blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Silent Mother – Liz Lawler

The phone rings. It’s the call every parent dreads. My beautiful son is dead.

He’d been the centre of my world from the moment he was born. Now my perfect life is shattered. In the midst of my grief, I receive an anonymous letter telling me that Tom’s death was not an accident.

So I’ve come to the apartment where my only child lived to find out what really happened. Tom was newly qualified as a doctor, he had a bright future ahead of him. Nothing about the day he died makes sense.

As I get to know the medical staff Tom worked with and his friends living nearby, I’m drawn into a tangled web of lies. Whispers and rumours circulate along the hospital corridors and I start to question how well I really knew my precious boy.

But a mother knows when things don’t add up.

His girlfriend has been keeping her pregnancy secret.
His best friend betrayed him in the weeks before Tom’s death.
His neighbours all have something to hide.

Which one of them would kill? As I get closer to the truth, the stakes become more dangerous. And I realise I could be next on their list…

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Liz Lawler grew up sharing pants, socks, occasionally a toothbrush, sleeping four to a bed. Born in Chatham and partly raised in Dublin, she is one of fourteen children. She spent over twenty years as a nurse and has since fitted in working as a flight attendant, a general manager of a five star hotel, and is now working with trains. She became an author in 2017 when her debut novel Don’t Wake Up was published by Twenty7.
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My thoughts: this was really interesting, I don’t think the title quite fits as one of the things Ruth isn’t is silent. She’s asking questions and tracking down the people in her son’s life. She knows Thomas wouldn’t have done the things he’s accused of, none of it adds up and the police have closed the case. It’s her job to find the truth.

When the real story starts to come out, it’s shocking and Ruth has wound up right in the heart of it. People she’s seen as a locum GP aren’t who they first appear and by staying in her son’s flat she’s able to find out details the police missed. A clever and twisted story of malice and grief.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Sister Pact – Lisa Swift

Thirty-year-old Brooke Padgett is the landlady of The Highwayman’s Drop in the beautiful Yorkshire village of Leyholme. Commitment-averse and obsessed with work, she isn’t looking for anything
serious – and she certainly isn’t interested in the pub’s new barman, gorgeous single dad Hayden. Or is she?
Older sister Rhianna Garrett has fled wealthy husband James after discovering his infidelity. As she moves back to the pub with her children in tow, it’s clear that living together will be tricky for these
two very different sisters…
Meanwhile, their widowed mum Janey is keen to rejoin the dating scene. But a lot has changed since her youth in the seventies – and she’ll need the help of her girls.
As the sisters join forces to help Janey, as well as fight off the chain circling the pub, their relationship becomes close once again. Until Brooke discovers Rhianna is hiding a secret that could drive a wedge between them all…
Can the two sisters come together to save The Highwayman’s Drop, their mum’s love life – and their relationship?

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Lisa Swift is a romance author from West Yorkshire in the UK. She is represented by Laura Longrigg at MBA Literary Agents. Her first book was published by Hera Books in August 2019.
As Mary Jayne Baker, Lisa also writes romantic comedies for Aria Fiction.
Lisa is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

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My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, the sisterly bickering was reminiscent of my relationship with my own younger sister – we can’t be in the same room for five minutes without disagreeing on something. Brooke and Rhianna are very different people and have differing opinions on pretty much everything. It doesn’t make their suddenly sharing the small flat that was their childhood home as adults easy at all. I felt sorry for Janey, drafted in as referee once again. This book was a lot of fun, as they come to see that they can get along if they want to and that sometimes you have to work to get what you want.

*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: His Loving Wife – Miranda Smith

I would do anything to protect my family. It’s my fault they’re in danger…

Our vacation house is beautiful. With its pastel-blue walls, the swimming pool outside, the boardwalk stretching down to the shore. My children play in the waves and my husband grills burgers on the deck. It is so peaceful.

But I can’t relax. When I drive to the store, or stroll down the beach, I am always looking over my shoulder, my heart racing. I am looking for him.

The man who nearly destroyed everything, a year ago, because of the secrets I kept.

I swear I didn’t do anything wrong. But no matter how hard my husband tries to pretend, we both know it’s not over.

This vacation was meant to be a chance to heal. Instead, I think it might break us. Because my husband still doesn’t trust me… and I’m not sure I can trust myself.

An absolutely compelling psychological thriller that will make you question how well you know those around you—and how safe you ever are. Fans of The Girl on the TrainBehind Closed Doors and Gillian Flynn will be completely hooked by His Loving Wife.

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Author Bio:
Miranda Smith writes psychological and domestic suspense. She is drawn to stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Before completing her first novel, she worked as a newspaper staff writer and a secondary English teacher. She lives in East Tennessee with her husband and three young children.

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My thoughts: this did not go where I thought it would, the beginning of the story and the trauma the family are trying to recover from, the reason they’ve gone on holiday, looms large over things but not for the reason it first seems. Another, much more sinister, reason starts to emerge as the holiday unfolds into its second week and things take a strange turn with the arrival of a supposed friend.

I felt for Kate, her husband has been acting very strangely and leaning on his online group more and not telling her things. She’s frightened and he’s just absent, mentally and emotionally. He’s not even looking after their children very well. The tragedy and horror that this holiday ends as shouldn’t have happened, they’re already traumatised, and while the story ends on a hopeful note, it could have been very different.

*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: Last Girl Ghosted – Lisa Unger

Secrets, obsession and vengeance converge in this riveting thriller about an online dating match turned deadly cat-and-mouse game, from the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions on the 7:45.

Think twice before you swipe.

She met him through a dating app. An intriguing picture on a screen, a date at a downtown bar. What she thought might be just a quick hookup quickly became much more. She fell for him — hard. It happens sometimes, a powerful connection with a perfect stranger takes you by surprise. Could it be love?

But then, just as things were getting real, he stood her up. Then he disappeared — profiles deleted, phone disconnected. She was ghosted.

Maybe it was her fault. She shared too much, too fast. But isn’t that always what women think — that they’re the ones to blame? Soon she learns there were others. Girls who thought they were in love. Girls who later went missing. She had been looking for a connection, but now she’s looking for answers. Chasing a digital trail into his dark past — and hers — she finds herself on a dangerous hunt. And she’s not sure whether she’s the predator — or the prey.

My thoughts: this was really interesting and a compelling read. Balancing Wren’s past and present, while also giving tiny glimpses of the women she’s searching for – hoping she wasn’t in love with a serial killer. The things she learnt growing up, they might just save her life.

Wren is an interesting figure too, a woman with a past she’d love to forget, a past that’s snapping at her heels, despite how much she desperately wants to believe she’s moved on. Working as an anonymous agony aunt in print and podcast, she’s happiest helping other people. But then she meets Adam, he seems like her perfect guy, if a little mysterious.

But he disappears, leaving more questions behind him. And that’s where the book really gets good, as she teams up with a PI to find Adam and the women who’ve disappeared in his wake.

*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 Black Bulls & White Horses – Roland Ladley

Emily Copeland is a young teacher at an inner city school. And she’s good at it. One Christmas her mother shares a long held secret of a teenage affair with a French fisherman. Months later her mother is killed in a hit and run and Emily’s life is dislodged from its axis.

With the school summer holidays approaching, Emily decides on a cathartic journey to revisit the French seaside village where, all those years ago, her mother enjoyed her summer fling. Clutching a series of old holiday snaps, she sets off with the ambition of closure. However, the Camargue – where the mighty Rhône meets the Mediterranean – holds deep secrets. It’s a lawless place of cowboys and gipsies, of mudflats, lakes and meandering tributaries … and of black bulls and white horses.

Emily’s journey soon ends up being more than just a rehearsal of her mum’s past. As she traces her footsteps, the romantic memories she unearths of a previous summer paint an altogether more sinister picture of the present. And Emily’s trip turns out to be one of enlightenment and of deceit; and of abuse and of greed. Ultimately it’s a story that ends in death … and in love.

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Chapter One
Four months previously
Emily had her back to the class, facing the whiteboard. She had to stand on tiptoes to reach the top. Some bright spark from maintenance had fitted the new interactive boards last summer and she was sure they had purposely put hers a few inches higher than the original. She wasn’t short. Not short, short. At 155cm she was hardly legs up to your bottom tall, but she always considered herself to be an endearing height.
Whatever.
It made reaching the top shelf in her kitchen cupboards a struggle without a stool. And – on her feet all day with her spine contracting by the hour – after lunch the top of the whiteboard was an effort.
She bit her bottom lip as she wrote out, ‘Pythagoras’s Theorem’, in capitals. In blue. She underlined it. And then turned quickly on her heel. You didn’t want to have your back to Year 9D for any longer than was necessary.
‘OK, team, let’s recap …’ She stopped mid-sentence.
Something was up.
There usually was.
There were sixteen pupils in this, the fourth maths set of five in Year 9. When the classes had been divvied out at the beginning of term INSET training, her class had been described by her head of maths as ‘lively’. That was like calling a great white shark, ‘a bit bitey’.
But they were her Year 9 set. And, bless them, they weren’t nearly as bad as her predecessor had made out. Alison, who was now off on maternity leave, had taken most of Emily’s current class last year – and she hadn’t made it to Christmas. After weeks of staffroom tears, there had been an incident with a textbook that had mysteriously shredded itself and ended up out the window, its pages fluttering across the games field. Alison had, apparently, confronted a boy who was big for his age and had a tongue on him. The word ‘bitch’ couldn’t be ignored, even if it had been under the lad’s breath. As a result Alison had stormed out of the room leaving the class to fend for itself until the next door teacher recognised the noise of near-anarchy for what it was.
Alison didn’t teach her Year 8 set again.
So far though, Emily was keeping a lid on them. And they were learning something. Albeit in fits and starts.
With some classes you often just had to let kids’ frustrations play out. Especially in the last period on a Thursday, having come straight from PE where stale sweat was a stronger essence than even the spray-on, carcinogenic board cleaner.
Now looked like it was going to be one of those times.
Emily’s nose twitched. It was an instinctive reaction.
She looked up and down the classroom. Three rows of tables, each row broken into four so that she could navigate the room quickly and not get stuck top left when all hell was breaking out at the bottom right.
Like most teachers she designed her own seating plans. There were unwritten rules, borne of previous teachers’ experiences of the same pupils. Who should not sit next to whom. Who had learning difficulties. Which children were classified as ‘Pupil Premium’ and, therefore, came from particularly disadvantaged backgrounds. They needed special care and attention both in terms of the questions you asked them and the tone you used.
For example, it was no use asking Shaun to complete work using the internet as he lived with his gran, who didn’t have Wi-Fi … and, in any case, Shaun didn’t have a computer. Harriet, Mobina, Massimo and Darren couldn’t afford dinner money, let alone a calculator.
And there was Lauren.
She respected no one. As far as Emily knew, Lauren lived a half-itinerant life, moving from her aunty to a friend’s house, and back again. Her father was locked up for armed something or other, and her mother was either an alcoholic, or drugged up, or both, most of the time. So Lauren had no adults to respect. So she respected no adults.
Emily included.
But Emily was against wholesale, teacher-led segregation when it came to the seating plan. Other than her sixth form, where she allowed her students to sit anywhere they wished, she started the year with a best guess – putting kids in places she thought would suit them. And then she let the arrangement change as the year developed and friendships and conflicts emerged.
With just sixteen in this class and thirty-five chairs – the sets got smaller the further down the ability ladder you slid – she had been able to group her Year 9 class into enclaves of reasonable behaviour, which in turn sometimes encouraged half decent work. It was never easy.
Bless them, though. Apart from Madi, who should be moving up to Evan Jones’s set some time soon, maths was none of her class’s favourite. Every topic was a struggle. Every ‘x’ a smudge on the board. Every ‘y’ a question rather than a letter representing a variable.
No wonder they misbehaved.
‘I’ve lost all my pencils, miss.’ It was Ben. An almost adorable short lad who was the class clown. On his left was Will, son of a bricklayer, who was brighter than he thought he was. On Ben’s right, Karim, a Sudanese lad with an incongruously massive afro, who was definitely brighter than he thought he was.
‘Shu’ up, Ben.’ Lauren’s surly retort cut through rising tension from the other end of the classroom.
Triangulation was going to be difficult now. Ben was clearly making a play, which Emily would be happy to see through if it didn’t go on for too long. Lauren, who took no prisoners and scared the wits out of everyone in the class including the boys, was bored and might well kick off at any moment which would leave someone in tears.
And Pythagoras was still asking for all of their attentions.
Emily raised a gentle hand in Lauren’s direction.
‘Try not to use that language, please, Lauren.’ She shot the girl a half-smile and then almost in the same sentence, ‘Where are your pens, Ben? Tell me.’
Ben, Will and Karim were all smiles. Ben, who could be cute, cheeky and bloody devious all in the same breath, snorted, his eyes damp with suppressed laughter.
Where’s this going?
She had no idea. So she went on the offensive.
‘Can you borrow one? Say from Karim … or Will?’ Emily, armed with a straightened index finger, pointed at both boys, one after the other.
More sniggering.
‘... grow up, morons.’ The first part of Lauren’s sentence was a mumble, but it might have included the words ‘fucking’ and ‘well’. Emily knew she was close to losing control and might have to resort to a sanction; maybe even ask someone to leave the room. Early intervention was key. But, for her, sanction was always a last resort and she saw it as a failure. On top of that it disrupted the class and always shattered any ambience she had managed to create.
She waited for an answer.
Ben, who even sitting down was nipple-height to the much taller Karim, turned to his friend and said, ‘Can I borrow a pen?’
Karim stared straight ahead impassively. Lauren tutted. Loudly.
‘Say please,’ Karim said.
Will was also struggling to contain himself. Emily still had no idea where this was going, but so far it was pretty harmless … and might be very funny. They managed that sometimes.
‘Please,’ Ben replied, his shoulders lifting and falling below his soundless giggles.
Karim, still looking straight ahead and with a deadpan face, lifted a hand and pointed to his afro.
Emily could see it then.
Karim’s hair was full of pens and pencils. She could see the red rubber of a pencil sneaking a peep from the black, curly mass of Karim’s 80s-style hairdo. Alongside it was the silver top of a biro. You could hide the stationery store in there.
‘Thanks,’ Ben said, gulping down a snort.
He then stood and carefully and thoroughly removed six pens and two pencils from Karim’s hair. And still none of the three broke into laughter. But the rest of the class, who might well have seen the trick before, couldn’t stop themselves.
Apart from Lauren.
‘My mum’s taxes pay your wages, miss. D’you wanna start earning them?’
‘Sure, Lauren. Sure,’ Emily replied, smiling and shaking her head at the same time.
As the giggles lost their momentum and Ben finished systematically collecting the contents of his pencil case from Karim’s afro, Emily put up both hands to try to bring some gravitas to the situation …
… just as the classroom door opened.
And the headmistress came in.
‘Miss Copeland. May I borrow you for a moment?’
The headmistress never visited Emily’s classroom. Behind her was one of the deputy heads. This was odd … and ominous. Emily’s brain spun … and she noticed the class had gone unnaturally quiet.
‘Sure.’ Emily shook her head for a reason she didn’t understand.
‘You might want to bring your things.’ The head nodded at her rucksack which was by her chair.
What?
Was she being arrested? Was the head here to sack her? Images of failed bankers pushing open large glass doors with their hips, their arms overloaded with boxes full of personal possessions, flashed through her consciousness.
‘Ehh. Yes. Of course.’
The head smiled, more a grimace than a smile. The deputy was already in the room. He was looking up at the board.
‘Pythagoras,’ Emily said, as she loaded her rucksack.
‘Got it,’ was his reply. He was now looking at the class with trepidation.
‘Good luck,’ she whispered, and then she slipped out through the door the head was holding open. The corridor beyond was dark and faintly oppressive.
Emily heard the clunk of the door closing, stopped and turned back towards the head, who was a few feet behind her.
The head’s face told the story. Whatever news was coming next was bad. The worst. Emily instinctively knew.
‘Who?’ she said.
The head stuttered. She started to put her hands up to hold Emily by the shoulders, but the distance between them made the attempted hug impossible. So, she dropped her arms back to her side.
‘Your mum, Emily. I’m so, so sorry.’

I am an ex-British Army colonel with operational service in Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. I was subsequently a secondary school maths teacher for 8 years. And since 2014, my wife and I have been itinerant, driving around Europe in our motorhome, penning the Sam Green thriller series.

In 2020, during lockdown and on advice from a publisher, I wrote of Black Bulls and White Horses, my first and only non-Sam Green novel.

Book 2 in the Sam Green series, Fuelling the Fire, won a Kindle Scout publishing contract. And, the as yet unnamed, book 8 in the series will be published in 2022. Roland Ladley | Goodreads Amazon

Enter for a chance to win the entire Sam Green collection (7 Books- Digital) International.

My thoughts: what starts as a gentle story about an English teacher retracing her late mother’s footsteps in Southern France becomes something much darker as Emily seeks out her mum’s former lover – Marc Dupont. Dupont is a restaurant owner with a hidden life, a career criminal involved with people smuggling on the Mediterranean. But while he’s a terrible man, his son Luis is not and between him and waiter Gbassy, with Emily’s help, they might just put an end to Marc’s crimes.

I liked Emily, she was resilient and resourceful, even when faced with some truly awful things, she finds ways to survive. Even when she’s warned off, she knows her mum’s involvement is innocent and is determined to get to the bottom of things, and even solve her mum’s death in a hit and run.

At first the story was a bit slow, but as Emily starts to dig into the goings on in this small French town, the plot picks up pace and pieces start to slot into place. I also really liked Gbassy, a good man caught up in terrible things, a man trying to help his home village and having endured more than most could bear, he continues to try to preserve his innate kindness.

*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: A Little Piece of Paradise – T.A. Williams

The inheritance of a lifetime… with a catch.
When Sophie’s uncle leaves her a castle in the Italian Riviera in his will, she can’t believe her luck.
The catch? She and her estranged sister, Rachel, must live there together for three months in order to inherit it.
Having worked in Rome for four years, Sophie’s excited to revisit to Italy, even if it reignites memories of a cheating ex who soon learns of her return and wants to rekindle their spark. Sophie realises that distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder – but for her friend back home, Chris, who she discovers is more to her than just a friend.
With the clock ticking, can Sophie and Rachel stick it out and heal old wounds, or are the sisters destined to go their own way at the end of the three months? And does Chris feel the same way about Sophie as she does for him?
A beautiful story of romance and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Alex Brown and Lucy Coleman.

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I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-
since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.
The fact that I am now writing escapist romance is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my
readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

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My thoughts: I really enjoy T.A. Williams’ books, they’re joyful slices of escapism, full of drama and heartache, set in beautiful locations. And this is no exception. I read this book, set in sunny Italy while it was pouring with rain outside and felt completely transported with Sophie. I don’t have the best relationship with my sister so I empathised with her, having to find a way to spend several months with her estranged one – Rachel.

Throw in a complicated love situation with her best friend Chris (who’s back home in the UK), and it’s a real treat of a book. Plus there’s the lovely woofy Jeeves, which is an excellent bonus. A really enjoyable and relaxing read.

*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 Spy Who Inspired Me – Stephen Clarke

For legal reasons, The Spy Who Inspired Me does not mention J-mes B-nd. Which is a shame, because it is a
comedy based on the idea that I-n Fl-ming’s famously macho spy might
have been inspired by a woman…
It is April 1944, and chic armchair naval officer Ian Lemming (sic) is accidentally beached in Nazi-occupied Normandy. With no access to a razor or clean underwear, and deprived of his cigarettes, Lemming just wants to go home. But he is stranded with a young, though hugely experienced, female agent called Margaux Lynd, who is on a perilous mission to unmask traitors in a French Resistance network.
So, as she bullies him across France, Lemming receives a painful crash course in spy craft, and starts to fantasize about a fictional agent – male of course – who would operate only in the most luxurious conditions, and lord it over totally subservient women. A world-famous spy is born …
Stephen Clarke said: ‘In World War Two there really were female undercover agents who were ten times tougher and braver than Ian Fleming. I thought it would be great fun to send him (or rather, someone very like him) on a dangerous mission with one of these women who would show him what real spies got up to.’
Stephen Clarke has combined his knowledge of French history with a fondness for Ian Fleming’s novels (despite their old-school machismo) to create The Spy Who Inspired Me, set in the complex background of real Occupied France.

STEPHEN CLARKE is the bestselling author of the Merde series of comedy novels (A Year in the Merde, Merde
Actually, Dial M for Merde et al) which have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than
a million copies worldwide. Stephen Clarke has also written several serious-yet-humorous books on Anglo-French history, such as 1000 Years of Annoying the French (a UK
number-one bestseller in both hardback and paperback), How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), and The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. He lives in Paris.
For more information about Stephen Clarke please visit: Website
Follow Stephen on Twitter

My thoughts: this was a very funny, highly entertaining book and I loved how smart, resourceful and sarcastic Margaux was, not a woman any man could flirt into bed. She’s utterly ruthless when she has to be and ten times the spy a certain 007 claims to be. She’s definitely not going to talk, and won’t even tell her unwanted companion the real mission she’s on.

Lemming is a bit less useful, a military man with a nice desk job in London, the son of a former MP who has led a very nice life in the inter war years, all cocktails and tail coats, and is not exactly prepared for sneaking around behind enemy lines and avoiding Nazis. He gets completely thrown by Margaux’s brilliance and wishes for a different kind of woman, the fantasy kind who doesn’t laugh at him and efficiently murder people.

I went through a phase when I was about 11 or 12 where I watched all the Bond films from the beginning and got quite fascinated by the world they portrayed, a mostly made up one to be quite fair, of sophisticated men in dinner suits and woman who all appeared to have knee issues that meant they went all wobbly when a man in a tux appeared. I understood it was all a lot of nonsense and completely ridiculous. I knew there were women who worked as spies and resistance in conflicts all over the world. A man in a nice suit stands out, a woman, well she might catch the eye but you’d be less likely to suspect her. Besides James B needs to retire, he’s been doing his thing for so long, it’s time to collect his pension. Time for Margaux’s spiritual granddaughters to handle business instead.

*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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Tandem Readalong Round Up: The Madness of Crowds – Louise Penny

Recently I took part in Tandem Collective‘s readalong for Louise Penny’s The Madness of Crowds. This was over on Instagram, where as you might have noticed I rarely post, mostly because things like reels and stories are beyond me – I just can’t seem to get them to work for me! I thought it might be fun to do a little round up here and on Instagram, so you can learn a bit more about the book.

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Chief Inspector Armand Gamache returns to Three Pines in #1 New York Times bestseller Louise Penny’s latest spellbinding novel, The Madness of Crowds.

You’re a coward.

Time and again, as the New Year approaches, that charge is leveled against Armand Gamache.

It starts innocently enough.

While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.

He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.

While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.

They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson’s views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting. So that truth and fact, reality and delusion are so confused it’s near impossible to tell them apart.

Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.

Abigail Robinson promises that, if they follow her, ça va bien aller. All will be well. But not, Gamache and his team know, for everyone.

When a murder is committed it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion.

And the madness of crowds.

I think he’ll open a serious investigation, it could have gone horribly wrong and people could have died.

I’m not sure, much like the agents, I can’t quite figure it all out. Armand is also thinking a few steps ahead of his team and seems to be planning to get a confession.

I thought this was a really interesting theory and can see how it applies to people getting swept up into Abigail’s rhetoric and also how her theory could lead to truly terrible things – like genocide, what one country does, others may follow.

Armand obviously has skin in the game, as it were, in the form of Idola, but Myrna is a scientist and isn’t thinking about it in an emotional sense – more the theoretical sense.

I don’t think she can be involved, too many coincidences would need to align to involve her. But she does represent an interesting addition to the debate raging throughout the book. Suspect-wise, I’m curious about Abigail, who has so many secrets and the chancellor – she knows more than she’s saying.

I’m at a loss, too many theories. Too many possibilities – lots of potential red herrings on offer here.

Gamache definitely has something but I think he needs to flesh it out a bit more if he wants to make an arrest and get a conviction.

I thought it was possibly the chancellor, protecting Abigail once again – but she had something to lose if she went to prison – her husband wouldn’t cope without her. I’ve read a few of the books before and have some on my kindle to go back to.

Armand – maybe Jean Reno, Isabelle, I thought perhaps Carole Bianic who played a French cop in Hudson & Rex (yes of course I watch a TV show where one of the detectives is a lovely, clever good boy), Jean-Guy I would maybe cast Roger Cross, who is Jamaican-Canadian and has played cops before and I like as an actor.

Jean Reno
Carole Bianic
Roger Cross

I couldn’t do the reel as my phone and I had a massive fight and I may have thrown it on the floor and shouted “technology is stupid”, I mean I like books and the concept of the printed word isn’t exactly new. That is basically my level of tech prowess.

As for flatlays, I am apparently not allowed to go and get a hunk of wood (the murder weapon) or some disabled people (Abigail’s theory) and photograph them on my floor so please enjoy the photo I took of the book instead.

I really enjoyed this book and having to think about different points in the book in more detail than maybe I would otherwise. Having read a few of the books in this series before I felt like I knew a bit about the characters but since this is set in the village Gamache lives in I learnt more about his family and friends which was interesting. The ethical debate at the heart of the plot is one I know that divides and upsets lots of people. Assisted suicide is legal in Canada, unlike the UK, and Abigail has taken it to a logical, if morally lacking, extreme conclusion with her statistical research. It’s deliberately shocking and the different viewpoints that the characters put forward were thought provoking and engaging. A really clever and enjoyable book.

Have you read any of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books? If so, what did you think? What did you like or not like? Talk to me!

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Murder at the House on the Hill – Victoria Walters

Once Upon A Crime…
Nancy Hunter and her grandmother Jane Hunter run the Dedley Endings Bookshop, selling crime, thriller and mystery books, in a small, quiet Cotswold village where nothing ever happens…
That is, until the wealthy and reclusive Roth family open up their mansion for the first time in twenty
years, inviting the people of Dedley End to a lavish engagement party.
While everyone is thrilled to finally look around the mansion on the hill, the festivities are quickly cut short when beautiful Lucy, recently married to young Harry Roth, is found dead after being pushed
over the first-floor balustrade.
But who among the guests could have been capable of her murder – and why?
Nancy and Jane decide to investigate – after all, not only do they own a crime themed bookshop, they were also both named after famous literary detectives – but soon wonder if they’ve taken on more than they can handle. Especially when it seems the killer has worked out that they’re hot on their heels…
Can they catch the murderer before the murderer catches up with them? Or will there be a deadly ending to this story?
Join the unlikeliest detective duo for the killer opener of The Dedley End Mysteries series, by a major voice in women’s fiction.

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Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at
GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels – SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books
have won wide reader acclaim.
Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.
Find out more about Victoria by following on Instagram on Twitter
or by visiting her blog

My thoughts: this was a really fun crime caper that, despite being totally modern, harks back to the golden age of crime writing with its plot and diligent amateur sleuths. A sort of Agatha Christie for the 12st century!

Nancy, her grandmother Jane, and their friends are great, all very dedicated to getting justice for Lucy, but also buying books and eating cake. Warning: read with snacks, there’s a lot of food being enjoyed here. There’s also a dog and you know books with animals are automatically better by at least 50% so add that to an intelligent, highly enjoyable book and I can’t wait for the next case the staff of Dedley Endings and Co find themselves embroiled in.

*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: Chronicles of Iona: Exile – Paula Fougerolles

The Chronicles of Iona: Exile tells the story of the Irish monk and Scottish warrior, Saint Columba and Aedan mac Gabran, who would band together to lay the foundation of the nation of Scotland.  They were a real-life 6th-century Merlin and King Arthur and their story has never been told.

The book begins in 563 A.D.  The Roman Empire is long gone, freeing the region of Scotland from the threat of imperial rule but opening it to chaos from warring tribes vying for control. Columba, a powerful abbot-prince, is exiled from Ireland to the pagan colony of Dal Riata on Scotland’s west coast for an act of violence. There he encounters Aedan, the down-and-out second son of the colony’s former king, slain by the Picts.

Together, this unlikely pair travels the breadth of a divided realm, each in search of his own kind of unity.  Their path is fraught with blood feuds, lost love, treachery, dark gods and monsters, but also with miracles and valor.  Beset on all sides, their only hope is to become allies—and to forge a daring alliance with the pagan Picts.

How Columba overcame exile and a crisis of faith to found the famous monastery of Iona (one of the greatest centers of learning in Dark Age Europe) and, from it, the Celtic Church in the British Isles; and how Aedan avenged his father’s death and became, against all odds, the progenitor of Scottish kings and the greatest warlord of his age, begins here.

For both, what begins as a personal imperative becomes a series of events that lead to the foundation of Iona and the kingdom of Scotland—events that literally change the world.

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Paula de Fougerolles has a doctorate from the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge, and has taught and published in the field. She has lived and traveled extensively throughout Scotland and Ireland, including a prestigious year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in which she criss-crossed Europe in search of the physical remains of the so-called Dark Ages–research which ultimately led to this award-winning historical fiction series. To learn more, visit http://www.pauladefougerolles.com.

My thoughts: this was really interesting because I am a) a massive history nerd, and b) fascinated by the lesser known pockets of history. I’d heard of St Columba and Iona, which is still a holy isle, but I didn’t know much about the history of either.

It’s also interesting, to me at least, to learn about my long distant ancestors, the early Scots and Britons. It’s not a period of time you really learn much about at school – the early medieval ages are pretty much dismissed as “after the Romans left, not much happened….1066” which is obviously untrue and also really lazy.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book, part historical chronicle, part adventure, replete with woad painted Picts, greedy kings, and Nessie. Columba can come across as a bit useless at times, despite being a warrior monk and pretty intelligent, as a prince, before his calling, he probably led quite an indulged life – he just seems a bit unworldly, but then monks hidden safely away in their monasteries probably were.

Aedan is an interesting chap – second son to a murdered King, a warrior bound by a prophecy he’s not too keen on, in love with a woman he can’t have (she’s married to his brother), sent here and there by his duplicitous cousin. He does have a lovely dog though, his companion and friend through it all. He might look like a big thug but he’s also clever and determined. A sharp contrast to Columba, he’s actually lived quite a rough and tumble life, out in the thick of things.

I’m quite keen to read the rest of the series and find out how these two unlikely individuals get on in their missions – to bring Christ to the heathen Scots, settle Iona and not die, and get revenge for his father’s death, outlive the prophecy and not die.

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