Friday 30 April 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Matchmaker - Hélene Fermont

Perfect Lives Don’t Come Cheap.

Marcia Bailey has it all: a passionate marriage to a rich and handsome man who is utterly devoted to her; fame and success as London’s premier matchmaker; a beautiful home in a posh neighbourhood, and fabulous holidays in exotic places.

But her perfect life turns into a nightmare overnight when a mysterious caller suddenly threatens to reveal secrets from her past she thought she had left behind forever. Who is he and what does he really want? He says he wants three million pounds to keep quiet, and she’s willing to pay. After all, she has already sacrificed so much, and perfect lives don’t come cheap.

But Marcia has a hunch her caller wants more than money from her. He wants to hurt and humiliate her. But why?

As police investigate a brutal murder in a wealthy London neighborhood, they untangle a web of lies, violence, sex and jealousy surrounding Marcia Bailey and the group of wealthy and powerful men who have secrets of their own to keep.

The Matchmaker is filled with unexpected twists and turns — and characters that will haunt you long after you’ve read the last page.

What did I think?

I love Hélene Fermont's writing so I was very keen to read her new book, The Matchmaker which I think is the first book of hers I've read without a Swedish link.  I think because I've read some of her other books, I really missed the Scandinavian feel that usually sets Hélene Fermont out from the crowd, however, this is still a good London-based thriller.

There isn't a single likable character in The Matchmaker for a very good reason as it makes all of them prime suspects in blackmail and murder.  The story twists and turns and the secrets of Marcia's past are revealed and as much as it's a tangled web, the characters are all quite closely linked; it seems like they all have a past in Brighton and any one of them could blow Marcia's world apart.

The story is told from several different viewpoints and this sometimes caused quite a bit of repetition when characters referred to other characters.  It did get a bit annoying and I found myself rolling my eyes every time I saw 'favourite mistress' mentioned.  It feels a little bit like an episode recap when you're watching a series but unfortunately there are no skip recap buttons in books.  It's not a big issue by any means, just a minor niggle and one that became less noticeable as the story took hold.

Well plotted and very addictive, I couldn't read fast enough to reveal all of the secrets in The Matchmaker.  It's a quick and satisfying read filled with surprises.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Wednesday 28 April 2021

BLOG TOUR: Dead Secret (Maggie Jamieson thriller, Book 4) - Noelle Holten

‘Enthralling from the first page to the last. Devoured in one sitting. Noelle Holten has become one of my must-read authors’ Angela Marsons, bestselling author of the Detective Kim Stone series

Psychopaths can take root in the unlikeliest soil…

DC Maggie Jamieson crosses paths once again with Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood when a domestic violence survivor stumbles into her new refuge, unable to speak, desperate for help.

Then another case hits Maggie’s desk. A young man has been murdered, and a curious constellation of black dots has been inked onto his cheek.

That’s when DCI Hastings goes missing and Maggie uncovers a shocking connection that turns the case on its head.

Every family may hide secrets, but not every family buries them…

What did I think?

I absolutely love Noelle Holten's writing and there are now four books in the amazing Maggie Jamieson series which seems to be getting better and better.  I really look forward to each new instalment and Dead Secret is so good it blew my socks off!

You can definitely read each book as a standalone but what I love about them is the way that each book picks up where the last one ended.  Noelle Holten completely nails her endings, which I'd say are more of a hook than a cliffhanger, so series fans are already hooked before the next book is even released.  The ending of Dead Secret has a hook and a half and I can't wait to read what comes next.

There are two main threads to the storyline and both are incredibly intriguing: one being domestic violence and the other being murder.  Lucy has a drop in at her new refuge and even though she isn't officially open yet, she can't turn the mysterious young woman away.  Meanwhile, Maggie is investigating a murder that is linked to her missing DCI and the police must tread carefully to avoid being accused of a cover-up.  With so much mouthwatering intrigue, I simply couldn't read fast enough.

Plotted to perfection, Dead Secret is jaw-droppingly awesome.  Noelle Holten is a super-talented author and her writing is filled with intrigue, suspense and colourful characterisation.  Without doubt a five star read and very highly recommended.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour; all opinions are my own.

My rating:

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About the author:

Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Connect with Noelle on Social Media here:

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Twitter: (@nholten40)

Instagram: @author_noelleholten

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Monday 26 April 2021

Arrows Tipped with Honey (Natural Forces Book 2) - Jean Gill


Exiled in the Forest, Mielitta, Queen of the Warrior Bees, could be happy but for her responsibilities to the very people who think her a freak and a traitor. Her hopes for change in the Perfect society of the Citadel rest on one man.

Trapped in a society he loathes and fears, Mage Smith Kermon's mission becomes a test of survival. Can he remain loyal to Mielitta in the double life he leads as her spy in the Citadel? He is quickly embroiled in deceit and subterfuge, forcing him into actions that make him doubt himself and everything he values.

Nobody can be trusted. Least of all the Mages bound to Mielitta's treaty by blood oath. When the dead don't stay dead, a broken oath could be Mielitta's doom.

Block Nature out and she'll force a way in.

What did I think?

Having really enjoyed Queen of the Warrior Bees, the first book in the Natural Forces series, I read book 2, Arrows Tipped with Honey, whilst the story was still fresh in my mind.  As this is a continuation of the story, I would say that you really need to read Queen of the Warrior Bees first, although some of the previous story is covered to ensure that any new readers don't completely lose the plot.

Following the Battle of the Forest, Mielitta along with Jannlou and Drianne have escaped the Perfect society of the Citadel.  Now they are free to be who they are meant to be in the forest, without having their minds sealed to give the illusion of perfection in the Citadel.  Their friend Kermon is their link to the Citadel and now that he is the Mage-Smith, he can encourage changes to be made to so-called Perfection.  

I loved Kerman's visits to the walls and seeing another world through his eyes had almost a dreamlike quality.  It's a world where you can taste honey and chocolate but like a flip of a coin there's also danger hiding around the corner.  I can't say any more about Kermon for fear of spoiling the story but it's like something out of Harry Potter, especially He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  

I've been a fan of Jean Gill for a while now and I love how she manages to sweep the reader away with her beautiful writing, not only to a fantasy world but into the midst of a beehive.  I loved hearing the voices of the bees and seeing how they communicate through dance and rely on smell as they protect the hive and their queen.  Aside from producing honey, there's also a mention of propolis which is an an amazing antibacterial balm also produced by bees.  I only discovered propolis a few years ago and think it's an excellent salve to have handy in every home.  Reading about the bees also made me think of how few we see buzzing around our gardens these days.  I have heard that bees are in decline so it's more important than ever to act now to save these marvellous creatures.

Wonderfully imaginative, Arrows Tipped with Honey is an excellent continuation of the Natural Forces story and it leads on perfectly to book 3, The World Beyond the Walls.

Thank you to Jean Gill for sending me an ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Sunday 25 April 2021

Her Last Holiday - C.L. Taylor

You come to Soul Shrink to be healed. You don’t expect to die.

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.

Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.

Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?

What did I think?

I love C. L. Taylor books so I know that once I pick one up, I won't be able to put it down.  Her new novel, Her Last Holiday is as gripping and highly addictive as I would expect and I absolutely raced through it, however, I found that I became more puzzled than enraptured as the story went on.

I'll start with the puzzling part...

Whilst the story of Jenna's disappearance and Tom Wade's part in it is very intriguing, the sheer number of characters over two timelines made it a little confusing.  Some characters appear in both timelines but they have different names now and some characters in the present are pretending to be someone else so they have two names too.  It felt like every other character has two personas and I don't know whether it was an issue with the proof copy but the names sometimes got mixed up.  For example, an undercover reporter seemed to switch to her real name (Caroline) part way through with other guests suddenly referring to Joy as Caroline.  Also in Jenna's storyline, Tim and Alison stopped breathing yet it was Tim and Bessie who died.  Did Alison make a miraculous recovery, was Alison also known as Bessie or was this a proof copy mistake?  I certainly did a lot of virtual head scratching but hopefully any possible errors will be corrected in the finished copy and it'll be less confusing.

Now I've got that out of the way, the story itself was very good.  Jenna and Fran have the mother from HELL.  Oh my god, no wonder they are both f$%ked up.  In their mother's eyes, Fran can do no right and Jenna can do no wrong, although the quest for perfection clearly takes its toll and Jenna books herself onto a wellness retreat.  When two people die and Jenna goes missing on his retreat in Malta, Tom Wade is sent to prison.  Two years later, he is released and rather insensitively, as if sticking two fingers up to the victims, sets up another retreat in Wales.  The mother from hell, after losing one daughter this way and without a care for Fran's safety, books a place on the new retreat for Fran.  She is hoping that Fran can find out what happened to Jenna, which is more important to her than keeping her remaining daughter safe.

Fran is a really bad actress and a terrible liar, often forgetting that she's supposed to be called Geraldine and I really feared for her safety.  With so many people not being who they seem to be, I was filled with dread that something awful would happen to her.  It's all very tense and suspenseful as the past is revealed and the present unfolds, which kept me rapidly turning the pages as I approached the satisfying conclusion.  

Her Last Holiday is twisty, intriguing, suspenseful and very addictive.  Nobody writes such addictive storylines as C.L. Taylor.

Many thanks to the publisher, Avon, for sending me an ARC; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Saturday 24 April 2021

BLOG TOUR: On Hampstead Heath - Marika Cobbold


On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold is a sparkling little gem of a book.  I had already posted my review when an invitation for the blog tour arrived in my inbox and I loved the book so much that I was keen to jump on board the tour bus.  I am delighted to share an extract from the book for my stop on the blog tour and you can also click here to read my review.



I grew up in a house of whispers, of meaningful glances and half-finished sentences.

‘Tell me.’

‘Tell you what?’

‘What you’re not telling me.’

‘Don’t be silly.’

‘Tell me!’ I shouted.

‘Rudeness will get you nowhere,’ they said. Then they sent me to my room.

‘My room is somewhere,’ I said.

These conversations never ended well.

People asked, as people do, ‘So, little girl, what do you want to be when you grow up?’

‘I’d like to be God.’

I blame the vicar. He was the one who told us, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.”’

All I wanted was to know.

Unsurprisingly, I did not grow up to be God. Instead, I became a journalist. A journalist is a seeker of Truth, its upholder and defender. Or so I thought.

Where lies go unopposed, democracy dies. A long time ago, when I first started out, I embroidered the words, badly, in cross stitch and hung the framed canvas above my bed, as a reminder, should I need one, of why I became a journalist. Now it hides, face to the wall, at the back of my wardrobe; a reminder, should I need one, that I’m a liar and a hypocrite.

I flicked through my clothes. What does a liar and a hypocrite wear on judgement day? It sounds like the start of a joke.

What does she wear?

Something light and loose, but not voluminous.

That won’t have them rolling in the aisles.

I’d asked him to meet me on Viaduct Bridge. It was where it all began; the place where, by some strange alchemy, I might yet turn fiction into reality.

It was early still, and overcast, but by the time I got to the Heath the sun was shining. I thought, it’s a bad omen, the sun always shines when something truly shitty happens in my life. It’s why I believe in a higher power. Chance does not do irony.

I stood on the bridge, looking down at the still water. What was it like, I wondered, down in that mirror-world of bridge and trees?

The minutes ticked by and turned into half an hour. I checked my phone but there were no messages. He wasn’t coming. I don’t know why I had imagined he would. Hope, I suppose; that prankster makes fools of us all.

Five more minutes, I told myself, no more.

I looked out across the pond. The mandarin duck was there, with his grey-feathered friends. It seemed their tranquil morning swim would not be disturbed after all.

But here he was, crossing the bridge towards me, his hair copper in the morning sun. But no halo – the halo would have been too much; he was splendid all the same.

I raised my hand in a wave. He didn’t wave back. I stuffed my hand in my trouser pocket.

‘Rose.’ He gave me a curt nod.

‘Thank you for coming.’


And there we were, two little people whose lives did not amount to a hill of beans in this vast, indifferent universe. Only there is a different universe, there always is: a tiny, selfimportant one, built by us, for us. A fool’s universe, if you like, but that’s OK, because in that universe, he and I, standing there on Viaduct Bridge, mattered a great deal.

‘What did you want to see me about?’

‘I was hoping to explain.’

He shrugged. ‘Fine, explain away.’

I opened my mouth but nothing came out. He glanced at his watch, shifted from foot to foot, like someone cornered by a talkative stranger. I lost my nerve.

‘I was drunk and on a deadline.’

‘You’re a journalist. That’s not an explanation, it’s an ordinary day at the office.’

Unfair, but this was not the time to argue.

‘I’d never planned for things to go as far as they did.’

His tone was brisk. ‘People never do.’

‘The story, it took on a life of its own, like Frankenstein’s monster. I was powerless to stop it.’

‘No, you weren’t.’

I took a step towards him and my hand, being just a limb, incapable of understanding, reached out for his. ‘Rufus, please.’

He took a step back.

I said, ‘You really can’t forgive me?’

He looked down at my hand, then back up at me.

‘No. No I don’t think I can.’ With that, he began to walk away.

The sun just kept on shining, bathing the bridge in golden light, turning the duckweed emerald.

‘But what will I do without you?’

He turned to look at me. ‘Work,’ he said. ‘Isn’t that what you do?’

I took the phone out of my pocket and put it down on the ground. I scrambled over the railings and onto the ledge, closed my eyes and jumped.

Doesn't it sound great?  You can buy a copy from:

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Thursday 22 April 2021

Love Like Bleeding Out with an Empty Gun in Your Hand: Poems and Stories - Stephen J. Golds

An aging hitman is embittered by his career choice at the point of no return. A shell-shocked soldier in World War Two finds hope through death, reflected in the eyes of his enemy. A serial killer confesses in veiled, lurching prose. A mobster unravels at the zero hour of this mortal coil. A man reevaluates existence after discovering a suicide. These are some of the twenty-nine dark, twisted, and gritty stories by Stephen J. Golds collected here for the first time — bound taut with thirty poems of loss, love, and other thoughts that haunt you after last call.

What did I think?

WOW!  This short story and poetry collection from Stephen J. Golds absolutely blew me away.  I have to be honest and say that I'm not a fan of short stories (or indeed poetry) as they always seem incomplete and leave me feeling unsatisfied.  So why did I read this book, I hear you say.  Well simply because I am a huge fan of Stephen J. Golds unique writing; it has such an inimitable vintage noir quality that continually makes my jaw drop.  If all short stories were like these, I'd definitely be a fan!  

With such a varied range of characters and settings, Love Like Bleeding Out with an Empty Gun in Your Hand is an exquisite collection of exceptional short stories.  Stories that are often chilling but filled with emotion and stunning visual depictions.  I found myself comparing Stephen J. Golds' written word to Quentin Tarantino's movies - they are both masters at depicting violence in an artistic way but I have to say that the book is better.  Golds easily kicks Tarantino's ass!

The final 10% of the book is made up of poems but I've never been able to grasp poetry and unfortunately I still don't get it.  As much as it felt completely alien to me, I could still appreciate and marvel at the quality of the writing.  I'm sure Stephen J. Golds could make his shopping list appear dark, sinister and lyrical.

What is amazing about this collection is that the quality of the stories doesn't waiver at all.  The bar is set extremely high from the start and it doesn't dip at all; every single story is outstanding and that's no mean feat as there are 29 stories in the book.  Even with a gun to my head, I wouldn't be able to pick a favourite from among them as I loved them all and I'll definitely be rereading them again.

Dark, chilling, gritty and exquisitely written, Love Like Bleeding Out with an Empty Gun in Your Hand is the best collection of short stories I have ever read.   Incredibly highly recommended and well deserving of nothing less than 5 stars for this magnificent collection.

Many thanks to Stephen J. Golds for sending me a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Wednesday 21 April 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Hard Way - Duncan Brockwell

When intruders enter a radio station and kill a famed presenter it sets in motion a chain of events that will push the Metropolitan Police to their limits.

Officers Hayes and Miller are on the trail of a suspect and when Eric Helsey is detained, the police realise they have arrested the wrong man.

As the case grows more complicated with each revelation, and the body count rises, they find themselves investigating a series of crimes all of which may be linked.

But what ties the murder of the radio host with a Turkish casino owner and the killing of two employees at a valve factory?

Hayes and Miller find themselves in a race against time to get to the truth before more people are hurt…

What did I think?

One of my favourite things about blogging is discovering new authors and Duncan Brockwell is one such author.  After reading and enjoying The Hard Way, I will definitely be looking to read more of his books.

The Hard Way is a very fast-paced thriller as the body count keeps on rising and you never know who is going to be next.  The connection between the murders is excellent plotting by Duncan Brockwell and it's something that becomes clear to the reader before the police.  There is so much action and danger in this novel that it kept my heartrate up and my eyes couldn't whizz over the page fast enough.

I don't want to reveal anything about the plot but I have to say that the thing that is worth killing for is a really interesting idea.  It has a really strong environmental message and is definitely a conversation starter as I found myself compelled to discuss the book while I was reading it.

I loved the strong female characters of Hayes and Miller and really hope that it's not the last we'll hear of them.  They are so well described and with glimpses into their private lives, I really feel as if I got to know them over the course of the book.

Thought-provoking, intriguing and very compelling, The Hard Way has everything that you want in a good thriller: strong characters, a gripping plot and a very interesting premise.  I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

I chose to read a digital ARC that was provided for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Duncan Brockwell is a full-time dental technician from West Sussex. Having completed his course at Lambeth College in 2018, he started writing in his spare time. An avid gardener and part-time mixologist, he loves nothing more than relaxing at home with his wife, Beks and pure white rescue cat, Milly. 

Since Duncan started writing in 2018, he has written thirteen novels, nine of which have been, or are in the process of being published. Unlike a lot of authors, Duncan feels he is a hobby writer, toiling away on his purple couch in front of the TV in the evenings and weekends. He wants nothing more than for readers to enjoy his various offerings, ranging from romantic comedy (under pseudonym Katie Simpkins) to hardcore blood and guts horror and everything in between (Under either DC Brockwell or Duncan Brockwell).

Follow him at:
Instagram: @dcbrockwell
Twitter: @dcbrockwell1

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Monday 19 April 2021

Once Upon a Tyne - Anthony McPartlin & Declan Donnelly with Andy Milligan

Ant and Dec hold a special place in the hearts of TV viewers everywhere. This is their epic story, with never-before-seen photography and the very best tales from their 30 years in TV.

Ant: As the old Chinese proverb says, 'Good things come in pairs'.
Dec: And as another Chinese proverb says, 'If you've been in a double act with your best mate for thirty years, why not write a book about all your most memorable moments in three decades of showbusiness?'
Ant: Less catchy that one, isn't it?
Dec: But no less true. And after three decades together, we're writing that book. Covering everything from a pirate radio storyline in Byker Grove through to the biggest shows on telly, this is our story.
Ant: Thirty years, eh? Amazing.
Dec: Absolutely. Especially when you consider we are both still 27 years old.

From their modest beginnings in Byker Grove through to their "unique" time as pop stars and an award-laden TV career, the last three decades have flown by in the blink of an eye. They've also featured an incredible cast of supporting characters, including their first scriptwriter (an unknown comedian called David Walliams), Saturday night fun and games with countless Hollywood A-listers, and celebrities they torture - sorry, work with - every year in the jungle. Told through the lens of every TV show they've made, as well as everything they've learnt along the way, this is the riotously funny journey of two ordinary lads from Newcastle who went on to achieve extraordinary things.

What did I think?

Being of an age where I rushed home from my school in Newcastle to watch Byker Grove, I feel like I've grown up with Ant and Dec on my telly.  It's amazing to think that these two lads from Tyneside have been on our screens for 30 years and we're not even sick of them yet!  They continue to entertain millions and scoop armfuls of awards because, like Morecambe & Wise, they are the perfect pairing.  There's only one Ant & Dec and this is their story (so far). 

Written in their own imitable style the lads' voices come through loud and clear; I'm sure it would be even better on audiobook but I read the hardback with full colour photos included.  You don't get photos on audiobook, so there!  I do think that it's well worth getting the hardback to see the brilliant, and often hilarious, colour photos in all their glory.  I love the book format that takes the reader on a chronological journey of TV shows from Byker Grove to DNA story, with a chapter being dedicated to each venture.  

I haven't watched everything that Ant & Dec have ever done but I'm familiar with the shows so it was really interesting to read some of the funny stories I hadn't heard before and recall those I had forgotten.  From kettle stealing Alan Shearer to Madonna's wardrobe malfunction at The Brits they're all in Once Upon a Tyne.  What you won't find are the gory details of Ant's fall from grace as this is a celebration of the working relationship of Britain's favourite pair of entertainers.

Funny, honest and entertaining, Once upon a Tyne is so easy and fun to read but it should definitely come with a warning: may cause laughter.  You can't help but read it with a smile on your face as Ant & Dec are the best anti-depressant you can get without prescription.

My rating:

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Sunday 18 April 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Rift - Rachel Lynch

To save one life, she risks many others.

Working for the Royal Military Police, Major Helen Scott is used to rapid change. On a posting to Paris she oversees security for a NATO summit in the city, yet has barely begun before her presence is demanded at Interpol headquarters in Lyon.

Helen’s orders are to locate a kidnapping victim – the eldest son of oil magnate Khalil Dalmani. The main suspect is Fawaz bin Nabil, whose fortune has been made from illegal trade familiar to the intelligence agencies.

Helen knows the pain of loss and won’t rest until Khalil’s child is found. Along the way, she crosses paths with old faces and forms new alliances. But who will betray her trust?

A stunning new thriller from the author of the acclaimed DI Kelly Porter novels and a rising star in British crime fiction.

What did I think?

Rachel Lynch has been on my radar for quite some time as I have gradually been collecting her DI Kelly Porter novels but unfortunately I haven't read any of them yet.  The author's outstanding reputation drew me to The Rift before I had even read the blurb and I have to say that this book is even better than I expected.

Incredibly well written, this is a book that grabbed me from the start and didn't let go.  I loved the character of Major Helen Scott; she's not only brilliant at her job, she has had to overcome sexism in the workplace and she has had to deal with her own grief after suffering a terrible tragedy.  Of all this makes Helen more human and relatable, enabling her character to virtually leap out from the page.  I have my fingers crossed that this isn't the last we'll hear of Major Helen Scott.

I don't want to say too much about the plot other than to say it is breathtakingly brilliant.  I don't know whether that sort of thing is possible but it's certainly very believable and incredibly scary.  I even jumped in shock towards the end and I found myself holding my breath as the vivid and dramatic scene played out in front of my eyes.

One thing to pay attention to is the exotic names of the characters.  I wish I'd taken a note of some of the names because it sometimes caused me a little bit of confusion as to which side they were on.  It's not a criticism of the book at all as I think this is mostly down to me reading kindle books in bed just before I go to sleep so my concentration levels aren't at their peak.

Blisteringly fast-paced and completely gripping, The Rift is a fantastic read; it's like a whole series of 24 squeezed into one book with a strong female lead who shows Jack Bauer how it should be done.  I'm really looking forward to reading more Rachel Lynch books so it's lucky for me that I already have her whole back catalogue sitting on my bookshelf.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Friday 16 April 2021

The Shadow Man - Helen Fields

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.
Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.
Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.
And he’s watching.

What did I think?

I've bought Helen Fields' DI Callanach series over the years but I haven't had time to read any of them yet so I made sure that The Shadow Man, her new standalone thriller, didn't linger on my TBR pile for long.  It didn't linger in my hands long either as once I picked it up I couldn't put it down!

The character pairing of forensic psychologist Dr Connie Woolwine and DI Brodie Baarda is electric, not in a sexual chemistry kind of way but more the way they complement and challenge each other.  I loved Connie's sarcasm and wit above all but she also suffers from achromatopsia (an inability to see colours) which heightens her other senses and sometimes makes her actions look very weird.  It's absolute genius of Helen Fields to give Connie this condition; who best to seek out the shadow man than a woman who only sees light and dark?

Woolwine and Baarda are investigating a murder and a spate of abductions in Edinburgh.  In an unusual twist, the reader knows the identity of the perpetrator so there's no guessing whodunit or a big reveal involved, but surprisingly it doesn't make it any less gripping.  Fergus is the most chilling character I have come across in a long while; he is cold and emotionless as he collects his victims for his bizarre tableau.  He is so vividly described (with a rather amusing likeness to a character in a film) that it made my skin crawl whenever he appeared.  

Helen Fields sure does have a way with words; she not only creates exceptional characters and gripping storylines but she adds elements of dark, dry humour that makes her book stand out from the crowd.  The whole book is outstanding from beginning to end and I didn't want it to finish but I couldn't slow down my reading either...and so begins my addiction to Helen Fields' writing.  Luckily I have more of her books to keep me going!

Chilling, creepy and compelling, The Shadow Man will get under your skin and creep you out but you will not be able to tear your eyes away from the page.  Highly recommended reading, if you're brave enough.

I received an ARC from the publisher to read and review; all opinions are my own.

My rating:

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Wednesday 14 April 2021

Little Deadly Secrets - Pamela Crane

Mackenzie, Robin, and Lily have been inseparable forever, sharing life's ups and downs and growing even closer as the years have gone by. They know everything about each other. Or so they believe.

Nothing could come between these three best friends . . .

Except for a betrayal.

Nothing could turn them against each other . . .

Except for a terrible past mistake.

Nothing could tear them apart . . .

Except for murder.

What did I think?

I love books filled with secrets and I don't think Pamela Crane could have crammed any more in to her brilliant new novel, Little Deadly Secrets.  It's so addictive that I simply couldn't put this book down.

With three friends who are so much part of each others' lives, the storyline reminded me a little of the TV show Desperate Housewives but Little Deadly Secrets is so much darker.  These friends think they know everything about each other but they are wrong.  One knows where the bodies are buried and one has their eye on another's husband in this gripping book that positively sizzles with tension.

I absolutely loved digging into each life and unearthing all of their secrets; it's so entertaining and suspenseful that I couldn't read fast enough.  The bonds of this friendship are really being stretched to the limit but when the chips are down, they always come through for each other.

The plot is intriguing and sharp and the characters are so well-drawn and vivid that they almost leap out from the page; I could totally see this book being made into a film or mini-series.  

This is only the second Pamela Crane book I have read, although I have a few more in my collection, so I'm definitely bumping them up my queue now.  Little Deadly Secrets is absolutely brilliant; it's fast-paced, addictive and hugely entertaining.  I loved it!

Thank you to the author for providing an ARC for me to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Tuesday 13 April 2021

BLOG TOUR: Roses for the Dead (DI Erika Piper Book 3) - Chris McDonald

Rockstar Johnny Mayhem sits on his bed, holding a bloody baseball bat. On the floor, clutching a lavender rose in her fist, is his wife, Amanda, who he has just beaten to death. Erika Piper knows this because she is one of the first on the scene. Mayhem is arrested and led away, screaming that they’ve got the wrong man. But the evidence is irrefutable and when Mayhem is sentenced to life in prison, no one is surprised.

Thanks to new evidence, Johnny Mayhem is a now free man. During a television interview, he issues a thinly veiled threat to those involved in the original case before seemingly disappearing off the face of the Earth. When the body of Mayhem’s dealer is found, Erika Piper is pulled from the safety of her desk job and thrown into the hunt for the Rockstar. Can she find Mayhem before he can enact his revenge on everyone involved, including Erika? Or, has he been telling the truth all along? Did the police really get the wrong man?

What did I think?

When I read Whispers for the Dark I feared it was the end of the DI Erika Piper series as it rounded itself off so nicely but fear not, for there is one further instalment.  Roses for the Dead is book 3 (and sadly the final book) in what has been an AMAZING series. The whole DI Erika Piper series is absolutely brilliant and Roses for the Dead is definitely the cherry on top.  I really couldn't put it down, reading way past my bedtime as I raced through this fantastic book.

Everything is going well for Erika in her personal life but her career has taken a nosedive when she agrees to take a step back from the action and finds herself sitting behind a desk and bored out of her mind.  Erika grabs the opportunity to return to her old job when new evidence comes to light that releases a convicted murderer from jail.  Now that Johnny Mayhem (what a brilliant name) is free, he wants revenge for the lost seven years of his life and with Erika being instrumental in his downfall, she needs to find him before she becomes next on his list.

I think Chris McDonald has written the perfect crime novel in Roses for the Dead; everything about it is brilliant from the outstanding plot to the sublime writing, not forgetting the creation of three-dimensional characters who virtually leap out from the page.  I was initially sad to read that this is the final adventure for DI Erika Piper but in the vein of classic British TV shows, it's those with the fewer episodes that become classics.  This is definitely a series I will reread over and over again, which already makes it a classic in my book.

Gripping, so very addictive and completely unputdownable, Roses for the Dead is simply awesome.  Chris McDonald's writing was brilliant to start with but it's getting better and better and Roses for the Dead earns him nothing less than a well-deserved five shiny golden stars from me.

I received a digital ARC from the publisher to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime. A Wash of Black is his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs. Whispers in the Dark is the second installment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, to be published by Red Dog Press in 2021.

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