Monday 31 January 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill - C.S. Robertson


When people die alone and undiscovered, it's her job to clean up what's left behind - whether it's clutter, bodily remains or dark secrets.

When an old man lies undetected in his flat for months, it seems an unremarkable life and an unnoticed death. But Grace knows that everyone has a story and that all deaths mean something more.


What did I think?

Oh my goodness, this must be one of the most unusual books I have ever read.  I've wanted to read a Craig Robertson book for a while but this is my first and what a book to start with.  It's shocking, surprising, intriguing, dark and so very clever.

I wasn't really sure how I felt about Grace McGill at first, because she's a loner and it's difficult to get to know her, but she's definitely a quirky character and as her story unfolded she became unforgettable.  Grace does the most horrifying job: cleaning up after dead bodies that have lain undiscovered for a period of time and although it didn't go into too many details, some of the vivid descriptions did make my stomach clench.  Her job shows Grace to be incredibly caring and respectful and when she notices some similarities in the deaths, she sets off to uncover a decades-old mystery from 1964.

This is a hugely entertaining novel with so much going on that I couldn't read it fast enough.  It's an intriguing double mystery with the deaths in present day Glasgow and the mysterious disappearance of Valerie Moodie on the Isle of Bute in 1964.  Grace turns from cleaner to detective as she attempts to find out what happened to Valerie...but someone knows she is getting close to unearthing this long buried secret and will do anything to stop her.

So unusual and completely unforgettable, The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill is a dark and addictive mystery.  Incredibly poignant at times, I struggled to hold back my tears on more than one occasion and I know that I will never forget Grace McGill.

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

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Saturday 29 January 2022

The Maid - Nita Prose

I am your maid.
I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry.
But what do you know about me?

Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?
But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She’s just a maid – but what can she see that others overlook?

Escapist, charming and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s found in the dirtier, grey areas in between . . .

What did I think?

What an amazing debut!  There has been a lot of buzz around The Maid on social media so I couldn't wait to read it and I was not disappointed; I absolutely loved it.  I'm really not surprised to learn that it is being made into a film and it's definitely one I will want to watch.

Molly is such a brilliant character; she is so literal and socially inept that you can't help but root for her, especially when she is mocked and taken advantage of.  After the death of her beloved gran, Molly is completely alone in the world - she has no family or friends, all she has is her job as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel.  A job in which she takes great pride and excels at.  

When Molly discovers a dead body in the hotel one day, there's nothing in her mental rule book that tells her what to do so she inevitably does things that make the police take a closer look at her.  The police interviews with Molly are absolutely hilarious and this is where Molly's charm really comes through; she may be naive but she is totally honest...or is she?

The Maid is so easy to read that I would probably have read it in one sitting if I hadn't been participating in a Tandem readalong.  It's a charming cosy mystery but it also makes you think about people who are seemingly invisible.  I think this is possibly more apparent in the hospitality industry where hotel guests treat doormen, maids and cleaners etc as servants but they're all important cogs in the machine.

A delightful cosy mystery, The Maid is an outstanding debut from Nita Prose.  It's warm, funny, original and unforgettable; an absolute must read from an author who is definitely one to watch.

Many thanks to Tandem Collective and HarperCollins for sending me a copy to read and review for the readalong.  This is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Wednesday 26 January 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Key in the Lock - Beth Underdown

'I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire...'

By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy - one whose death decades ago haunts her still.

For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

From the award-winning author of The Witchfinder's Sister comes a captivating story of burning secrets and buried shame, and of the loyalty and love that rises from the ashes.

What did I think?

I've had my eyes peeled for her next novel since reading Beth Underdown's stunning debut, The Witchfinder's Sister, so I was delighted to be given an advance copy of The Key in the Lock to read and review for the blog tour.

The very first line ('I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire...') sets the dark, haunting scene and blows air on the smouldering ember that Ivy has buried for 30 years.  With a dual timeline the tragic events of 1888 are slowly revealed as Ivy grieves for her son in 1918.  Ivy is haunted by the deaths of two boys taken too soon and it reawakens her need to find out what really happened in 1888.

Part gothic mystery and part tragic love story, The Key in the Lock is a beautifully written slow-burner that smoulders with the tension of long buried secrets.  The writing is so evocative that it draws you into the story and I could almost feel curls of smoke gently caressing my skin as I found myself fully immersed in Ivy's story.  It's a book to be savoured rather than devoured and it's the perfect book to read by the fire on a cold winter's night.

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Wednesday 19 January 2022

You'll Be the Death of Me - Karen M. McManus

From the international bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying comes a brand-new addictive thriller.

Ivy, Mateo and Cal used to be close - best friends back in middle school.

Now all they have in common is a bad day. So for old time's sake they skip school together - one last time.

But when the trio spot Brian 'Boney' Mahoney ditching class too, they follow him - right into a murder scene.

They all have a connection to the victim. And they're ALL hiding something.

When their day of freedom turns deadly, it's only a matter of time before the truth comes out . . .

It's Ferris Bueller's Day Off with murder, perfect for fans of One Of Us Is Lying and A Good Girl's Guide To Murder. This explosive new thriller is impossible to put down.

What did I think?

I already own a few of her books but You’ll Be The Death of Me is the first Karen M. McManus book I have read and I was certainly not disappointed.  It even looks good on the outside with stunning purple spredges!

Although it’s YA fiction as it’s set in and around a school, it holds its own against many of the adult thrillers I have read over the years and I found it gripping, mysterious and entertaining throughout.  

I loved the dynamic between Ivy, Mateo and Cal, who, like every set of teenagers, have been through their ups and downs of friendships blowing hot and cold.  They are each harbouring secrets about their past relationship and this causes extra tension when they are thrust together again (right in the middle of a murder investigation) on the day they decide to skip school.

There’s a lot to untangle in this story but I loved every second of it.  For anyone who has ever loved Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, you will absolutely love this book!  It not only reminded me of this fantastic film but also pays homage to it.  I’m not even sure that Ferris would have got out of this scrape in one piece!

Fast-paced, gripping and hugely entertaining, I loved You’ll Be The Death of Me and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

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Tuesday 11 January 2022

Insomnia - Sarah Pinborough

In the dead of night, madness lies…

Emma can’t sleep.


It’s been like this since her big 4-0 started getting closer.


Her mother stopped sleeping just before her 40th birthday too. She went mad and did the unthinkable because of it.


Is that what’s happening to Emma?


What did I think?

OMG!  This book is AWESOME!  I didn't think Sarah Pinborough could ever outdo the brilliant #WTFThatEnding in Behind Her Eyes but her new novel, Insomnia, is even better (in my humble opinion).  I even experienced temporary insomnia as I was up all night reading this fantastic book - I just couldn't put it down!

Emma has to be the most unreliable narrator I have ever come across; with her 40th birthday approaching, she can't sleep and believes she is losing her mind…just like her mother.  Strange things are happening to Emma, her husband is distant, her children are afraid of her and her estranged sister has just turned up.  Emma's whole world is falling apart but is she doing it herself or is someone else to blame?  

I'm not going to go into any more details of the stunning plot so I don't inadvertently release any spoilers, but it is breathtaking.  The shocking scene from the prologue was never far from my mind as it was very cleverly woven throughout the novel and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation as the story played out.

I love Sarah Pinborough novels as you really can expect the unexpected so the big reveal is pretty impossible to predict.  I had absolutely no idea which direction Insomnia was going in but I simply couldn't read it fast enough to find out.  I absolutely LOVED it and if this one isn't picked up by Netflix too I will be very surprised.

A stunning, addictive and intensely gripping novel, prepare to be up all night with Insomnia.  Insomnia has to be the must-read book of the year, and it's not even the end of January yet!

I chose to read a digital ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Saturday 8 January 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello (The Stonebridge Mysteries 1) - Chris McDonald

Wedding bells are chiming in the idyllic, coastal town of Stonebridge. For Sam and Emily, it should be the happiest day of their lives. But, on the morning of the ceremony, the best man is found dead. The police quickly write his death off as a tragic accident, but something doesn’t seem right to wedding guest and groomsman, Adam Whyte.

Armed with an encyclopaedic, but ultimately ridiculous knowledge of television detective shows and an unwarranted confidence in his own abilities, Adam and his best friend (and willing Watson) Colin, set out to uncover what actually happened to Daniel Costello.

What did I think?

I'm a huge fan of Chris McDonald's DI Erika Piper series so when I heard that he was writing a cosy crime series I couldn't wait to read it, or in this case listen to it.  The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello, narrated by Stephen Armstrong, is the first novella in the Stonebridge Mysteries series and it's a cracker!  It's quite a short audiobook at only 2 hours 56 minutes long so it's very easy to listen to it in one sitting, which is just as well as it's impossible to stop once you start anyway!

There's a wedding in Stonebridge but the groom and best man appear to be at loggerheads on the night before the wedding.  When best man Daniel doesn't turn up for breakfast the next day, groomsman Adam goes looking for him and is shocked to find Daniel dead in his bed.  The police are called and declare that there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding Daniel's premature demise, however, some things don't add up for Adam.  Being a fan of TV detective shows, Adam enlists his friend Colin to help him investigate Daniel's death.

A bit of a couch potato, Adam is such an unlikely amateur sleuth but when he dons his metaphorical deerstalker he proves that he really does know his stuff.  Although some things are different from TV in real life, Adam knows a suspicious death when he sees one.  Adam and Colin relish their roles as a modern day Holmes and Watson and I love how they are so meticulous in their search for evidence.  Having been friends since primary school, Adam and Colin are a great pairing and I love how well they work together.

The narration is fantastic, with Stephen Armstrong's dulcet tones and lyrical Northern Irish accent bringing the book to life.  What I found quite stunning about the narration is that the narrator doesn't attempt to do different voices for each character, it's simply read with such vivacity to entertain and enthrall the listener.  Another thing I loved was the quirky and often humourous chapter names that set the scene for the chapter ahead.  One in particular had me laughing out loud and I found myself looking forward to new chapters to see what ingenious title Chris McDonald would come up with next.

Hugely entertaining, The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello is a fun, addictive and riveting whodunnit that captivated me from start to finish.  Chris McDonald's stupendous writing and Stephen Armstrong's wonderfully entertaining narration make this audiobook another winner from Isis Audio.

Many thanks to Isis Audio for sending me the audiobook to review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello is narrated by Stephen Armstrong and is out on 1st January on Audible and other trade download platforms, on Isis Audio's digital library platform ulibrary, and on physical CD and MP3 both in libraries and from Isis Audio's website The Reading House.

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Tuesday 4 January 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures - Holly Hepburn

Originally published in four parts this is the full story in one package. 

When Hope loses her husband, she fears her happiest days are behind her. With her only connection to London broken, she moves home to York to be near her family and to begin to build a new life.  
Taking a job at the antique shop she has always admired, she finds herself crossing paths with two very different men. Will, who has recently become the guardian to his niece after the tragic death of her parents. And Ciaran, who she enlists to help solve the mystery of an Egyptian antique. Two men who represent two different happy endings.
But can she trust herself to choose the right man? And will that bring her everything she really needs?

What did I think?

This gorgeous book is as stunning inside as out.  Just look at that amazing cover, perfectly encapsulating the narrow, charming streets of York with the famous minster in the background.  Don't worry if you've never been to York, just let Holly Hepburn take you there through her wonderfully vivid and huggably warm writing.

I simply adored this book from start to finish.  The setting of The Ever After Emporium is to die for.  If I ever found such a shop, I'm sure I would be lost in there for days never mind hours, especially when I discovered the book room.  I warmed to the main character of Hope immediately; she is so likeable and friendly, despite being in terrible pain following the untimely death of her husband.

A chance discovery at the antique shop brings two very different men into Hope's life: jeweller Will and Professor of Egyptology Ciaran.  It was Will's niece, four-year-old Brodie, who completely stole my heart though.  Holly Hepburn brings this wonderful little girl (and her other characters) to life with such breathtaking descriptions that they virtually leap out from the page.  The thread of which man will win Hope's heart is woven throughout the book and I was most definitely rooting for one over the other.  You'll just have to read the book to find out which one, if any, she ends up with.

The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures was originally digitally published in four parts so this novel is the full collection of those four ebooks.  You do, therefore, get a little bit of repetition at the beginning of each part as the reader is reminded about the characters and the story.  It did interrupt the flow of my reading a little as I didn't take a break between parts, however, I'm sure that any slower readers won't even notice.

I love Egyptian history so that's what initially drew me to the book but I got so much more than I expected from this delightful novel.  It's both a heartwarming romance and an Egyptian mystery rolled into one.  I loved it so much that I plan to read it again.  

The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures is a big warm fluffy hug in a book and it's the perfect book to snuggle up with over the winter months.  Grab a blanket and a hot chocolate, curl up in your favourite reading chair and let Holly Hepburn whisk you away to the charming streets of York.  I adored it and I can't recommend it highly enough.

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

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