Tuesday, 7 July 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Curious Case of Maggie Macbeth - Stacey Murray


Sometimes you have to take the law into your own hands...

After losing her high-powered job in Hong Kong, forty-something widow and lawyer, Maggie Macbeth, turns up on the doorstep of her old sidekick, Cath, in the sleepy Peak District village of Archdale. A fish out of water, Maggie comes into conflict with everyone and everything - especially Cath's awful friend, Tiggy - and rock bottom is just around the corner. But it turns out Maggie isn't the only one in trouble. When a crisis hits the local community, Maggie has a choice: to give up on life, or go back to her legal roots and fight for justice. But can she save the day as well as herself?

This laugh-out loud debut novel shows that no battle is too big when you've got friends on your side.


What did I think?

Stacey Murray's debut, The Curious Case of Maggie Macbeth is a very entertaining story with a larger than life protagonist.  Maggie Macbeth is kind of like a hedgehog: prickly and tough on the outside but soft and caring on the inside.  If you make friends with Maggie I think you'll have a friend for life, such as in the case of her friend, Cath.

Glaswegian Maggie Macbeth makes quite an entrance to the story when she turns up out of the blue at her friend's cafe in Derbyshire clutching a traffic cone.  I worked in Glasgow for a wee while so a Glaswegian clutching a traffic cone did make me chuckle in the same way as it did when I first saw the traffic cone perched atop the Duke of Wellington statue in Glasgow city centre.  A stickler for the rules, as evidenced by the confiscated traffic cone, Maggie inevitably seems to rub people up the wrong way at first but she's definitely someone you want on your side when the chips are down.

It's not a saying I've ever adopted but it came to mind when I was reading Maggie's story: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."  Widowed and unemployed in her forties, Maggie has been handed more than her fair share of lemons but I felt that she got more job satisfaction through helping a local farmer with a loan contract than she ever did with any of her high flying clients in Hong Kong.  Of course, it helps when the farmer in question is a bit dishy!

I loved Maggie and Cath's longstanding friendship and the strain it was put under when Maggie seemed to have outstayed her welcome.  Cath's dog, Jazz, has to get a special mention as she's such a fantastic little character and she almost stole the show; she really took a shine to Maggie and the feeling is definitely mutual.  What I loved most is how things didn't always turn out as expected for Maggie, making it very realistic and true to life.

Gloriously heart-warming, The Curious Case of Maggie Macbeth is a fabulous feel-good book.  It might take a while for readers to warm to Maggie but she is well worth getting to know in this charming and witty debut from Stacey Murray.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon




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Sunday, 5 July 2020

BLOG TOUR: Finders, Keepers - Sabine Durrant


One woman's secret is her neighbour's opportunity.

Ailsa Tilson moves with her husband and children to Trinity Fields in search of the new.

New project - a house to renovate. New people - no links to the past. New friends - especially her next-door neighbour, the lonely Verity, who needs her help.

Verity has lived in Trinity Fields all her life. She's always resisted change. Her home and belongings are a shield, a defence to keep the outside world at bay. But something about the Tilsons piques her interest.

Just as her ivy creeps through the shared garden fence, so Verity will work her way into the Tilson family.

And once they realise how formidable she can be, it might well be too late.


What did I think?

Like the ivy creeping through Verity's fence, Sabine Durrant's mesmerising words slowly but firmly grabbed hold of me in her addictive new novel Finders, Keepers.  I would definitely describe Finders, Keepers as a slow burner but it's like a pot on constant simmer that you can't take your eyes off; this is one watched pot that is about to boil over.

I loved the character of Verity; they do say it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for.  Spending many years as carer to her mother, Verity has led a very sheltered life.  Now that she is living alone, it's things rather than people that bring her comfort...until she gets new neighbours.  Ailsa and Tom Tilson move in with their family and, although an unlikely pairing, Ailsa and Verity become almost friends.  I say 'almost' friends as it felt from the start that Ailsa was using Verity.

I may have had my doubts about Ailsa's friendship with Verity but it was Tom who really got on my nerves.  I mean it does sound like Verity's house looks a bit ramshackle, but they bought the house next door to her knowing that already.  What right does Tom have to tell Verity what to do with her own house?  It felt like he was bullying her and I felt so angry at times as he wouldn't have been so confrontational if he had a male neighbour.

As Verity's job involves updating the Oxford English Dictionary, each chapter starts with a relevant item from the chapter and a word along with its meaning.  I loved this extra touch and found myself looking forward to them, wondering what interesting words I would learn or re-experience.  When Ailsa finds out about Verity's job she seizes the opportunity to gain a free tutor for her son, Max.  Ailsa did initially promise to pay Verity for her time but the money never seems to materialise, increasing my feeling that the Tilsons were taking advantage of Verity.  Like I said earlier though, it is the quiet ones you have to watch out for...

Captivating and compelling, Finders, Keepers is a simmering pot of a novel; it may bubble along nicely but it's always threatening to boil over.  Like a creeping ivy, Sabine Durrant weaves tendrils of suspense and intrigue through the book until we find ourselves firmly in its grasp and once it grabs you, which it inevitably will, it's impossible to put this book down.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon




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Friday, 3 July 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Place We Call Home - Faith Hogan


Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills...

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan's is one of them...

Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills, until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they'd lead.

Ada has forever lived her life in her sister's shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.

Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she's unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what's she's been yearning for. The chance to go home.

Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he'll have to return to the people who always believe in him.

Ballycove isn't just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn't just the base of the famous mills. It's a place to call home.

Best-selling author, Faith Hogan returns with a family tale of love, loss, secrets and finding yourself.


What did I think?

Faith Hogan has done it again!  The Place We Call Home is another outstanding book from this amazingly talented Irish author (she writes crime now too, don't you know!).  Faith Hogan's books always draw me in completely and make me feel like I'm part of the family, and never more so than in this family saga of the Corrigans of Ballycove.

It's like a complete family history as we meet the present day owner of Corrigan Mills, septuagenarian Miranda Corrigan, and flash back to her childhood when the mills were owned by local landowners, The Blairs.  Miranda and Richard Blair become close friends one long hot summer and there's a definite spark between them that suggests they could become more than friends, but fate has other plans in store for Miranda.

Now you would think that Miranda became owner of the mills due to her relationship with Richard Blair, but it's a much more interesting and emotional story than that.  Faith Hogan writes so vividly and emotively that I felt as if I was looking at Ballycove through Miranda's eyes and feeling every emotion that she felt.  The characters are so full of life that I had to keep reminding myself that they weren't real people and I didn't really know them as well as I felt I did.

I don't want to spoil the story by giving away any of the plot so all I'll really say is that it is a family drama that puts Coronation Street writers to shame.  There's jealousy and envy, unrequited love, money troubles and family secrets just waiting to be spilled; more than enough drama without needing to have a body buried under the patio.  Even with so much going on, the pacing is very gentle; like waves lapping against the shore but each time the tide goes out, a little more of the family history is revealed.  

The Place We Call Home is a book filled with love; first love, mother's love and some love from Faith, as undoubtedly a little piece of Faith Hogan's heart has been woven into the very pages of this beautiful heartwarming book.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:


Buy it from:
Amazon
Kobo
Google Play
iBooks





About the author:

Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women's fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.

Faith's latest book, The Place We Call Home is published in January 2020.

She writes crime fiction as Geraldine Hogan - Her Sisters Bones is available now!

Faith gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She's a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger - except of course when it is raining!

You can find out more about Faith on her website www.faithhogan.com
www.Facebook/FaithHogan.com
https://twitter.com/GerHogan 






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Wednesday, 1 July 2020

BLOG TOUR: Summertime at the Cornish Confetti Agency - Daisy James


I'm absolutely delighted to be taking part in the Rachel's Random Resources blog tour for Summertime at the Cornish Confetti Agency by Daisy James.  Read on to find out about the book and scroll down for my review.


It’s Summertime at The Cornish Confetti Agency!

When Lexie Harrington is asked to co-ordinate Kat and Dylan’s ‘English village fĂȘte’ wedding, she’s determined that this time everything will go according to her carefully laid plans; no ice bucket challenges, no whoopee cushions, and absolutely no googly eyes attached to everything in sight!

With gorgeous journalist-cum-wedding columnist Theo Barker to offer a helping hand, Lexie is optimistic that she can deliver the fairy tale wedding her clients have always dreamed of…. until the best man Noah is targeted by a loose hosepipe, the wedding rings go walk-about, and his beloved scarlet Porsche takes on a distinctly unpleasant aroma.

Can Lexie and Theo uncover what’s behind the mysterious goings on, or will the Cornish Confetti Agency be forced to close its doors to the future brides and grooms of glorious Cornwall?


What did I think?

I seem to make a habit of reading Daisy James books mid-series, but they're so easy to read that you can always catch up with the characters' histories and fully enjoy the fabulous story.  Summertime at the Cornish Confetti Agency is the second book in the Cornish Confetti Agency series and it can definitely be read as a standalone.  I haven't read the first book in the series but Daisy James paints a multi-coloured picture of events in the first book to ensure that readers picking up a book mid-series are not disadvantaged.

After losing her job, Lexie is looking after the Cornish Confetti Agency while its owner is away.  The first wedding didn't quite go to plan so Lexie is hoping to redeem herself by making sure that the village fete wedding she's planning for the vicar's daughter goes without a hitch.   Of course, some things are out of Lexie's control and when someone starts playing pranks on the best man, Lexie needs to identify the culprit before the wedding is ruined.

I think I put on a few pounds when reading this as Daisy James describes all of the mouthwatering cakes and pastries made by Scarlet, the local baker.  Daisy James has a real talent for describing sweet treats in the most delicious way; I was almost drooling at the thought of biting into a freshly baked croissant and experiencing the scrumptious flaky buttery pastry.  Daisy's delectable words describe the sights, sounds and smells so vividly that they leave little to the imagination and if you're really lucky you'll experience the most amazing smell hallucinations, like I did.  

I also have to mention the magical sleep fairies that Daisy James introduced me to in this book; the thought of chasing the sleep fairies when you're unable to sleep or being captured by them as you drift off is perfectly delightful.  I love this idea; saying that you've been chasing the sleep fairies is much better than simply saying you couldn't sleep - what beautiful unforgettable words from Daisy.

With a sprinkling of mystery and a dollop of romance, Summertime at the Cornish Confetti Agency is a fabulously entertaining book.  Daisy James writes with such exuberance and charm that you feel enveloped in the book as if it's a huge hug.  Summertime at the Cornish Confetti Agency is my favourite Daisy James book so far and I plan to read the first book in the series while I wait for the next fabulously festive instalment.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US




About the author:

Daisy James loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. She especially likes to create sunshine-filled settings in exotic locations - the Caribbean, Tuscany, Cornwall, Provence - so she can spend her time envisioning her characters enjoying the fabulous scenery and sampling the local food and drink.

When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea - china plates and teacups are a must.

Social Media Links –
Twitter @daisyjamesbooks





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Monday, 29 June 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Curious Case of Faith & Grace - David B. Lyons


The damppebbles blog tours Blog Tour for The Curious Case of Faith & Grace by David B. Lyons is visiting my blog today and I'm releasing my review as part of the tour.  This is my first David B. Lyons book and it definitely won't be my last.  It's an absolute cracker!  Scroll down to read my review of this outstanding book.


Pretty... or pretty twisted?

ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO FAITH AND GRACE TIDDLE ARRIVED HOME FROM THEIR USUAL SATURDAY MORNING DANCE CLASS TO FIND BOTH OF THEIR PARENTS FACE DOWN IN POOLS OF BLOOD.

Five days later, the twins — only nine years old at the time — were arrested for the double homicide.

And now, twenty months on, the entire country awaits with bated breath as the jury are dismissed to deliberate their verdict on a case that has become a national phenomenon.

But if Lead Detective Denis Quayle — the man who knows the case better than anybody else — isn’t fully convinced of the twins’ guilt…

Can a twelve-person jury be?

GET READY TO EXPLORE…

THE CURIOUS CASE OF FAITH & GRACE


What did I think?

If you like thrillers set in the courtroom then The Curious Case of Faith & Grace is definitely the book for you.  I love virtually going to court so I was riveted from start to finish at the trial of 11 year old twins Faith & Grace Tiddle.  With a creepy cover that makes the twins from The Shining look like sweet little angels, David B. Lyons lets us examine the evidence to decide whether the Tiddle twins are angels or devils.

It seems inconceivable that two 9 year old twins could murder their parents and then calmly trot off to dance class, but this is what the prosecution would have us believe.  It is such a heinous crime that the case is being brought before Dublin's Criminal Court where a jury of 12 adults will deliberate the verdict.  With all but the lead detective on the case convinced of the twins' guilt, it should be an easy decision for the jurors to make...but one of them is being blackmailed.  If the twins are convicted her life will be destroyed.

What an excellent storyline; not only do you have the very intriguing murder case but the blackmailing of the juror took the story to another level.  I loved reading the deliberations of the jury and the counter-arguments that were being put forth to save the juror's own skin.  I really liked Detective Denis Quayle; he has his own personal problems but he never stopped believing in the twins and I loved how he fought to hold onto the case when a neighbouring station tried to take over.

With only two choices: guilty or not guilty, I must have changed my mind hundreds of times over the course of the book.  Creepy, chilling and compelling, The Curious Case of Faith & Grace is an outstanding novel that I won't forget in a hurry.  Very highly recommended.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US




About the author:

David B. Lyons is an international bestselling author -- a writer of psychological thrillers.

He has reached No.1 in charts in Ireland, the UK, Canada and Australia.

David grew up in Dublin - the city his novels are set - but currently spends his time between Birmingham in the UK and the Irish capital. David is married to a Brummie, Kerry, and they have one daughter, Lola.

He has lectured in Creative Writing in colleges and universities in both Ireland and in the UK and coaches people how to write with free tutorials at TheOpenAuthor.com.

You can connect with David here:
Twitter: @TheOpenAuthor




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Saturday, 27 June 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Heatwave - Katerina Diamond


One summer. One stranger. One killer…

Two bad things happened that summer:
A stranger arrived. And the first girl disappeared.
 
In the wake of the crime that rocked her community, Felicity fled, knowing more than she let on.
 
But sixteen years later, her new life is shattered by the news that a second girl has gone missing in her hometown.
 
Now Felicity must go back, to face the truth about what happened all those years ago.
 
Only she holds the answers – and they’re more shocking than anyone could imagine.
 
The heatwave is back. And so is the killer.


What did I think?

I absolutely love Katerina Diamond's DS Imogen Grey series so I was very excited to read her new standalone novel, The Heatwave.  Stepping away from a police procedural into a psychological thriller, Katerina Diamond's slow burning thriller The Heatwave absolutely blew me away.  It is THE book to read this summer!

Felicity is a very intriguing main character; there's definitely a lot more going on under the surface than it first appears.  When she leaves her husband and family behind to return to her hometown in the wake of a missing teenager, you just know that this is not the reaction of a normal person.  As we delve into Felicity's teenage past and the summer when a stranger comes to town and a teenager goes missing, Katerina Diamond turns the temperature up to boiling point in this scorching novel.

There are so many twists and turns in The Heatwave that you think you know where the story is going and then Katerina Diamond plants a landmine and you're off on a completely different tangent.  With a dual timeline set in past and present, Felicity's friendship with Jasmine during the summer heatwave is the focus of the 'past' storyline.  With teenage hormones in full flow and temperatures rising, the mysterious Tim (Jasmine's parents' lodger) becomes the focus of the girls' attention and their friendship comes under pressure.  When a teenager goes missing, Felicity leaves her hometown and Jasmine behind.  So why on earth does a missing teenager 16 years later make Felicity go back?  

The Heatwave is a completely masterful novel showing that Katerina Diamond is at the top of her game.  She is such an accomplished and talented writer that I'm sure Katerina Diamond could turn her venomous pen to any genre.  Make sure to grab a copy of The Heatwave; you don't want to miss what is sure to be the hottest book of the year.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Death of a Mermaid - Lesley Thomson


When Freddy Power was eighteen, her father threw her out. Her sin had been to fall in love with a woman. Freddy waited for two decades to be invited back into the family. The summons never came.

But now, in the wake of her parents' death, Freddy feels the call of home like a siren's song. The ferry from France emerging out of the mist. Fisherman unloading trawlers down at the harbour. Her childhood friends, Mags and Toni, walking on the cliffs at sunset.

Yet when she arrives in Newhaven, she finds that time has not stood still. After twenty-two years of silence, her brothers exclude her, and Mags and Toni feel like strangers. But then Mags goes missing, and old secrets – and old passions – are reignited. Freddy is determined to lead the hunt for the woman who was her first love. Even if it means confronting the past, and facing up to the truth about her family.


What did I think?

Death of a Mermaid is my first Lesley Thomson book and what a cracker it is!  Death comes to Newhaven, a channel ferry port in East Sussex, so put on your Sou'wester and travel to this south coast fishing town with Lesley Thomson.

A bone chilling prologue sets the scene for a very dark and menacing story that gripped me by the throat and refused to let go until I had turned the final page.  I almost forgot to breathe towards the end as I let out a shaky breath I didn't realise I had been holding.  That is how gripped by the story I was.  Lesley Thomson drew me in with her mesmerising words and captured me in her net, resigned to my fate of not being able to put the book down until this outstanding story had concluded.

Freddy Power as a schoolgirl was a member of a group called the Mermaids; a trio of friends who were obsessed with the film The Little Mermaid.  The group broke up suddenly when Freddy unexpectedly left home and lost contact with her friends and family.  When Freddy returns for a family funeral, it's not exactly a joyous reunion with fellow Mermaids, Mags and Toni, and even Freddy's brothers don't want her there.  When Mags goes missing, after a suspicious double death in the town, Freddy decides to stay in Newhaven rather than return to her controlling partner in Liverpool.  Freddy is determined to prise all of the secrets from the town's icy grip and she must confront her past before she can finally be free.

What a book!  The storyline is absolutely superb; it's tense, menacing and completely gripping.  I loved The Little Mermaid thread running through it, from ornaments in a fish tank to the disc in the dvd player; it oozed a sense of nostalgia that kept me anchored when my brain wanted to sail away on the story.  I love books filled with secrets and Death of a Mermaid has enough secrets to blow your socks off.

Death of a Mermaid is atmospheric, compelling and moving and I can't recommend it highly enough. 

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon