blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Paper Dolls – Lisa Bradley*

YOU HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN.

THEY HAVEN’T FORGIVEN.

Leah Wallace has just achieved her dream of becoming editor at a regional paper. On her first day a 15-year-old girl, Hope Hooper-Smith, is reported missing. The police fear that she has been abducted.

Hours later, another teenage girl goes missing. But this girl, Tilly Bowers, is from a troubled background and is a habitual runaway. Leah decides to run the Hope’s abduction on the front page, while Tilly only gets a small mention on page eighteen. The next day, Hope is found unharmed at a train station. But Tilly is never seen or heard from again.

Sixteen years later, a TV documentary questions Leah’s decision not to give Tilly’s case immediate coverage, implying that she could have cost Tilly her life, and Leah starts receiving death threats online.

Then mysterious paper dolls begin appearing, cut from the newspapers Leah used to edit, and she suspects that an intruder has been in the house. Leah becomes convinced that someone wants to punish her for the part she played in Tilly’s disappearance. But just how far will they go to make her pay?

My thoughts:

Creepy paper dolls and candles, doors left open, footsteps in the hallway, Leah feels like she’s losing it, her family are worried. Who is coming after her?

This was a nicely creepy thriller, with weird goings on contrasted with every day activities like dropping the kids off and walking the dog; giving it the slightly off-kilter feeling that Leah experiences.

I honestly didn’t see the twist coming and had several wrong ideas about the villain of the piece. The sub plots are so cleverly done, leading you away from the stalking and off onto other tangents.

*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: Seven Devils – Elizabeth May & Laura Lam*

This first book in a feminist space opera duology follows seven resistance fighters who will free the galaxy from the ruthless Tholosian Empire–or die trying.
When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.
Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.
When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.
Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.

My thoughts:

Anyone who knows me knows I love me some space pirates/rebels. And I loved this book.It’s got humour, it’s got romance, it’s got action, adventure, swearing, spaceships, an evil AI, baddies with ancient world names, heroes with other ancient world names. It’s basically excellent.I don’t want to give any spoilers, if you’ve read it and want to gush, meet me in the Twitter DMs.

The love story is so perfect, I adore our lesbian romance, I love that their leader is trans, that the smartest person there is a sixteen year old girl who associates the taste of chocolate with freedom.

That the villain is called Damocles (as in Sword of), and one of the heroines Ariadne (who led Theseus out of the Minotaur’s lair with her ball of thread), another Rhea (a titan and mother of Zeus and Hera) is just another moment of nerdy delight (please see my enormous collection of mythogy books).

The AI, Oracle, genuinely is creepy, evil and corrupt and horrible. It gave me shivers thinking about how it was in everyone’s minds, slowly turning them into zombies devoted only to it. Like that bacteria that enslaves ants by seeping into their brains.I had a sampler of the first chapter from last year’s Gollanzcfest and I love the work of both authors (whose books you need to go check out now please) so I knew good stuff was imminent but this was so much more than I expected.

And yes, I have the Florence & the Machine song stuck in my head whenever the words “seven devils” is used but that’s fine.Now the long wait for book two commences, guess I’ll just have to read this one again!

*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 Silence – Susan Allott*

It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, phoning from Sydney. 30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared.

At the time, it was thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

Reluctantly, Isla goes back to Australia for the first time in a decade. The return to Sydney will plunge her deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side.

Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England — a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve — a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job — is desperate to become a father.

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

Susan Allott is from the UK but spent part of her twenties in Australia, desperately homesick but trying to make Sydney her home. In 2016 she completed the Faber Academy course, during which she started writing this novel. She now lives in south London with her two children and her very Australian husband.

My thoughts:

This was really interesting, what seemed to be a crime novel about a missing woman turned into an exploration of a dark chapter in Australia’s (and Britain’s) history – the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families.

A moving and fascinating look into the personal and political and how those can entwine. Timely and powerful, this lingers in the mind long after the final page.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Homecoming – Luan Goldie*

For years Yvonne has tried to keep her demons buried and focus on moving forward. But her guilt is always with her and weighs heavily on her heart.

Kiama has had to grow up without a mother, and while there is so much he remembers about her, there is still plenty he doesn’t know. And there’s only one person who can fill in the gaps.

Lewis wants nothing more than to keep Kiama, his son, safe, but the thought of Kiama dredging up the past worries Lewis deeply. And Lewis doesn’t know if he’s ready to let the only woman he’s ever loved back into his life.

When Kiama seeks Yvonne out and asks her to come with him to Kenya, the place that holds the answers to his questions, she knows she can’t refuse. And this one act sets in motion an unravelling of the past that no one is ready for.

Moving between London and Kenya, and spanning almost two decades, Homecoming is a profound and moving story of love, family and friendship. It’s about coming to terms with your past, opening yourself up to the exquisite pain and pleasure of love, and of what happens when three lost souls, all bound by one person, come together and finally share their truths.

My thoughts:

This was a fascinating novel about family, the past and dealing with things we’ve locked away.

Kiama has fragmented memories of his childhood in Kenya, before his mother’s death, and he wants to make sense of them. His dad doesn’t want to talk about it, so he seeks out his mother’s best friend Yvonne and asks her to come with him to Kenya to unravel his memories.

Interestingly Yvonne knows the whole story but is uncomfortable with what it says about her. There’s things she doesn’t really want to tell Kiama, they don’t paint her in a good light or his father.

The plot moves back and forth between Yvonne’s past and the present, revealing the secrets she’d rather keep to herself.

*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 One That Got Away – Egan Hughes*

You love him. You trust him. You can’t escape him.

Mia thinks she has escaped her controlling ex-husband, Rob. She’s found herself a new home, a new boyfriend and a new life.
But when the police arrive to tell her that Rob has been found dead on his boat, things quickly fall apart. Mia is terrified she’ll be suspected, however the police are keeping all options open. They know Mia had reason to hate her ex-husband, but she’s not the only one. Plenty of people wanted Rob Creavy dead, not least his new wife, Rachel.
What they don’t know is that Mia has a secret, one she’s desperate to protect.

But someone else knows. Someone with very dark secrets of their own . . .

My thoughts:

Coercive control or gaslighting is in the news a lot more recently, an insidious form of abuse that can be more easily hidden than the marks of physical violence. Rob is a skilled manipulator and con man. Mia, Rachel and plenty of other women suffered at his hands. So clearly there are people who want him dead.

The plot twists and turns, flashing back to Mia’s turbulent marriage and to the present and the investigation into Rob’s death.

Lots of red herrings pop up, little plot cul de sacs that trick the reader into going “a-ha!” incorrectly. Mia makes some of the same errors.

The sting at the end, after the case appears to be solved is very clever and makes you reconsider some of the characters and their actions.

A very enjoyable and clever thriller.

*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

Cover Reveal: Siren Song – Rebecca McKinney

A man who glimpses other people’s inner worlds, and a woman who can foresee death. Can they trace a missing girl before the worst happens?

Harrison Jones is a university lecturer with a secret: he moonlights as a psychic detective. Amy Bell is a paramedic who has the uncanny knack of knowing things are going to happen before they do. From their first accidental meeting on an Edinburgh bridge, both of their lives are destined to change.

Harrison invites Amy to help him investigate the disappearance of a beautiful young singer. The search will lead them into the murky world of human trafficking, from Edinburgh to the streets of Athens, and into the darkest corners of the human mind…

Rebecca McKinney is a writer, therapist and community development practitioner, living and working in Midlothian, Scotland. She shares her home with her husband, two teenagers, three cats, and a growing collection of musical instruments.

Previous novels:

The Angel in the Stone: shortlisted for the Highland Book Prize, 2017: Sandstone Press

Blast Radius: 2015: Sandstone Press

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Night Lawyer – Alex Churchill*

Sophie Angel is the night lawyer. Once a week, she’s the one who decides what the papers can and can’t say.

During the day, she’s a barrister. She struggles for justice in a system that’s close to collapse, where she confronts the most dangerous aspects of humanity.

Her life changes when a wealthy Russian offers her the biggest case of her career, a rape trial with a seemingly innocent client.

But is someone manipulating Sophie from the shadows? With her marriage under strain and haunted by nightmares from the past, Sophie must find the answer to these questions before it’s too late.

This is a story about betrayal, trust, guilt and innocence, played out from the courtrooms of London to the darkest corners of Soviet era Moscow.

My thoughts:

This was a really interesting thriller that didn’t go where the synopsis suggests. It’s not Sophie’s Moscow connection that puts her in danger, or her work at the newspaper.

Sophie is an interesting character and this books gives a glimpse into the reality of life as a barrister under a system where there’s no guarantee of getting paid unless you take cases, some of which might make you very uncomfortable.

Sophie really grew as the plot unfolded, stepping into her own rightful place, demonstrating her competence and intelligence, in and out of the court room.

*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 Wish List – Sophia Money-Coutts*

‘You want me to write a list? Like a shopping list?’
Gwendolyn nodded. ‘Exactly. But for what you want from a man, not ASDA.’

Florence Fairfax isn’t lonely. She loves her job at the little bookshop in Chelsea and her beloved cat Marmalade keeps her company at night. She might have been single for quite a while – well, forever actually, if anyone’s asking – but she’s perfectly happy, thank you. And then Florence meets eccentric love coach Gwendolyn, and everything changes.

When Gwendolyn makes Florence write a wish list describing her perfect man, Florence refuses to take it seriously. Finding someone who likes cats, has the sexual athleticism of James Bond and can overlook her ‘counting’ habit? Impossible! Until, later that week, a handsome blond man asks for help in the bookshop…

Rory seems to fit the list perfectly. But is he ‘the one’, or simply too good to be true? Florence is about to find out that her criteria for Mr Right aren’t as important as she thought – and that perhaps she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places…

My thoughts:

A funny, warm and entertaining read about love, family and cats. Also working in a bookshop. All of which are good things, especially the bookshop and the cats.

Florence has lots of routines and rules to help her cope with life, she also has two sisters who are her house mates, a slightly overbearing stepmother, works in a genteel old bookshop with a matching boss, a theatrical co-worker and not a lot of luck in the romance department.

Her stepmother buys her a course of love therapy with an eccentric guru and it seems to be working, or is it?

There’s some genuine laugh out loud moments and the bonds between Florence and her friends and family are endearing, a really jolly read.

This was a great read for the summer heatwave, sat with my feet in a bowl of water, wishing it was a pool or the sea. So take it to the park, your back garden or the sofa with snacks.

*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: Hinton Hollow Death Trap – Will Carver*

It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened. Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120. Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow. Because something was coming. Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves. Making them cheat. Making them steal. Making them kill. Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone. Evil had a plan.

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

My thoughts:

Sort of following on from Nothing Important Happened Today (a book that scrambled my brains) this is narrated by Evil, and is another brain scrambler of a book.

Someone is shooting children in a small suburban town, an abattoir worker has taken to cruelty and people are having affairs, breaking windows and going missing.

I feel sorry for DS Pace, he’s trying to solve these awful killings while also maintaining some semblance of order in his own life (and failing).

The ending did a number on my noggin and Evil somehow triumphs despite insisting they did very little to affect events.

Will Carver is an evil genius of a writer and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next, once I’ve rested my poor scrambled brain.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: With or Without You – Drew Davies*

‘How long does a coma last?’ I ask.
‘Days, weeks, months?’ the nurse replies with a shrug, although her eyes are very kind.
‘But on average?’
She just smiles, unable to give me an answer.

Wendy’s life can be neatly divided into two: before and after.
Before her husband’s car accident, it was just the two of them. They never took the train at rush hour, and they avoided their noisy neighbour upstairs.

Naveem devoted his spare time to vintage train models, and Wendy to re-reading the well-thumbed pages of her favourite books. It didn’t matter what others thought about their small, quiet life together – they were happy.
After the coma, Wendy barely recognises herself. When she’s not holding the love of her life’s hand, accompanied by the beep of the life-support machine, who is she? The nurse tells her to talk to Naveem – that he can still hear her – but she doesn’t have a single thing to say.
Suddenly Wendy can’t bear the silence. She needs something, anything, to talk to Naveem about.

Suddenly she’s losing herself at fairgrounds packed with crowds and candyfloss, she’s at the airport, waiting for the whoosh of the planes as they take off, making friends with the neighbour she has spent over a decade avoiding.
Knowing that every breath her husband takes might be his last, Wendy has no choice but to try to carry on without him. Should she feel guilty about living while his life is on pause? And when – if – he wakes up, will he still love the woman she has become?

This poignant, moving and uplifting tale is for anyone who has taken life for granted, neglected to say ‘I love you’ to their loved ones, or forgotten to find happiness in the little things. Perfect for fans of Josie Silver, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Jojo Moyes.

Drew Davies was born in London and grew up in Whanganui, New Zealand. He attended the Unitec School of Performing Arts in Auckland and won a Playmarket New Zealand Young Playwright of the Year award in 2000. After a brief stint on a kiwi soap, he has worked in Search for the past 15 years.

Drew’s other claim to fame is that Stephen Fry once called him droll. Either that, or he got his name wrong. He now lives in Wanstead, London.

My thoughts:

A bittersweet tale about learning who you are later in life. When Naveem ends up in a coma, his wife, Wendy, finds herself alone for the first time in twenty years.

But who is she without him?

This book made me laugh, Wendy’s growing relationships with her eccentric neighbour in particular was very entertaining and her delightful bond with small nephew Henry is a joy.

This was a really enjoyable read and perfect for the quiet moments in busy lives.

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