Saturday 30 March 2024

BLOG TOUR: Murder on the Dancefloor (The Bad Girls Detective Agency Book 2) - Katie Marsh

They DID promise her a killer hen weekend...

Jeanie’s getting married, and – despite her completely impossible four sisters – her best friends Clio and Amber are determined to give her a bachelorette weekend to remember. They’re in matching pink T-shirts and the drinks are flowing...

But the night turns out to be unforgettable for all the wrong reasons when a girl turns up dead on the dancefloor. And – even though she’s a stranger – she is wearing one of Jeanie’s hen T-shirts.

Who is she? And why are the police convinced that the hens are involved? Can the newly-formed Bad Girls Detective Agency solve the murder? And in time to get Jeanie up the aisle?

Unputdownable mystery set on the English coast – perfect for fans of The Thursday Murder Club, Bad Sisters and How to Kill Your Family.

What did I think?

Although I haven't read the first book in The Bad Girls Detective Agency series, How Not To Murder Your Ex, I really want to after reading Murder on the Dancefloor.  It's not necessary to have read the first book as I really enjoyed meeting this colourful group of girls and I felt that I got to know them over the course of the book.

Jeanie's hen party takes a sinister turn when a body is found in the nightclub where they are partying.  Jeanie is with her mother (who spends the evening reading her kindle), her quirky sisters (who could be an alternative to the Spice Girls) and her friends (who form The Bad Girls Detective Agency).  An investigation soon begins that puts Jeanie's wedding at risk.

This is a really fun crime caper that is very entertaining and would make a great TV series.  I had my suspicions about who the murderer was but there are a lot of threads to untangle before the big reveal.  I loved how everything came together at the end in a very satisfying conclusion.

Entertaining, fun and captivating, Murder on the Dancefloor is a heartwarming cosy mystery with friendship and family at its heart.  I loved it and will definitely be reading the first book in  the series to find out more about this wonderful group of friends.

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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About the author:
Katie wrote romantic fiction before turning to crime. Her debut novel was a World Book Night pick and her books are published in ten languages.

She lives in the English countryside and loves strong coffee and pretending to be in charge of her children. ‘How Not to Murder your Ex’, the first in her Bad Girls Detective Agency series is out now, published by Boldwood Books. The next instalment, 'Murder on the Dancefloor,' follows in March 2024.

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Tuesday 26 March 2024

Never Forgive You - Hilly Barmby

A glamorous French wedding 

Arriving at the station with her boyfriend Davey MacGregor and his twin sisters, Ailsa and Juliette, Hetty, a thriller book addict, picks up on family tension. But that’s natural before a big wedding, isn’t it? Hetty feels out of her depth. The family are wealthy and well- educated, whereas she is a council house girl. Davey’s cousin Isabelle is to marry Jean- Jacques, a French right-wing politician, in the family chateau. 

A fairy-tale event 

Ailsa is hesitant about coming back to France. Eight years ago, something happened that nearly destroyed the family. But that was dealt with, wasn’t it? Hetty has secrets of her own that she doesn’t want known. Ailsa is drawn back into the past. What, exactly, did happen? The expensive wedding is everything it should be, except when the groom is taken ill. The revellers carry on, but something is seriously wrong. 

Then things start to unravel 

The relationships between the family members fracture and secrets from the past start coming to the surface, with murderous results… Who is telling the truth? Who is out for revenge?

What did I think?

As you can tell from the fabulous cover, Never Forgive You is a dark and disturbing novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I loved the setting of a French wedding in a village where the MacGregors are clearly not welcome.  Something clearly happened in the past and I couldn't read fast enough to find out what it was.

It's evident from the start that this is one heck of a dysfunctional family but the true extent is not revealed until near the end.  I had my virtual running shoes on when I was reading and I read the book in two sittings as I couldn't put it down until I had discovered all of the secrets.

The family aren't terribly welcoming to Davey MacGregor's girlfriend Hetty and my blood was boiling as I read chapters from their point of view and found out what they really thought about Hetty.  Just who do they think they are?  With skeletons in their closet tapping on the door to get out, they really shouldn't be acting so aloof.

Compelling, dark and disturbing, Never Forgive You is a page-turning thriller that incensed and entertained me.  Revenge is indeed a dish that is best served cold.

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

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Wednesday 20 March 2024

BLOG TOUR: Crow Moon (A Martha Strangeways Investigation Book 1) - Suzy Aspley

When the crow moon rises, the darkness is unleashed...

Martha Strangeways is struggling to find purpose in her life, after giving up her career as an investigative reporter when her young twins died in a house fire.

Overwhelmed by guilt and grief, her life changes when she stumbles across the body of a missing teenager – a tragedy that turns even more sinister when a poem about crows is discovered inked onto his back...

When another teenager goes missing in the remote landscape, Martha is drawn into the investigation, teaming up with DI Derek Summers, as malevolent rumours begin to spread and paranoia grows.

As darkness descends on the village of Strathbran, it soon becomes clear that no one is safe, including Martha...

What did I think?

What a cracking debut!  It's as haunting and creepy inside as it is out.  This is one book where I would say please DO judge this book by its cover: just look at that creepy hourglass of black sand turning into a murder of crows.  This is the first book in a new crime series starring investigative reporter Martha Strangeways and it's an absolute belter.

I loved Martha Strangeways; she has such a tragic backstory and, even though she's not currently working, she's a tenacious reporter.  Martha can't help but be drawn into the investigation after she finds the body of her son's friend and when another one of Dougie's schoolfriends goes missing it becomes very personal as every sign points to Dougie being next.

As well as the gripping present day storyline, the chapters are interspersed with excerpts from a Book of Shadows.  These excerpts are heartbreaking as they are written by a woman trapped in an abusive marriage with her young son.  Both timelines are linked by the 'Feannag Dhubh', a poem written about crows and a woman executed for being a witch.

The writing is sublime as Suzy Aspley's wonderful words paint a dark and dangerous landscape that I could easily visualise in my head.  There's a hint of the supernatural that sent shivers down my spine and I couldn't read fast enough to discover all of the secrets the book had in store for me.

Hauntingly atmospheric, tense and creepy, Crow Moon is an outstanding debut from an exciting new voice in crime fiction.  It's a fantastic start to a new series and I can't wait to read book two.  A very highly recommended read.

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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About the author:
Originally from the north-east of England, former journalist Suzy Aspley has lived in Scotland for almost thirty years. She writes crime and short stories, often inspired by the strange things she sees in the landscape around her. She won Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect in 2019 with the original idea for her debut novel and was shortlisted for the Capital Crime New Voices Award. In 2020, she was mentored by Jo Dickinson as part of the Hachette future bookshelf initiative. Crow Moon was also longlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award. She’s currently working on the second book in the series, and when she’s not writing, she’s either got her nose buried in a book, or is outside with her dogs dreaming up more dark stories. She lives in Stirlingshire with her family.

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Tuesday 19 March 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Thief of Joy - Stacey Murray

Single-mum Roz compares herself to everyone else, from her sister to friends to people on social media, and feels she's missing out. She wants what they've got - a husband, a father for her daughter, and respect.

When she meets Daniel, Roz thinks her dreams are possible, until he dies suddenly and tragically. Devastated by grief and loneliness, she rushes headlong into a relationship with Mark, a widower she meets in an online support group.

Yet as Mark's behaviour becomes more controlling and manipulative, Roz realises he isn't the man of her dreams. He is hiding a jaw-dropping secret that spells danger for Roz and her daughter...

What did I think?

The Thief of Joy is a very good slow burn thriller that smoulders from start to finish and I really enjoyed it.  Stacey Murray's suspenseful writing creates a web of intrigue that completely captured my attention.

I felt really sorry for Roz at the start when all the hopes and dreams of a new relationship are snatched away from her so cruelly.  Roz only knew Daniel for a short time so she doesn't get much sympathy from her family and turns to an online grief support group to validate her right to grieve.  

As with all online groups though, there are some nice people and some trolls so when Roz gets a message from an administrator the reader can't help but wonder which category Mark falls into.  As Mark gradually wheedles his way into Roz's life the chapters are interspersed with sinister snippets that let the reader know that all is not as it seems.

My sympathy for Roz ebbed and flowed like the tide as she is always comparing herself to other people and wanting what they have.  I'm not saying she's not unlucky but her desperation to find a partner causes her to overlook their flaws and this puts her and her daughter in danger.

Captivating and tense, The Thief of Joy is a riveting psychological thriller that is filled with suspense, envy and danger.  It's well worth a read and I think it's important to remind readers that some people online are not who they seem.

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

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Monday 11 March 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Collapsing Wave (The Enceladons Trilogy, Book 2) - Doug Johnstone

Six months since the earth-shattering events of The Space Between Us, the revelatory hope of the aliens’ visit has turned to dust and the creatures have disappeared into the water off Scotland’s west coast.
Teenager Lennox and grieving mother Heather are being held in New Broom, a makeshift US military base, the subject of experiments, alongside the Enceladons who have been captured by the authorities.
Ava, who has given birth, is awaiting the jury verdict at her trial for the murder of her husband. And MI7 agent Oscar Fellowes, who has been sidelined by the US military, is beginning to think he might be on the wrong side of history.
When alien Sandy makes contact, Lennox and Heather make a plan to escape with Ava. All three of them are heading for a profound confrontation between the worst of humanity and a possible brighter future, as the stakes get higher for the alien Enceladons and the entire human race…
Sequel to the bestselling The Space Between Us, The Collapsing Wave is an exquisite, epic first-contact novel, laced with peril and populated by unforgettable characters, and the awe-inspiring book we all need right now…

What did I think?

Sandy is back!!!!  The Collapsing Wave is one of my most eagerly anticipated sequels and not only does it not disappoint, it totally blew me away.  I thought book one, The Space Between Us, was exceptional but The Collapsing Wave is exquisite.  It's made me even more excited to see how Doug Johnstone follows this one with the final book in the trilogy.

It's so good to be back with Lennox, Heather and Ava again although they are all in a right pickle: Lennox and Heather are being held on an American military base in Scotland and Ava is on trial for the murder of her husband.  The Americans are capturing and experimenting on the aliens and it's both cruel and shocking.  If only Sandy, my favourite alien, could be contacted...

Oh my goodness, this book is simply breathtaking.  It's filled with so much action and suspense that I was on the edge of my seat and racing through the pages as fast as I possibly could.  The writing is vivid and expressive, creating multicoloured scenes in my mind as the story played out on the page.

For anyone who says they don't read science fiction, you haven't read Doug Johnstone's form of sci-fi.  It's written like a thriller with characters (both human and alien) that you completely root for and you almost forget that the Enceladons are from outer space.  I am really looking forward to reading the final book but, at the same time, I simply don't want this wonderful series to finish.

The Collapsing Wave is an absolute must read 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.

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About the author:

Doug Johnstone is the author of 16 previous novels, most recently The Opposite of Lonely (2023) and The Space Between Us (2023). The Big Chill (2020) was longlisted for Theakston Crime Novel of the Year, and Black Hearts was shortlisted for the same award. Three of his books, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), have been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade, and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with six albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers. He’s also co-founder of the Scotland Writers Football Club, and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

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Sunday 10 March 2024

BLOG TOUR: Simon Serrailler cases - The Vows of Silence - Susan Hill

A gunman is terrorising young women.

What links these seemingly random murders? Is the marksman with a rifle the same person as the killer with a handgun? Or do the police have two snipers on their hands?

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler is in charge of the case, but is struggling to cope with a tragedy at the heart of his family.

The pressure is mounting...

What did I think?

Somehow, Susan Hill's Simon Serrailer series has stayed completely off my radar but now that I have read The Vows of Silence it is firmly in my sights.  This is book four in the Simon Serailler series and it can totally be read as a standalone as it was my introduction to the series and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  

Of course, jumping in mid-series means that you have missed some of the history of the characters but Susan Hill gives the reader enough of the relevant back stories so I didn't feel at a disadvantage at all, it's only made me hungry for more.

The village of Lafferton is shocked by the disturbing shootings of young women and DSC Simon Serrailler needs to get into the mind of the gunman to solve the crimes.  Simon has such a lot on his plate at the moment as his family are struggling to come to terms with a devastating diagnosis.  I really felt for Simon being pulled in so many different directions and it's so difficult to have to choose between work and family.

There are so many interwoven strands of the stunning plot to keep the reader entertained and on their toes.  You can't help but look suspiciously at each character and ask yourself if they are the one terrorising the village.  Simon's family tragedy was written with such sensitivity and poignancy and I'm not ashamed to say that it brought a tear to my eye.

Gripping, compelling and captivating, The Vows of Silence is a stunning crime fiction novel that shocked, surprised and entertained me from start to finish.  Susan Hill has a new fan; I will definitely be reading more of this fantastic series.

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

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Thursday 7 March 2024

You Wouldn't Catch Me Dead - Tess James-Mackey

The only thing worse than being lost . . . is being found.

Keely planned to keep her head down at her new school - she isn't there to make friends or memories, she just wants to be left alone.

In order to get into college, she is roped into a programme that involves camping in the Welsh wilderness with five over-keen try-hards. Her plan is to keep her head down, keep her mouth shut and get through the next few days.

But Keely is running from something. Something that drove her family out of their home and to this quiet town. And when her fellow explorers start disappearing and the bodies begin to pile up, she has to ask herself: did she run far enough?

The second spine-chilling standalone from the author of Someone is Watching You, Tess James-Mackey.

What did I think?

After reading Tess James-Mackey's outstanding debut, Someone Is Watching You, I was very excited to read her next book, You Wouldn't Catch Me Dead, and I was not disappointed.  It is every bit just as creepy, tense and disturbing as I expected and I loved every second of it.

I've never been camping and I certainly wouldn't want to now after reading about a school trip to the Black Mountains in Wales that goes terribly wrong.  Keely is the new girl at school after a tragic event that saw her leave her old life behind and start again where nobody knows her.  She can run but she can't hide

Keely is haunted by her past, that is gradually revealed to the reader through flashbacks, but she has more pressing things on her mind at the moment when the group finds themselves lost in the spooky Welsh wilderness with no phone signal.  The barren location is completely bone-chilling and I could easily visualise the creepy ruins of the abbey.  

Tense, creepy and disturbing, You Wouldn't Catch Me Dead is a chilling YA read that is filled with suspense.  The stories of ghostly monks that entertained the group sent shivers down my spine and I was totally creeped out when things started going bump in the night.  A highly recommend read for teens and adults alike.

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