Monday 30 August 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Bookshop of Second Chances - Jackie Fraser

Set in a charming little Scottish town, The Bookshop of Second Chances is the most uplifting story you'll read this Winter, by a hugely talented debut author.
Thea’s having a bad month. Not only has she been made redundant, she’s also discovered her husband of nearly twenty years is sleeping with one of her friends. And he’s not sorry – he’s leaving.
Bewildered and lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But, when she learns the great-uncle she barely knew has died and left her his huge collection of second-hand books and a house in the Scottish Lowlands, she seems to have been offered a second chance.
Running away to a little town where no one knows her seems like exactly what Thea needs. But when she meets the aristocratic Maltravers brothers – grumpy bookshop owner Edward and his estranged brother Charles, Lord Hollinshaw – her new life quickly becomes just as complicated as the life she was running from...
An enchanting story of Scottish lords, second-hand books, new beginnings and second chances perfect for fans of Cressida McLaughlin, Veronica Henry, Rachel Lucas and Jenny Colgan.

What did I think?

Novels set in bookshops are like catnip to booklovers so I just had to read Jackie Fraser's debut: The Bookshop of Second Chances.  I think it's very hard to place The Bookshop of Second Chances into just one genre as it is something so different that it feels like romance for realists and chicklit for older chicks.  

Thea is 44 years old, so she's just a wee bit younger than me, and it's so refreshing to read a novel with a middle aged lead character.  Although we still have our insecurities, I think the older you get, the less you care about what people think of you and I love that Thea is often very forthright.  Thea has nothing left to lose after losing her job, her husband and her home in close succession, so when her Great Uncle dies and she inherits his cottage in Scotland she doesn't think twice about upping sticks to live north of the border.

The little town of Baldochrie is just what Thea needs to lick her wounds and find herself again.  Her neighbour is Lord Charles Mactravers and Charles' brother Edward owns the local bookshop.  I wished I could have visited Edward's bookshop and Jackie Fraser granted that wish by transporting me there through her beautifully descriptive words.  A true booklover, Edward keeps his shop quite dark to protect the books and it reminded me a little of Black Books (from the TV show of the same name), only a lot neater.

As potential suitors for Thea were laid out before the reader, I was reminded of Pride and Prejudice.  As she's not looking for a man, Thea is very Lizzie Bennet when fending off unwelcome advances with her forthrightness and Edward is SO Mr Darcy: brooding, grumpy and unfriendly.  I don't know whether or not it was intended, but I think Jackie Fraser's debut novel is a wonderful retelling of Pride and Prejudice for the 21st century.  I've probably made Jackie Fraser's day by comparing her to Jane Austen!

Wonderfully uplifting, The Bookshop of Second Chances is a booklover's dream and a fabulous debut from Jackie Fraser.  It is so beautifully written with a sprinkling of humour throughout and it will appeal to so many readers, leaving a smile on the face of everyone who reads it.  

Many thanks to TeamBATC for sending me a beautiful paperback to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Friday 27 August 2021

The Pact - Sharon Bolton

A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures - until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.

18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a 'favour', payable on her release from prison.

Twenty years later Megan is free.
Let the games begin . . . 

What did I think?

What an absolute scorcher!  The Pact is so good I couldn't put it down and I devoured it in two sittings.  This is a great example of when friends become frenemies and I loved every single second of it.

Six friends have the world at their feet until a stupid dare has earthshattering consequences.  I was shocked and appalled as events played out and I couldn't believe that they were all willing to let one of their friends take the blame so they could get on with their lives, pretending nothing ever happened.  It really made my blood boil.  Megan has the foresight to get them all to sign a pact so she gets a favour from each of them when she is released from prison, but 20 years inside gives Megan plenty of time to think... and the others to forget.

The Pact has everything you want in a great thriller: revenge, secrets, unlikeable characters and a fast-paced twisty plot.  The plotting is stunning, the writing is flawless and the whole package is breathtaking.  It's one of those Pringles-type novels - once you open it you can't stop reading it, so make sure you block out a good chunk of time and find a comfortable seat when you pick up a copy of The Pact.

Sizzling with suspense and tension, The Pact is an outstanding thriller.  It's dark, twisty and completely compelling, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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

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Tuesday 24 August 2021

BLOG TOUR: She's Mine - A. A. Chaudhuri

Twenty years ago, Christine Donovan took a call she should have ignored while shopping. In those few seconds while her back was turned, her toddler, Heidi, was kidnapped. She’s never been seen again.

Despite having two other children with husband Greg, Christine remains guilt-stricken that her neglect caused her child to be stolen, while haunted by a secret that consumes her.

Just as she takes measures to finally heal, a note is posted through her door, with the words she has always longed to hear: Heidi isn’t dead.

Christine might finally get the answers she craves - but what she doesn’t know is that finding her daughter will uncover dark secrets close to home.

In seeking the truth, Christine might destroy everything that she loves … so how far is she willing to go to find Heidi?

With a truly jaw-dropping end twist, She’s Mine is a dark, scandalous, and gripping read from a major new talent in psychological thriller writing. For fans of Harriet Tyce, C.L. Taylor and Apple Tree Yard.

What did I think?

I loved A. A. Chaudhuri's legal thrillers that I listened to on audiobook so I was really excited to read her debut psychological thriller She's Mine and what a cracker it is!  It's so gripping that it blew my reading plans out of the water and I raced through it a lot quicker than I had planned.  Even though I thought I had it all worked out (and of course I really hadn't) I just couldn't put it down.

I had conflicting emotions for Christine, whose daughter Heidi disappeared from a department store when she was a toddler.  Of course I felt sorry for Christine as her life changed irreparably the moment that Heidi was taken and her pain and guilt damaged all of her relationships, but Christine was far from the perfect mother.  I don't want to spoil the plot by saying any more than that as you really need to read this book for yourself to experience all of the shocks and surprises.

It's heartbreaking to see how one terrible event can damage a family so badly and I would be lying if I said it hadn't crossed my mind that Christine only had herself to blame.  Karma is indeed a b!tch, but even more so when it's manipulated.  Christine and her family would be stronger together but they are broken beyond repair and somebody is out to destroy them...

Gripping and twisty doesn't even come close to describing this fantastic book.  With characters you will love to hate, it's impossible to put down and even when you think you have it all worked out, there are still more surprises in store.  A. A. Chaudhuri is super-talented and she's fast becoming one of my favourite authors, so if you haven't discovered her novels yet make sure you pick up a copy of She's Mine.  

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:

A. A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer. After gaining a degree in History at University College London, she later trained as a solicitor and worked for several major London law firms before leaving law to pursue her passion for writing. She is the author of The Scribe and The Abduction, books 1 and 2 of her Kramer & Carver legal thriller series featuring the feisty Maddy Kramer, also published in audio. Her first psychological thriller with Hera Books, She's Mine, will be published in 18th August 2021. Represented by Annette Crossland of A for Authors Literary Agency, she lives in Surrey with her family, and loves films, all things Italian and a good margarita!

#1 Amazon Australia Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Aug '19); #1 Amazon Canada Women Sleuth Mysteries; (Aug '19) top 10 Amazon UK Legal crime thrillers (Aug '19); #1 Amazon Australia Legal Thrillers (November '19)

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Monday 23 August 2021

BLOG TOUR: Nobody's Perfect - Stephanie Butland

Does your past define your future?

When her daughter was born with cystic fibrosis, Kate Micklethwaite vowed that Daisy would never be defined by the illness. Kate is determined that her perfect little girl will be known for her love of butterflies and croissants and nothing else. Kate does all she can to be the perfect mother - whatever that means - and yet, somehow, has started seeing herself the way others see her: single parent, source of small-town scandal, drop-out, former mistress. Half a family.

When Daisy starts school, Kate meets her new teacher, the kind and charming Mr Spencer Swanson. Now, with more time on her hands Kate can start thinking about her own future. With her Open University dissertation deadline looming, Kate needs to decide what she wants next. But as she and Spencer get to know each other, Kate notices that people are whispering behind her back once more . . . 

What did I think?

I planned to read Nobody's Perfect over four days but I ended up read it in two sittings as I couldn't put it down.  It just shows that a book doesn't have to be a thriller to be gripping.  In mother and daughter pairing Kate and five-year-old Daisy, Stephanie Butland has created loveable and believable characters whose story I felt emotionally invested in.

Kate is a single parent after an affair with a married man caused tongues to wag in her home town.  Although Kate may be an outcast, the positive result of her affair is adorable Daisy and I absolutely loved her.  Daisy is so vibrant as she flutters to school wearing her butterfly wings, but beneath the surface a deadly illness looms.  Daisy has cystic fibrosis which means that any threat to her respiratory system could see her ending up in hospital.  

Kate is a brilliant mum and I love how she tries to make Daisy's life as normal as possible but has a constant eye out for anything that can be harmful.  It's very thought-provoking to think that something like the common cold might be a bit of a nuisance to you or me but to others it can have serious repercussions.  Daisy is Kate's whole life but a new teacher at the school reignites Kate's passion and she has a chance to be Kate again, rather than 100% mum.  Mr Swanson does seem perfect but as the book title tells us, Nobody's Perfect.

Stephanie Butland's writing is beautiful and her characters are so well-developed that they virtually leap out from the page.  I felt every beat of Kate's heart as her love for Daisy shone through every wonderful word and I had my fingers crossed as her relationship with Spencer blossomed.  With so much to find out about each other, it was interesting to see how they both tackled a new relationship.  Kate is very much all in with all her secrets laid bare but Spencer is clearly keeping something back and you can't help but wonder whether his intentions are honourable.

Beautiful, heartwarming and thought-provoking, Nobody's Perfect is a stunning novel and one I will never forget.  It's a wonderful contemporary romance and very highly recommended.

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

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Thursday 19 August 2021

The Gathering Storm (The Sturmtaucher Trilogy Book 1) - Alan Jones

Kiel, Northern Germany, 1933. A naval city, the base for the German Baltic fleet, and the centre for German sailing, the venue for the upcoming Olympic regatta in 1936.

The Kästners, a prominent Military family, are part of the fabric of the city, and its social, naval and yachting circles. The Nussbaums are the second generation of their family to be in service with the Kästners as domestic staff, but the two households have a closer bond than most.

As Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party claw their way to power in 1933, life has never looked better for families like the Kästners. There is only one problem.

The Nussbaums are Jews.

The Sturmtaucher Trilogy documents the devastating effect on both families of the Nazis’ hateful ideology and the insidious erosion of the rights of Germany's Jews.

When Germany descends ever deeper into dictatorship, General Erich Kästner tries desperately to protect his employees, and to spirit them to safety.

As the country tears itself apart, the darkness which envelops a nation threatens not only to destroy two families, but to plunge an entire continent into war.’ 

What did I think?

Wow wow wow!  This book is seriously good.  Alan Jones has written an outstanding piece of historical fiction and better yet, it's the start of a trilogy so it's only the beginning of the story.  I usually like to read historical fiction in physical form because of the added extras like maps and glossaries that are handy to refer back to, but at 800 pages long The Gathering Storm would be quite weighty so I was pleased to read this one on kindle.  It really doesn't feel like a long book as I was so immersed in the story that I didn't want it to end and could have happily kept on reading.

Set in Germany in 1933 when war is just a twinkle in Adolf Hitler's eye, it's unusual to read a WWII novel written from this perspective and I absolutely loved it.  Germany building up to war is a huge story in its own right but I found The Gathering Storm to be surprisingly character driven.  The Kästners and the Nussbaums, along with their acquaintances, were brought to life right before my eyes and I felt all their hopes and fears with them.

It's shocking to think that this is real history as the treatment of the Jewish people is horrific and it makes for uncomfortable reading at times.  Of course, this part of history is well known but when it happens to characters you care about it's even more disturbing.  I found it amazing how easily the German people were brainwashed by Hitler but I'd never really considered how losing the First World War had affected them.  Reading about Hitler's rise to power and the measures he took to stay there is quite astounding and I could see how the population found him so charismatic.

Alan Jones' research is meticulous and it really adds depth to the sketchy history I already knew of this period.  I felt like I learned more reading The Gathering Storm than I ever learned in a whole year of history lessons.  History is brought to life in this exceptional novel.

The Gathering Storm is stunning, breathtaking and so very highly recommended.  It really deserves more than 5 stars to show how exceptional it is.  I can't wait to continue this epic story.

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:

Alan Jones is a Scottish author with three gritty crime stories to his name, the first two set in Glasgow, the third one based in London. He has now switched genres, and his WW2 trilogy will be published in August 2021. It is a Holocaust story set in Northern Germany.

He is married with four grown up children and four wonderful grandchildren.

He has recently retired as a mixed-practice vet in a small Scottish coastal town in Ayrshire and is one of the RNLI volunteer coxswains on the local lifeboat. He makes furniture in his spare time, and maintains and sails a 45-year-old yacht in the Irish Sea and on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. He loves reading, watching films and cooking. He still plays football despite being just the wrong side of sixty.

His crime novels are not for the faint-hearted, with some strong language, violence, and various degrees of sexual content. The first two books also contain a fair smattering of Glasgow slang.

He is one of the few self-published authors to be given a panel at Bloody Scotland and has done two pop-up book launches at the festival in Stirling.

He has spent the last five years researching and writing the Sturmtaucher Trilogy.

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Tuesday 17 August 2021

The Nurse - J.A. Corrigan

When you hear her story, will you believe her?

Rose Marlowe is a hard-working nurse, a loving wife, and a merciless killer. Or so she says. Despite her confession, it is hard to believe that this beautiful, kind woman could have killed her vulnerable patient in cold blood.

Down-on-his-luck true crime author, Theo Hazel, is convinced that there’s more to what happened than Rose is telling, and so decides to visit her behind bars to write her story. His first surprise comes when Rose reveals that the victim was not a stranger to her.

As time goes on, it seems that Rose is letting Theo see behind her perfect mask. With each new visit, he learns terrible new things about her heart-breaking past. With each new visit, he becomes more and more convinced that she can’t be a killer. But is he trying to free an innocent woman, or falling prey to a calculating murderer?

A gripping and unputdownable thriller that will keep you guessing into the early hours of the morning. Perfect for fans of The Silent Patient, Shari Lapena and JP Delaney.

What did I think?

The Nurse is so good I've read it twice!  I don't often have the time to read books more than once, despite having a 'to be read again pile' but I was an early reader of The Nurse and also read a finished copy.  So despite knowing the story, I still thought it was absolutely brilliant.

It's quite unusual to start a novel with a protagonist who has already admitted to the crime and is serving time in prison.  You might be wondering where the hook is but it's the character of Rose herself that draws the reader into the story.  An author decides to write a book on Rose's case and as the story unfolds you can't help but question whether Rose actually did the crime for which she is being punished.  

With such well-developed characters that virtually leap out of the page, J.A. Corrigan has written a clever and unforgettable thriller that gripped me from start to finish.  I felt like I was on a see-saw as I constantly flipped back and forth between 'she did it' and 'she didn't do it' as the history and motivation behind the story was gradually revealed.  Everything about The Nurse is great from the accomplished and polished writing to the cunning and clever plot.

Captivating, intriguing and haunting, The Nurse is a stunning thriller that I wholeheartedly recommend.

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

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Sunday 15 August 2021

I'll Pray When I'm Dying - Stephen J. Golds


Ben Hughes is a corrupt Boston Vice Detective and bagman for the Southie Mob.

Already desperately struggling with obsessive compulsions and memories of a traumatic childhood, his world begins to fall apart at the seams, triggered by the photograph of a missing child in the newspaper and the anniversary of his father’s death twenty years earlier.


What did I think?

I've made no secret of the fact that I am a huge Stephen J. Golds fan and his latest novel, I'll Pray When I'm Dying, is an outstanding addition to his already stunning back catalogue.  I marvel every single time at Stephen J. Golds' amazing ability to write novels with such a vintage feel that it's like a black and white film transferred from screen to page.

With a dual timeline set 20 years and many miles apart, we read the stories of William and Ben Hughes, father and son respectively.  Ben has followed his father into the police force but has left London and is now a detective in Boston and an agent for the Irish mob.  Ben is ruthless and violent but he also suffers with OCD and it's heartbreaking to see how debilitating this is.  Yes, that's me feeling sorry for a baddie!  

Throughout the prose there are flashbacks to Ben's childhood as he struggles with episodes of OCD and this built my empathy further as his trauma was laid bare.  When a report of a missing child sends Ben into a spiral of despair, he is obsessed with saving the boy as nobody ever saved him.  I've never felt such empathy for a violent protagonist but that's the magic of Stephen J. Golds' writing.

I'll Pray When I'm Dying is beautifully written, and somehow the prose is lyrical even when it's brutal.  Perfectly crafted with not a word out of place, it's dark, disturbing, haunting and compelling.  Completely unforgettable and I'll definitely be reading it again in the future to fully appreciate its brilliance.  Stephen J. Golds' star continues to rise and he once again scoops the full five stars from me.

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

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Thursday 12 August 2021

BLOG TOUR: Half-Past Tomorrow - Chris McGeorge

Shirley Steadman, a 70-year-old living in a small town in the North East of England, loves her volunteer work at the local hospital radio. She likes giving back to the community, and even more so, she likes getting out of the house. Haunted by the presence of her son, a reluctant Royal Navy officer who was lost at sea, and still in the shadow of her long dead abusive husband, she doesn't like being alone much.

One day, at the radio station, she is playing around with the equipment and finds a frequency that was never there before. It is a pirate radio station, and as she listens, the presenter starts reading the news. But there is one problem - the news being reported is tomorrows. Shirley first thinks it is a mere misunderstanding - a wrong date. But she watches as everything reported comes true. At first, Shirley is in awe of the station, and happily tunes in to hear the news.

But then the presenter starts reporting murders - murders that happen just the way they were reported.

And Shirley is the only one who can stop them.

What did I think?

As he's a local author, I've been meaning to read a Chris McGeorge book for a while so Half-Past Tomorrow may be his fourth novel but it's the first one of his that I've read.  I always get a kick out of reading books set in the North East and I know the book's setting of Chester-le-Street reasonably well so I felt like I was walking in Shirley's footsteps.

With a storyline that sees into the future, you really do have to suspend belief when reading Half-Past Tomorrow and I'm sure I'll see loads of reviews saying that it's not very realistic.  But that's why it's called fiction, surely?  I like something a little bit weird and unexplainable now and again and this thriller with a difference certainly fits in that category.

Shirley moved to Chester-le-Street after the death of her husband and she volunteers at the local hospital radio station and has joined an embroidery group which stops her from being lonely.  Shirley is literally haunted by the death of her son Gabe as he continually appears in her kitchen and she makes him a cup of tea in his favourite mug.  So even when Shirley is alone, she still has someone to talk to.

When Shirley stumbles across a pirate radio station at work one day, she thinks the presenter has made a mistake with the date.  Surely the news isn't for tomorrow?  But when the news starts to come true and the news reports increase in severity it isn't long before the premonitions of little accidents turn into murder.  Armed with the pertinent details, can Shirley stop the crimes or will everything happen the way it has been reported?

Well I really rather enjoyed my first Chris McGeorge book.  There's so much going on to keep the reader entertained from the mystery of Gabe's death to the future murders.  There's a real sense of community in the book and you get the impression that everybody knows everybody in a small town, which they often do!  I loved the sense that anything could happen in the original and intriguing plot and I found the whole book hugely entertaining from start to finish.

So imaginative and filled with surprises, Half-Past Tomorrow is impossible to guess so just sit back and enjoy the ride.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour.  All opinions are my own

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About the author:

Chris McGeorge studied MA Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller) at City University London where he wrote his first novel as his thesis. His interests are broad - spanning film, books, theatre and video games. He is a member of the Northern Crime Syndicate, a supergroup of writers from Northern England. He lives in County Durham with his partner and many, many animals.

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Wednesday 11 August 2021

Substitute - Susi Holliday

Three people live. Three people die. You make the choice.

Like any mother, Chrissie wants to protect her family. She would do anything to keep them safe. So when a mysterious stranger turns up at her door, offering to prevent the deaths of the people she loves, it sounds too good to be true. The only problem: she must choose someone to die in their place. A substitute.

When her daughter Holly has a terrible accident, Chrissie has no option but to enter the programme. In that horrifying moment, she would do anything to save her. But even after Holly makes a miraculous recovery, Chrissie is convinced it’s just a coincidence. After all, who can really control the laws of life and death?

But as the dangers to her family escalate and her chosen substitutes begin to disappear, Chrissie finds herself in an underworld of hidden laboratories and secretive doctors. And the consequences of playing by their rules are far deadlier than she ever imagined…

What did I think?

Oh I really enjoyed this book.  I usually only read ebooks at particular times of the day so it's the sign of a good book when I sneak in extra reading when I can, which is what happened with Substitute.  I just couldn't put it down!

It's all very mysterious when a stranger knocks on Chrissie's door and tells her that she never needs to experience grief again.  Chrissie only has to choose 3 people to die in place of her chosen 3 loved ones if something happens to them.  Thinking that there's no way this strange man can do what he's promising, Chrissie sees no harm in giving him 3 names to live and 3 to die.  Until there's an accident...

Oh my goodness, what a scorching plot!  I just couldn't tear my eyes away from the page, devouring every single word as quickly as I could as I raced towards the heart-pounding conclusion.  I've only read a couple of her books but Susi Holliday has really outdone herself with the brilliant Substitute.

Incredibly imaginative but also scarily possible, Substitute is an outstanding techno-thriller that had me on the edge of my seat.  I definitely recommend it; it's disturbing, twisty and completely addictive.  An easy 5 stars from me!

Many thanks to Susi Holliday for sending me a digital ARC to read and review.  This is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Tuesday 10 August 2021

Good Girl, Bad Blood (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Book 2) - Holly Jackson

Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective anymore.

With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared but the police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way... and this time EVERYONE is listening.

But will she find him before it’s too late?

Perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying, Eva Dolan, C L Taylor, We Were Liars and Riverdale

What did I think?

I read Good Girl, Bad Blood straight after reading A Good Girl's Guide to Murder and although it's best read in order (as book 2 contains spoilers of book 1), you could read book 2 as a standalone.  One thing is for sure, you will definitely want to read book 3 after this!  

The town of Little Kilton is still reeling from the secrets unearthed in Pip's investigation and Pip has vowed to stay out of danger from now on... until her friend Connor comes to her for help.  Connor's 24-year-old brother Jamie has gone missing and the police won't treat him as a missing person as Jamie has run away from home before.  Pip can't stop herself from getting involved but this time she's not on her own, her boyfriend Ravi is with her every step of the way.

I thought A Good Girl's Guide to Murder was brilliant, but Good Girl, Bad Blood is outstanding.  Holly Jackson's writing is stunning and I love the mix of podcast transcripts, texts, photos and maps that are included to really make the reader feel part of the book.  It's easy to forget that this is a YA novel as it's an exceptional crime novel in its own right.  I can't say what without giving away any spoilers, but it also touches on some interesting subjects that were handled sensitively and I found this incredibly moving.

Having recently read a true crime novel about a disappearance in the 1980s, it's amazing to see how different things are today.  Almost everyone has a mobile phone in their hands, taking selfies or scenic shots, and someone is bound to be in the right place at the right time to capture something or someone in the background of their photograph that could help with a police investigation.  Pip certainly has a huge task to sift through the myriad photos and videos from a calamity party but the amount of clues it produces is well worth it.

With a twisty, gripping and razor-sharp plot, Good Girl, Bad Blood is absolutely brilliant.  This is turning out to be an awesome trilogy and with a bit of a cliffhanger ending, I can't wait to read As Good As Dead.

I received a gifted copy from Tandem Collective for the readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Monday 9 August 2021

Finding Suzy: The Hunt for Missing Estate Agent Suzy Lamplugh and 'Mr Kipper' (Investigations by David Videcette) - David Videcette

How can someone just disappear?

Step inside a real-life, missing person investigation in this compelling, true crime must-read.

Uncover what happened to missing estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, as David Videcette takes you on a quest to unpick her mysterious disappearance and scrutinise the shadowy 'Mr Kipper'.

One overcast Monday in July 1986, 25-year-old estate agent Suzy Lamplugh vanished whilst showing a smart London property to a mysterious 'Mr Kipper'.

Despite the baffling case dominating the news and one of the largest missing persons cases ever mounted, police failed to find a shred of evidence establishing what had happened to her.

Sixteen years later, following a second investigation and under pressure from Suzy's desperate parents, police named convicted rapist and murderer John Cannan as their prime suspect. However, the Crown Prosecution Service refused to charge him, citing a lack of evidence.

High-profile searches were conducted, Suzy's body was never found. The trail that might lead investigators to her, long since lost.

Haunted by another missing person case, investigator and former Scotland Yard detective David Videcette has spent five years painstakingly reinvestigating Suzy's cold case disappearance.

Through a series of incredible new witness interviews and fresh groundbreaking analysis, he uncovers piece by piece what happened to Suzy and why the case was never solved.

People don't just disappear...

What did I think?

Wow!  This book is absolutely brilliant and I couldn't put it down.  I'm a huge fan of David Videcette's fiction books so just try and stop me reading his non-fiction, true crime account of the Suzy Lamplugh case.  I remember Suzy's disappearance in the summer of 1986 as we were given personal attack alarms at school.  If Suzy had had a personal attack alarm, would this be a different story today or would anybody have been around to hear it?

The Suzy Lamplugh 'story' is well known: estate agent Suzy went to show a house to Mr Kipper one lunchtime and never returned.  You may have noticed that I put 'story' in inverted commas as David Videcette's investigation proves that the story we know of Suzy's disappearance might as well be a work of fiction.  

David, along with his fellow investigator Caroline, look at the Suzy Lamplugh case with fresh eyes.  I loved the dynamic between David and Caroline, regularly playing good cop (David) and bad cop (Caroline) and it is clear that David has a lot of respect for his fellow investigator, which is more than can be said for some of the people that they interviewed.  Re-interviewing witnesses and asking the right questions, David Videcette sheds new light on to what may have happened to Suzy that day.  I'm not going to release any spoilers here but what I read is completely jaw-dropping and totally eye-opening.  

David's investigation is impeccable, leaving no stone unturned (and no cake uneaten) in his search for Suzy.  It's no surprise (and therefore not a spoiler) that the police haven't shown an ounce of interest in what David has found.  I wonder if Suzy's parents had been alive today, whether the police would be more inclined to take notice. Paul and Diana Lamplugh were heavily involved in the case, perhaps far too much as their desperation to find their daughter led to misrepresentations and false accusations.  

Of course I could write so much more about this fantastic book but I don't want to let anything slip.  David's writing is completely flawless and you'd be forgiven for forgetting that this is true crime, if the subject matter wasn't one of the UK's most famous unsolved cases.  It's a tragedy that Suzy's family never found out what happened to her, but they were never going to find her if they were looking in the wrong place.

Finding Suzy is absolutely brilliant, it's unputdownable, jaw-dropping and eye-opening.  It's the must-read book of the year, if not the decade.  Breathtaking true crime that's not to be missed.  So very highly recommended.

Many thanks to David Videcette for sending me a digital ARC to read and review.  This is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Sunday 8 August 2021

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder - Holly Jackson

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn't so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . . ?

Perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying, Gone Girl, We Were Liars and Riverdale

What did I think?

This book caught my eye when I was browsing for books one day and before I knew it, it had jumped into my basket and onto my doormat.  Although it is actually YA, it's a brilliant mystery thriller to be enjoyed by teens and adults alike.

Little Kilton is a town beset by tragedy after two teenagers lost their lives five years ago.  Andie Bell's body has never been found but Sal Singh confessed to her murder before he committed suicide so the case was closed.  Pippa Fitz-Amobi has always wondered what happened to Andie Bell so she chooses to investigate this mystery for her school project, but this lands her in danger as she gets closer to uncovering the truth. 

Pippa's project is included in the book but it's in quite small font so you do need to have good eyes (or a magnifying glass).  I love different media in books and there are text messages, hand-drawn maps and interview transcripts to sift through to make the reader feel like they're part of the case.  I love Pippa and her marvellous brain that hoovers up as much information as possible and often spouts facts and figures out of her mouth when she gets flustered.

I'm delighted that this is book 1 of a trilogy and I'm already planning to read book 2, Good Girl, Bad Blood, straight away.  Don't be put off by it being in the YA genre; it's a brilliant, fast-paced, intriguing and twisty thriller that wouldn't look out of place in the main crime thriller genre. 

A Good Girls' Guide to Murder isn't just good, it's brilliant!  What an awesome debut from Holly Jackson!  Holly is definitely one to watch and I'm definitely planning to read everything she writes.  I loved A Good Girls' Guide to Murder and I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy.  I plan to read it again in the future so I really can't recommend it highly enough.

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Saturday 7 August 2021

BLOG TOUR: A Sky Full of Stars - Dani Atkins

He'd have done everything differently if he'd known she'd be gone so soon...

When Lisa married Alex, she gave his life meaning. She was a professional astronomer: a stargazer. And when she gazed at Alex, she saw that behind his tough exterior was a man she could love.

Alex, Lisa and their young son Connor made a happy little universe. But when Lisa dies suddenly, their universe is destroyed. Alex is shattered by loss, and overwhelmed by the difficulties of being a single father to a six-year-old boy.

Then Alex meets four strangers. Two men and two women, who never met Lisa, but whose lives changed profoundly because she died. As Alex hears their stories, he begins to realise the world may not be as cruel and senseless as it seems. Perhaps, after all, the future is written in the stars...

What did I think?

Oh my goodness, this beautiful book should have waterproof pages as I blubbed all the way through it.  As I have previously read and loved one of Dani Atkins' books, I have to admit that I picked this book up without reading the synopsis as I just knew I'd love it...and I wasn't wrong!

So with the story being a complete mystery to me, I was hit with the massive shock of Lisa dying (this isn't a spoiler, it's in the blurb) and my emotions were really put through the wringer as I was powerless to prevent my tears from falling just a few chapters in...and they didn't stop until well after I'd turned the final page!  

I don't want to accidentally reveal any of the wonderful story so I'm going to keep my review purposefully brief, other than to say that the writing is stunning and the beautifully drawn characters really touched my heart.  I've made no secret of the fact that I cried throughout this book but it's not all tears of sadness, it's just so emotional and poignant.  That's why I chose to read the book based solely on it being a Dani Atkins novel as she's such a talented author and her books are completely unforgettable.

Hauntingly beautiful and incredibly emotional, it's all the stars for A Sky Full of Stars although it definitely deserves more than 5 stars.  I really can't recommend it highly enough but make sure you have your tissues handy when you read it.

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

My rating:

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About the author:

Dani Atkins is an award-winning novelist. Her 2013 debut FRACTURED (published as THEN AND ALWAYS in North America) has been translated into seventeen languages and has sold more than half a million copies since first publication in the UK.

Dani is the author of five other bestselling novels (THE STORY OF US, OUR SONG, THIS LOVE, WHILE I WAS SLEEPING and A MILLION A DREAMS) and PERFECT STRANGERS, a standalone eBook novella. In 2018, THIS LOVE won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award at the RNA awards in London.

Dani lives in a small village in Hertfordshire with her husband, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie.

Follow Dani:
Twitter: @AtkinsDani

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Twitter: @Aria_Fiction
Instagram: @ariafiction
Facebook: @ariafiction

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