Tuesday 29 March 2022

BLOG TOUR: First Born - Will Dean


Molly lives a quiet, contained life in London. Naturally risk averse, she gains comfort from security and structure. Every day the same.

Her identical twin Katie is her exact opposite: gregarious and spontaneous. They used to be inseparable, until Katie moved to New York a year ago. Molly still speaks to her daily without fail.

But when Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in New York, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Katie is part of her DNA. As terrifying as it is, she must go there and find out what happened. As she tracks her twin's last movements, cracks begin to emerge. Nothing is what it seems. And a web of deceit is closing around her.

Delivering the same intensity of pace and storytelling that made THE LAST THING TO BURN a word-of-mouth sensation, FIRST BORN will surprise, shock and enthral.

What did I think?

Yowzers!  WHAT A NOVEL!!  Will Dean may very well have written the perfect psychological thriller.  First Born left me breathless and speechless; it's so addictive that I raced through it and to say I was shocked is an understatement.

When Molly's mum and dad go to New York to visit Molly's twin sister Katie, the last thing they expect is to lose a daughter.  When Katie dies, Molly has to leave her comfort zone in London and fly to New York.  Molly is such a strange, quirky character; she sees danger in everything and tries to minimise her risk by being prepared for any eventuality.  I rather liked her oddness as it made her very unique.

Determined to find out why Katie died, Molly looks deeper into Katie's life in New York but in doing so she increases the risk of danger that she so desperately tries to avoid.  What a dilemma!  The bond between twins is such an intriguing subject and I really can't imagine how it feels to not only be almost part of the same person but to have that person taken from you.  I really felt for Molly and her parents as they struggled to come to terms with their loss.

First Born is an exceptional novel; the twists and turns are mind-blowing and I actually clapped and said out loud: 'well played, Will Dean' when I finished reading.  An easy 5 stars!  I really can't recommend it highly enough - this is a book not to be missed.

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

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Tuesday 22 March 2022

BLOG TOUR: A Life for a Life (Detective Kate Young Book 3) - Carol Wyer

Nobody can get into the mind of an erratic killer―except an unpredictable detective.

When a young man is found lying on a station platform with a hole in his head, DI Kate Young is called in to investigate the grisly murder. But the killing is no one-off. As bodies start to pile up, she is faced with what might be an impossible task―to hunt down a ruthless killer on a seemingly random rampage.

Meanwhile, Kate has her own demons to battle as she struggles to come to terms with her husband’s death. And she is hell-bent on exposing corruption within the force and bringing Superintendent John Dickson to justice. But with the trail of deception running deeper―and closer to home―than she could ever have imagined, she no longer knows who she can trust.

With her grip on reality slipping, Kate realises that maybe she and the killer are not so different after all. But time is running out and Kate is low on options. Can she catch the killer before she loses everything?

What did I think?

Carol Wyer has gone and done it again!  Every time I think I've read the best book in the Detective Kate Young series, Carol Wyer goes and writes an even better one.  This already brilliant series is getting better and better and A Life for a Life is outstanding.  If you think the blurb sounds good, the prologue is something else - all I can say is "WOW!"

Whilst the story of police corruption and Detective Kate Young's personal story is a continuation of the series, there's enough backstory included in the book that you could definitely read this as a standalone.  The series is so good though that you really don't want to miss the prior two books (An Eye for an Eye and A Cut for a Cut).  

Kate and her very small team are on the hunt for a serial killer in Stoke-on-Trent and with nothing seeming to link the deaths, Kate fears that her unblemished record is about to be tarnished.  Kate's boss, Superintendent John Dickson, is doing everything he can to see her fail and finally get rid of the Kate-shaped thorn in his side.  I absolutely love to hate Dickson - he's like a supervillain with his many faces: upstanding police superintendent on one side and something much darker and devious on the other.

The whole book is brilliant from start to finish: it's sublimely plotted, flawlessly written and perfectly paced - I really can't recommend it highly enough.  I devoured every single page and the jaw-dropping ending left me hungry for more.  A well-deserved five stars.

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

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Monday 21 March 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Better Brother - Simon Gravatt

Michael Merriweather's carefully planned life is blown off course when he receives a call to tell him that his father has cremated himself. Michael then learns from a small-town lawyer that he stands to inherit a small fortune he previously knew nothing about, but only if he sacrifices his accountancy career to take over the family funeral business with his brother, Jack, whom he despises.

Sucked back into the small provincial world and the family funeral firm he has rejected, Michael can no longer avoid his loathsome sibling. Jack Merriweather has no idea what he's done to deserve his brother's hostility, but he's about to suffer the consequences. Then, when his patience finally breaks, he will exact delicious revenge.

The Better Brother is a darkly comic tale of sibling rivalry laced with the power, passion, revenge and everyday friction of family business. It explores what happens when two warring brothers are forced to work together. Will Michael and Jack learn to love and respect each other? Or will their acrimony escalate? If so, who will come out on top? Who is the better brother?

What did I think?

That first line in the blurb about Michael's father cremating himself hooked me before I'd even picked up the book.  What an ingenious storyline!  It's sad but funny and sets off a chain of events that puts the Merriweather brothers in the same room when they haven't spoken to each other for years.  Expect sparks to fly!

The broken relationship between Michael and Jack is absolutely heartbreaking.  The hostility began when their mother died and their father was grieving so he didn't notice his sons growing further and further apart...which is something he plans to rectify from beyond the grave.  When the brothers inherit the Merriweather funeral business they either have to work together or lose their inheritance.  

Whilst Michael and Jack are brilliant main characters, my favourite character ended up being their father's long-standing employee, Royston.  Royston is hilarious, from his tattoos to his swearing he's such a colourful character that he virtually leapt out of the page.  I could read a whole book with him as the main character.

It is clear that Simon Gravatt has a background in business as the pressure of running a business is palpable throughout the book.  It was interesting to see how the brothers reacted to their inheritance; one changes for the better and one changes for the worse.  There are hard decisions to be made and back-stabbing aplenty as each brother vies to come out on top.

Very well-written, engaging and humorous, The Better Brother is a brilliant debut and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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

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About the author:

Simon Gravatt is a first-time novelist who lives in South London. He's drawn from personal experience as a brother and business owner to write his tale of sibling rivalry and the combustibility of small business. Simon is married with two adult children.

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Saturday 19 March 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Bones of Barry Knight - Emma Musty

A child with a love of wizards and an ageing rock star share their fate with a disparate collection of visitors when their paths collide in a remote refugee camp.

Years later they find a way to tell their stories.

A tale of grief and resilience against the odds, The Bones of Barry Knight asks how we can better care for one another on a global scale.

What did I think?

When I got goosebumps reading the prologue of The Bones of Barry Knight, I knew that this was going to be a special book...and I was not wrong.  Part of the book is set in a refugee camp in an unknown location, so it feels even more poignant as we see people fleeing their homes in Ukraine.

Told from several different perspectives, it took me a little while to get to know the characters but once I did, I will never forget them.  The innocence of Saleema and the pain of Sol's grief ensured that they worked their way into my heart, and headliner Barry felt larger than life as he was brought to life through Emma Musty's beautiful writing.

The way that the stories interweave is sublime; I started off reading individual stories but with every chapter the edges became more and more blurred as everything was brought together at the end.  And, what an ending!  I really should have seen it coming but I was so invested in the story that I was completely shocked and surprised.

I can't review this book without mentioning the wonderful (and not so wonderful) displays of humanity.  It's so moving to read about people starving in a refugee camp but they'd give their last grain of rice to another person in need.  Contrast that with the unscrupulous people skulking in the background trying to profit off other people's misfortune.  It's heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure but so distressing to read about people trying to survive in such situations.

Poignant, devastating and honest, The Bones of Barry Knight is a completely breathtaking novel and I'll not forget it in a hurry.

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

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Thursday 10 March 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Daisy Chain - Al Campbell

Set in an incredibly exciting period of history, a pacy debut, brimming with adventure and romance

England, 1771: Recently orphaned Daisy Salter moves from quiet Suffolk society to the hustle and bustle of London. A talented botanical illustrator and amateur scientist, frustrated Daisy finds herself governess to the daughter of her sister and brutish noble brother-in-law.

However, a chance encounter with pre-eminent scientist Joseph Banks changes everything and, when the extent of her talent is revealed, Daisy not only becomes Artist in Residence at the magnificent Kew Gardens, but confidante of Queen Charlotte, King George III’s wife.

But whilst science and plant hunting expeditions are flourishing, at sea the ‘triangular trade’ is in full swing and Daisy is unwittingly inveigled into espionage, tea smuggling and the slave trade. Who is friend and who is foe? Can Daisy work out whom to trust before disaster strikes?

What did I think?

Before I even start to tell you what I thought of The Daisy Chain, I have to mention the absolutely beautiful cover.  The majority of the book is set in Kew Gardens and not only did Al Campbell's writing transport me there, but the stunning cover drew me in and I could almost smell the flowers.

The book has a little bit of everything in it that kept me enthralled from start to finish: there's romance, history and feminism (to name but a few) but it's also filled with tension as we don't know who Daisy can trust.  I loved the main character of Daisy and equally so her maid, Kate.  Kate becomes more friend than maid at a time when parliament is debating the abolition of slavery.

Daisy is a strong and incredibly likeable character.  Daisy is a talented artist and this is recognised by Kew Gardens who invite her to become the Artist in Residence, much to the chagrin of her brother-in-law, the odious Hugo.  Hugo took Daisy in when her father died as he thought he would get a free governess for his daughter; after all, what are women for if not to do a man's bidding?  Thankfully, Daisy breaks those chains!

Slavery is one of the threads running through the book and reading about the plight of slaves both angered and saddened me.  Al Campbell writes about this very respectfully and sensitively, but you can't help yourself imagining what these frightened people went through after being snatched from their homes and transported to a cold, wet and windy island.

There are lots of plot lines but my favourite has to be Daisy's personal life; Daisy has two suitors but only one will win her heart and the ending couldn't have been more perfect.  I also loved the glimpse into the royal court of King George III and Queen Charlotte.  I could write so much more about the book but I don't want to spoil it for others.

The Daisy Chain is a fabulous debut, set in the Georgian era - a period of history that I knew little about.  The writing is beautiful, the plot is enthralling and I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction, or readers looking for something different to read.

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

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Wednesday 9 March 2022

COVER REVEAL: The Sinner - Caroline England

I'm thrilled to be be helping with the cover reveal for Caroline England’s new novel, The Sinner.  I love Caroline’s books so I’m very excited for this one!  Publishing on 16th June 2022 by Little, Brown Book Group, let's have a look at the cover... 

Wow!  What a striking cover, I absolutely love it and it definitely makes me want to pick up the book.  

Here's a little bit about the book:

To the unsuspecting eye Dee Stephens has a perfect life as the vicar’s wife: a devoted marriage to her charismatic husband Reverend Vincent, an adoring congregation and a beautiful daughter.
But beneath the surface, Dee is suffocating. Vincent is in control, and he knows her every sin. Desperate, Dee escapes into a heady affair with Cal, an old schoolmate. 
But is Cal the saviour she thinks he is? What dark secrets does he harbour? And to what lengths will Vincent go to when he uncovers the truth? 

Praise for Caroline England
'The duchess of dark domestic noir strikes again' HELEN FIELDS
'A twist that I didn't see coming!' T. M. LOGAN
'Kept me gripped' B. A. PARIS

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About the author:

Born in Sheffield, Caroline studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed over the border. Caroline was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer. She turned to writing when she deserted the law to bring up her three lovely daughters. Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of literary publications and anthologies. 

Caroline writes domestic psychological thrillers. Her debut novel, BENEATH THE SKIN, known also as THE WIFE’S SECRET in eBook, was published by Avon HarperCollins in October 2017. Her second novel, MY HUSBAND’S LIES, followed in May 2018 and became a Kindle top ten bestseller. BETRAY HER, was published by Piatkus of Little, Brown Book Group, in July 2020. TRUTH GAMES followed in June 2021.

Caroline has two pen names. As Caro Land she has written a legal suspense series, CONVICTIONS, published by Bloodhound Books in January 2020. The follow up, CONFESSIONS, published in June 2020.

As CE Rose she has written a gothic-tinged psychological thriller THE HOUSE OF HIDDEN SECRETS. It was published by Hera Books in April 2021 in ebook and audiobook. The paperback will follow in August 2021. THE HOUSE ON THE WATER’S EDGE will be published in ebook and audiobook in August 2021.

Caroline has two dark, twisty short story collections available on Amazon, both in eBook and paperback, WATCHING HORSEPATS FEED THE ROSES and HANGED BY THE NECK.

Social Media Links:
Twitter: @CazEngland
InstaGram: @cazengland1

Monday 7 March 2022

Femlandia - Christina Dalcher

Miranda Reynolds has lost her home, her job and her husband – all thanks to an economic collapse that has brought America to its knees.

The shops are empty; the streets no longer safe. Miranda and her daughter Emma have nowhere left to turn.

There is one final hope, a self-sufficient haven for women who want to live a life free from men. Femlandia.

For Miranda, the secluded Femlandia is a last resort. Life outside the gates is fraught with danger, but there’s something just as sinister going on within.

Welcome to Femlandia… It’s no place like home. 

What did I think?

I've loved Christina Dalcher's previous novels (Vox and Q) so I was eager to read her third novel, Femlandia.   It is exactly what it sounds like: feminist dystopian fiction and although I enjoyed it and it raises many topics for discussion, I didn't love it as much as Dalcher's previous novels.

Femlandia is the brainchild of renowned feminist Win Somers: a sanctuary for women with several location across America.  When the country's economy collapses, the only safe place is self-sufficient Femlandia so Miranda Reynolds and her daughter make their way there.  It may sound like a theme park but scratch the surface and it's more cult than community.

The story is reasonably fast-paced and intriguing as Miranda discovers more about Femlandia and her own secrets are revealed.  I don't want to reveal too much as it would spoil it for others, but there are a few surprises that kept me interested and entertained.

Chilling and incredibly thought-provoking, Femlandia is a shocking and terrifying read that I have continued to think about and discuss long after turning the final page.

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

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Saturday 5 March 2022

The Cabinetmaker - Alan Jones

The Cabinetmaker, Alan Jones’ first novel, tells of one man’s fight for justice when the law fails him. Set in Glasgow from the late nineteen-seventies through to the current day, a cabinetmaker's only son is brutally murdered by a gang of thugs, who walk free after a bungled prosecution.

It’s young Glasgow detective John McDaid’s first murder case. He forms an unlikely friendship with the cabinetmaker, united by a determination to see the killers punished, their passion for amateur football, and by John’s introduction to a lifelong obsession with fine furniture.

This is the story of their friendship, the cabinetmaker’s quest for justice, and the detective’s search for the truth.

This unusual crime thriller contains some Glasgow slang and a moderate amount of strong language.

What did I think?

After reading Alan Jones' outstanding Sturmtaucher Trilogy, I am now on a mission to read everything else he has published.  The Cabinetmaker is his debut and it's a beautifully written police procedural/crime thriller.

Set in Glasgow, detective John McDaid is new to CID and doesn't quite fit into the team as he naturally wants to do everything by the book and that's not the way they catch criminals in this police force.  The police are beaten at their own game when Patrick McHare's murderers walk free from court.  I was so furious!  I can imagine this has happened many times in real life too.

Patrick's parents are left devastated but they demonstrate that life does go on because after all, what goes around comes around.  Through a shared love of football, John McDaid becomes friends with Patrick's father Francis (the cabinetmaker) outside of work and it isn't long before Francis starts showing John how to work with wood.  Although Patrick could never be replaced, John is almost a surrogate son to Francis and it's heartwarming to see their relationship grow. 

I love Alan Jones' attention to detail and his ability to write about any subject whilst holding the reader's attention; I didn't think I would ever find woodwork so fascinating.  The storyline is relatively slow paced after the court case but it's no less compelling and although I had an inkling as to what was happening, I was eager to see how it would all end and there were certainly still a few shocks and surprises in store for me.

Hugely enjoyable and incredibly well written, The Cabinetmaker is a very good debut and a great introduction to Alan Jones' writing.

Many thanks to Alan Jones for sending me a digital copy to read and review; all opinions are my own. 

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Thursday 3 March 2022

BLOG TOUR: The One - Claire Frost

What happens when you lose the love of your life just three months after you meet him?

Lottie Brown has finally found The One. Leo is everything she’s ever wanted – he’s handsome, kind, funny and totally gets her. Three months into their relationship, Lottie is in love and happier than ever before. 

But then Leo tragically dies, and Lottie is left floundering.

As she struggles to stop her life falling apart, Lottie learns more about the man she thought she knew, and starts to question whether Leo really was as perfect as he seemed…

The brand-new heart-breaking novel of love, loss and learning to live again, from the acclaimed author of MARRIED AT FIRST SWIPE. Perfect for fans of Paige Toon, Holly Miller and Rosie Walsh.

What did I think?

Oh my goodness, what a rollercoaster of emotions I experienced when reading Claire Frost's new novel, The One.  I absolutely loved it, despite my heart breaking, as the beautiful writing and heartwarming plot put my heart back together again.  I also have to say that I think the publisher has done a wonderful job with the cover, it's stunning.

Lottie and Leo only knew each other for three months before Leo dies, so Lottie's place in the hierarchy of Leo's life is confusing to her; she's grieving his loss as his partner but she never even met his parents so she feels like a bit of a gatecrasher at his funeral.  Leo's parents and his cousin, Ross, welcome Lottie into their family and you can't help but wonder what might have been.

I know it says in the blurb that Leo dies but I still got a shock.  Lottie was so happy to have finally found her 'One' and she could imagine a whole future ahead of her where she would be blissfully happy, just like her sisters.  Leo was everything that Lottie had ever wanted but they were still in the honeymoon period when he died so she obviously doesn't know everything about him - those old rose coloured glasses do have a lot to answer for sometimes!  

I loved the relationships between Lottie and her sisters; they are like the three musketeers as they are always there for each other.  They are sisters first but they're also the best of friends and I just loved how they rallied round Lottie when she was grieving.  Seeing Lottie picking herself back up was so uplifting, of course she will never forget Leo but she can't give up on life...and love.

So heartbreaking but incredibly heartwarming, The One is a beautifully written novel of love and loss.  It's emotional, uplifting and hopeful - a book for anyone who has ever loved and lost.

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

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Tuesday 1 March 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Curfew - T.M. Logan

I should have known something was wrong. I should have sensed it. Felt it in the air, like the build-up of pressure before a thunderstorm, that heavy, loaded calm.

The curfew
Andy and Laura are good parents. They tell their son Connor that he can go out with friends to celebrate completing his exams, but he must be home by midnight.

The lie
When Connor misses his curfew, it sets off a series of events that will change the lives of five families forever.

The truth?
Because five teenagers went into the woods that night, but only four came out. And telling the truth might mean losing everything...


What did I think?

I always get excited when I see a new T.M. Logan book being published as all his novels are completely compelling and The Curfew is no exception.  Clear your schedule when you pick this one up as you won't be able to put it down!

Like many parents of teenagers, Andy Boyd can't completely fall asleep until he knows that his 16 year old son, Connor, is home safe.  Connor's curfew is midnight so he must be home when Andy wakes up at 3am, but Andy can't relax until he looks into Connor's room and thinks he sees him tucked up in bed.  The following day becomes every parent's worst nightmare when one of Connor's school friends goes missing but Connor was home by midnight...wasn't he?

Ooooh you can't help but read this book wondering what you would do in the same situation.  Andy and Laura Boyd have every faith in their son but they don't actually know where he was at midnight so it's either stupid or incredibly trusting to tell the police that Connor was at home.  Connor is clearly hiding something and I couldn't read fast enough to find out what.

Although the story centres around Connor, it is his 12 year old sister, Harriet, who turned out to be my favourite character.  She's like a cross between Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and Chloe from 24; incredibly intelligent and a tech wizard who naturally doesn't fit in with the normal kids at school.  Who wants to be normal anyway?  The character development is stunning and they're described so vividly that they virtually pop out of the page.

T.M. Logan has done it again!  The Curfew is a gripping, compulsive and nail-biting thriller that is as impossible to predict as it is to put down.  I certainly missed my reading curfew when reading just one more chapter turned into five more chapters.  Don't miss this one!

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

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