Thursday, 19 September 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Ten Thousand Doors of January - Alix E. Harrow


EVERY STORY OPENS A DOOR

In a sprawling mansion filled with exotic treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artefacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors and danger, of love and adventure. With each page she reads, January learns impossible truths about the world and discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own,


Open a door to another world and discover the most spellbinding debut of 2019, perfect for readers of THE NIGHT CIRCUS, THE THIRTEENTH TALE and THE BINDING


What did I think?

The Ten Thousand Doors of January has to have one of the most striking covers I have ever seen; the door handle and keys give it a definite hint of Wonderland, so I prepared myself to expect the unexpected.  The pacing is quite slow to start with so I wasn't grasped immediately by the story but soon found that January Scaller had slowly burrowed under my skin as I joined her on her fascinating journey.

This is like a book within a book as January reads from a book she finds; I do wish she could have found this book in chapter one though, as chapter one of 'The Ten Thousand Doors' is included in chapter two of the book, chapter two in chapter three and so on and so forth.  I have a bit of OCD about numbers so I did struggle with this at first but this minor annoyance was quickly forgotten as I became immersed in the story.

Alix E. Harrow clearly loves letters and words as much as I love numbers.  She has such an affinity for seeing the magical in the mundane; who would have noticed the letter 'H' in the word 'House' as being like a roof with two chimneys?  There are sublime descriptions of other letters, that I'll not mention for fear of spoiling for others, that made me want to give a standing ovation to Alix E. Harrow.  As a numbers gal, I would never have seen such beauty in letters without her guidance.

I feel completely honoured to have accompanied January on her journey as she discovers her past and her ability to open magical doors into other worlds.  Isn't that what we readers do every time we open a book?  I didn't realise how affected I was by her story until near to the end when I found myself swallowing a lump in my throat.  

For readers who loved falling down the rabbit hole with Alice, follow January through her magical doors and discover worlds built of words.  This magical, imaginative and captivating debut is like a love letter to the English language; Alix E. Harrow has opened my eyes to the magic in every word and I will never look at letters in the same way again.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon




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Wednesday, 11 September 2019

BLOG TOUR: Endgame (Detective William Fawkes #3) - Daniel Cole


A locked room. A dead body. A secret that went to the grave.

When retired police officer Finlay Shaw is found dead in a locked room, everyone thinks it's suicide. But disgraced detective William 'Wolf' Fawkes isn't so sure.

Together with his former partner Detective Emily Baxter and private detective Edmunds, Wolf's team begin to dig into Shaw's early days on the beat. Was Shaw as innocent as he seemed? Or is there more to his past than he'd ever let on?

But not everyone wants Wolf back - and as his investigation draws him ever deeper into police corruption, it will not only be his career on the line - but the lives of those he holds closest as well...


What did I think?

Oh I can't even begin to tell you how much I've been looking forward to this book and I'm delighted to say that it did not disappoint.  Endgame is the third in the Detective William Fawkes (Wolf) series, following on from Ragdoll and Hangman.  I don't know how Daniel Cole does it but each book seems do outdo the previous one, despite them all being brilliant in their own right.  

Endgame grips the reader by the throat right from the start with a double whammy: an apparent suicide and the arrest of Wolf.  Wolf is convinced his old mentor, Finlay, wouldn't have killed himself and he does a deal with the police commissioner, who happens to be Finlay's old friend Christian, to allow him to investigate what everyone thinks is an open and shut case.  Bringing the gang back together, Wolf teams up with old pals Baxter and Edmunds and what a trio they make.  The sexual tension between Wolf and Baxter is palpable, reminiscent of Ross and Rachel in a will they/won't they scenario.  To complete the Friends analogy, I really like Edmunds who is a bit of a Monica in his dogged determination and organisation skills. 

As Wolf investigates Finlay's death, he takes a closer look at Finlay's life.  Roll back to 1979 with Finlay and Christian hailed as heroes in a drugs bust, but not everything is as it seems.  Buried secrets don't stay buried for long, especially not when Wolf is on the case.  It's like a game of chess and just when one player thinks they are about to call checkmate, the game is turned on its head.  I loved all these twists and turns that kept my heart racing in my chest and my eyes racing down the page.

I think you could possibly read Endgame as a standalone but I really would recommend you read Ragdoll and Hangman first as it does have links to the previous books; so anyone picking up Endgame as their first Daniel Cole book will undoubtedly want to read the previous two books right away to see the full picture.  The whole series is amazing, but Endgame is the cherry on top.  

Daniel Cole writes so vividly and energetically that his words seem to fizzle and crackle on the page; it's so visual that I really wouldn't be surprised to see this series on tv in the future.  Endgame is a blistering conclusion to the Ragdoll trilogy but I'm hoping it's not the last we've seen of Wolf and Baxter.  As gripping as a vice, Endgame is an electrifying heart-in-your-mouth thriller; it has more thrills and stomach clenching moments than a rollercoaster and a waltzer merged together.  Absolutely superb and definitely unmissable!

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

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon



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Tuesday, 10 September 2019

BLOG BLITZ: Bloodline - Pamela Murray


When a young boy discovers a man’s body lying in a doorway, DI Burton and DS Fielding are called to the scene.

Believing the man was homeless, the police are shocked to discover the true identity of the victim; a Detective Constable from London who was working undercover.

But when the DNA from the victim is linked to a cold case Burton and Fielding find themselves looking into another unsolved murder.

And as the case unfolds, the detectives are faced with unpicking through a web of lies and deceit. But can they solve the murders before any more blood is spilt?  


What did I think?

I came across Pamela Murray as she is a local North East author and although I haven't yet read her debut, Murderland, I was eager to read the second book in the Burton and Fielding series, Bloodline.  So it is without any doubt that I can say that Bloodline can be read as a standalone as I found it gripping, intriguing and a mighty-fine page turner.  It has definitely made me want to read Murderland as soon as possible to get to know Burton and Fielding a little better; there's definitely a lot more to come from this pair.

The prologue is an amazing double ended hook, set in 1986 with a murder and present day with a man spying on his girlfriend as she meets with another man.  How these stories weave together and become clear later on is simply brilliant, but these threads are left tantalisingly dangling when the body of an undercover cop is discovered.  Then there's a double whammy of tasty storyline as the undercover case is picked up and the victim's DNA brings up a match in the database linking him to a cold case.

I loved the DNA storyline, both the links to the victims and the DNA kits that you see for sale these days.  I must admit, I am slightly sceptical as to what their purpose is as it seems an easy (and sneaky) way to collect and record DNA of unsuspecting people rather than just give them clues as to their ancestry.  I didn't realise that the DNA kits also match your results with others who have taken the test, although they do warn people in advance that they can discover illegitimacy, adoption or donor-conception.  It may seem like a bit of fun buying such a gift for the person who has everything but imagine the repercussions if they found out that their whole life was a lie.  I love books that have thought-provoking discussion points like this, so I have found myself thinking about this long after finishing Bloodline.

With strands of intrigue woven through the storyline like a double helix, Bloodline is a fast-paced gritty and compelling thriller.   You can't fail to be hooked by the amazing prologue and it's impossible to put the book down after that.  A highly recommended read from an outstanding local talent.

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

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon



About the author:

Pamela Murray is from the North East of England, and has spent most of her life living in Boldon. She began writing at an early age when she and her school friend used to write stories for one another. The writing continued on and off over the years, but was only recently reignited when the same school friend introduced her to the local writers group she was in.

Pamela had intended to enter Journalism after leaving school but found herself going to work in a Public Library instead, and has always had more than a passing interest in books and literature.

When not writing, Pamela is passionate about Cinema and her three grandchildren. She has also appeared as a Supporting Artiste in two episodes of the hit TV crime series "Vera".





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Saturday, 7 September 2019

BLOG TOUR: A Shadow on the Lens - Sam Hurcom


The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me. 

He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder. 

Someone had been watching us.

1904. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland - her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl - the face of Betsan Tilny.


What did I think?

I enjoy reading both historical fiction and crime thrillers so my interest was already piqued when I read the blurb of A Shadow on the Lens.  Then when I read that the book is set in the small Welsh village of Dinas Powys, which is where my maternal great great great grandfather was born in 1827, I just had to read it.  My ancestor had moved to the North East by 1904 (which is when this story is set), maybe leaving brothers and sisters in Dinas Powys, so I was very excited to read a book set in the village he left behind; although no Norris's featured in the story.

It took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the book but the murder of Betsan Tilny is so very intriguing that it keeps the pages turning nicely.  A forensic photographer is summoned to the village to investigate the crime and this was the first oddity to intrigue me - why a photographer and not a police inspector?  It soon becomes clear that the locals want Thomas Bexley to simply take his photos and leave their village without discovering who or what has committed the crime.  Everyone in the village appears to be hiding something so the sooner Thomas is gone the better.  

We take it for granted these days that we take a photo and see it instantly but there's something so very mystical and magical about developing photographs and back in 1904 (only a few years after the Kodak Brownie was introduced) photos were developed on plates in a dark room.  When Thomas develops his photographs he can't believe his eyes as the murder victim appears as a ghostly apparition.  When Thomas is suddenly struck down with a fever and his negatives disappear, he wonders if he imagined it all but he remembers clues from the photographs that he couldn't possibly have known about beforehand.  This puts him in more danger than he could ever have imagined.

I loved the spooky supernatural element to the story which really makes A Shadow on the Lens something different.  Encompassing so many genres means that it will appeal to crime, historical and fantasy readers, which is not something that many books can claim to do.  A Shadow on the Lens is a spooky, goosebumpy, gothic-style historical crime thriller and a fantastic debut from Sam Hurcom.

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

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon




About the author:

Sam Hurcom was born in Dinas Powys, South Wales in 1991. He studied Philosophy at Cardiff University, attaining both an undergraduate and master's degree. He has since had several short stories published and has written and illustrated a number of children's books. Sam currently lives in the village he was raised in, close to the woodlands that have always inspired his writing.


A SHADOW ON THE LENS is Sam's debut novel.




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Friday, 6 September 2019

BLOG TOUR: A Litter of Bones (DCI Logan Crime Thrillers #1) - JD Kirk


Was the biggest case of his career the worst mistake he ever made?

Ten years ago, DCI Jack Logan stopped the serial child-killer dubbed 'Mister Whisper,' earning himself a commendation, a drinking problem, and a broken marriage in the process.

Now, he spends his days working in Glasgow's Major Investigations Team, and his nights reliving the horrors of what he saw.

And what he did.

When another child disappears a hundred miles north in the Highlands, Jack is sent to lead the investigation and bring the boy home.

But as similarities between the two cases grow, could it be that Jack caught the wrong man all those years ago?

And, if so, is the real Mister Whisper about to claim his fourth victim?

A Litter of Bones is the explosive debut crime thriller novel from JD Kirk, an exciting new voice in Scottish crime fiction. Perfect for fans of L.J. Ross, Ian Rankin, Chris Brookmyre, and Stuart Macbride.


What did I think?

The first thing that stood out for me when reading A Litter of Bones was the amazing first line; it gives us a hint of the dry humour that JD Kirk uses throughout the book to accompany the seriousness of a missing children storyline.  Without making light of a dire situation, I loved how JD Kirk injected some dry humour into his writing to fully flesh out his characters and keep the reader fully entertained.  Although we are reading crime, we don't necessarily need it to be constant violent deaths and grisly crime scenes, so with spending time on character development JD Kirk gets the balance perfectly right in his amazing crime debut.

JD Kirk has hit a gold mine with his DCI Jack Logan character; he's got Owen Petrie, a serial killer, incarcerated in Carstairs, the notorious psychiatric hospital outside of Glasgow, but Logan still has unfinished business with 'Mister Whisper'.  Logan is haunted by the abducted little boy whose body was never found and he refuses to let the case go cold.  When there are disturbing similarities to a new abduction, the police wonder whether there's a copycat or whether the wrong man has been caught.  Logan stands by his conviction and joins the taskforce in the hunt for the new missing boy, but he can't ignore the link to the previous abductions...how can this be happening again when the killer has already been caught?

I really loved this book; it's so intriguing and it had my brain whirring with so many questions and possibilities flying around my head.  How is Petrie doing this?  If not him, then who?  Has the right man been caught in the first place?  Is something supernatural going on?  Perhaps an ethereal Mister Whisper conjured by saying his name in the mirror 3 times?  It's so good when a book gets you thinking like that, it just shows how invested in the story you are, and I was 100% invested in this one.  I felt as if I was reading with my eyes open as wide as they could be sometimes, almost in a permanent state of surprise, so it really shouldn't have come as a surprise when I did actually gasp out loud in shock at one point (luckily I was reading alone, otherwise that would have taken some explaining).

Having been a long-time fan of Billy Connolly, I couldn't mistake the essence of Scotland running through the prose; from the jaggy bushes (remember Billy's jaggedy-arse wool?) to the bone drenching smirr of the Scottish rain.  I love these little homages to dialect that bring the book to life and make it memorable.  I found this book so entirely engrossing that I can't think of a single criticism of it; I loved the characters, the setting and the storyline and I'm really looking forward to reading more DCI Logan books.

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

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon




About the author:

JD Kirk lives in the wilds of Scotland, where he spends his days making stuff up and writing it down. He lives with his wife, two children, one dog, and – if his daughter has anything to do with it – a cat in the very near future.

Having been writing in various genres for over a decade, JD turned his attention to crime fiction in May 2019, and hasn’t looked back. A Litter of Bones is his first crime novel, and the first of his hundred-plus books that his wife could bring herself to read.





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Wednesday, 4 September 2019

BLOG BLITZ: The Girl in White - John Nicholl


Harry Gilmore has no idea of the terrible danger he faces when he meets a beautiful girl in a local student bar. Drugged and abducted, Harry wakes up in a secure wooden compound deep in the Welsh countryside, where he is groomed by the leaders of a manipulative cult, run by the self-proclaimed new messiah, known as The Master.

When the true nature of the cult becomes apparent, Harry looks for any opportunity to escape. But as time passes he questions if the master’s extreme behaviour and teachings are the one true religion.

With Harry’s life hanging by a thread, a team of officers, led by Detective Inspector Laura Kesey, investigate his disappearance. But will they find him before it’s too late?


What did I think?

I've read quite a few of John Nicholl's books so I know you're always guaranteed a quality novel from him, which is exactly what you get with The Girl in White.  As with all John Nicholl's novels, The Girl in White is dark and creepy but it's slightly different in that it's not set in a domestic situation.  As always though, John Nicholl manages to make my skin crawl with his chilling storyline and mesmeric writing.

Although the police feature in this book, it's not DI Gravel this time but rather his replacement, Laura Kesey.  As much as I love the DI Gravel books, it's nice to have a change now and again and I'm looking forward to getting to know the new cop in town: DI Kesey.  Laura certainly has some big boots to fill but I really like her; she's determined and smart so I think she'll do very well.

I've always found cults very creepy and wondered how they manage to attract members when you hear so many horror stories.  I wouldn't be surprised to find that this story is very true to life as surely most sane, intelligent people don't become members of cults by their own free will.  University student, Harry, is drugged and abducted when he meets a young woman in a bar and wakes up in the compound of a cult.  Harry's story is also a good reminder about accepting drinks or leaving drinks unattended when you're out in bars as there are some psychotic people out there!  DI Kesey is on the case to find Harry but can she find him before his mind is lost to the cult?

It's quite a short book so its length and the compelling storyline make it easy to read in one sitting, which is what I did.   With the end of the book approaching, I couldn't read it fast enough but it did feel a tiny bit rushed towards the end, however, it was a very satisfying ending nonetheless and leads on nicely to another DI Kesey instalment.  

The Girl in White is another excellent book from John Nicholl; it has all the dark and creepy qualities I've come to expect from him to ensure my stomach clenched and my skin crawled but I couldn't tear my eyes from the page.

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

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon



About the author:
John Nicholl, an ex-police officer, child protection social worker and lecturer, has written seven darkly psychological suspense thrillers, each of which has been an Amazon #1 bestseller.

John’s books are set in the UK and have a strong Welsh flavour. He began writing after leaving his job heading up child protection services for Carmarthenshire.

You can find out more about John and his books at: http://www.johnnicholl.com





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Tuesday, 3 September 2019

BLOG TOUR: In the Absence of Miracles - Michael J Malone


John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home. Following a massive stroke, she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again. With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

In a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash.

And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence…


What did I think?

Michael J Malone has stolen my words; I was left utterly speechless after reading In the Absence of Miracles and know that this is a book I will remember (and recommend) for a long time to come.  It's difficult to put my thoughts in order to write a review that will even begin to do justice to how good this book is, but here goes.

I know from reading the magnificent A Suitable Lie that Michael J Malone knows how to shock and surprise and boy, did he make my jaw drop this time!  From the very first page, I felt completely immersed in Michael J Malone's hypnotic writing; it's somehow very calm and comforting until it punches you in the gut just when you least expect it.  A little bit how John Docherty must have felt when he discovered a photo of an older brother he has no memory of.  As John starts to unearth his buried memories he digs up a lot more skeletons than a missing brother.

There's so much going on in John's story that you literally can't put this book down.  John is such a complex character, from his relationship with Angela, that he seems intent on destroying, to his almost passive martyrdom that he is the brother saddled with visiting their mother in the nursing home.  John wants to find out what happened to his brother and his investigation discovers more teen boys going missing when the fairground is in town.  There's always something unnerving yet alluring about the fairground and I loved this aspect of the story.

Haunting, emotional, shocking and hypnotically captivating, In the Absence of Miracles is heartbreaking and moving; nobody writes domestic noir as emotively as Michael J Malone and I doubt anyone would be able to read this book devoid of emotion.  100% without doubt this is a very highly recommended read.

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

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon



About the author:


Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.







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Friday, 30 August 2019

Underbelly (A Taryn Winter Crime Thriller Book 1) - Karen Crawford


A popular Las Vegas hotel and casino is undergoing a billion-dollar renovation, and a killer is operating in the construction zone. The Square is open for guests, but they are unaware that a predator is lurking below the facade of luxury. One woman’s death will draw attention to the murders and spark an investigation.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department retired detective Taryn Winter, her former partner, Daniel Brady and FBI Special Agent Jenae Shannon are on the trail, risking everything to bring a killer to justice. But their opponent has become obsessed with one of them and is on the hunt. Will they find the killer first or be the next victims?


What did I think?

This book does exactly what it says on the cover as Karen Crawford transports the reader to the dark and seedy underbelly of Las Vegas.  Although I've seen it on TV, I've never been to Las Vegas but, through Karen Crawford's descriptive and immersive prose, I actually felt like I was seeing the twinkly lights of the strip and hearing the jangle of coins in the slots whilst reading Underbelly.

Karen Crawford has created a flawed yet empathetic character in the protagonist of Taryn Winter.  Taryn is a very intriguing woman; she has retired from the police force but still works as a consultant so it's almost like she hasn't left at all.  I love the relationship she has with her ex-partner, Daniel and how she really cares about the community, especially the ladies of the night.  I could go on more about the amazing character of Taryn, and I have so many questions regarding her past, so I hope this series continues for a long time to come in order to answer them.  

Where there is prey, there are predators and that is so very true in Las Vegas.  Gamblers, drunks and prostitutes are there for the taking and a killer is using a luxury hotel as their personal kill room.  It should be an easy collar for the Las Vegas MPD with so many CCTV cameras around but this killer seems to be invisible.  The hunt for the killer reaches fever pitch after a wealthy patron's wife becomes one of the victims.  The increased media interest puts the police under more pressure to catch the killer and increased pressure leads to a higher risk of mistakes being made.  This is one very confident and arrogant murderer who always seems to be just out of reach of the long arm of the law.

The feel of the book reminds me of Michael Connelly's Bosch, both in the complexity of the main character and the outstanding quality of writing.  What Bosch does for Los Angeles, Winter does for Las Vegas and I can't wait to continue her story in Atone.  Karen Crawford is a breath of fresh air in the over-saturated crime genre.  I'm a huge fan of crime fiction but I'm finding it a little predictable these days; this fast-paced, gritty and outstanding debut kept me guessing from beginning to beyond the end.  Underbelly is simply extraordinary and I can't rate it highly enough; 5 stars just doesn't do it justice!  A very highly recommended read.

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

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

BLOG TOUR: A Stranger in Paris (A French Life #1) - Karen Webb


The first in a three-part memoir exposing the darker side of French culture, a brilliantly funny and poignant study of French life that begins when a young graduate makes a spontaneous decision to follow the man she loves to Paris. He is, however, nowhere to be found ... Now a penniless singleton she must work in order to survive. With only a smattering of French she begins a new life. 

'A Stranger in Paris' follows Karen in her formative years as she searches for friends, family, and love. A portrayal of French life from the inside by a narrator who has seen the various echelons of French society from rich to poor, from the capital city to the rural South West.


What did I think?

I'm not a naturally nosy person so I'm not a huge fan of memoirs, of famous people or otherwise, but something drew me to A Stranger in Paris.  Perhaps it was the romance of Karen following her lover across the Channel (after all Paris is the home of romance) or her bravery at starting a new life without a penny in her pocket; whatever it was, I'm so pleased that I found this book.  It was with a slight element of trepidation that I embarked on Karen's story, as I feared that it would be a bit like looking at somebody's holiday photos and there wouldn't be enough to keep me interested, but I'm delighted to say that I couldn't have been more wrong.  I actually didn't want the story to end and, as it's the first in a trilogy, I know the story isn't over and I can't wait to read more of Karen's story.

Of course you can tell by the synopsis that this isn't going to be a romantic and soppy love story; I thought Karen was crazy to leave her home in Wales and follow David to Paris after he had broken up with her.  Forget about him and get on with your life, I shouted, but everything happens for a reason so Karen finds herself penniless in Paris and unable to locate David.  If she had found him, I dread to think what that story would have turned out like.  I loved her determination and resourcefulness as she takes a job as a very low paid au pair and this is when Karen's humour really shines through her writing.  I'm laughing now just thinking about the wash mitt.

Karen's writing is both accomplished and effervescent; A Stranger in Paris is as sparkling as a glass of champagne sipped on the banks of the Seine.  Her stories are interesting to start with but her amazing sense of humour makes them unforgettable.  You can keep your celebrity memoirs, thank you very much, Karen Webb's story is SO much better!

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

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon

Friday, 23 August 2019

BLOG TOUR: Ask Again, Yes - Mary Beth Keane


A gripping and compassionate drama of two families linked by chance, love and tragedy

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours.

Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope - cold, elegant, unstable - wants to be left alone.

It's left to their children - Lena's youngest, Kate, and Anne's only child, Peter - to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.

A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later . . .

A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood - villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so.

A story of how, if we're lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.

What did I think?

The reputation of this book preceded it, so I didn't hesitate when offered a spot on the blog tour.  This is one of those books that you know is going to be special from the very first page; when Mary Beth Keane describes something as mundane as a pair of tights hanging on a washing line in such ethereal detail I knew I was holding a thing of beauty in my hands.  

Ask Again, Yes is a tale of two families.  Both of Irish descent, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope met each other as rookie cops in New York.  Years later, they meet as family men when Brian and Anne move next door to Francis and Lena.  Lena is a new mother when she welcomes Anne to the street, but the alarm bells go off straight away as something isn't quite right with Anne.  Despite Lena's attempts at friendship, Anne is aloof and frosty and she doesn't thaw as the years go by.  As the two families grow up together, Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope become inseparable and, despite Anne's best efforts to separate them, the course of their life is written. 

This is such a beautifully written, completely engrossing book.  I think because we are introduced to Kate and Peter from birth, it feels like we are part of the family.  As things happen to shock and surprise us, it's very easy to see facts in black and white and condemn the perpetrator, but delving into the background reveals the full shocking story and my opinion definitely changed.

Such a multi-faceted story, Ask Again, Yes, is  both a moving family saga and a beautiful realistic love story.  For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, and through all the ups and downs of life Ask Again, Yes reminds us that we wouldn't change a single thing and if we're asked again we would always say 'yes'.  If ever a book is going to be described as a work of art, this is it.

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, 11 August 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Holiday - T.M. Logan


Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Provence. 

But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends. 

One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined. 

Because someone in the villa is prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.


What did I think?

Oh this is such a good book; it kept me right on my toes from start to finish.  It says on the cover that there's a killer in their midst but through T.M. Logan's twisty and enthralling writing there is no doubt that there's an ominous cloud of suspense and suspicion hanging over the characters from the very first chapter.  T.M. Logan really is the master of the red herring as he pulls us in every direction and twists us around and around like a game of pin the tail on the donkey.  I pinned the tail on every character at one point or another so I had no idea which direction the story was going and that is what is so brilliant about it.

Kate is a crime scene investigator and even she didn't know what was going on!  The bottom drops out of Kate's world when she finds messages to another woman on her husband's phone.  The message points to the other woman being in France with them so she is one of Kate's three friends: Rowan, Jennifer or Izzy.  I think Kate must have always been a bit insecure about her husband as Sean has history with two of her friends before he married Kate; there's certainly a bucketful of Irish charm in the character of Sean.  Ever the investigator, Kate decides to gather the evidence before confronting Sean and I really admired her ability to keep her cool.  What she is about to discover might not only end her marriage but might tear the three friends apart forever.

Full of suspicion and intrigue, I absolutely raced through The Holiday and found myself thinking about it on the odd occasion I managed to put it down.  There are so many twists and turns that reading it was like being on a rollercoaster and I felt totally breathless at the end.  This superb fast-paced, gripping and highly addictive thriller has more red herrings than the river Tyne and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.  Pack this one in your case if you're looking for THE holiday read of 2019.

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

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