blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Poleaxed – Peter Tyrer*

It is 1967. A mysterious disease appears in an English town. People fall down suddenly, poleaxed, and many die. Is it caused by a bacterium, a virus, a poison? Nobody knows, and top doctors squabble over its cause. But then two junior doctors and a young anthropology student, who has recovered from the disease, join together.

The three investigators continue their work to find out the cause of the disease, a virus whose worst effects are only shown in those who are very anxious. They think they have found the cause and the solution. But will they be in time?

This is a gripping dystopian tale, very much relevant to events unfolding today and written by Emeritus Professor of Community Psychiatry at Imperial College, London, Peter Tyrer whose long-standing interest in the connections between mental and physical health informed the novel.

My thoughts:

I seem to have read a lot of books recently about pandemics and diseases, real and imaginary, which considering this year’s stellar performance of These Are The End Times, seems to make some sense.

This book, written in 2018/19, is very interesting in that the infection is highly localised and the town takes the decision to close its borders and see if they can wait out the virus, while also continuing to look for both the origin and a treatment. This isn’t a new idea, famously a village in Derbyshire, Eyam, chose to completely cut itself off during an outbreak of plague in 1665, rather than risk spreading the Black Death beyond its borders.

What’s most interesting, and for me somewhat unnerving, is the idea that this virus, Poleaxe, affects people with underlying anxiety disorders far more seriously than anyone else. I have anxiety disorder and panic disorder, as well as depression, so were Poleaxe a real disease I’d be struck down very quickly and struggle to recover.

Luckily the protagonist of this novel, the very clever anthropology student Barbara, does recover and indeed identifies the origin of the virus and the link between anxiety and the more serious symptoms. This allows the health authorities to lift the quarantine and treat the afflicted.

Written by an expert psychiatrist lends a certain air of knowledge and expertise to the novel – if this was a real disease I know who I’d want working alongside the other doctors, someone who has a great understanding of the link between mental and physical health, a fact that has been thrown into sharp focus by the current pandemic and lockdown, but is often overlooked when treating medical conditions.

This book is both timely and also, thankfully, very much science fiction as opposed to fact, I hope.

*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 Searcher – Tana French*

Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a remote Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force, and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens.

But then a local kid comes looking for his help. His brother has gone missing, and no one, least of all the police, seems to care. Cal wants nothing to do with any kind of investigation, but somehow he can’t make himself walk away.

Soon Cal will discover that even in the most idyllic small town, secrets lie hidden, people aren’t always what they seem, and trouble can come calling at his door.

My thoughts:

This was so good, but then it’s Tana French so of course it is. There’s a slight element of an old Western to it – True Grit maybe or another John Wayne film, in the way Cal, with his Southern US lilt and manners, goes about searching for Brendan. Making his enquiries despite not really knowing the lay of the land, calling people sir and ma’am, talking softly but with weight behind his words.

The relationship between Trey and Cal is really interesting too, like he’s slowly bringing a feral animal into his house, gently, laying out crumbs. Like he does with the rooks in his garden, tempting them ever closer.

I could almost see the Western Irish mountains and fields in the pages, the descriptions were so good, the landscape a stunning backdrop to this modern day cowboy alternating between trying to fix up his house and trying to solve the mystery of where Brendan went.

*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 Forgotten Gift – Kathleen McGurl*

What would you do to protect the ones you love?

1861. George’s life changes forever the day he meets Lucy. She’s beautiful and charming, and he sees a future with her that his position as the second son in a wealthy family has never offered him. But when Lucy dies in a suspected poisoning days after rejecting George, he finds himself swept up into a murder investigation. George loved Lucy; he would never have harmed her. So who did?

Now. On the surface Cassie is happy with her life: a secure job, good friends, and a loving family. When a mysterious gift in long-forgotten will leads her to a dark secret in her family’s history she’s desperate to learn more. But the secrets in Cassie’s family aren’t all hidden in the past, and her research will soon lead her to a revelation much closer to home – and which will turn everything she
knows on its head…

Discover a family’s darkest secrets today. Perfect for fans of The Girl in the Letter, The Beekeeper’s Promise and The Forgotten Village!

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Kathleen McGurl lives in Bournemouth with her husband. She has two sons who have both now left
home. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time.

Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway. Since then she has published several novels with HQ and self-published another. She has also sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines, and written three How To books for writers.

After a long career in the IT industry she became a full time writer in 2019.

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My thoughts:

Families are complicated creatures and this story of adoption and finding your family struck a real chord with me. My Grandad is not biologically related to me, he married my Nan and adopted my mum and aunt after her first husband, my biological grandfather, died of cancer really young. He is however absolutely my Grandad and my hero, regardless of blood.

Cassie has to wrestle with similar issues, after finding out a few things about her father and indeed about his ancestor, George. Her own biological daughter, who she gave up for adoption, gets in touch as well. Cassie and George both learn that what makes a family is a bit more complicated than it first appears.

This was moving and insightful, well written and I enjoyed the way it moved between Cassie’s life and that of George, 200 hundred years ago.

*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: By The Book – A.J. McCarthy*

A clue is left at a murder scene: a page from a paperback novel. The title of the book is Murder by the Dozen, and local author, T.L. McGinnis, cannot provide any leads. Detectives Josh Riddell and Clint Weller of the Ottawa Police Service are worried about what lies ahead. It soon becomes evident their worst fears have been realized, and a serial killer is using the novel as a guide. It’s impossible to foresee and safeguard all the potential victims, and time is running out. But who is the killer’s real target?

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The figure glided to the bed on soft-soled feet. The face of the intended victim was at ease, lashes dark against her pale cheeks. The curve of her lips suggested a pleasant dream

Jennifer Danvers slept the sleep of the dead, the intruder thought. The pun provoked a smile; a hand stifled a chuckle.

Jennifer’s face was familiar, chosen with great care, and it inspired a sense of excitement; the adventure had begun at last. It had taken months of planning and hour upon hour of research.

A few hiccups were expected along the way, but the killer didn’t question the likelihood of accomplishing the goal.

Despite a sense of elation, the hands were steady as the person leaned over the bed and wrapped latex-covered fingers around Jennifer’s throat. Her lovely blue eyes opened, startled, and her hands grabbed her assailant’s wrists as she struggled to free herself, to no avail.

Training and preparation were on the killer’s side.

“You should be honored.” The words were spoken with a smile, even as the fingers increased their pressure, and terror-filled eyes pleaded for mercy. “You’re perfect. The most perfect I’ve found. We’ll go down together in history.”

It was over within minutes, too quick for the killer’s satisfaction, and the young woman’s body slumped, lifeless, on the bed. The act completed, the murderer took a few moments to relish the sight of her: the slack mouth, the bulbous eyes staring back, as if in wonder.

Exhilaration flowed through the killer’s veins. So powerful, so clever, so much in control. A laugh escaped, a brief staccato burst.

“No one will ever suspect me. They never do. I’m invisible.” The words were addressed to the body on the bed, as if expecting a response. “I may not come across as being special, but I can do whatever I want to, and I’ll prove it. You’ve been an enormous help. Thank you.”

The corpse received a bright grin as a reward. “Oh, I can’t forget. I have a few things to take care of, haven’t I?”

From a pocket, a pair of tweezers were removed. Unzipping a bag pinned to the front of the person’s white coveralls, a small, red plastic heart was extracted. Jennifer’s mouth was opened, and the heart was lodged against her tonsils. Thin lips curved into a smile of admiration before closing the victim’s mouth and blocking the heart from view. Next, the tweezers were used to pull a crisp piece of paper from the bag. The killer squatted, placed it beneath the bed, and pushed it under as far as possible, taking care not to bend or tear it.

“There. Once upon a time.”

A.J. McCarthy grew up with a love for reading, and that love became stronger with the years. Having built a career in finance, she decided to try her hand at writing. To her surprise, she discovered a new passion, and is enjoying the excitement and the challenges which accompanied that discovery.

She tries to blog when the inspiration strikes her, and she continues to write novels.

She lives with her husband north of Québec City, Canada, and is the mother of two wonderful daughters.

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My thoughts:

A murderer copying the killings in a work of fiction, a cop determined to stop them reaching the twelfth victim, an author who might be a target.

This was a really fun and clever read, with Tierney and Josh racing against time to find the murderer and stop him killing twelve people inspired by Tierney’s novel. And falling for each other along the way.

The supporting characters were also interesting, from Matt the retired cop to Cooper the dog, completing an interesting line up featuring a few potential suspects and Tierney’s OTT mother!

The perilous denouement at the quarry was full of tension and risk, but thankfully ended with the villain where he belonged and Josh and Tierney together. I think a sequel could be fun with them teaming up to solve a case not inspired by Tierney’s work but perhaps another writer’s.


*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: Forgive Me – Susan Lewis*

I can’t forgive myself. Not after what I did. Could you?

This is Claudia Winters’s last chance for a fresh start. Changing her name and leaving her old life behind, she has fled to the small town of Kesterly with her mother and daughter. Here, she hopes they can be safe for the first time in years.

But the past can’t stay hidden forever. And even as Claudia makes new friends and builds a new life, she can’t help feeling it’s all about to catch up with her… Until one disastrous night changes everything forever.

Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime, including One Minute Later and Home Truths and My Lies, Your Lies. Susan’s novels have sold nearly three million copies in the UK alone. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s.

Susan has previously worked as a secretary in news and current affairs before training as a production assistant working on light entertainment and drama. She’s lived in Hollywood and the South of France, but now resides in Gloucestershire with husband James, two stepsons and dogs.

My thoughts:

This was really interesting, my husband is a trained Restorative Justice co-ordinator so I know a bit about how it works, and while it’s more often used for so-called lesser crimes like ASB and theft, it can be used, as it is here, for more serious offences, depending on the circumstances and people involved.

The way the novel is constructed, with Archie’s letters in between the chapters about Claudia, Marcy and Jasmine rebuilding their lives, but without giving the context of the letters till later is very clever and kept me engaged, as I wanted to find out the connection and discover who the letters were for.

Building up to the incident and then looking at the aftermath was really compelling and powerful, you feel for everyone involved, having read the letters as well as following Marcy and her family.

*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: Just A Girl – Becky Monson*

What happens when the right girl and the right guy meet at the wrong time?

One thing that can be said about Quinn Pearson is that she has a knack for doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Like, the worst time ever. Take her job for instance. One little slip of the tongue using the mother of all swear words while reporting the news, and suddenly she finds herself with over 18 million views on YouTube and her employment in jeopardy. If that wasn’t bad enough, when she meets the man of her dreams, she nearly chokes to death on a powdered sugar donut.

Thankfully for Quinn, the dashing Brit, Henry, finds her near death experience quite charming. But just when Quinn thinks her luck is going to change, she finds out her timing is all wrong again. Henry is off limits. Or is he?

Maybe it’s time for Quinn to quit settling for what life hands her. Perhaps it’s time for her to become more than just a girl.

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By day, Becky Monson is a mother to three young children, and a wife. By night, she escapes with reading books and writing. An award-winning author, Becky uses humor and true-life experiences to bring her characters to life. She loves all things chick-lit (movies, books, etc.), and
wishes she had a British accent.

She has recently given up Diet Coke for the fiftieth time and is hopeful this time will last… but it probably won’t.

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My thoughts:

This is a really fun, cute read, about falling in and out of love, finally standing up for yourself and friendship.

Quinn works in television, where she has to be put up with her sneering colleague, Moriarty, and a strangely familiar anonymous bully, until her new boss, Henry, says she doesn’t have to.

Problem is Quinn and Henry have been on a few dates, and now he’s her boss, and the station has a policy about dating. Quinn gets all in a flap, especially when the “Date Our Producer” segment goes ahead and she and Henry realise they’ve gone and fallen in love!

Luckily Quinn’s loyal, and occasionally very annoying (Thomas), friends are on hand to offer advice, alcohol, pizza and sympathy.

This is a really enjoyable, engaging and funny book and Quinn is a very real protagonist, she feels like she could be one of my friends!

*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, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Snow Song – Sally Gardner*

Women imprisoned by superstition, chained by guilt.

Perched on a mountain in a land of ancient forests is a village, rife with secrets. Cut off from the outside world it is run by the elders, men to whom tradition is all.

Edith lives alone with her alcoholic father who is forcing her to marry the village butcher. But she is in love with a shepherd who promised to return to her.

As the village becomes isolated in a sea of snow, Edith loses her power of speech. And it is this enchantment that will have far-reaching consequences, not only for Edith but for the whole village.

My thoughts:

This is a beautiful, magical fairy tale set somewhere in snowy Northern Europe, I could see elements of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, as well as modern feminist retellings of other fairy tales in Edith and her story. Which is how Edith’s own stories work, weaving together the old and the new.

Edith is the only woman, who finds strength in the midst of terrible heartbreak, to stand against the butcher and his cruelty (he seems a Bluebeard figure, there’s no explanation as to what happened to his previous wife) in the small village where fear, tradition and the elders (all men) hold sway.

Edith’s bittersweet winter in the forest (where the East of the Sun… came through strongest for me) enables her to return to the village and start to put things right, with her father, for her friends.

Lyrical, moving and with the gentlest of hope for the future at its ending, this is a stunning new fairy tale for this winter and those to come.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Coral Bride – Roxanne Bouchard*

In this beautiful, lyrical sequel to the critically acclaimed We Were the Salt of the Sea, Detective Moralès finds that a seemingly straightforward search for a missing fisherwoman off Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula is anything but.

When an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift off the coast of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, DS Joaquin Moralès begins a straightforward search for the boat’s missing captain, Angel Roberts – a woman in a male-dominated world. But Moralès finds himself blocked at every turn – by his police colleagues, by fisheries bureaucrats, and by his grown-up son, who has turned up at his door with a host of his own personal problems.

When Angel’s body is finally discovered, it’s clear something very sinister is afoot, and Moralès and son are pulled into murky, dangerous waters, where old resentments run deep…

An exquisitely written, evocative and poetic thriller, The Coral Bride powerfully conjures the might of the sea and the communities who depend on it, the never-ending struggle between the generations, and an extraordinary mystery at the heart of both.Over ten years ago, Roxanne Bouchard decided it was time she found her sea legs. So she learned to sail, first on the St Lawrence River, before taking to the open waters off the Gaspé Peninsula.

The local fishermen soon invited her aboard to reel in their lobster nets, and Roxanne saw for herself that the sunrise over Bonaventure never lies.

Her fifth novel (first translated into English) We Were the Salt of the Sea was published in 2018 to resounding critical acclaim, sure to be followed by its sequel, The Coral Bride.

She lives in Quebec.

My thoughts:

This book was really interesting, not just a murder mystery but a study of a small community and a family feud going back several generations that’s built on misunderstandings and fishing rights.

When Angel Roberts’ boat is found floating in the sea minus its captain, a search is launched and Detective Morales is detailed to investigate.

What he uncovers is a complicated family history and a community that’s been struggling for years to get along.

His son joins him, fleeing his own relationship and career problems, but unable to open up and talk to his father honestly. Their time in Gaspè will allow them space to come to terms with the changes in both their lives.

Lyrical and moving, the ocean plays its own role as the reason this town of fishermen and their families are there, providing both livelihood and death over the generations.

*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: Meet Me in the Treehouse – Kelly Tink*

In their secret tree house, nine-year-old Emma and her best friend Chris made a promise: ‘You and
me forever’.

It’s been five years since Emma left her hometown with her soon to be ex-husband and eight years since the tragedy that taught her and Chris that nothing lasts forever.
Now thirty, Emma is an unemployed nurse living back on her parents’ farm, her life in tatters. Chris,
however, is finally healing and making a success of his family’s country estate.
They step into their old friendship as if it were yesterday, but as Emma sets out to rebuild her life, will their past and Chris’s future throw her further off balance?
Or will she find the happiness she left behind by returning to the treehouse?

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Kelly Tink is a cancer nurse, writer and hopeless romantic, living in Cambridgeshire. She enjoys
exploring fun outdoor places with her husband and two sons, especially if it involves eating ice cream by the sea.
She’s an avid reader, loves a good film or TV series and drinks lots of tea. Meet Me in the Treehouse is Kelly’s debut novel.
It would mean the world to Kelly if you would consider taking a few moments to write a review.
These reviews let new readers know what you thought of Meet Me in the Treehouse. Thank you.

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My thoughts:

This was a sweet, warm and funny rom com, following the age old “can men and women ever just be friends?” (Yes, I’ve seen When Harry Met Sally many times).

However there are a few hiccups along the road between friends and true love, his fiancée, her failed marriage, and some more…

An excellent read for the colder evenings curled up on the sofa with a large mug of hot chocolate.

*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: Reprobation, Consuming Fire & Sound – Catherine Fearns*

Reprobation

Are you one of the elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of
humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist indeath metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront
his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

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Consuming Fire

What Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen…
Liverpool is in the grip of an intense heatwave, and strange things are happening.
A woman dies in an apparent case of Spontaneous Human Combustion; a truck explodes on the dock road; the charred corpses of pets litter the city; forest fires ravage the pinewoods…and there are birds everywhere, silent flocks drawing in ominously.

Detective Inspector Darren Swift thinks there are connections, and his investigation delves into the worlds of football, nightclubs and organised crime. But is he imagining things?
Dr. Helen Hope doesn’t think so. And she believes the key lies in a mysterious seventeenth-century
occult book which has gone missing from Liverpool Library.
In the blistering sequel to Reprobation, DI Swift is forced to confront some inconvenient ghosts from his past, as a terrifying shadow lies over his city’s reality….

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Sound

Can you hear it?
A professor of psychoacoustics is found dead in his office. It appears to be a heart attack, until a second acoustician dies a few days later in similar circumstances.
Meanwhile, there’s an outbreak of mysterious illnesses on a council estate, and outbursts of unexplained violence in a city centre nightclub. Not to mention strange noises coming from the tunnels underneath Liverpool. Can it really be a coincidence that death metal band Total Depravity are back in the city, waging their own form of sonic warfare?

Detective Inspector Darren Swift is convinced there are connections. Still grieving his fiancé’s death and sworn to revenge, he is thrown back into action on the trail of a murderer with a terrifying and undetectable weapon.

But this case cannot be solved using conventional detective work, and D.I. Swift will need to put the rulebook aside and seek the occult. expertise of Dr. Helen Hope and her unlikely sidekick, guitarist Mikko Kristensen.

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Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool. Her novels Reprobation (2018) and Consuming Fire (2019) are published by Crooked Cat and are both Amazon bestsellers. As a music journalist Catherine has written for Pure Grain Audio, Broken Amp and Noisey. Her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Toasted Cheese, Succubus, Here Comes Everyone, Offshoots and Metal Music Studies.

She lives in Geneva with her husband and four children, and when she’s not writing or parenting, she plays guitar
in a heavy metal band.

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My thoughts:

I found these books very interesting and I wanted at times to crack out my theology and literature notes from uni and debate the characters. This happens to be one of my slightly weird areas of special interest – having been brought up in the church and fascinated by the literature around and about religion.

I also really like crime fiction, so this intersection appealed to me. I’m not a metal fan but I did think the musicians from Mikko’s band were probably quite sweet and always nice to their mums, despite their appearances.

While Reprobation could be a standalone, Consuming Fire and Sound really do need to be read together as the plot stretches across both books. They’re not long reads so you can easily read all three in a weekend if you wanted to.

When dead bodies with religious connections start appearing in Liverpool (read the characters’ voices with appropriate accents – it’s definitely better) DI Darren Swift consults eschatology professor, and nun, Helen, and she begins a parallel investigation with heavy metal musician Mikko, keen to prove they’re not suspects.

They become involved in Swift’s next case too, where a mysterious demonology book and an ancient cult start trying to gain more power in modern Liverpool city centre. Mix this with gangsters, strange deaths, weird noises and ghosts and you have a paranormal crime thriller that keeps you gripped.

These books were really enjoyable and just a little bit bonkers, which is a good thing, and I hope there’s more where these came from.

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