blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Tulip Taylor – Anna Mainwaring*

Challenged to go on a `survival’ reality TV show, fifteen-year-old make-up vlogger Tulip only accepts to escape her mother’s money-making schemes and protect her younger brother and sister. Set up to fail, can she prove to the TV show, to Harvey – the cute but annoying boy who got her on there – and most importantly to herself, that she’s more than just a pretty face? As Tulip puts down her phone and heads for the hills, she finds she has both the courage and insight to take on each new challenge. But as ‘reality’ gets ever more crazy, will either teen escape their families and their time in the spotlight unscathed?

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Anna Mainwaring read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ at the age of seven and hasn’t stop reading since. After studying English at university, she took the bizarre decision to follow a career in corporate banking. This made her sad so she left, went travelling and trained to be a teacher. When not teaching, writing or hiding from her children in the study, Anna can be found in bookshops, cafes or walking slowly up big hills.

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My thoughts:

This was a funny, wry contemporary YA novel through the lens of one teen’s determination to be more than just what she posts on social media.

Tulip is every 16 year old girl I’ve ever met; they are so much more than the stereotype (I used to work with children and young people). She’s funny, loyal, smart and brave. Her family are all over the place and she’s often driven to parenting her parents.

She’s also much more resourceful than she’s given credit for. And yes, she makes mistakes but so do we all. Anyone who says they have it all together at 16 is lying.

I am going to recommend this book to some of the teens I know (and their parents) to remind them how it’s ok to love Instagram and also learning, how it’s ok to make mistakes and not know everything. Tulip has a big heart and is a fantastic protagonist.

*I was gifted this book to review but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Missing Years – Lexie Elliott*

She thought she would never go back…

Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago. Her father.

Leaving London behind to settle her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, accompanied by the half-sister she’s never taken the time to get to know.

With the past threatening to swallow her whole, she can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her. And when Ailsa confronts the first nighttime intruder, she sees that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything…

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Lexie Elliott has been writing for as long as she can remember, but she began to focus on it more seriously after she lost her banking job in 2009 due to the Global Financial Crisis. After some success in short story competitions, she began planning a novel. With two kids and a (new) job, it took some time for that novel to move from her head to the page, but the result was The French Girl, which will be published by Berkley in February 2018 – available to pre-order on Amazon now!

When she’s not writing, Lexie can be found running, swimming or cycling whilst thinking about writing. In 2007 she swam the English Channel solo. She won’t be doing that again. In 2015 she ran 100km, raising money for Alzheimer Scotland. She won’t be doing that again either. But the odd triathlon or marathon isn’t out of the question.

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My thoughts:

There are a few things I really enjoy in a book; creepy houses, families full of mysteries, legends and myths that vary depending on the teller.

The Missing Years have all this.

This book was just the right amount of sinister and weird for a thriller, there is something about the more remote regions of Scotland that is made for twisted narratives.

The ending’s twist I definitely didn’t see coming and I’m usually pretty good at spotting them.

This is the author’s second book and I think if she keeps writing like this, there’s a great career headed her way.

* I was kindly gifted the book to review but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Serpent’s Mark – S. W. Perry*

A smart and gripping tale of conspiracy, murder and espionage in Elizabethan London, ideal for fans of CJ Sansom, Rory Clements and SG MacLean.

Treason sleeps for no man…

London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London’s lawless Bankside. But, when the queen’s spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself.

With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a dangerous world of zealots, charlatans and fanatics. As their own lives become increasingly at risk, they find themselves confronting the greatest treason of all: the spectre of a bloody war between the faiths…


S. W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot. He lives in Worcestershire with his wife.

My thoughts: I do love a historical crime novel, it combines a lot of my favourite, deeply nerdy things. And Kit Marlowe pops up in this one.

Do read the first book, The Angel’s Mark, first. It helps situate the characters and the backstory so The Serpent’s Mark can just get on with the cracking plot rather than explain who everyone is, especially if English history isn’t one of the things you know a bit about.

Set towards the end of Elizabeth I’s reign there are spies, conspiracies, medical malfeasance, mischief, gore, bodies, taverns and players galore.

I really enjoyed this (if you’re not sure how I feel). It was fun, gripping, clever and felt just as though S.W. Perry had been skulking around the back of the Jackdaw making notes on the sort of real life schemes that happened in the period.

Check out the rest of the tour.

*I was gifted a copy of this book (and its predecessor) for review but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Lost in Vegas/North of the Rock – Ian Jones

John Smith is a man who solves problems, just don’t try to stop him.

He is in Las Vegas trying to track down a missing woman, which should be a simple job. But he soon discovers he is not welcome, and there are those who want to make sure he leaves the city fast, in one way or another.

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John Smith is a man who solves problems, just don’t try to stop him. As a favour to an old friend in the FBI John returns to West Texas. But there is now a whole new town and way of life that has sprung up since he was last there ten years previously. He soon finds out he is in the middle of some very rich men who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

As a favour to an old friend in the FBI John returns to West Texas. But there is now a whole new town and way of life that has sprung up since he was last there ten years previously. He soon finds out he is in the middle of some very rich men who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

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About the author

Residing in London, Ian Jones lives with his wife and daughter, a cat Gloria, tortoise Gary and three fish; Daphne, Velma and Scooby. He currently works at a Taiwanese hardware company, looking after Europe and works as an Electrician in his spare time. Ian Jones has been writing since he was twenty years old, though he mostly wrote black comedies and seemed unable to finish a complete novel. Fortunately, ten years ago, Ian Jones tried his hand at writing thrillers and published his very first novel, The Handsome Man. Since then he has had many other books published via Kindle Direct. Lost in Vegas is actually the second book that he wrote.

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My thoughts:

I enjoyed North of the Rock more than Lost in Vegas. LiV was more of a formulaic missing person with gangsters story but NotR was really intriguing as PI John Smith gets drawn into a complex conspiracy in small town Texas. It was really twisty turny, with moments where I really couldn’t figure out what might be going on. Theres a real web of lies and money criss crossing back and forth and shadowy figures manipulating everything. The writing is sharp and pacey, the story clever and surprising. If you like complex thrillers full of people with their own agendas then these books will suit you.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog tour: A Modern Family – Helga Flatland*

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce. Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history. A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…

I found this study of a family quietly splintering very intriguing. Spilt into sections narrated by each of the adult siblings, you get different emotions and reactions, often not quite how they are seen by their siblings.

Liv is deeply affected by her parents’ decision and finds herself unable to move forward, desperate to keep everything as it was.

Ellen has a high powered job but nurses her own quiet desperation and longing, clinging to a relationship in freefall.

Hakon appears the least affected, his beliefs in monogamy and love supported by his parents’ divorce, yet he too finds himself somewhat lost.

I would have liked a tiny section from each of the parents, just to see what was beneath as they’re filtered through their childrens’ perceptions.

I found it quietly compelling and surprised myself by how drawn to it I was.

Helga Flatland is already one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of the book in exchange for participating in the blog tour. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Wolves at the Door – Gunnar Staalesen*

A slice of Scandi noir for you today.

PI Varg Veum is almost knocked down by a car one night, an incident he is convinced is connected to the wrongful accusation of sexual assault and child pornography he has recently dealt with.

The other men convicted in that case are being picked off one by one in apparent suicides or accidents, Veum is drawn into a case of revenge and retribution that threatens the lives of those he loves.

I’m not going to mince words, this is dark stuff, the crimes these men were involved with are nasty and at times you empathise with the unknown killer – who wouldn’t think that the short prison sentences they received weren’t enough; especially when some of the victims are still dealing with their pasts.

Veum is a compelling narrator with a clinical mind and an analytical style of investigation; he’s easy to root for and likeable, despite his somewhat odd personality and occasional coldness.

About the author: One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty-three titles, which have been published in twenty-six countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is currently being filmed. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.


*I was gifted this book to review but all words and opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Book Review: The Lost Shrine – Nicola Ford*

Some of you may remember I reviewed the first in this series of archaeology thrillers last year, The Hidden Bones.

Those of you who don’t, not to worry. You can read it now or just order both books.

One of the things Britain has a lot of is history – reams of it stretching far back beyond written records.

It’s fascinating to see how by gently peeling back layers of earth and building works you can discover amazing things hidden underground.

Written by a real archeologist, Dr Nick Snashall, this second murder mystery amidst the dig on a housing development is filled with drama both past and present.

Clare Hills and her team are asked to take over a dig following the shocking death of previous site supervisor Beth Kinsella. With a ruthless developer keen to get on with the building work, strange locals, and the possibility that the site is more significant than it appears, can Clare solve the mysteries therein before the foundations are poured and the past rests again?

This was another well written, cleverly plotted book, with lively characters and a twisty turny storyline that had me racing through the pages.

If Dr Snashall ever decides to give up her day job as the National Trust’s Archaeologist for Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site and write thrillers full time, I reckon we’d all be ok with that!

And all this week if you’re a fan of ebooks The Lost Shrine is only 99p.

*I was gifted this book in exchange for a review, all words and opinions remain my own.