reviews, books, blog tour

Blog Tour: Mother – Laura Jarratt*

Two Girls. One Chance.

When Lizzie’s car crashes with her two daughters inside, she faces a terrible choice. And when she recovers from her injuries, she has to deal with the impact of that tragedy as well as the police investigation into it.

As Lizzie and her family struggle to come to terms with the events of that night, things take an even darker turn. Just what did happen on that remote country road? Who is responsible? And can the family get through this together…Or will the truth finally tear them apart?

A stunning, deeply emotional and beautifully realised cross between SOPHIE’S CHOICE and DAUGHTER.

My thoughts:

Written like a thriller, this is a moving study of grief and guilt. Lizzie is riddled with both following a horrific accident that leaves her family a member short, a hole they will never fill.

As Lizzie struggles with her emotions, her husband and daughter wrestle with their own. This could tear them apart, or bring them closer together.

Well written with a strong sense of character and a gripping plot, this lingers with you, the sense of loss and trying to move on are articulate and powerful.

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

reviews, books, blog tour

Blog Tour: The Crown Agent – Stephen O’Rourke*

A ship adrift, all hands dead. A lighthouse keeper murdered in the night.

The Crown needs a man to find the truth. Doctor Mungo Lyon, his reputation tarnished by the Burke & Hare scandal, and forbidden to practise as a surgeon, is the wrong man.

A lighthouse keeper murdered in the night.

The Crown needs a man to find the truth. Doctor Mungo Lyon, his reputation tarnished by the Burke & Hare scandal, and forbidden to practise as a surgeon, is the wrong man.

That’s exactly why the Crown chose him.

Stephen O’Rourke is an advocate and a Member of the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators. He formerly wrote a regular column for

He formerly wrote a regular column for The Scotsman and has written for The Guardian, Caledonian Mercury and Think Scotland websites.

In 2012 he won a short story competition run by The Daily Telegraph, which proved to be the basis for The Crown Agent.

My thoughts:

This was a really enjoyable historical thriller inspired partly by real events and people. It features a cameo from Hare of Burke & Hare fame, which roots it in reality, a dark time in Edinburgh’s past and one that allows the invented Doctor Lyon to become the titular agent.

Struck off for his relationship to the surgeons at the heart of the scandal, he’s in the right place at the right time as far as the Crown, in the figure of the Lord Advocate, and sent to look into the events causing concern. Murder, intrigue, theft, and whiskey.

Tremendously fun and utterly gripping, this is a fantastic debut novel and introduces a new reluctant hero in Mungo Lyon (what a name too!) set to carry on investigating dark deeds with the assistance of the wily Mister Dervil.

*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: If She Dies – Erik Therme*

How far would you go to right a wrong?

Nine months ago, Tess’s five-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. The driver, Brady Becker, was sentenced to two years in prison. It didn’t make Tess’s pain go away.

Brady also has a daughter: A twelve-year-old named Eve who walks to Chandler Middle School every day. Tess knows this because she’s been watching Eve for the last three weeks. It isn’t fair that Brady’s daughter gets to live, while Tess’s daughter does not.

When Eve goes missing, all eyes turn to Tess, who doesn’t have an alibi. But Tess isn’t guilty.

Or so she believes.

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Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering on his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his oldest.

When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering on his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his oldest.

He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only twenty-eight places in the world that UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

Join Erik’s mailing list to be notified of new releases and author giveaways.

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My thoughts:

This was a well written, gripping thriller. Like anything involving children, there’s an extra sense of tension to the plot.

Tess isn’t dealing with her grief well and has fixated on Eve, an innocent child, after losing her own daughter. This puts her firmly in the spotlight when Eve goes missing.

Grief is a powerful and sometimes dangerous emotion, and can lead to some dark places. But is Tess guilty?

I liked the characters and enjoyed the book, it kept me guessing and was strong and cleverly done.

*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: Two Wrongs – Mel McGrath*


One girl jumped. And then another followed…

In the city of Bristol, young women are dying in mysterious circumstances. The deaths look like suicides – but are they something more sinister?

Honor is terrified that her daughter might be next. But as she looks for clues as to what really happened to the girls, she stumbles upon a link to a dark secret in her own past – one that she’s kept from her daughter.

Now Honor has the chance to avenge her child for the terrible events of years ago. But how far will she go to protect her daughter and right the wrongs done to her family?

My thoughts:

This was really good and very clever. I couldn’t tell where it was going to end up. Mel McGrath writes enjoyable thrillers which keep you guessing so I knew this would be good, and it was. What starts out with a dramatic life or death moment on Bristol’s famous bridge takes a turn into some dark places, a world of corrupt academics and vulnerable young women, murder and revenge.

Honor and Nevis are engaging and realistic protagonists, I felt for them as they navigated their relationship while dealing with the distressing events happening around them.

*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 Ex – Diane Saxon*

Read my review of What She Saw

Sometimes your past just won’t let go…

As a heat wave grips the country, DS Jenna Morgan is called to a domestic incident at the home of a young family in Ironbridge. Pregnant Imelda Cheetham-Epstein has been found unconscious by her husband, Zak with serious head injuries.

When Jenna arrives on the scene, she discovers something even more disturbing – the couple’s eleven-month-old son, Joshua, is missing and the race against time begins to find him.

Is this an accident or something more sinister?

Are the two incidents linked?

Or has something in the Cheetham-Epstein’s past caught up with them?

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Diane Saxon is back with a gripping new psychological crime novel, perfect for fans of Cara Hunter
and Carol Wyer.

Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to writing psychological crime. Find Her Alive was her first novel in this genre and introduced series character DS Jenna Morgan.

She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.

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My thoughts:

This was really good, a solid thriller that led to some interesting places. With his wife in a coma and his son kissing, Zak Cheetham-Epstein is top of the suspect list, but something else is going on and it’s upto DS Jenna Morgan to find out what’s what and rescue little Joshua before anything else can happen.

There are several heart in the mouth moments and some twists that threw me completely – when they’re explained you’ll want to revisit some scenes with new eyes. Very enjoyable and gripping stuff.

*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: Weasel Words – Dale E. Lehman

WeaselWords

Today we’re celebrating the release of crime caper, Weasel Words by Dale E. Lehman, with an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a print copy of the book!

Weasel 2Weasel Words (Bernard and Melody Capers Book 1)

Expected Publication Date: February 15th, 2021

Genre: Humor/ Crime Fiction

Between them, Bernard and Melody Earls have looks, charm, brains . . . everything but money. That’s why they steal from the rich and give to themselves. So when Alexander Hamilton Plaskett hires them to nick a silver statuette of a pine marten from his brother Paul Revere Plaskett, they’re happy to oblige. But it won’t be as easy as it looks. For one thing, the little beast is guarded by Fitzroy Fortresses, the best security system money can buy. For another, the five Plaskett siblings are obnoxious buffoons. Still, a job is a job, and this one may offer more than it appears.

At least, that’s Bernard’s theory. The pine marten isn’t particularly valuable, so why do the Plasketts contest its ownership so fiercely? To find out, he and Melody insinuate themselves into the Plasketts’ world and enlist a college geek to hack the unhackable Fitzroy system. Failure means poverty. Discovery means prison. And the biggest obstacle to Bernard’s brilliant schemes? Melody’s penchant for running off-script!

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Excerpt

Bernard had to admit to some fascination at the floorplan being revealed in shaky lines by Ruggles’ quaking hand. If it proved at all accurate, he could use it to plot his movements almost to the second. “Pretty good for having seldom been there,” he commented.

Ruggles tapped his temple. “Muskrat trap.”

“Not much gets away from one of those, huh?”

“Not much the size of a muskrat. Bears would be another matter.” The butler set the pen down and pushed it and the napkin back to Bernard. “And you are walking into a den full of bears, Mr. Earls. If you ask me, Bear Trap Falls is aptly named.”

“Bears and one weasel. Got it.” Bernard tucked the napkin and pen into an inside pocket.

“Do you take this matter at all seriously?”

“Very seriously, Mr. Ruggles. Seven thousand dollars plus expenses seriously.”

Ruggles gave Bernard’s suit careful scrutiny. Admittedly it wasn’t a Christian Dior, but surely it didn’t warrant that dismissive smirk. “Do you consider that a large sum?”

“For a few hours’ work, sure.” Bernard performed a quick burst of mental math. “It equates to an annual salary of over four and a half million, you know.”

Had he been standing, that revelation would have rocked Ruggles back on his heels. Sitting on the bar stool, it nearly dumped him backwards onto the floor. He grabbed the edge of the bar just in time and righted himself. “I didn’t realize that.”

“Oh yes, there’s good money in my business.” If only, he didn’t add, we could actually work something approaching full time. As it was, they were lucky to pay the rent some months.

The bartender returned and slid a plate of cheese fries in front of Bernard. “Hot,” she said. He thought she probably had been, a decade or so back, but she couldn’t hold a candle to Melody, not then and not now, so he didn’t give her a second thought.

“Just relax,” he told the butler, who didn’t seem capable. “Here. Drink your drink and eat some of these. They say the bacon is real good.”

Ruggles watched the bartender move down the bar to another customer. “No doubt you wish to inspire confidence.” He pulled a fry from underneath the mass of gooey yellow, then held it as though it were poison while it dribbled cheese all over the bar. “So why am I more terrified now than when I came in?”

Bernard shook his head and shoveled a few fries into his mouth.

The bacon, it turned out, was nothing to write home about.

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About the Author

me

Dale E. Lehman is a writer, veteran software developer, amateur astronomer, and bonsai artist in training. He principally writes mysteries, science fiction, and humor. In addition to his novels, his writing has appeared in Sky & Telescope and on Medium.com. With his wife Kathleen he owns and operates the imprint Red Tales. They have five children, six grandchildren, and two feisty cats. At any given time, Dale is at work on several novels and short stories. Visit Dale at https://www.DaleELehman.com for information on his books, activities, and more.

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reviews, books, blog tour

Blog Tour: The Night Has Seen Your Mind – Simon Kearns*

Tech billionaire, Mattias Goff, has invited five creative professionals – programmer, pianist, writer,
actor, and photographer – for a monthlong residency at Crystal Falls, his Arctic retreat.

Researching brain waves, and especially the enigmatic gamma wave, Goff asks his guests to wear a
kind of EEG cap in order to record the electrical activity in their brains while they engage with their
respective disciplines. Although they will be paid $5million each for the experience, they all start their sojourn a little wary – some more than others.

Cut off from the outside world in the stunningly beautiful, if stark, Alaskan winter landscape they immerse themselves in their work. Soon, though, reality seems to be shifting.

What is Goff really researching? Are his guests only being observed, or manipulated?

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Simon Kearns was born in London in 1972 and grew up in Northern Ireland. In his teens he returned to London to study philosophy. At the end of 2004 he moved to the south of France where he lives with his partner and two children.

His debut, Virtual Assassin, (Revenge Ink, 2010), explores personal responsibility in a corrupt society. It was followed by Dark Waves, (Blood Bound Books, 2014), about a powerful haunting and the scientist determined to debunk it.

His stories have appeared in publications such as The Future Fire, Litro, The Honest Ulsterman, and on numerous websites. He revels in etymology, guitar, gaming, and the science of superstition.

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My thoughts:

This book was very strange and sinister and a tiny bit bewildering, but all in a good way. Five creatives are invited to the Alaskan hideaway of a reclusive tech millionaire to help with his new project – he wants to record their gamma waves while they create. Or does he?

Weird things start happening and there’s an intense sense of claustrophobia despite being in the middle of nowhere. It gets stranger and more terrifying the longer the five are in the house. Will they survive?

I was gripped, desperate to figure out just what was going on, this book did not go anywhere I could possibly expect it to, but was way more out there.

It was however, super enjoyable and written in a relatable, easy to follow style, not getting too technical for me (I’m not great with techy stuff). I was completely drawn in and it reminded me a little of those classic locked house mysteries like Agatha Christie specialised in. But more modern and terrifying.

*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: Million Story City – Marcus Preece*

An author whose experience embodies the struggle faced by millions of other working class regional writers

When the filmmaker, teacher and editor Marcus Preece died in 2017 he left behind incomplete notes and drafts for dozens of short stories, screenplays, comic strips, poems and music journalism. He was also in the process of writing an inter-connective short story collection Adventures in Million-Story City from which this collected works, edited by his friend, author Malu Halasa, takes it name.

Million-Story City is a fabulous place populated by highly original, delightful characters, where storybook conventions mix and flow in a sequence of tales for both adult and younger readers: Two guys named Tom Bone. A spaceman speaking only lyrics from pop songs, confusing the aliens. A Gogolesque telesales agent with a dog problem. A return to a desolate Australian mining town. Cowboys, detectives and witches, unlike any you’ve ever seen. An irate email to Sepp Blatter. Wise children. Musings on whiskey, the sea and the end of the damn world. It all made Preece one of the most interesting writers you never got the chance to hear of.

Marcus Preece was a solidly working class writer based largely in the Midlands, and the themes of his screenplays, short fiction and poetry – racism, migration, sexism and corrupt government – resonate loudly today. He was a punk at college in Walsall when he became friends with the Birmingham-based director John Humphreys. Their first film together was United Bad Art (1989) about graffiti and other scripts of his were made into films for Yorkshire TV and BBC2. If someone in a bedsit on one of those tumbled down two-up-two-down terraced houses had some success in the wider world than anyone in Birmingham could do it.

But Preece’s personal story is one still experienced by writers around the country, and especially in the regions. In Birmingham it was too hard to make the necessary contacts and when he couldn’t earn a living from his scripts and articles Preece worked as a builder with his dad in East Grinstead. In the 2009 he retrained as a teacher of English as a second language and moved to Hanoi, where he taught English, edited the Voice of Vietnam’s English-language website and held legendary pub quizzes in dive bars when he wasn’t obsessing over his latest short story for the page or film.

Preece’s life was tragically cut short but what remains are his wonderfully acerbic and witty comics and screenplays, his melancholic poems and this anthology is a sheer delight and tribute to that.

As the UK faces an uneasy future, Marcus’s undiscovered writings, his outrage and politics speak volumes now.

Paper + Ink founder Mitch Albert said, ‘Marcus Preece’s writings reveal a man who had considerable talent and vision, and once I tucked into the stories, comics, screenplays and poems, it was a while before I looked up again. In short, I’m a fan, in addition to admiring Malu’s meaningful and highly worthwhile tribute to a fallen friend.’

Malu Halasa is an editor, writer and curator based in London. She has written the novel, Mother of All Pigs, and edited many anthologies including Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline and The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design. Usually she writes about the Middle East but for Million-Story City she returns to Britain’s second city, which inspired her after she moved to the UK in the 1980s.

My thoughts:

Even in the shortest of this collection of writing you can feel how good a writer Marcus Preece was and what a loss his death is.

He creates a strong sense of place and time, drawing pictures that linger in the mind. Even in the opening piece about his birthplace of Ima in the Australian Outback, a tiny no horse town, you can see the things he’s describing so clearly, without ever having been there.

Living in the UK’s second city, Birmingham, for much of his adult life, gave him a unique perspective on its inhabitants and society. As an outsider he could see the idiosyncrasies while also feeling a deep bond and affection for his adopted home town.

This is a book that shows you snapshots of people and places, gifting them to you on the page. In the short stories, poems and screen plays, he creates whole worlds in a few words, strongly drawing you into his characters’ lives. Truly an underrated writer.

*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 Aether Ones – Wendi Coffman-Porter*


Long ago, the Great Sundering ripped the universe apart, creating two separate realities. The kuldain realm developed advanced technology, and its inhabitants travel the universe on massive ships to colonize and expand their empire. The aether realm, meanwhile, harnessed the magic of the massively powerful eldrich energy that connects everything within their realm.

Now, a tentative peace reigns between the two realms, maintained by a treaty and by the Imperial Investigative Service–a force designed to monitor interactions between the realms and ensure that most kuldain inhabitants don’t even know aether space exists.

Leilani Falconi, a talented agent of the IIS, polices the galaxy with quick sarcasm and a quicker temper. When a series of suspicious deaths in kuldain space threatens the secrecy and peace, Lei must solve the mystery–fast–before both her realities change forever.

My thoughts:

This was a gripping, clever sci-fi thriller that whizzed all over the universe as Lei raced against time to unravel a conspiracy with far reaching consequences for both kuldain and aether realm and their peoples.

She’s smart, quick and happy to commit violence to get what she needs if her bag of tricks and bribes don’t quite cover it. As an agent she has licence to do whatever it takes in service to the emperor, and a talent for disguise and assuming new identities as needed.

I liked Lei and her take no prisoners attitude, I appreciated her dry sense of humour and determination. The plot whizzed along taking in all sorts of weird and wonderful events and characters. Really enjoyable.


*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: Travel by Night – Sophie Morton-Thomas*

A nebulous memory. Caught in a dangerous trap. A life-changing discovery.

When Yalina wakes in hospital following surgery, she doesn’t recognise her own parents.
Following her release, she decides to meet her estranged brother, Ali, in Sheffield. On her arrival, Yalina is taken to a house where girls are held against their will and forced into sex slavery. Too late, she realises she has fallen into a trap.
Over time, Yalina discovers a love of playing the old piano that lives in the house. It keeps her sane. As friendships blossom between the women, Yalina finds herself taking a young girl, Rebecca, under her wing.
When the women are threatened with violence, Yalina reluctantly accepts help from a stranger she met in the house. But he carries a secret that could impact on her whole life.
Will Yalina escape her captors? And how will she cope with the unexpected revelation?
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Sophie Morton-Thomas is a British writer based in West Sussex where she lives with her husband and children. She’s an English teacher by day and a Creative Writing Master’s degree student and writer in her spare time.

Travel By Night is her first novel, and is based in Sheffield, where she lived for a number of years.

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My thoughts:

I got a bit frustrated with Yalina a few times, she has several chances to escape and get help but every time she gives up and returns to the house of horrors she’s been kept in.

This was an intelligent thriller about trafficking and modern slavery, the women are kept half starved and terrified, their passports taken from them.

The twist at the end, in terms of the stranger who finally helps them, is very clever and unexpected.

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