Book reviews, Classic Fiction, Mental Health

Saving Lucia by Anna Vaught – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

How would it be if four lunatics went on a tremendous adventure, reshaping their pasts and futures as they went, including killing Mussolini? What if one of those people were a fascinating, forgotten aristocratic assassin and the others a fellow life co-patient, James Joyce’s daughter Lucia, another the first psychoanalysis patient, known to history simply as ‘Anna O,’ and finally 19th Century Paris’s Queen of the Hysterics, Blanche Wittmann? That would be extraordinary, wouldn’t it? How would it all be possible? Because, as the assassin Lady Violet Gibson would tell you, those who are confined have the very best imaginations.

 

MY REVIEW 

Well, where do I start ? 

Lucia Joyce, daughter of the famous James Joyce,  is in an asylum. It’s here she meets Lady Violet Gibson. Violet is here as she had shot Mussolini, intending to kill him, but just got his nose…(this is all true, I had to look her up after reading Saving Lucia). She tends to be ‘emotional’ and as Mussolini forgave her, she has been sent to the asylum, rather than prison or firing squad.

As these aging women become friends, Lucia is writing down Violet’s story….

We mustn’t forget the other women here too….Anna O and Blanche..

What follows is a trip through the imagination, of what is, was and could have been, as seen through the eyes of these incredible women. It reads like a written daydream, it flits about like Violet’s passerines telling their incredible stories.

It can feel a little jumbled, but this is how we think and once you are into the rhythm, you’ll fall in love with amazing book and the women within.  A book to treasure.

Thank you so much to Jordan Taylor-Jones and Bluemoose Books for the opportunity to read Saving Lucia for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

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Book reviews, Crime thriller, Police procedural

Firewatching by Russ Thomas -Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A COLD CASE THAT BURNS, A CITY ABOUT TO IGNITE

Fans of Adrian McKinty, Ian Rankin, Sharon Bolton and Broadchurch will love Firewatching, a compulsive, breathless and twisty thriller with an incredible lead detective at its heart.

 

ONE FALSE MOVE

Someone is setting fire to Sheffield. It starts with small things – dustbins and abandoned sheds so people don’t notice at first. But the calling card is there if you look for it.

 

WILL IGNITE

Soon the fires spread to offices, homes, people. The Firewatcher’s followers are growing and they have one particular blaze in mind – one that the police would do well to pay attention to.

 

THE CITY

But DS Adam Tyler is distracted by a case, one that he is unknowingly connected to. And if he can’t discover the link between the fires and himself, he will burn – along with the entire city.

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MY REVIEW 

Set in Sheffield, DS Adam Tyler is working on the Cold Case Review Unit, and when a body is found bricked up in a wall, and the house had later been set on fire…. And so the investigation begins.

The victim is George Cartwright who had gone missing years before. 

Adam has a one night stand with a young man, Oscar, but he turns out to be the son of the dead man…..is this a coincidence? 

There’s also an elderly couple who live next door to the burned house, Lily and Edna. Edna is suffering with cancer and Lily seems very distracted and has memory problems…..they are also Oscar’s ‘aunts’.

Someone is also setting fires, burning bus stops, scout huts and more, adding random posts about the fires on social media…

I love this book. It’s so involved, with a large cast of interlinked characters and so well plotted it keeps you completely engrossed from start to finish as more and more of the story unfolds. There’s murder, arson, missing wives, abuse and even a potential  romance.

Adam is a great character, dealing with casual and not so casual homophobia in his own way…and dogged in his determination to find the perpetrators of crime. PC Rabbini is the same, she’s just starting out but she’s thorough and just as determined as Adam. I’d love to read more of this team….even Doggett. A truly scorching thriller.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

You can preorder a copy here: (out 20 Feb): https://amzn.to/2Rmr5yg

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Russ Thomas was born in Essex, raised in Berkshire and now lives in Sheffield. He grew up in the 80s reading anything he could get from the library, writing stories, watching large amounts of television, playing videogames, and largely avoiding the great outdoors. He spent five years trying to master playing the electronic organ and another five trying to learn Spanish. It didn’t take him too long to realise that he’d be better off sticking to the writing.

After a few ‘proper’ jobs (among them: pot-washer, optician’s receptionist, supermarket warehouse operative, call-centre telephonist and storage salesman) he discovered the joys of bookselling, where he could talk to people about books all day.

His debut novel Firewatching is the first book in the DS Adam Tyler series.

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Police procedural, Thriller

You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

LIES. AMBITION. FAMILY.

It’s a dark, smog-choked new Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.

Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all …

In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.

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MY REVIEW

You Beneath Your Skin is a crime thriller set in New Delhi. Anjali is mum to her autistic so , she’s also having an affair with a police officer who is investigating some really nasty, gruesome and violent crimes. Mainly against women, with rape, murder and disfigurement by acid attacks.

This is a police procedural with a difference, it highlights the brutality woman suffer, the accepted, casual misogyny in their daily lives. The huge gap between the rich and poor and how the wealthy exploit just about everything around us it seems. There is also the corruption, which helps stop these crimes being fully investigated at times.  But, It also tells of love, family, self sacrifice and accepting the differences between us. 

It’s a difficult read at times, due to the subject matter, but it’s written with such grace and hope, which makes it an unforgettable read. This will stay with me for a long time. If you like a thought provoking and heartfelt thriller, then this is a must read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Damyanti supports Project WHY, a programme that provides quality education to underprivileged children in New Delhi. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the USA, UK and Asia. She also helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. 

Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency.

Damyanti’s reading journey started at the age of 3, and the obsession continues. Her most precious memories of her childhood are of summers spent reading books of all sizes, for all ages. Her favorite authors form a never-ending list that features names like Truman Capote, Kate Atkinson, Lionel Shriver, Margaret Atwood, Anton Chekov, Tana French, Jodi Picoult, Jo Nesbø, Amy Hempel, Toni Morisson, Gustave Flaubert, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Even as a child, she has always been intrigued by the lives behind the faces, the contrasts between appearances and reality. Most of her stories happen at a point of crisis in a character’s life because it is then that the layers peel away and the real person emerges. She’s been a reader of true crime, and books like ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote inspired her to write crime stories — narratives that would document the unravelling of characters, their relationships, and the society they are part of.

Apart from being a novelist, Damyanti is a blogger, animal-lover and a spiritualist. Though she loves dogs, her travel schedule doesn’t permit her one. She contents herself with keeping fish and is able to take care of them enough for them not to die on her watch. Except once, when someone happened to turn off the oxygen pump. There will be a story about it someday.

Damyanti enjoys working out of busy cafes and food courts, as that helps her focus. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book or baking up a storm.

Her ambition has always been to live in a home with more books than anything else, and she continues to work towards that

 

http://www.damyantiwrites.com/

Twitter @damyantig

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Book reviews, Noir, Thriller

Pine by Francine Toon – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.

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MY REVIEW 

Lauren and her father, Niall, live in a secluded area of the Scottish highlands. Her mother had disappeared years before when Lauren was a baby. 

One night, after a trip to the village for Halloween they come across a young woman in the road. Naked except for a dressing gown, Niall takes the silent woman back to their home to help, but by morning she has disappeared.

Then young Ann-Marie goes missing…..is there a link between the two women? Is the same person responsible?

What follows is a moody, creepy thriller with a slightly mystical, supernatural edge. With Lauren, nearly 11 years old, who has an interest in tarot and spells, her father’s grief and heavy drinking and the oppressive, almost claustrophobic atmosphere of the woods, this is a tale of loss, grief and a small community. A gripping, goosebumpy read. 

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2NpewB5
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Book reviews, LGBTQ, Noir

Bella by R.M Francis – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Bella is his debut novel and a love song to the Black Country.

It is a text that deals with queer identity and experience, specifically in a non-metropolitan setting, showcasing the upheaval and difficulties facing the working-classes of post-industrial communities.

The novel plays with oral traditions of storytelling, using Black Country dialects and the different voices of multicultural Britain. It is also a novel that fuses different genre tropes. It is set in Dudley and follows several characters from different eras, attempting to understand the strange pull the local woods have. This rhizomatic, multi-perspective narrative is part ghost story, part social realism, part queer erotica.

 

BELLA is due to be published in Spring 2020.  
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MY REVIEW 

This is quite a difficult book to review as it doesn’t really fit into one particular genre. But what it is, is unique.

Written from the perspectives of many characters, all of which have their own way of speaking, so it’s really like having a bit of a chat. It’s genius storytelling using the dialect and accents of the characters, and while it took me a little while to get into the swing of the language, it really brings it to life. I could almost hear the brummie  accent. 

It has an honesty about it, a love for people and their stories, from local history, spooky tales and love in all its forms. An homage to the Black Country and those who call the area home. A short tale, but thoughtful and thoroughly engaging.

Thank you to Kelly at Love Books Tours for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free copy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can pre order a copy here (due Feb 6th 2020): https://amzn.to/36L8CSi

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

R.M. Francis is a writer from Dudley. He completed his PhD at the University of Wolverhampton for a project titled Queering the Black Country and graduated from Teesside University for his Creative Writing MA. 

He’s the author of four poetry chapbooks, Transitions (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2015), Orpheus (Lapwing Publications, 2016), Corvus’ Burnt-Wing Love Balm and Cure-All (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018) and Lamella, (Original Plus, 2019).

 

Follow Rob on Twitter @rmfrancis

 

 

 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Noir, Police procedural, Thriller

When The Dead Come Calling by Helen Sedgwick – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Published by Point Blank 9 January 2020 Hardback £14.99

‘When The Dead Come Calling confirms what many of us already knew: Helen Sedgwick is one of Scotland’s finest contemporary storytellers.’ CLAIRE ASKEW, author of All the Hidden Truths

‘By combining up-to-the-minute themes, well-tuned dialogue and warm and witty details of everyday life with a deep, impressionistic sense of dread, Sedgwick produces a mystery as addictive as it is anxiety-inducing.’ MOLLY FLATT, author of The Charmed Life of Alex Moore

A murder investigation unearths the brutal history of a village where long buried secrets threaten a small community

When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in the playground of the sleepy northern village of Burrowhead, the local police force set out to investigate. It’s not long before they uncover a maelstrom of racism, misogyny and homophobia.

But there’s worse to come. Shaken by the revelations and beginning to doubt her relationship with her husband Fergus, DI Georgie Strachan soon realizes that something very bad is lurking just below the surface. Meanwhile someone – or something – is hiding in the strange, haunted cave beneath the cliffs.

When The Dead Come Calling is a tense, atmospheric thriller which grips to the very last page.

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MY REVIEW 

When the publishers say this is atmospheric, believe me they are not kidding.

Set in a small village community, a body is found at a children’s playground. Dr Alexis Cosse, a psychotherapist, has been stabbed and left for dead. But who would kill him in such a small community?

Georgie is a police officer and with her colleagues Trish and Simon, they try to find out what happened. But, Simon was in love with Alexis, so there is a conflict here.

It seems everyone in this community has something to hide, a brutal father that beats his son, racist attacks on Pami, the local storekeeper, homophobia and now murder.

There are chapters told from the perspective of someone or something in a cave too, which give this a creepy feel. From the very start there’s a feeling of oppression, as though there’s someone watching just out of sight. Does someone know about the murders or will the community protect itself and keep it’s dark secrets hidden??

Great characters, beautifully descriptive and a truly menacing, almost stifling atmosphere, utterly compelling.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2RdFg8I

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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HELEN SEDGWICK is the author of The Comet Seekers, selected as a best book of 2016 by the Herald, and The Growing Season, shortlisted for the Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year in 2018. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University and won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Before she became an author, she was a research physicist with a PhD in Physics from Edinburgh University. She now lives and writes in the Scottish Highlands.

http://www.helensedgwick.com/ @helensedgwick @PtBlankBks

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Police procedural

Loot & I’m With The Band (Cases 5&6) by B.L. Faulkner – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Two cases from the files DCS Palmer and the Metropolitan Police Serial Murder squad. 

Case 5 

‘Loot’ sends the team on the trail of stolen WW2 Nazi gold that seems to be the reason for two murders. 

But where has it come from and how much is there? 

Soon the body count rises as an old gangland adversary from Palmer’s past emerges together with some feisty women and an English MP all prepared to kill for the prize. 

Everybody is playing cat and mouse with the gold changing hands with every twist and turn of the story that takes Palmer out of London to Gloucester and then to Brighton for an explosive finale. 

 

Case 6. 

 

‘I’m With The Band’ features 70’s rock band Revolution are still very big and packing out the major venues today but their original members seem to be dying in suspicious circumstances. 

Or so their manager thinks and he contacts Palmer’s number two with his fears. 

Palmer is not convinced until a nasty happening at Baker Street tube station underlines what the manager was afraid of. 

But who would want the band members dead? 

With a forty year career behind them it could be any one of thousands of past or present contacts. But this killer is confident, so confident he takes on Palmer via social network and tells him ‘catch me if you can’. 

But Palmer’s second in command DS Gheeta Singh was brought into his team because of her computer skills and is a match for the killer in cyber space. 

With just one original band member left alive the threat is real and Palmer must get to the killer before the killer gets to the member. 

The finale is an explosive one at a major Rock concert at the NEC. 

Both cases move along at the usual fast pace and with the usual ending twist that Faulkner does so well.

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MY REVIEW

As the publisher’s blurb says a lot about the plots, there’s not much more to say about that part.

But, here goes. 

DCS Palmer and his DS Gheeta Singh are such a great partnership. Palmer is old school, with lots of links and memories of older crime families and events, while Gheeta is a tech whizz and uses her skills to help.

Together they search for answers and solve the various crimes, from WW2 gold, a body dumped on a building site to a rock band members being murdered one by one. With mentions of real life crime events, cub as Brinks Mat, that really gives these tales a sense of reality.

Fast paced and twisty with some explosive moments too. Great characters and clever inventive plots make these novels gripping and thoroughly entertaining.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Barry Faulkner was born into a family of South London petty criminals who ran with the Richardson’s Crime Gang in the 60’s-90’s. Being the youngest his mother, a top fashion model, was determined he would not follow in the criminal footsteps of the rest of the family and enrolled him into the Morely Academy of Dramatic Art to pursue a career in acting. Sadly young Faulkner was asked to leave after three months when no acting ability had surfaced. He went onto become an advertising copywriter with the English branch of the US Agency Erwin Wasey Ruffraf and Ryan where he got lucky with some scripts he sent to the BBC TV and became a scriptwriter and editor for them and several ITV companies. During this time the DCS Palmer plots were amassed in various notebooks and three years ago Faulkner finally found time to write and publish them. His early insight into the criminal world of his family has added authenticity to the characters and plots that makes them credible and the pace keeps the reader glued to the end. His signature end twist will always surprise you. Check out his top rated crime blog at geezers2016.wordpress.com

Book reviews, Psychlogical thriller

The Operation by Dylan Young – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

If your life was on the line, how far would you go?

Surgeon Jacob Thorn isn’t worried when the police interview him over nurse Katy Leith’s disappearance. She is a co-worker, nothing more. 
But when a leaked video of him and the missing woman arguing goes viral, the social media reaction is vicious. 

When harrowing images of the kidnapped woman start to appear on his phone, along with a demand from her abductor that Jake confesses to a crime he has no recollection of committing, he is forced to act or face terrifying consequences. 

He needs to delve into the past for answers. But time is running out for Katy. 

Will he admit to his failings and lose everything, or plead ignorance and let an innocent girl die? 

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MY REVIEW 

Set in Oxford, a nurse, Katy has gone missing.

The police are investigation and they speak to surgeon, Jake Thorn.

Jake is married to Sarah and they have a slightly unconventional life as she spends half the week in London working and the rest, commuting to work, so they have separate lives and beds during the week. 

Jake was one of the last people to see Katy, so suspicion falls on him. When a video of him purportedly arguing with Katy is posted online, he is vilified on social media….does he deserve this? Or is there something else going on?

I can’t say much more for fear of spoiling the story, but I can say this really is an impressive thriller. The main character is not particularly likeable and his life is a bit of a mess, but he loves Sid the dog so he can’t be all bad!!

Full of secrets and lies and marvellously twisty with some real surprises on the way and full of tension. A thoroughly engrossing psychological thriller with a medical edge. 

Thank you to Sarah at Book On The Bright Side and Bloodhound books for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/30fJTD3

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Dylan Young grew up in a mining village in South Wales before boarding a train for London. A 35-year career in the NHS followed, the last 27 as a consultant ophthalmologist. Three dark psychological thrillers for Random House emerged in the late nineties and over the last decade, under different pseudonyms, he’s written children’s books and an adult contemporary fantasy series. But retiring from the NHS has allowed Dylan to spend (even) more time in his writing office—a shed in the garden. After publishing a three book crime series with Bookouture, Dylan has now found a new home in the Bloodhound kennels where he writes standalone psychological thrillers with a trademark medical flavour.

 

Website: www. https://dylanyoungauthor.com/

 

Twitter: @dyoungwrites

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dyoungwrites/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17290016.Dylan_Young 

Book reviews

Not book related…..just a little Sunday morning musing.

Here’s a little Sunday musing….

This is my mum, she has dementia and it’s hard to see the person she was disappear. She is in a nursing home due to her health, physical and mental, she’s bedridden now but she is well cared for and comfortable.

Due to her delusions and hallucinations she has an adventurous life.

This week, she has been out on a motor bike, been to a fancy dress party dressed as an HP sauce bottle and has a 15 year old boy pestering her for a date….(she’s 81). She’s apparently also a world famous boxer! So like I say it’s a horrible condition but in her mind her life is full of adventure. Better than sitting watching tv all day.

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Also today, the sun is out and it’s a lovely chilly day. The squirrels are running round the garden and the clematis is starting to flower, so all in all not too bad.

 

Book reviews, Horror, Thriller

The Tear Collector by Shawn Burgess

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The misdeeds of our ancestors are debts passed from generation to generation. They lurk, hidden in the shadows, waiting for the right time to be collected. For the residents of Harper Pass—their debt is due.

 

* * *

 

MISSING PERSON:

Have you seen Margo Combs?

Contact Detective Holt (918) 555-0155

You may choose to remain anonymous.

 

* * *

 

When a young autistic girl goes missing from a small Appalachian community, the residents of Harper Pass descend into chaos. Brooks Raker and his friends stumble across the police investigation, and as they dig deeper into the mysterious events, the boys realize the fate of their missing classmate pales in comparison with the evil lurking in the shadows of the quiet little town.

With four boys who believe something sinister is at work, and an ambitious reporter breathing down his neck, Detective Holt of the Harper Pass Police Department must confront his doubts and follow the evidence. A chain of disappearances and suspicious deaths, leads Holt to the doorstep of the mysterious and reclusive Professor Wadlow who may know exactly what has come to collect in Harper Pass.

Can the detective and the boys work together to unravel the dark secrets of Harper Pass before those secrets devour them all?

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MY REVIEW 

Grief Hollow was the location of a terrible fire that resulted in the death of a young girl. 

Running away from bullies, Brooks meets Margo in the hollow….she says the collector is coming and when he turns around, Margo is gone. But, he hears voices and sees a snake like mist….terrified he runs and finally meets up with his friends, Tee and Robby.

They later find out Margo is missing and so Brooks tells the police he’d seen her in Grief Hollow and so a search begins.

As some creepy, spooky events occur, this story becomes darker.

I have to say this is quite reminiscent of Stephen King’s IT, as it’s set in a small town with a group of young friends and something creepy in the woods. But, that in no way detracts from this atmospheric thriller with some genuinely tension filled moments.

A well written horror-thriller with well developed characters and a fantastic sense of place and atmosphere. At 400 pages this is something to really get your teeth into.

Thank you to Sarah at Book On The Bright Side for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour, for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Shawn Burgess has a BA in English from the University of Florida, and he focused on literature for his postgraduate studies at the University of North Florida. His travels have taken him to most parts of the country, where he often drew inspiration for his stories through meeting interesting people and experiencing unique places. Beware! If you find yourself behaving curiously within the crosshairs of his vision you might end up on one of his pages. In his spare time, Shawn enjoys travelling, attending concerts, reading, and playing golf. He typically makes year-round preparations for Halloween by building props and elaborate sets. Shawn claims Jacksonville, Florida as his home, but he has lived all over the southeastern United States. Many of his stories are set in those towns he once called home, or in fictional places inspired by them. He says, “I enjoy building upon the natural mysteries surrounding those areas I’ve personally experienced.” The Tear Collector is Shawn’s debut novel, but he’s currently working on a YA Fantasy novel, as well as The Tear Collector’s sequel. He is active on social media, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 

Facebook: shawnburgessauthor

 

Twitter: ShawnBinJax

 

Instagram: ShawnBinJax

 

Goodreads Author Page: Shawn Burgess

 

Website: http://www.shawnburgessauthor.com

 

Buy link:

Linktr.ee/thetearcollector  

Book reviews, Police procedural

The Other Woman by Jane Issac – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The grieving widow. The other woman. Which one is which?

When Cameron Swift is shot and killed outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer. Her role is to support the family –and investigate them.

Monika, Cameron’s partner and mother of two sons, had to be prised off his lifeless body after she discovered him. She has no idea why anyone would target Cameron. Beth can understand Monika’s confusion. To everyone in their affluent community, 

Monika and her family seemed just like any other. But then Beth gets a call.

Sara is on holiday with her daughters when she sees the news. She calls the police in the UK, outraged that no one has contacted her to let her know or offer support. 

After all, she and Cameron had been together for the last seven years…

Until Cameron died, Monika and Sara had no idea each other existed.

As the case unfolds, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. Especially the dead…

Previously published as After He’s Gone.

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MY REVIEW 

#1 in the D.C. Beth Chamberlain series.

When a man, Cameron Swift, is shot and killed outside his home, the investigation begins.

As more details about Swift emerge, more than one family’s lives are affected.

Family Liaison Officer, DC Beth Chamberlain is supporting Swift’s family, while also investigating the shooting, who Cameron Swift really was and just who wanted him dead.

This is an intriguing police procedural and Beth is a refreshing change from the usual moody, slightly damaged detectives usually found. She’s normal, intelligent and determined woman with a life outside the police force. I found this to be thoroughly entertaining and I’ll be looking out for more in the series.

Thank you to Vicky at Aria Fiction for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

About the author

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Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire, UK with their daughter, and dog, Bollo. Jane loves to hear from readers and writers. 

You can reach her via her website at http://www.janeisaac.co.uk Sign up to her book club at http://eepurl.com/1a2uT for book recommendations and details of new releases, events and giveaways.

 

Follow Jane: 

Facebook: @JaneIsaacAuthor

Twitter: @JaneIsaacAuthor

Website: http://www.janeisaac.co.uk

Pre-order links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2CL49S5

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2X9nI01

iBooks: https://apple.co/2X8OPIq

Google Play: https://bit.ly/32OP0Ks

Follow Aria 

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction 

Book reviews, Thriller, YA fiction

Are You Watching? By Vincent Ralph – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man. She was the first of his victims but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move. And so is the Magpie Man.

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MY REVIEW 

Jessica is 17 years old, her mother had been murdered 10 years ago by a serial killer known as The Magpie Man and she is determined to get justice.

She is taking part in an online reality show where cameras following a person for one day a week for a month. There are 4 others taking part too and the person with the most views wins a three month contract and ‘Celebrity’!

But, Jess has an agenda, she wants to draw the Magpie Man from hiding to stop him killing anyone else and finally getting justice for the 13 victims…..so far!

Then Jess starts receiving disturbing text messages and someone is watching her. Can Jess finally find out the Magpie Man’s identity or is she putting herself and others in danger?

This is a YA thriller murder mystery for the digital age, it shows the benefits and dangers of social media and the information we share. It’s a story of loss, grief, guilt, love and friendship. An emotional rollercoaster with a dark thriller edge.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

You can buy a copy here…..and it’s only 99p for kindle at the moment too : https://amzn.to/2QEpTqG

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Vincent Ralph has been writing in one form or another since his teens and always dreamed of being a novelist. He owes his love of books to his mother, who encouraged his imagination from an early age and made sure there were new stories to read.

Vincent has lived in London, Cornwall and Chester but he now lives in his home county of Kent with his wife, son and two cats

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Family drama, Police procedural

Blood Family by Graeme Hampton – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

All families have secrets… some are deadly.

When D.I. Matthew Denning is called in to investigate a house fire in a North London street, he never anticipated the horrors that awaited him. As Denning and D.S. Molly Fisher search the wreckage, the bodies of the Galloway family – Brian and Ellie, son Simon, daughter Amber and 9-year-old grandson Caleb – are discovered in the smouldering house.

All evidence points to a tragic accident… until Matthew and Molly discover that the family was dead before the fire, murdered in their home by a faceless psychopath. What started as a routine investigation swiftly turns into a murder investigation, with Denning and Fisher hunting a killer who has wiped out three generations with a shotgun.

But as the case deepens, Denning and Fisher discover that the Galloways were no ordinary family. Like all families, they harbour secrets – but unlike others, their secrets were so deadly, someone is willing to spill blood to keep them hidden…

An utterly gripping detective novel set in London, Blood Family will thrill fans of Angela Marsons, Mark Billingham and Robert Bryndza.

16D1F9C4-CED1-430C-987C-00E3053352F7

MY REVIEW

This is #2 in the DI Denning/DS Fisher series, but can easily be read as a standalone.

After a house fire, five bodies are found, all from the same family. But when it’s discovered they had all been shot before the fire, a murder investigation begins.

Were the Galloway family as honest and law abiding as they seemed to be or was there something else going on?

This is a police procedural but also a family drama, with all its secrets, lies and tension. There are also plenty of background details of Denning and Fisher’s lives and family outside of the police force, which really helps build such likeable, well rounded characters.

I found this to be fast paced and utterly gripping, with plenty to keep you guessing from start to finish. Thoroughly entertaining.

Thank you to Sarah at Book On The Bright Side for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional materials and a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2QxYdDM

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Graeme Hampton was born in Paisley, and grew up in Stirling. After leaving school, he trained as a stage manager and worked in London for a number of years. He returned to Scotland in his late twenties to study for a BA in English Literature at Stirling University. His first novel, Know No Evil, was published in 2019 by Hera Books. His next book, Blood Family, will be published in January 2020.

He lives in Hastings, East Sussex.

Twitter: @GHam001

Instagram: graeme_hampton

Website: http://www.graemehampton.com

 

Book reviews, Historical fiction

The Unforgetting by Rose Black – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A story of the trappings of fame, magic and the power of illusion in Victorian London.

Power, theatre and ghosts in a Victorian gothic historical, perfect for fans of The Silent Companions, The Night Circus and The Familiars.

When Lily Bell is sold by her father to a ‘Professor of Ghosts’ to settle a bad debt, she thinks she is about to hit the London stage as an actress. But little does she know that the professor intends her to be his very own ghost, part of an elaborate illusion for a fascinated audience.

Obsessed with perfection, the professor covers all bases to ensure his illusion is realistic – and when Lily comes across her own obituary in the paper, and then her own headstone in the cemetery, she soon realises that she is trapped, her parents think she is dead – and soon her fate is to become even darker…

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MY REVIEW 

Set in 1851 and Lily Bell believes she will be a famous actress in London, but then to settle a debt her parents sell her to Erasmus Salt. A stage magician obsessed with Lily.

Salt is planning an illusion and Lily is to be his very own ghost. But to make this believable, the world must believe Lily has died. So obituaries are written and Lily is kept hidden by Erasmus and his sister, Faye. Faye has now own demons to deal with due to events in her past. So a bond builds between them, but can these two strong women finally have lives of their own?

This is dark, gothic historical fiction at its best. A tale of obsession, control, illusion and mystery in the Victorian era. Beautifully written, chilling and haunting.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/3041a23

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Rose Black has written stories all her life. Her long-standing fascination with the Victorians and 19th century England underlies this novel. An award-winning freelance writer, she’s covered health, overseas development and education. Married, with two children, she lives partly in London and at other times by the sea. In her spare time, she enjoys wild swimming and growing food and flowers on her allotment.

For publicity enquiries please contact Francesca.pearce@orionbooks.co.uk 

Book reviews, Non fiction

Two Blankets, Three Sheets by Rodaan Al Galidi – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

‘This book is fiction for the reader who cannot believe it. But for anyone open to it, it is nonfiction …’

Drawing on the author’s own experiences as an asylum seeker in the Netherlands – a darkly funny insight into the mind and soul of a refugee.

‘You have to take care, Mr Karim,’ she said, ‘this is your future.’ With the word ‘this’ she picked up the report from the first hearing. I was amused at the idea that my future would be determined by a few sheets of paper, and not by my health, my happiness or my dreams. Or a never-ending barbeque on the beach, or travelling the world on a legitimate passport.

Amsterdam Airport, 1998. Samir Karim steps off a plane from Vietnam, flushes his fake passport down the toilet, and requests asylum. Fleeing Iraq to avoid conscription into Saddam Hussein’s army, he has spent seven years anonymously wandering through Asia. Now, safely in the heart of Europe, he is sent to an asylum centre and assigned a bed in a shared dorm—where he will spend the next nine years. 

Taking its title from the ‘two blankets, three sheets, a towel, a pillow, and a pillow-case’ that constitute the items Samir is given on his arrival at the Asylum Centre, and are the only things he owns during his nine years there, this book is the story of how Samir navigates his way around the absurdities of Dutch bureaucracy while trying his best to get along with his 500 new housemates. 

Told with compassion and a unique sense of humour, this is an inspiring tale of survival, a close-up view of the hidden world of refugees and human smugglers, and a sobering reflection of our times.

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MY REVIEW 

This is the story of Samir Karim, a refugee from Iraq, escaping the regime of Saddam Hussein. It’s part autobiographical and all true.

Samir travels from Iraq via many countries including Thailand and eventually arrives in the Netherlands. He destroys his false passport and claims asylum. It’s here the tale really begins, with flashbacks to his past, the fearful journey he has made and the 9 years he spent in an asylum centre.

“Don’t let the sheep know you’re afraid “

It tells of the mindless bureaucracy, the lack of basic empathy by the ‘authorities’, who seem to just follow the rules like a call centre script.

The experiences of these men, women and children that have made them make such perilous journeys just to be safe is heartbreaking. Those of us who live in a safe and secure world really should take a long hard look at ourselves for our prejudices and how some people treat others who just want the same for themselves and their families.

While this is a difficult emotive subject, Rodaan tells it with such grace and humour. It’s honest, heartfelt and definitely eye opening. Compelling and certainly thought provoking. A must read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here:  https://amzn.to/2T2WAzI

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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RODAAN AL GALIDI is a poet and writer. Born in Iraq and trained as a civil engineer, he has lived in the Netherlands since 1998. As an undocumented asylum seeker he did not have the right to attend language classes, so he taught himself to read and write Dutch. His novel De autist en de postduif (‘The Autist and the Carrier Pigeon’) won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2011—the same year he failed his Dutch citizenship course. Two Blankets, Three Sheets, already a bestseller in the Netherlands, is his most successful novel to date.

 

Jonathan Reeder, a native of New York and longtime resident of Amsterdam, enjoys a dual career as a literary translator and performing musician.

 

Critical acclaim for Rodaan Al Galidi

‘Al Galidi holds up a mirror to us all. A mirror that we should look into.’  

―ADRIAAN VAN DIS

 

‘Two Blankets, Three Sheets is a valuable and rich novel about fear, uncertainty, arbitrariness, and hopelessness, written by someone who was, thankfully, able to use his new language as a lifebuoy.’ ―Tzum

‘For all its heavy themes―the tragedy of miscommunication, loss of identity and meaning of life, humiliation, and the incapacity to truly connect―it is also a very light and humorous book.’ ―Literair Nederland 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Family drama

The Final Trail by A.A. Abbott – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Family feuds just got bloodier… A gripping thriller, and a great story of death, revenge and vodka. 

To save glamorous Kat White’s life, Ben Halloran killed his gangster father. Now his brother wants to even the score.

The gripping Trail series of British crime thrillers reaches its dramatic conclusion in this compelling page turner.

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MY REVIEW

#5 in the series, but I found it easy to read as a stand-alone, although you do miss out a little on the back story, but it’s easy to catch up,

Set in Birmingham.

Kat is the creator of Starshine Vodka and is in a business partnership with Marty, a shrewd businessman.

Erik is Kat’s brother and is researching a cancer cure, he is also in a business partnership with Marty.

Ben, who had shot and killed his gangster father, who had been planning on killing Kat, is in love with Amy, Eric’s girlfriend. Ben’s brother, Jon, wants revenge for his father’s death, but he’s in prison….!

The story is a family drama, with plenty of action. There’s family betrayals, lies, love, politics and corporate dealings all set against the background of Vodka production. A fast paced, twisty, gripping and thoroughly entertaining read.

Thank you to Kelly at Love Books Tours for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free copy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Book reviews, Crime thriller

Backlash by Marnie Riches – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Keep your enemies close and your neighbours closer… 

When Private Investigator Beverley Saunders is tasked with going undercover, she relishes the chance to disguise herself as a cleaner in order to get close to Manchester bad boy Anthony Anthony, aka the infamous 2Tone. Anthony’s neighbours are suspicious of his wealth and sick of his anti-social behaviour, and Bev’s just the woman they need to find out what’s going on behind closed doors.

 As Bev begins to infiltrate Anthony’s world, she soon realises she’s in danger – and this time, she might be too far in to get out. Alongside her sidekick Doc, Bev must fight to discover the truth – but when people begin to die, she is forced to wonder – is exposing Anthony worth risking her own life?

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MY REVIEW 

Private Investigator Bev and her partner, Doc take on a new case. A client has a noisy neighbour , so this should be a simple neighbourhood dispute…..but oh no…things start to get complicated.

There are drugs involved and they are put in danger as a result. A very topical and real issue these days, which really lends this tale a feeling of reality.

There is humour too amongst the drama in this well written thriller with a clever plot and brilliant characters, Bev is a bit eccentric and likeable and so funny at times.  It’s a dark, realistic and thoroughly entertaining thriller.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in north Manchester which has inspired her crime writing. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a Masters in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser.

Her best-selling, award-winning George McKenzie crime thrillers, tackling the subject of trans-national trafficking, were inspired by her own time spent in The Netherlands. Dubbed the Martina Cole of the North, she is also the author of Born Bad and The Cover-Up – the critically acclaimed hit series about Manchester’s notorious gangland.

When she isn’t writing gritty, twisty crime-thrillers, Marnie also regularly appears on BBC Radio Manchester, commenting about social media trends and discussing the world of crime-fiction.

Book reviews, Historical fiction, Police procedural, Thriller

Stasi Winter by David Young – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In 1978 East Germany, nothing is at it seems. The state’s power is absolute, history is re-written, and the ‘truth’ is whatever the Stasi say it is.

So when a woman’s murder is officially labelled ‘accidental death’, Major Karin Müller of the People’s Police is faced with a dilemma. To solve the crime, she must disregard the official version of events. But defying the Stasi means putting her own life – and the lives of her young family – in danger.

As the worst winter in living memory holds Germany in its freeze, Müller must untangle a web of state secrets and make a choice: between truth and lies, justice and injustice, and, ultimately, life and death.

Stunningly authentic and brimming with moral ambiguity, Stasi Winter is the thrilling new novel from the award-winning author of Stasi Child.

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MY REVIEW 

This is #5 in the series featuring Karin Müller, it can be read as a stand-alone but I feel you will be missing out on an amazing series.

Set in East Germany in 1979 and Karin Müller had retired but is brought back to work when a woman’s body is found. The state want this recorded as an accidental death, but Karin is determined to find the truth.

This is historical fiction at its best, a murder mystery, police procedural and politics. Full of adventure this is an immensely gripping read, so atmospheric you’ll feel the chill of winter.

Great characters and so much tension in a clever and engrossing plot to rival Robert Ludlum et al. 

Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

David Young was born near Hull and – after dropping out of a Bristol University science degree – studied Humanities at Bristol Polytechnic specialising in Modern History. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism with provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and the BBC’s international newsrooms where he led news teams for the World Service radio and World TV.

David was a student on the inaugural Crime Thriller MA at City University – winning the course prize in 2014 for his debut novel Stasi Child – and now writes full-time in his garden shed. In his spare time, he’s a keen supporter of Hull City AFC.

Stasi Child is the first of three books in the Oberleutnant Karin Müller series – set in 1970s communist East Germany – bought by the UK arm of Swedish publisher Bonnier by former Quercus CEO Mark Smith. It reached the top 5 bestsellers on Amazon Kindle, was number one bestseller in Amazon’s Historical Fiction chart, and has been optioned for TV by Euston Films (Minder, The Sweeney etc). Translation rights have so far been sold to France.

 

Book reviews, Domestic noir, Thriller

Someone Close To Home by Alex Craigie – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Talented pianist Megan Youngblood has it all – fame, fortune and Gideon.

But Gideon isn’t good enough for Megan’s ambitious, manipulative mother, whose meddling has devastating repercussions for Megan and for those close to her.

Now, trapped inside her own body, she is unable to communicate her needs or fears as she faces institutional neglect in an inadequate care home.

And she faces Annie. Sadistic Annie who has reason to hate her. Damaged Annie who shouldn’t work with vulnerable people.

Just how far will Annie go?

‘Someone Close To Home’ is a story of love, malice and deadly menace.

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MY REVIEW

Megan, once a famous pianist, but after a stroke she is now bed ridden in a care home. Many of the carers are lovely, friendly and really look after Megan, but others just treat her as an inconvenience. Then there’s Annie, a sadistic and cruel woman who is taking revenge for an event many, many years ago.

As Megan lies in bed, she only has her memories and the story is told in flashbacks to her past. Her mother was manipulative and controlling, but also fragile and lonely and lives vicariously through Megan. Her lies end up hurting others and this has devastating consequences.

Over the years, Megan’s childhood friend, Gideon grows closer and they finally declare their love for each other…….but Megan’s mother has other plans.

Believing Gideon has someone else, Megan marries Jordan, but this marriage is violent and just plain nasty. 

Megan really has been through a lot and now lying in her bed she is tortured by the evil Annie. Can she make herself understood before it’s too late?

This is a gripping read, full of emotion, love, spite, fear and hope. The descriptions of the care home routines is so accurate, from the lack of resources to the care they give their residents. (My mother is a resident herself due to dementia and I know first hand the pressures they are under, but the care shown to these frail people is never in doubt….luckily!)  

I cannot imagine the fear of someone being unable to communicate while being mistreated in such a way as Megan. The wonderfully emotive writing by Alex Craigie really does bring this point alive, which makes this a tense, disturbing read at times and is so compelling I read it in one sitting. 

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2MXRYaf

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Alex Craigie was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and all she can remember about it is that:

  • it was written in pencil in a book with weights and measures on the back
  • the two heroes were Prince Rupert and his brother (whose name was changed to Sam to facilitate the rhyming process.)      
  • as writer, producer and director she ‘bagged’ the part of female lead.

When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines and since then has fulfilled her ambition to write a novel.

Someone Close to Home has won two ‘Chill with a Book’ awards – The Reader’s Award and the Book of the Month Award.

Alex lives in a small village in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and knows that she and her husband are lucky to have their children and grandchildren living nearby. It’s often chaotic and noisy but these are her most treasured moments and she savours them – even if she’s reduced to an immovable heap after they’ve gone.  

As an independent author, without a big publishing machine behind her, she is very grateful to all the people who have found and bought her first book – and a huge thank you to those who’ve gone out of their way to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. These reviews make a massive difference to ‘Indies’ and the positive ones encourage other readers to risk buying a copy.

What else can she say?  Nothing, really. Writing this personal promotion has been very, very hard and she needs to go away now and lie down in a darkened room, preferably with a big bar of chocolate…  

She looks forward to any contact from fellow lovers of books and any honest feedback is very welcome.

 

Somewhere Close To Home by Alex Craigie

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Ashford Carbonel Publishing (9 Dec. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0995696608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0995696600

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Someone-Close-Home-Alex-Craigie/dp/0995696608 

Book reviews, Cosy mystery, LGBTQ, Noir

Smalltown Boy by T.S. Hunter – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

It’s Christmas Eve, 1988 and Russell and Joe are among the guests at a lavish party in a celebrity mansion in the heart of Soho.

Television presenter and national treasure, Nathan Bentley has a formidable reputation for legendary parties—with wall-to-wall celebrities, drink flowing, drugs, dancing, ill-tempered Cordon-Bleu chefs laying on the food and world famous musicians providing the entertainment. What could be better for a bunch of waifs and strays on Christmas Eve?

But when a body is found in the courtyard garden before the dessert has been served, questions begin to fly. Did he fall or was he pushed? And who of the many guests and hangers-on had either the means or motive for murder?

Hidden pasts and present jealousies all threaten to destroy a life carefully built in this festive crime caper set in the heart of London’s Soho. 
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MY REVIEW 

This is the final episode in the Soho Noir series by T.S. Hunter, oh and what a finale!

It’s Christmas, Joe and Russell have been invited to the flamboyant TV personality’s party. Reluctantly they go, taking their respective partners, Mike and Freddy along but then a body is found and the adventure begins. 

With a fabulous cast of characters including my favourite, Patty, there’s much mayhem and drama as ever. Then the reprehensible Skinner arrives…..will he finally get his comeuppance?

While this is a short novella, it packs a lot of story in. There’s the 80’s music references and little mentions of the events of the time too, which all build the atmosphere perfectly of 80’s London. Joe and Russell happy in their relationships too make this a wonderful ending to a thoroughly entertaining series

I have read the whole series now and am bereft it’s over…..I’ll just have to read them all again….

Thank you to Dylan at Red Dog Press for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/35mcZBL