Unravelling by Helen Forbes: welcome to the blog tour!

This week I’m excited to tell you about a newly released book by Scottish crime writer Helen Forbes: Unravelling.

To celebrate the release of her new book, Helen is undergoing the trauma exciting challenge of a blog tour. There will be loads of things happening to promote Helen’s new book Unravelling, including reviews, news and freebie giveaway – get in quick for that one!

Here’s a bit of what it’s about, then I’ll tell you what I thought.

Incarcerated in the gloom of a Highland asylum, a young mother finds illicit love. And death.

Kate Sharp’s family is a mystery. Her mother, Ellen, disappeared into the shadows of Craig Dunain psychiatric hospital when Kate was a child. When her grandmother dies, Kate is desperate for answers. What were the circumstances of her mother’s life and death? Who is her father?

Kate’s not the only one trying to uncover the truth. The remains of two bodies with murderous injuries have been found buried in the forest next to the former hospital.

And someone else is searching for answers, and he will stop at nothing to find them.

As the tale of Ellen’s tragic unravelling unfolds, the secrets that led to her death are exposed, along with the shocking truth about Kate’s father.

Unaware of the danger stalking her, Kate continues her search. 

Will she find the answers? And can she save her own life?

Inverness District Asylum (former Craig Dunain Hospital) | Historic Hospitals

My review:

If this was on a popular online store, I’d give Unravelling five stars.

First of all let me just say, I’m not very good with writing reviews – I tend towards the brief, so I’m trying to be more expansive here.

I read it in three sittings: session one was out of mild curiosity – was this a book I felt I could get into, was it the kind of the thing I would enjoy? I find it hard to take part in a blog tour if I haven’t genuinely engaged with the material – I don’t want to lie to my readers. So I quickly read the opening 30 or 40 pages.

The second reading session was a panicked, ‘Eek I almost forgot and there’s only four more days until my post is due out…’ so I read another 50 or so pages, thinking, I like how this is unfolding, I’m definitely intrigued, I’m confident I am going to love this book.

The third sitting, with 250+ pages to go was one of those, ‘I don’t care how long it takes, I am not putting this book down for anything except Rege-John Page or Theo James.’ I mean, I was hooked.

Reader, I devoured it.

And this is my conclusion:

Unravelling by Helen Forbes is an engrossing, claustrophobic psychological thriller. It was tense at times, and sorrowful. The insights into serious mental illness were so emotive, and I admit I blubbed. It was compulsive too – as I said, I just had to read on, I had to know.

The ending was swift and satisfying, and hopeful.

For me, I felt that Kate’s story was in a way a – not redemption exactly – more a second chance for Ellen. I can’t explain (words are my job too! Rolls eyes.) It was the pay-off that we the reader got after the long personal journey of self-discovery of both Ellen and Kate.

I enjoyed the style. To begin with I was a little confuzzled by the shift in points of view, but got used to it, you can identify the narrators easily enough. I think it was a bold move to separate Kate’s story into two halves and put Ellen’s story in the middle. I’m not sure I’d have made that choice myself, but I think it works, though when I came back to the second part of Kate’s story I had to quickly ‘revise’ what had happened in the first part. But I think it worked, and as I say, I was hooked – it was definitely an unputdownable, engrossing read, and I highly recommend this book!

Do check out Helen Forbes’ websitelink hereto find out about the DI Joe Galbraith books, also set in Scotland, and about the author herself. 

You can also catch up with Helen and all her news on the following social media:

Facebook 

and

Twitter

And please review the book if you love it – let other readers know what’s good! You don’t have to write an essay – just a quick comment of  ‘Loved it’ or ‘highly recommended’ – it’s okay to be brief, because every little helps as they say. Thanks!

@https://www.facebook.com/Helen-Forbes-Author-457783327732599

 

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Last minute stuff.

I’m not doing a ‘proper’ blog post this week, as I’m frantically busy trying to do a final, final, final proofread of Easy Living ahead of uploading for publication on 29th March.

If you’ve read what I’ve said about it previously, you’ll know I’ve been working on this book for a long time, and it’s very special to me. I’ve made it a lot longer. The first draft was about 80,000 words, and with all the successive drafts and rewrites, that grew to 110,000, even with a lot of waffly, woolly bits being cut out. As I sat down to give the final rewrite before Christmas, the total was up to 113,000. Now, with all my tidying and polishing done, it’s up to 116,000. I can’t help it. I tried to cut it, honest. You know what it’s like. The words keep flowing.

Anyone who’s daft lucky enough to self-publish will know how many little typos seem to sneak through no matter how many times the manuscript has been edited and proofed. I’m still finding a few stray typos, and I’m having a last trawl through for overused words, (my main guilty words are And, So, Well and But. I also have too many gasps of surprise and a lot of anxious biting of lips. This book also features several sexy chuckles!)  and culling some of my exclamation marks. I use far too many of those!!! At least six people have worked on this book, but even so, I’ve still found a couple of things to correct. I think I’ve done enough. I hope I’ve done enough. I’d like to work on it for another year or two, but really, I mustn’t. It’s always hard to let go of a book, but in this case, I feel like it’s almost there. As Nina Simone would say, ‘And I’m feeling good…’

To recover from the trauma of getting my eighth novel out there in the big wide world, Mr Caron Allan Author is whisking me off to Birmingham (UK, not Alabama) for an all-expenses paid weekend in a hotel near the city centre, so we are handy for a concert on Sunday night and breakfast at a Wetherspoons of my choice. There will be a sumptuous dinner the night before. There will be ice cream. There will be book browsing and possibly notebook purchasing. I can’t make any promises about restraint or budget-keeping.

Have a good one!

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Coming soon: new book Easy Living

I know I keep banging on about my books. I feel I should apologise for all that self-promotion, but then this is a blog about my books after all, so it’s kind of what I do here.  I’ve got a new book coming out at the end of March, and for a couple of reasons, I’m really excited about this and I want to tell as many people as possible about it. You might have heard some of it before, as it’s been on my ‘miscellaneous writing’ page for a while now.

It’s called Easy Living. It’s a stand-alone novel, that is to say it’s not part of a series of themed or related books. That said, a couple of people have suggested it could be a series, and (shh, no one’s listening are they? *quick look round*) I did in fact write a sequel to it that I’ve never owned up to before now.

As regards genre, I have got myself into a bit of a mess because although it’s a kind of mystery, and a kind of romance, it’s also about life after death and going back in time to reanimate a dead body and use it to get around. I do love a mash-up! Can we call it Romantic Detective Speculative Time Travel Reincarnation fiction, and move on? I have no idea what shelf this would be on in a ‘real’ bookstore. Any thoughts on that?

This is a novel I first wrote in 1997, and as I said, it’s about death – as always. It’s so hard to know when the time is right to release a book, but after all these years, I’m finally ready. I love this book, which may well cloud my judgement a bit. I know I’ve mentioned before how very much like a precious baby a book is to he person who writes it, and this one is no exception. If anything, the long wait has increased my attachment to it. Halfway through writing the first draft, we (foolishly) moved from Hampshire in the South of England to Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia. For three frantic months I was separated from my ‘baby’ because for some stupid reason to do with carry-on luggage allowance, I didn’t pack my handwritten manuscript, but it came by rowboat twelve weeks later with the rest of our possessions. Meanwhile, I decided I may as well write another book… (Dolly, that one is called, also still not available in the real world, but I love that one too. It’s one of only two books I’ve written set in Australia.)

Warning: this book contains language some readers may find offensive! (F-words and the odd other bad word, and references to sexy shenanigans going on, plus you know, people die in this book. A lot.)

I hope this book will be available for pre-order really soon, and if you are interested enough to read the first couple of chapters, (subject to editing and rewriting!) please follow this link:

Easy Living – about and early chapters