blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Break Up – Charlotte Barnes

You don’t know what you’re looking for until you find it.

Edi Parcell thought she had life all planned out, so when her childhood sweetheart proposes a three-month break to date other people, she’s shocked. Unexpectedly back on the dating scene after years with the same guy, this is the first opportunity Edi’s had to think about what she really wants from life – and love.

From disastrous first dates to meet-cutes at museums, Edi is soon on a voyage of self-discovery – and she has her best friends on hand to help with everything from deciphering WhatsApps to deciding whether that cute woman in the art gallery really was flirting with her. When the break is over, will Edi even want her old relationship back?

My thoughts: I liked Edi and her hilarious friends, I was in agreement with them about how much her stupid boyfriend needed to be dumped for good, and kicked in the shins for good measure. He’s so pathetic, he didn’t like it when Edi realised she didn’t need him any more.

I didn’t really get why they were together in the first place and for so long, but never lived together and just, there was something off about him from the start and his parents seemed like total nightmares too.

He also went into typical hetero panic mode when Edi met Fred, shock horror, a woman! As a queer person, I just rolled my eyes at this, sexuality is fluid, especially for women, and heaven forbid Edi find a woman attractive. Cemented his loser status right there. I cheered when Edi finally realised she wanted to make some serious changes and not stay stuck in a rut forever.

*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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Blog Tour: Keep Her Sweet – Helen Fitzgerald

Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Jen and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille. Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Jen and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent. When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move. But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that. This is a murder, just waiting to happen… Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but a startling look at sister relationships and they bonds they share … or shatter.

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and adapted for a major BBC drama. Her 2019 dark-comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in the Literary Review, Herald Scotland, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and won the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award. Her latest title Ash Mountain was published in 2020. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband. Follow Helen on Twitter @FitzHelen.

My thoughts: I don’t have the easiest relationship with my sibling but Asha and Camille take things to a whole new Cain and Abel level with their violent, relentless fighting, bitching and casual cruelty. Even the therapist they hire to help the family mend some fences is a bit at a loss and some things are beyond talking about it.

After their parents spiral off in their own problems, the sisters are left alone, rather unwillingly, and war breaks out. Asha definitely has some serious issues and Camille can’t take the constant abuse anymore. They aren’t children so the violence is all the more shocking, Asha knows exactly what she’s doing when she attacks her sister. The brutal behaviour worsens the longer they’re together and in the end it might just break them.

Shocking, unrelenting and disturbing, this takes sibling squabbles to an extreme beyond the norm and then some. Brilliant writing, jaw dropping 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.

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Blog Tour: To The Grave – John Barlow

Will the truth be buried with the dead?

When DS Joe Romano first meets Ana Dobrescu she’s nervous, in serious danger, and clearly needs help. The next time Romano sees her, she’s dead.

There was nothing more he could have done, but that’s cold comfort for Romano. He’s determined to catch Ana’s killer. Although the prime suspect, her millionaire boyfriend, is in a coma.

With the help of his larger-than-life partner Rita Scannon-Aktar, Romano begins to piece together a puzzle that places Ana at the centre of something much bigger than they could have imagined.

But while they’re hunting a murderer, those higher up are more concerned about the money. So it’s up to Romano to get justice for Ana. And whatever she knew, he’ll just have to pray that she didn’t take her secrets to the grave.

My thoughts: from what looks like a simple pub fight on the surface, to murder, people trafficking, exploitation and dodgy financial dealings in the small town of Batley, Yorkshire.

DS Romano, himself the grandson of immigrants, is sensitive to the plight of a group of trafficked Romanians, stripped of their passports and forced into horrible jobs for little to no pay, living in squalor. But Ana had a plan to help them, can Romano and his team unravel all the threads in this gritty and dark thriller?

I liked Romano, even if he really could use a clean suit and a good night’s sleep, he’s very determined and forges on even when he’s told that Ana’s death is “probably a domestic”, he knows there’s more to it than that and he won’t rest till he’s helped the same people Ana wanted to. I liked his partner in solving crime, Rita, not your stereotypical copper, and her no nonsense, take no prisoners attitude too, she was good fun.

The case felt timely and real – Brexit may well mean more people trafficking as it’s harder for migrant workers to come into the country legally to do the work Brits don’t want to do, some unscrupulous individuals will take advantage wherever they can. Hopefully the real DS Romano’s out there will put a stop to 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.

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Blog Tour: Her Child’s Cry – S.A. Dunphy

‘I just want my little girl back. She’s so little, she needs her mummy. And she doesn’t even have her panda bear with her. Find her, please find her, before it’s too late.’

Little Rosie Blake has been taken. Since going missing from the hospital where she was being treated for cancer, Rosie’s distraught parents haven’t heard a word. And time is swiftly running out. They have to find her, and right away, because Rosie can only survive for ten days without her medication.

With the police unable to find any leads at all, criminal behaviourist Jessie Boyle and her team are brought in to help. Who would be so evil as to steal a sick child? Narrowing down on a suspect, Jessie quickly moves to arrest them, only to discover the suspect’s dead body instead… And with no Rosie in sight, the case becomes even more desperate.

Who killed their chief suspect, and where is Rosie now? And is Rosie’s disappearance linked to the sudden revival of Dublin’s Hellfire Club, an ancient and terrifying cult obsessed with death and human sacrifice?

As the race to find Rosie intensifies, her heartbroken parents know their little girl’s time is running out. The clock is ticking, but Jessie clings on to the hope of finding her safe. Then her search leads her to Ireland’s remote mountains… Will Jessie be able to survive the deadly threat that awaits her, rescue Rosie, and get her back to safety, before it’s too late?

An utterly compelling crime thriller that will have you hooked from the very first line. Fans of Patricia Gibney, Lisa Gardner and Lisa Regan will not want to miss this.

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Shane Dunphy (S. A. Dunphy) was born in Brighton in 1973, but grew up in Ireland, where he has lived and worked for most of his life. A child protection worker for fifteen years, he is the bestselling author of seventeen books, including the number one Irish bestseller Wednesday’s Child and the Sunday Times Bestseller The Girl Who Couldn’t Smile. His bestselling series of crime novels (written under the name S. A. Dunphy) feature the criminologist David Dunnigan. Stories From the Margins, his new series of true crime books written for Audible, has been critically acclaimed and the second title in the series, The Bad Place, is an Audible True Crime bestseller. 

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My thoughts: the team return for another case with folkloric overtones, although this time they’re rooted in more human behaviour – the Reavers are a strange band planning a sacrifice, spun out of the infamous Hellfire Club, and a child’s life is at stake.

There seems to be several different groups interested in little Rosie’s life – why did the hospital porter report that she wasn’t safe, what does an old school gangster have to do with any of this?

Dawn gets to go all Die Hard, kicking in doors and wielding guns, while Jessie goes off on her own and Terri is put in danger. It’s absolutely cracking, heart in mouth, stuff. There were several moments where it seemed as though we might lose a character as they’re up against possibly the nastiest bunch so far. And of course Jessie’s creepy serial killer stalker Uruz is still around sending her messages, are they any closer to identifying him? Cannot wait for book four.

*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: Of Legends and Roses – Ashley W. Slaughter

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Welcome to the book tour for Of Legends and Roses by Ashley W. Slaughter. Read on for details and the chance to win a fabulous giveaway! Oh and stay tuned for the release of the second installment in the series Of Deceit and Snow which comes out this November!

Of Legends and Roses (The Crowned Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

A realm touched and forgotten by magic.

A young queen orphaned by disease.

A prince after her heart.

Queen Rosemary Avelia knows little about ruling a kingdom, and even less so about the ancient legends of her land. Since no one has been born Talented in centuries, she simply scoffs at the idea of magic. However, when the charming Prince Gryffin Danicio arrives just as her kingdom is under a deadly threat, he shows her that not all kingdoms of the Magian Peninsula have so quickly dismissed the legends of the Talented. Perhaps the Talented should not so easily be forgotten.

Of Legends and Roses is the first book in The Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces reign, love, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.

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Teaser

I heard Zeke’s voice again. Point your blade downward.

With every emotion swirling through my head, I almost laughed; even in his absence, Zeke was trying to tell me what to do.

But I listened to him as I pushed up from the cobblestoned street and let the tip of my sword hang downward toward the ground. Don’t relax. I tried to feign fatigue, which really wasn’t too much of a challenge, but I kept my arms taut. Ready.

A wicked smile spread across my opponent’s face, and he strode forward, his weapon glinting in the sun, ready to strike.

Then, just before I was within his sword’s reach, I shot the tip of my blade upward, and I thrust my sword forward with every fiber of strength contained within me.

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Ashley W. Slaughter was born and raised in south Louisiana, among sugarcane fields lining the banks of the Mississippi River. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2018 and worked as a wildlife biologist before pursuing her career as an author. Writing has always been a passion of hers, as shown through her near-to-bursting manila folder of short stories she’d written throughout grade school, and the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to rediscover this passion. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, spending time with her husband and pets, and, of course, reading.

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My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, Rose is a great protagonist, always trying to live up to her parents, but even when she falls short, she doesn’t give up. She wants to be the best Queen she can, even if that means giving up some of the things she wants.

She’s also a good big sister, caring about her younger sisters, aware they don’t remember their parents the way she does.

I liked her relationships with her servants, advisers and friends – she’s aware of the boundaries between them because of who she is but is still able to talk to them as people, not in a high handed “Queenly” way.

The plot is interesting without being overdone and story moves at a good pace, keeping me engaged and keen to read more – something not every writer can do. Fingers crossed book 2 is as good.

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*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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Blog Tour: Little Drummer – Kjell Ola Dahl, translated by Don Bartlett

When a woman is found dead in her car in a Norwegian parking garage, everyone suspects an overdose … until a forensics report indicates that she was murdered. Oslo Detectives Frølich and Gunnarstranda discover that the victim’s Kenyan scientist boyfriend has disappeared, and their investigations soon lead them into the shady world of international pharmaceutical deals. While Gunnarstranda closes in on the killers in Norway, Frølich and Lise, his new journalist ally, travel to Africa, where they make a series of shocking discoveries about exploitation and corruption in the distribution of foreign aid and essential HIV medications. When tragedy unexpectedly strikes, all three investigators face incalculable danger, spanning two continents. And not everyone will make it out alive… Exploding the confines of the Nordic Noir genre, Little Drummer is a sophisticated, fast-paced, international thriller with a searingly relevant, shocking premise that will keep you glued to the page.

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published thirteen novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

My thoughts: what starts off as a bit of paperwork following a suspected OD becomes a far more complicated beast, when the police discover the victim was murdered and CCTV shows a man fleeing the scene. He flees all the way back to his small village in Kenya, and detective Frølich follows him there, he doesn’t think the young scientist is a killer, but he’s definitely a witness.

Covering international relations, big business, fraud, murder, conspiracy and all sorts of other nefarious practices, this book unfolds a shocking tangle of bodies and lies that all ultimately link to the biggest evil of all – money.

Journalist Lise is personally involved from the start – she found Kristine’s body, but her own life is at risk when she starts digging into the case, hoping for a cracking story, she bites off a bit more than she can chew, but a partnership with Frølich means she’s not in too much danger as his instincts mean he’s watching out for her.

As the case unfolds and they start to connect the dots, one man is their suspect, but is he a red herring? Could another, rather more innocuous man, be the real mastermind and murderer?

Clever, twisting and turning, revealing some of the crimes of international development in the global South, this book takes you from Norway to Kenya and back, following the money and peeling back the layers of secrecy and control to find the killer at its heart.

*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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Blog Tour: The Memory Keeper of Kyiv – Erin Litteken

In the 1930s, Stalin’s activists marched through the Soviet Union, espousing the greatness of collective farming. It was the first step in creating a man-made famine that, in Ukraine, stole almost 4 million lives. Inspired by the history the world forgot, and the Russian government denies, Erin Litteken reimagines their story.
In 1929, Katya is 16 years old, surrounded by family and in love with the boy next door. When Stalin’s activists arrive in her village, it’s just a few, a little pressure to join the collective. But soon neighbors
disappear, those who speak out are never seen again and every new day is uncertain.
Resistance has a price, and as desperate hunger grips the countryside, survival seems more a dream than a possibility. But, even in the darkest times, love beckons.
Seventy years later, a young widow discovers her grandmother’s journal, one that will reveal the long-buried secrets of her family’s haunted past.
This is a story of the resilience of the human spirit, the love that sees us through our darkest hours and the true horror of what happened during the Holodomor.
May we never forget, lest history repeat itself.
A share of proceeds will be donated to DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.
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Erin Litteken is a debut novelist with a degree in history and a passion for research. At a young age, she was enthralled by stories of her family’s harrowing experiences in Ukraine before, during and after World War II. Her first historical fiction title, drawing on those experiences, will be published by Boldwood in June 2022. She lives in Illinois, USA with her husband and children.

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My thoughts: when I studied Russian history we briefly looked at the Holodomor, the horrific policy Stalin inflicted on the people of Ukraine. But we didn’t look at it in detail, I’m glad in a way because it is genuinely harrowing. Erin Litteken is of Ukrainian descent and her family members lived through those terrible years. She weaves their experiences into this moving and powerful novel.

As her Bobby develops dementia and slips back in time in her mind, grieving widow Cassie moves back in to her grandmother’s house to take care of her and her young daughter Birdie, who hasn’t spoken since a terrible accident killed her father. She’s given Bobby’s journals to translate and transcribe from Ukrainian, with the help of neighbour Nick, revealing the terrible things Bobby and her family went through under Soviet rule.

Parts of the book are heartbreakingly sad, Katya loses so many of her family and friends to hunger and gulags in Siberia. She has to do so much to survive, despite her own pain. As Cassie and Nick read the journal they discover a story of hope amid the terror and of love amid so much loss.

As Ukraine endures another Russian reign of terror in 2022, this book feels incredibly timely and serves as a reminder of the strength of the human spirit. Some of the proceeds from the purchase are to go to the DEC’s Ukraine appeal to help the descendants of those who survived the Holodomor survive once more.

*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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Blog Tour: Cold Grave – Jenny O’Brien

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare…

Seventeen-year-old Bryony Lloyd’s father drops her off at a friend’s house to study – but when he returns to pick her up there’s no sign of her, and the woman who lives in the house swears she lives alone. Bryony has vanished into thin air, and her ‘friend’ doesn’t seem to exist.

DI Gaby Darin immediately sees similarities with another missing-persons case: seventeen-year-old Christy Taylor, who vanished without warning several months earlier. There’s nothing in the girls’ personal lives to suggest trouble at home – could someone have taken them both?

After a third case is linked, Gaby knows time is running out if she’s going to find Bryony and Christy alive. After going missing over a year ago, this girl’s just been found dead.

When a tragic accident means Gaby loses a vital member of her team, she distracts herself from her grief by throwing herself into finding the missing girls. Even if it means putting her whole career on the line…

A gripping and thrilling mystery for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel McLean and Cara Hunter. Cold Grave will have you hooked!

My thoughts: this was another really good book featuring Gaby and her team. This time they’re looking for missing teenage girls – bookish, clever but not particularly striking girls. The last ones you’d expect to run away. But then that might just be the point. Working with Manchester police, who have a similar case, the team gradually draw the net closer on their suspect, but time isn’t on their side.

A shocking tragedy derails Gaby slightly, she’s so caught up in her own emotional spiral that she’s not as focused as she should be. But between DCI Sherlock and Rusty, she’s reminded of the vital role in finding the missing girls that she plays.

I really like these books and so it’s a shame that this is currently the last one planned. Hopefully the author has something good coming up 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.

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Book Blitz: Insidious Scars – Natalie J. Reddy

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Happy publication day to author Natalie J. Reddy! Just look at this beauty! Read on for more info about Insidious Scars (Scars of Days Forgotton #5)!

Psst! There’s also a giveaway!

eBook -Insidious Scars

Insidious Scars (Scars of Days Forgotten Series Book 5)

Publication Date: May 17th, 2022 🎉

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance

This is what she’s been training for…

Jyoti has felt like an outcast all her life. Living among Psi with extraordinary power can be isolating and dangerous when you have no power of your own. But in weakness there is strength, a strength Jyoti’s mother has been training her to use to her advantage. When rumors of war begin circulating, Jyoti is offered an opportunity to help protect her people. However, it would mean giving up what she loves most. But when she finds out about a weapon that could cause the destruction of all mankind, she begins to question everything, even her own heart.

What do you do when protecting the greater good means you’ll lose everything you love?

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About the Author

Author

Natalie J. Reddy is a Canadian Author who spends her days trying to escape reality by making up stories about the characters in her head.

Natalie realized at an early age that she had a passion for storytelling and that passion followed her into adulthood. There is nothing she loves more than to be pulled into a fictional world whether it’s in her own writing or the writing of others. Natalie is the author of the Scar of Days Forgotten series, a New Adult Urban Fantasy series with characters who have supernatural abilities and dark and sometimes unknown pasts to overcome.

When she’s not writing, Natalie can be found having all sorts of real-life adventures with her husband and daughter or curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.

To keep up to date on upcoming books, subscribe to Natalie’s newsletter at nataliejreddy.com

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Blog Tour: Black Water Sister – Zen Cho

This mischievous Malaysian-set novel is an adventure featuring family, ghosts and local gods – from Hugo Award winning novelist Zen Cho.

Her grandmother may be dead, but she’s not done with life . . . yet.

As Jessamyn packs for Malaysia, it’s not a good time to start hearing a bossy voice in her head. Broke, jobless and just graduated, she’s abandoning America to return ‘home’. But she last saw Malaysia as a toddler – and is completely unprepared for its ghosts, gods and her eccentric family’s shenanigans.

Jess soon learns her ‘voice’ belongs to Ah Ma, her late grandmother. She worshipped the Black Water Sister, a local deity. And when a business magnate dared to offend her goddess, Ah Ma swore revenge. Now she’s decided Jess will help, whether she wants to or not.

As Ah Ma blackmails Jess into compliance, Jess fights to retain control. But her irrepressible relative isn’t going to let a little thing like death stop her, when she can simply borrow Jess’s body to make mischief. As Jess is drawn ever deeper into a world of peril and family secrets, getting a job becomes the least of her worries.

My thoughts: this was a really fun, and funny, read. I have a few Malaysian friends but I don’t know a huge amount about the country. This really brought it to life, Jess is a great protagonist. Seeing Penang through her eyes, as a newcomer, was a great way to learn about the city and its people. I loved her perspective on her family, all the crazy things they did, the endless rounds of entertaining guests and visiting friends, the way her mum and dad just got dragged along behind her auntie.

I also really liked learning about the religious beliefs of many Malaysians – worshipping hundreds of gods, some with only a little power, based in one small area, like the Black Water Sister of the title. A vengeful god, who really doesn’t like men, understandable when you learn more about her, as Jess does. I also loved Jess’ opinionated grandmother – Ah Ma. Despite being dead, she’s got plenty to say, about everything. I’m glad my dead relatives are safely tucked up in the afterlife (whatever that is) and not hanging about.

The book was colourful and clever and made me really hungry (Malaysian food is delicious btw). I want a sequel, see what Jess does next with her life.

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