Thursday 28 September 2023

Ronaldo: Donny's Superpower (Ronaldo's Flying Adventures) - Maxine Sylvester

Donny’s mother insists he has a future in flying so when Ronaldo volunteers to tutor him, the pressure is on!

Ronaldo is at his wit’s end. Donny is a dreadful flyer and coaching him is tougher than he imagined. But the top cadet at school doesn’t give up on friends and when he pays a visit to his student’s house, he uncovers he has an incredible hidden talent.

Realising his pal is unhappy and will never be the flying hero his mother wants him to be, Ronaldo comes up with an idea to showcase Donny’s talent to the entire village.

But will the plan convince Donny’s mother and give Donny the future he dreams of?

What did I think?

Although this book is aimed at children who are 40 years younger than me, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It's great fun to read and there are some fantastic illustrations throughout that bring the story to life.  I haven't read all of the Ronaldo books so you can pick up any one of them and enjoy them on their own.

Ronaldo is unable to fly after injuring himself so he puts his recovery time to good use by agreeing to tutor another reindeer, Donny.  The only problem is, Donny is a terrible flyer but he is determined to follow in his father's hoofsteps and make his mother proud...even if it means that he is dreadfully unhappy.

Oh poor Donny!  My heart really went out to him as he put his own feelings (and dreams) to one side in order to make his mother happy.  Ronaldo is lucky to be doing something that he loves and he's good at so he just wants the same for his friend; he just needs to find Donny's superpower.

Ronaldo: Donny's Superpower is a fun and entertaining read for adults and children alike, and there's a powerful message in this wonderful book: we all have our own superpower so be true to yourself and do what makes YOU happy.

I received a digital ARC from the author and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday 27 September 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Beginning of Everything - Jackie Fraser

This is the story of Jess and Gethin, whose paths cross in the most unexpected way. 

Jess is running away, leaving all she knows and everyone she loves behind her, with just a few treasured belongings in her rucksack. She’s escaping from the pain and trauma of a bad relationship with a bad man, gone very badly wrong. 

Gethin’s kindness and care take her breath away. They become friends. But with so much hurt in her past, can Jess learn to love and live again?

What did I think?

I loved Jackie Fraser's debut, The Bookshop of Second Chances, but her new book, The Beginning of Everything is very special indeed.  It's a lovely lovely story (so lovely I had to say 'lovely' twice) and I experienced so many different emotions whilst reading it but I turned the final page with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye as I said goodbye to two wonderful characters.

Jess and Gethin meet in the strangest circumstances when Gethin opens the door to his new home and finds Jess living there.  Jess is 46 years old and homeless so when she finds an empty property it's just too much of a temptation not to spend the night there.  At least with an address she can get a job and start saving for a place of her own.  Until Gethin, the owner of the house, appears...

Gethin's family has been touched with homelessness and tragedy so he wants to help Jess, but she is naturally suspicious.  Surely, he can't be THAT nice?  Just the simple things that Gethin does for Jess were enough to bring a lump to my throat.  It was so lovely to see someone doing something kind without expecting recognition or reward.

Jess has built a solid brick wall around her heart to protect herself from further pain and the wall starts to crumble a little when a firm friendship forms between the pair.  When their feelings start to grow into something more, I don't think Jess can believe something good can be happening to her so she builds that wall back up.  It's very much a will they/won't they and I don't think I have ever rooted for a fictional pair as much as I did for Jess and Gethin.  

Beautifully written and incredibly uplifting, The Beginning of Everything is a book that oozes with kindness; it made me think about my own actions or inactions and how just a little thing can make all the difference.  A highly recommended read.

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

My rating:

Buy it from:

Follow the tour:

Monday 25 September 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Opposite of Lonely (The Skelfs Book 5) - Doug Johnstone


The Skelf women are recovering from the cataclysmic events that nearly claimed their lives. Their funeral-director and private-investigation businesses are back on track, and their cases are as perplexing as ever.

Matriarch Dorothy looks into a suspicious fire at a travellers’ site, and takes a grieving, homeless man under her wing. Daughter Jenny is searching for her missing sister-in-law, who disappeared in tragic circumstances, while grand-daughter Hannah is asked to investigate increasingly dangerous conspiracy theorists, who are targeting a retired female astronaut ... putting her own life at risk.

With a body lost at sea, funerals for those with no one to mourn them, reports of strange happenings in outer space, a funeral crasher with a painful secret, and a violent attack on one of the family, The Skelfs face their most personal – and perilous – cases yet. Doing things their way may cost them everything...

What did I think?

I always get excited when a new Skelfs book comes out and The Opposite of Lonely is the fifth outstanding instalment in this fantastic series.  The three Skelf women are funeral directors and private investigators so there's a lot going on in the book to keep the reader entertained.

Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah have three separate but intermingling storylines in this novel and I was completely enthralled by each of them.  Something unusual always seems to happy at one of Dorothy's funerals and I have to admit to having a little giggle at the funeral at the start of the book.  Jenny is trying to track down her sister-in-law and a female astronaut hires Hannah to investigate increasingly dangerous threats.

As well as the riveting storylines for the three main characters, there are some really interesting things in the book that led to further discussion in my house, particularly the alternative funerals that I had never heard of before.  I have to say that a lot of the astrophysics went right over my head but it really puts into perspective our place in the universe.  

Incredibly entertaining and completely enthralling, The Opposite of Lonely is as thought-provoking as it is gripping and I absolutely loved it.  I love The Skelfs series and simply can't get enough of it so I hope Doug Johnstone has many more books planned.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:
Doug Johnstone is the author of sixteen novels, many of which have been bestsellers. The Space Between Us was chosen for BBC Two’s Between the Covers, while Black Hearts and The Big Chill were longlisted for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year. Three of his books – A Dark Matter, Breakers and The Jump – have been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize. Doug has taught creative writing or been writer in residence at universities, schools, writing retreats, festivals, prisons and a funeral home. He’s also been an arts journalist for 25 years. He is a songwriter and musician with six albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also co-founder of the Scotland Writers Football Club and lives in Edinburgh with his family.

Follow the tour:

Friday 22 September 2023

The Merchant's Dilemma (The Meonbridge Chronicles) - Carolyn Hughes

1362. Winchester. Seven months ago, accused of bringing plague and death from Winchester, Bea Ward was hounded out of Meonbridge by her former friends and neighbours. Finding food and shelter where she could, she struggled to make her way back to Winchester again.

Yet, once she arrived, she wondered why she’d come.

For her former lover – the love of her life – Riccardo Marchaunt, had married a year ago. And she no longer had the strength to go back to her old life on the streets. Frail, destitute and homeless, she was reduced to begging. Then, in January, during a tumultuous and destructive storm, she found herself on Riccardo’s doorstep. She had no plan, beyond hoping he might help her, or at least provide a final resting place for her poor body.

When Bea awakes to find she’s lying in Riccardo’s bed once more, she’s thankful, thrilled, but mystified. But she soon learns that his wife died four months ago, along with their newborn son, and finds too that Riccardo loves her now as much as he ever did, and wants to make her his wife. But can he? And, even if he can, could she ever really be a proper merchant’s wife?

Riccardo could not have been more relieved to find Bea still alive, when he thought he had lost her forever. She had been close to death, but is now recovering her health. He adores her and wants her to be his wife. But how? His father would forbid such an “unfitting” match, on pain of denying him his inheritance. And what would his fellow merchants think of it? And their haughty wives?

Yet, Riccardo is determined that Bea will be his wife. He has to find a solution to his dilemma… With the help of his beloved mother, Emilia, and her close friend, Cecily, he hatches a plan to make it happen.

But even the best laid plans sometimes go awry. And the path of love never did run smooth…

What did I think?

I'm a huge fan of The Meonbridge Chronicles series so I was delighted to hear that Carolyn Hughes had written a companion novel to pick up Riccardo and Bea's story from Children's Fate.  I read Children's Fate in January 2021, over two and a half years ago, but I still fondly remembered Bea and Riccardo and easily picked up their story again.  This perhaps goes some way to tell you how good a writer Carolyn Hughes is - her stories are immersive and the characters stay with you.

I felt really sorry for Bea as the life she has dreamed of is so close, yet so far.  Riccardo is the love of Bea's life and the feeling is mutual but Bea's shady past prevents her from being accepted as Riccardo's wife.  Riccardo is doing everything he can to make Bea happy and he just asks for a little patience from her to wait until the time is right, but patience is not one of Bea's virtues.

Bea really grows up in this story, although she still shows some of her fire when riled.  I love the relationship she forges with Riccardo's mother and her friend Cecily.  It's an ambitious plan to pass off Bea as a lady and it's an often amusing and always entertaining storyline.  It's a lovely story from start to finish.

The Merchant's Dilemma is completely engrossing and incredibly entertaining.  I absolutely loved this wonderful companion novel; it's so beautifully written that it can be read as a standalone and I think it will definitely give any readers new to the series at this stage the incentive to pick up the previous novels.  Carolyn Hughes writes wonderfully vivid and immersive historical fiction and I highly recommend the whole series.

I received a digital ARC from the author and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday 18 September 2023

A Dark Inheritance - H. F. Askwith

Once I had four brothers. Three of them are dead. I am next.

Felix Ashe is sure of only one thing. In thirty days, on his eighteenth birthday, he will die. He might be the only one convinced of this, but the gruesome deaths of his three brothers before him seem to point to only one thing: a curse, one doomed to stop anyone inheriting his family's incredible fortune.

Felix doesn't care about money, or himself, particularly. It's hard to have a stake in the future when you know you haven't got one. But he does care about his little brother Nick, very much. And when an opportunity to break the curse appears to present itself, it's impossible not to heed its dark call.

Soon long-buried secrets will take Felix to the darkest underbelly of Jazz-Age New York, to the far-flung wilds of the Yorkshire moors and back again. And bound to everything is a deadly secret society who will either be Felix's downfall . . . or his one chance at redemption.

What did I think?

I enjoy reading YA books now and again and I couldn’t resist the striking Art Deco cover of A Dark Inheritance, the debut novel of H. F. Askwith.

This is the story of Felix Ashe who is cursed to die on his 18th birthday.  Felix knows what’s coming because his three older brothers died on their 18th birthdays, but he’s not going to sit around and wait for the curse to claim him…he’s going to try to break it.

I was drawn into the book immediately as the countdown to Felix’s death begins and it really is one heck of a race against time.  Death, grief and anxiety are subjects that are explored within the book but I didn’t find it overly dark as Felix’s attempt to break the curse turns into a good versus evil adventure.  

I could feel the intense love that Felix has for his family and his anxiety is completely understandable; he’s not just worried about his own death, he’s worried about the same fate happening to his little brother.  As a natural worrier, I know firsthand how crippling anxiety can be but there’s a wise and hopeful message in the book: life may be short but the future isn’t yet written.

Thought-provoking and powerful, A Dark Inheritance is a very accomplished debut from H. F. Askwith.  Don’t be put off by it being in the YA genre, as it’s a dark and entertaining read for adults too.

My rating:

Buy it from:

Friday 15 September 2023

Chasing the Dragon (Betancourt Mystery Series Book 2) - Mark Wightman

Singapore, 1940

A local fisherman finds the body of a missing American archaeologist

Detective Inspector Betancourt of the Singapore Marine Police is first on the scene. Something doesn't quite add up. He finds out that the archaeologist, Richard Fulbright, was close to deciphering the previously-untranslatable script on a pre-colonial relic known as the Singapore Stone. This was no accidental drowning.

Is there more to this case than archaeological rivalries?

Betancourt also discovers that Fulbright had been having an affair. He is sure he is onto something bigger than just academic infighting.

A government opium factory draws criminal interest.

In his investigations into the death, Betancourt finds his own life in danger, and now he has also put himself on the wrong side of British Military Intelligence, and he is unsure which set of opponents he fears the most...

What did I think?

Wow!  I thought Mark Wightman's debut, Waking the Tiger, was fantastic but this next book in the Betancourt Mystery series, Chasing the Dragon, is absolutely stunning.  There's even a map at the start of the book and I do love a map in a book, although I didn't refer back to it as often as I expected because that would have slowed down my reading of this completely gripping novel.

Mark Wightman's writing draws you in and sets a very vivid scene of Singapore in 1940.  The era and the location is very film noir and so atmospheric that I felt as if I was reading through a fug of opium smoke...chasing the dragon that can never be caught.

Max Betancourt's latest case is investigating the death of an American archaeologist which the powers that be seem determined to rule as accidental death...but Max smells something fishy and it's not the whiff from the docks.

I love not only the main character of Max but the whole cast of returning characters, for those readers who have read the first book.  You can totally read Chasing the Dragon without reading Waking the Tiger, but it's wonderful to see how the characters develop as they each have their own personal challenges.

The plot is very intricate but Mark Wightman's vivid writing makes it easy to follow all the strands of the story and how it all comes together at the end is nothing short of breathtaking.  I couldn't read it fast enough and with a virtual bomb thrown under Max at the end, I'm already chomping at the bit for the next book in the series.

Atmospheric, gripping and immersive, Chasing the Dragon is an unforgettable and unmissable crime thriller.  I really can't recommend it highly enough and I'm having an Oliver Twist moment: please Mark Wightman, can I have some more?

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

My rating:

Buy it from:

Follow the tour:

Thursday 14 September 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Traitor - Ava Glass


A body is found in a padlocked suitcase.

Investigator Emma Makepeace knows it's murder. And it's personal.

She quickly establishes that the dead man had been shadowing two oligarchs suspected of procuring illegal weapons in the UK. And it seems likely that an insider working deep within the British government is helping them.

To find out who the traitor is, Emma goes deep undercover on a superyacht owned by one of the oligarchs.

But the glamorous veneer of the rich hides dark secrets. Out at sea, Emma is both hunter and prey, and no one can protect her.

Never has the turquoise sea and golden sands of the Riviera seemed so dangerous.

As the hunt intensifies, Emma knows that she is in mortal danger. And that she needs to find the traitor before they find her . . .

What did I think?

Wow!  Ava Glass stole my breath; I'm sure I forgot to breath when I was reading The Traitor.  It is completely awesome!  It's Ava Glass' second book featuring intelligence agency operative Emma Makepeace but you can read it as a standalone as I haven't read The Chase but I definitely want to now.

Emma is a very strong and well-developed main character.  With Russian heritage, she is the perfect spy to place on a Russian yacht but, with no mobile phone coverage, the risks are very high.  It's a risk that Emma is more than willing to take though.  Yikes!  I'm glad I don't bite my nails or I'd have bitten them down to the quick.  

I absolutely loved this book and with a traitor in their midst I suspected almost everyone, even those people that Emma trusts.  I'm really not surprised that film rights have already been acquired as it is an outstanding spy novel.

Incredibly fast-paced and filled with danger, The Traitor is a breathtaking novel that drew me in from the start and continued at break-neck speed until the very end.  I think the book cover must have been coated in superglue as I simply couldn't put it down and my poor eyes were worn out at the speed I was demanding them to read.

Very highly recommended and an absolute must-read.  Just don't forget to breathe when you read it!

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

My rating:

Buy it from:

About the author:
The Traitor is the highly anticipated follow up to Ava Glass’ 2022 debut spy thriller The Chase.

The Chase is currently shortlisted for Best Spy Novel at the 2023 Crime Writer Awards alongside established names including Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) and Linwood Barclay. No small feat for a debut novelist.

Film rights to The Chase and The Traitor have been acquired by Ink Factory, producers of The Night Manager, who are currently working on a pilot in conjunction with Sky Atlantic, now in the final stages of editing. Next step will be casting!  

Ava Glass is a former civil servant with the highest security clearance bar one.  She has seen just enough of the inner workings of espionage to ensure that she will always be fascinated by spies.

Prior to working at the home office, Ava Glass worked as a crime reporter, covering multiple homicides, making her writing both fresh and dangerously believable.

Follow the tour:

Wednesday 13 September 2023

Waking the Tiger (Betancourt Mystery Series Book 1) - Mark Wightman

Singapore, 1939

A young Japanese woman is found dead on the dockside, her throat slashed

Inspector Maximo Betancourt is working a new beat, one he didn’t ask for. Following the disappearance of his wife, his life and career have fallen apart.

A distinctive tiger tattoo is the only clue to her identity

Once a rising star of Singapore CID, Betancourt has been relegated to the Marine Division, with tedious dockyard disputes and goods inspections among his new duties.

Who is she? And why are the authorities turning a blind eye?

But when a beautiful, unidentified Japanese woman is found murdered in the shadow of a warehouse owned by one of Singapore’s most powerful families, Betancourt defies orders and pursues those responsible. What he discovers will bring him into conflict with powerful enemies, and force him to face his personal demons.

What did I think?

What a fantastic debut!  Waking the Tiger is a completely gripping thriller that I absolutely raced through.  I loved everything about it: the immersive writing, the well-developed characters, the dark and sometimes seedy location, the pre-war era and the razor-sharp plot. 

I love Max Betancourt; he's a brilliant detective but there's one case he can't crack: the one relating to the disappearance of his wife.  It's like someone has pressed pause on his personal life and he can't go any further until he finds out what happened to Anna.  He's even lost touch with his daughter Lucia, who is living with her grandparents.  At least he can rely on Alex...his motorbike!

It feels as if the whole novel is written in black and white and I could imagine every scene playing out in my head as if it was on the big screen.  The mystery surrounding the murdered woman is fantastic; it feels like Max is pulling at several threads and just one more tug will see the whole thing unravel and what's hidden underneath will be revealed. 

Authentic, atmospheric and addictive, Waking the Tiger is an outstanding debut and a fantastic start to an exciting new series.  Very highly recommended.

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

My rating:

Buy it from:

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Nineteen Steps - Millie Bobby Brown

The debut novel from global star Millie Bobby Brown

Love blooms in the darkest days…

London, 1942.

Despite the raging war, spirited 18-year-old Nellie Morris lives a quiet life in the tight-knit East End community of Bethnal Green. Her family and friends all tease that she will marry air raid warden Billy, the boy next door who’s always been sweet on her.

The arrival of Ray, a handsome American airman stationed nearby, causes Nellie to question everything she thought she knew about her future.

Nellie’s newfound happiness is short-lived when a tragic accident occurs during an air raid. Even the closest family can’t escape the devastation of war, and as the secrets and truth about that fateful night become clear, they threaten to tear Nellie – and those dearest to her – apart.

Inspired by the true events of her family history, Millie Bobby Brown’s dazzling debut novel is a moving tale of longing, loss and secrets, and the lengths that we will go to fight for love.

What did I think?

Millie Bobby Brown's debut novel has been written with Kathleen McGurl and it's based around an absolutely tragic event that I had never even heard of, although similar horrific events have happened over the years.  

When I first started reading, I thought it would be a traditional wartime love story with boy meets girl and boy goes to war but Nineteen Steps is so much more than that.  It absolutely devastated me and as hard as it was to read about the horrific tragedy, it's a story that really needed to be told.  I'm not going to reveal what the tragedy was as it would spoil it for other readers but I applaud Millie Bobby Brown for bringing it to light, especially when it is very personal to her.

I absolutely loved Nellie and her whole family.  I feel very fortunate to have never experienced a war on home soil as it must have been so frightening.  Parents, often women on their own as their husband was fighting in the war, had such difficult decisions to make to protect their family, not least whether they should evacuate their children.  

Everyone thinks Nellie will end up marrying Billy the boy next door but fate has other plans for her and American airman Ray is thrust into her life.  It wasn't exactly love at first sight but I loved how their relationship grew, almost cruelly right in front of Billy's eyes.

Haunting, devastating and poignant, Nineteen Steps is a heartachingly beautiful story that will stay with me long after turning the final page.  I was close to tears on several occasions and I had a lump in my throat at the end.  It's well-written, very easy to read and should come with a warning that it may cause tears.  A solid 4.5 stars from me.

I received an ARC for the Tandem Collective readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:

Monday 11 September 2023

BLOG TOUR: Foul Play at the Seaview Hotel (A Helen Dexter Cosy Crime Mystery Book 3) - Glenda Young

In the charming Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough, a killer game is being played . . .

Helen Dexter is enjoying the new four-star status of the Seaview Hotel. But she begins to wonder if this accolade is cursed when a series of disasters strike.

It starts when a crazy golf team arrive to play in a Scarborough tournament. Their odd behaviour heightens when the rival team captain turns up. Yet, there's worse to come for Helen when one of the guests is murdered playing crazy golf.

Then the Seaview's prize-winning cook Jean quits, leaving Helen devastated. And so, as Helen's fiftieth birthday approaches, the last thing she's in the mood for is a celebration. However, mysterious invitations arrive to a party that Helen doesn't want.

Can Helen unmask the crazy golf killer, save the reputation of the Seaview, win Jean back and solve the mystery of the party invitations? With her rescue greyhound Suki by her side, Helen Dexter is on the case.

What did I think?

Foul Play at the Seaview Hotel is the third book in the Helen Dexter Cosy Crime Mystery series and it's an absolute cracker.  This amazing series is going from strength to strength and I always love my virtual visit to Scarborough, even though it appears to be the murder capital of North Yorkshire (but that's just in Glenda's books, of course).  You can definitely read this book as a standalone but I highly recommend the whole series.

Helen Dexter is all set to welcome a new group of guests to her newly rated Four Star Seaview Hotel.  Her guests are a crazy golf team competing in a local tournament and it's clear that they take the game very seriously indeed.  Helen also finds herself with an unexpected guest: the team captain of a rival team and his arrival causes tension above and below stairs.  The days are numbered for one of the guests and they're about to find themselves checking out...

This is a brilliant 'whodunnit' - I suspected even the most unlikeliest candidate at one point or another.  I love how the story is self-contained so that readers new to the series can pick up  this book and enjoy it, but there's some wonderful character development to delight established series fans.

Although I haven't been to Scarborough for many years, Glenda paints such a vivid picture with her wonderful writing and her love for the seaside town shines through every word in the book.  It was also lovely to see local brewery Wold Top getting a mention in the book as I've tried a few of their beers and loved them.

Hugely entertaining and as drama-filled as your favourite soap opera, Foul Play at the Seaview Hotel is a fantastic cosy mystery.  Very clever misdirection and perfect plotting keep the reader on their toes from start to finish and I loved every second of it, so much so that I will definitely be reading it again.  It’s absolutely brilliant and I really can't recommend it highly enough.

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

My rating:

Buy it from:

Follow the tour:

Friday 8 September 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Murmurs - Michael J. Malone

On the first morning of her new job at Heartfield House, a care home for the elderly, Annie Jackson wakens from a terrifying dream. And when she arrives at the home, she knows that the first old man she meets is going to die.

How she knows this is a terrifying mystery, but it is the start of horrifying premonitions ... a rekindling of the curse that has trickled through generations of women in her family – a wicked gift known only as ‘the murmurs’...

With its reappearance comes an old, forgotten fear that is about to grip Annie Jackson.

And this time, it will never let go...

What did I think?

Oh wow, Michael J. Malone has done it again.  Just when I think he's written his best book, he goes and pulls another one out of the bag.  The Murmurs is an outstanding gothic thriller that chilled me to the bone.

Annie has always felt different from her twin brother Lewis, and it wasn't helped by their mother treating Lewis as the golden child and all but ignoring Annie.  Their mother Eleanor always feared that Annie had a curse lying dormant inside her and now it's about to wake up.  Eeeeeek!  The death premonitions and whispering voices really creeped me out and I loved it!

The whole story is very intricately plotted around Annie's curse and it's like untangling a ball of wool so I couldn't read fast enough to discover all of the book's dark and creepy secrets.  I loved the story of Eleanor and her sisters and it was heartbreaking to read about how patients (mainly women) with mental health issues were treated in the not too distant past.  

Expect the unexpected with a Michael J. Malone book and you will not be disappointed.  The Murmurs is a dark, creepy and compelling book that ticks all the boxes of a fast-paced thriller but it goes one better by adding an element of the supernatural.

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

My rating:

Buy it from:

About the author:

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. His dark psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and is currently in production for the screen, and five powerful standalone thrillers followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr, where he also works as a hypnotherapist.

Follow the tour:

Thursday 7 September 2023

BLOG TOUR: A Beautiful Rival - Gill Paul

The world is at war, but on the gilded streets of Fifth Avenue, New York, a battle of a different kind is brewing…

New York, 1915.
Elizabeth Arden has been New York’s golden girl since her beauty salon opened its famous red door five years prior. Against all odds, she’s built an empire.

Enter Helena Rubinstein: ruthless, revolutionary – and the rival Elizabeth didn’t bargain for.

With both women determined to succeed – no matter the personal cost – a battle of beauty is born. And as the stakes increase, so do the methods: poaching employees, planting spies, copying products, hiring ex-husbands.

But as each woman climbs higher, so too does what she stands to lose.

Because the greater the height, the harder the fall…

What did I think?

I would not be surprised to learn that Gill Paul has invented a time machine and an invisibility cloak and she can travel back in time to observe any historical figure she wishes to write about.  There is definitely some magic between the pages of A Beautiful Rival as I felt as if I was in early 20th century New York with Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein 

I knew nothing about Elizabeth Arden or Helena Rubenstein, apart from their brand names, before reading A Beautiful Rival.  Now I feel like I know both of them inside out, not just their physical characters but their whole character including their thoughts and feelings.  It's actually quite impressive to think that these two very different, but also very similar, ladies succeeded in what was very much a man's world.

The rivalry between them is as dramatic and bitchy as a soap opera, as each woman vies to be the premier cosmetic brand in America.  Fifth Avenue is pretty long, I'm sure there would have been room for both of them!  As with any feud, it often gets nasty and Helena Rubenstein is the victim of anti-Semitism, which unfortunately wasn't unusual during that time.  Give her her due though, she's not the one who changed her name.

A Beautiful Rival is historical fiction at its finest and five stars are nowhere near enough for this wonderful book.  Gill Paul continues to amaze me with her writing prowess and her inimitable skill of bringing historical figures to life.  I will be recommending this book for a very long time - make sure you don't miss it.

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

My rating:

Buy it from:

About the author:
Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in the twentieth century and often writing about the lives of real women. Her novels have topped bestseller lists in the US and Canada as well as the UK and have been translated into twenty languages. The Secret Wife has sold over half a million copies and is a bookclub favourite worldwide.

She is also the author of several non-fiction books on historical subjects.

Follow the tour:

Tuesday 5 September 2023

BLOG TOUR: Holly's Hawaiian Holiday (The Blossomwood Bay Series Book 3) - Daisy James

Welcome to Holly's Hawaiian Holiday, the third book in a brand new series from the author of the Hummingbird Hotel series and the Cornish Confetti Agency series.

Escape to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands!

When Holly Henderson loses her dog-grooming business in the Blossomwood Bay fire, she’s devastated, and her plans to expand into creative coat-dyeing are over before they began. After her temporary job at Blossomwood Kennels also comes to a heart-breaking end, she’s left with no choice but to accept her cousin’s offer of a dog-sitting assignment for celebrity TV chef Oscar Reynolds if she wants to keep her beloved springer spaniel, Ariel, in dog biscuits.

However, the assignment is in Hawaii and Holly has never been further than a short weekend trip to Paris. With some trepidation, she heads to Oahu and the Mahina family’s ranch where, within five minutes of arriving, she’s run off the road by a speeding Ferrari and doused in an avalanche of “organic” fertiliser.

So much for the glamorous holiday she’d hoped to enjoy!

But despite the inauspicious start, it doesn’t take long for the tropical island paradise to weave its Aloha magic through Holly’s veins. Can the hang loose lifestyle help her find the confidence she needs to deal with the demons that have been chasing her for as long as she can remember? Or will they continue to pursue her, sapping her energy, and ruining her chance of finding happiness?

Join Holly as she explores everything the beautiful Hawaiian Islands have to offer, and enjoy a story filled with sun, sea, and surfing, along with a Dash, Dollop & Drizzle of heart-warming romance.

What did I think?

I love going on a virtual holiday with a Daisy James book and the latest novel in The Blossomwood Bay series takes us to Hawaii.  Although it's the third book in the series, it can be read as a standalone as it's a self-contained story.  Characters from the previous books are mentioned along with a brief reminder of their own stories, just to complete the full picture.

The Blossomwood Bay fire destroyed several businesses and they can't rebuild their livelihoods until the boardwalk owner is located.  The only problem is, he's on retreat in America without a phone and nobody knows exactly where he is.  To make ends meet, Holly agrees to do a dog-sitting Hawaii.

I really enjoyed my trip to Hawaii; there's friendship, romance and a sprinkling of skullduggery that kept me entertained.  It was nice to get to know Holly and I feel like she's one of my friends so it'll be nice to see how she's doing as I'm sure she'll get a mention in the next Blossomwood Bay instalment.  

Daisy James has a wonderful knack of adding so much colour to her narrative via sights, sounds, smells and tastes that you really feel as if you're there in the book.  Hawaii would be far too hot for me and I would never dream of going there, but it was lovely to experience it through Daisy's eyes.

Entertaining and charming, Holly's Hawaiian Holiday is pure escapism and a very enjoyable read.

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

My rating:

Purchase links:

About the author:
Daisy James loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea - china plates and teacups are a must.

Daisy would love to hear from readers via her Facebook page or you can follow her on Twitter @daisyjamesbooks or on Instagram @booksdaisyjames.

Social Media Links –
Twitter: @daisyjamesbooks

Follow the tour: