Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop on The Codes of Love blog tour. It means an awful lot to me that you’re checking out this post – considering the state of the world at the moment I’m sure you have far more important things to…
Tag: blog tour
Hello everyone! This is the most exciting blog tour I’ve been involved in all year, and I’ve been dying to share my thoughts on I Hold Your Heart – Karen Gregory’s third novel – with you all.
I absolutely loved Countless and Skylarks left me speechless (quite literally: I still haven’t been able to put my thoughts into enough words to review it…) so it’s not a surprise that I enjoyed I Hold Your Heart just as much as its predecessors, but there are so many reasons why.
Before I dive into my review, here’s a bit more information about I Hold Your Heart – if you’re not already interested, the blurb alone makes this one unmissable.
“You make me feel like there’s something good in the world I can hold on to,” Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it’s almost hard to breathe. “I love you, Gem. And I promise I’ll hold your heart forever.”
When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about.
But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?
Told in both Gemma’s and Aaron’s words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.
I Hold Your Heart is an utter masterpiece.
Gemma first sees Aaron as she’s leaving one of her brother’s football matches, their eyes meeting across the pitch – sparks flying, a soaring orchestral soundtrack playing in the background – and she’s instantly attracted to him. Heading straight to her shift at the cafe with her best friend Esi, she can’t stop wondering whether she should have given him her number when – lo and behold – in he walks.
A huge fan of country songs, Gemma has always believed in true love and soulmates, the love stories that all of the greats sing about. She just hadn’t expected her first love to be it, but Aaron undeniably is. He’s perfect.
Karen Gregory approaches the topic of abusive relationships very intelligently.
At the beginning, I Hold Your Heart feels like it’s the worst kind of contemporary, filled with cringey instalove and soppy moments that have you rolling your eyes and trying not to be sick. It’s a genius decision, though: the reader feels exactly like Gemma, so swept off of her feet by Aaron that when he starts to show his darker side it’s almost impossible to believe.
As the book hasn’t been out very long I’m not going to go into some of the worst aspects of Aaron’s behaviour, but the slow and steady escalation makes I Hold Your Heart one of the most realistic depictions of abusive relationships that I’ve read. I’ve seen it touched upon a few times in YA, but normally the change in personality occurs at such a breakneck speed that it feels highly unbelievable. Instead, Gregory gets her readers care deeply for these characters – to even care for their relationship, at its more tender moments – only to see it come crashing down very dramatically.
You really feel yourself rooting for Gemma and Aaron at points. It’s hard not to agree when she pushes away Esi, who is getting overly involved in her relationship, because she should be allowed to be happy! But that’s the most dangerous thing about abusive relationships: if people think you’re happy, it’s even harder to tell people – or even yourself – that you’re not, and before you know it there’s no one left for you to talk to because you’ve pushed everyone away.
The inclusion of Aaron’s perspective really is the icing on the cake. As Gemma starts to realise that she isn’t happy, the story jumps across to Aaron more and more regularly, showing us how he justifies all of his actions – even the most horrible ones. It’s pretty scary stuff, because things that would be inexcusable to most people seem like common sense to him.
I think I Hold Your Heart could have a huge positive impact, as it showcases the warning signs so eloquently that it’s bound to have readers reaching out to close friends just to make sure that they’re doing okay.
This book is perfect for fans of Eve Ainsworth and Louise O’Neill – both authors who aren’t afraid to tackle emotional and controversial subjects in YA – and for fans of Holly Bourne, as some of Aaron’s behaviour later in the novel reminds me so much of It Only Happens in the Movies (one scene in particular, but you’ll know which one after you’ve read it!).
If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of I Hold Your Heart, it’s available on Amazon.
About the author:
Karen Gregory has been a confirmed bookworm since early childhood. She wrote her first story about Bantra the mouse aged twelve, then put away the word processor until her first child was born, when she was overtaken by the urge to write. Her first novel, Countless, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Leeds Book Award and longlisted for the Branford Boase. Her second novel, Skylarks, was published in 2018. Karen lives in Wiltshire with her family.
Before I go I’d like to say a huge thank you to Faye Rogers for organising this blog tour. It’s been a dream to review this book: with every new release Karen Gregory is further cementing herself as my favourite author!
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Fallen Angel blog tour. This is the first Chris Brookmyre novel I’ve ever read, but as soon as Caolinn invited me to take part I knew I had to say yes – she described Fallen Angel in a way that made me desperate to read it.
As always, I’m going to share a little bit about Fallen Angel with you before I share my thoughts. It’s extremely difficult to say anything about this book without giving it all away, so I’m not going to be going into details, but I think the synopsis sells itself…
To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions.
Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible…
And suspicion is a dangerous thing.
Fallen Angel is told in an extremely intriguing way. Beginning with a murder – a man slumped over his desk, a nearly invisible needle mark nodding towards the cause of his death – it’s pretty obvious that the body belongs to recently deceased world famous professor Max Temple.
The Temple family gather together at their villa for the first time in almost two decades, summoned at the behest of their mother Celia. The matriarch of the family, Celia is determined that her family are going to honour their dead father properly, scattering his ashes near the bench that he loved and putting all of the drama from their last couple of visits far, far behind them.
At their neighbour’s villa, Canadian nanny Amanda is watching the events unfold. A huge fan of Max Temple and his ability to demolish the arguments of conspiracy theorists, Amanda can’t believe it when she stumbles upon a conspiracy involving the Temples themselves. Because Max’s granddaughter, Niamh, died the last time the family were all together, but the internet is convinced that of the Temples is responsible for her death – and that the rest of the family have all been covering it up.
When the police arrive at the villa and another death is announced, Amanda knows there is something fishy going on with the Temples, and she’s determined to use her talents as an investigative journalist to uncover the buried truth.
Chris Brookmyre has chosen an interesting way to tell the story of the Temple family, as it jumps between multiple perspectives but Amanda’s is the only one told in first person. This choice was hard to adjust to at first, but it ended up making me feel far more invested in the story: a little splash of kinship with Amanda made me care a lot more about the mystery.
The Temples are very difficult to empathise with. All of them are rather selfish – although most of them have extremely good reasons for their behaviour – but if it hadn’t been for the down-to-earth attitude of Amanda I wouldn’t have enjoyed this book as much.
There are two stories running alongside each other throughout Fallen Angel, with the story periodically jumping back to that fateful visit to the villa sixteen years before. I did find the conclusion of the present day story predictable, however I was impressed by the resolution of the mystery of Niamh’s death – I was guessing up until the big reveal and I was so close yet so painfully far.
If, like me, you haven’t read any of Chris Brookmyre’s novels yet, I think Fallen Angel is a great place to start. With similarities to the case of Madeleine McCann, Fallen Angel is the perfect book to pick up if you’re always interested in unsolved mysteries and can’t wait to get to the bottom of the unknown.
Before I go I’d like to say a huge thank you to Little, Brown for allowing me to get involved in the blog tour for Fallen Angel.
I’m definitely interested in reading more of Brookmyre’s work now. If you’ve read any of his other novels, is there anywhere you would recommend I start?
Hello, and welcome to my stop on The Lost Man blog tour. I’ve taken part in the blog tours for both The Dry and Force of Nature, so I jumped at the chance to read and review another of Jane Harper’s novels. My excitement grew when I learnt that this…
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Where The Truth Lies blog tour. I’ve teamed up with Canelo quite a few times this year, and I’m glad I was invited to participate in the blog tour for this book, because it’s a corker. It’s the first of M.J. Lee’s novels that I’ve read, but I certainly think I might have discovered a new favourite author in this one, as his writing style is highly absorbing.
More on that later, though. First of all I want to tell you a little bit more about When The Truth Lies, and share an excerpt which introduces Ridpath’s character beautifully and will have you running to add the book to your basket.
The case was closed. Until people started dying… The unputdownable first DI Ridpath crime thriller from bestseller M.J. Lee.
A killer in total control. A detective on the edge. A mystery that HAS to be solved.
DI Thomas Ridpath was on the up in the Manchester CID: a promising young detective whose first case involved capturing a notorious serial killer. But ten years later he’s recovering from a serious illness and on the brink of being forced out of the police. Then people start dying: tortured, murdered, in an uncanny echo of Ridpath’s first case.
As the investigation intensifies, old bodies go missing, records can’t be found and the murder count grows. Caught in a turf war between the police and the coroner’s office, digging up skeletons some would rather forget, Ridpath is caught in a race against time: a race to save his career, his marriage… And lives.
When a detective goes missing everything is on the line. Can Ridpath close the case and save his colleague?
Here’s that excerpt I promised:
“How’d it go?” His wife was taking off her coat in the hallway, shouting through to the living room.
He was reading the blue file given to him by Margaret Challinor. She was right. A coroner’s officer did everything and anything: from informing families about the death of loved ones to attending crime scenes, investigating cases to chasing down witnesses, visiting mortuaries to liaising with doctors. The job was a glorified social worker cum private investigator cum general dogsbody.
She appeared in the doorway, her straight black Chinese hair still damp from the rain. “Didn’t you hear me? How’d it go?”
He looked up from the blue file. “Charlie Whitworth and John Gorman are looking out for me, but the deputy chief has ‘reservations’.” He formed his fingers into sarcastic quote marks.
“What does that mean?”
“It means they want me to be the coroner’s officer for three months.”
“What does one of them do?”
He held up the blue file. “I’m just finding out. But it should be a less stressful job, with regular hours. An easier life.”
“You’re not getting a desk job at headquarters? The least they owe you is a desk job.”
Ridpath shook his head. “I asked for one but there are none available. The cutbacks…” He looked away from her and back to his job description, hoping she would forgive him for the fib.
She sat down on the couch opposite. “You didn’t ask, did you? You asked to go back to work as a detective.”
How did Polly always know when he was lying? She would have made a great copper.
“Tom, you promised me.” She reached out to touch his hand. “Your health, it-”
He shrugged the hand off his arm. “The doctors said I was fit to work. I’ve been prodded and poked like the last buttie in the chip shop for the last nine months, Poll. I’ve been running and working out for the last three. Feel that.” He flexed his biceps. “Strongest I’ve ever been.” His voice softened. “I’ve got to get back to work. Can’t stand doing nothing anymore.”
“Can’t stand being around me, you mean?”
“It’s not about you. I can’t stand being treated like a child.”
“I’m just worried about you. The doctor said if you get a cold or flu, it could be dangerous.”
“He also said I was fit for work.”
She raised her voice. “Fit to go back to work. Not fit to run around Manchester chasing bloody nutters.”
A silence like a shroud of fog settled between them. Outside the window, the soft patter of pain on the cobblestones of the patio he had laid last week. Inside, the clock on the mantelpiece ticked loudly. Upstairs, the dull thud of his daughter’s music shook the ceiling.
Ridpath finally broke the silence. “I went into Eve’s bedroom this evening. She’s got pictures of half-naked Chinese men on her walls.”
“They’re not pictures of half-naked men. They’re pictures of half-naked boys. Korean boys.”
He looked at her, as if to say give me a break.
“It’s BTS, the latest Korean boy band. The craze is going around all the schools at the moment. Half my class wants to go to Korea. The other half haven’t got a clue where it is. At least it helps me teach geography.”
“I don’t like it. She’s only ten, for God’s sake.”
“She’s ten going on twenty-three. Girls grow up quicker these days.”
“I still don’t like it.”
“Well, if you want her to take them down, you can ask her yourself. I’m not going anywhere near that minefield.” She stood up. “Fancy a cup of tea?”
He put down the file. “Nah, I’m going to walk the dog.”
“We don’t have a dog.”
“He’s going to get walked anyway.”
She leant over and kissed him on the cheek. “Quiz night at the Horse and Jockey?”
“I thought you’d had enough of coming second?”
“Those bloody students can’t win every week. Anyway we’ve got a new team member, appeared on University Challenge a few years back.”
“So you and your mates have brought in a ringer?”
“Not a ringer. A buzzer. Could beat them tonight.”
“Can you drop in the offie on your way back from the pub, get some milk?”
He looked around for his coat. “I still don’t like those posters.”
“Well, if you want to start World War Three…” She left the rest of the sentence unfinished.
“What is it with girls today?”
“Oh, Mr. “Girls’ should know their place and it’s behind the sink” is showing his face, is he?”
“It’s not that, she’s only ten. They’re supposed to be into Barbie and stuff.”
“You’re treading on thin ice…”
He opened the door. “I’d better tread on it on the way to the pub. And it’s the naked men I worry about…”
“Naked boys, actually.” There followed a long sigh. “If you want, I’ll have a chat with her and see if she can’t find some different posters.”
“And wrap up before you go out. Wear the wool fleece with your coat over the top. And don’t forget to wear a scarf, the thick blue one…”
He made a face at her.
There was another long silence between them. This time it was Polly who broke it. “I don’t want to lose you, Ridpath. Eve doesn’t want to lose you. I don’t know what I’d do if…”
He reached over and held her tight. “I know, Poll, I know.”
If you’re interested in reading more about Where The Truth Lies, click on the cover above to check it out on Goodreads.
About the author:
M.J. Lee has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a university researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, TV commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the north of England, in London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning advertising awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and the United Nations.
While working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarters of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in the 1920s.
When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practising downhill ironing, single-handedly solved the problem of the French wine lake, and wishing he were George Clooney.
Thank you so much for visiting my blog today, and I hope you enjoyed this stop on the Where The Truth Lies blog tour. Another huge thank you to Ellie at Canelo for inviting me to participate, and make sure to check out some of the other bloggers who have posted recently – there have been some great posts in the past week, and I’m sure there will be during the rest of the tour too.
Have you read any of M.J. Lee’s other novels, and if so where would you recommend I start?
Hi there! Welcome to my stop on the Jackson Saves an Owl blog tour. I’d like to say a big thank you to Faye Rogers, for allowing me to get involved in the blog tour for this charming picture book. Zophia loves owls, so as soon as…