The Sudden Appearance of Hope – Claire North

The Sudden Appearance of Hope | Claire North

Listen.
All the world forgets me. First my face, then my voice, then the consequences of my deeds.
So listen. Remember me.

My name is Hope Arden, and you won’t know who I am. We’ve met before – a thousand times. But I am the girl the world forgets.

It started when I was sixteen years old. A slow declining, an isolation, one piece at a time.

A father forgetting to drive me to school. A mother setting the table for three, not four. A teacher who forgets to chase my missing homework. A friend who looks straight through me and sees a stranger.

No matter what I do, the words I say, the people I hurt, the crimes I commit – you will never remember who I am.

That makes my life tricky. But it also makes me dangerous . . .

A globe-trotting jewel thief who no-one can remember. An app which promises perfection. A truly fascinating protagonist.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope is a remarkable book, with a unique voice. What would you do if no-one could remember you? How would you cope? Relationships are out, and you’d struggle to get medical treatment. Every time someone met you, it’d be the first time, kind of a never-ending groundhog day.

Hope is a curious and wonderful character who is remarkable for being unremarkable, and the author really gets under Hope’s skin, with all her worries and fears and the spectrum of grey morality that Hope inhabits. The fight against Prometheus, the makers of the Perfection app, plays out this moral ambiguity beautifully – are they really the bad guys, wanting to help people become perfect? What lines will Hope cross to bring them down?

At times it’s not an easy read, living inside Hope’s head, with a constant stream of trivia, definitions and counting to help herself remain sane (or as sane as one could be with such a condition). It does put you into Hope’s shoes as she bounces from country to country, always on the run to or from someone or some place.

Highly recommended. You can find Claire North on twitter @ClaireNorth42

Many thanks to David @BlueBookBalloon for the copy.

Movies of 2017: Suicide Squad

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A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated super-villains to form a defensive task force. Their first mission: save the world from the apocalypse.

Suicide Squad. 2016, 6.3 stars on IMDb. Written and directed by David Ayer and starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and Viola Davis, amongst many others.

Regular readers of this blog may just about remember my movie A-Z back in… crikey. April of 2014. I could have *sworn* it was last year. I had enormous fun doing it and have been meaning to do more movie things for some time now. Slightly more time than originally intended. I blame the books. You may also have noticed that I quite like talking about books. Thought I’d branch out into movies.

So, here we are in 2017 and I finally got round to watching David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.

You know what? It was alright. Better than I was expecting, though a little light on story. Will Smith is hugely watchable in just about anything, as is Jared Leto. His Joker, whilst not up to Heath Ledger standards, was perfectly serviceable. Could have done with a bit (lot) more screen time, and a more developed character arc. Or indeed any kind of character arc.

Most of the other characters get a bit lost in the mix, as is so often the case with these ensemble movies. Killer Croc turned up to do basically one job. Diablo was pretty good, but remarkably easy to talk out of his ‘not doing this any more’ thing. The Enchantress was probably the most interesting character, but again, woefully underused. It did feel a bit like getting all these cool bad guys together, do a Snake Plissken on them and set them loose against an even bigger bad guy. Viola Davis was utterly splendid and ruthless as Amanda Waller.

Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was the other character with some semblance of development. Fun to watch, though her relationship with Joker was a bit weird. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not particularly up on much of the Joker/Quinn from the comics, so I can’t say how well it fits with that.

Could have done with being a movie with half the squad and Joker as the Big Bad. Never really felt the menace or the stakes.

Overall, it was a fun popcorn movie. I give it six deranged evil villains out of ten.

Have you seen Suicide Squad? What did you think? Should I do more movie reviews? Answers onna postcard please…

Day One – All the Missing Girls – Megan Miranda

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It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared without trace. Then a letter from her father arrives – ‘I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl.’ Has her father’s dementia worsened, or has he really seen Corinne? Returning home, Nicolette must finally face what happened on that terrible night all those years ago.

Then, another young woman goes missing, almost to the day of the anniversary of when Corinne vanished. And like ten years ago, the whole town is a suspect.

Told backwards – Day 15 to Day 1 – Nicolette works to unravel the truth, revealing shocking secrets about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne.

So, here we are. Day 1 of the upside-down blog tour for All The Missing Girls. It’s a very… unusual book. The story is told in reverse, starting at the end then skipping backwards a day at a time. It reminded me a little of the film Memento (which, if you’ve not seen it, is awesome – go check it out!) which has a similar structure – you follow the events of the moment, but then jump back to what happened before and get a whole new spin on what you’ve just experienced, shedding a new glimmer of light onto the unfolding mystery of what happened to Corinne and her friends on that fateful night so long ago.

It’s a small town thriller with a splendid cast of characters. Everyone thinks they know everyone else, and it’s only when an outsider comes along that things start to unravel. I’m a huge fan of books with a great sense of place, and Megan has captured the claustrophobic small-town America perfectly.

This is a book which absolutely demands that you pay attention – more than once I had to skip back a chapter (but forwards in time) to double check what had happened to a person or a thing – had she spoken to that person? What did she say again? Did she still have that item at that point? It’s meticulously organised and beautifully constructed. If you like your crime dark and twisty, this one is most definitely for you. Highly recommended.

Follow @MeganLMiranda on Twitter
or at her website meganmiranda.com. All The Missing Girls is published by Corvus and is out now.

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January round-up

Right, that’s January out of the way. Time for a round-up! Or is it roundup? I’m never sure.

Anyhoo. All the cool kids are doing round-ups/wrap-ups/stuff about their month, so I figured I’d join in.

As seen on damppebbles’ Case Closed and Jo’s Beat the Backlist Challenge update, this may well turn into a regular thing. Maybe even monthly, eh? 🙂

Blog posts

Seven blog posts this month. All based around blog tours.
Two extracts, both from brilliant books:

Two fabulous guest posts (thanks CJ and Tim)

And three reviews:

Note to self: Must write more non-blog tour stuff. They’re fun to join in, but I want to do more of my own stuff.

Books read in January:

  • The Dry (review copy)
  • Steal Like an Artist (christmas present)
  • Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods (review copy)
  • Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye (review copy)
  • All the Missing Girls (review copy)
  • Burned and Broken (review copy)
  • Year of No Clutter (review copy)

All great. The Dry was superb, Steal Like An Artist was inspirational, and Warren the 13th was huge fun with some brilliant artwork. Burned and Broken was reviewed. I’m on the blog tour for All the Missing Girls later in February.

Year of No Clutter was awesome – more on that closer to the publication date, but it made me look at the piles of stuff (and yes, books) that I possess in a new way. Recognised a lot of myself in that book.

Currently reading

  • Cursed – Thomas Enger (started in Jan 2017 for a blog tour in Feb)
  • The Burning Page – Genevieve Cogman (Jan 2017 – kindle)
  • The Ninth Rain – Jen Williams (Jan 2017 – ARC)
  • Defender – GX Todd (Jan 2017 – ARC)
  • Spiderlight – Adrian Tchaikovsky (bought in Sep 2016 when it first came out)
  • The Shadow of What Was Lost – James Islington (ARC received in Sep 2016)
  • Moskva – Jack Grimwood (NetGalley from June 2016)
  • Nimona – Noelle Stevenson (bought in Jan 2016)
  • A Burglar’s Guide to the City – Geoff Manaugh (bought in umm, late 2016?)

Yikes. That’s a lot, even for me. As you can tell, I start reading books then get horribly distracted by, erm, other books. Mmm, books.

The TBR Pile Update

I decided that I needed to take control of the TBR pile, both physical and virtual, so spent a merry hour exporting a list of books on my Kindle then wandering around the house taking photos of piles of books.

Currently I’ve got 66 review copies of books – 42 hard copy/ARCs, 21 on my NetGalley shelf, and 3 other ebooks sent by lovely publishers (*waves at Karen from Orenda*)

On top of that,  I’ve got 96 of my own purchased books: 25 in hard copy and 71 on kindle. Crikey. I knew I was a sucker for the 99p kindle sales but that’s just silly.

So, job for February: Finish the currently reading list. Crack into the NetGalley TBR pile.

Right. Best get reading!

The Role of Manipulation in Daily Life – guest post by Angela Marsons

Today I’d like to welcome Angela Marsons to the blog. Angela is the author of Evil Games (more on that later!).

Angela has been on the blog before talking about tips for aspiring writers, and is back again, this time to talk about the role of manipulation in daily life.

Without futher ado, over to Angela.

While researching the art of manipulation I was astounded at some of the techniques used in our everyday life. Although I was primarily interested in one on one influence it became incredibly useful to learn about subtle manipulations that occur in our everyday life.

We already know the subtle manipulations used by supermarkets in the placement of products to encourage the shopper to walk the entire store even for just a couple of purchases. Essential items are positioned far away from each other. Soft music is played to relax the shopper and slow them down, encouraging them to peruse. Sale and roll back signs are placed at eye level appealing to the bargain hunter in us all. Impulse buys are placed strategically en route so that only the most disciplined shopper will leave with only the items on their list.

But one thing I found incredibly intriguing was the use of colour, especially in the retail sector. Millions of pounds have been spent in analysing the psychological associations and properties of colour. Many food outlets use the colour red as it stimulates the appetite and is seen as an action colour. Mid to dark Blue is perceived as stable and intellectual. We trust the colour blue. Yellow represents emotion and violet spirituality. We gain comfort from the colour Orange and balance from anything Green. I found it very interesting to match the colours to many top name brands.

Subtle manipulation is used by most sales people. Many use techniques such as mirroring which is when the person affects a similar demeanour or behaviour trait like scratching the nose or rubbing the chin. We trust familiarity and this assures us on a subconscious level that we are dealing with someone who is similar to ourselves.

More obvious are the techniques of gleaning a great deal of information from someone by asking just a couple of questions and then tailoring their pitch to those facts.

While researching Evil Games I was walking around a local dealership looking to change my car. A very personable young salesman quickly extracted from me that I was a writer, a dog lover and that I was in the market due to a change in circumstances. The salesman proceeded to Google me and then talk at length about my books demonstrating an enthusiastic level of interest. He then attempted to sell me a top of the range brand new vehicle which I didn’t want. I left the showroom without making a purchase as he incorrectly assumed I wanted some kind of status symbol.

Had he listened more closely he would have understood that I wanted to change my car due to my dogs decreasing mobility and would have stood a better chance of a sale if he had told me he had a dog himself.

It is a subject I researched to write a book which ultimately also helped me spend just a little less money at the supermarket.

Thanks Angela. Evil Games is published by Zaffre on 26th January 2017. You can order a copy here. You can find Angela on twitter @WriteAngie. Go say hello!

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When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal.

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Burned and Broken – Mark Hardie

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The charred body of an enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found in the burnt-out shell of his car on the Southend sea front.

Meanwhile, a vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery of their colleague’s death, dark, dangerous secrets begin to surface. Can they solve both cases, before it’s too late?

An interesting one, this. It starts with the death of a policeman, then jumps back in time four days, leaving us with the grim knowledge of things to come. It’s a cracking opening scene. Indeed for me the strongest parts of the story were the start and end, with the middle just starting to meander a little before the plot takes hold again and delivered a pretty satisfying conclusion. The story does like to play around in its chronology too – you need to be paying close attention not only to who said or did what to who but also when!

There’s a nice subplot weaving through the book about Donna, a young girl who’s come from the care system and her friend Malc. A pair of intriguing characters, with plenty of depth and, of course, a few secrets. At times I found myself more interested in what they were up to than the central investigation into the body.

I liked Russell and Pearson as a duo. Both interesting in their own ways, and I was pleased to see that this is the first in a series featuring them. Keen to see what Mark Hardie does next. If there was any criticism to be had, it could have done with more of a sense of place – the story could have been set in any seaside town in the south of England. Regular readers of this blog will know that I do love a story which makes you *feel* the place the story inhabits, and for me, there wasn’t enough of that here. It’s a minor niggle though.

That said, Burned & Broken is a solid police procedural and an entertaining read. Worth checking out if that’s your sort of thing.

You can find Mark on twitter @MarkHardieCrime.

Burned and Broken is published by Little, Brown @LittleBrownUK and is out now in ebook, paperback on 4th May 2017.

Plenty more on the blog tour today – go check some of my fellow bloggers out!

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Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough

Today on the blog I’ve got an extract from Sarah Pinborough’s masterful thriller, Behind Her Eyes.
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Much acclaimed all over social media towards the end of 2016, Behind Her Eyes is a beautifully written thriller which gradually winds you in, then smacks you about the chops with one of the most original and surprising endings I’ve ever read. The hashtag on twitter is #WTFthatending – entirely appropriate!

Without further ado, here’s a snippet from the chapter four.

~~~~~

LOUISE

No names, okay? No jobs. No dull life talk. Let’s talk about real
things.

‘You really said that?’
‘Yes. Well, no,’ I say. ‘He did.’
My face burns. It sounded romantic at four thirty in the afternoon two days ago with the first illicit afternoon Negroni, but now it’s like something from a cheap tragi-romcom. Thirty-four-year-old woman walks into a bar and is sweettalked by the man of her dreams who turns out to be her new boss. Oh God, I want to die from the awfulness of it all. What a mess.
‘Of course he did.’ Sophie laughs and immediately tries to stop herself. ‘No dull life talk. Like, oh, I don’t know, the small fact I’m married.’ She sees my face. ‘Sorry. I know it’s not technically funny, but it sort of is. And I know you’re out of practice with the whole men thing, but how could you not have known from that he was married? The new boss bit I’ll let you off with. That is simply bloody bad luck.’
‘It’s really not funny,’ I say, but I smile. ‘Anyway, married men are your forte, not mine.’
‘True.’
I knew Sophie would make me feel better. We are funny together. We laugh. She’s an actress by trade – although we never discuss how she hasn’t worked outside of two TV corpses in years – and, despite her affairs, has been married to a music exec for ever. We met at our NCT classes, and although our lives are very different, we bonded. Seven years on and we’re still drinking wine.
‘But now you’re like me,’ she says, with a cheery wink. ‘Sleeping with a married man. I feel less bad about myself already.’
‘I didn’t sleep with him. And I didn’t know he was married.’
That last part isn’t quite true. By the end of the night, I’d had a pretty good idea. The urgent press of his body against mine as we kissed, our heads spinning from gin. The sudden break away. The guilt in his eyes. The apology. I can’t do this. All the tells were there.
‘Okay, Snow White. I’m just excited that you nearly got laid. How long’s it been now?’
‘I really don’t want to think about that. Depressing me further won’t help with my current predicament,’ I say, before drinking more of my wine. I need another cigarette. Adam is tucked up and fast asleep and won’t move until breakfast and school. I can relax. He doesn’t have nightmares. He doesn’t sleepwalk. Thank God for small mercies.
‘And this is all Michaela’s fault anyway,’ I continue. ‘If she’d cancelled before I got there, none of this would have happened.’
Sophie’s got a point though. It’s been a long time since I’ve even flirted with a man, let alone got drunk and kissed one. Her life is different. Always surrounded by new and interesting people. Creative types who live more freely, drink until late, and live like teenagers. Being a single mum in London eking out a living as a psychiatrist’s part-time secretary doesn’t exactly give me a huge number of opportunities to throw caution to the wind and go out every night in the hope of meeting anyone, let alone ‘Mr Right’, and I can’t face Tinder or Match or any of those other sites. I’ve kind of got used to being on my own. Putting all that on hold for a while. A while that is turning into an inadvertent lifestyle choice.

~~~~

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough is out now, published by HarperFiction. You can find Sarah Pinborough on twitter @sarahpinborough.

Sarah Pinborough