODBYE BY SUSAN GEE BLOG TOUR

Hello everyone and thank you so much for stopping by! We are so excited and it’s our absolute pleasure to be a part of the blog tour for Kiss Her Goodbye by Susan Gee and share our individual reviews with you. Thank you so much to Victoria Joss from Aria for inviting us to be a part of the blog tour.

The Traveling Sisters ~ Norma, Brenda & Lindsay! xxoo

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About the author
Susan Gee was a finalist in the Daily Mail Write a Bestseller Competition as well as a finalist in The Good Housekeeping fiction competition. This is her first novel.

Follow Susan
Facebook: @susangeewriter
Twitter: @SusanGeeWriter

About the book
Seventeen year old Hayley Reynolds is unwanted at home, and an outsider at school. Pushed away by her best friend Kirsten Green, she makes a deliberate, chilling decision – if Kirsten can’t belong to her, then she won’t belong to anyone….
DI Beverley Samuels has the body of a schoolgirl on her hands – a murder that brings back the hauntingly painful memories of the case she’s tried so desperately to forget.
There’s something deeply disturbing about this crime – and yet with little hard evidence it’s up to her to decide who she will believe….

Tightly-plotted, tense, and a finale with a heart-stopping twist – get ready for the biggest
thriller of 2018. Fans of Claire Mackintosh, Laura Marshall, A. J. FInn and Alice Feeny won’t be disappointed!

Web_L337-3_brunette_brown eyesNorma’s Review

Enjoyable, entertaining, and a highly compulsive read!

KISS HER GOODBYE by SUSAN GEE is a haunting, chilling, disturbing and dark psychological crime thriller novel that features quite the nasty, sinister and manipulative teenage psychopath.

The opening chapter was quite distressing and made me feel a little uncomfortable but once I got through that chapter and into the mindset of this brilliantly portrayed psychopath then I was totally consumed in this novel and couldn’t put it down.

SUSAN GEE delivers an intriguing, unsettling, and sometimes repetitive read here with one of the most disturbing main characters that I have ever read. Even the supporting cast of characters weren’t all that likeable or endearing. The whole sordid tale in general was so irresistible and totally grabbed my attention but I would say though that the tone of the novel was a little juvenile at times. Although I really think it reflected the characters well in this story though.

There were some aspects of this novel that did have me questioning what I was reading but it didn’t bother me at all though. One of the things was changing my mindset that college in the UK wasn’t how we perceive college to be in Canada. So I did have to remind myself that college in the UK starts at the age of 16 and typically ends when they are 18 so therefore some of the logistics and scenes in this novel were a little distracting but really not all that much though. Just made me pause a time or two and then continued on.

What made this novel really stand out was the manipulation and deceptive nature of the characters as well as how Susan Gee manipulated that deception into the plot. Very impressive!

Web_L365-3_brunette_green-eyesBrenda’s Review

First we meet Hayley Reynolds a teenager who appears to be calm and quiet on the outside but terrifyingly chilling on the inside. We get a good look inside her disturbing and manipulating mind and she makes for a fascinating psychopath. Hayley feels like an outsider and unwanted at home and that only makes her even more dangerous. I was intrigued by her and starting turning those pages as fast as I could.

Then we meet DI Beverley Samuels who is haunted by painful memories of a case where she missed some things. She is determined not to make the same mistakes again and I started to question if this affected her judgement.

At times I really enjoyed the dynamics here between the characters and the game Hayley plays here to manipulate her innocence and keep the finger from pointing to her. At times it was exciting, tense and entertaining but I did become weary with the back and forth between them and the pace slowed down a bit for me. Things did pick up for me again near the ending and I really enjoyed how it all came together. That ending was chilling and a bit unsettling and I didn’t see it coming.

I recommend this one to readers looking for something a little different here with a teenage psychopath and a DI with the case that haunts her.  Just a heads up it does have a little juvenile drama at time.

Web_L149-2_blonde_blue-eyesLindsay’s Review

Hauntingly atmospheric, suspenseful and unsettling.

This dark and chilling story follows Hayley Reynolds, a teenage girl who feels unwanted.  With a highly unstable homelife, troubled childhood and very few acquaintances at school, Hayley is often left on her own, her dark and disturbing thoughts the only thing to keep her company.   One day, Hayley makes an unsettling decision that changes her life, along with everyone in her small town.

DI Beverley Samuels is on the case in Hayley’s town to find answers to a young girls’ disappearance. However, Beverley is deeply haunted by a past case.   She can’t get over the young girl’s murder – it preoccupies her every thought.   This story really opened my eyes to how damaging a past case can be on a police detective.   Beverley suffered from an extreme sense of guilt related to missing some critical pieces of information on a case – it consumed her.

This novel unfolds through Hayley and Beverley’s perspectives in alternating chapters.  I found both narratives equally intriguing. The author, Susan Gee, did an excellent job immersing us into each character’s mindset, the tension building in each chapter.   I felt chills creep up my spine at several points throughout this book.  There was such a dark and unnerving tone to this story – I felt completely drawn into the unsettling and eerie atmosphere.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Ominous, eye-catching, and intriguing. A good representation to storyline but maybe a little bit deceiving.
Title: Intriguing, suspenseful, and an extremely fitting representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Straightforward, captivating, and repetitive but oh so alluring though.
Plot: Dark, disturbing, engrossing, fast-paced, held my attention fully and extremely entertaining.
Ending: Shocking, disturbing, and satisfying. I was extremely pleased with the outcome even though it wasn’t necessarily a happy one.
Overall: The book was just as disturbing as the characters were which made this an exciting and gripping read! Would recommend!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Aria, and Susan Gee for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Kiss Her Goodbye is available now!

5RcTkRggSUSAN GEE – AUTHOR Q&A

Tell us more about your new novel, Kiss Her Goodbye.
Kiss Her Goodbye follows two characters, Hayley Reynolds, a teenager who has murdered a girl from her college and DS Beverley Samuels, the detective who is trying to solve the crime. Hayley is a flawed and complex character and the story follows her as she manipulates those around her. DS Samuels is haunted by a past case and Hayley uses that to manipulate her. The story is more of a ‘will she get away with it?’ rather than a ‘who done it?’

How did you come up with the idea for this novel?
I wanted to write about a teenage girl who was a killer rather than a victim. I also wanted to explore a story from a troubled character’s perspective to see what made them tick. I was interested in trying to understand the complexity of a troubled character like Hayley.

What was the hardest part of the book to write?
Hayley’s character is dark, but I didn’t want to demonise her. I wanted to portray a flawed character with a degree of sympathy. Trying to do that against the terrible acts that she commits was a challenge, but it was an interesting journey.

Did you do any specific research for the book?
The book is set in the 1980’s so I did have to research events taking place at the time. Also as the book is set in a real place I wanted to make sure that the shops and bars were the ones that were around at that time. The main character loves New Order and so it was fun to revisit some of their music.

Can you describe Kiss Her Goodbye in 3 adjectives?
Dark, troubled and twisted.

How long did it take to write the novel and how many drafts did you write?
I finished this novel and then put it away for a couple of years while I explored new ideas. I decided to send it out to two competitions and was lucky to be the runner up in both. From this I secured an agent who suggested adding the character of the detective so I rewrote it again with the new point of view included. So it has had a few re-drafts.

Do you have a special place where you like to write?
I write in bed or on the sofa. It can be hard to find a quiet space in a busy household so I’m used to working with people around me.

What authors have inspired you in your writing journey?
Flawed characters and dark stories are the ones that I’m drawn to. I loved The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks and The Long Walk by Stephen King when I first read them. Annie Proux write so concisely and truthfully, Broke Back Mountain is a brilliant short story. When I was younger I loved a wide range of books from John Irving to Jane Austen. I think inspiration comes from every book that you read. There is always something that you take away from a novel.

When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
I have always written. I used to write short stories, but always wanted to write a novel. I realised that the only way for my novel to exist was to actually get down and do it. I was tired of hearing myself say the words, ‘I’ll write a book one day.’ I took an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester University, which was very useful. It introduced to me to other writers and gave me the confidence to finish the book.

Can you tell us a bit about your plans for the future?
The future will involve writing more words. I have started a new draft for another novel. It will be dark and there will be a dead body in it. This is inevitable.

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Please check out these other fantastic blogs that are participating in the blog tour!

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