Friday 28 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Stand-Up Mam - Kay Wilson

Georgie Chancellor has worked hard to have a perfect life, and it is, on the outside. She has a beautiful home, successful husband and two wonderful children. Everything she dreamed about as a girl is hers. Not that she ever thinks about her past, anymore.

But when her family enters her into a stand-up comedy competition. Georgie finds on stage, only the truth will do.

Encouraged by Jaz, her handsome mentor, she riffs about her family and what life is really like behind the facade. Audiences love it, and Georgie's star begins to rise.

Will stand-up success destroy everything she has created?

What did I think?

As soon as I saw 'Mam' in the title, I knew I had to read The Stand-Up Mam to support a local author.  Kay Wilson's debut novel is fabulous and a lot darker than you'd expect from the title, but it's filled with heart and north-east wit.

Georgie Chancellor feels invisible; she's like a house-slave for her family, preparing meals and doing laundry without a word of thanks or appreciation.  It's quite a surprise when her family enter her into a stand-up comedy competition and I don't think they expected her to do so well and the joke is on them when it takes her out of the home and into the comedy clubs.

It's cathartic for Georgie to vent her frustration on stage, with her family life providing most of her material.  Finally, somebody is listening to her and she can reveal her dark heart in all its nasty glory.  As the competition progresses, so does the drama in Georgie's life and she has even more to talk about on stage.  Her family are so self-centred and disinterested in what's going on with Georgie, other than how it affects them, so they have no idea what Georgie talks about on stage.

I loved seeing Georgie's confidence grow throughout the book and I was torn between thinking she should be honest with her family and thinking that it serves them right for taking her for granted.  Set in comedy clubs, there is obviously a sprinkling of humour but there's a whole lot of drama when Georgie rencounters a face from her past.

Powerful, inspirational and very entertaining, The Stand-Up Mam not only encourages you to follow your dreams but also to tell someone you appreciate them.  I loved it and would definitely recommend giving it a read.

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:
Kay Wilson lives in South Tyneside. Her novel features many of her own experiences of stand-up comedy - a bucket list ambition she achieved after surviving a near-fatal brain haemorrhage.

She has worked in PR for 30 years and won the New Writing North/Journal Flash Fiction competition. She has had short stories published in various anthologies.

"I would love my book to empower women to make each day the best it can be for them and, it might sound trite, to challenge themselves and follow their dreams."

Follow the tour:

Thursday 27 June 2024

The Days of Our Birth - Charlie Laidlaw

Theirs was the most important relationship of their life...

It was a perfect relationship until time pulled them apart. A beautiful story sensitively told about how love and friendship can conquer everything, including time, to a point.

“The Days of Our Birth” delves into the intricate bond between Peter and Sarah as they navigate their formative years. Spanning from their sixth birthday through two decades, the narrative unfolds against the backdrop of Sarah’s placement on the autism spectrum. With a blend of humour and poignancy, the book intricately weaves together themes of love and friendship, unravelling the tale of two individuals who grapple with their emotions for each other, even though they remain unacknowledged.

What did I think?

This beautiful book surprised, delighted and almost broke me.  I have to say that I wouldn't have picked it up simply from looking at the plain cover, however, I've read Charlie Laidlaw's books before so I knew I was in for a treat and I was not wrong.  The cover may be simple but the story is very deep and meaningful.

Peter and Sarah aren't just next door neighbours, they are also the best of friends who coincidentally share the same birthday.  I felt very privileged to watch them celebrate over the years as I got to know these beautiful characters.  As each year passes, the two characters work their way further and further into my heart and I shall never forget them.

It's heartbreaking to see how Sarah is treated as school, just because she thinks differently to others.  Kids can be so cruel and it's no wonder that people with autism retreat further into their own minds where they can make sense of things.  Peter doesn't see Sarah's autism, he just sees Sarah but when Sarah is sent to a new school the pair start to drift apart.  Will they ever find their way back to each other?  You'll just have to read the book to find out!

I'm not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear or two whilst reading this beautiful book.  I was so completely invested in Sarah and Peter's lives that I felt as if I knew them personally, thanks to Charlie Laidlaw's outstanding character development.  Friendship is at the heart of the novel and once you make such a firm friendship, time or distance can never break it.  

Prepare to feel all the feels with this one; The Days of Our Birth is a stunning and completely unforgettable novel.  Very highly recommended - please don't judge this book by its cover, it really is a hidden gem.

Many thanks to Charlie Laidlaw for sending me an ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday 25 June 2024

What Lies Between Us - John Marrs

Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.

What did I think?

My name's Michelle and I'm a John Marrs addict.  WOW!  What Lies Between Us is another absolute belter from the dark and twisted mind of John Marrs.  I'm gradually making my way through all of John Marrs' novels and What Lies Between Us is classic Marrs with a tense, addictive storyline that blows the reader's mind.

Maggie and Nina have a very unconventional mother/daughter relationship and I didn't know whose side to be on: the one who has been lied to and irrevocably damaged or the one who was incarcerated in the attic.  With two incredibly unreliable narrators the reader is in for a real treat in this impossible to predict, unputdownable novel.

I simply couldn't read it fast enough and it's not only a fantastic fast-paced rollercoaster ride, it's like visiting a whole fairground with a perplexing house of mirrors, a chilling ghost train and a twisty helter skelter.  As fast as I was reading it, What Lies Between Us is also a ride I didn't want to get off.  I absolutely LOVED IT!

Shocking, twisty and deliciously dark, What Lies Between Us is an unmissable book for fans of dark, domestic noir.  An easy five stars - I really can't recommend it highly enough.

I received a paperback for the Tandem Collective Readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:

Friday 21 June 2024

Wheel of Fortune: 1 (The Tarnished Crown) - C.F. Dunn

1469. England is in turmoil. For almost ten years, the attractive and charismatic Edward IV has ruled with the Earl of Warwick’s support, but now rebellion threatens the fragile peace.

Strong-willed and single-minded, heiress Isobel Fenton is determined that nothing will separate her from her beloved manor of Beaumancote even if she does have to marry to stay there. But as unseen witness to a summary execution, she is propelled into the world of personal feud and national politics, and her life will never be the same.

Left in the protection of the formidable Earl, Isobel soon discovers that she is much more than the daughter of his loyal retainer, but holds the key to the power base in a troubled region.

And she is about to marry Thomas Lacey – heir of the Earl’s enemy for whose peremptory execution he had been responsible.

The Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Clarence foment rebellion. With the Midlands in uproar, King Edward wants peace in the shires and the last thing he needs is potential trouble in the form of an unwed heiress.

Isolated and alone, Isobel turns to the Earl’s younger brother, Robert Langton - newly sworn to Richard, Duke of Gloucester - and as unrest boils into war, she is drawn into the very heart of the conflict.

Facing extremes of courage and moral ambiguity, Isobel has to predict the motivations of those who decide her own and England’s fate. Caught between two men and a lie, and with nothing left to lose, which way will she turn?

What did I think?

I knew I was going to love Wheel of Fortune as soon as I opened it and saw not only a map but a family tree and a list of characters too.  It's little things like this that make a good book great and Wheel of Fortune is an outstanding piece of historical fiction and a riveting start to an exciting new series.

I absolutely loved the main character of Isobel; she is so feisty and strong-willed but unfortunately, lives in a time when women should be seen and not heard.  Isobel is betrothed to Thomas Lacey and is looking forward to her wedding, but when her father dies she is transferred into the care of the Earl.  No longer the mistress of the house, Isobel is treated like a servant and tasked with looking after the Earl's daughters.  She thinks it's only temporary until her wedding, but the Earl has other ideas: the wedding is cancelled and Isobel's future is thrown into doubt.

Set during the reign of Edward IV and in the midst of the Wars of the Roses, everybody must choose a side and nobody can be trusted...least of all those who should be protectors.  I really felt for Isobel, having her whole future mapped out and then suddenly vanishing before her eyes on the death of her father.  Women, even those of high birth, had no rights even if they were more than capable of managing estates without a man by their side.

Wheel of Fortune is a captivating step back in time as the 15th century is brought vividly to life through C.F. Dunn's wonderful writing.  I am so pleased that it is the first of a new series as I didn't want the story to end and I can't wait to read more.  Very highly recommended.

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 Amazon

Follow the tour:

Thursday 20 June 2024

Redemption - Jack Jordan

Aaron Alexander has just been released from jail after serving eleven years for causing the death of Joshua Moore in a hit-and-run. Now a free man, all he wants to do is stay on the straight and narrow and leave his troubled past behind him.

But for Joshua’s mother Evelyn, eleven years in jail isn’t nearly enough. Consumed by grief and rage, she has been waiting for Aaron’s release, counting down the days until she can exact the revenge he deserves. And now that time has come.

But as Evelyn and her husband Tobias embark on a road trip to track Aaron down, they find themselves caught on two different sides of a gripping game of cat-and-mouse. Because Tobias knows what Evelyn is planning, and he will do anything to save her from herself.

Even if it means protecting the man who killed their son.

Locked in a collision course set in motion eleven years ago, Aaron, Evelyn and Tobias are about to find out whether the road they have chosen leads to redemption . . . or to retribution.

What did I think?

You'll always find me at the front of the queue when a new Jack Jordan book is released and I had very high expectations when I picked up Redemption.  Not only was I not disappointed, Jack Jordan saw my expectations and raised them to a whole new level.  WOW!  

Jack Jordan isn't called the Master of the Moral Dilemma for no reason and whilst there is an absolute belter of a moral dilemma in Redemption, there's also a thought-provoking twist that reminds us that there are two sides to every story.  But which side will each reader be on?  Team Evelyn or Team Aaron?

No parent would ever want to be in Evelyn and Tobias Moore's position; their beautiful 9-year-old son Joshua went off to camp and never returned after being killed in a hit-and-run.  Justice was served and the man who killed Joshua went to prison...but only for eleven years.  I could totally understand Evelyn's fury - Joshua's life was cruelly stolen and eleven years of prison is simply not enough for his killer to pay.  As soon as the sentence was delivered, Evelyn decided to make Aaron Alexander pay the ultimate price: a life for a life.

I couldn't help but feel sympathy for the Moores; their marriage has been under a considerable strain since Joshua's death as Evelyn single-mindedly planned her revenge.  Tobias has his own plan though: he wants to stop Evelyn from becoming a murderer and if that means protecting Aaron, then that's what he'll do.

Now this is where the story takes an unexpected turn as I was fully prepared to hate Aaron but peeling back the layers of his story broke my heart.  One tragic event changed the course of his life - he didn't plan to kill Joshua unlike Evelyn plans to kill Aaron.  The character of Aaron is so beautifully portrayed and I found his story incredibly poignant and emotional.  I will never forget him and the lessons his story taught me.

There appears to be no limit to Jack Jordan's talent and imagination so prepare for a long night of reading when you pick up Redemption as you won't be able to put it down.  Set out in sections representing the stages of grief, Redemption is an absolute masterpiece.  Once again, Jack Jordan scoops all the stars for his unmissable new book.

Unmissable, unputdownable and unforgettable - do not miss Redemption: one of the most eagerly anticipated books of the year and one that will not disappoint.

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

My rating:

Buy it from:

Monday 17 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: Narcoball: Love, Death and Football in Escobar's Colombia - David Arrowsmith

Pablo Escobar had one obsession. Not drugs, not money, not power... football.

Narcoball uncovers the incredible story of Colombian football during the early 1990s - shaped by drug lords, rivalries, and ambition. With untold insights from the players and politicians, it uncovers a football empire backed by cartels - where victory was a currency of its own, and defeat, a matter of life and death.

This is a different story of Pablo Escobar and his rival. A tale of clandestine deals that reshaped Medellin's football clubs, where fortunes were won and lost. It unveils the extraordinary bonds that Escobar forged with football's luminaries and why his influence reached unprecedented heights, leading to the astonishing 5-0 victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires, the murder of referees, and the ruthless coercion of officials culminating in the killing of Andres Escobar - the Colombian defender who paid the ultimate price for an own goal in the 1994 World Cup. It is also an examination of a people's relationship with both the sport and the nefarious leaders that brought both pride and terror to their communities.

Set against the U.S War on Drugs, international threats, and government clampdowns, this is a gripping exploration of Colombian club football under Escobar's rise and fall.

What did I think?

As a longstanding football fan, I was immediately drawn to Narcoball.  I mean, who could forget Carlos Valderrama in Italia '90?  Not just for his impressive hair but for his silky footwork. Then there's Andrés Escobar whose coldblooded murder shocked the world of football in 1994.  This is as much their story as it is Pablo Escobar's and it is absolutely fascinating.

I didn't know much about Pablo Escobar before reading Narcoball so it was really interesting to read about his life and to understand more about the man beneath the famous drug lord.  One thing I'll say about Pablo Escobar, he really loved football.  It is both eye-opening and jaw-dropping to read about the lengths he went to in order to see and play the beautiful game.

Colombia were one of the most exciting teams in Italia '90 and were tipped for the title in USA '94, but what the world didn't know was that the players had a huge weight on their shoulders.  As if the pressure of playing in the World Cup wasn't enough, their lives were at risk if they didn't perform well.  Andrés Escobar was the unfortunate player who lost his life after scoring an own goal and I think it's important to remember him as it's such a waste of a young life and he should still be alive today.

If I didn't know that this was a true story, I would think it was a Hollywood blockbuster filled with guns, drugs, gangs, bribery, prison and a relentless chase for the capture of a wanted man.  It's absolutely astounding that all of the things in the book actually happened.  There is also a photograph section in the middle of the book to really bring the story to life.

David Arrowsmith's research is meticulous and his love of the game is evident throughout this engrossing book.  Narcoball is a must-read for both football fans and true crime fans.  I really enjoyed it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

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

My rating:

Buy it from:

About the author:

David Arrowsmith was the Director of Development at leading UK factual TV producer Zig Zag Productions. He has worked in television for over 20 years - developing unscripted ideas and acting as Executive Producer on key projects for companies such as October Films, DSP, Channel 5, Granada Television, and the BBC. He is passionate about history, and just some of his key commissions include '1966: Who Stole the World Cup?', 'Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty', '8 Days That Made Rome', and 'Adolf & Eva: Love & War'. He was also involved in the development of the award-winning, Nobel Peace Prize-nominated documentary 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields'.

David was born and raised in London but is proudly half-Colombian. In fact, he is the great-grandson of a former president and directly descended from four more. He has played football for over 35 years and has no plans to stop just yet.

Follow the tour:

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Bad Actors - Mark Pepper

Actor and fun, middle-aged psychopath Matt Spiller has finally made it to Hollywood. With a big movie under his belt, his life as a provincial English taxi driver is firmly in the past. As are the drug dealers he was forced to kill.

He’s landed the lead role in a TV series called Veteran Avenue, and he’s got a new girlfriend.

Life is improbably peachy.

Then people start arriving in LA.

His ex-wife is the least of his worries; she just wants to send him on a guilt trip.

His ex-agent, on the other hand, wants a chunk of his new-found wealth, and will use blackmail to get it, while a dogged detective wants to jail him for a spate of unsolved murders.

And when Spiller stumbles upon a secret that could destroy Hollywood, a hell of a lot of people want him dead.

What did I think?

I've thoroughly enjoyed all of Mark Pepper's novels and it feels like they were all leading up to the pinnacle of Bad Actors.  You can of course read Bad Actors as a standalone but you won't pick up the references to all of Mark Pepper's previous books and I absolutely loved how they were all woven into the fantastic plot.

It's the second book featuring Matt Spiller who we met in Man Down and the former British taxi driver is living it up in LA after starring in a major movie and then securing the lead role in a TV series.  Everything is going great but this is Matt Spiller we're talking about and when it goes wrong, it goes spectacularly wrong.

I really don't want to give away any of the plot so I'm saying no more about it but believe me when I say that this is a book you don't want to miss.  The whole book is outstanding from the amazing cover to the explosive plot and the characters that are so razor-sharp you need to wear gloves when reading about them.

Blisteringly fast-paced and incredibly gripping, if Bad Actors was any grittier it would be a tonne of grit.  Without doubt, it's all of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Bad Actors so it's an easy five stars from me.  One of the streaming services or a film producer seriously needs to pick up this book right now!  I don't often shout but I'm shouting now: DON'T MISS THIS BOOK!!!

Many thanks to Mark Pepper for sending me a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday 8 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: Guilty - Ruby Speechley

“You’re invited to my farewell party. I’ve got something to tell you before I die…”

Heather wants to leave this world with a clear conscience.

One confession. One secret. Two scores to settle.

Heather accepted the fate of her terminal diagnosis long ago, but now the time is nearing, she arranges a huge farewell party for her nearest and dearest.

She wants to say goodbye to everyone personally, but there’s another reason she wants the people in her life to gather.

She knows who killed young Simon Eyre all those years ago, and she needs to tell. The boy deserves justice.

But she doesn’t realise that by freeing her own inner demons, she’s unleashing much worse secrets, and putting everyone at risk…

What did I think?

I absolutely love a book filled with secrets so I couldn't put Guilty down once I picked it up.  There's a big whopper of a secret and a bucketful of smaller secrets and lies to be revealed so put on your virtual running shoes when you pick up this incredibly addictive book.

As awful as it is to die too soon, Heather has the chance to say goodbye to all of her family and friends when she receives her terminal diagnosis.  Heather doesn't just want to say goodbye though, she wants to confess...

To say things don't go to plan is a bit of an understatement and all of the added drama made my eyes zip down the page faster than they already were.  I'm surprised I didn't have a blister on my finger from turning the pages so fast!  I loved how just when I thought I had everything worked out, Ruby Speechley threw another spanner in the works.  Great stuff!

Addictive, entertaining and blisteringly fast-paced, Guilty may be my first Ruby Speechley book but it won't be my last.  I couldn't put it down and I loved every minute of it.  A recommended read but make sure you block out a few hours so you can read uninterrupted.

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

My rating:

Purchase link:

About the author:

Ruby Speechley is a bestselling psychological thriller writer, whose titles include Someone Else’s Baby. Previously published by Hera, she has been a journalist and worked in PR and lives in Cheshire.
Social Media Links –  

Follow the tour:

Friday 7 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Little Book of Extraordinary Cats - Anita Kelsey

Discover the captivating world of fabulous felines in The Little Book Of Extraordinary Cats. Join Anita Kelsey on a journey through fifteen remarkable tales celebrating the courage, resilience, and affection of our beloved feline companions, from pioneering space traveller Félicette to therapy cat London Meow. Whether you’re a cat lover or seeking heart-warming stories of human-animal connections, this book is a must-read.

What did I think?

This fantastic little book is an absolute gem.  It's a quick read at 152 pages long and you can dip in and out of it or read it cover to cover.  I couldn't put it down once I picked it up so I read it cover to cover, experiencing a surprising range of emotions during that time.

Fifteen extraordinary cats have their remarkable stories told by Anita Kelsey, along with several honourable mentions.  With so many great stories, it must have been hard to whittle it down to just fifteen.  All but one have their stories accompanied by a colour photograph so we can see these fabulous felines in all their glory.

This is the perfect book for anyone who has a cat or anyone who simply admires cats for their very unique characteristics.  The stories both warmed and broke my heart, making me laugh and cry as they entertained, surprised and delighted me.

The Little Book of Extraordinary Cats is a book to treasure and one to pick up when I'm feeling in need of a little pick-me-up.  I'm smiling just thinking about some of the stories so I'm sure that I will be rereading this little gem many more times over the years.  I absolutely loved it and really can't recommend it highly enough.

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:
Amazon UK

About the author:

Anita Kelsey holds a first class honours degree in Feline Behaviour and Psychology (work based BA Hons) and runs a vet referral service dedicated strictly to the diagnosis and treatment of behaviour problems in cats. She is also a qualified cat groomer and specialises in grooming challenging or phobic cats. Anita, a strong advocate of a vegan lifestyle, is based in East Sussex but consults all over the UK as well as international requests. She lives with her husband, a music producer, and 1 Norwegian Forest cat, Kiki.

Her first book 'Claws. Confessions Of A Professional Cat Groomer' was published by John Blake in 2017 with her second book, Let’s Talk About Cats self published via Amazon worldwide in 2020. The Little Book Of Extraordinary Cats is Anita’s third book.

Social Media Links 

Follow the tour:

Thursday 6 June 2024

GIVEAWAY: Husbands - Mo Fanning

I recently had the pleasure of reading an early copy of Husbands by Mo Fanning and I absolutely loved it - you can read my review by clicking HERE.  

As part of the blog tour, Hannah Hargrave PR has offered me a paperback copy to giveaway to one one lucky reader based in the UK.  You can enter via my posts on Instagram and X (links below), but first find out a little bit more about the book:

In Hollywood, every pavement star tells a story. Not all of them shine.

Wannabe actor Kyle Macdonald is down on his luck. Working as a supply teacher in an inner-city Birmingham school, he's single again at 28, and sleeping in his childhood bedroom beneath a 'Hard Candy' Madonna poster.

He gets a call claiming he drunkenly married top Hollywood director Aaron Biedermeier in Vegas six years ago. Rather than panic, he sees a golden ticket to fame and the life he's always fantasised about.

But the glamorous veneer of Los Angeles - non-stop sunshine, celebrity actors and exclusive hotel suites - starts to crack, revealing a darker, corrupt underbelly to La-La Land. Kyle digs deeper into his so-called husband's past, unearthing disturbing allegations of abuse and underage sex parties.

With the help of Biedermeier's fiancé, actor Noah Winters, he embarks on a cross-country race to unravel the mystery and expose the truth - finding love along the way.

Now for the giveaway!

Instagram: @the_bookmagnet

Follow the tour:

Wednesday 5 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Shame (Glasgow Southside Crime Series Book 3) - Maureen Myant

The cellar of a suburban bungalow has been hiding a dark secret. During building work, a skeleton is uncovered. DI Alex Scrimgeour and DS Mark Nicholson soon discover the remains have been there for sixty years. The owners of the house from that time, Richard and Doris Cavendish, are dead, but their daughter may still be alive.

Edith Drummond is pleased to be back at work as a teacher after lockdown. She's a difficult woman with no friends but she's good at her job and the children love her. However, her Head Teacher, Olivia Waring, wants her to retire. Edith is determined to stay put, but their feud soon pales into insignificance when Edith receives a visit from the police.

Mark is sure Edith is hiding something, but he doesn't know what. His suspicion deepens when further remains are found at the bungalow in Glasgow, this time of a newborn baby. Despite dealing with his own personal problems, Mark is determined to get to the bottom of this bizarre case. Is there a link between the two crimes? Is the answer staring him In the face or is there more to the mystery than meets the eye?

What did I think?

The Shame is the third book in the Glasgow Southside Crime Series and although you can read it is a standalone and thoroughly enjoy it, it's absolutely brilliant when read as part of the series.  

The character development throughout the series is outstanding and I was as hooked by the continuation of their stories as I was by the actual crime they were investigating.  It's a rather grisly crime when the new owners of a home discover a skeleton in their basement so the police need to trace the previous occupants to identify the body and solve the crime.  

Edith Drummond was so ashamed of her past in Glasgow that she changed her name and moved to Edinburgh.  Edith is a difficult woman to love but she really did grow on me and I completely sympathised with her past family life and her present working life as a teacher.  I was so annoyed that the head teacher can't see what a brilliant teacher Edith is but instead is set on making Edith retire.  I was virtually fist bumping the air when Edith continued to stand up to her.

I am completely hooked by DS Mark Nicholson's story and although I do feel sorry for him, he made his bed so he has to lie in it.  Unfortunately for Mark, that bed is in his boss's flat as his wife threw him out after his affair.  DI Alex Scrimgeour is a bit of a teddy bear now that his own personal mystery has been solved but I really wouldn't be helping myself to his whisky if I was living in his flat!

As impossible to put down as it is to predict, The Shame is a cracking piece of crime fiction that had me on the edge of my seat and reading with my virtual running shoes on.  I already consider this to be one of my favourite crime series and The Shame proves that it is just getting better and better.  Very highly recommended.

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:

Tuesday 4 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: Zero Ri$k - Simon Hayes

Ten days. Seven Deadly Sins. Zero Ri$k.

What’s not to like when your bank account gains an extra zero or two at Christmas?

When customer complaints on Christmas Eve about tenfold inflated bank balances herald not early Christmas gifts, nor a botched computer system upgrade, but the most sophisticated cyber attack in history, National Bank Chief Operating Officer Rob Tanner finds himself in the eye of a ‘Black Swan’ storm no one predicted, but anyone could have anticipated.

Tanner enlists the help of brilliant American cyber security expert Ashley Markham, but the attacks only worsen: bank balances rise remorselessly and spread to all the nation’s banks. The only clues to the hacker’s intentions are cryptic daily emails, centred on Hieronymus Bosch’s medieval representation of the seven deadly sins—and packed with colourful artistic and cultural references—taunting Tanner and the newly incumbent Prime Minister, James Allen.

With financial markets—and the very world as he knows it—on the brink of collapse, Tanner races against the clock to decode not just the bizarre emails but their deeper meaning, and the implications for who he can really trust. All the while, his former boss “The Toad” is seeking revenge... and answers of his own.

This enthralling, multi-layered debut follows the story of a disillusioned banker facing unthinkable financial Armageddon, where money has no value, stock and bond prices are meaningless, and the economy is destroyed. Can Tanner unravel the mystery of the hacker’s obsession with Bosch, sin and retribution before modern society returns to the dark ages?

What did I think?

WOW!  What a debut!  Zero Ri$k is absolutely brilliant - I actually uttered those exact words after I had turned the final page and finally released the breath I didn't realise I had been holding.  It's a chunky book at 780 pages long but I flew through it as I couldn't put it down.

Rob Tanner deserves a medal for working for 'The Toad' for so long and when their bank is hit with a cyber attack on Christmas Eve, The Toad will blame anybody but himself.  As quickly as the attack started, it appeared to have finished so things can get back to normal right?  WRONG!

I felt like my nerves were balanced on a knife-edge as the action played out before me on the page.  Simon Hayes' writing is as vivid as the Hieronymus Bosch paintings that depict the seven deadly sins.  I loved how Bosch's famous artwork is woven into the plot and it's very thought-provoking to consider what Bosch would make of our current society where few people could claim to never have experienced greed, pride, gluttony, lust, sloth, envy or wrath.

If I thought the writing was exquisite, the plot is even more so.  Although I do have a financial background myself, you don't need any financial knowledge to fully appreciate the sublime plot.  Just the thought of how much trust we put into banks to keep our money safe and the odd occasion we hear of banks having issues that stops people accessing their money is enough to give me nightmares.  Simon Hayes takes that fear and increases it a hundredfold as people's bank balances change at will.

Incredibly imaginative, heart-poundingly thrilling and scarily realistic,  Zero Ri$k is easily one of the best books I have read this year and it's even more astonishing that it's a debut novel.  Although the book will always be better, I think it's destined for the big screen and I would be very surprised if it's not snapped up by a movie producer.  I really can't recommend this unmissable novel highly enough - an easy five stars.

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:

Simon Hayes is a seasoned professional with a diverse background spanning financial services, executive search, and consultancy. With over three decades of international experience, he has lived in the US, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Simon began his career with Bank of Boston, Morgan Grenfell and James Capel, before spending much of the 90s in Asia, serving as Head of Equity Research for Warburg in Japan and later as Managing Director for Salomon Bros and UBS in Hong Kong. Simon is a Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Law graduate and the creator of rubriqs®. Recognised as a top-ranked securities analyst by Extel and II, and later as the "Best Headhunting Executive" in Japan byAsiamoney, he has also been an executive coach, mentor, and financial consultant, spending much of 2023 in Zimbabwe on a major fraud case. Born in Ealing, he is a lifelong supporter of Brentford FC. A proud father to India and Ivo, Simon now lives near Tower Bridge.

Follow the tour: