Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Author Q&A with @RebeccaLFleet – The House Swap #Psychological #Thriller #NewRelease #TheHouseSwap #AuthorTalks @TransworldBooks Be careful who you let in. . .

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The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet
Review to follow
Synopsis:

‘No one lives this way unless they want to hide something.’

When Caroline and Francis receive an offer to house swap, they jump at the chance for a week away from home. After the difficulties of the past few years, they’ve worked hard to rebuild their marriage for their son’s sake; now they want to reconnect as a couple.

On arrival, they find a house that is stark and sinister in its emptiness – it’s hard to imagine what kind of person lives here. Then, gradually, Caroline begins to uncover some signs of life – signs of her life. The flowers in the bathroom or the music in the CD player might seem innocent to her husband but to her they are anything but. It seems the person they have swapped with is someone she used to know; someone she’s desperate to leave in her past.

But that person is now in her home – and they want to make sure she’ll never forget . . .

Q&A:

Q) For the readers can you tell us a bit about yourself and your new novel, The House Swap?

A) Hello! I’m 38, live in London, and in my day job I work as a brand strategy consultant. I’ve always written, but The House Swap is my first foray into psychological thriller/suspense. It tells the story of a married couple struggling to get their relationship back on track after a difficult few years. To this end, they decide to enter into a house swap and have a break away from home, but when they reach the new house it isn’t long before the wife, Caroline, begins to feel that their surroundings are loaded, carrying memories of a traumatic period of her life that she has worked hard to forget. She starts to wonder if it can be a coincidence – and if not, who she has just let into her own home.

Q) The novel has the unique theme of being centred around a house swap, what was the inspiration behind this idea?

A) I had noticed the growing popularity of house swaps through sites such as Airbnb and not been remotely tempted to try it myself, as I always found it a rather worrying concept – our homes are such personal and private spaces, and allowing a stranger into them without being there ourselves requires a high degree of trust. I started thinking about what could go wrong, and how it would feel if you became aware that you had opened up your own home to someone who might not be a complete stranger after all, and who had their own dark motivations for being there.

Q) The novel focuses on a couple trying to get their marriage back on track. Does this add extra depth to their characters and backgrounds?

A) I hope so! I always saw the book as a relationship drama as much as a thriller. These days, psychological thriller is a pretty broad term. For me, the tension in the book springs largely from the dynamics between the key characters, their relationships to one another and the ways in which they might undermine each other and threaten the fabric of their lives through their own behaviour. The couple in the book, Caroline and Francis, aren’t intended to be wholly likeable; the whole point for me was to show them as real and very flawed people who are trying to do the best they can in difficult circumstances – sometimes misguidedly.

Q) The novel also has a theme of past relationships and those we’d rather leave in the past. With social media and sites such as friends reunited, this has become much more difficult. Did this inspire the novel in any way?

A) I think that our attitudes to past relationship in general are very different in today’s society. The temptation to “keep tabs” on people in a virtual sense even when they have disappeared from our day-to-day lives is a strong one, and it’s almost become socially acceptable, even if we don’t like to admit it. So although this might not have inspired the plot of the novel consciously, I do think that I was aware that these days, trying to leave a relationship in the past as Caroline is doing in the book requires a lot of discipline and dedication. It’s so easy to slip back into wanting to know what that person is up to, and it’s a short step from that to still caring about them.

Q) With the psychological/thriller genre being massively competitive, does this encourage authors to think outside the box and develop new ideas and themes?

A) It’s fair to say that there is quite a bit of repetition when it comes to psychological thriller plots, which I think is pretty inevitable – there are only so many themes and ideas to go round! But yes, I do think it has become more important to try and push the boundaries of those and put a new spin on them. The funny thing is that often new trends emerge which perhaps you find yourself part of without having known or planned it; recently in the Evening Standard, The House Swap was included as an example of the new “criblit” trend (psychological suspense/thrillers with houses at their heart). At the time of writing the book, I don’t think this was a “thing”, but I suppose that sometimes there is just something in the water…

Q) House Swap is a debut novel, what was your feeling upon seeing the finished cover and promotional materials?

A) I have actually had a couple of literary novels published under a different name in a past life (!), but the experience was quite different this time. The psychological thriller genre is one that lends itself brilliantly to strong covers and promotion, and Transworld have done a great job on that. I immediately loved the cover concept of the two monochrome doors – I think it stands out nicely on the shelf and sets the right tone. And then there have been the posters, the book trailer… it is more than I had hoped for and very exciting to see it all coming together.

Q) How will you be celebrating your books launch/release?

A) I had my launch party on 3rd May, which was a great occasion! We held it in a bookshop in Notting Hill and it was the perfect chance for family and friends to come together along with people from Transworld and my agent to celebrate the book’s release. It was very much like a wedding in the sense that in retrospect I can’t actually remember much of what I said to people or even who I talked to, but I was left with the sense of having enjoyed it a lot, which is what you want really…

Q) Finally, what is next in store do you have a next novel planned and are we allowed any details?

A) Yes, I am currently working on my next book, which is in the same genre but not directly connected to The House Swap. In brief, it concerns a man who discovers that his wife is in the witness protection programme as a result of a crime involving her sister eighteen years earlier, and the action shifts back and forth between the present day and the time at which the crime took place. I won’t say too much more about it now, but hopefully it will appeal to the same sort of readers who enjoy The House Swap!

RF1
Rebecca Fleet
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***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Cross Her Heart by @SarahPinborough 5* Genius #Psychological #Thriller #NewRelease @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #CrossHerHeart

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Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
Review Copy
Synopsis:

SOMEONE IS LIVING A LIE… BUT WHO?

Is it Lisa?
Haunted by a tragic past, all Lisa wants is a quiet life with her daughter, Ava. And when she meets a new man, things seem to be falling into place. But Lisa is hiding a secret so momentous it could shatter her entire world…

Is it Ava?
When sixteen-year-old Ava saves a young boy’s life, she becomes a local hero. But never in a million years could she have anticipated the fallout of her actions…

Is it Marilyn?
Marilyn has the perfect life. Her husband, her job, her house—she seems to have it all. But she could never admit to her best friend Lisa the lies she tells herself to get through the day…

One moment will change these three women’s lives forever.
And the secrets they’ve been keeping could destroy them all.

My Review:

This novel, ticks all the boxes of an ‘award winner’.
So, straight off the bat, I am calling that one (on 21st January!).
After I finished the novel, I just sat there thinking
‘how do you even learn to write like that?’.
The novel is jam packed full of twists and turns. You never really know if you’re coming or going, making the novel unpredictable and insanely gripping. The twists are planted early on, literally from page 30 onwards.
When I reached the last 100 pages, I don’t think I dared move or breathe……

The novel opens with a note ‘Don’t try and find us’ being left for an angry volatile man. At this point all we are aware of, is a sinister man in the background. The novel quickly introduces Lisa, Ava and Marilyn, with chapters told from each perspective. I found the mother and daughter relationship between Lisa and teen Ava fascinating. They have the usual, over protective mother and desperation to be and adult scenario.
Which all play out well, until small daily occurrences, start to set off Lisa and she doesn’t know who she can trust!

“In any gaggle of women, there’s always one you have to watch” – Marilyn

Marilyn has created the ‘perfect life’  which is far from perfect. Ava is trying hard to prove she can make adult choices, putting herself at serious risk. Lisa is trying to hold it all together. But they all have secrets, only some are more treacherous than others….

‘She is not the person she was then’

The complex mother and daughter stand-off, continually develops. Then one-day Ava saves a young boys life, leading to media attention and a plot explosion I never saw coming. It is at this point that the novel timeline changes and we get to see everyone’s secrets laid bare. By 150 pages in, I was absolutely engrossed in the plot and the characters. Sarah Pinborough really has excelled herself, yet again!

There are themes of jealousy, secrets, childhood trauma, revenge, scheming and rejection. The little twists build and build, keeping you constantly guessing and increasing the suspense with every page.
You’ll never guess the ending, that I can promise you, cross my heart…….
5* Genius

Trust Sarah Pinborough. Don’t trust her books.

SP
Sarah Pinborough
Website
Twitter

***Cross Her Heart is released on 14th May in Ebook and Hardback and is available for pre-order*** – Go on! Treat yourself!
My Q&A with Sarah

Anne Bonny #BookReview Panic Room by Robert Goddard 5* #Psychological #Thriller #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @TransworldBooks ‘Goddard takes the crime fiction genre to a whole other level, with his outstanding ending!’

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Panic Room by Robert Goddard
My own copy from my tbr pile
Synopsis:

Sometimes the danger is on the inside . . .

High on a Cornish cliff sits a vast uninhabited mansion. Uninhabited except for Blake, a young woman of dubious background, secretive and alone, currently acting as housesitter.

The house has a panic room. Cunningly concealed, steel lined, impregnable – and apparently closed from within. Even Blake doesn’t know it’s there. She’s too busy being on the run from life, from a story she thinks she’s escaped.

But her remote existence is going to be invaded when people come looking for the house’s owner, missing rogue pharma entrepreneur, Jack Harkness. Suddenly the whole world wants to know where his money has gone. Soon people are going to come knocking on the door, people with motives and secrets of their own, who will be asking Blake the sort of questions she can’t – or won’t – want to answer.

And will the panic room ever give up its secrets?

PANIC ROOM is Robert Goddard at his nerve-shredding best. A sliver of a mystery kicks off a juggernaut of a thriller. Layers of secrets, half truths and lies must be peeled back to reveal what really lies within.

My Review:

Panic Room has a catchy synopsis and a cover to die for!!!! Seriously, that cover is intense! It really sets the scene for a psychological/thriller type novel.
Whilst this novel is a psychological thriller and will have you screaming ‘What or who is in the damn panic room?’. It is so much more than I first thought! A twisty ending that almost beat Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, yep it is that twisty! Obviously of a different style. I wouldn’t leave whopping spoilers in my reviews! But it is expertly done, similar to Pinborough!

At the tranquil location of Wortalleth West, a Cornish coastal home is Blake. She only shares the property with Glenys the gardener or Andy the pool man on the odd day they attend. She is therefore, able to swim, walk, run and full enjoy the peaceful surroundings. That is until Don arrives. . .

The owner of the property is Mona Jackson, wife to the notoriously secretive Jack Harkness. She wishes to sell the property and enlists the services of Fran Revell. In-turn Fran hires her ex-husband Don Challenor. Don is instructed to go to the property and carry out a valuation. As part and parcel of the divorce settlement and also as Harkness is under the scrutiny of the US government.
Unbeknown to Don, he is being followed. . .

‘He had just become a marked man’

When Don arrives at the property he is startled by finding a naked Blake in the pool. There is confusion over the ownership of the property. Blake believes Harness owns the property and she is there under his say-so. Whilst Don is instructed to evict Blake. Immediately. Through conversations and snippets of the press, we learn that US prosecutors seeking to try Harkness on multiple counts of fraud, bribery and embezzlement. But this is now simple case, at all.
Why would one of the worlds richest men, need to steal further millions of dollars?
Don and Blake believe they may have stumbled upon something when they discover a secret panic room, sealed from the inside.

‘I don’t feel safe anymore’ – Blake

Don agrees to stay at the property, whilst they attempt to unravel the mystery and basically discover what/who is behind the door.

In the background of the novel are some dubious characters who would love to bring Harness down for their own individual reasons.
They lurk around the house and follow Don and Blake’s every move.

The novel has various spin-off stories that fully enhance the reading. What/who is inside the panic room soon dominates your thoughts. I found myself itching to get back to the book and discover more secrets.
There are themes of wealth, greed and corruption. But finally, Goddard takes the crime fiction genre to a whole other level, with his outstanding ending! 5*

RG
Robert Goddard
Website via Penguin
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Our Kind Of Cruelty by Araminta Hall @AramintaHall 5* #Psychological #Thriller @arrowpublishing @fsgbooks The relationship is over. The game has just begun. #WhatIsYourVerdict #TheCrave

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Our Kind Of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
Review Copy – proof
Synopsis:

Mike and Verity have a special game. The Crave.

They play it to prove what they already know: that Verity loves Mike. That she needs Mike.

Even though she’s marrying another man.

Now Mike knows that the stakes of their private game are rising.

This time, someone has to die…

My Review:

‘You should never trust people who yearn to be something other than who they are’

WOW! Where to start with this cracking psychological thriller? This novel gets inside your mind and you become as obsessed with reading the novel, as the protagonist Mike is with telling the narrative. I found the opening very unusual compared to most new release’s in the genre. I didn’t feel drawn to the characters Mike and Verity at all. In fact, I actually found them rather repulsive, but the infatuation, mystery and voice draw you in. Mike can’t be trusted, but can Verity be trusted either?

The novel opens with Mike sat in a prison cell with his cell-mate ‘Fat Terry’. He nonchalantly informs the readers that he is in prison on a murder charge. That his reason for writing his story, is in itself a way of unravelling all the details, so he might grasp a better concept of what he has done. I didn’t like Mike at all.
But I wanted to listen in on his thoughts.

‘In a way she was right, as the American incident proved. I did become a monster’

He tells his story in reflection, recalling the events and his interpretation of them. The timeline is mixed ever so slightly to allow for the many twists and turns.

Upon receiving an invitation to Verity’s upcoming wedding to Angus Metcalf. Something snaps within Mike and he feels compelled to control the past, present, future and what others think of him. But in life you can’t possibly control how others think and feel towards you and so the story flows. . .

Mike and Verity used to date, they had quite a long relationship. Which was tainted by Mikes inability to control and fully dominate Verity at all times.
As healthy relationships go, this one is far from rosy.

Mike and Verity both hold quite prestigious professional roles in their working life. They appear to have ample wealth. But if one thing is for certain, money doesn’t buy you love.
Mike is offered a new opportunity in the states and Verity is unable to accompany him. Mike finds himself thousands of miles away from the woman he so desperately loves. This in turn leads to the breakdown in their relationship, a breakdown Mike is refusing to accept.

The relationship is far from perfect. They both come across as people who enjoy a feeling of superiority over others. This is evidenced in their ‘game’ the crave. I personally found the idea of the crave quite distasteful and immature. I could see, it would only cause further problems as Mike’s inner psychology struggled to separate the game from reality.

‘Some would see that as the basest level of cruelty, others as an act of love. Ultimately, that is what to crave means’

Mike has a deeply troubled past, it goes some way in to explaining why he presents as he does. On the outside, I could easily see why others would envy Mike. His wealth, status and beautiful girlfriend. But deep inside Mike is a broken little boy, a little boy that never felt love, warmth or comfort.
At this point I began to pity Mike. I would say that sympathy is a step too far. But I could empathise with background and why he must struggle with low self-esteem, doubt and a demand to be loved. Mike is a complex and unreliable narrator of the plot, but he is the only one we have. His refusal to let Verity go, began to make me question Verity’s actions and motives. Why would you invite your stalker to your wedding? Is it so easy to judge? Haven’t we all been fooled by the alleged harmless actions of another?
Who is telling the truth Mike or Verity?

There’s a series of emails and Mike’s interactions with others who know and love Verity, such as her snobby mother. These incidents made me sure that it was Mike who was at fault. He was clearly delusional, and Verity was his victim. But there was something about Verity, that I just couldn’t get to grips with.

Looking back, I’m not sure whether I failed to connect with Verity as she failed to fit my view of a victim or because this was a cleverly crafted psychological novel and I should trust no one. Either way, these are fictional characters and therefore it opens the novel up to healthy debate. I could easily see some heated debates in book groups. As not only do the characters get under your skin. It is a powerful theme, which invokes emotions within the reader. Do we blame female victims for the crimes committed against them? If so why? Why are women villainised in high-profile court cases? Does this enable the perpetrator to get an easier sentence?

There are so many themes open for debate the pitfalls of Mikes personality. One moment he is arrogant and confident, the next weak and needy. Is this due to his past or is he cunningly evil? The theme of male entitlement, when dating or pursuing a relationship. Mike’s toxic personality, is he using his childhood vulnerability as a weapon or defence strategy? The power of obsession and its psychological hold on the abuser.

Mike’s emotions and the narrative of the plot become contoured due to his mental health problems and unwillingness to accept reality. He makes the narrative a difficult read in places. Yet I was absolutely hooked on the story from the open pages to the impending court case. Mike’s story reads right up to the very last page. I will be very intrigued to read the reviews of other bloggers and their thoughts on Mike and Verity.
#WhatsYourVerdict? 5*

AH
Araminta Hall
Twitter
Our Kind Of Cruelty is released today in hardback & currently just 99p on Ebook
Happy publication day Araminta Hall

 

#Review The Woman In The Window by @AJFinnBooks 4* #NewRelease #Psychological #Thriller @fictionpubteam @HarperFiction

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The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn
Synopsis:

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

My review:

I have seen the online hype for this novel and read the synopsis. It was a novel I HAD to HAVE! After several trips to the book store and returning empty handed. I finally found a copy. This novel is described as in the style of Hitchcock and certainly has a synopsis that is reminiscent of one of his most famous movies.
I was very intrigued!

Due to a chronic pain condition, I spend most of my time indoors. I rarely leave and even rarer socialise. This is the how/why to my never ending TBR pile. I devour novels to starve off the boredom.
I had to learn more about this fabulous bestseller, everyone is raving about.

The novel is told in diary style, opening in October and the following weeks. Our protagonist Anna, is a nosey neighbour. She is more on the scale of obsessive nosey neighbour. She knows who everyone is and has even taken to googling the neighbours for further details. But when new neighbours arrive at number 207, it will unravel Anna’s carefully organised little world.

Anna is a lonely woman, in a huge four floor, New York house. She has a womanising tenant named David and a cat named Punch. She clearly has some form of trauma or emotional pain in her background. But we must wait for Anna to tell us.
Anna is on a long list of medication, drinks wine by the bottle daily and has a wild imagination. Which makes her one hell of an unreliable narrator. But she is unbelievably addictive.
I was hooked to the page and desperate to know how the plot unravelled.

Anna is separated from her husband Ed and he has custody of their daughter Olivia. She speaks to them daily via the telephone and through the novel we learn more of their history as a couple. I found Anna to be very self-destructive and desperate for company. She spends hours in her home, watching old back and white movies or absorbed in her online community Agrora, for fellow suffers of agoraphobia.

The new family in the neighbourhood are Alistair and Jane Russell, with their teenage son Ethan. Anna’s house directly looks onto theirs and she becomes obsessed with watching them at the window, through her Nikon camera lens.
I had a feeling this would end badly. But for whom?
When Ethan makes attempts to befriend Jane, she lets down her guard. He’s just a kid and she is a trained child psychologist. She sees a lonely vulnerable child and he probably sees a lonely vulnerable adult. In one sense it is a meeting of minds.

When Ethan’s mother Jane pops over one day, they begin talking and drinking, as women often do. It isn’t long until Anna and Jane have confided in one another. Anna of her PTSD and agoraphobia and Jane of her controlling marriage. They play chess and drink more wine and I wondered if Anna had finely found a real friend. That is until one night, shortly after, a scream is heard, and Anna becomes convinced Jane has come to harm.
What follows is revelation upon revelation.

As Anna’s past and present collide in a dramatic and well woven plot. I trusted her less and less. Her backstory only makes you empathise with her struggles and in turn you begin to make excuses for her irrational behaviour. I found myself trying to pick apart the narrative to fathom the truth, I was at an absolute loss. Anna is complex and strong minded, yet she draws you in and won’t let go.