blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Shape of Darkness – Laura Purcell*


As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another…

Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?
Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back...

Laura Purcell is a former bookseller and lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs. Her first novel for Raven Books, The Silent Companions, was a Radio 2 and Zoe Ball ITV Book Club pick and was the winner of the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award, while her subsequent books The Corset and Bone China established Laura as the queen of the sophisticated, and spooky, page-turner.

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My thoughts:

I’m a big fan of Laura Purcell’s work so I leapt at the chance to read her newest Gothic horror. And I was not disappointed.

Taking in mesmerism and séances, the creation of silhouette art and the idea of being haunted by your losses, she weaves a sinister and macabre tale of Agnes Darken, a woman trying to make sense of a string of brutal murders that seem to be connected to her and a young girl, Pearl, who might just be able to channel the dead.

It also explores the place of women, as both Agnes and Pearl’s sister, Myrtle, are trying to make a living in a man’s world, where few professions are open to them, as opposed to Agnes’ friend Simon, a busy doctor, who doesn’t fret over every penny and often tries to help her out.

There’s also a little greedy pug called Morpheus, which hints nicely at some of the elements of Agnes’ situation.

It is truly excellent, part crime thriller mystery, part horror with its ghosts and grim killings. The ending was very satisfying.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Mask of Mirrors – M.A. Carrick*

Darkly magical and beautifully imagined, The Mask of Mirrors is the unmissable start to the Rook & Rose trilogy, a rich and dazzling fantasy adventure in which a con artist, a vigilante, and a crime lord must unite to save their city.

Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams . . .
Renata Virdaux is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future.
But as she’s drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, she realises her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupted magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.

My thoughts:

I collect Venetian carnival masks, they’re hanging on my wall right now so the gorgeous front cover of this book called to me.

But we should never judge a book by its cover although it is very eye catching, the book inside is so, so, good.

A magical, intricate fantasy, a con artist running a scam gets dragged into a terrible conspiracy that could leave thousands dead.

Ren has returned to the city she was born in to run a long con on a noble family, but all sorts of intrigue abound and she finds herself at the heart of it all.

Tess is probably my favourite character, she’s resourceful and fiercely loyal to Ren, with a core of steel running through her.

I don’t want to just spout superlatives about this book but I think it’s one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in a while and I’m already hungry for book two.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: To The Dark – Chris Nickson*

Winter is about to take a chilling twist…

Thief-taker Simon Westow is drawn into a deadly puzzle when the melting snow reveals a dark secret in this gripping historical mystery, perfect for fans of Anne Perry and Charles Finch.

Leeds, 1822. The city is in the grip of winter, but the chill deepens for thief-taker Simon Westow and his young assistant, Jane, when the body of Laurence Poole, a petty local thief, emerges from the melting snow by the river at Flay Cross Mill.

A coded notebook found in Laurence’s room mentions Charlie Harker, the most notorious fence in Leeds who’s now running for his life, and the mysterious words: To the dark. What was Laurence hiding that caused his death? Simon’s hunt for the truth pits him against some dangerous, powerful enemies who’ll happily kill him in a heartbeat – if they can.

Chris Nickson has published 28 novels, all historical crime, most of them set in Leeds, whose people and history are his passion. The Richard Nottingham series began things, taking place in the 1730s, followed by the Tom Harper novels, which begin in 1890 and have now moved to the 20th century. Between them, Lottie Armstrong, Urban Raven and Dan Markham cover Leeds from the 1920s to the 1950s.

The three books featuring thief-taker Simon Westow explore a changing Leeds, growing rapidly in the 1820s as industry – the factories and mills and belching chimneys – comes to dominate the town. The Hocus Girl, the second in the series, received starred reviews from Kirkus, which called it a “tour de force,” and Publishers Weekly, which declared “historical mysteries don’t get much better than this.’

Chris grew up in Leeds, but lived in the US for many years, making his living as a music journalist. He still reviews occasional releases, but his focus these days is fiction.

My thoughts:

This was a really good historical crime thriller that went to some interesting places and made me want to know more about the characters.

There’s several strands to the plot and all of them filled with danger and intrigue. There’s the murder case that leads to some evil soldiers and put Simon in serious harm’s way, Jane’s own shadow and the threat of Big Tom on her tail.

Filled with historical details and strong relationships (I loved Simon’s wife Rosie, she’s brilliant) as well as gripping moments and some shocking events, this was a really enjoyable and interesting read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Who is Vera Kelly? – Rosalie Knecht*

New York City, 1962. Vera Kelly is struggling to make rent and blend into the underground gay scene in Greenwich Village. She’s working night shifts at a radio station when her quick wits, sharp tongue, and technical skills get her noticed by a recruiter for the CIA.
Next thing she knows she’s in Argentina, tasked with wiretapping a congressman and infiltrating a group of student activists in Buenos Aires. As Vera becomes more and more enmeshed with the young radicals, the fragile local government begins to split at the seams. When a betrayal leaves her stranded in the wake of a coup, Vera learns war makes for strange and unexpected bedfellows, and she’s forced to take extreme measures to save herself.
An exhilarating page turner and perceptive coming-of-age story, Who is Vera Kelly? introduces an original, wry and whip-smart female spy for the twenty-first century.
Rosalie Knecht is the author of Who Is Vera Kelly?, Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery and Relief Map. She is also the translator of César Aira’s The Seamstress and the Wind (New Directions). She lives in New Jersey.

My thoughts:

This was a really good, enjoyable read. Vera is a young woman still dealing with her childhood and teen years, the loss of her father and the deeply estranged relationship with her mother, when, living in New York and working for a radio station, she’s recruited by the CIA and sent off to Argentina, on the brink of a coup, to spy on some potential Russian influenced politicians and agitators.

She’s out of her depth and trying to keep her cover intact (as a Canadian student at the university), but events are starting to get ahead of her and Gerry back in the US isn’t much use.

Vera is a smart person but not exactly equipped for revolution and the chaos that it brings, she is at risk of arrest and interrogation as a foreigner in a suddenly hostile country.

Moving back and forth between her time in Buenos Aires and the years leading up to her recruitment, we see how Vera became the person she is and what secrets she’s carrying.

I liked Vera a lot and was rooting for her all the way through, the plot was engaging and entertaining and the world building meant I could really picture the buildings and people described. I want to know what Vera does next!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Hurting – R.J. Mitchell*

This is the second DS Thoroughgood book I’m reviewing. Book one – Parallel Lines is reviewed here. Book three – The Longest Shadow will be reviewed on the 3rd February.

THE HURTING finds DS Angus Thoroughgood recovering from injuries from his most recent adventures in ‘Parallel Lines’ and questioning his career with the Glasgow police force. After handing in his resignation, Thoroughgood is pulled back into the line of duty once his recovery at the police convalescence home, Castlebrae, is complete.

Terrorist attacks in and around Glasgow see Thoroughgood, alongside his partner DC Hardie, return to action. As their world as they know it and the city they love falls apart, the pair work alongside MI5 in a race to discover the source of these attacks.
The second installment in the DS Thoroughgood series of novels by RJ Mitchell, The Hurting picks up right where Parallel Lines left off and sends Thoroughgood and Hardie on a rollercoaster ride through Glasgow’s seedy underworld and that of international terrorism.
The Hurting sees author RJ Mitchell drawing from his 12 years of experience as a Glasgow police officer to provide an accurate portrayal of real life police work whilst guiding the reader through an intricate plot filled with lies and subterfuge.

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Matthew James Publishing

Robert James Mitchell was brought up in Stirling. Mitchell was initially detailed beat duties out of the former Blackhill Police Office and then Baird Street Police Office in the former ‘D’ Division, or the North, as it was known to all the men who served in the division. In January, 2007, while recovering from an appendicitis, Mitchell decided to write the first draft of ‘Parallel Lines: The Glasgow Supremacy‘, drawing heavily on his own experiences and featuring the characters of Detective Sergeant Gus Thoroughgood and DC Kenny Hardie.

In January, 2007, while recovering from an appendicitis, Mitchell decided to write the first draft of ‘Parallel Lines: The Glasgow Supremacy‘, drawing heavily on his own experiences and featuring the characters of Detective Sergeant Gus Thoroughgood and DC Kenny Hardie.

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My thoughts:

Recovering from the climatic events of Parallel Lines, DS Gus Thoroughgood and his solid sidekick, DC Hardie are thrust into another monstrous case as Islamic terrorists pitch up in Glasgow looking to cause chaos.

In a way all the madness of tracking a terror cell and trying to prevent an atrocity does Thoroughgood some good, helping him refocus and distracting him from his grief. There’s a lot of character development here and Hardie is more rounded too.

I really enjoyed this, it was fast paced and engaging, clever and well written. I like all the little details that the author includes from his own experiences as a police officer.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: End of the Line – Robert Scragg*

Read my review of the first book in the series here

Detective Jake Porter’s life was ripped apart by the hit-and-run driver that killed his wife. The life he has been building up piece by piece is rocked by the discovery of new evidence that might finally lead him to her murderer.

At the same time, he has a volatile case to juggle. Ross Henderson was a Vlogger with over ten million followers rallying against the growing tide of the far-right. As his audience tuned in to listen to Henderson tear apart more anti-immigrant vitriol, they watched in horror as he was brutally murdered during a live broadcast.

Struggling to prevent full-blown riots and following the trail to his wife’s killer will take its toll upon Porter, and there’s no guarantee he will come out the other side intact.

My thoughts:

This was really good, the investigation into the vlogger’s death was tense and an interesting commentary on politics at the moment, with the EWP standing in for an existing group of right wing thugs playing at being politicians (pick one), eager to get rid of any critics or awkward questions about their dodgy leader.

Alongside that is Porter’s personal quest to find his wife’s killer, taking on a dangerous and supposedly untouchable gang leader, putting his safety, and that of his loved ones, on the line.

The team work well, handling the case and gathering evidence like a well oiled machine, but they’re still able to be there for their boss when he needs them, even if he thinks he doesn’t.

A sophisticated crime thriller that resonates with the times and introduces new angles with the addition of a counter terrorism detective and new personal responsibilities for Styles.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Deadly Whispers in Lower Dimblebrook – Julie Butterfield*

When Isabelle Darby moves to the delightfully cosy village of Lower Dimblebrook, she’s searching for
peace and quiet as well as a chance to escape from heartbreak.

After making friends with Fiona Lambourne, another newcomer to the village, Issie is left reeling when tragedy strikes and Fiona is murdered, the second wife Anthony Lambourne has lost in unfortunate circumstances. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the local gossips insist that Fiona had been embroiled in an affair before her death, something which Issie knows not to be the case.

Determined to clear her friend’s reputation and solve the mystery of the rumours, Issie takes on both the gossips and the handsome but stern DI Wainwright, making both friends and enemies along the way!

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Julie Butterfield belongs to the rather large group of ‘always wanted to write’ authors who finally found the time to sit down and put pen to paper – or rather fingers to keyboard.

She wrote her first book purely for pleasure and was very surprised to discover that so many people enjoyed the story and wanted more, so she decided to carry on writing.

It has to be pointed out that her first novel, ‘Did I Mention I Won The Lottery’ is a complete work of fiction and she did not, in fact, receive millions in her bank account and forget to mention it to her husband – even though he still asks her every day if she has anything to tell him!

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My thoughts:

This was a lot of fun, a terrible murder in the picturesque village of Lower Dimblebrook brings the police around asking questions and makes Issie realise she didn’t know her new friend Fiona as well as she thought, so she starts her own investigation.

Aided and abetted by fellow residents, and a tiny dog with a lot of energy, Issie soon uncovers a terrible secret in Lambourne Hall and risks her own life to reveal the killer.

As much as you probably shouldn’t enjoy murder mysteries, this was really enjoyable, funny, wry and clever, the author has a keen eye for people’s idiosyncrasies and how village life can get a little claustrophobic when everyone knows everything.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Missing Husband & The Silent Victims – Alex Coombes*

Today is my second post for the Alex Coombes’ DI Hanlon blog tour. The previous reviews can be read here.

Today I’m reviewing The Missing Husband and The Silent Victims.

A security officer is assassinated.
A small child grieves for his father.
A psychopath commits their first crime…

A frightened Russian woman seeks DCI Hanlon’s help in finding her missing husband. Hanlon’s not keen on the case. Until she hears a name she recognises only too well. Arkady Belanov, sadistic owner of an exclusive brothel in Oxford is involved.

And when DCI Enver Demirel, her former partner and friend, disappears, Hanlon is determined to solve the case.

Forced into an uneasy alliance with the London underworld, the race to him from the blood-stained
hands of the Russian mafia is underway…

Another gripping case for the unstoppable DCI Hanlon. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Lisa
Regan and Mark Dawson.

This book was previously published as A Hard Woman To Kill by Alex Howard.

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DCI Hanlon faces the toughest decision of her career as a string of political murders lead to a deadly confrontation.

A controversial, right-wing German politician is due to speak at the Oxford Union. Following a series of murders linked to a violent anarchist group, the city is on high alert.

DCI Hanlon has been partnered with DI Huss to ensure the speech goes smoothly and that there will be no more killing.

Meanwhole, as Hanlon traces the person behind the murders, she soon realises that the chilling truth has a terrible price. Is Hanlon willing to meet the cost?

The final gripping case for DCI Hanlon. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Lisa Regan and Mark Dawson.

This book was previously published as An Incidental Death by Alex Howard.

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Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He has written four well reviewed crime novels as Alex Howard.

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My thoughts:

The Missing Husband – following the events of the last book (The Innocent Girl) DCI Hanlon has been sent to Slough to do as little as Corrigan can make her – working on the missing persons team, a quiet job, out of the way of vengeful Russian mobsters. Or so Corrigan thinks… but when a beautiful woman, who happens to be Russian, asks for Hanlon’s help, well she and Enver end up in a whole heap of trouble. Again.

The Silent Victims – incapable of learning their lessons, the team get involved with more unpleasant and sinister types, this time foreign right wing politicians, jihadists and anarchists. Risking their lives once more, Hanlon and Huss are looking for potential assassins and trying to keep a lid on some protestors, while also investigating a series of connected crimes. Enver is making dinner.

Once again more thrill rides with the three detectives as they get thrown in to more risky adventures and put their lives on the line to stop some very dangerous criminals from operating. I got to the end of The Silent Victims and really wanted there to be more, I needed to know what happened next. There is a trilogy of books about Hanlon’s next move so I’ll be hunting them out soon. I also really want a book all about Enver and his family, mostly because he’s my favourite character and I feel immensely sorry for him as Hanlon keeps getting him almost killed while she shoots off with no real plan to fight much better prepared criminals.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books

Book Blitz: Takakush – Raine Reiter

Takakush

Today we’re celebrating the release of this beautiful new dark Fantasy, Takakush by Raine Reiter!

You can also win a signed copy of this stunner below!

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Takakush: Genus Magic #1

Publication Date: January 25th, 2021 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Mature YA/ NA/ Urban (Dark) Fantasy

When Professor Elena Lukas returns to her cozy Pacific Northwest hometown with a broken heart, she’s plunged back into the fate she tried to escape. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Elena must now dedicate her life to a powerful ancient Lithuanian goddess. Although she is prepared to live as a priestess hiding in a contemporary tourist town, she arrives to find that a series of so-called animal attacks have terrorized her forest.

With the help of a handsome detective from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Elena uses her expertise in invasive and endangered species to identify that these are no normal animal attacks. The woods are stalked by a dark, mystical creature bent on ravaging the area in an attempt to quell its insatiable hunger. When her little sister goes missing, Elena realizes that the beast can only be vanquished if she is brave enough to face it in-person, embrace her identity as a high priestess, and expose her powers to the man she is growing feelings for.

Raine Reiter weaves together an empowered, female-centered narrative with rich descriptions of nature and an ever-present sense of mystery. Her vivid, flowing prose takes readers of dark fantasy into a world that looks and feels real, while still evoking the enticing paranormal creativity shared by authors such as Richelle Mead and Kat Richardson.

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About the Author

Raine cavorts in the wilds of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with her dog, Luke, and writes Northwest Gothic. Her first novel Takakush will be published on Amazon in January 2021. This is the first book in the Genus Magica Series.

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To enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Takakush, click the link below! Giveaway will be open from today until January 27th and is open to everyone!

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blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A Remedy in Time – Jennifer Macaire*

To save the future, she must turn to the past . . .

San Francisco, Year 3377. A deadly virus has taken the world by storm. Scientists are desperately working to develop a vaccine. And Robin Johnson – genius, high-functioning, and perhaps a little bit single-minded – is delighted. Because, to cure the disease, she’s given the chance to travel back in time.

But when Robin arrives at the last Ice Age hoping to stop the virus at its source, she finds more there than she bargained for. And just as her own chilly exterior is beginning to thaw, she realises it’s not only sabre-toothed tigers that are in danger of extinction . . .

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Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves chocolate, biking, & reading.

She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite.

She went to France and met her husband at the polo club.
All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

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My thoughts:

This was a fun read, a time travelling, antibody searching, conspiracy revealing romp of a book. Robin is a scientist and is chosen to go back in time to search for a potential cure for a deadly typhus outbreak that’s killing people and has no current cure.

Which in 2021 feels a little familiar, shame we can’t nip back in time, extract some sabre tooth tiger blood and whizz up a cure, but that’s the plan Robin thinks her trip has. Unfortunately some unscrupulous types have other ideas.

Robin is a resourceful, smart woman and when things go pear shaped she doesn’t freak out, she makes plans and even finds a few new friends along the way.

I really enjoyed reading this, it was fun, funny, charming and clever.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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