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Thursday, June 22, 2017

BOOKMAIL: A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride @stuartmacbride @PenguinUKBooks

Who doesn't love getting Bookmail??  And when it's surprise bookmail, it's even better!  I received this girthy tome yesterday from Penguin Books UK and it brought the biggest smile to my face! Looking forward to digging into this standalone thriller - check out the synopsis from Goodreads below!



Gripping standalone thriller from the Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae series.

Welcome to the Misfit Mob…

It’s where Police Scotland dumps the officers it can’t get rid of, but wants to: the outcasts, the troublemakers, the compromised. Officers like DC Callum MacGregor, lumbered with all the boring go-nowhere cases. So when an ancient mummy turns up at the Oldcastle tip, it’s his job to find out which museum it’s been stolen from.

But then Callum uncovers links between his ancient corpse and three missing young men, and life starts to get a lot more interesting. O Division’s Major Investigation Teams already have more cases than they can cope with, so, against everyone’s better judgement, the Misfit Mob are just going to have to manage this one on their own.

No one expects them to succeed, but right now they’re the only thing standing between the killer’s victims and a slow, lingering death. The question is, can they prove everyone wrong before he strikes again?

Also from Goodreads - about the author!




The life and times of a bearded write-ist.

Stuart MacBride (that's me) was born in Dumbarton -- which is Glasgow as far as I'm concerned -- moving up to Aberdeen at the tender age of two, when fashions were questionable. Nothing much happened for years and years and years: learned to play the recorder, then forgot how when they changed from little coloured dots to proper musical notes (why the hell couldn't they have taught us the notes in the first bloody place? I could have been performing my earth-shattering rendition of 'Three Blind Mice' at the Albert Hall by now!); appeared in some bizarre World War Two musical production; did my best to avoid eating haggis and generally ran about the place a lot.

Next up was an elongated spell in Westhill -- a small suburb seven miles west of Aberdeen -- where I embarked upon a mediocre academic career, hindered by a complete inability to spell and an attention span the length of a gnat's doodad.

And so to UNIVERSITY, far too young, naive and stupid to be away from the family home, sharing a subterranean flat in one of the seedier bits of Edinburgh with a mad Irishman, and four other bizarre individuals. The highlight of walking to the art school in the mornings (yes: we were students, but we still did mornings) was trying not to tread in the fresh bloodstains outside our front door, and dodging the undercover CID officers trying to buy drugs. Lovely place. 

But university and I did not see eye to eye, so off I went to work offshore. Like many all-male environments, working offshore was the intellectual equivalent of Animal House, only without the clever bits. Swearing, smoking, eating, more swearing, pornography, swearing, drinking endless plastic cups of tea... and did I mention the swearing? But it was more money than I'd seen in my life! There's something about being handed a wadge of cash as you clamber off the minibus from the heliport, having spent the last two weeks offshore and the last two hours in an orange, rubber romper suit / body bag, then blowing most of it in the pubs and clubs of Aberdeen. And being young enough to get away without a hangover.

Then came a spell of working for myself as a graphic designer, which went the way of all flesh and into the heady world of studio management for a nation-wide marketing company. Then some more freelance design work, a handful of voiceovers for local radio and video production companies and a bash at being an actor (with a small 'a'), giving it up when it became clear there was no way I was ever going to be good enough to earn a decent living. 

It was about this time I fell into bad company -- a blonde from Fife who conned me into marrying her -- and started producing websites for a friend's fledgling Internet company. From there it was a roller coaster ride (in that it made a lot of people feel decidedly unwell) from web designer to web manager, lead programmer, team lead and other assorted technical bollocks with three different companies, eventually ending up as a project manager for a global IT company.

But there was always the writing (well, that's not true, the writing only started two chapters above this one). I fell victim to that most dreadful of things: peer pressure. Two friends were writing novels and I thought, 'why not? I could do that'. 

Took a few years though...



Review: The Salt House by Lisa Duffy @lisaduffywriter @touchstonebooks

Touchstone Books
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An impressive debut novel by Lisa Duffy.  You won't regret this novel about marriage, grief and forgiveness.  Get your feelings here.  Bring your own tissues.       



Goodreads Synopsis:

In the tradition of Jodi Picoult and Lisa Genova, this gorgeously written, heartbreaking, yet hopeful debut set during a Maine summer traces the lives of a young family in the aftermath of tragedy.

In the coastal town of Alden, Maine, Hope and Jack Kelly have settled down to a life of wedded bliss. They have a beautiful family, a growing lobster business, and the Salt House—the dilapidated oceanfront cottage they’re renovating into their dream home. But tragedy strikes when their young daughter doesn’t wake up from her afternoon nap, taking her last breath without making a sound.

A year later, each member of the Kelly family navigates the world on their own private island of grief. Hope spends hours staring at her daughter’s ashes, unable to let go. Jack works to the point of exhaustion in an attempt to avoid his crumbling marriage. Their daughters, Jess and Kat, struggle to come to terms with the loss of their younger sister while watching their parents fall apart.

When Jack’s old rival, Ryland Finn, threatens his fishing territory, he ignites emotions that propel the Kelly family toward circumstances that will either tear them apart—or be the path to their family’s future.

Told in alternating voices, The Salt House is a layered, emotional portrait of marriage, family, friendship, and the complex intersections of love, grief, and hope.



My Review:

LISA DUFFY! **shakes fist** how dare you make me feel so many feelings!

Uff, guys and gals.... debut novel, my ass. It feels like the author has been writing books since she came out of the womb. Lisa pulls us right into the Kelly family. A year after the unexpected death of their baby, Hope and Jack struggle to keep their marriage alive. They grieve in different ways and keep separate in how to move forward. Hope falls into a deep depression she's slowly coming out of and Jack works as much as he can to keep his mind off of anything and everything. When Jack's nemesis, Finn, comes back to town, Jack threatens to explode, affecting not only his health but his familial relationships as well. Jess and Finn's stepson getting involved does NOT help the situation. Not only does the author put us into Jack and Hope's mind space, she easily also puts us into their two other children's, Jess and Kat, thoughts and feelings. She voices every character with such conviction and warmth, you empathize and find yourself on a roller coaster of emotions from the first chapter to the last page.

I'm going to keep this short and sweet and just tell you to go out, or one-click, buy this novel NOW. An absolutely character driven novel about past grievances, new love, family and forgiveness, you won't regret taking a trip to Alden Maine.

5 buttery lobster rolls, all day long

Thank you to the author and Touchstone for this outstanding novel in return for my honest review.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

#allthebookreviews: The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz @deankoontz @randomhouse #janehawk @jessicamapreviews

The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
Bantam
Happy Publishing Days!


Another book checked off for #allthebookreviews! And this was a HIGHLY anticipated one by me.  I was so excited I posted my individual review earlier today! Ha!  See how my co-reader felt exactly the same as I did below - we both agree it's a 5 star read.




Goodreads Synopsis:

A dazzling new series debuts with a remarkable heroine certain to become a new icon of suspense, propelled by the singular narrative genius of #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz.

I very much need to be dead.


These are the chilling words left behind by a man who had everything to live for but took his own life. In the aftermath, his widow, Jane Hawk, does what all her grief, fear, and fury demands: find the truth, no matter what.
People of talent and accomplishment, people admired and happy and sound of mind, have been committing suicide in surprising numbers. When Jane seeks to learn why, she becomes the most-wanted fugitive in America. Her powerful enemies are protecting a secret so important so terrifying that they will exterminate anyone in their way.
But all their power and viciousness may not be enough to stop a woman as clever as they are cold-blooded, as relentless as they are ruthless and who is driven by a righteous rage they can never comprehend. Because it is born of love.


Jessica's Thoughts:






I haven't read very much Dean Koontz, this is actually my second novel of his, my first one being PHANTOMS. So when Random House/Bantam Books sent me an advanced copy of THE SILENT CORNER I was excited to read more of his works! I definitely was not disappointed and I'm looking forward to the rest of this series. 

"I very much need to be dead." These are the chilling final words left behind by a man who seemingly had everything to live for. His widow, Jane Hawk, is grief- stricken and afraid, decides that she needs to stop at nothing to find the truth behind her husband's apparent suicide. Along the way to find answers, she discovers that there are many other talented, accomplished people that have been committing suicide in large numbers. 

She quickly becomes the most wanted fugitive in America. Being chased by the FBI she needs to go off the grid to avoid getting caught. She's getting too close to some closely guarded secrets that they will execute anyone that gets too close. 

This book has some serious Enemy of the State vibes (the awesome Will Smith movie). Lies, government corruption, espionage, and conspiracy. The use of cameras and surveillance videos in order to find Jane and track her gave it an eerie, unsettling, and creepy vibe. That can happen - and I'm sure it does in the US. This is a fast paced novel with short chapters. I love the shorter chapters since I'm a person that reads chapter to chapter - "oh I only have to read 5 more pages and I'm at the next chapter".

So many unanswered questions and I can't wait for the next book in the Jane Hawk series. The use of technology in this gave it a different element for a thriller. So if you want a contemporary thriller/suspense, then I'd highly recommend this one to you.

5/5 stars!

My Thoughts:


Anyone who knows me, knows of my love for Dean Koontz. I started reading him when I was 8 years old. Although I haven't read him recently, my two absolute favorite books are the ones that veer a little away from the horror genre into something different - such as Watchers and Lightning. He is BACK and with a suspense novel no less! And let me tell you people, it's FANTASTIC!

Jane Hawk's husband took his own life - something no one who knew him would ever have thought he would have done. Leaving a note that gave no reason, and didn't make much sense, his suicide leaves her and their son behind. She channels her grief and using her skills as an FBI agent, decides to find out WHY. The more she digs, the more she realizes that there is an increase in suicides, all with peculiar notes left behind and baffled families confused as to what is happening. Each discovery opens up more and more questions and the answers she finds leaves her blood running cold.

From the first page to the last, Koontz takes you on Hawk's adventure with a ferocity that only he can accomplish. I absolutely fell in love with Jane's character. The plausibility in the story line is chilling and while I hope this never happens, you just never know in this day and age. Exploring the Dark Net, the psychopathic need for control, things that happen in the dark recesses of minds (and/or a remote facility), government conspiracy - there are no monsters here that aren't human, and that is what makes this creepy suspense novel absolutely fascinating.

Written in six parts, each short chapter has you continually flipping to the next page in anticipation of what is going to happen next. I am beyond thrilled that Koontz has more books coming in this series. TAKE MY MONEY. Can you tell I'm ecstatic to be back in his world?   I give this 5 golden retrievers!






Huge thanks to Bantam Books for these copies in return for our honest reviews!





REVIEW: Cemetery Girl by David Bell @DavidBellNovels @BerkleyPub @penguinrandom

Cemetery Girl by David Bell
Berkley Publishing



In anticipation of David Bell's newest novel, Bring Her Home, coming out in July, I thought I'd dive right into one of his books and make my first one Cemetery Girl.  I've just found another auto buy author me thinks - the book gods LOVE me (my wallet is starting to hate me though)! 🤣

Stay tuned for my blog tour stop for Bring Her Home next month!  In the mean time, see what I have to say about my first Bell.  






Tom and Abby's 12 year old daughter goes missing one day while walking her dog.  They both deal with her disappearance in different ways which takes a toll on their marriage.  Then one day, Caitlin is found.. but those 4 years has changed her.  She's sullen, rude and not the daughter they remember.  Tom desperately tries to find out what's going on but that's hard when his daughter makes him promise not to ask her about her time away.. and the answers he ends up finding is worse than anything his mind had imagined.

Just wow.  David Bell has a way of pulling you right into his world... and this one is through Tom's perspective as he struggles with his dying marriage, his daughter's return and his past grievances from his childhood.  We see the struggle of a father that will do anything, even at the expense of his own child, to find out the truth of what happened.  When is the knowledge of the unknown more important than justice?  How many lines would you cross to get the answers you think you need?  

Set at a somewhat slow to moderate pace, we get a deep look into the psyche of Tom as he slowly unravels.  While I usually like my books at a faster pace, I couldn't stop reading.  I turned page after page after page and work be damned, finished this in practically one sitting.  Very much looking forward to reading his other works.


Thanks so much to Berkley Publishing / Penguin Random House for this copy in return for my honest review.

View all my reviews


SPOTLIGHT: Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin @Quaintrellem @HQDigitalUK @HQStories @booksandthebear

Debut novels are hitting home runs this year!  Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin seems to be on point with this trend.  Romance and suspense - I'll take two please! 

Continue below for a quick synopsis, info about the author and stay tuned for my BLOG TOUR stop on 6/24/17.






Sometimes hope has a way of changing everything…
Just hours after giving birth, Eli Bell is forced to give up her newborn baby daughter for adoption. Devastated, she tries desperately to rebuild her shattered life.
Then, over thirty years later, Eli catches sight of her daughter. And she knows that she must do everything to find a way back into her life. Even if it means lying…
While her husband Tommy must grow to accept his own part in the events of her early life, he can only try to save her before her obsession with the young woman ruins them both.

Don’t miss the breathtaking debut Before You Were Mineby Em Muslin! Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Alice Peterson and Lucy Dillon.




Em Muslin has worked in the film and television industry for over 20 years. She first fell in love with reading and writing after experiencing Judith Kerr's 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit'. She hasn't stopped devouring books ever since. 

She loves words that capture an experience or emotion in a singular form: her current favourite, describing herself, is 'nemophilist'. 

Em's writing focuses on the texture of domestic life, relationships, family and the pressures of social convention. Her characters are often fighting to become the hero of their own story, searching for hope, despite the adversities that life inevitably brings.

Genre:
Literary, contemporary, romance, suspense.

Book links:
Amazon: rxe.me/1D4J3M
Barnes & Noble: bit.ly/2qiCVdW

Author website:

REVIEW: The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz @deankoontz @randomhouse #janehawk

The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
Bantam Books / Random House
Releases 6/20/17 - TODAY!


When I found out Dean Koontz came out with a new book I almost fell over!  One of my favorite authors of all time!  If you haven't read him yet I highly recommend that you start.  He writes in different genres and while I've enjoyed his horror side with Phantoms, Whispers and the like, when he veers off is when I find him the most enjoyable and he made me fall in love with him ALL OVER AGAIN.  Read my review below and then continue for a synopsis of my two favorites by him.  Stay tuned for another post as this was also a #CJSReads2017 pick!



Anyone who knows me, knows of my love for Dean Koontz.  I started reading him when I was 8 years old.  Although I haven't read him recently, my two absolute favorite books are the ones that veer a little away from the horror genre into something different - such as Watchers and Lightning.  He is BACK and with a suspense novel no less!  And let me tell you people, it's FANTASTIC!

Jane Hawk's husband took his own life - something no one who knew him would ever have thought he would have done.  Leaving a note that gave no reason, and didn't make much sense, his suicide leaves her and their son behind.  She channels her grief and using her skills as an FBI agent, decides to find out WHY.  The more she digs, the more she realizes that there is an increase in suicides, all with peculiar notes left behind and baffled families confused as to what is happening.  Each discovery opens up more and more questions and the answers she finds leaves her blood running cold.



From the first page to the last, Koontz takes you on Hawk's adventure with a ferocity that only he can accomplish.  I absolutely fell in love with Jane's character.  The plausibility in the story line is chilling and while I hope this never happens, you just never know in this day and age.  Exploring the Dark Net, the psychopathic need for control, things that happen in the dark recesses of minds (and/or a remote facility), government conspiracy - there are no monsters here that aren't human, and that is what makes this creepy suspense novel absolutely fascinating. 

Written in six parts, each short chapter has you continually flipping to the next page in anticipation of what is going to happen next.  I am beyond thrilled that Koontz has more books coming in this series.  TAKE MY MONEY.  Can you tell I'm ecstatic to be back in his world?

Thanks so much to Bantam Book / Random House for this copy in return for my honest review.

View all my reviews

My two favorites are listed as follows - if you've never read Koontz before and want to start somewhere, START HERE!  I can't recommend these any more or explain the love I have for these. <3

Watchers:



Goodreads Synopsis:  When Travis Cornell and Nora Devon meet “Einstein”, they are touched by the dog's intelligence. Einstein is one of two altered life forms escaped from a top-secret lab. The other—The Outsider—is a deadly hybrid. To protect themselves, Travis and Nora must learn to be deadly as well.

A Note from ME!  Now, if you read Koontz, you know he has a huge love for dogs, especially for golden retrievers.  I've seen some people complain about how he ALWAYS puts them in his books. Why is this a complaint??  I've never ever been put off by it and enjoy reading it and in some cases (such as The Silent Corner) it's just a little plink entering it into the story line.  I have much love for this.  DO YOU NOT LIKE DOGS??!! Haha - this book is an all time favorite and probably #1 on my Koontz list - seriously guys - GO READ THIS!

Watchers:


Goodreads Synopsis:  A storm strikes on the night Laura Shane is born in 1955, and there is a strangeness about the weather that people will remember for years. As the dazzling blue-white jagged bolts of lightning split the heavens, a stranger materialises out of the raging blizzard to guard Laura from the not so tender mercies of a drunken doctor and ensure her safe passage into the world, before disappearing back into the night. Eight years later, Laura meets her mysterious saviour again, when he saves her from the perverted and deadly intentions of a durg-crazed robber.

Throughout her childhood, even more terrifying troubles beset the young girl, but with increasing courage, she finds the strength to prevail - even without the intervention of the stranger.

In time she marries and has a son, while also finding success as a novelist. Gradually the memory of her strange guardian and the troubles of her youth dim in the light of her happiness. Until the lightning strikes once more and shatters her world.

This time the stranger has become the angel of death. As Laura flees with her young son, Chris, she knows she must prepare for the final confrontation that will come with the powerful forces that stalk her. The adventure - and the terror - has only just begun.
 

Monday, June 19, 2017

#allthebookreviews: Here and Gone by HaylenBeck @HaylenBeck @crownpublishing @jessicamapreviews

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck
Crown Publishing
Publishing 6/20/17



It's shaping up to be a good first month for #allthebookreviews.  This one sit, fast paced thriller rated the same stars from both Jessica and I.  I suggest you put this on your TBR stat!





Goodreads Synopsis:

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother's desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she's pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they're gone than she must have done something with them... Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.


My Thoughts:






4.5 breathless stars!

Hasn't Audra been through enough? She has been under her husband's thumb long enough. Escaping years of abuse, she takes off across country with her two children, Sean and Louise. Anxious and paranoid, she takes the long way from New York to California. Being pulled over by Sheriff Whiteside becomes her next nightmare. He arrests her, separates her from her children. Taken into custody, she asks where her kids are. "What children?" Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! Due to her past, the media and the law enforcement believes she has done something with them and she beings to question herself as well. With no one to turn to, how can she prove she's innocent when she falters with her own sanity? Enter Danny Lee - someone who has been through the same type of situation just a mere 5 years ago. Can he help her while also finally getting revenge?

Holy Mars Bars, guys! This is a page turner of a psychological/domestic thriller. Read this baby in just one sitting and couldn't get enough. The author takes us behind the eyes of Audra, veering back and forth in her current position, to her past relationship with her husband. Beck also takes us into the mind of precocious child, Sean as he tries to remain strong to protect his little sister. We also see into the minds of the law enforcement and Danny and each of their backgrounds. Beck manages to go back and forth through these characters seamlessly - each short chapter leaving you hanging. This book is fast paced, action packed and extremely well written. I kept off half a star only because I had one lingering question at the end I wanted an answer to. But I think if the author leaves me wanting more, they've done their job ;)

Thank you Crown Publishing for this awesome read in return for my honest review.
 



Jessica's Thoughts:









After reading the synopsis for HERE AND GONE by Haylen Beck, I couldn't wait to read it. The unreliable narrator paired with, did her kids really exist or were they all in her head? I know they're completely different, but it made me think of the premise of Flightplan (movie with Jodie Foster). You want to believe the mother but then you start to question her. 

We begin with Audra Kinney and her children, Sean (11) and Louise (6) and they're on the run. Audra escaped her abusive marriage but now Patrick, her ex-husband, is enlisting the help of Child Services to try and obtain custody of both children. She and the kids are leaving New York for the safely of California - right now they've pulled over at a roadside store in the middle of the desert in Arizona. With the impending custody ruling, Audra is nervous when seeing a police officer parked at the roadside store. 

A little way down the road, Audra is pulled over by Sheriff Robert Whiteside. He pulled her over because her vehicle is overloaded, this increases the possibility of veering out of control on the gravel road. He offers to help drive part of her stuff to the motel she's planning on staying at, as they're moving boxes around, Sheriff Whiteside discovers large amounts of marijuana inside her vehicle. She is arrested for possession and the Sheriff calls in Deputy Collins to watch her children while she is brought into custody. After she's booked at the station she asks about her children and to her horror she hears, "What children?". 

With children involved, the media coverage goes crazy. A man halfway across the country hears the story and it's eerily similar to what happened to his wife years ago. So he decides that he's going to do everything he can to help her. 

Haylen Beck did an incredible job building the suspense and making a page turning thriller. Creating complex characters, the reader almost immediately sympathizes with Audra and her constant struggle. She does the right thing by leaving an abusive marriage, just to be met with nothing but obstacles. Now the real issue - where are her children? If you want a good fast paced thriller, then I'd highly recommend this one to you! 

I give this 4.5/5 stars!



Huge thanks to Crown Publishing for these copies in return for our honest reviews!




Sunday, June 18, 2017

#allthebookreviews and Author Q&A: No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan @tracybuchanan @crookedlanebks

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan
Crooked Lane Books


Another book down for Jess and I and our #allthebookreviews quest! A book any lover of thrillers will breeze through... read below for a synopsis, our thoughts on the book and then continue to scroll down to learn about Tracy Buchanan.  I totally can see Jennifer Connelly as Anna! And omg you guys - if you don't read the whole interview, at least read the final question - HILARITY!



Goodreads Synopsis

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.



My Thoughts:



Recently split from her husband, Anna Graves takes her daughter out for a normal walk on the beach. A confrontation with a crazed teen ends in Anna killing him to protect her child. Innocent until (media) proven guilty, she mentally starts to lose it. A serial killer lain dormant for two decades, shows up again, taunting her. As more death piles up, the coincidences to her presence make her the prime suspect. Her friends, the police, even her family, start to question her. Her only ally? The brother of the kid she killed. But can she truly trust him? And is the "Ophelia Killer" back?

A true thriller encompassing the question of how far someone would go to protect their own. Fast paced, easy to follow and seen through Anna's perspective for most of the book, we see the emotional toll each horrible instance takes on Anna. There are a few flashback scenes that come into play, but they're so intermittently put in that I actually forget about them until they pop up again. I had a hard time comprehending death by red, long toothed comb. And while I didn't expect that ending, I needed some more. Give me more background in the flashbacks. Really tie it all in so I get a better understanding of where it all came from. That being said, it's a dark, twisted ride that any lover of thrillers will enjoy. 3.5 stars!







Jessica's Thoughts:


I'm definitely guilty of wanting this book for its cover. Have you seen those colors? But the tagline on the cover also had my attention: "How far would you go to protect your child?" Color me intrigued!

Anna Graves has had her entire life turned upside down. A new mother returning to work while trying to get acclimated to her new schedule of late nights and early mornings, and to top it all off, her husband has just left her. The stress is beginning to take over. Then one day, every mother's worst nightmare happens. Anna and her daughter are going for a walk on the beach when she's attacked by a teenager. Letting her instincts kick in, Anna reacts to protect her new baby. 

Everything begins to spiral out of control after the teenager dies from the sustained injuries. While the police believed Anna's story, the autopsy results come back to reveal much more sinister motives. It is discovered that Elliot was poisoned before his death, but there's something significant about this poison, it's the same one that was used by The Ophelia Killer. Twenty years ago, the town was tormented by a murderer that targeted young teenage boys and was known as The Ophelia Killer. After the assault, Anna receives a chilling message from someone signed "TOK" - in the email are details about the poison and what happened to Elliot. 

The police won't help her find The Ophelia Killer, and everyone begins turning on her. The media frenzy turns on her and so do her friends and colleagues. The only person that will help her search for justice, Jamie, Elliot's brother. No one is safe with TOK on the loose. 

Anna's mental state deteriorates throughout this book as she tries to stop The Ophelia Killer and we go on that ride with her. It was a fast paced read and it didn't stop. It grabbed me and kept my attention throughout. Tracy Buchanan did a great job with the characters - very well-developed and relatable. Anna is a mother through and through. While she isn't perfect, her number one priority is her daughter and keeping her safe. 

If you want an easy to read, quick thriller with some intertwining stories, then you'll definitely want to pick this one up! How far would you go to protect those you love?

I give this 4/5 stars!


Let's learn about Tracy Buchanan! (I want this jacket of hers!)



What does your writing process look like?



Before I got published, I used to come up with an idea, then just sit down and write, letting my writing take me where my mind wanted. But now I’m a full-time author and have deadlines, I’m much more organized! I’ll come up with a kernel of an idea and then start thinking about it and the characters casually. I’ll watch films and read books and visit places to inspire me. Once I’m happy with where it’s going, I’ll start planning in, usually (bizarrely enough) in Excel! My publisher will then sign off a synopsis and the really fun bit starts: writing that first draft! Then my novels always go through a revision process after with editors, lots of going back and forth to make it as perfect as possible.



What is the most difficult part of your writing process? Your writing Kryptonite?



I find after about 20k words I down, I sometimes hit a wall. Self-doubt sets in: is this the right idea to be working on? Will my readers like it? Am I taking it in the right direction? And why is there no chocolate in the house?! At times like this, I go for a walk. Or watch a film. Or read a book. It’s best to step away and stop banging your head against a wall. I then find I come back refreshed and the writing continues (while eating the chocolate I bought from the shop).



How many hours a day do you write?



About 5 hours a day. I spend my other working hours doing publicity, replying to emails, procrastinating on Twitter…!



Do you have any strange writing habits?



Not really, though I’ve always been able to write anywhere and anyhow. I don’t need a desk or complete silence. At the moment, I’m lounging on my chair with my puppy lying on my lap, my laptop precariously balancing on a pulled up chair as I listen to the UK’s prime minister announce she’s holding a snap general election!



What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process? Favorite part?



My least favourite part is finishing a book! Sounds strange, I know, but I really miss it and the characters and usually have a real slump after. My favourite part, as well as starting a novel, is getting messages from my readers. They really make me smile! I’m already seeing some early reviews and getting some contact from reviewers for No Turning Back which I’m just loving.



Is there one particular subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?



Not really, I’m open to writing about anything and not scared to tackle difficult subjects. Like with No Turning Back, the idea of a mother killing a teenage boy might be difficult for some. But I felt it was an important taboo to write about.



Is there a type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?



I used to detest writing ‘in-between scenes’, those scenes that link the major ones. Now I just don’t write them! My view is, if I get bored writing them, then my readers will get bored reading them. I now focus on big main scenes and avoid ‘filler’ stuff, every word playing a part.



Does a big ego help or hurt writers?



It certainly helps to have thick skin and self-confidence as this writing business can be full of hurt and rejection. But equally, a lot of getting ahead in writing is making connections with people. And if you’re arrogant and difficult to work with, that can have a negative impact.



What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?



Seeing my mum curled up with a book in her lap, a smile on her face. When you’re young, your parents are so important, you watch them for every emotional response. So to see my mum experience happiness while reading showed me the power of the word.



How many unpublished/half-finished books do you have?



About three! I used to love writing young adult fiction and actually had a teen book published in Germany years ago. My other attempts weren’t so successful so they’re lying on my laptop somewhere. Maybe I’ll dig them out again…



How long does it usually take you to write a book?



A first draft can take me about six months, maybe less. But then there are always numerous rounds of revision, which adds another few months on. In all, from start to finish, a year.



What are you working on now? What is your next project?



I’m working on a brand new novel, so watch this space! I’d love to tell you more but then I’d have to lock you up in my office until the novel idea is announced. I’d supply lots of chocolate and tea so it might not be too bad.

  

If you could cast the characters of No Turning Back for a movie, who would play your characters?



I think someone like Jennifer Connelly would be interesting for Anna, and maybe Stephen Amell from The Arrow could be quite interesting for Jamie.



Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Any advice on how to deal with the bad?



I have a review-reading frenzy around book release. But then I calm down and just dip in every now and again. If someone messages me a review they’ve written then I always try to reply, thanking them. But I never respond to a bad review! I’d only do that if someone was questioning my personal character. As for advice for dealing with bad reviews, find your favourite author, and click on all the two and one star reviews. There are bound to be a few and you’ll discover you’re not alone! It also helps to know the more you sell, the more negative reviews you get! Go figure.



If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?



I’d go back to what I used to do: either journalism or PR / social media consulting. I used to enjoy it.



What's the best money you ever spent as a writer?



Writer retreats! I go to a wonderful one here in the UK in Devon, in a lovely farmhouse where all my food is cooked for me, I get to chat to other writers… and best of all, there’s cake o’clock at 4pm!



Have you ever gotten reader's block?  How did you get out of it? (and yes, I meant reader's) 😃



Yes! I have a Kindle so download lots of samples of books and I’ll go through phases of not being able to find anything I like. It’s so frustrating. Then suddenly, a whole plethora of books will crop up that are wonderful!



Do you google yourself?



Of course not (yes, I totally do, don’t tell anyone)



As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?



A cute King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppy, just like my gorgeous puppy Bronte!



What literary character is most like you?



I’ve always felt an affinity with Cathy from Wuthering Heights. Just that romantic heart of hers, and the British windsweptness of it all.



What authors have inspired you?



I love Anita Shreve, she has this amazing ability to conjure intensity of feeling while maintaining the most beautiful, subtle prose. I met her a couple of years ago and she was just lovely.



What's one piece of advice you have received that has always resonated with you?



When writing, stick to the core of a novel. So the main theme and focus. Don’t go off course. In life? Fight. Fight. Fight. Don’t give up! Many years ago, a doctor told me I’d never have children. In the same week, I got a bunch of rejection letters from agents for one of my novels. Several years later, I’m onto my fourth published book and I have a daughter. You just have to get those boxing gloves on and fight for what you want.



What's the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?


I was out shopping with my little girl and she got all grumpy as she had mud on her shoes. So I said to her: ‘I don't think you could ever be a farmer, you don't like muck. You'll probably end up being a fashion designer or something’. In response, she stamped her foot and crossed her arms and shouted out: I don't want to be a FASHION VAGINA!!!!’ Cue amused looks from fellow shoppers and one embarrassed but giggly me!


Huge thanks to Crooked Lane Books for these copies in return for our honest reviews!