The Other People by C.J. Tudor | @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks | #recommended

Happy publication day to the fabulous C.J. Tudor for her outstanding third book, The Other People!

Author : C.J. Tudor
Title : The Other People
Pages : 416
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : January 23, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Warning : possibility of awkward love-fest ahead.

Hell is other people

For the longest time, whenever someone would ask me who my favourite author was, I didn’t even have to think about the answer. (For those who haven’t been keeping up, that’d be Karin Slaughter). But ever since I read The Chalk Man, the answer is coming just that little bit slower and now, on having read C.J. Tudor’s latest book, The Other People, the time may have come to utter the words “move over, Karin!”. So sorry, Karin, it’s not you, it’s me.

The Other People was easily my most anticipated book of the year. I had such high expectations that I was convinced before it even arrived in the post, that I would absolutely love it and no matter how much I tried to temper down that feeling, worrying that I was setting myself up to be disappointed, I couldn’t do it. So obviously I was ecstatic when I realised my expectations were being exceeded. As far as I’m concerned, C.J. Tudor can write me a shopping list and I’ll read it and love it and tell you all to read it too until I’m blue in the face.

First of all, there’s the writing. I can’t even begin to explain why it draws me in as it does. It’s almost magical and completely mesmerising. Some of it is so immensely deep and insightful (come talk to me again when you’ve read about “hope”) and I often find myself nodding as I’m reading along because yes, hitting the nail on the head right there in a way I’m clearly incapable of myself. But the writing is also natural and not conceited in any way. It feels comfortable. It feels as if C.J. Tudor is right here on my sofa, telling me a story and I’m hanging onto every single word. Sometimes I even chuckle, although I’m not entirely sure I’m supposed to (I have an odd sense of humour) but I’d like to think that it’s the author’s way of releasing some of the tension by adding a slightly witty remark or observation.

I’m not going to mention anything about the plot. All you need is in the book description and I won’t add another word to it because I don’t want to give anything away. From the minute I picked up this book though, I knew I wasn’t going to put it down again until I had flipped that final page. The Other People takes “addictive” and “being glued to the pages” to a completely different level. I just HAD to keep reading. Various points-of-view kept me utterly enthralled and while I had a tiny inkling about something, the whole picture completely evaded me. I couldn’t at all even begin to try and figure out how the various storylines were supposed to fit together until C.J. Tudor revealed it to me.

What to say about the characters? Gabe. Gah. My heart broke for him numerous times and his pain, his sense of loss is so intensely palpable. Fran was somewhat more difficult to get my head around but I think that was the point. However, she’s clearly on the run from something or someone and every time panic struck, I was right there with her, heart pounding, hands getting clammy, ready to run.

Atmospheric? Check! Bit of a supernatural vibe? Also, check! Although maybe not as prevalent as in the previous books but it’s there, in the background, in a creepy, chilling kind of way. A mystery to solve? You bet your shiny arse there is. And then let’s add all those other words people are getting tired of hearing : gripping, compelling, engrossing, a page-turner, addictive, impossible to put down (IT REALLY IS!) …. all that and so, so much more! Sometimes quite sad, mostly full of suspense and questions. So many questions. Did I mention impossible to put down? (Just checking)

Dare I say it? You know what? Yes. I’m going to say it. This is C.J. Tudor’s BEST book yet and it is without a doubt a huge contender for my book of the year. Right now, it has caused a massive book hangover. I loved everything about it, in case you hadn’t noticed, and I’m sad this thrilling ride is over.

By the way, my hardback copy has a teaser chapter of C.J. Tudor’s next book (out next year) and I already can’t wait! It promises to be another absolute belter but for now, do yourself a favour, pick up a copy of The Other People because I promise you, C.J. Tudor is the real deal.

To recap, I’d like to borrow a tiny part from my review for The Taking of Annie Thorne, which is just as apt here :

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! x infinity (😉)

The Other People is available to buy!

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Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

This Week in Books (January 22)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice.

[C.J. Tudor strikes again and this is right up there as a contender for my book of the year. Fa-bu-lous!]

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

One day that will change a family forever. 

[About halfway through this one and it’s immensely gripping. Yet I can’t help but feel I may need to reach for a tissue at some point 🤔]

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.

Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…

Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.

Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it.

[May just be a teensie-weensie excited about this one]

And that’s my week in books. What does your week look like? Do let me know in the comments! Happy reading! xx

The Six by Luca Veste

Author : Luca Veste
Title : The Six
Pages : 400
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Publication date : December 26, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Six friends trapped by one dark secret.

It was supposed to be our last weekend away as friends, before marriage and respectability beckoned. But what happened that Saturday changed everything.

In the middle of the night, someone died. The six of us promised each other we would not tell anyone about the body we buried. But now the pact has been broken. And the killing has started again …

Who knows what we did? And what price will we pay?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Despite having had Luca Veste’s previous book, The Bone Collector, stashed away somewhere for ages, this is actually my first time reading one of his books. I mean, who could possibly resist that incredibly intriguing book description, right?

Six friends decide to spend a weekend camping out at a music festival. This could be the last time they can do something like this together before responsibilities get in the way and they are determined to make the most of this weekend away. But things do not exactly go as planned. Someone dies. The six friends vow never to talk to anyone about what happened that weekend and yet, it seems someone knows what they did and the time has come for the six to pay the price.

The Six ended up being somewhat of a story in two parts for me. The actual events of that weekend are super tense and sometimes slightly creepy in that whole “I’m never setting foot in a forest or going camping ever again” kind of way. This first half grabbed my attention from the get-go. It was utterly compelling and a true page-turner. However, the second half slowed down quite a bit and became just a tad predictable, in that way where you know what’s coming and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll figure out the who rather easily as well. I almost I reached that point where I thought “just wrap it up already”, and that’s never a good sign.

Nevertheless, as a whole, The Six is gripping and a well-written suspenseful crime thriller with extremely fun back-to-the-90’s vibes, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s clever, hugely character driven and quite unsettling at times. In the midst of a reading slump, I read this one in one afternoon and despite some of my misgivings, I think that’s really saying something. I’m calling my first introduction to Luca Veste’s books a success and I’ll definitely be trying one of his books again some time.

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

The Six will be published on December 26th.

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Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

The Guardians by John Grisham

Author : John Grisham
Title : The Guardians
Pages : 368
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date : October 15, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

He was framed for murder.
Now he needs a miracle. 

22 years ago Quincy Miller was sentenced to life without parole. He was accused of killing Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town. But there were no reliable witnesses and little motive. Just the fact that Russo had botched Quincy’s divorce case, that Quincy was black in a largely all-white town and that a blood-splattered torch was found in the boot of Quincy’s car. A torch he swore was planted. A torch that was conveniently destroyed in a fire just before his trial.

The lack of evidence made no difference to judge or jury. In the eyes of the law Quincy was guilty and, no matter how often he protested his innocence, his punishment was life in prison.

Finally, after 22 years, comes Quincy’s one and only chance of freedom. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on his case. Post has exonerated eight men in the last ten years. He intends to make Quincy the next.

But there were powerful and ruthless people behind Russo’s murder. They prefer that an innocent man dies in jail rather than one of them. There’s one way to guarantee that. They killed one lawyer 22 years ago, and they’ll kill another without a second thought.

| MY THOUGHTS |

As a longtime John Grisham fan, I am always eagerly awaiting a new book by him. Even though, I must admit that some of his work in recent years has been awfully hit or miss with me. So it was with a small sense of apprehension that I decided to pick up The Guardians.

After spending 22 years in prison, Quincy Miller catches the attention of a project called The Guardians and a lawyer/minister by the name of Cullen Post. The Guardians are convinced of Miller’s innocence in the murder of a local lawyer and are determined to fight for his release. In the last ten years, this innocence project has managed to get eight innocent people out of prison but Miller’s case is a tough nut to crack. Twenty-two years is a long time. Judges, members of the law enforcement and prosecutors have retired or are dead. Witnesses are spread far and wide across the country, some unwilling to talk or trying very hard not to be found. Evidence has gone missing. On top of that, powerful and ruthless people are perfectly okay with having an innocent man in prison. So where do you even begin?

It hasn’t happened in a while with John Grisham’s books, but from the very first page I had a good feeling about The Guardians. John Grisham remains one of the most excellent storytellers out there and with Cullen Post, he has created a fascinating and engaging character who deftly guides us through a cleverly and well-written plot of murder, miscarriages of justice and corruption. Cullen Post is an easy character to like. Fierce, determined, willing to go that extra mile (sometimes even literally) and all of this, combined with where he started, puts you firmly on his side.

The Guardians turned out to be quite the addictive page-turner for me and I felt John Grisham really brought home how much of the success of these cases depends on which judge is sitting in front of you, who’s willing to listen and keep an open mind and sadly also, the political games that are always going on behind the scenes. Quincy Miller’s circumstances are realistic and believable and because you know these things unfortunately happen (way more often than they should), it’s not that hard to feel angry and frustrated. Do also make sure you read the author’s note at the end of the book.

Is this Grisham at his best? Well, no. But he’s getting mighty close and after some of the recent disappointments, that’s already saying quite a lot and I can honestly say I really enjoyed this one. Truth be told, I’ll be right there at the front of the line when he publishes his next book anyway but I’ll never give up hoping for another absolute corker like “A Time To Kill” was, for instance.

The Guardians is available to buy!

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Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

This Week in Books (November 6)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Six friends trapped by one dark secret.

It was supposed to be our last weekend away as friends, before marriage and respectability beckoned. But what happened that Saturday changed everything.

In the middle of the night, someone died. The six of us promised each other we would not tell anyone about the body we buried. But now the pact has been broken. And the killing has started again …

Who knows what we did? And what price will we pay?

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the same disease in the cliffs beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.

Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers that her new home may be just as dangerous as her last. 

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

He was framed for murder.
Now he needs a miracle. 

22 years ago Quincy Miller was sentenced to life without parole. He was accused of killing Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town. But there were no reliable witnesses and little motive. Just the fact that Russo had botched Quincy’s divorce case, that Quincy was black in a largely all-white town and that a blood-splattered torch was found in the boot of Quincy’s car. A torch he swore was planted. A torch that was conveniently destroyed in a fire just before his trial.

The lack of evidence made no difference to judge or jury. In the eyes of the law Quincy was guilty and, no matter how often he protested his innocence, his punishment was life in prison.

Finally, after 22 years, comes Quincy’s one and only chance of freedom. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on his case. Post has exonerated eight men in the last ten years. He intends to make Quincy the next.

But there were powerful and ruthless people behind Russo’s murder. They prefer that an innocent man dies in jail rather than one of them. There’s one way to guarantee that. They killed one lawyer 22 years ago, and they’ll kill another without a second thought. 

Hopefully these will restore my reading mojo because it’s been slim pickings the last few weeks.

What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. | @damppebbles

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. I have an extract to share with you today but first, here is what the book is all about.

Author : N. Lombardi Jr
Title : Justice Gone
Pages : 336
Publisher : Roundfire Books
Publication date : February 22, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

| EXTRACT |

Another session was called to collate, coordinate, and brainstorm, but this one was held in the mayor’s office, at his honor’s insistence that he not be kept out of the loop. To say that he was distressed was like calling Mount Everest a molehill. The citizens were in nothing less than an uproar, and he was supposed to be the man in charge. When he had campaigned for mayor he hadn’t foreseen a challenge like this. Never knew that his blood pressure could rise so high that he had to consult his cardiologist, or that his ulcer would act up after all these years. And the pain in his gut only increased when he realized he was helpless to rescue the situation. This thing has fucking gone global now, worldwide coverage for heaven’s sake, he had decried to the city attorney Burns just hours before.

The same law enforcement officials that attended the first meeting were there at this one, except for Agent Crawford of the FBI, who was more than spoken for by his bare-headed partner. Everyone around the conference table looked glum, and this alarmed the mayor.“I would like Chief Peterson to give me the introductory summary… you know…the quick and dirty, and then I would like to hear from all of you.” The mayor turned his head. “Len?” “First of all, I would like to thank the FBI and the New Jersey State Police Investigations Branch, and the U.S. Marshal’s Office, for their assistance in this investigation.” Peterson cleared his throat. “On September 23 we received a 911 request to proceed to the home of Victor Fratollini, possible homicide. That was about five-fifteen. Then, some forty minutes later, there was another 911 call directing us to the home of John Fox…”

“Is this the quick and dirty, Len?” the mayor asked.
Peterson looked up, embarrassed. “Within two, two-and-a-half hours, three of the officers involved in the Felson incident were shot dead. The autopsy report was consistent with the crime scene assessment that only one fatal bullet was fired in each case, all of them exiting the bodies and recovered at each of the scenes. Caliber .308, most probably used with a Remington 700 model, which is consistent with military rifles of at least two branches of the armed services, the Army and the Marines. Marshal Felson was picked up for questioning…”

“Hold it right there. I’ve heard about that, more than I care to, and his lawyer contacted our lawyer, Burns, and threatened yet another civil suit, malicious prosecution. What the hell was that all about?”
Gerhard intervened. “We had a no-knock warrant, sir.” “So you just busted in? Is he a principal suspect?”
Peterson interjected. “We consider him a person of interest at this time. But he has an alibi. His sister claims she slept over that night and attests that Felson was home from the afternoon until the time of the killings.”
“Well, can we rule him out then?’ “She could be lying,” Gerhard stated.
“What makes you say that?’
Peterson answered. “She refuses to come down and make a statement without her lawyer, and the same for her commitment to testify in case of a trial.”
“Actually,” Detective Cavaluzzi broke in, “her exact words were”—he read from his notepad—”I would be reluctant to give any formal statement regarding my brother, let alone testify, without consulting my lawyer.”
“We should be applying more pressure on that woman!” Gerhard said loudly. “Forensics showed his gun was recently discharged, and ballistics show a significant amount of consistency with the recovered bullets.”

The direction the conversation was going distressed Peterson, and he sought to divert it. “I think it’s time to give the results of the autopsy and ballistics reports, and our analysis based on these.” He shuffled some papers he had been keeping on the table before him, then read it verbatim using the coroner’s technical language, which more than annoyed the mayor.

“So what is all that anatomical jargon come to for Chrissake?”
“It means,” Gerhard announced from his end of the table, “that this killer is not only clever, calculating, and precise, but sadistic as well. With just one bullet, he inflicted the maximum amount of pain a single gunshot wound could inflict, aiming at the edges of bones to cause maximum deflection with minimum loss of kinetic energy. In other words he deliberately shot them in a way that would rip them apart. And he went so far as to modify the bullets to ensure this.”
“What do you mean, modify the bullets?” the mayor asked.

The bald FBI man, Agent Dirksen, explained. “There are indentations machined on the bullets. They didn’t come from the manufacturer that way. Increases the wobble to the spin.”
The mayor raised his eyebrows. “Wobble? Spin?”
“The reason rifles are called rifles,” Gerhard broke in, “is because there’s rifling inside the barrels, grooves that cause the bullet to spin for more accurate trajectories, like how a quarterback throws a football. In this case, with these custom- made bullets, the indentations we found on them are at right angles to the rifling, causing them to vibrate as well, and this vibration amplifies when they encounter soft tissue. Sick, yes, but that’s the kind of person we’re dealing with here.”

“But it’s not Felson!” Peterson insisted.
Agent Dirksen, spoke up again. “I don’t think so either. After a thorough search, a footprint has been found in the woods behind Puente’s house. It’s clear that the gunman started his killing binge at the most exposed place, Fratollini’s suburban neighborhood, then on to Fox’s dead end lane nearby, and finishing at a place that verges on forest. We think that was his escape route, and that’s why he wasn’t intercepted on any road. He might still be in the woods.”
“Don’t tell me…” the mayor protested.
But Agent Dirksen continued, “We recommend a full-scale manhunt in the wooded areas from the south of Asarn County up to the Delaware Water Gap to the north.”
The mayor threw up his hands. “Well, hell’s bells! What else is coming to put yet another nail on my goddamn cross! Hunting season has just opened!”
“Looks like it’ll have to be postponed for a while,” Gerhard said with a hint of gloating.

If this extract has left you wanting to find out more, then you can grab yourself a copy of Justice Gone now!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.
Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Sins of the Fathers by Les Cowan | @LionHudson @MidasPR | #LesCowan #SinsOfTheFathers #excerpt

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Sins Of The Fathers by Les Cowan. Today, I have an extract to share with you all but first, here is what the book is all about.

Author : Les Cowan
Title : Sins Of The Fathers
Series : David Hidalgo #3
Pages : 300
Publisher : Lion Fiction
Publication date : October 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Father Ramón was a priest with a problem. How can a normal healthy young man cope with both the demands of the priesthood and his attraction to women? Appealing to the bishop doesn’t help. Do what you must but make sure I don’t find out, was the astonishing reply.

Fifteen years later, Ramón comes out of prison. Instead of feeling guilt and remorse, he is now bent on revenge against those who testified against his shocking exploitation of children. Most are easy to find but there is one last piece missing in his puzzle: Andrea has moved to Edinburgh.

David Hidalgo continues to pastor his church. Nowadays, this includes an English chat group for the many young people leaving Spain and looking for work in Edinburgh, people like Andrea. As Andrea slowly realises her past has terrifyingly become her present, once again David Hidalgo finds himself in the middle of a problem he wasn’t looking for. Can David help halt Ramón’s revenge or will there be further casualties.

| EXTRACT |

Chapter 1
CAFÉ CÓRDOBA – FOLLOWING SPRING

Andrea Suaráz Morán did not like the way the guy at the corner table was looking at her. She carefully set down the tapas he had ordered – sardinas a la plancha, pinchos morunos, albóndigas, chorizo en vino – and a bottle of San Miguel and headed back to the safety of the bar.
“¿Piensas que ese tío parece un poco raro o solo es mi imaginación?” she asked José as she wiped the tray and slipped it back with the others. “Hey, speak English, chica,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for.”
She rolled her eyes but knew he was right. Her English had improved enormously in the six weeks she’d been in Edinburgh, but it still needed more mental effort, particularly if she was worried or tired.
“Ok,” she tried again. “Do you think that guy is a bit weird or is it just my imagination?”
“It’s not your imagination,” José confirmed, stealing a glance from under thick black brows as he dried a glass. “He comes in twice a week, orders exactly the same, always on his own, never smiles, no tip. Definitely weird.”
“And he only ever speaks Spanish. There’s something familiar about him but I don’t know where from.”
“I’ll mention it to Martin so we keep an eye on him. When do you finish tonight?”
“Ten.”
“Ok. I’m on till eleven. Just wait in the kitchen till I’m done and I’ll see you home.” “Would you?”
“Sin duda. ¡No hay problema, guapa!”
“Hey, speak English dude – that’s what we’re here for!”
She gave him a playful punch on the shoulder and glanced round, laughing. The guy in the corner was watching, not laughing, and that took the smile off her face.

In the kitchen, while she waited for José to finish his shift, Andrea pulled out a secondhand copy of Sons and Lovers she was trying to plough her way through. The language was a struggle; she’d expected that. What she couldn’t work out was why the British seemed to get so worked up – was that the right expression? – why they got so worked up about sex. Well, maybe that was just the mystery and also the fun about other cultures. People just see things differently, that’s all. Es lo que hay – that’s just how it is. She’d read that in Britain it was polite to keep your hands off the table at meals. In Spain just the opposite. If your hands weren’t in view, maybe you had a dagger under the cloth you were just about to stab your host with. Total opposites for random reasons. Attitudes to sex, religion, politics, humour, physical contact, even greeting friends and strangers – all different. Why? Because that’s just how it is.

She couldn’t concentrate with all the orders being shouted through, pots and dishes clattering, and onions sizzling, so she put her book down, leaned back against the slightly sticky wall, and dropped her mind into neutral. Having a real job, earning real money, and being independent again had all come in a bit of a rush but she was loving the sensation. It made her mind spin that so much could change in such a short time. It seemed incredible that it had only been six weeks ago she’d kissed and hugged Mama and Papa at security at Barajas Airport Madrid and got on the easyJet to Edimburgo – “Edinburgh”, as she now had to call it.
Less than a year before had been the monumental three-day end-of-degree party which, looking back, now felt like an official farewell to youth and a welcome to the real world. That had been as long-drawn-out a group goodbye as they had been able to manage.

Four years together at Complutense University of Madrid in the leafy suburbs to the north-west of the city had made them more than friends and closer than family – a few had even become lovers. Now they were simultaneously ecstatic at the thought of no more lectures and exams, terrified at landing directly on the unemployment scrapheap in the midst of the crisis, and heartbroken at the thought of losing each other. So they drank for three days straight and swore the current fate of 52 per cent of Spanish youth would not be theirs. They toasted their successful futures to come, cursed Prime Minister Rajoy and his infernal Partido Popular, blessed the new indignados protest movement, and prayed to San Isidro, La Macarena or any other god, saint or virgin open for business for good results and a real job. On the final evening, after many riojas too many, she and Jorge had slept together one last time for old times’ sake even though they’d broken up more than a year before. It seemed the generous thing to do. They kissed and swore they’d keep in touch, all the time knowing they wouldn’t. The morning after, she had packed the last of her stuff, took her Beatles, Dylan, and Lorca posters down, gathered up bits of discarded clothing from round the flat, left the pot plants for the new tenants, and took the metro from Moncloa to Atocha, changing at Sol. Finally, easing into her seat on the AVE train to Sevilla, she exhaled slowly, looked out the window, and dabbed away a tear.

If this extract has left you wanting to read more, Sins Of The Fathers is now available for preorder!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Les Cowan is a crime and thriller novelist from Scotland. He graduated from Edinburgh University with a degree in English Language and Literature and has worked in the criminal justice system. Currently based in Orkney, Les has lived in Madrid, Edinburgh and Galicia, all of which are locations brought to life in his writing. His previous novels featuring David Hidalgo include Benefit of the Doubt and All That Glitters.

Weekly Wrap-Up (August 25)

Summer is back with a vengeance and I’m loving it! Meanwhile in Italy, they’re on their second week of continuous thunderstorms and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon. Fingers crossed Mother Nature gets her act together and my holiday won’t be a complete wash-out. Eek.

Other than that, it’s been a bit of a frustrating week. I’ve had people on my case trying to force me to do this, and that, and go there and wherever, not comprehending that it’s just not possible with a doggie that isn’t 100% and most definitely not in 33C degrees heat. I kind of accept (but not really) this behaviour from people who’ve never had a pet but not from the other half, who should bloody know better. Anyway, he’s off for the day and doggie and I have the house all to ourselves. I’d say we’re partying like there’s no tomorrow but she prefers to nap and as much as I’d like to think I’m the boss, I’m really not 😂

Reading-wise, it’s been a good week. Helped enormously by fun buddy reads with Janel. Some more successful than others as apparently fantasy and moi don’t seem to mix very well. Oops. Today’s buddy read is non-fiction. I’ve not had much luck with those in the past either but so far so good. Somewhere in England, a certain someone is walking around with a smug smile on her face 😉

So, what have I read this week?

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Two review copies, four just because. Obviously these days I read faster when I decide not to review a book. I almost forgot how much fun that is but now that I have been reminded, I am determined to remain as commitment free as I can possibly be.

For those who enjoy the guessing game, there is one 5 star read in that lot.

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

I haven’t read a Philippa Gregory book in years but I liked the blurb of this one. Also, the cover is really pretty. So there’s that.

| ARC’s RECEIVED VIA NETGALLEY |

I haven’t read on Kindle in ages but I’ve been waiting for this final instalment in the 4MK Thriller trilogy and the hardback is insanely expensive. So as it was a “read now”, I just couldn’t resist.

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Joined the blog tour for Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Tuesday : Reviewed Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Nothing to see here

Friday : Planned post moved to Saturday

Saturday : Shared my thoughts on The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Thank you for sharing my posts on social media! Always immensely appreciated! ❤️

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Blog tour | Review | Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

Tuesday : Review | The Retreat by Sherri Smith

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Review | Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Friday : Review | My 20th book of summer, title to be determined 😂

Saturday : Taking the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

My last relatively busy week, if I can help it. I really look forward to taking things a lot slower, to read when I want, to review when I want or not to when I don’t want, to *gasp* maybe do something other than reading.

So, one more book to go for the 20 Books of Summer challenge. Still. I obviously could have reviewed one of the books I read this week but I didn’t feel like it. What’s a girl to do?

I’ve also spent more time this week staring at the bookshelves in an attempt to decide what to take with me on holiday. The pile has risen to …… 3. 🙄
I don’t know why this is so hard. The other half says it’s because I have too many options. I say it’s because I don’t have enough of them 🤣

Please feel free to recommend something to me! I obviously need help here! 😂

And that’s a wrap! Wishing you all a glorious week and lots of happy reading! Until next time! xx

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware | @RuthWareWriter @HarvillSecker | #20BooksofSummer

Author : Ruth Ware
Title : The Turn of the Key
Pages : 340
Publisher : Harvill Secker
Publication date : August 8, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Ruth Ware’s previous book, The Death of Mrs Westaway, was one of my top books last year. So to say I had high expectations for her next offering would be somewhat of an understatement. I couldn’t wait to pick up The Turn of the Key and as soon as I started reading, I just knew this one was going to be another extra special treat.

Rowan Caine answered an ad for a nanny position in the Scottish Highlands. But it’s obvious from the start that things did not go well. A child is dead and Rowan is in prison awaiting trial for murder. What on earth happened and how did Rowan get here?

Oh, what a twisted tale this is. I feel like I didn’t breathe for 340 pages, it’s that tense. The modern gadgetry alone already freaked me out, never mind all the shenanigans that could possibly be caused by ghosts because hey, isolated house in a remote location where a death or two has occurred , it’s bound to be haunted, right? Hugely atmospheric? Check! I mean, there’s even a poison garden! Yikes! And what of Rowan? Reliable narrator or not? I couldn’t quite decide for most of the story and yet, at every turn, I found myself firmly on her side.

Creepy and chilling throughout, I couldn’t at all figure out what had happened and the conclusion left me reeling. Or at least my interpretation of it, which obviously means you should read this novel right now so we can discuss it! Wow. I mean, really, just WOW. I absolutely devoured this novel and as tends to happen with books I loved as much as this one, the words to describe my experience with it just will not come. Also because I’m way too worried I’ll give anything away.

Brilliantly written, immensely engrossing, extremely addictive …. WOW! 😉 This is most definitely Ruth Ware at her best and I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, because did I mention how utterly brilliant The Death of Mrs Westaway was? The Turn of the Key, you guys, is even better and it shoots right up my list of favourite books of the year! I’ll be recommending this one left, right and centre until I’m blue in the face and I am already eagerly awaiting Ruth Ware’s next book.

The Turn of The Key is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Book 17 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

Now You See Me by Chris McGeorge | #20BooksOfSummer

Author : Chris McGeorge
Title : Now You See Me
Pages : 302
Publisher : Orion
Publication date : June 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Six people went in. Only one came out…

Introducing Standedge Tunnel: the longest canal tunnel in England.

Last year six students went in, and two and a half hours later, the boat reappeared on the other side with only one of the students, unconscious, and the dog.

The case of the Standedge Six was largely kept from the national media. The police investigation concluded that the only remaining student, Matthew, killed his friends, hid the bodies on the boat and returned later to move them to an undisclosed location.

Matthew is in prison . . . but maintains he is innocent.

Robert Ferringham is grieving for his missing wife, Sam. So when Matthew contacts him for help with his case, promising information on Sam, Robert has no choice but to help. But can he trust Matthew?

And how will he solve the insolvable case? 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Raise your hand if you love a good mystery! Me! I do! And this one is mind-boggling for sure.

Six friends and a dog travel through a canal tunnel on a boat. But when the boat reaches the other end, only one friend (who’s unconscious) and the dog (who’s absolutely fine) remain. The other five, now known as the Standedge Five, have disappeared. The community is able to keep this mysterious disappearance out of the national media and quickly moves to arrest the remaining friend, Matthew, for murder. Police is convinced he killed his friends and moved their bodies to an undisclosed location.

While awaiting trial in prison, Matthew contacts author Robin Ferringham. Robin’s wife went missing three years ago and Matthew claims to have information about her disappearance but he won’t divulge any of it unless Robin helps him prove his innocence. Can Matthew be trusted? Is he truly innocent? And how will Robin solve a case that looks utterly unsolvable?

Now You See Me isn’t just a whodunnit, it’s also a “how-dunnit” and it genuinely made my head hurt trying to figure it out. I have the frown lines to prove it. How do five people vanish from a canal tunnel?! Were they thrown overboard? Did they pull a Houdini? Did Scotty beam them up? What the hell happened?! I thought I had it all worked out but I was only half right and it was such a thrilling journey to go on.

Chris McGeorge has come up with an extremely clever plot here. Full of untrustworthy and not always likeable characters, the mystery surrounding the Standedge Five had me hooked from start to finish. This is such an addictive page-turner and there was no way I was going to put this book down until I knew what had actually happened. There were a few surprises I didn’t quite see coming, some of them quite shocking and devastating, and it all added up to a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and a truly compelling read.

Now You See Me is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Book 13 from my 20 Books of Summer list.