Dot Scribbles

17.5.16

BLOG TOUR AND GIVEAWAY: B-Side by Elle Field

I am so excited to be kicking off the blog tour for B-Side by Elle Field. I have read every book by this fabulous author and she never fails to disappoint! Elle writes the brilliant Arielle Lockley series and B-Side sits between Lost which is out now and Found which will be published this Summer! Here's the idea behind the book:

"What do I honestly know about the music industry? I'm just another idiot with a dream who is naive enough to hope that I might be the next big star." Etta Millhouse has always had big musical ambitions to match her big voice, but she's also got three very big problems - the addiction she won't admit to, her godmother's illness that she can no longer ignore, and her godmother's useless business partner (who she wishes she could ignore). Keeping an eye on Arielle's poor business decisions is the last thing Etta wants to do when she's offered the chance to record a demo with a top producer. But, a promise is a promise, even if it has her reaching for another pick-me-up... And then another. And then one more. When the secret she must keep for her godmother, Felicity, sends her drug habit spiralling out of control, can Etta battle her demons in time and make her dream happen? Or, will her music career be over before it's even begun?

B-Side is very much Etta's story and I thought it was excellent. It felt a little darker and more emotional than Elle Field's other books but it was really good and showed a different side to this author's writing. Etta is Felicity's goddaughter and the closest person she has to a mother; Etta is about to get her lucky break in the music industry, she is given an opportunity to make a demo with a top producer and it looks like her hard work may finally pay off. At the same time, Felicity's health starts to go downhill but only Etta knows about this, Felicity has made her promise not to tell anyone, especially her business partner, Arielle who Etta detests. Suddenly she has too much to handle, she needs to be at her best for the record company; look after Felicity whose illness is spiralling out of control and also keep an eye on what Arielle is doing with the business that Felicity is effectively bankrolling. Etta already has a drug problem but this level of emotional stress just highlights it and soon the only way she can get through the day is by taking something or other. Those around her are not stupid, including Felicity, they beg her to get control of herself but is it too late?
Elle Field has created a brilliant character in Etta, she can be quite feisty and prickly but for some reason she is still likeable. She is a little bit lost and has been dealt some very rough cards in life and I just wanted her to do well but it feels like everything is against her. Etta's relationship with Arielle is particularly strained but hints are dropped in this book that it is unlikely they are going to be able to part ways so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.Elle Field writes withsuch a good pace, at the end of every chapter you are left feeling that you just want to read a little bit more and before you know it you have read several more chapters. B-Side being set within the world of the music industry was a nice change and I think that Elle did it very well; she explored the murky world of celebrity and how easily it can eat people like Etta up, no matter how strong and independent they are.
If you have not read this series of books then you are missing out, I don't think there is anything quite like them on the market at the moment and I am always so excited when I find out that Elle has written the next instalment!

To coincide with the blog tour Elle Field is also doing an exciting competition that you can enter to win a £20 Amazon voucher:


a Rafflecopter giveaway Many thanks to Elle for inviting me to be part of the blog tour, please check out Elle's blog for details of the others stops!

9.5.16

BLOG TOUR: While My Eyes Were Closed by Linda Green

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour today for Linda Green's latest book, While My Eyes Were Wide Shut. If you are after a gripping read that may freak you out a little bit then look no further:
 Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide and seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa's family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn't a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa's little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?

Publisher: Quercus
Pages: 416

This book was excellent but seriously creepy! As a mother of a four-year-old, there were times when this book made me feel sick as the idea of losing my own child was at the forefront of my mind. Lisa Dale is a busy mum, like many, trying to juggle different responsibilities; she closes her eyes when playing hide and seek with her four-year-old daughter in the park, when she opens them Ella is gone. Not hiding but gone. The police descend and a man hunt begins. Lisa and her husband Alex are sure that Ella has been taken as she would not be one to wander off. But who has taken her? She didn't scream as Lisa would have heard her; she who has taken her daughter and turned her world upside down?
While My Eyes Were Closed is more than a missing child story. I
felt like it was a real psychological drama. It's difficult not to give too much away but the character who has taken Ella is very complex. You begin to realise that they think they are in the right by taking the little girl which just adds to the tension as you have no idea just how far they will go.
While My Eyes Were Closed is a gripping read, I flew through it in just over a day, it is an impressive  book which I highly recommend.

Many thanks to Quercus for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, don't forget to check out the other stops.


30.4.16

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan

She's hopes he's done with trouble. But is trouble done with him?
Some crimes can never be forgotten. But when Lizzie's brother comes home after serving his time, she tells herself that folk will turn a blind eye.
Lizzie is wrong. And she and her girls will pay the price.
Ten years to repent.
Ten years to forgive,
Ten days for revenge. 

Publisher: Penguin

The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan is a stunning debut novel. Set in a small praire town in West Texas, Ronan creates a tale that is terrifying and captivating at the same time.
Lizzie's brother Jasper has spent ten years in prison and he is now returning to the family home that Lizzie shares with her two young daughters Katie and Joanne. Lizzie has no idea what to expect, she just hopes that the people in their small town will see that Jasper has served his time and allows him to move on with his life. That simply does not happen though and soon everything that Lizzie holds dear is put in jeopardy and for what; does she truly know the man she has let into her home?
I've read some reviews of this book that have criticised it as being slow but I can't agree. I think that Vanessa Ronan uses the pace to reflect the atmosphere of the small town setting, she then adds layer upon layer of tension until it almost becomes unbearable.
I loved the relationship between Jasper and Lizzie's youngest daughter Joanne, It very much captured childhood innocence, Joanne doesn't care that Jasper has done, she just wants to be his friend.
I highly recommend The Last Days of Summer, Vanessa Ronan is an exciting new author.

Many thanks to Penguin for sending me a copy of this book to review.

27.4.16

BOOK REVIEW: Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes

Welcome to the magnificent Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes- A bold, brilliant book bursting with Marian's hilarious and heartfelt observations on modern life, love and much, much more else besides. Such as? You are determined to ask. Well, how about her guide to breaking up with your hairdresser? Or the warning she has for us all after a particularly traumatic fling with fake tan. There's the pure and bounteous joy of the nail varnish museum. Not to mention the very best lies to tell if you find yourself on an Arctic cruise. She has words of advice for those fast approaching fifty. And she's here to tell you the secret truth about writers- well this one anyway.
You'll be wincing in recognition and scratching your head in incredulity, but like Marian herself you won't be able to stop laughing at the sheer delightful absurdity that is modern life- because each and every one of us is clearly making it up as we go along.

Publisher: Michael Joseph

I cannot fully convey my excitement when I saw that Marian Keyes had a new book out. I have read every single book by this fabulous author and I think that Making It Up As I Go Along is going to make her readers very happy.
The book is a collection of articles written by Marian, some have already been published but others have never been in print before. It is perfect to dip in and out of if you wish or devour entirely. I find Marian's writing so friendly and inviting; it is as though she is sitting across the table from you, having a chat.
There were so many moments when I thought 'I'm so glad it's not just me that has happened to' and that is what Marian does best, her honesty is endearing it makes you want to keep turning the pages.
Serious topics are also covered such as Marian's depression and addictive personality, it's so refreshing to have someone just tell it like it is rather than using fancy jargon or trying to paint the best picture.
This is not  a long review as in reality all I can tell you is that this book is simply wonderful, Making It Up As I Go Along is a breath of fresh air and a book that I will revisit again and again!

Many thanks to Michael Joseph for allowing me to review this book via Netgalley.

15.4.16

BLOG TOUR: Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker

I'm very pleased to be on the blog tour today for Chris Whitaker's book, Tall Oaks, I really enjoyed this book and it was quite a different read for me. The author has kindly written a post for Dot Scribbles to share with you on this blog tour:

Writing a book set in America

From books to films to television shows, I’ve long been a fan of the ‘small town America’ setting. There’s something fascinating about the dynamics at work in a close-knit community. I remember being totally captivated by the Finch family in To Kill A Mockingbird, unable to put down Boy’s Life because I was so enthralled by Cory Jay Mackenson and the town of Zephyr, and eagerly waiting each and every visit I’ve paid to Castle Rock over the years.
Also as a reader I quite enjoy the escapism of a story based a world away from my own life. And as a writer I found exactly the same to be true. So it was with this in mind that I decided to set the fictional town of Tall Oaks 5,000 miles away from home. 

The American setting also made some of the plot points possible in way that wouldn’t be had I set the story in the UK. I really wanted to capture the feeling that Jim, the policeman in Tall Oaks, was very much working the case alone, with little support. The sheer size of America made this feel much more plausible, with resources stretched thin and serious crime raining down relentlessly. I wanted the Harry Monroe abduction quickly pushed from the front pages, it further adds to Jess’s (Harry’s mother) feeling of desperation, that more isn’t being done, that nobody cares anymore.

After I’d settled on America, drawn a rough map of the town and the surrounding areas, I then began to think about where exactly to base the town. Tall Oaks is affluent, the kind of sought after place that the rich would choose to live. The houses are large, the streets lined with trees. The story takes place during a sticky, oppressive summer. There’s a national park that borders the town. After some research I decided on California. It seemed a natural fit once I’d taken everything into account.

I then came to the challenges of actually writing a book set in America. And there were lots. Perhaps the biggest was the language barrier. I knew there were differences, trousers are pants, football is soccer, garden is yard. But there were loads that I missed. Thankfully my copyeditor was particularly brilliant when it came to catching my mistakes and stopping me from looking like a complete ass (arse). See, I’m getting the hang of it!
I also had to ensure that the description of the town itself was accurate, from making sure that the flowers growing were the type found in California, to checking what the houses should look like, and which shops might be found on Main Street. I also did lots of research into how a missing child investigation would be handled by a small town police chief.

It’s so important to me to make the story feel authentic, and I really hope I’ve managed it.

Here's the synopsis and my review of the book:

When three year old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town.
Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect.
Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to extreme measures.
Newcomer Jared, with an easy charm and a string of broken hearts in his wake,
Photographer Jerry, who's determined to break away from his controlling mother once and for all.
And, investigating them all, a police chief with a hidden obsession of his own...

Tall Oaks is Chris Whitaker's debut novel and I have to say that he is off to an excellent start. Tall Oaks, a tiny American town is rocked by the disappearance of a three year old boy, taken from his own bed in the middle of the night. In such a small town, everybody wants to be involved and help desperate  mother Jess to find her little boy; the problem is, it could easily be one of the locals who took the child.
Chris Whitaker follows several of the town's inhabitants, from the police detective on the case, to the guy in the camera shop who still lives with his mum, from the car dealership guy to the local teenager who thinks he's Tony Soprano. It took me a little while to get a hold on all the characters but they were all fantastic creations. Manny was my favourite, he's the teenager who would like to be a gangster; his one-liners added the humour that this book needed and I was always pleased when he popped back up in the story.
This book is extremely dark too, the disappearance of three year old Harry is upsetting enough but as we get to know the characters, it is clear that there are many disturbed inhabitants of Tall Oaks and many dysfunctional relationships and secrets.
Chris Whitaker writes at a good pace and the ending of the book took me completely by surprise. For a debut novel it is fantastic and I hope that the author has great success with it.

Many thanks to Emily for inviting me to be part of the blog tour and providing me with a review copy. 


11.4.16

BOOK REVIEW: Playing With Fire by Tess Gerritsen

What if your child wanted you dead?
Julia doesn't understand why her daughter has so violently turned against her, but she thinks she knows what's causing it. She is terrified for Lily, and for herself, but what scares her more is that no one believes her.
If she is going to help Lily, she must find the answers alone, embarking on a search that will take her halfway around the world, to Venice.
There, Julia uncovers a heart-breaking, long-buried tale of tragedy and devastation- a discovery that puts her in serious danger. Some people will do anything in their power to keep the truth silent...whatever the cost. 

Publisher: Bantam Press
Pages: 283

I've finally got round to reading Tess Gerritsen's latest book. I flew through it and enjoyed it but I did feel that it was very different to her other stand alone books.
Julia finds a piece of music hidden in an antique book that she buys. On playing the music, strange things begin to happen, especially to her daughter Lily who seems to have turned against her. Julia becomes terrified of her own child and she is convinced that her strange behaviour is connected to the music that she found. She sets out on a search that takes her all the way to Venice; a tragic tale with consequences reaching into the present is uncovered putting Julia in grave danger.
Playing With Fire flits between the present day and the time of the Holocaust. I really was not expecting the historical fiction element of the book but I felt that it was very well done. I thought that Tess Gerritsen presented the story of the persecuted Jews in Italy very well; it was not something that I knew a lot about and the research done in order to create an accurate account was clear to see.
This book felt a little more like a horror than a thriller, the scenes between Julia and Lily were particularly sinister and frightening and this tension was maintained throughout the book. I would highly recommend Playing With Fire, it was interesting to see Tess Gerritsen going in a slightly different direction and she is still one of my favourite authors.

5.4.16

BLOG TOUR: The Girl Who Walked in Shadows by Marnie Riches

I am very pleased to be on the blog tour today for Marnie Riches' fantastic new book The Girl Who Walked in Shadows. If you haven't read any of Marnie's books yet then you are truly missing out, her two previous 'Euro crime' books, The Girl Who Wouldn't Die and The Girl Who Broke the Rules were fantastic, just click on the links to read my reviews. 
The Girl Who Walked in Shadows has just been published, here's the synopsis:

The third edge-of-your-seat thriller in the Georgina MacKenzie series. Fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo won’t be able to put it down!
Europe is in the grip of an extreme Arctic blast and at the mercy of a killer, who leaves no trace. His weapons of choice are razor-sharp icicles. This is Jack Frost.
Now a fully qualified criminologist, Georgina McKenzie is called upon by the Dutch police to profile this cunning and brutal murderer. Are they looking for a hit man or a frenzied serial-killer? Could there be a link to a cold missing persons’ case that George had worked with Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen – two abducted toddlers he could never quite give up on?
The hunt for Jack Frost sparks a dangerous, heart-rending journey through the toughest neighbourhoods in Europe, where refugees and Roma gypsies scratch a living on the edge of society. Walking into the dark, violent world of a trans-national trafficking ring, can George outrun death to shed light on two terrible mysteries?
Sounds good doesn't it! The lovely people at Harper Collins have very kindly given me an extract from the beginning of chapter 2 to share with you:

North West England, women’s prison, 27 February

 ‘Put a bag over my head, didn’t I?’ the woman said, biting nails that were already at the quick.

Couldn’t have been more than twenty, this one. Looked nearer to forty with a complexion the colour of porridge. Overweight and swollen-faced, George guessed anti-depressants were at work. Dull blue eyes, as though the medication had caused a film to form over her sclera, preventing her from seeing the world in its grim true colours. Another poor cow in a pen full of poor cows.

‘What do you mean, you put a bag over your head?’ she asked the woman. She was poised to write. Steeling her hand to stop shaking. Unnerving to be back inside the very same prison she had spent three unforgettable months in – now a long time ago. A one-star vacation at Her Majesty’s leisure. All meals provided. The beatings had come for free. She had not known then that she would swap these Victorian red-brick walls of a one-time Barnardo’s home for the ivory tower of St. John’s College, Cambridge. No, she had been a poor cow in a stall full of crap, same as the others.

Her interviewee leaned forward. Cocked her head to one side. Grimaced.

‘Are you fucking thick or what?’ A spray of spittle accompanied ‘thick’.

Issued forth with venom, George knew. Tap, tap on her temple with her chewed index finger.

‘Donna.’ The prison officer’s tone issued warning enough for Donna to back up.

‘I said, I put the bag on my head. They didn’t know I had it. Tied it tight.’ Donna folded her arms. Smiling now. Satisfied. ‘It was Sainsbury’s. It had fucking holes in the bottom, didn’t it?’

‘Did you intend to kill yourself?’ George asked, a rash unexpectedly starting to itch its way up her neck. She knew Donna wouldn’t catch sight of it so easily because darker skin hid a multitude. She disciplined herself not to scratch.

‘Yeah. Course I bleedin’ did.’

The prison officer, a heavy-set woman in her thirties, by the looks, laughed. ‘Come on, Donna. We all know you were doing a Michael Hutchence, weren’t you?’

‘What?’

Donna was almost certainly too young to have heard of him, George thought.

‘Feller from INXS. Offed himself by accident, doing an asphyxi-wank or something.’

Donna tugged at the collar of her standard-issue tracksuit – too tight over her low-hanging, braless breasts. ‘You taking the piss?’

‘Yes.’

Insane laughter from both of them then. A camaraderie that George was used to seeing, along with the gallows humour. When the mirth subsided, Donna confessed the real reason for her grand polyethylene gesture.

‘I had bedbugs, didn’t I? They were biting like bastards.’ She started to rub her forearms through the jersey material. ‘I asked for a new mattress but they wouldn’t bloody listen. So, I puts the bag on my head, cos if they think you’re going to top yourself in here, you stand a better chance of them actually listening to what you’re on about.’ She glowered at the prison officer, seated beside her. Switched the glare for a grin like a deft pickpocket. ‘I been in here two years, right? Got another six to go.’

George scratched at her scalp with the end of her pen. Got the cap entangled in one of her corkscrew curls. Unrelentingly itchy. Was it the nervous rash? Was this her body telling her brain that she was losing her shit? She couldn’t possibly be freaked out, though. Definitely not. Not after all this time. Not a pro, like her.

I am a big fan of this author and I highly recommend all of her books, they are fast, edgy and so well written, you will not be disappointed. 

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